Swiss bank (UBS) results and why these affect you (pt2)

After my post this morning, I have been following up on the news that UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank is to cut its global workforce by 10,000. If you read my last post, I tried to explain why I think that is bad news for all of us, not just the Swiss.

I won’t get into the argument here about ‘greedy bankers’ and the rights and wrongs of government bank bailouts. More than enough has been said already about that.

However here’s a Euro News report today with more on this story.

UBS blazes lone banking trail | euronews, behind markets

What interested me was that the news about UBS job losses (not to mention the £1.43bn losses in the 3rd quarter) resulted in a massive boost in the UBS share price. Shares in the bank closed up more than 7% in Z├╝rich, the highest riser on a falling SMI.

Apparently, the idea is to reorient the bank around its core activities, which internationally means wealth management that reaps double-digit returns. In other words, selling more stuff to the super rich.

Now I should point out I am not an outright bank hater. In fact I have worked for several of the world’s largest banks - although I left the sector in 2004 and alot of 'very bad things' have happened since then.

That said I am seriously troubled by this news. I am also astonished that banks continue to pay huge bonuses in their investment banking businesses. In my view, the traditional arguement that you need to pay big bucks to get the best talent simply doesn't hold water in today's economic situation. Even if this argument did stack up, the fact is that the banks have lost the trust of the public.More than ever, they need to rebuild this trust if they are to have sustainable businesses in future.

But back to UBS. In essence, the only winners here are the investors. The losers are everyone else including a large number of highly paid investment banking staff. These folk will find it very tough to get new jobs (which depending on your view about the banks' behaviour and culpability, you may or may not care about).

If an office full of investment bankers shuts down, there are a huge number of other people who risk losing their jobs too - staff in the local restaurants and shops, right through to the German car worker, the Italian hotelier and the Japanese TV manufacturer.

But what really worries me here is that these developments are increasing wealth inequality.

Many studies have proven that it isn’t absolute wealth or poverty which creates social tension and misery, it is the relative levels, i.e. the size of the inequality between the richest and the poorest in any society.

Just about the only people who will benefit from this news are the super rich, who have just become richer.The small investor who has a few hundred or even a few thousand UBS shares won’t really be affected by this. But if you hold say a few million UBS shares, you’ve just had a great day (assuming all you care about is yourself).

So I hope you can see how this news means we are increasing wealth inequality further.

Whilst the super rich just got richer, everyone else, from the waitress at the restaurant, to the car worker in Germany to the very highly paid investment bankers and their staff, just got a whole lot poorer. Whilst that is bad news in itself, the wealth gap just got bigger too and the global economy took yet another knock back.

Switzerland is stalling and this affects us all

This morning, I fully intended to write about technology and how it provides opportunities for the over 40’s to redesign their lives and financial prospects way beyond what most can imagine.

But then going through my newsfeeds I was hit by some astonishing news which just had to take precedence. So the technology opportunities piece will have to wait a day or two…

Whilst this is about Switzerland, in my view, it is news of global significance. 

I have some connections with Switzerland. Not least is that my younger brother lives and works there, employed by a major US multinational. So I have spent a reasonable amount of time in that beautiful and prosperous country, soaking up the spectacular landscape, the historic buildings and the clean and efficient environment. A couple of years ago on my last visit, when the US and UK were already in recession, the Swiss would just shrug and say, ‘What recession?’ 

Then almost simultaneously this morning, I caught two news stories. The first was that UBS is cutting 10,000 jobs as it looks to drastically shrink its ailing investment bank. 2,500 jobs will go in Switzerland and 7,500 in the UK and US.

UBS is Switzerland's biggest bank and announced the plans as part of its third-quarter results which revealed a loss of 2.2 billion Swiss francs (£1.43bn) yes that’s right £1.43 billion!, compared to a profit of 1.02 billion (£0.67bn) in the same period last year.

UBS said the result for the July-September period was damaged by a one-off charge of 3.1 billion Swiss francs (£2bn) linked to the restructuring of its investment banking division and a debt-related charge of Fr863 million (£574m).

So possibly, just possibly, these results are one-offs due to the restructuring.

