Key takeaways from Turmoil

I haven’t written much lately, and that’s been for a variety of reasons. The most important being that I had to ensure clients capital was sheltered from what seems like Tsunami’s of bad news. Not much changing to do, just some re-balancing into less risky investments and continuing to hold our oldies but goodies.

Some of my observations or takeaways over the last few months:

  1. Don’t panic, analyze
  2. Ensure you always have enough cash on hand in case of an emergency (worst case scenario)
  3. Make sure you have adequate Insurance on all hard assets, including your lives
  4. Believe in your ability and instincts
  5. Never rely on others to help you out financially
  6. Never assume someone in authority is smarter than you are
  7. Question what seems too good to be true
  8. You always get what your pay for.
  9. Consistency always pays off
  10. Take care of yourself and your health (mentally and physically)

Stay sharp, stay committed and stay focused

Rick

 

 

Leading a Horse to Water

It’s a classic saying, yet never more appropriate than when it’s applied to professional advisors in any field. Be it medical, legal, counselling or financial. All professions that deal with the public can relate to this expression. In the beginning I used to cringe when good advice fell on deaf ears. But as I matured and raised a family, I learned to let things play out.

Failure is good. We forget about that. I’ll borrow a line from Batman and use these lines as a great reference;

“Why do we fall down Master Bruce?” “So we learn how to get back up Alfred”.

Our culture and especially our families have become too protective over failure, to the point of stifling effort. In sports the score does matter. It provides a clear indication of ones reward or effort and also spurs reflection and drive for those on the wrong end of the scorecard.  Life is similar. It owes you nothing. Sooner or later you will learn its harsh realities. The longer you prolong or protect individuals from these lessons, the harder it will be for them to learn from them.

Parents, Teachers, Counsellors, Lawyers, Doctors and yes Accountants, are all there to help us make good decisions. As professionals, we must also understand that not taking our advice is also sometimes necessary for the greater good. I know I have learned the hard way several times, and wish I had just listened the first time. I also know that these consequences made me who and what I am today.

Rick Barbosa

 

Trust and Competency

Companies and Individuals that exude both trust and competency in their work are increasingly hard to find.

A few recent examples:

Samsung

  • Leadership charged with collusion
  • Produces sub-standard home appliances
  • Revealed only recently that “Smart TV’s” are prone to hacking and can be used to record behaviour

City of Toronto

  • Road maintenance contracts awarded to “select” firms who are then sub-contracting to lower bidders

Province of Ontario

  • Contractors using sub-standard asphalt to win the bid, only to keep repaving because of the poor quality
  • Ontario Power Generation/Ontario Hydro-Ridiculous solar re-purchase agreements for residential producers that lead to super high hydro rates

I could go on but would rather focus on why this continues to happen. When we accept sub-standard and poor performance as the new “Norm” we endanger the very existence of our institutions and companies. Dealing with poor performance adds costs and inefficiencies. We must go back to demanding more from our workers, management and governments to live up to what is expected of them.

Holding people, managers and representatives to account is not easy, nor HR friendly, but it must be something we are prepared to do. Accepting sub-par performance will mean that people will go elsewhere or lose faith entirely. Both scenarios are not good, but losing someone’s trust can be devastating.

If you are not happy with your product, service or government representative, make it known that you demand better. Hold them to account, vote, or find someone that you can trust and is competent.

Remember

Are you with me?

Regards,

Rick Barbosa

 

 

 

A tale of two incompetents-The Oscars

I’ve told this to many of my clients and potential clients, but I’ve never had a “public” example to refer to. Just because you work for a big 4 Accounting firm or large Fortune 500 company does not mean you are competent. Throughout my career in private accounting where I’ve worked at some large companies, there was never a shortage of ill-qualified managers or so-called experts. Instead when I pulled back the covers on their ascent to these roles, more often than not there were social or organizational connections that helped them attain these posts.

