Total Return: Smoke and Mirrors?

Just what is this “total return” hoop that investment managers are required to jump through? Why is it mostly just smoke and mirrors? Here’s the formula:

  • Total Income + (or -) Change in Market Value – Expenses = Total Return — the ultimate test for any investment portfolio.

Applied to income purpose portfolios, it is really close to nonsense, and confusing to most investors.

Remember John Q. Retiree? He was the guy with his chest all puffed up one year, bragging about the 12% “Total Return” on his bond portfolio. Secretly, he wondered about having only 3% in actual spending money.

A year or so later, he’s scratching his head wondering how he’s going to make ends meet with a total return that’s approaching zero. Do you think he realizes that his spending money may be higher?

What’s wrong with this thinking? How will the media compare mutual fund managers without it?

Wall Street doesn’t much care. They set the rules and define the performance rulers, and they say that income and equity investment performance can be measured with the same tools. They can’t, because their investment purposes are different.

If you want to use a ruler that applies equally well to both classes of security, just change one piece of the formula and give the new math a name that focuses on the actual purpose of income investing — the spending money.

We found this old way of looking at things within “The Working Capital Model”; the new and improved formulae are:

  • For Fixed Income Securities: Total Cash Income + Net Realized Capital Gains – Expenses = Total Spending Money!
  • For Equity Securities: Total Cash Income + Net Realized Capital Gains – Expenses = Total Spending Money!

Yes, they are the same, and divided by the amount invested, they produce a Total Realized Return number. The difference is what the investor elects to do with the spending money.

So if John Q had taken profits in year one, he could have spent more, or added to his income production. You just can’t spend (or reinvest) “Total Return”.

We’ve taken those troublesome paper profits and losses out of the equation entirely. “Unrealized” is “un-relevant” in a properly diversified portfolio comprised only of investment grade, income producing securities.

Most of you know of Bill Gross, the Fixed Income equivalent of Warren Buffett. He manages a humungous bond mutual fund, but how does he invest his own money?

According to a NYT Money and Business article by Jonathan Fuerbringer (January 11, 2004), he’s “out” of his  own Total Return fund and “in” Closed End Muni Funds paying 7.0% tax free. (Must have read “The Brainwashing of the American Investor”.)

Fuerbringer doesn’t mention the taxable variety of CEF, then yielding roughly 9%, but they certainly demand a presence in the income security bucket of tax-qualified portfolios like 401ks. Sorry, can’t do that now. The omniscient DOL says the net/net income isn’t nearly as important as the Expense Ratio….

Similarly, Mr. Gross advises against the use of the non investment grade securities (junk bonds, etc.) that many fund managers  sneak into their portfolios.

But true to form, Mr. Gross is as “Total Return” Brainwashed as the rest of the Wall Street institutional community, as he gives lip service validity to speculations in commodity futures, foreign currencies, derivatives, and TIPS.

Inflation impacts buying  power, and the only way to beat it is with higher safe income. If TIPS rise to 5%, REITS will yield 12%, and preferred stocks 9%, etc. No interest rate sensitive security is an Island!

As long as financial intellectuals remain mesmerized with total return numbers, investors will be the losers.

  • Total Return goes down when yields on individual securities go up, and vice versa. This is a good thing.
  • Total Return analysis is used to engineer market timing decisions between fixed income and equity investments, based on statements such as: “The total return on equities is likely to be greater than that on income securities during this period of rising interest rates.”

Investors have to commit to the premise that the primary purpose of income securities is income production… this requires a focus on spending money.

If these three sentences don’t make complete sense to you, you need to learn more about income purpose investing:

  • Higher interest rates are the income investor’s best friend. They produce higher levels of spending money.
  • Lower interest rates are the income investor’s best friend. They provide the opportunity to add realized capital gains to total spending money and to total working capital.
  • Changes in the market value of investment grade income securities are totally and completely irrelevant, 99% of the time.