But then, this news was supplemented by more news that Swiss manufacturing is entering a slowdown due to reduced demand in the Eurozone. Here’s an extract from the Fox News report:

Employment prospects in Switzerland's industrial and banking sectors are likely to worsen in coming months as faltering economic growth in the Euro zone damps demand for Swiss goods and services, according to a survey released Monday. The employment indicator compiled by the KOF economic institute has held below the growth threshold in the third and fourth quarters of the year, suggesting a "stagnation of the Swiss employment trend in the coming quarter, with the industrial and banking sectors hardest hit”, it said Monday.

Read more:

When a previously immune and secure economy like Switzerland falters, I think it’s a sure sign that we are in deepening trouble.

So why is this news of global significance? Because it points to at best further stagnation and at worst a meltdown of the global economy.
The big Swiss banks and manufacturers are global businesses. Their employees are all over the world. And when these businesses struggle, so do their employees; and the businesses where those employees spend their incomes are damaged too. It’s a trickle down effect.

It gives me no joy at all to report this news. The one thing I do know though is that the survival strategies I describe in my report here are becoming ever more relevant to more and more people.

Baby-Boomers, Here's Your Wake-Up Call

The workplace has changed dramatically. These days, there's more to maintaining a career than your day job. Get another oar in the water, fast.


By Liz Ryan, Contributing Columnist,

October 23, 2012
I call baby-boomers the bushwhacked generation. Back in the early 1980s, when I began my career, the message to a new hire was "Welcome to XYZ Corporation! We’re so glad you are part of our team. We look forward to a long and happy employment relationship with you."

Hard as it is to admit, back then I was one of the people peddling that longtime-career Kool-Aid. I was a corporate human-relations person, one who never questioned the idea that if people came to work and put their shoulder to the wheel, they'd earn a nice living and climb the corporate ladder straight to retirement.

Now that the corporate ladder is sawdust under our feet, baby-boomers need to think differently. Longtime employment isn’t just elusive; it isn't even always a good thing. Every day I talk with employers who say "This candidate seems like a good guy, but I worry about him, too. He spent 26 years at his last job. Do you think this guy can flex, Liz?" In some respects, having many jobs with varying circumstances equips a job-seeker better for today's workplace than one longterm gig.

How is a baby-boomer to deal with the ever-shakier employment landscape? My advice: Grow new muscles. People need altitude on their careers now, and perspective they didn't need when a job search was a once-every-decade-or-so proposition. We need to be aware of the talent marketplace all the time. We have to know which business problems we solve for employers, whether we're job-hunting or not. More than anything, we need multiple oars in the water.

An oar in the water is a revenue stream and a way to exercise professional muscles. If you've been a W-2 type since forever, you likely haven't thought much about additional oars. (Our kids know all about them, however. As a 25-year-old in Denver told me, 'It drives my mom crazy that I've got a degree and five part-time jobs. She doesn't understand that I don't want one full-time gig. I make more money this way, and I don't lose sleep worrying whether my employer likes me or not.')

Back when, having a side job meant bartending or singing at weddings, something most corporate types would shun as too down-market for their tastes. Today, it's different. I encourage every working person to have a business card separate from the one your employer gave you. You could consult, advising overburdened businesspeople in your spare time. You could pick up freelance gigs from the comfort of your den. You can make money in a thousand ways without even blowing your professional cover.

Putting out a shingle isn't just a good idea financially; it's essential for your mojo, too. Solving other people's problems is the best way to grow your connecting-the-dots skills, the same skills we need to thrive in the new-millennium workplace. Here are three of our favorite oar-in-the-water options for otherwise-committed W-2 types.

"Elance" Your Knowledge pairs freelance workers with projects they can complete from home. Projects range from tiny (a graphic designer paying $35 for a more fluid bio than she could write herself) to gargantuan (a six-month project with a five-figure payoff). If you want to put a toe in the second-revenue stream, this is one great way to begin.

Blog About What You Know

Every day I talk with baby-boomers who are experts on all sorts of subjects – including areas of expertise they get paid for at work and ones they've cultivated over the years on their own, outside of work. I recommend that people who know a lot about anything at all start a blog or a Facebook page, to get the "sharing what I know" juice flowing and to enable other enthusiasts in the same space to find them.

You'll be amazed what happens when you start writing regularly about topics that interest you, especially when your advice can help other people. It's free to start your own blog at Wordpress.The blog itself may turn into a revenue generator for you, or the contacts you make via your blog may create financial opportunities (or both). What are you waiting for?

