Leonard Daniel Wong

Leonard Wong Toronto – Raptors Throw Offers to Kawhi Leonard

Leonard – Wong – Toronto Raptors – Kawhi Offered Penthouse and Food for Life to Stay in Toronto

Leonard Daniel Wong

On May 29th Natalie Wong of Bloomberg reported that Leonard Kawhi of the Toronto Raptors was offered a penthouse condominium and food for life as an incentive to stay in Toronto.

Rumors of the super star basketball player are floating all around North America as the 2019 NBA finals come to an end. The quiet and humble basketball player has drawn comparisons to Michael Jordan and LeBron James as perhaps the best or one of the best basketball players in history.

It’s not over yet but with a leg up in the best of seven series with Toronto having home court advantage and already protecting game one for home court advantage means well; but it isn’t over till its over. To put down the Golden State Warriors 4 -time reigning championship team who have also been to the finals one other time in the last 6 years it will take a lot of hard work.

It is not just one single player that makes a champion but rather a team of well seasoned group members that will make a difference. Someone must step up and eventually dethrone a mainstay and consistent winner eventually. Americans, fans and pundits alike have mixed feelings. Does the U.S. support a perennial champion or do the go for the under dog? It seems like no one, but the Americans can be a dream team and win the NBA finals championship especially not an international team from foreign soil. After all its not a past time but a beloved game that was invented in the U.S. of A. They may or may not know it was created by Canadian James Naismith.

History repeats itself and times change. The Raptors are Canada’s team and not just that of Toronto. Everyone in Canada including the haters of the mega city are jumping on the band wagon by now and they will be endeared even more with one more win at home.  And finally, if Leonard and playmaker Kyle Lowry have their way, they will want to finish the job and cement their place in history as a team against all odds and a nation of new lovers and old-fashioned haters.

It’s the best of seven and as Canadian hockey fans know and understand this type of series. And will not make bold predictions for the outcome of its full and final finish they would love to see and be part of history in the making.

Canadians are quiet and humble just like Kawhi. But we carry a big stick made of Canadian hardwood lumber. And when its time to fight we will not shy away or back down from what is right. In game 2 and in the rest of the NBA Championship series at home or abroad the gloves are off, and we will dance with one that brought us. Even a near championship is an amazing feat of heroics most gamblers, bettors and basketball fans could not imagine. It’s a team game and we are thankful and grateful to see some of the best basketball played ever in the country. Mr. Naismith the father of the sport is on our side win or lose.

 

MONEY.CA

Toronto

416-360-0000

Norma Walton, Not Your Parents’ Workforce

One of our businesses was growing and we were looking for someone to work 16 hours every weekend. I had been doing the work myself while growing the business, but the business had become busy enough that it could afford to pay someone to do that work.

First I chatted with my friend’s husband. He works during the week and is saving up for an apartment for his young family so was keen on weekend work to supplement what he earned from his regular job. He is 27 years old. He did an excellent job for me for a few weekends then told me that he had decided he could no longer work after 5 pm…ever.

Next, I chatted with a hard working woman with whom I work from time to time and I mentioned that we had this position available. She told me her son Mitch was desperate to make money and that she was sure he would love to do it. Mitch is a nice single 35-year old guy whom I knew and liked. I immediately offered the work to him. He thanked me for thinking of him but explained that he never worked on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

The third was a 32-year old Uber driver named Nur whom I met when he drove me home. A former fighter pilot, he had emigrated from Afghanistan via America. He told me he needed to make money. He did the work one weekend, collected his money, then he just didn’t show up for work the next weekend. It was obviously beneath him. I haven’t heard from him since.

Fourth time lucky. The fellow who now works with me on the weekends is from Barbados. He emigrated to Canada a year ago because it was impossible to make a good life in Barbados unless you were a member of the police or the military and he didn’t qualify for either. He loves Canada because if you work hard, you can create a decent life for yourself. He came here a year ago. He has found opportunities through keenness. He obtained his forklift truck driver’s license. He then started working for an agency each week while working to upgrade his license. He works with me on the weekend and is saving up to secure his own studio apartment near York University and then to afford a car. He is 27 and so far very reliable.