The Retirement Income Gap

A BlackRock and EBRI analysis (from Think Advisor, July 9th) suggests that older retirees are further from being retirement ready than their younger counterparts… go figure.

Ironically, since most benefit plan investors (really speculators) at all ages are market value focused instead of income focused, this observation will likely be the same ten years from now.

… and this is so easy to fix, if plan participants are forced to start thinking “income” from the get-go. Retirement readiness is a planning issue that “target date funds” and most other 401k product shopping menus are just not equipped to deal with.

Plan advisors, fiduciaries, and plan sponsors need to make sure they have “serious income production options” in the benefit plans they are advising.

What if you could liquidate your “all time high market value with nearly zero programmed income” benefit plan balances and trade them in for a 5% or so compound income machine that is convertible, security for security, at retirement? You can. And, at retirement, you’ll actually be able to increase the income production significantly with a few simple tweaks….

Here’s where the 401k industry and DOL focus on expense ratios make no sense at all. Income Closed End Funds pay in excess of 6%, and have for years. Nearly all of them (the hundreds that I’m familiar with) continued their payments without a hiccup throughout the financial crisis and continue to do so now…

The 6% is AFTER EXPENSES. The best from Vanguard Target Funds is maybe 1.5%; Stable Value Funds are in the 2% area, again, maybe….

Isn’t it our fiduciary responsibility to focus on the income purpose of benefit programs? Isn’t it our responsibility to educate plan sponsors and participants enough so that they understand that it is the income that pays the bills… not the market value, and not the three year total return.

Isn’t our responsibility to school the DOL…. that performance of a retirement income program should be measured in terms of income production… and that market value and expense ratios are not the predominate considerations? Well maybe not that one.

There is only one product I know of that has the proper income focus — and with a reasonable expense ratio. For more information, contact a qualified 3(38) fiduciary at either QBOX Fiduciary Solutions or Expand Financial.

Target Date Funds = Market Timing Roulette Wheels?

Ross Kerber’s Reuters “feed” entitled: “Target date funds try timing the market” is really a must read article… what it says in a nutshell is that market value growth considerations are wagging the retirement income dog yet again.

Once the gambling begins (i.e. MPT “tactical” tinkering), the retirement program ends. Here’s the link:

Yes, as Kerber points out, many of the major players (BlackRock, Fidelity, JPMorgan, Legg Mason) have started to go rogue by tinkering with allocations outside the “glide path” to retirement date specifications contained in the fund’s sales propaganda.

Target date funds have succumbed to the pressure of irrelevant market value growth comparisons… market timing indeed. Time to stand up fiduciary community and place these things in the speculation pile.

401k participants are selecting TDFs in hoards, presuming safety and “retirement” are their operating agenda… it doesn’t seem to be, but was it ever, really.

Take a quick peek inside the Vanguard 2015 Target offering. (Vanguard was not mentioned in the article, but it too seems to be on the more speculation-than-retirees-want-to-know-about track.)

The low cost giant seems to be following the same route, but wisely not bragging about it. The 2015 Target fund (as of May 30th this year) owned over 5,000 (yes, that’s thousand) common stocks in a 52% equity allocation. The income allocation of the portfolio was yielding roughly 1.5%. Total portfolio yield under 1%?

Note that there are less than 400 common stocks that qualify as “Investment Grade Value Stocks”… repeat, then think: “just what is in my wallet”?

Seven months out from retirement, pay attention fiduciaries, is this a target “retirement’ fund or a tactical time bomb. Where’s the beef (i.e., the retirement income)!

Income purpose securities should absolutely never (ever) be performance analyzed in terms of market value… they just ain’t equities, even if packaged as such. The article, incidentally, makes no mention at all of 401k participant income expectations.

Clearly, there is something wrong with this picture. Isn’t it nice to know that there is a new breed of 401k investment out there, focused on retirement income production, and structured to absolutely grow “base income” month, after month, after month, after month, after month, after month, after month, after month, after month, after month, after month, after month, after month…

For more information, contact a qualified 3(38) fiduciary at either QBOX Fiduciary Solutions or Expand Financial.