Get a Business Card

When it comes to oars in the water, the big message is "Be available when opportunities arise." To get started, go to and get business cards that brand you as something other than your company's assistant manager of whatever. I want you to get business cards, no matter what your work situation is – they cost almost nothing. You can worry about the actual business later.

Sadly, we've taught the baby-boom generation that entrepreneurism is something exotic and risky, not suitable for the average person – absolute hogwash that would have horrified our grandparents. My friend Jody, unsure how to brand herself, ordered business cards that displayed her name over the tagline "Available for Lunch." Those cards got her fantastic freelance jobs and ultimately a terrific W-2 gig. You don't have to pick a business name, design your offerings or create a business plan, at least not yet. Just get out there and start talking to people about their issues. You'll be amazed how fast your new-millennium workplace muscles grow.

Getting seniors working isn't working

After some 40 years in the business world, Gordon Steen never thought his morning would start outdoors with hyenas, elephants and monkeys.

Gordon Steen

But that was more than six years ago, before he had closed his 17-year-old shipping-and-packing business. While contemplating his next career move, he became a customer-service representative at the Baltimore Zoo.

“That was a tough job, being out in the sun all day long,” Steen, now 65, said of the seasonal work that ended with winter’s onset. “But I thought it would be interesting, and it was - and the economy hadn’t tanked yet.”

But in the late summer of 2008, the country plunged into a deep economic recession, and Steen soon found himself doing jobs he had never considered as he searched for an elusive full-time position. In the past few years, he has worked part time as a writer, researcher, photographer and leasing consultant.

Struggling senior adults are just part of the national unemployment picture. In August, the country’s unemployment rate stood at 8.1 percent, or about 12.5 million people, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Economists often accompany such statistics with comments about the uncounted “under-employed,” or those who have stopped searching. Among Americans ages 65 and older, there were 493,000 unemployed people seeking work, up from 480,000 a year earlier, according to the Department of Labor.

Those seniors face some challenges specific to older adults. Although age discrimination is illegal, prospective employers are put off by what they perceive as the seniors’ potential skill deficits, fears about higher health-care costs and concern about longevity in the position.

“With so many of the jobs I am applying for, they involve technology and the people applying are in their 20s and are three times faster,” Steen said. “At the same time, I am very adaptive to learning, and in fact, my ability to learn is a lot better than I thought it would be.”

Jeffrey Davidson, 67, understands what Steen is up against. The online LinkedIn profile of the Los Angeles-area professional exudes skills and experience - “Professional Consultant/Public Speaker/Trainer specializing in PowerPoint, Excel, Word & WordPerfect at PC Consultants” - but it’s still been an uphill battle.

“There are 4,000 people looking for four jobs in any given vocation,” Davidson said. “I will honestly say that right now I’m not trying as hard as I was. It’s a combination of frustration - what I’m looking for isn’t available, I don’t know who to contact. I’m trying to put the word out, nothing’s happening.”

After seeing his consulting work dwindle in recent years, Davidson turned to Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) of Los Angeles for moral support among like-minded people at a weekly group.

“Prior to the onset of the recession at the end of 2008, I don’t think even 5 percent of the individuals seeking services with our agency were over 65,” said Jay Soloway, training and education director for JVS Los Angeles. Today it’s between 15 to 20 percent, he said.

For Jewish vocational service agencies across the United States, the challenges facing seniors have not gone unnoticed. Some JVS operations have seen increases as high as 20 to 30 percent in the senior category, according to Genie Cohen, CEO of the International Association of Jewish Vocational Services. Her operation provides technical, informational and communications support to 28 JVS operations in Canada, Israel and the United States.

“Everybody is struggling to find help and programs for this part of the community,” Cohen said. Jewish Family Services in Columbus, Ohio, has a “2 Young 2 Retire” program that focuses on financial needs, staying healthy and “encore career choices with the goal of discovering work on your own terms related to personal values, passions and aspirations.”

Jewish Vocational Service of Metro-West in New Jersey runs the Center for Creative Maturity, which covers people older than 45 and targets subgroups such as those with disabilities ages 55 and older, older refugees and immigrants, and even nursing home residents. In Louisville, Ky., the Mature Work program of Jewish Family & Career Services covers assistance with returning to the workforce and developing strategies to enter new careers.

