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Empowered

What does it mean to say that someone is “empowered”?

The Oxford dictionary defines the term as “stronger and more confident in controlling ones life”.

Key to this definition is the idea of control; that is, the ability to influence the course of events.

Roles in the community that we might think of as empowered include priests, professors, public figures, as well as sportspeople, artists and entertainers who have gained a following. People in these roles are in the business of creating and sharing different kinds of ideas: wisdom, knowledge, public announcements, entertainment, perspective and spectacle.

Each of these roles is different, but if we agree that all of them to a greater or lesser extent are “empowered”, then what can we say they have in common?

Well, for one thing, all of the people who hold these roles have a voice. That is, they have an audience who is willing to engage with their ideas.

In simple terms, then, being empowered means having a voice within the community; an audience who is willing to engage with your ideas.

How empowered are you in your life right now?

If you are not creating ideas and sharing them with people who care, then I can guess your answer.

You can start to empower yourself today by developing your ideas and putting them out into the world. You can choose whatever form you like: public speaking, music, writing, painting, poetry, physical achievement, or feats of daring. You can also choose whatever kinds of ideas best help to shine a light on your interests and aptitudes: law, finance, science, philosophy or pure entertainment and spectacle.

By empowering yourself you can gain more control over your life. And in doing so, you will then be in a better position to empower other people within your community, organisation, family or group of friends.

(Image Source: Tech Insider)


Essential Features That Your Serviced Office Should Have

It is very common these days for businesses of all shapes and sizes to use serviced offices. For smaller companies and startups, however, they are particularly valuable. If a young business wants to get off the ground fast, they can do so by paying a fixed rate fee to rent a fully equipped workspace. It gives them access to state of the art resources, without the associated expenses.

If you are currently on the hunt for a suitable serviced office, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. It is not always easy to find an adequately supplied workspace that is also maintained efficiently, but it is possible to find both of these things. A great resource to see where you can locate your business can be found here.

This post provides some of the most essential features of a serviced office and will help you find one that is perfect for your business.

Prestigious Address

If you are willing to pay for a managed office space, you have a right to expect its address to enhance your own reputation. This is why location is key when it comes to choosing a serviced office. For young businesses, it can make a huge difference, because it replaces an unprofessional domestic address with a highly regarded corporate one. It takes a lot of investment to set up that first independent site, but serviced workspaces are a great way to feel the benefit even if a company doesn’t have the necessary resources quite yet.

Flexible Contracts

The rise of nomadic entrepreneurs has bolstered the need for a much more flexible corporate culture. Innovative new businesses no longer want to be tied to one city or even a traditional work schedule. They want the freedom to work on the move and respond proactively to developing market trends. Being unrestricted by administrative ties is a big part of this and serviced offices are an easy way to invest in the amount of security that works for you. If you don’t have to commit to a two year lease, you will have more flexibility to plan for a wider range of future eventualities.

Back Office Support

The best serviced offices are more than just blank spaces for businesses to fill. They also provide access to the finest IT, secretarial, administrative, and tech support. With a back office of this calibre, entrepreneurs and startups never have to worry about going it alone. They are just one phone call away from a highly trained and experienced team of advisors. Whether you need help greeting guests, operating IT systems, or organising files, all you have to do is ask. The clue is in the name – with a ‘serviced’ office, you should expect that all of your corporate needs will be met.

Leisure Spaces

Not all serviced offices provide access to a leisure or relaxation space, but it is an essential part of the work routine. Studies have shown, time and time again, that productivity suffers when people don’t take regular breaks. In order to work efficiently, you also need to give your brain a chance to rest and recharge. The best serviced offices come with outdoor leisure spaces, so that occupants are exposed to plenty of daylight. This keeps them alert, happy, and healthy for longer. Keep this mind when searching for your ideal workspace.

Alexandra Richards is an Australian business consultant, located in Perth. She takes a keen interest in the business structures and work culture of Perth based businesses. She has recently been working with Servcorp to help deliver tailored solutions to local businesses.


Cheap money, what is it good for

Cheap money should help to stimulate the world economy, but is it working?

Following the leave campaign winning the Brexit referendum, which will see the UK leave the EU two years after the Prime Minister notifies the European Council of its intention to do so, there was much fear about what this would mean for the strength of the UK economy.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, issued a statement immediately following the result in which he aimed to calm market sentiment.

He acknowledged that Brexit would result in a period of uncertainty and adjustment, but there would be no initial changes in the way people are able to travel, or in the way that products and services are sold.  In a calm demeanor, he reassured us that the Bank of England would not hesitate to take additional measures, as required.