Back when I was a teenager into my early 20s, I was always interested in making money if I could fit it into my school and sports schedule. I began working when I was 13 years old and secured my license the day I turned 16. I was not unusual among my peer group. We all wanted to make money, play sports, drive cars and get our own place. Leisure time was what you grabbed late at night or over a couple of hours on the weekend, if you were lucky and had finished all your chores at home.

In my (now dinosaur-like) experience, if you wanted to make extra money, you needed to work evenings, weekends, nights, mornings, afternoons – basically, anytime anyone would pay you. You needed to show up for work when you were required. Keenness was critical. Asking for more work was important. Basically, everything else in your life took a back seat to making that extra money you wanted so you could accomplish whatever objective you had at that time.

The type of work was not as relevant as how much you were being paid per hour and how many hours you could secure. Being fulfilled at work was not even a consideration. I remember working three summers in a row on the line at Ford putting hood covers on because 27 years ago they paid $25 an hour. I can still do that specific job in my sleep because I put 60 hood covers on every hour for 48 hours a week for three summers in a row…138,240 hood covers. The job was mind-numbing but that money helped put me through school and paid for my car expenses. Needless to say, I had very little leisure time those summers.

My values are no longer prevalent. In seeking to fill this weekend position, it became apparent to me that the workforce has changed since I was a girl. Work-life balance in your 20s and 30s is now valued far more than money. People say they want to make extra money, but they mean only if it does not inconvenience them in living their best life. Hence a lot of people in their 20s and 30s are living with their parents, with siblings or with roommates. They don’t drive. They value leisure time more than making money.

For better or worse, while trying to hire someone for weekend work, I realized that this is not my or my parents’ workforce.

Seizing Opportunity in the Midst of Uncertainty

Despite recent reports painting a bleak picture for the Alberta economy, there are a number of people, myself included, working to change the economic volatility that’s plagued the province for the last 8 months into opportunity for all Albertans.

While the oil slump has definitely impacted Alberta’s economy, it by no means has defeated the spirit or sense of resolve here. This undaunted perseverance is manifesting itself in other industries and sectors — real estate and property development being one of them.

Earlier this month, two luxury condominiums in of the Calgary’s prominent riverfront developments broke a three year downtrend when the units sold for $8.4 million and $5.2 million respectively. The record-setting prices for the 5,000-square-foot and 3,000-square-foot condos located in the same building not only marked the highest prices paid for condo units in the city for three years, it also signaled the city’s steady economic progression out of uncertainty.

This upward trend was further solidified when Calgary’s real estate sales figures for the last year were released in early July by the Alberta Real Estate Association. According to the data, “Overall sales for homes in excess of $1 million, including condos and semi-detached and detached houses, have climbed 8.6 percent this year compared with last year with 317 sold by the end of June 2016.”

There has also been a number of developments in the residential rental property sector over the last year, a sector I know well. When I founded Strategic Group, I built the company around the philosophy of “Creating value others can’t, by seeing what others don’t.” In September this year, myself, Riaz Mamdani, and Strategic Group will officially unveil our most ambitious project to date: a five-storey wood frame residential building, the first of its kind in Alberta history.

The 69 unit building, with a coffee shop and five work-live units on the ground floor, is located on the corner of Centre Street and 20th Avenue N.E. and will add much needed housing options for the population dense area.

The concept of the state-of-the-art wood framed building was made possible after the city’s 2014 announcement stating they would begin accepting variance applications for buildings (up to six-storeys) featuring wood-frame designs.

Aside from offering a unique aesthetic element to any neighbourhood, using wood to build taller buildings is cost effective, easily sustainable and can provide housing solutions for areas that are suffering from urban sprawl or density issues.

