Sunday 19 November 2017

Speaking to students at Sheffield University

I've just come back from Sheffield, where I delivered a lecture to students at Sheffield University. It's good to see such hunger on learning and seeing how academic life prepares you for a career.
What I especially noticed is that students nowadays are thinking practically about how they can make a living afterwards. They asked more questions about how I set up as a freelance business and won customers than anything else. I guess that what happens when you have to get into serious debt just to get a degree in this day and age.
I went to Oxford of course, but I’ve always likes the look of Sheffield and Sheffield University. My good friend Brian, who has worked there for years (and of course invited me to speak to his students) is always raving about it. The great shops at Ecclesall Road, the bars and pubs of Broomhall and Broomhill and even the better than average student accommodation Sheffield.
Well, I have to say it made me feel good about myself seeing those students hanging onto every word I said, and interested in how I’ve got to where I am after years at University. I think I’ve got a taste for public speaking again. It might be time for me to dust off my old poems, a habit I started in university, and start looking for some poetry open mics.
Thanks Brian and Sheffield for having my and the lovely accommodation. I’ll be back to stay soon.

Friday 29 April 2016

The great collective noun

I thought I'd catch up with the blog with a look at the great and weird collective noun.

Collective nouns are single entities that are formed by one or more person, animal or thing. You cannot have a troupe, family or team of one person. You need at least two people to form a collective

Singular collective nouns 

Depending on the context, collective nouns can be both plural and singular. The fact that this double categorization exists can cause grammatical agreement errors in sentences. To avoid grammatical agreement errors, the correct verbs and pronouns must be used with collective nouns to form a correct sentence.

When the people in a group that form a collective noun are doing something in unison with the other members of the group, a collective noun becomes singular and requires the use of singular pronouns and verbs. The following examples all show the use of singular verbs and pronouns, as all the members of the collective noun group are doing the same thing in unison.

Each afternoon after school, the football team follows its coach onto the school pitch for practice.
The collective noun ‘team’ is singular and is combined with the singular verb ‘follows’ and the singular pronoun ‘its’. All the members of the football team act as one and do the same activity at the same time and in the same place.

This morning, Mr Evan’s class takes its second multiple choice chemistry exam.
The collective noun ‘class’ is singular and is combined with the singular verb ‘takes’ and the singular pronoun ‘its’. All the students of the class will take the chemistry exam at the same time.

The jury agrees that the prosecution’s case was not strong enough to convict the accused, so its verdict is not guilty.

The collective noun ‘jury’ is singular and is correctly followed by the singular verb ‘agrees’ and the singular pronoun ‘its’. All the members of the jury have come to the same conclusion. 

Plural collective nouns

A collective noun can be plural when the members of the group are doing different things. There can be one group of people or things, but each member is performing their own activity so the collective noun is plural. When this is the case, the collective noun requires the use of plural pronouns and verbs to be grammatically correct. The following examples show members of collective nouns that are not doing actions in unison.

After the fast paced football match under the very hot sun, the team shower, change into their normal clothes and head to their homes.

The collective noun ‘team’ is plural this time and is followed by the plural verbs ‘shower, change and head’. The plural pronoun ‘their’ is also used. The members of the football team get dressed into their individual normal clothes and leave in separate directions to go to their individual homes.
After completing the chemistry exam, the class start working on their research projects on scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century.

The collective noun ‘class’ is plural as the members of the class start projects at different times, on different scientific breakthroughs and at different times. The plural verb ‘start’ and the plural pronoun ‘their’ are used.

The jury disagree over the strength of the evidence and have told the judge that they are unable to come to a unanimous verdict. 

The collective noun ‘jury’ is plural as the members of the jury are not in agreement. The plural verbs ‘disagree’ and ‘have told’ are used along with the plural pronoun ‘they’. 

Solutions to grammatical agreement errors

If you are struggling to decide whether a collective noun is plural or singular, you can change the composition of the sentence to avoid grammatical agreement errors.

A simple solution is to add the word ‘members’ after the use of a collective noun. 

The family members
The team members
The board members

Another solution is to replace the collective noun with another word entirely.