The Extremely Good News About Higher Interest Rates


Yes, market values of existing income purpose securities will certainly move lower… BUT, the income you’ve contracted for will likely remain the same, AND, you will be able to invest in new paper at higher yields.

This is a good thing, and you should not be so easily convinced that it is not. Even if your “guaranteed” paper falls in price, there need never be a loss of “principal”.

If I’m borrowing money, higher rates are bad news; for investors, higher rates mean more spending money while lower market values just mean lower market values.

The purpose of income securities is income, and a reasonably safe “more” has always been better than any “less”. The problem is simply the negative perception of a lower portfolio “total market value”. OMG!

In our financial lives, what we can spend or reinvest is the important detail, and when dealing with income-purpose investments, 99% of the time, change in market value has no impact on income received.

This was most clearly demonstrated during the financial crisis:

More than 90% of borrowers remained current on their mortgages, yet all mortgage backed securities were deemed nearly valueless under absurd “mark to market” regulations.

Even with monthly payments pouring in, many financial institutions failed to meet regulatory “market value” reserve requirements and were forced to close their doors.

At the same time, even at lower market values, virtually all non-mortgage securities, particularly managed Closed End Funds, continued to pay the same levels of interest like clockwork, while a “clockwork orange-esque” nightmare played out in financial institutions.

This focus on market value is a financially inappropriate attempt to equate the nature of debt securities to that of equities… one that could never, ever, have happened without multiple levels of ill conceived and misguided regulation.

It’s like time, tide, and gravity; you just don’t mess with Mother Nature. Price varies inversely with interest rate expectations, and this is a good thing… end of discussion.

By using Closed End Income Funds, investors can benefit from lower rates on older holdings, even as market values tumble… and this should be exciting , not scary at all.

Buying additional shares of existing bond portfolios at lower prices. Eureka!

As Yogi would say, 95% of income investing is half mental.

LinkedIn financial group members debate the impact of higher interest rates… but to income investors, there should be no debate at all. Both higher and lower rates are good for investors.

Here’s an example of where this is coming from.

I’m intimately familiar with many closed end income funds, diversified in every conceivable way, over 100 issues, with varying durations, etc. The “purpose” of the funds is twofold: (1) grow the income generated by the portfolio, while at the same time (2) distributing what individuals need to pay their monthly bills.

Income CEFs (both tax free and taxable) moved down in market value during the financial crisis, back up again (at a faster pace than stocks, actually) through November 2012, down again through the end of 2013, and now up again at a pace about the same as the S & P 500, or a bit better, through May.

During this seven years of market value direction change and short term volatility, there has been: (1) an upward move in total portfolio income, due to reinvestment of excess income; (2) never an instance of dipping into principal for a properly planned payment; (3) and hundreds of opportunities for “one-year’s-interest-in-advance” profit taking.

During seven years of historically low interest rates, income Closed End Funds have produced multiples more spending money than any other comparably safe source of income…. taxable funds are in the 7% range (net of fund expenses including interest) right now.

What negative impact has the change in market value had on the monthly income produced for Closed End Fund Investors throughout the past seven years? A resounding… NONE!

What positive impacts? Growth in income produced, growth in portfolio yield, and growth in “Working Capital” (the amount invested in the total portfolio), and not only in the income “bucket” when cost-based asset allocation is used.

Meanwhile, how have investors fared in shorter duration, stable value paper? What’s better for the economy, retirees receiving 6% tax free or less than 2%, taxable?

When investing for income, go long, emphasize experience and quality, diversify properly, and focus ( I mean really focus) only on the income you receive.

Ask your advisor:  Why is 2% better than 7%?

Selling Your Business? What Could Go Wrong?