Building vertically has proven to be the answer in many different building situations and with municipalities across the country approving the building of low-rise wood frame buildings, I think we will see more unique wood frames sprouting up across the country.

Rollin Stanley, the manager of Calgary’s city planning department, recently told the Calgary Herald using low-rise buildings along transit corridors allows for greater density leading to community revitalization and more affordable housing options.

“Wood projects are more sustainable than concrete, it’s a renewable resource and, particularly when you look at where we live, we have access to wood,” said Stanley. “So that’s a terrific local resource we can capitalize on instead of building all these smaller buildings out of concrete.”

Three tips for effective leaders

There are few things greater than the feeling you get building and leading a successful business. Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of establishing and growing a variety of mining firms into successful companies and I have also lead some not so successful ones.

While this feeling of accomplishment is grand, it is only dwarfed by the amount of gratitude that leaders must feel and show the dedicated team of professionals they work with. This includes the executive team, managerial staff and employees; in short, the people who are able to take your corporate vision and make it reality. 

Over the last 30 years, I have learned some valuable lessons when it comes to being an effective and efficient leader. I have also witnessed leaders in other sectors exhibit truly admirable leadership skills.

Ian Telfer’s 3 leadership tips

Building a team

Building the right team is as important as building a successful business.

No man is an island, as the old adage goes.  Which is why in order for a business to achieve full potential it needs a robust team of executives who are able to bring unique skill sets and perspectives to the boardroom.

Don’t be afraid to delegate

The ability to wisely and effectively delegate is a quality less talked about than others and yet it’s crucial to a leader’s success. Too many business leaders want to micromanage and oversee every detail of the company, which can delay important deadlines and leave the executive team feeling undervalued.

A leader should be in charge of the overall direction of the business.  They are looking ahead, steering the course, and making needed corrections to avoid getting off track. A leader who is too caught up in every minutia of the company is apt to lose sight of the big picture and may even fail to see that their company has veered off course until it is too late.

It’s also been proven that leaders who give important responsibilities to their team and employees, along with the freedom to complete the task their way, foster a positive and healthy workplace. Additionally, this builds team innovation and idea levels, morale, and overall satisfaction.

Assigning responsibilities and delegating work establishes levels of trust that are crucial when working in any business environment.

Foster open communication

It’s important to let business teams feel free to share results and findings with you. Communication is also key to ensuring your team is able to fulfill their assignments and responsibilities. Being able to clearly and succinctly describe what you want done is very important. If you can’t relate your vision to your team, you won’t all be working toward the same goal.

From my experience, if you want an organization to succeed, you and your team have to master the art of clear inter-communication. In my opinion, implementing well-organized paths that facilitate easy group communication and collaboration improves the likelihood that a given business will enjoy success.

Why so much ado about interest rates?

Mal Spooner
Mal Spooner

Why the popularity of shorter-term interest-bearing securities among Canadians, in particular GIC investments?  In fact, we in Canada are not the only investors who seem satisfied investing our money knowing that the rate-of-return might just barely cover the rate of price inflation, with a significant risk of actually losing money if inflation should rise even modestly.  And it is not just people who are content with the arrangement between ourselves and the borrowers of our money – banks, insurance companies and credit unions alike – corporations have been hoarding cash since the Financial Crisis too.

This past summer, Statistics Canada reminded us that corporations in Canada continued to grow their cash hoard rather than invest the funds in their businesses.  Of course, like people, companies don’t actually hold cash, but rather invest the money in low risk short-term interest bearing securities, often in Government of Canada T-bills and bonds, as well as commercial paper offered by financial institutions.

At the end of the second quarter of 2008, corporations held $373.4 billion in cash balances (Statistics Canada November 17th, 2009 study: Indebtedness and liquidity of non-financial corporations).  By the first quarter of this (2014) year the number had grown to a whopping $629.7-billion. So why the stubborn tendency to tolerate a near-zero rate-of-return?