I also found that Managers that were appointed based on their connections instead of their merit, tended to propagate the pattern. They would hire subordinates that posed no threat to their dominance in the company or more specifically their department. It would make these Managers seem all-knowing and indispensable by their own doing.

We need to get back to hiring the best people period. Forget about equal opportunity or quotas Mr. Trudeau, these just create tensions among those that are much more qualified and have more experience.

As for the two Accountants who didn’t do the one job they were hired for, please resign from your position and go back to your cubicles where you belong, not the corner office. You embarrass the rest of us.

Rick Barbosa

 

 

 

 

Actions speak louder than words???

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It’s an old saying, and one that is meant to have us think twice before making a rush to judgement. Unfortunately, today with so much talk and social media, it’s hard to drill down and measure someone by what they actually do.

At BBT Financial we are not perfect, nor ever will be. When we get something wrong, like a tax assessment we immediately relay this to the client and tell them where we went wrong. We show them our calculations or where the CRA had a different opinion. We then adjust our process to correct future calculations and ensure it never comes up again. Mistakes are the best teacher. Honesty goes hand in hand with Accountability.

We believe we owe it to the client to be as transparent as possible. If they choose to go elsewhere, we never stop them.  Trust is our business, and our clients deserve the truth as a measure of that trust.

 

Rick Barbosa

Bombardier and Yahoo: A Tale of Two Losers

Last week we were informed of another billion user hack at Yahoo. Not sure of the circumstances as to why now, but my best guess is that they uncovered it while still in Verizon’s due diligence investigation. The sheer stupidity that must have been covered up as to why there were 2 breaches years apart, and the failure to learn from their mistakes in preventing the second is beyond belief. Here we have a large multinational in the tech space, not able to come up with a tech solution to this centuries most pressing issue, security, is mind boggling.

How does this happen? It comes down to having the wrong people employed in the wrong positions. The culture of “just go along” is rampant in larger companies, and as soon as someone questions the mentality of the herd they are ostracized and HR’d (human resourced) to the curb…  Until we have senior managers who are held criminally responsible for their actions things will never change. The side-effects are lost jobs, lost credibility and increased pressure on an already fragile working class and social services.

Bombardier is another prime example of a company that should have gone bankrupt decades ago. By artificially propping up a failed business you are saying it’s ok to keep failing, and that there are no consequences to your actions. It’s like saying to a criminal, we know you stole our money but we’re going to give you more just so you don’t have to break in next time.

The City of Toronto got what was coming to it for going with a poor company to begin with. We cause ourselves more harm by doing what seems to be the right thing instead of taking our medicine and getting better the old-fashioned way.  Like the Buckley’s commercial says ” it tastes awful, but it works”

We need to take some strong medicine and get better soon as a country, or we’ll be the poor northern neighbour again waiting for scraps to fall from the table to nourish our economy. We need to lead and not follow. Plain and simple.

Real leadership and management takes courage. It’s not easy, but nothing ever worthwhile is.

Rick Barbosa

 

 

 

Playing by the Rules

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Whatever your Politics, you cannot argue with the recent market uptick and how it’s been impacted by pre-emptive policy choices of the new U.S Administration. In my recent posts you will have read that Free Trade and Trade Agreements in general only work if the playing field is level. The playing field is not level, and Large Multi-Nationals like it that way. We have systematically exported our manufacturing expertise to nations that are not democratic and do not see raising the standard of living as a priority. Product quality, safety, pollution and labour practices have all suffered as a result of non-level playing fields.

North American companies can compete with any company in the world on a level playing field. Our access to talent and innovation, capital, and natural resources is beyond compare. The standard of living we all share in the developed world was the result of investments made by both private and public sources, for the long-term prosperity of our companies and countries.

The current administration is disrupting the status quo. By refocusing and rebuilding North American industries we are saying that it’s time we focus on ourselves and our standard of living. The message is simple and effective. We must put our country, its industries and it’s people first or we risk our very way of life.

Play fair or don’t play at all.

Regards,

Rick  Barbosa