In Los Angeles, JVS started Mature Ability, a program aimed at people 55 and older. The agency also created the eight-week Bank Work$ program, which guides people toward jobs in banking, often as tellers.“We get into issues of the realities of working today with younger supervisors and maintaining self-esteem,” Soloway said. He is concerned that some people will not take such jobs as they look for something more lucrative and prestigious, which in turn prolongs the job search.

Other issues abound, points out Tracey Paliath, economic services director of Baltimore’s Jewish Community Services. Even one’s e-mail add - or lack thereof - can be a detriment.“You have to explain to them that they have to apply online and that paper is sort of past,” she said. “And if they have an e-mail that’s, that sends up a red flag” because some see it as an outdated system.

The challenge is not just teaching people the new methods of job hunting - the Internet did not exist the last time some older Americans were job hunting  - but the reality that works in their fields may not return.

Paliath says that about 40 percent of her colleagues’ clients are 50 and older. “We have had people in their 70s and even a couple in their 80s,” she said.

Not everyone is working to recapture what once were retirement funds, she added. Some people are picking up a mortgage or health-care costs for children and grandchildren in difficult economic straits.Despite the subtle and overt roadblocks, Steen, who has an adult son living at home - “but at least he’s got a job” - is not giving up.

“They talk about the hidden job market, which is people you know who know someone else,” Steen said. “That’s kind of what’s hidden behind the green door, and it takes some imagination to open it.”

Business lesson from a 13 year old

By Neil Patrick

Actually the 13 year old in question was me – in 1974!

I guess I had an entrepreneurial streak even then. In 1974, Britain was in recession. The miners' strike had resulted in a national fuel crisis and on many evenings the electricity was shut down at about 7pm. I did my homework by candlelight.

It was also the year I had my first business - and my office was the school yard.The school’s system was that every Monday morning, we would all queue up in the assembly hall and buy five pale green plastic tokens. Each token cost 12p, and so every pupil would buy 5 tokens to last the week for a total cost of 60p. We’d then exchange one of these each day in the canteen to pay for our school dinner.

The idea was that this meant the pupils didn’t have to carry cash on them whilst at school and would be ‘committed’ to eating a school dinner each day. It also meant the canteen could operate without handling any cash directly.

By Thursday or Friday however, there would always be a surplus of these plastic tokens in possession of the pupils. This was because not every pupil would have their lunch every day. Some would have been absent for a day or two, others chose to buy sweets or chips in the nearby town instead. So at the end of each week I could buy dozens of these plastic tokens for about 3p each.

Come the following Monday morning, my school mates could either buy 5 tokens from me for 50p, or buy the same thing from the school for 60p. Inevitably, my supply could never meet the demand. As a result I was always by far the wealthiest kid in my class.

Looking back, there were a number of interesting aspects to this, some I can explain, others not. The first inexplicable fact is that no-one ever copied my idea, even though all the other kids knew exactly what I was doing. They were just happy when they got to me quickly enough to buy from me on a Monday morning and could immediately pocket the 10p they were saving. I guess the lesson from this is that the majority of people don’t think long term (even if by long term we mean 3 or 4 days). They just want a quick and easy deal today.  

Secondly, this was a business with no investment required, no overheads and huge profit margins, which just couldn’t meet the demand. Not that I worried about this, I was doing just great thank you. The lesson here is that a good business always creates happy sellers and happy buyers, and this was exactly what I was doing.

Thirdly, in hindsight I guess there was a risk for me. If the school had ever discovered what I was doing, I would probably have been expelled, rather than praised for my business acumen. So I took measures to ensure that the school could never pin anything on me. My ‘stock’ was hidden in a variety of secret locations. I was never caught and the risk never materialised. This lesson is that although we can never eliminate risk completely, we can take effective steps to minimise it.

You might argue that I was robbing the school and even devaluing their ‘currency’, and it’s true that today this moral aspect would prevent me from adopting a similar business model. But then I was only 13 and learning the ropes! It would be quite a few years yet before I was being invited to speak at business schools.

The last and perhaps biggest lesson is the great feeling I had from helping my friends save money. My business made me a lot more friends than I’d have had otherwise. And that’s the most important thing. A good business is about satisfying your customers needs in a way that they love. If you can do that, you’ll always keep them coming back for more.