Your business likely represents a major portion of your net worth. Before you sell your business, team up with an experienced M&A Advisor. He will help you get the best price for your company and steer you clear of the pitfalls that could cause you to lose the value of your life’s work.
Here are 4 mistakes that are easily avoided when you have professional advice:

Mistake #1 – Accepting a Large “Earn-Out” Instead of Cash at Closing

A company comes to you with an offer to buy your business. They tell you what a great job you’ve done and what a great company you’ve built. Then they tell you about their company, they wine you and dine you, and maybe even fly you out to their corporate headquarters. You begin to get comfortable with them. They seem like good guys. Then they make an offer with a very strong price, but with one hitch. Most of the purchase price is an “earn out” – paid to you only if your company reaches certain performance goals going forward. This kind of arrangement may be acceptable if you get the bulk of the purchase price, let’s say 70-80%, in cash at closing. But if the numbers are reversed and you get only a small down payment – don’t do it. Even if you continue to run the company for the buyer after closing, you’re not really in control. They call the shots. And if their decisions cause your company not to do well, you’re not going to get paid the full purchase price. It’s that simple.

Mistake #2 – Taking Stock in the Buying Company in Lieu of Cash

Similar to Scenario 1, but instead of accepting an” earn out”, you accept stock in the buying company with just a small cash down payment. This is even more dangerous than the earn-out scenario. In the earn-out scenario, you’ll at least have some control of your company after closing. When you accept stock instead of cash, however, you are completely at the mercy of the buyer. If his company goes down, your stock goes down. And if the market tanks, as we all know it can, the value of your stock tanks as well. And what makes this scenario even worse is that the stock you received when you sold your business will often be restricted – you’ll be prohibited from selling it for a period of time after closing, typically two years. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Mistake #3 – Failing to Maintain Confidentiality.

You’ve negotiated a deal with the buyer, the purchase contract is almost finished, the buyer has secured financing and the deal is scheduled to go to closing. You decide to hold a company-wide meeting to tell your staff about the impending sale. But then something happens. The deal is called off. Now what? Now your employees, your competitors, your vendors and your banker all know that you are trying to sell. Your employees get nervous and start looking for another job, your competitors tell your customers that you’re going out of business, and your vendors put you on COD and your banker calls in your line of credit. It’s a nightmare scenario which, with the proper advice as to how to maintain confidentiality, could easily have been avoided.

Mistake #4 – Choosing the Wrong M&A Firm.

You attend a seminar where a company promises to sell your business for three, four, five or even ten times its true value. Back away – don’t get sucked in. This is actually a very sophisticated scam.

Companies like this put on slick presentations, but are really only interested in collecting big up-front fees, not in actually selling businesses. They claim they can create a “frenzy of buyer interest” that will “skyrocket the price to stratospheric levels.” Don’t be fooled. It’s all smoke and mirrors. They want to get you excited and then stick you with a $30-50K up-front fee. And then good luck getting your phone calls or emails returned.

Don’t learn the hard way — if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Stick with a reputable Broker who is willing to earn his “success fee” only when the sale of your business is completed.

You are an expert in running your business. But you’re not an expert in selling businesses. Most business owners aren’t – they simply don’t have any experience with the process. Just as providing your product or service requires specific experience and expertise, selling your business requires a specific, but different, set of experience and expertise.

Your business very likely represents your largest personal asset. Selling your business – turning your biggest asset into dollars – is too important to be left to an amateur. You need the services of an expert –

By: Mark Borkowski, is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corp. He can be contacted at or

Theories on Motivation….

TSE attractor

Theories on Motivation….

Steve Jobs, the computer genius who co-founded the Apple Corp., was a very charismatic leader of technical people. When his group was designing Apple’s new Macintosh computer, Jobs flew a pirate flag over his building. Its purpose was to signify his team’s determination to blow the competition out of the water. Rather creative motivation.

Good leaders and managers have creative ways to motivate their employees.

Robert Waterman Jr. wrote about Chiyoshi Misawa, founder and president of Misawa Homes — the largest homebuilder in Japan. At least once every decade he “dies” to arrest the momentum of out-of-date assumptions and policies. He sends a memo to his company that formally announces “the death of your president.”