What kind of additional measures did he have in mind?

Well, Carney went on to say specifically that “… as a backstop, and to support the functioning of the markets, the Bank of England stands ready to provide more than 250 billion pounds of additional funds through its normal market operations.”

What did he mean by this?

Well, traditionally, central banks have aimed to control monetary policy by influencing interest rates. By lowering interest rates a central bank hopes to stimulate the economy by lowering the required rate of return on business investments, which should increase the total amount of investment in the economy.

As recently as ten years ago, it was unthinkable that a responsible central bank would try to stimulate the economy by turning on the printers and pumping new money into the economy. But this is what Carney was suggesting, “the Bank of England stands ready to provide more than 250 billion pounds of additional funds“.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, central banks have increasingly resorted to this new and unconventional policy known as quantitative easing. The US has engaged in three rounds of quantitative easing, purchasing an estimated $4.5 trillion in financial assets. And the UK has also been busily printing money, purchasing more than £375 billion in financial assets.

QE is new and unconventional, but notice how carefully Carney finessed his words.

“The Bank of England stands ready to provide more than 250 billion pounds of additional funds through its normal market operations.”

There is absolutely nothing “normal” about printing money in order to prop up the economy. This behaviour was traditionally the province of banana republics like Zimbabwe and the Weimar Republic, and in both of those cases it led to rampant hyperinflation. The Bank of England’s website even acknowledges this, stating “Quantitative easing (QE) is an unconventional form of monetary policy where a Central Bank creates new money electronically to buy financial assets, like government bonds.” (emphasis added)

However, mid-last week, Carney’s “normal market operations” appear to have finally hit a bump in the road.

The FT reported that the Bank of England’s new programme to buy long-dated UK government bonds had run into trouble as pension funds and insurance companies were refusing to sell. “The Bank of England fell £50m short in its gilt purchase target … , and even then only secured [as much as it did] by paying well above market price,” said Darren Bustin, head of derivatives at Royal London Asset Management.

Is the Bank of England’s money no good?

Why might these institutions be refusing to sell their long-dated bonds?

A few reasons.

Firstly, by printing money and lowering long term interest rates, the Bank of England is, in effect, siphoning money out of the pockets of old people.

Pension funds have long term liabilities which will not fall due for many years. In order to be able to provide for their members during retirement, these institutions need to buy long-dated assets, which will provide revenue over a long period of time. With interest rates continuing to fall, it makes sense that these institutions would prefer to hold onto their long term bonds, which will provide a steady stream of fixed coupon payments.

Already this year, 10-year gilt yields have fallen from 2% to a staggering low of 0.56%, which has led to worsening funding shortfalls for UK pension funds. Lower interest rates mean that pension funds expect to earn less from their bond portfolios in future, and so will be less able to pay their members’ pension entitlements. This means that employees, worried about their standard of living during retirement, are now under pressure to save even more than before (exactly the opposite of what the Bank of England is hoping to achieve).

The second reason that these institutions may be reluctant to part with their bonds in exchange for cash is that, as central banks continue to engage in quantitative easing, money is becoming increasingly worthless.

If we think of interest rates as the “price” of money, then we can see that in many countries money has never been less valuable.

Here is a list of prevailing central bank interest rates in some of the world’s major economies (as of today, August 14th 2016):

  • Bank of Japan: -0.1%
  • European Central Bank: -0.4%
  • Swiss National Bank: -0.75%
  • Sweden’s Riksbank: -0.5%
  • U.S. Federal Reserve: 0.4%
  • Bank of England: 0.25%
  • Reserve Bank of Australia: 1.5%

Cheap money should help to stimulate the world economy, but is it working?

The evidence doesn’t seem too positive.

Low rates are meant to encourage business investment, but in a low growth world where companies and governments are already heavily indebted it is easy to understand why this may not happen.  Moreover, if banks absorb the cost of negative interest rates themselves, then this lowers their profit margins and may make them less likely to lend money.

As we saw in Germany on Friday, one bank has now decided to pass on negative interest rates to its retail clients. In other words, it will now penalise thrifty individuals for having savings in the bank. If enough other banks follow this lead and make more customers pay to hold their money in the bank, then customers may start putting cash under the mattress or stashing it in a safe. This would reduce the total amount of deposits held in banks and could potentially set off a bank run.

Cheap money, what is it good for?

(Image Source: Flickr)


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