Ideas, Good Ideas, “Hell Yeah!” Ideas, and “No.”

I have started a few businesses in the last 6 years.  All within the Margin Trading Products industry.  I have hit a few singles and most recently a double.  I judge my results not just by financial success (or lack thereof), but also by the impact the company has on the industry.  CMAP was a leader in ushering in a deconstruction and then reconstruction of an existing industry’s business model; and a financial success.  So I am happy with the results.  I sold CMAP to a partner firm further up the value chain, I am now thinking about what is next.  I have a small stake in the acquirer and a 6 month contract to integrate, help them build upon the asset they bought, and help roll out the next generation of product they have ready to launch.  But I have been thinking about what is next for me.

As I first thought about what is next for me, I was thinking about starting another company (lots of upside but little stability or family time).  I was thinking about potential titles at corporations (stability with limited upside).  I was thinking about my family’s needs and my needs.  Then, with the help of my executive coach, I started down the path for myself that I often advise others to think about.  I often tell others that you need to make sure you are happy in your day-to-day work.  Titles and the name of the company on your resume really do not matter to you; they matter to the outside world.  And as part of career planning, one must be cognizant of titles and employer reputation.  But success at what you do is most important and you can not be truly successful if you are not happy in your role.

So I started listing the characteristics that I want to be a part of my work life:

– Flexibility of schedule.  I have a young family that both demands my time and more importantly, deserves my time.  Nothing better than coming home to the sound of running feet and hollers of, “Daddy’s Home!!”

– Impact.  I am not a good worker bee.  If I have no part of the planning process, and am then tasked to do work that has little impact on the bottom line, I am not interested.  At first this made me wary of working for a corporation.  But a little research shows that there are corporations that have the right mix of corporate DNA and structure that would allow for an external hire to be a part of dynamic teams that work on interesting projects.  And most every start up, or even funded small company  has to have impact players at every level.

– Financial Stability.  I founded one funded entity (United Global Markets) that was an important learning lesson for me.  (Details on a later post).  The other two were bootstrapped.  In truth I was so enamored of the upside that I did not do a great job playing defense and ensuring that my personal finances were in great shape.  Trouble collecting from clients in China?  Guess I do not get paid this month or next.  Need $80k worth of new servers?  Thank you, retirement fund.  So whatever my next role is, whether a corporate role, a start up of my own making, or joining an existing small company, I will ensure there is financial stability for me and my family.

There are other characteristics that I listed, but the above are the important ones.  And how does this tie into the title of this post?

I have been approached with a number of offers of significant roles with start ups in the Margin Trading Products (“MTP”) industry.  I have been asked to be a part of start-ups entering the space with a bit of a different marketing plan (an Idea).  I have spoken with some senior bankers and brokers about creating an entity with an entirely separate focus than existing companies (a Good Idea),   But both of these projects have significant drawbacks and therefore my gut instinct is not, “Hell Yeah!!”.

And that is the final characteristic that I need in my next role.  “Hell Yeah!!”  As in, “Hell Yeah!  That is a GREAT idea.”  Or “Hell Yeah! I would absolutely kick ass in that role.”  So those projects get a “No.” from me.  And I will continue to search across my network of colleagues and friends, adversaries and clients, to find the Hell Yeah role that I need, and that we all should be striving for in our work life.  I will keep you updated but if you listen and keep your ear to the wind, you may just hear me shouting, “Hell Yeah” someday soon and you will know I found the role that is perfect for me.


Agreeing with Krugman?!

I am.  Paul Krugman is a columnist from the New York Times whose Opinion pieces I often disagree with.  I believe that he often confuses fact with opinion.  However his piece from May 3 seems to be right on.  I can not find fault with it; trust me I am trying.  It has not completely changed my mind on my views of the Fed’s actions and the pending inflation, but I am more open to considering different approaches and am using Krugman’s insight in my personal analysis.  And that is why I read the opinions and analyses of those with whom I disagree but respect.

Link to the NYT piece here.


Singapore is Next for the MTP Industry

OANDA, a large but quiet presence in the Margin Trading Products (“MTP”) industry, which is primarily spot FX, CFD’s, and some growing Binary Options traffic, recently appointed a new Head of OANDA Asia Pacific.  The who and why is not what interests me; it is the location.

The MTP industry has faced a lot of regulatory headwinds in the last 8 years.  As regulations toughen in one jurisdiction (USA), brokerage firms open up in other jurisdictions with looser rules.  This had led to what I refer to as “regulatory arbitrage”, with brokerage firms spending resources to start the application process in far flung jurisdictions so they have their bases covered.  It seems that eventually the regulators in each jurisdiction realize it is tough to keep up with the operators (see previous post) and they revert to stricter regulations based on larger prior jurisdictions.

But what interested me about the OANDA press release is the location of the new appointment.  Asia Pacific is a tough region to nail down.  Lots of different cultures, active in the north and south hemisphere, language barriers, etc.  Traditionally firms would locate themselves in Tokyo (most brokerage volume in Asia Pacific region), or Hong Kong (traditional investment banking hub).  But Singapore has seen more and more firms locating there.  And recently I have been learning about Singapore’s regulations and policies.  Singapore has principals-based regulation.  And it is more centralized to the entire region of Asia Pacific.

OANDA’s decision to locate their Asia Pacific HQ there seals it for me.  Singapore is the next global destination for the MTP industry.  Expect to see many more firms registering in Singapore in the coming years.