There are at least two factors at work in my estimation.  One has to do with the economics of interest rates in the current environment, another with human nature and demographics.

First of all, what is an interest rate?  It embodies three important expectations-related factors: Real returns, inflation and risk.  We all are reluctant to part with our cash unless we’re able to earn what economists call a ‘real’ return.  Ask yourself, what rate-of-return would make you happy if there was essentially no risk (default, volatility) to speak of and no price inflation.  Whatever you buy today, will in theory cost you the same price next year and every year after that.  Most agree that the very long-term real rate of interest is somewhere between 2% and 4%.  Real Rates Canada 2004 to 2014However, you can easily see from the graph that the real rate of return provided by Government of Canada (as low risk as you can find) long-term real return bonds over the past ten years has been driven down since the Financial Crisis, as all governmental central banks strove to fight disinflation by dampening the general level of interest rates.

Has the return we expect from lending our funds really adjusted downward, or is it that the availability of securities providing the returns we normally demand has changed?  My guess is most folks would agree that the adage ‘once burned, twice shy’ aptly summarizes our tendency to be  biased by recent experience.  It is human nature to be sensitive to bad or good things that have just happened and to oftentimes unreasonably expect them to continue.  Also, we are confronted by a lack of options.  Securities available to us are not promising the rates-of-return we want, given the amount of risk we are prepared to stomach.

In fact, a quick look at one of many high-dividend oriented ETF’s, the iShares Core S&P/TSX Composite High Dividend Index ETF suggests that a collection of dividend paying stocks yielded 4.31% (as of October 2, 2014) over the past (trailing) 12 months.  As a bonus, the tax treatment of dividends is more generous than it is for interest income.  Indeed the stock market has done perhaps too well over the last few years, but judging by the massive dollars invested in short-term securities those equity returns have not been earned by everyday people. The issue is people just don’t seem to want the volatility that comes with investing in stocks; even when the selection of stocks is less risky than the overall stock market.  A real return with some risk is less attractive than no return at all, and it has been like this for quite awhile now. The second ingredient to interest rate levels is inflation expectations.

Source: Bank of Canada
Source: Bank of Canada

Admittedly, we haven’t seen a whole bunch of price inflation have we?  Central bank policy around the world has been more interested in creating some inflation, fearing that disinflation would prove devastating to our economic welfare.  These efforts are in fact evidenced by the historically low level of administered interest rates we have.  If our collective expectations concerning future price inflation are significantly different from what we are experiencing then our behaviour will reflect it. Could it be that the extraordinarily high commitment to GIC’s and equivalents is that Canadians, and Americans are doing it too, are content to simply keep their money (even at the risk of a small loss) intact until rates of inflation and returns get back to levels they think they can believe in?

The third important determinant of interest rate levels is our toleration for risk, and it exists in many different forms.  Our appreciation for the risk of default was certainly modified during the Financial Crisis; and in short order we’ve been willing to tolerate none of it.  We’ve turned a blind eye to significant stock market appreciation and even bond returns preferring to ‘check’ rather than ‘raise’ and ‘all in’ has certainly been out of the question.   But this intolerance to take risk has become very sticky at the individual level and at the corporate level.  This might have more to do with demographics than anything else.

Younger people are quite surprised to learn that real interest rates got as high as 6% – 9% during the mid-1980’s, and during the 90’s and up to the turn of the millennium ranged around the 4% level. (Source: I was there!)  There is a large proportion Canadians who lived through those times.  According to Statistics Canada there is roughly an equal number of young people as there are older people.  Ratio of old to young in CanadaHalf of us in Canada might consider those times ancient history (or have no interest at all in history), and the other half feel as if it was just yesterday that mortgage rates were in the double digits.

