Here, There, and Nowhere in Particular #13

HTNW is back after a hiatus forced by travel and work pressure. I wanted to thank each one of you who took the time out to remind me that they missed HTNW – meant a lot to me. Here’s the first 2019 version with the usual sections on finance, technology, “fintech” and all the other rambling, unstructured thoughts.

Interest Rate, Regs and Tech

Life after LIBOR a key project in 2019 for every organization has to be understanding the current exposure to LIBOR . Organizations must form an consolidated impact assessment covering investments, hedging, borrowing as well as derivatives. On the financial services sector, almost a third of the balance sheet is linked to the Libor. Firms must make the necessary investments in data discovery & technology to understand the size of the challenge before closing on strategy for this industry changing shift.

Consolidated Audit Trails The big news from last week was the announcement of FINRA as the plan processor for the CAT (Consolidated Audit Trails) project. It will be interesting to watch how the drama around this initiative unfolds. And while it was interesting to read a recent online poll where 38% of respondents believed the border wall would complete before the Consolidated Audit Trail launched, we believe that the combined regulatory ecosystem is on a 4th quarter two minute no-huddle drill to launch the program (well, maybe scratch the no-huddle on that sentence…).

Smaller Community BanksI came across an interesting fact. Did you know 4,600 U.S. banks (assets < $1 billion) hold 6.6% of all bank assets down from 31.5% in the 1980’s. And the single biggest stated reason? The high end tech expectations from these smaller players more in line with the larger players are hard to deliver for smaller banks. The recent press release around BB&T Corp. and SunTrust Banks Inc. merger cited the need to spend more on technology to compete with the larger banks as the biggest factor.

Here’s my one blue sky over the top Utopian thought and while it’s not original, it’s interesting on why modern day enterprises continue to be organized into task focused units as opposed to outcome focused units.  If technology is either the problem or the resolution to the above changes, should tech teams not be consolidated with business/HR/compliance to engage in outcome based solutions imbibing the principles of Agile and cross functional teams. Yes, a naive point of view but yet, one worth thinking….and on the other side of the lens, I was having a conversation with my colleague Jeff Zibluk on why business has not adopted a more scrum based, Agile framework in it’s day to day operations. An area for research and discussion… 

Blast from the Past

This one comes from the vault. On this very day, 22 years ago – Bill Gates admits Microsoft’s contracts bar Internet content providers from promoting Netscape’s browser. Coincidentally, 11 years later (2008) and almost to the day, America Online discontinued Netscape. And while I’m sure most browser geeks know this, the baseline code of Mozilla Firefox is built on Netscape.

A tech version of Obi Wan as the spirit guide living on….(yep, am reaching but it’s been a while since I added a Star Wars reference).

Data & Tech – Jekyll & Hide

Inspired by my recent viewing of Black Mirror, introducing this section on the good, bad and the downright ugly of the technology and data driven world we live in.

Stalker Alert!! Do you remember all the places you have ever visited? Probably not, but guess who remembers – each place, cataloged with day & time. Your iPhone! Read on – if you want to know.

And here’s some original iPhone stalker poetry…

I’m your shadow in the shade and the light,
following you everywhere you go and don’t,
I always travels with you watching and learning,
in the sun, rain, wind, mud and grime.

I recently viewed a very disturbing  episode on Black Mirror where your Social Media likability score determined every single action including entry into events, flight booking preference and your engagement with your social circle. As someone who moved to the US a few years ago, and suffered through the thin credit file problem, the I find the subject of the prevalent (and arguably, pervasive) nature of objective scoring interesting. What further piqued my interest – the episode was more real than we think. Here’s a piece on how millions in China were barred from using trains due to their poor social credit score.

Scott Galloway did a recent retrospection on some of his 2018 predictions and launched his 2019 tech predictions. A must read….

The world’s next Oligopoly

Section covers news and opinions on Big 4 Tech Firms (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon)

New grocery stores – mere news on WSJ that Amazon was planning to open a chain of new grocery stores caused Wallmart and Kroger shares fell significantly. Can’t make up your mind on whether to buy Amazon or NewsCorp.? 

If you live in Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, LA, San Diego, Oakland, San Antonio, Seattle, San Jose or Scottsdale, open up your Google maps – the app is now integrated with Lime options. Can’t wait for Lime to be in NYC – the classic case of the best of times places and the worst of times  places.

The supply chain as the world knows it will rapidly change with the Big 4 taking over branding, sales, distribution and corporate management over the next few years. There already are reports that Samsung is in talks with Apple on supplying fold-able display samples for future iPhones. What does that say about the future of Galaxy?

Musings on Leaderships

During the last few weeks, we have been working on holding our 11 year old accountable to this responsibilities at home, in school and to people. While it has not been the easiest journey,  I felt we had a breakthrough a couple of weeks ago – and this was driven by defining the end goal of the constant journey that is accountability. And that goal is not accountability for tasks, and even outcomes – to make someone accountable to reach their potential. 

Here’s a great read on what triggered the thought process…

The ability to adapt this approach at the corporate level is definitely not easy but I believe the starting point is engaging in a meaningful conversation of where we see our team member’s potential – letting them know how amazing you think they can be, and help them define an accountability model built around potential realization, not projects, not tasks or even outcomes. It’s an idea worth thinking through and one I actively plan to work on with my team. As always, am open to sharing notes, and ideas.

Recommendation of the Week

If you are in NYC, try out this amazing cocktail bar – Dear Irving Gramercy. Build on Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris with time travel as a theme, each of the 4 rooms are based on a different era. Another fun part – you get to press a buzzer every time you need to order a cocktail….

Knowledge by the kilo (I found this hilarious sale sign in Delhi)


What was amusing – underneath the publication of known writers like Crichton, I found a veritable treasure including a Romanian book on best practices while making tea.

…for a Fistful of Dollars

Last weekend , I immersed myself into a binge watch of Agatha’s Christie’s Poirot (only the 5th time in the last 10 years). I was stuck by how many of the plots revolved around a distant uncle in Australia leaving someone a fortune.  And that inspired this section on how if you came into some unexpected good fortune, suggestions on spending the money. 

This week the theme is real estate – and your choices are Michael Jackson’s Neverland at $31 million. No, it’s only expensive if you don’t know about the 70% discount.

Too steep? Try Soros’ $22.5mn Hampton’s home which is currently in the market.

Citius, Altius, Fortius!!

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