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Lessons from my Rescue Dog

Sent to me by a friend this morning. Terrific

9 Things Dogs Teach Us About Life & Love

Dogs are such phenomenal teachers for us. They teach us about gratitude, love and compassion, being present, and joy. But they teach us more than that.

I recently lost one of my dogs to cancer. Every day since he came into our family as a rescue only two years ago, this gentle giant (a 130-pound longhair Rottweiler) with a huge heart showed us such an abundance of love and gratitude that we felt like the rescued ones.

His last lesson to me was about acceptance and letting go. It reminded me once again how we humans have an emotional attachment to what we imagine could have been and what we regret. The lessons of loss bring us back to being present and having gratitude.

For dogs, life is lived in the now — and we can all learn something from that.

1. Dogs only care about the relationship they have with us. It’s all about the heart, not the ego.

Each day could be the last, so don’t waste it with unimportant concerns. Make the day matter with something that you care about. Let your intentions and actions be guided from your heart, not from your ego.

2. Dogs only care if you’re going for that walk now; promising it will happen tomorrow doesn’t count today.

We only exist in the now. Tomorrow is a story, and yesterday is a memory. We humans are so attached to fixing our mistakes (which causes us to well in the past) and controlling the outcome of what tomorrow brings (when we can’t ever really know what will happen). It’s part of our survival instincts to stay on the lookout for danger, but don’t make it how you live your life. Allow the moment to be what guides your choices.

3. Dogs don’t care if their dog bed is more expensive or their car (your car) is bigger than the neighbors’.

They only care if you spend time with them. Love is all that matters in the end. The times to remember and cherish are the moments spent sharing love.

4. Dogs don’t have a concept of planning their time.

They would never choose to take care of an impossibly long list of tasks at the expense of living, and enjoying, their life. Time is the most important when life is running out, so be here now and make the best of it; you will never get this moment back. We cannot control time; we can only control what we do with it.

5. Dogs don’t have a concept of holding back their love until they make sure you love them.

They just go for it. The more love the better. Loss and grief is all about love. The more love, the more loss — and somehow knowing that makes the grieving process gentler. So give it all you got. The loss will be meaningful, but only because the love was.

6. Dogs will be hurt, ignored, and even neglected, and still just show surrender to love when offered a belly rub.

Being vulnerable is a gift that brings more love. Everybody wants love, and being vulnerable makes us able to receive it.

7. Dogs are the best partners in sadness.

They just snuggle up with you while you cry and are ready to lick your face afterward. Being sad is OK. Sadness helps you open your heart and feel the love the surrounds and support you.

8. Dogs mourn too, but they also accept what is.

They mourn loss, but not a lost future. Being stuck in grief is not OK. Acceptance of what is and appreciation for what was help us mourn and move us through to the love and memories, which are what last.

9. Dogs are the best at self-care.

They will curl up and retreat when they need to self-soothe. No self-judgment — just a good snuggle up will do. Self-compassion is essential.

My dogs are my supporters and teachers on this journey called life. First they need us; then we need them!

If you’re considering getting a pet, please rescue one. So many animals are in need of a home and what they give you in return is unconditional love, gratitude, and many lessons of being mindful and living in the NOW.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Investments

 

Keeping our current democracy in perspective – and remembering how fragile it is

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy”.

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

“The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From Bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence; (Current status of the United States – just check the last election voter no-shows blaming the electoral college)
From dependence back into bondage.”

So, if I take 1776 + 200 = 1976, give or take 50 years – my brain starts connecting the dots to the mess we find ourselves in, where congress votes itself pay rises, special liberties and privileges. Current rumblings about amending immigration laws would essentially guarantee that the United States becomes a country driven by people receiving social benefits instead of generating profits themselves. a.k.a. the end of this democracy.

Having grown up as a child in Africa and as a young executive in Asia, I have witnessed over and over again, how fallible governments and perceived democracies actually are and how fragile the status quo is. Just two weeks before the riots in Kiev began, Lauralouise and I sat down with Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych who was doing a great job attempting to convincing us how stable, secure Ukraine was as an investment destination and how it had one of the most advanced democracies in the world. Just check your history books, remember when Greece, Romans, Dutch, Spaniards, Britons ruled the world. Remember when the Sterling was the world’s reserve currency ? Stay alert people and start voting with your feet, your head and your checkbook. Stop the apathy before it turns you into a dependent of the system.

http://www.ergo-sum.net/literature/CultOfCompetency.pdf

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Investments

 

You Missed $1 Trillion Return Agreeing With Fed Naysayers – Bloomberg

A great article that explains current Fed policy and options

http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-08/you-missed-1-trillion-return-agreeing-with-fed-naysayers.html

I will try to get more color from Brynjolfsson

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Investments

 

Semper Fi vs ACLU

OORAH!!- – – “SEMPER FI”

ACLU vs. US Marines

THIS NEEDS TO GO AROUND THE USA MANY TIMES SO KEEP IT GOING!