Job hunting in a recession – new tactics revealed

By Neil Patrick

Here’s an interview with Dr. Russ Riendeau. There’s some  valuable material here. In particular, there are some great tips for mature employees who may well find that the strategies that worked 5 or 10 years ago don’t work anymore. You’ll hear some new and sometimes counter-intuitive advice on how you can:

•Successfully market yourself in the new world at work

•Ensure your resume proves you're a superstar instead of merely showing you worked someplace

•Effectively deploy social media to demonstrate you're an expert in your field

I think these insights will give you new ideas to help you succeed in finding work in a very tough market. But as you’ll know from my other posts, I think having a back up plan is vital too.

If you are over 40 and looking for a job, or just fed up with the one you’ve got, there is simply too much at stake to rely on the skills and methods that we used to use.

Few jobs are really secure today, so even if you currently have a great job, you need to be thinking how you will find another if for any reason that job disappears.

The key to this is investing in what's called your personal brand value. Ignore it at your peril!

Robert Kiyosaki – Life Choices

By Neil Patrick

Robert Kiyosaki , best selling author of the ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ series of books has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons lately. In case you don’t know, this month, one of his former partners sued one of his companies (Rich Global LLC) successfully for $24m.

The lawsuit involved a retrospective claim for unpaid royalties from what I understand. Rich Global is one of around 10 firms he owns, so I don’t know yet if he is personally bankrupt, or whether he can cover these losses from other assets.

But that doesn’t really matter right now. To my mind, none of this invalidates his valuable teachings around the subject of how we go about organising our lives to create sustainable financial security. Here’s a clip which sets out his perspective very clearly and is essential for us to get a grip on our life choices and where they will ultimately lead us.

He may be down right now, but I wouldn’t bet on him being out!

You’re overqualified - and that’s a problem for your future

By John Rossheim, Monster Senior Contributing Writer

You were laid off from your executive job by a company that's now six feet under. You've sent out 800 resumes, done one interview, received zero offers. You find yourself looking lower and lower on the totem pole and occasionally eyeing openings for line managers at the competitor that killed your former employer. If you must apply for a position for which you're clearly overqualified, how do you actually land the job?

Withhold Your Resume

Here's what not to do: Fire off a volley of resumes to human resources departments. "Sending a resume is simply a way to oblivion," says Jeffrey Fox, author of Don't Send a Resume. HR departments must quickly eliminate nearly all of the hundreds of resumes submitted for a single opening. At the first whiff of your extra qualifications, most screeners will stamp "no" on your application. "Resumes are read to be rejected," Fox says.

What's the workaround for overqualified candidates? Go directly to the hiring manager to pitch your ability to excel in the open position. You can either call or write, but hold back your resume in the first round of communication with the employer.

Sell to the Employer's Need

Once you've found out as much as you can about the company and the position, you've got to imagine how your qualifications mesh perfectly with the job requirements. "If you're overqualified, you need to articulate how a handful of your skills will help that specific employer," says Nick Corcodilos, author of Ask the Headhunter. At least at first, say nothing about higher-level skills that don't pertain to the position at hand.

Use Emphasis to Shape Employer Perceptions

Sooner or later, you'll probably have to send a resume. More than you ever have before, you'll need to customize your one-page presentation of yourself. To de-emphasize those over-the-top elements of your professional background, "you can make some information more sparse, but you've got to be careful about misrepresenting yourself," says Corcodilos.

How do you tread this fine line? One solution is to create a functional resume where relevant skills are pumped up in detail toward the top of the resume, while overly impressive titles are demoted to the bottom and given little ink. Strategic emphasis is integral to persuasion; omission of recent, important rungs in your career ladder is unethical deception.

Make a Virtue of Your Extra Qualifications

In the interview, if your prospective employer says that your extraordinary qualifications cast doubt on your candidacy, recast your past as an asset to your future at the company. Emphasize that "you're getting somebody with the potential to move up," says Frances Haynes, coauthor with Daniel Porot of 101 Toughest Interview Questions.

Draw Out Objections; Don't Volunteer Them

Employers typically have the following objections to candidates with extra qualifications: You'll get bored quickly; you won't be satisfied with the salary; you'll jump to another company as soon as you get a better offer. "Employers are pretty reticent to hire overqualified people, because they believe when the economy picks up, they'll lose those people," says Haynes.