This is his way of forcing the whole company to rethink everything. When employees resist change because they are used to the old way of doing things, Misawa declares: “That was the way things were done under Mr. Misawa. He is now dead. Now, how shall we proceed?”

People can be motivated with threats, fear, example, reward, recognition, etc. I believe threats are overrated and misunderstood. Fear works for a while. However, when people are mature, experienced and professional, they will not regard mistreatment and claims of absolute authority as a source of inspiration.

One of the most powerful motivators is peer pressure. That’s what the armed forces use to motivate soldiers. What makes an 18-year-old kid risk his life in combat? It sure isn’t because he thinks his platoon leader is such a prince. One of the main reasons is because his buddies will think he’s a coward if he doesn’t go with the flow. But peer pressure, despite its powerful impact as a motivator is — like the other motivators — imposed from outside sources. It tends to work best on young people because their personal set of values is not yet fully formed and are more easily influenced by others.

I think one of the best motivators, the one that is most likely to stick with you — even for a lifetime — is the one that comes from within. If you’re looking for a one-word description of a truly motivated person, I’d say “self-starter.”

But let’s face it; no one is able to be up every minute of every day. How do you overcome the inevitable drag on your spirits of doing tasks you hate but have to be done?

I do it by playing a trick on myself. It’s the old peas/pie routine. (That is, you have to eat your peas if you want a piece of pie.) If I have to do something I don’t like, I make it a point to be especially nice to myself later by doing something I really do like. I think about the possibilities all the time I’m plowing through the monthly inventory reports and 90-day-plus receivables. Then a few aspirins later, I’m ready to give myself a new golf club, dinner out or whatever mad and capricious delight strikes my fancy at the moment.

Recognition is another great way of motivating us to achieve more than we ever thought possible. For the record, I have yet to receive my first note from someone telling me that I’m giving him or her too much recognition.

Predictably, money is still one of the top motivating factors.

A manager who had just returned from a motivation seminar called an employee into his office and said, “Henceforth, you are going to be allowed to plan and control your job. That will raise productivity considerably, I am sure.”

“Will I be paid more?” asked the worker.

“No, no. Money is not a motivator, and you will get no satisfaction from a salary raise.”

“Well, if production does increase, will I be paid more?”

“Look,” said the manager, “you obviously do not understand the motivation theory. Take this book home and read it. It explains what it is that really motivates you.”

As the man was leaving, he stopped and said, “If I read this book, will I be paid more?”

Mackay’s Moral: Motivation is the spark that ignites success.

Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mercantile is a mid market M&A brokerage firm. He can be contacted at



Most sales people have no idea why their customers buy. They assume that customers buy for their reasons, when in fact the opposite is true. In fact, customers buy for their own reasons.

Here are some key ideas to remember about why customers buy.

1. EMOTIONS FIRST. The root of any buying decision is an emotional response based on perceived value or filling a need. Therefore, the actual decision to buy is almost always emotional.

Estate to the Heart by Edward Olkovich EstateTherapy dot com - Copyright 2014

2. HOT BUTTONS. Hot buttons are unique to each person and are perceived differently by each customer based on what makes them feel good or meets their emotional needs. The master sales person finds those real benefits and emotional needs and pushes the hot buttons that result in a sale.

3. BUYING SIGNALS. During the sales process a client communicates specific buying signals, Wood-Young notes. “Everything the customer does, or does not do, is a buying signal. Successful salespeople learn how to read and intuit these signals and use them to build a profile of customer buying behavior.”

4. THE BUYING TEAM. Successful sales people work well with multiple buyers and decision-makers by identifying roles, concerns and issues. What does each person bring to the sales transaction? What is their role in the buying process? What are their hot buttons?