If you look closely at the picture above, you will note that all the Marines pictured are bowing their heads. That’s because they’re praying. This incident took place at a recent ceremony honoring the birthday of the corps, and it has the ACLU up in arms. “These are federal employees,” says Locus Traveler, a spokesman for the ACLU, “on federal property and on federal time.. For them to pray is clearly an establishment of religion, and we must nip this in the bud immediately.”

When asked about the ACLU’s charges, Colonel Jack Fessender, speaking for the Commandant of the Corps said (cleaned up a bit), “Screw the ACLU.” GOD Bless Our Warriors. Send the ACLU to Afghanistan! (then watch them pray)

Please send this to people you know so everyone will know how stupid the ACLU is getting in trying to remove GOD from everything and every place in America.

May God Bless America, One Nation Under GOD!

What’s wrong with the picture?ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! GOD BLESS YOU FOR PASSING IT ON! I am not breaking this one….Let us pray for all those who sacrifice to keep us safe!


Prayer chain for our Military…please don’t break it

THIS NEEDS TO GO AROUND THE USA MANY TIMES SO KEEP IT GOING

Let’s put the ALCU in combat for a few weeks and then see what their beliefs would be.

AMEN!

avast-mail-stamp.png
 
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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in Investments

 
Gallery

Wise messages to bring a smile to your day

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2014 in Investments

 

Creating Best Practices for Your Family Office

 

 

Creating Best Practices for Your Family Office by Michael A. Faberfamily-office-image

The “family office” is back in vogue. The dramatic increase in wealth creation during the last thirty years has given rise to a new generation of Rockefellers, Mellons, and Phipps. Today, families with sufficient wealth – typically at least $500 million – now adopt a classic wealth management strategy: they create and control their own family office (FO).

First and second generation wealth creators use their family office to establish a legacy and a structure that will allow future generations to more easily manage, understand, use, and preserve that wealth. The two most cited goals are to avoid the pitfalls of “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” and to teach a set of family values and culture that will bring cohesion and sustenance to family members facing variations in life over generations of time.

The most important question, therefore, is how to build and manage a family office that has the best chance to succeed and fulfill the goals of the founding family members. We offer our best suggestions below and encourage you to begin the dialogue both with your family members and your professional advisors.

Investment Management

Managing wealth (and wealth preservation and growth) is the most important role for the typical family office. Evaluating, selecting, and replacing investment managers is more or less complex depending on the number and type of managers used.

Since few, if any, families allocate all of their assets to one investment firm, the FO must have access to the skill sets required to select and evaluate, at least quarterly, a large number of diverse third-party managers. Many families also become involved in direct investing strategies (i.e., investing directly in private and public companies), which requires additional and very different skills and often is poorly managed by family offices.

Family offices should maintain detailed investment guidelines relating to allocation percentages, diversification, liquidity, etc. and should have some understanding of the variety of investment manager due diligence and evaluation tools, such as alpha, Sharpe ratio, etc., in order to accurately assess investment risk, portfolio risk, and operating risk. It is no longer acceptable to rely only on the advice of third-party managers and funds of funds.

Most importantly, therefore, families must be willing to recognize the importance of hiring talented investment professionals, with the appropriate skills, and at market rates of compensation, in order achieve their investment and risk management objectives. This is an area in which many FOs make avoidable mistakes by employing loyal but inexperienced professionals.

Relevant Questions:

  • Who invests? One firm, multiple firms, a selection of third-party managers, FO managers (or some combination thereof)?
  • Who selects and evaluates managers? With what criteria, e.g., returns net of fees and after taxes, correlations to market, correlations to other investments, strategy drift, implied risk, market conditions? How often? With what external advisors?
  • Will there be direct investing or co-investing? Who decides and manages?
  • Who manages the “big picture” issues, such as portfolio risk, diversification, liquidity, performance, tax efficiency, and fixed and discretionary distributions?

Managing the Owned or Closely-held Family Business

Many families generate wealth through the creation of a successful business that some family members continue to own and operate, i.e., the family business (FB). Hence, in addition to liquid wealth, these families have a large illiquid asset that is both very valuable and very important to the family on a personal and emotional basis.

The FB also is very important as a source of increasing family wealth and the ownership and management of the FB, therefore, will have an impact on how wealth is created and distributed within a family, especially as the family grows from generation to generation. This is evident regardless of whether family members or independent professionals are managing the FB.