Instead of ‘senate’ use ‘senators’
Instead of ‘team’ use ‘players’
Instead of ‘class’ use ‘students’

Replacing the problematic collective noun allows you to use plural verbs and pronouns, without creating any grammatical agreement errors or contradictions.

Now never say that I don't teach you anything!

Monday 30 November 2015

Needs to recruit a client relationship manager

Wow, it’s been a busy month, following my last post, I did decide to accept the position as a Trustee to my company pension scheme and all is going well. There has been a steep learning curve for me to get up to speed with everything I need to know, but it is very interesting so far. Due to extra trustee responsibilities and a recent departure from my team, I now have to recruit a new Client Relationship Manager for the South region.

This has thrown a spanner in the works, as we have good relationships with recruitment consultants based in Manchester and the North and although sometimes they do have positions for the South, London, in particular, this is not their area of expertise. So – I have reached out to my London colleagues and they have put me in touch with a very good financial recruitment consultant that offers that bit extra.

They are called Noble Davies Search and they are a specialist executive search boutique in London and they recruit for distribution roles in the Institutional Asset Management space. I am looking for someone that has good experience of the industry and can hit the ground running, as I don’t have much time to spare to go through things.

My colleague in London has reassured me that Noble Davies have a long standing relationship with our company and know exactly the type of candidates we are after, so I am hopeful that they should find a shortlist of quality candidates quite soon for me to interview.

I am hoping that the new recruit will stay in this role for some time, as this will bolster the team and means that I can devote the time I need to my trustee role, as there seem to be several meetings that I need to attend at the moment.

Stay tuned for more updates…

Friday 31 July 2015

Liposuction? Moi? Or should I try jogging to Sheffield?

Heeere's Jonny! Back again and bigger than before. Specifically, bigger around the waist, where I've gained some podge since my last post in May.

I used to have a housemate at uni who was studying medicine and doing some kind of project on fat. Sometimes he'd watch DVDs of surgeries, liposuction, fat removal, that kind of thing. I've never been that squeamish but watching films of people being cut open to have lipo didn’t appeal that much to me!

I've recently put on weight and I have to admit I started considering lipo myself. I was googling for some options and came across a place in Sheffield that offered 3D liposuction. No, you don’t have to wear special glasses to see it. 3D lipo is a way of getting your puppy fat removal without any invasive surgery and (even better) without any exercise! It involves a combination of freezing fat cells and stimulating them by ultrasound using a 3D Lipomed machine.

I have thought about doing some exercise instead. It's important to stay fit as I get older, and it’s a good way of fat removal. A lot of my friends in Manchester are into running these day, and marathons are all the rage. After all they do say that endorphins are addictive. But after a long day of working hard making money, it's not that appealing to slip on some running shorts and go dashing around Didsbury. Especially when it's winter and everything's cold and dark. But at least I’d have some pals to run with I suppose.

Might give the running a try, but if that doesn’t work out, don’t be surprised if you see me heading towards Sheffield for some 3D liposuction. By hook or by crook this fat removal is going to happen!

Friday 15 May 2015

Pension Trustee - me!

It’s been a long time since I have last posted, mainly because I haven’t had many interesting things happen to me, but I have recently been asked to undertake a very interesting role that I wanted to share. Due to various work connections and commitments, I have been asked to be a Trustee for a corporate pension fund (DB and DC schemes) of which I work for the sponsoring employer. Before accepting the role, I wanted to clarify to myself exactly what is involved and the impact this would have on my day job.

The first thing to note is this is a huge responsibility I am about to undertake. ‘Trustees of a pension fund are the people, acting separately from the employer, who hold the assets invested in the scheme for the benefit of the participants’.

There are also different types of trustees such as individual trustee, corporate trustee, member-nominated trustees, employer nominated trustees and independent trustees. I fall in to the first category the individual lay trustee and would be part of the board of trustees.

Trustees play an important role in the proper running of pension schemes. The Pensions Regulator provides you with all the information and training toolkits that you need to be aware of in order for you to become a committed and conscientious trustee. On reading the site, the list of responsibilities is a long are responsible for:

  • Contributions
  • Financial records and requirements
  • Investment
  • Your professional advisers
  • Scheme records
  • Members
  • Registration
  • Scheme return and collecting levy
  • Reporting matters to the regulator
It does make me wonder how I am going to do all this as well as my day job? Plus I am not an expert in all these areas, for example investment, I, and I’m sure most of the trustee board, would need help and advice on that.