Engage customers in areas that bring to the surface the mechanics of their buying process. Ask your customers, why do you buy? The answers will show that the customer or prospect is often thinking the following:

– Can I trust the salesperson?
– I don’t have time for this.
– I don’t want to hurt the salesperson’s feelings.
– What are his or her motives and intentions?
– Is it safe to open up?
– Everything is OK the way it is now, so why change?
– There may be a problem, but what the salesperson is offering isn’t the solution. I want to find my own solution.
– How can I postpone this buying decision?
– The salesperson’s solution is too risky.
– The benefits don’t outweigh the risks
– There is no solution to this problem.
– I’m not convinced I need to buy.

5. ASK FOR THE SALE. Finally, the sales master asks for the sale. Most salespeople never ask for the sale because they don’t think the customer wants to buy when in fact the customer is wondering, ‘How do I buy?’ Remember, people buy based on benefits defined by them, not by their salesperson.

By: Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. He can be contacted at or Mercantile is a mid market M&A brokerage firm.

Would You Accept a Bar Code Implant?

In a perfect world, universal implantation of the implantable microchip radio frequency identification device (RFID) is activated by a chip reader.

It is tamper-proof, practically undetectable and indestructible, and is implanted under the skin. 

This device as claimed would be used only for legitimate, legal and noble purpose, could make life better for all of us, provide better security and peace of mind for us and our loved ones, and even save lives, and tremendously benefit mankind as a whole. 
However, this is not a perfect world. 

Bar codes for human beings?

But no one wants to be treated like a human bar code by the authorities.
The most serious threat to liberty could be an all-inclusive database mandated by government–a national identification card with biometric identifiers. Such an ID will increase unsolicited surveillance, will blur the distinction between public and private databases, and will undercut a presumptive right to maintain anonymity. The ID would devolve into a general law enforcement tool having nothing to do with response to terrorism.

The resulting level of intrusion necessitated by implantation would impinge on our many legal rights. It is plausible that, since the technology has not yet been perfected, we as a society would believe there is no need to address the incipient legal problems until devices are used. Justice Rehnquist adopted this view in a U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning beeper surveillance where the respondent had indicated that if beeper surveillance were constitutional, “twenty-four hour surveillance of any citizen of this country will be possible, without judicial knowledge or supervision. 

However, because of the very sweeping reductions in personal liberty and privacy that such implantation represents, the legal ramifications need to be explored now. Although the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the U.S. Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures, a national identification system via microchip implants could be achieved in two stages. 

A system using the technology, although introduced as a voluntary procedure, may be difficult to dislodge despite limitations of individual freedoms because its advantages will be extremely attractive. The positive applications may be said to outweigh the detrimental legal consequences at that time. Therefore, it is not too soon to consider the repercussions that mandatory microchip implantation would have, as a pre-emptive measure. Upon introduction as a voluntary system, the microchip implantation will appear to be palatable. 

The U.S. Fourth Amendment has been invoked with reference to internal intrusions upon individuals to obtain evidence, which could be used against them. Examples include the withdrawal of blood and bodily searches, which require surgical procedures or other means to extract substances from the body. 

English Common Law and the U.S. Fifth Amendment provides in principle that no citizen shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, an U.S. Supreme Court justice once noted that “[A] person is compelled to be a witness against himself not only when he is compelled to testify, but also when… incriminating evidence is forcibly taken from him by a contrivance of modern science.”

To avoid a governmental mandate, citizens may advocate for an outright ban. This drastic measure may also be necessary in a system that is initially voluntary, for it may well be the precursor to a mandate. Short of that, the best way of preventing incipient problems is to protect rights before desensitization.

Although use of such a device at first appears farfetched, examination of the existing technology and the potential utility proves that microchip implantation is both possible and, for some purposes, desirable. Beginning with voluntary introduction, Americans and Canadians may be lulled into accepting them. This article thus sounds a warning bell. The time to prevent grievous intrusion into personal privacy by enacting appropriate legislative safeguards is now, rather than when it is too late.

By: Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mark can be reached at


No one is handed freedom on a silver platter. According to noted author and professor, Dr. W.W. Dyer. “You must make your own freedom. If someone hands it to you, it is not freedom at all, but the alms of a benefactor who will invariably ask a price of you in return.”