As an investment management matter, the FO must account for the existence of the FB, as both an asset class and as a risk factor, in its asset diversification, allocation, and liquidity strategies, as well as understand any ownership change across future generations. In so doing, the FO can insure that it is managing a large illiquid investment, in addition to all other investments, for the benefit of both existing family members and the designated beneficiaries.

The FO also can be very helpful in serving as a source of information and as an honest broker in offering answers to the questions that typically arise about the FB. This is especially true in the context of multiple generations and family members uninvolved in the family business.

Relevant Questions:

  • Who owns and controls the FB and how will ownership and control change over time? What is the financial impact on family members? What role does each family member have in the family business? What role will future generations have and how will those roles be decided and by whom?
  • What resources are available to family members who create new family businesses or their own personal business endeavors? What financial and economic disparity exits for family members who either do or do not participate in the family business?
  • What role does the FO have in managing expectations about the FB, such as the roles of family members, the distribution of control and wealth, the impact on future generations, and its strategic plans and future disposition?

Accounting and Reportingmultifamily

Every FO seeks to provide coordinated and consolidated accounting, tax reporting, and investment reporting of the family’s assets. This is the holy grail of FO management and, even with the current emphasis on transparency and real-time data access, most FOs find that it takes a significant amount of labor to achieve.

Reports that evaluate the investment performance of managers are quite different than the reports required for tax compliance or the reports required for managing the family’s needs. Clear and concise reporting also is important as a communications tool for family members. Best FO practice requires that family members, accounting, and investment professionals all are engaged in designing and evaluating reports.

With ever-improving software and some amount of customization and coordination with third-party managers, most FOs are able to provide both regular investment reporting (monthly, quarterly, annually), as well as same day answers to any investment-related question.

Some FOs decide to use a third-party custodian to hold and consolidate the reporting of all investment managers in order to reduce the number of employees. It is not unusual, however, for an FO to have an accounting and reporting staff consisting of five or six persons (e.g., a chief financial officer, a senior manager, and two or three bookkeepers).

Relevant Questions:

  • What information does the FO need to fulfill its investment management objectives, its federal and state reporting requirements, its business operations, and its internal communications?
  • Who will review the information above? How often? With what objectives? What controls exist to eliminate fraud and theft by professionals or staff in the FO?
  • What is the reporting role of third-party service providers, such as custodians, accounting firms, and investment consultants?

Coordinated Estate, Tax and Insurance Planning

With the complexity of the tax code, the high cost of estate and gift taxation, and the unpredictable and frequent changes in the interpretations and enforcement of the rules, there is no more important role for the FO than to stay constantly vigilant and aware. Consistent application of core rules of investment management, such as diversification and liquidity, typically will protect families from catastrophic loss. This is not true in the area of taxes and estate planning.

Most FOs rely on skillful legal and actuarial professionals to advise in these matters and many FOs use multiple advisors to evaluate issues and create consensus on the more complex issues and structures. In addition, estate, tax, and insurance planning necessarily involve an increase in the number and type of entities, each of which requires separate accounting, reporting, and investment management, as well as the appointment of non-beneficiary fiduciaries.

Therefore, an FO must establish a program to manage these issues on an ongoing basis in order to evaluate the risks and the opportunities of legislative, regulatory, and judicial changes in the federal and state tax codes. Managing these issues correctly is essential for ensuring that wealth is extended to multiple generations and becomes part of a future legacy of wealth. It is a far more creative and complex burden than most families recognize.

Relevant Questions:

  • Who coordinates the professional advisors and manages the periodic evaluation of existing entities and arrangements Who can make changes?
  • Who solicits new ideas and methods (and ensures these matters are included in investment management decisions)?
  • Who is there to speak on behalf of future generations?

Philanthropy

Almost all families become involved in philanthropic activities both because of the charitable and educational interests they may have, individually and collectively, and because tax planning techniques present both a need and opportunity to address this issue directly as a method of reducing taxes.

Philanthropy is another management item for the FO and, here again, families can manage this activity either with third-party providers or FO staff or a combination of the two. Philanthropic entities, either a non profit corporation or a trust, face federal and state tax reporting and significant compliance issues, as well as specific contract-related issues depending on the terms and conditions placed on any charitable gift.

In many cases, families use philanthropy as an avenue for encouraging inter-generational communication, values clarification, and skills training. Philanthropy can play an important role in establishing a family culture that allows younger family members to learn important business concepts and work together in establishing objectives, analyzing data, and presenting and defending personal points of view.