I do know that other pension schemes use independent trustees to oversee their schemes as they offer vast experience and knowledge in key areas and can confidently challenge/speak to consultants and have a truly independent viewpoint which sometimes makes it easier to make decisions.

Also, I’ve heard a few stories where peers of mine have run into problems with their employer over conflicts of interest, and the independent trustee has helped to rectify the situation, for example a finance director who is also a trustee had to make decisions regarding deficit funding and employer contributions which led to conflicts of interest with the employer, as such the issue was passed to the independent trustee to tackle.

They are also very good at helping trustee boards to review the governance of the pension scheme. My company apparently uses an independent trustee from BESTrustees, a UK wide firm.

So after considering all the criteria, I now need to think about whether I am going to accept the position of Trustee. Sounds like an interesting challenge, but a lot of work and responsibility as well.

Monday 23 March 2015

Financial Marketing

At work, we have recently been partnering with an external marketing company called HT Financial Marketing to help us with various projects. I must say, I was dubious in the beginning as to how a small company could help us with marketing projects as they are unfamiliar to the company and our processes – however I have been pleasantly surprised.

The main thing we needed help with was the planning and implementation of an integrated marketing campaign as we are short-staffed (and short on time).

One of the main reasons we chose HT Financial Marketing, is that they have several years experience in the financial services industry and this proved to be very useful. In our first meeting they initially listened to the objectives and aims of the campaign and quickly got up to speed on the product we want to raise awareness for.

They also gave us some good suggestions as to who to target and aside from the email campaign, ways to further expand audience reach via social media. They had to run with most elements of the campaign themselves, as I have only had limited time to oversee the project – what made this easier is that one of their team worked in our offices for two weeks, so that communication was a lot easier and that person became part of our marketing team.

We have now launched the campaign and I am hoping for some enquiries for our product to start to come in. Also very interested to see the first month statistics for the social media campaign.

It’s been an interesting few weeks working with HT Financial Marketing and I have learnt some new social media skills. To make the most of these though, I now need to work on my LinkedIn page!

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Sir Clements Markham, Dr John Rae & Markham Rae

Sir Clements Markham (20 July 1830 - 30 January 1916) was an English explorer, geographer and writer. At varied times in his long and interesting career he was an Arctic explorer, sponsor of Captain Scott's Antarctic expeditions and President of the Royal Geographical Society.

Markham started his career as a Royal Naval cadet and midshipman and travelled extensively to the Artic, India and South America. Six years after his first trip to Peru, Markham went back on a mission to collect cinchona plants and seeds.

Whilst working in the India Office as a civil servant, he made proposals to his employers for a scheme for collecting cinchona trees from the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes, and transplanting them to selected sites in India. The Cinchona bark, is a source of quinine and was the first known treatment for malaria and other tropical diseases.

Dr John Rae, (30 September 1813 - 22 July 1893) was born in Orkney, a Scottish doctor who explored Northern Canada. He was the surgeon at Moose Factory, Ontatrio, a remote Hudson Bay Company trading post.

He was a keen explorer, for example he explored the Gulf of Boothia as well as the Artic coast near Victoria Island. He was known for his skill at hunting, using native methords to live off the land and above all his physical stamina. Rae also worked on the influencial telegraph line to America, did a telegraph surveys in the west of Canada and explorered for a proposed telegraph line from the US to Russia.

Markham Rae, a London based absolute return manager, that trades in highly liquid markets, has taken it's name from these two great Victorian explorers. Admiring their work-ethic, the value they placed on education, their quest for knowledge, spirit of enterprise, their inventiveness and boldness of vision.

Their clients are corporate and local authority pension funds, insurance companies and family offices around the world, currently in the UK, Europe and Canada. This hedge fund focusing on downside protection, we aim to deliver positive returns for the long-term investor. Let's hope that just like the explorers, Markham Rae are successful in navigating the complexities of investments for both their discretionary and systematic trend following strategies.