Blast from the pastBy the staff |Philippine Daily Inquirer
If there’s an industry bountifully harvesting from the local stock market boom, it’s luxury car dealerships, based on anecdotal evidence.
A Filipino fund manager with regional responsibilities at a large financial institution, for instance, recently attended a “fun run” upon the invitation of his stockbroker-friends. The fun run itself was a non-event, but not the display of toys for the big boys that overwhelmed the now Hong Kong-based fund manager that weekend. Mr. HK-based chief investment officer was surprised to see the parking lot at the fun run akin to a plush showroom of cars preferred by discerning folks—Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche, leaving his new sports utility vehicle totally outclassed.
“I looked like their bodyguard, and these guys are only earning commissions from me,” he said in jest.
Another fund manager confirmed that stockbrokers were now buying a lot of hot cars, some opting for European brands like BMW, Audi and Range Rover. For the fund manager, this was like a “blast from the past.” Before the 1997 Asian currency crisis, stock brokers likewise spent on plush cars like there was no more tomorrow. What this means, though, is that talent management is getting to be more challenging for the portfolio management or “buy” side of the business, given that the commission-based stock brokerage or “sell” side is becoming very tempting.
One large local fund manager said he recently lost key traders to the “sell side.” Indeed, how can one resist a triple salary increase? Some financial institutions also face a drought of people for the research side. So if you see a lot of fresh grad-looking analysts out there, it’s because they really are fresh grads.
“We’ve been in a bear market for so long that we weren’t able to train enough analysts so we have no choice but to hire fresh grads,” the local fund manager said. Doris C. Dumlao
Independence not welcome
A LOT of things have changed for the better under the current administration. But, apparently, some “non-Daang Matuwid” habits die hard—like the habit of replacing government appointees (regardless of his or her performance) just because the person doesn’t belong to the posse of a Cabinet member.
Word on the street is that some top honchos of government-owned or -controlled corporations (GOCCs) are on their way out despite doing commendable work for the agencies they now head. One such “on-his-way-out” official, we hear, is Luis Sison, who heads Philippine National Construction Corp. Sison—a longtime ally and supporter of the Aquino family—has been instrumental in keeping the financially troubled PNCC on an even keel in recent years.
His efforts (along with that of Sen. Franklin Drilon) helped preserve some P18 billion worth of PNCC assets that would have otherwise been turned over to a foreign shell company called Radstock under questionable terms. But apparently, Sison has been doing too well of late as a fiscalizer at PNCC, pointing out weaknesses in the policies of some higher-ups and refusing to swallow poor policy prescriptions hook, line and sinker. So yes, he’s on his way out, we hear.
Another GOCC head on her way out, we’re told, is Land Bank of the Philippines president Gilda Pico. A career official, Pico became Landbank president under former Finance Secretary Gary Teves. The government bank is doing well, no doubt. But maybe she’s not viewed to be “part of the team” since she was appointed under the Arroyo administration.
We hear that both Sison and Pico have run afoul of a Cabinet official because of their… ehem… independent views. So expect more loyal replacements in the coming weeks. Daxim L. Lucas
UNLIKE in the recent past when the stock market would fall on profit-taking whenever Mr. President talks about equities, the market is now taking to heart Aquino’s market pronouncements. “It’s like a policy statement,” a fund manager said, adding it would not be a surprise if the market would hit the 6,500-level that Aquino cited during his visit to Zurich as wishful thinking for his birthday on Feb. 8. Is it going up too fast and too soon? Maybe, but stock experts say the volume is going up as new investors are just starting to come in.
And Aquino also said during his Swiss visit that the 7,000 milestone was possible within the year. If so, BPI Odyssey and Macquarie Group can claim credit as the first to proclaim that the index could approximate the number of islands in archipelagic Philippines (7,100). Doris C. Dumlao
New York TV Fest
OUTSIDE of major TV networks’ rating wars, Kapamilya ABS-CBN has secured bragging rights for getting eight finalist slots in various categories in this year’s New York Festivals, beating Kapuso GMA’s three and Kapatid TV5’s one. This made Kapamilya—riding on its entertainment and current affairs programs—the most nominated TV network in New York Festival’s World Best Television and Films competition, which honors programming from more than 50 countries.
Congratulations! Doris C. Dumlao
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