If you raise these issues early in the application process, you risk short-circuiting your candidacy. Instead, see what's on the minds of your interviewers by asking open-ended questions such as these: "What else do you need to hear to be convinced that I'm the best fit for the job? Do you have any questions about my candidacy that I haven't yet had the chance to answer?" Just make sure you've already ferreted out all the tough questions that your work history could possibly raise -- and practiced answering them.

The Ultimate Issue

Finally, be prepared to answer one question that the interviewer may be too embarrassed to ask: Won't it be humiliating for you to take a job that many people would consider beneath you? You can address this issue indirectly through the positive attitude you convey in everything you say about the available position and your fitness for it. "You have to be perceived as the kind of person who believes there is honor in every job," says Haynes.

This post originally appeared here: 

My comments:

This is good advice if you are over-qualified for a job you are going after. I'd say it will get the best possible result from a difficult situation.  But I'm not convinced that any of it will overcome the prejudices and fears of many hiring managers who simply will not be brave enough to hire someone who is more experienced and quite possibly more capable than they are. 

That’s the rub; it’s line managers who generally make the decision about who to hire, and they will almost always put their own interests ahead of the organisation's best interests, unless they have a clear directive from above to overcome this tendency. 

So until firms realise this and put appropriate policies and procedures in place to make this happen, the default position I describe above will continue to prevail. What do you think?

The best advice for mature job seekers I've seen...

By Neil Patrick

If you read this blog, you’ll know that I think there’s a lot of nonsense talked about by HR types , recruiters and government agencies about how mature professionals can land a job. It always seems to boil down to saying if you sell your benefits to your prospective employers and persist, you will succeed. But it might take a while.

Hmmm. Well I’m not sure about that. Ageism is rife and I don’t think following the advice above will get you very far. Plus in the process, even the most self motivated individual is likely to succumb to debilitating self doubt, eventually.

So it was refreshing to watch this short film featuring Patra Frame’s advice. I think her tips actually do make sense. Moreover following these will ensure you build on your key strengths and address your weaknesses. And even if you don’t land the job you are after, you’ll be steadily increasing your skills which you could utilise to build your own income streams through self employment.

What do you think? Please post any comments and reactions below.

How you can make something amazing happen

By Neil Patrick

I came across this today. It's Marissa Mayer from Google/Yahoo. In case you don’t know her, she was employee number 20 at Google and their first female engineer. She has had a distinguished career since and now sits on several boards including Walmart and Yahoo, where she is President and CEO.

Anyway, I like the method she describes here of how to choose from several business/career options:

The approach is elegant in its simplicity. And I think somewhat counter-intuitive. But more importantly, I think this approach is especially relevant to the over 40’s. Our life experience often encourages us to rely too much upon our own abilities in isolation.

The baby boomers grew up in a world with no computers, no internet and little globalization. And our education broadly matched the requirements of that world. Part of it was that we were taught that our own efforts matter more than anything else. It’s these which will dictate your results. It’s you against the world. Success is about beating your competitors.

But this is a different and more contemporary view. It recognizes that engaging with the best and most able people in a given field is the most important thing. It emphasizes collaboration rather than competition. Why go through all the trial and error and risks of figuring something out for yourself, when you can tap into the experience and learnings of someone who's done it successfully before?

One reason the internet and social media in particular are so powerful is because they foster and faciliate collaboration.

It's a whole new worldview for anyone born before about 1980.

It’s one of the reasons I set up this blog - to help mature workers to see the world of opportunities that is available to them if they have the courage and vision to venture outside their comfort zones.

The one thing that we like to cling to is the comfort of doing the things we know about. We feel safe and secure in our knowledge and experience of these things. But how can we grow if we do not extend ourselves continuously?

And the best way I know to do that isn't to challenge others, it's to challenge ourselves.

One thing you must do to survive and thrive in the recession

If you read my blog you are probably interested in what the current economic crisis means for your personal future. The trouble is that journalists typically either grab some shocking headline based on a piece of bad news (which is either irrelevant to us personally or just plain depressing) , or go into so much detail that the average person is bored and confused within a few sentences.