It is widely understood that first generation family members have an emotional and psychological connection to their wealth because it is the product of their labors. Subsequent generations, however, often do not have a personal context for their inherited wealth and, therefore, have more difficulty establishing their own sense of responsibility for its proper use and preservation. Philanthropy often helps to close that gap.

Relevant Questions:

  • What are the goals of the philanthropy for the family, both individually and collectively? How are different views and interests accommodated? What impact does the family hope that philanthropy will have on the family members?
  • What are the goals of the philanthropy for the recipients? What impact does the family hope to have on the issues and institutions it addresses through its giving? How will it be measured?
  • Who will oversee the management and reporting of this philanthropic entity? Who will develop the criteria for and evaluation and oversight of the giving? Who will be the “public face” for the family’s philanthropy?

Intergenerational and Family Issues

From time to time, most wealthy families (like all families) will experience life events that will cause some amount of conflict and that will impact the management of their wealth. Matters involving divorce, re-marriage, extended families, and disagreements with minor age and adult children can create emotional, and often legal – and publicized – burdens on everyone involved.

As a family grows in number, and new individuals and generations become more interested in being involved in the management and use of the family wealth, there will be more opinions and desires to be considered. Internal family communications become much more important and challenging.

The role of the FO, first and foremost, is to avoid the destruction or dissipation of the asset base through poor investment management and to continue, as directed by the owners and fiduciaries, to accurately report and communicate the status and details of the family’s wealth.

In addition, the best FO managers will provide suggestions for creatively solving problems and resolving disputes within the family and will suggest how to incorporate consultants and advisors with experience in understanding the specific conflict at issue. Very often, the FO manager’s network and relationships with other FO managers and trusted advisors will be very helpful in indentifying the appropriate information and resources.

Relevant Questions:

  • What planning can be completed in advance to avoid or minimize known potential conflicts? Who within (or outside) the family has control of which assets presently (and in the future) and the authority to modify existing arrangements?
  • Who solicits new ideas and methods and ensures these matters are included in family planning discussions relating to trustees, beneficiaries, and distributions? Who thinks about unforeseen contingencies?
  • Who is there to speak on behalf of future generations?

Family Office Administrative Tasks

Most FOs are involved in the management and execution of numerous administrative tasks associated with wealthy families, including evaluating, hiring, and firing household and non-professional staff and vendors; managing personal banking relationships; paying bills; arranging travel; coordinating parties and other events; managing primary and vacation homes; managing aircraft and yacht operations; purchasing liability, automobile, and other insurances; assisting in the purchase of significant assets, such as automobiles, artwork, and jewelry; and such other matters as they arise in a family’s personal lives.

In the case of families with owned and operated aircraft or a large number of domestic and foreign houses, the number and cost of FO support staff may be quite high; as will be the burden of the oversight, accounting, and reporting for such operations. Obviously, as the number of family members increases, some of these FO services may or may not be available to, or even desired by, each family member.

In this area, there are no specific rules or guidelines and family preferences determine the kind and number of services provided by the FO. In every case, however, families must be sure to recruit to the FO the appropriate quality and number of professionals and staff.

Relevant Questions:

  • What administrative tasks will the FO perform? Who will manage these functions? What arrangements exist to ensure 24/7/365 coverage?
  • What rules exist regarding the use of FO professionals and staff by family members? What are the channels of communication to avoid conflict or abuse of FO staff?
  • Who manages the third-party providers and vendors? What controls exist to eliminate fraud and theft by FO staff and vendors?

Health, Safety and Security

There is no more important issue facing families than their health, safety, and security and yet, these are the most difficult issues for a family and a FO to analyze and manage. Many families often avoid addressing these issues entirely.

For the FO, the issues range from protecting the family from the most predictable events, which requires the usual and customary practices and tools, to protecting the family from highly unpredictable and uncommon, but catastrophic, events, which requires more elaborate and costly preparations.

Many FOs are involved in such matters as providing background checks and psychological evaluations of household and personal staff, vetting contractors and vendors with access to family property, maintaining medical records (often with online access), monitoring personal information in the public domain, installing and maintaining home and office security systems (both for property and communications), and generally being aware of potential risks to personal safety.

Some families desire more comprehensive security measures, which requires the FO to assess such services as safe rooms, protected vehicles, kidnap and ransom insurance, trained and armed security, foreign country extraction, and contingency planning for catastrophic events, such as pre-arranged helicopters, boats, and planes, and pre-positioned chemical and radiation protection. In such matters, the FO can work with a number of specialized companies that assess security risks and provide a wide range of solutions.