Freedom means that you are unobstructed in ruling your own life as you choose. Anything less is a form of slavery. If you cannot be unrestrained in making choices, in living as you dictate, in doing as you please with your environment (provided your freedom does not interfere with anyone else’s freedom), you are under command by forces stronger than you.

To be free does not mean denying your responsibilities to your loved ones and your fellow man. Indeed, it includes the freedom to make choices to be responsible. But nowhere is it dictated that you must be what others want you to be when their wishes conflict with what you want for yourself. Have a sense of freedom that does not mean that you shirk your responsibilities to your friends, family or community.

Most of the people who will try to tell you that you cannot, who will label your desire for freedom “selfish”, will turn out to have measures of authority over your life, and will certainly be protesting your threat to the holds you have allowed them to have on you. If they can help you feel selfish, they have contributed to your feeling of guilt, and immobilized you.

You must become the master of your own destiny. If you are not, you are not free. You do not need to be powerful or exert influence over others to be free, nor is it necessary to intimidate others, nor [to try to] bully people into submission in order to prove who is master.

The freest people in the world are those who have senses of inner peace about themselves. They refuse to be swayed by the whims of others, and are quietly effective at running their own lives. These are responsible people, but they are not enslaved by other people’s interpretations of what responsibility should be. This level of responsibility is to god, self, family and the community.

I will not pretend that the new forces of Unions have not restricted the freedom enjoyed by myself or by all of us. The adversarial association between employer and employee has resulted in an infinite amount of lost people working hours, and an unhappy work environment that results in disgruntled employees.

There is a better way.

There is a dire need to encourage individuals to spend, invest and work, instead of penalizing them when they do. Unions want to restrict commerce. Attempts to negotiate with the unions only result in more downsizing and corporate bankruptcies. We are all learning that a service economy must be driven by a productive manufacturing economy.

Real wealth, which comes from people’s ability to commercialize and develop new and exportable technologies, creates jobs and allows government to foster those socially necessary programs that provide new jobs and security for employees. The re-arranging, manipulation, and accumulation of capital does not provide us with new taxable income or the real creating of wealth.

For those individuals that do not want to provide equal value for equal pay should have their fellow employees drive them out. For those that want to work harder and produce more an additional yearly profit sharing program should be implemented. Those in the unit that did not want to work should not drag down those that do. Lets face it, superstars make more money and so they should. 

Unions threaten the freedom of Canadians in this highly competitive and global market place. Their role has been vastly diminished. They are dinosaurs that add little or no value to organizations or their people.

Any force, group or individual that threatens your freedom needs to be informed of their breach, even if it means putting your very livelihood or life on the line. People that want to build, grow and produce should not be taxed to death when they do so. They should standup and be counted.  We need producers of all kinds. The laggards can sit on the sidelines.

One of the great American states has the following words blazoned on their License Plates, “Live Free or Die”.  Freedom is worth fighting for, even if it takes a lifetime and great sacrifice.  God help those people that threaten my freedom.

By: Mark Borkowski is president of Toronto based Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. He can be contacted at


Death Bed Advice….

These were some words of wisdom told to me by a client that had to sell his company from his death bed. He and his family dictated these pieces of advice in one long visit. Not sure where they got them, but I wrote them down while he was dying.

I wanted to share them with you.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
12. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey
is all about.
13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
14. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy
15. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
16. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
17. It is never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up
to you and no one else.
18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for
an answer.
19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Do not save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
20. Over prepare, and then go with the flow.
21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
22. The most important sex organ is the brain.
23. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will
this matter?”
25. Always choose life.
26. Forgive everyone everything.
27. What other people think of you is none of your business.
28. Time heals almost everything. Give time.
29. However good or bad a situation is it will change.
30. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
31. Believe in miracles.
32. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
33. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mercantile is a mid market M&A brokerage firm. Mark can be contacted at or