Neither of these situations really makes us much the wiser or helps any of us make good personal decisions. I thought I would try fill this gap by taking an expert and detailed news report and converting it into layman speak, so that anyone reading this can actually learn something of value.

At least I will try and let you be the judge of whether or not I’ve succeeded. So here’s a great report last week from CNBC. Its an interview with Kyle Bass, Managing Partner for Hayman Capital in the US.

It’s heavy going for the layman but there are some key points which I’d like to explain as they have huge significance for any working person or person looking to earn money in the recession. If we can make our decisions with the benefit of the best information available on the economic outlook , we will make better life decisions. It’s really as simple as that.

The first point explained here is that the global economy is not de-leveraging, What does that mean? To put it simply, the amount of credit in the global monetary system is increasing 3-4 times faster than GDP growth. This would normally put upward pressure on inflation, but this is being artificially restrained by low central bank lending rates and less consumption.

Here’s the translation; our government and central banks are printing money to try and prop up the economy. Inflation is only being avoided because of stagnation or reductions in government, business and household spending and low investment returns. In short our economies have stalled and there is nothing on the horizon which can drive growth back into them. Without growth, job and income prospects for everyone in or seeking employment are bleak.

Meanwhile in the US, housing market values have bottomed out, but there isn’t a real prospect of major price growth because earnings and incomes aren’t increasing enough to support increased lending to homebuyers. Worse still, lenders are still trapped by the conflicting regulatory requirements of needing increased capital strength and government pressure to lend – a broadly similar situation exists in the UK. Translation; the traditional default investment of most working people in the UK - their homes, are not going to deliver any real appreciation in value any time soon, and in fact on a localised basis could still show significant price falls in future.
In the Eurozone, Germany cannot and will not ultimately provide ‘joint and several’ for the sovereign debt of struggling countries in the Euro. Joint and several is just jargon for underwriting or covering the debts of those countries in economic crisis. If Germany won’t ultimately cover those debts, many more people in Europe are going to see a collapse in value of their assets and incomes over the coming months and years. Hence European markets upon which UK businesses are heavily dependant upon will continue to contract over the coming years, destroying UK jobs in the process.

Now I know I’m probably sounding like a doom monger at this point. But there is a key point towards the end of the interview which I must highlight and which I think will revive your hope. At this point the interview discusses where investors can place their investments in such a stagnant world economy. And the answer from Kyle Bass is critical – ‘invest in productive assets’. That’s his message to investors and it’s just as relevant to you. No I’m not talking about investment in the way that he is. But the principle is the same – it’s the correct investor response to the recession and it's also the correct personal one.

I’m talking about the investment of your time and energy (at least however much you can spare) into the creation of your own productive assets. These are assets you can create, own and generate an income from which cost you little or no money , just a little bit of your time to set up.

Just download my free report here to discover more right now about how you can do this much more easily than you would have ever thought possible. It’s obvious really. If you have assets earning you money month in month out, and they are almost free to obtain, why wouldn’t you want to own them? And how much less would you worry about your job security if you did?

So I hope this all makes sense. Don’t just hope that somehow the politicians or an economic miracle will save you. Take things into your own hands and save yourself. You can do it and now is the time to start.

50 benefits of hiring an older worker. What would you add to this list?

As you may have seen from my post ‘10 Reasons Why You are Your Own Biggest Asset’, here:
I believe that older workers are massively undervalued by prospective employers.

I fully believe that hiring an older employee is a good business decision. So let’s try and create an all encompassing list of all the real benefits for employers when hiring older workers. Perhaps we can also distinguish between the myths and realities of hiring older workers?  After it is complete I  will publish it for all to see. So start listing your favourite selling points to hiring managers in the comments below. Thanks.

Here’s my  Top 10 again  for starters:

  1. You have a strong work ethic

  1. You’ve learned things by being there even if you’ve not actually done them

  1. You know how to communicate clearly

  1. You know that the customer is king

  1. You don’t have to be told what to do, or in what order

  1. You have an innate appreciation of risk

  1. You can listen as well as you speak

  1. You don’t panic in a crisis

  1. Your ego is not out of control

  1. You know that you are worth a lot more than just what it says on your CV

As you will also know if you’ve read some of my other posts, I believe that not only are employers missing out on all this value, but these very same strengths equip the over 40s exceptionally well to set up and run their own businesses. I fully expect that the additional points you add will strengthen this argument further still. Let’s see…

What are YOUR career prospects after 40?