Relevant Questions:

  • Who is responsible for thinking about and suggesting solutions for issues relating to personal risk? Who will manage risk assessment on an ongoing basis?
  • What risks does the family want to manage, at what cost, and how does the family wish to communicate about these risks to family members?
  • What resources will the family require when an emergency arises and who will provide them?

Conclusion: Next Steps

The business steps for creating a single family office are much the same as for any other business.

Step I: After discussing your preferences and options with the appropriate lawyers, accountants, and consultants, and after consulting with your family, create a preliminary business plan for the FO, which should describe:

  1. Goals: What are the objectives and responsibilities of the family office? What do you want the FO to do for the family? In what order and in what timeframe?
  2. Structure and Ownership: How will it be structured legally? Who (or what entity) will own and control it? Note that new rules by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission define the scope of the family office, which persons are included in the definition of “family member,” and who must own and/or control the family office.
  3. People and Skills: What skills are required to fulfill the objectives and responsibilities of the family office? Write the job specifications for the key professionals. Create an organization chart.
  4. Management and Communications: What information do you want from the FO? How, when, and to whom will information be communicated? What is the reporting structure?
  5. Costs: How much will the FO cost to operate? How much will various service providers cost? Create three or five-year draft financial projections. What is the source of funding?
  6. Service Providers: Which lawyers, accountants, investment advisors, family office, security, and other consultants will be used to assist the family office? Create a preferred service provider list.
  7. Operating Metrics: What are the appropriate metrics for measuring the performance and success of the family office?


Step II:
Start the process of meeting with potential candidates for the job of “head” of the family office.

  1. Create a Job Description: The job description should describe a seasoned professional with legal or financial background who understands various asset classes and has a broad understanding of the numerous financial, legal, tax, and personal factors that impact a wealthy family.
  2. Together, Recruit a Team: A good family office CEO/COO will seek to recruit other skilled professionals who will have the specific expertise to manage investment selection and oversight and the accounting and tax functions. These three professionals likely will be the core team that builds your FO, works with you to provide solutions to your issues, and creates a culture of quality and loyal service to your family.


Step III:
Remember the two key criteria of successful businesses: first, they must be adaptable and flexible in order to meet their objectives in an environment of constant change and, second, they are only as good as the people who lead and manage them. The threshold question, therefore is, are you prepared to recruit, incentivize, and delegate to a team of loyal and talented professionals?

Some further reading that might be of interest

Family_Office_Supplement.pdf

Pathway-to-successful-family-and-wealth-management.pdf

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in Investments

 

Ray Dalio’s “Principles” – a great document

Principles are concepts that can be applied over and over again in similar circumstances as distinct from narrow answers to specific questions. Every game has principles that successful players master to achieve winning results. So does life. Principles are ways of successfully dealing with the laws of nature or the laws of life. Those who understand more of them and understand them well know how to interact with the world more effectively than those who know fewer of them or know them less well.

Different principles apply to different aspects of life—e.g., there are “skiing principles” for skiing, “parenting principles” for parenting, “management principles” for managing, “investment principles” for investing, etc—and there are over-arching “life principles” that influence our approaches to all things. And, of course, different people subscribe to different principles that they believe work best.

I am confident that whatever success Bridgewater and I have had has resulted from our operating by certain principles. Creating a great culture, finding the right people, managing them to do great things and solving problems creatively and systematically are challenges faced by all organizations. What
differentiates them is how they approach these challenges.

The principles laid out in the pages that follow convey our unique ways of doing these things, which are the reasons for our unique results.
Bridgewater’s success has resulted from talented people operating by the principles set out here, and it will continue if these or other talented people continue to operate by them. Like getting fit, virtually anyone can do it if they are willing to do what it takes. What is written here is just my understanding of what it takes: my most fundamental life principles, my approach to getting what I want ……

Bridgewater-Associates-Ray-Dalio-Principles.pdf

About Bridgewater

Bridgewater manages approximately $150 billion in global investments for a wide array of institutional clients, including foreign governments and central banks, corporate and public pension funds, university endowments and charitable foundations. Approximately 1,400 people work at Bridgewater, which is based in Westport, Connecticut.

Founded in 1975 out of a two-bedroom apartment, Bridgewater remains an independent, employee-run organization. Throughout its 39-year history, Bridgewater has been recognized as a top-performing manager and an industry innovator, winning over 40 industry awards in the past five years alone. In both 2010 and 2011, Bridgewater ranked as the largest and best-performing hedge fund manager in the world and in both 2012 and 2013 Bridgewater was recognized for having earned its clients more than any other hedge fund in the history of the industry.

Related Media:

Click here to watch a concise 30 minute presentation How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2014 in Investments

 
 
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