These more seasoned citizens look at the rates of return offered by the bond market and similar investment vehicles and say to themselves: “Hey, if I buy a longer term bond, I’m earning next to nothing anyway, so I’ll just put money into shorter term GIC’s and term deposits that are effectively earning nothing and avoid the risk of having my money tied up.”  Having experienced periods of rising inflation and higher real rates, they (and yes, I’m a member of that distinguished group) are inclined to wait until more generous returns come back – if they ever do come back.  And don’t forget, these same folks might actually have to spend their savings sooner rather than later suggesting that any risk of a big loss in the stock or bond market is simply untenable.

Most people when they think of Canada bonds, immediately think of Canada Savings Bonds.  They are not the same at all.  Normal Government of Canada bonds, held in mutual funds and pension plans for example, rise and fall in value as interest rates change.  Although we’ve been through a very long stretch of falling interest rates, which made bond prices steadily go up in value, there have been and will be periods when interest rates rise and people lose money in bonds.  It is smart to learn how the time value of money works and how and why bonds can make or lose money.  There is a plethora of online videos that can help you understand bond valuation and the investment in your time to learn bond dynamics is well worth the minimal effort.

The yield curve is simply a plot of interest rates corresponding to varying maturities at a point in time.  Ordinarily, we expect to earn higher returns the longer our money is lent to someone else.  GIC rates are lower when the hold period is 3 months than they are when your money is tied up for 3 years.  The same should be true for bonds.  But consider where we’ve come from:  US Treasury Dept. Yield CurvesThe graph shows the yield curves for US Treasury bonds as of October 2007 compared to the same today.  The 2007 yield curve reflects the uncertainty at that time about, well almost everything.  We didn’t know if we should accept lower rates for shorter investments or high rates for longer term bonds so the curve was somewhat flattish.  What would inflation be?  Which financial institution would be solvent?  Would the US government even be solvent?  Many questions but few answers in the midst of the financial turmoil.

The more current yield curve reflects today’s reality.  The only interest rates we can earn in the short-term are hovering close to zero, and since longer-term risk-free bonds are paying us barely one percent over inflation why assume the added risk.  If interest rates do rise from these low levels, then you will certainly lose money owning the longer-term bonds.

In a nutshell, people have doing what they should be doing – seeking shelter and waiting it out.   A side-effect of this behaviour is that our willingness to tolerate no return for lots of safety has stalled the return to financial market normality.  By stubbornly remaining in GIC’s, term deposits and money market funds we are inadvertently delaying what we desire – a decent return for taking some risk.  It’s only when money moves freely and to a large extent greedily that financial markets function properly.  This presents quite a conundrum for policy makers around the world, who’ve been praying that businesses invest in business instead of hoarding their cash, and people begin spending more and taking on more risk by investing their savings in more diverse ways.

There are many pundits who have suddenly jumped on the bandwagon predicting a stock market meltdown and impending bond market rout.  If they are right and this happens then we might finally get what we want after-the-fact; returns that compensate us fairly for inflation and risk.  In fact the stock market is suffering of late, and a shift (or rather, twist)  in the yield curve is already causing some havoc for bond managers.  The longer-term rates have declined rather than risen as expected, and mid-term bond yields have surprisingly risen – causing grief even for gurus like Bill Gross, who co-founded PIMCO and until recently managed one of the world’s largest bond portfolios.

If investors have been doing the right thing to feel secure, what should they be doing next?  Over my own lengthy career I’ve found that at some point it is important to combat inertia and begin moving in a different strategic direction.  As stock prices adjust downwards, take advantage of what happens.  The dividends paid on the increasingly lower stock prices become more attractive quickly, and remember they are taxed at preferential rates.  The world economy may continue to grow at only a snail’s pace, so why not test the waters so to speak and begin putting some funds into longer-term interest-earning bonds.  If inflation does creep up and interest rates increase some, then put even more funds to work at the higher yields.    Having done the safe thing during turbulent times, perhaps it’s time to do the smart thing.  Experience teaches us that the best time to be doing the smart thing is almost always when it is most difficult to do it.  The longer you earn nothing, the poorer you get.