By Neil Patrick

This morning I dug out a report undertaken for the Third Age Foundation, entitled  ‘Past it at 40?’, looking into the causes of workplace ageism and discrimination. You can find it here:

Whilst the research was designed to inform policy makers and promote debate, it is just as relevant to individuals in my view. We need to understand what we are up against and most importantly, how to respond. As you will know from my other posts, I am a strong advocate of self-help and have limited faith in government and quasi- governmental bodies’ ability to solve these problems for us at the individual level.

The report was published ten years ago in 2002, so you might justifiably ask ‘is it still relevant?’ Sadly, I’d say that little has improved and that in fact, the onset of recession has aggravated the situation , so things are actually getting worse. Apart from recession, the coalition’s understandable focus on youth unemployment means that mature workers are not likely to see much in the way of government priority for intervention.

The most interesting insights in this report come not from the job seekers who are understandably frustrated, depressed, worried and feeling helpless, but from the employers who reveal some of their attitudes to this subject..

But let’s start with a quotation from a jobseeker in his fifties:

‘A few years ago, I applied for a job and was interviewed. There were three people in the room, all in their mid-twenties. I felt uncomfortable  - they talked about this ‘new, dynamic company’. It wasn’t said directly, but I could feel they were trying to discourage me a bit. I don’t mind if I’m surrounded by younger people, I was willing to learn and be as flexible as possible. As the interview went on, I felt I wouldn’t fit in. They said, ‘Don’t ring us, we’ll ring you’ -  and they didn’t.’

Now I confess I know nothing about this person, the job in question or the firm concerned. But that really doesn’t matter. Just read between the lines of the above quotation. First the interview panel were all in their mid-twenties - therefore their individual management experience was unlikely to be more than 5 years or so and less if they were graduates. The comment about a ‘new, dynamic company’ is code in my view. It means, ‘we are a hyped up bunch who like to work and party hard and don’t really want slower, uncool mature people in our ranks.’ It’s a fact that younger workers tend to like to blur their work and social activities together. They are generally unmarried, do not have children and therefore often like nothing better than to continue their work relationships on a social environment out of office hours. And let’s face it, why would they want a more mature person in their ‘gang’?

Another couple of employers’ responses more or less confirm my prognosis:

‘Some industries are younger, and an older person may not feel comfortable and will look out of place. They probably would not enjoy the job either.’

‘In this industry (banking) you are middle-aged at 33!…There is a perception that if you are old (sic) and have not moved on, then you cannot be good.’

I find these comments quite shocking. ‘You will look out of place’ - what does that mean? And why is someone over 33 ‘middle-aged’? What we are hearing here I think is that what we look like is a requirement for some jobs. If we don’t look young, we may not be an attractive employment proposition to some organsiations…

Whilst I find the above comments depressing and outrageous, my experience does confirm that mature people can genuinely feel out of place in some work environments. I have seen many of these where in the attempt to create a ‘fun’ working environment which motivates young staff, firms create instead a puerile one which really only appeals to a juvenile’s outlook. And who creates these environments? It is of course the same twenty-somethings who interviewed the job seeker I quoted first. It’s therefore more or less inevitable that a more mature person will feel out of place. So whilst this isn’t ageism per se, the work environment is shaped and determined by younger people to reflect their own outlook and preferences.

Worse still, the situation becomes a self-perpetuating circle. The young staff shape the work environment to match their outlook and appoint people who are attracted to it. So more of the staff are younger and the environment becomes dominated by a form of youth culture. The older and more senior managers see that this environment is appealing to the majority of their staff and so are reluctant to upset the arrangements to suit a minority – i.e. the more mature workers. And so the cycle perpetuates.

The key point I am making here is that no amount of government or legal interventions can really hope to tackle this sort of ingrained organisational behaviour. It is a form of ageism for sure, but how could you ever legislate to change it?

All of this leads me back to one of my core mantras, which is that once we get past 40, we are taking an extreme risk with our lives if we assume that we can just carry on working in the same careers that we engaged in during our twenties and thirties. For reasons I’ve described above, I do not believe that employers’ reluctance to hire older workers will recede anytime soon. So it is absolutely essential that you have a plan B for the second half of your working life.