About Cale Bennett

https://calebennett.com

Father, finance and treasury professional, triathlete. In that order.

Posts by Cale Bennett:

The one you feed

Read this in the book “The One Thing”, by Gary Keller. It was interesting in the context of where my life is presently.

One evening an elder Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people.

He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us. One is Fear. It carries anxiety, concern, uncertainty, hesitancy, indecision and inaction. The other is Faith. It brings calm, conviction, confidence, enthusiasm, decisiveness, excitement and action.”

The grandson thought about it for a moment and then meekly asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”

The old Cherokee replied, “The one you feed.”

Co-Working in Kyoto Review

Co-Working in Kyoto Review

If you search online for places to co-work out of while travelling, Japan doesn’t rate highly. Actually, when I was researching Japan as a place to spend some time, there wasn’t even a lot of recent, usable information on available co-working spaces. I have been in Kyoto for a couple of weeks and have spent most days at a co-working space called Space Kante Kyoto. I thought I would add a little write-up just in case anyone was searching for somewhere to work out of – and dispel the myth the Japan is a bad place for co-working.

So, the important stats:

Period Visited: May 2018

Days open: Monday to Saturday

Times: 10:00AM to 10:00PM

Cost: JPY1,080 per day (including tax). About A$14 at the time of writing. Not too bad.

What you get: Wifi, desk

Wifi was pretty reasonable. Probably not as fast as your mobile wifi, which you could use if you wanted instead (and didn’t have a wife using it elsewhere during the day!). This is the speed at 11am on a Monday:

Wifi Speed

Wifi Speed

Setup: There are meeting rooms, an open co-working space, some study rooms for quiet work. The open co-working space has some background music playing, mostly just chilled music that is easily drowned out with headphones. There is not a huge amount of chatter on the floor when compared to co-working spaces in Australia. There were plenty of spots every day I was there, although I understand it gets busier in summer. Here are some pictures from inside:

 

IMG_2167

From the corner looking back across the open co-working space

Desk looking onto street

Shared work bench looking out onto street

IMG_2168 (1)

From the corner looking back to the cafe

Other: There is a cafe within the co-working space also, which does pretty good coffee.

What it is good for: Getting work done.

What it is not good for: Getting a sense of the start-up landscape in Kyoto. Admittedly, I didn’t go out of my way looking for this, and language would have been a barrier.

Anyway, if you’re looking for somewhere to get away and get some work done that doesn’t cost anywhere near as much as you think… you should consider Japan, Kyoto, and Space Kante Kyoto!

Clear Air

It has now been almost two months since leaving Tatts. Plenty has happened since, I walked the Overland Track, went on a cruise, and am now 10 days into our Singapore/Japan trip.

One of my goals while on this trip was to spend some time working through IFRS16. Whilst that may seem an odd pursuit for a holiday, this is more of a working holiday! I believe there is an opportunity in the market for a model to churn out the IFRS16 Right of Use Asset and Liability numbers, given inputs.

Each time I mention it to an accountant, it is clear it is an issue for them. The standard is a 167 page beast and it comes in on 1 January 2019, but few have solved the issue for their company. Yet, whenever I mention it to someone who doesn’t have responsibility for statutory accounting, their response is often, “Why can’t they just figure it out for themselves.”

They probably could, but for one thing: Clear Air.

Having now spent many hours reading through the IFRS16 standard and associated commentary, one thing has struck me about this task. How little time I had over the last 5 years to sit down and concentrate on one thing for an extended period of time, uninterrupted.

That clear air just wasn’t available. It is nice to have a little bit of it now.

Oh, and Kyoto is really nice. Maybe for the next blog.

Indexing contracts for CPI

In many contracts, amounts paid are indexed by CPI, or some sub-variant of it. I was recently speaking with my colleague, Tim Devine, about a way to make it easier to calculate indexing over time in order to ensure that invoicing amounts are correct. Some companies have people who do this full-time, but all you really need is Excel.

Tim is the most Excel-capable lawyer I have ever met, so it makes sense to implement this solution in Excel. He will be right at home.

So, if you’re looking to find out what you should be charging, or being charged, after 1 or more periods of inflation indexing, you can now do so with this Excel sheet:

CPI Adjustments

If you have any suggestions for changes, let me know!

Thanks again to Tim for this one.

A Haiku

Here is a little Haiku I wrote. I’m not sure if it quite conforms to the Haiku style guide, but I am claiming it as a Haiku all the same. Interested in thoughts/suggestions/improvements!

The Amateur’s Ego

Rates sell off, bond launch

Tight margin makes client happy

Closing dinner, expensive.

 

You’ve got to fight for your right to …

You’ve got to fight for your right to …

… roll 1 month.

If you’re a Beastie Boys fan, I apologise for the click bait.

Just prior to me starting my first stint at Macquarie Bank the PUMA treasury team had begun issuing their securitised bonds on a 1 month roll. It was 2005, the market was strong, and the investors didn’t even flinch – no increased margin was requested or offered. Maybe they didn’t even notice. It was a genius move.

Why? Because the 1/3 basis swap was trading at 2 points. In fact, as I recall it was stuck at 2 points for years. So the PUMA team had just snuck through a 2 point discount in their margin. On a A$20bn book, that was the equivalent of $4M – per year.

As the spread graph below indicates (source: Bloomberg), there seems to be a systemic move in the 1/3 basis, that peaked in December 2015.

HS BBSW

 

As illustrated above, in the context of the last 5 years, the spread between 1 and 3 month BBSW is in the 90th percentile. Whilst I am a believer in mean reversion, in this case I believe that the mean will increase to the new normal, rather than the other way around.

I have heard on the grapevine recently that there is some chatter from some banks about cutting the 1 month roll option from the companies’ facility agreements because the basis has blown out. The reason for that movement, as I understand, relates to the treatment of 1 month money under Basel III liquidity rules. As always, the banks have all interpreted the rules differently, but there certainly seems to be a systemic move despite the different interpretations.

Whilst this is all well and good, the reality is that the banks source funding from many sources. I certainly don’t see them giving more on my cash because they’re picking up extra margin on companies who continue to roll for 3 months!

So, for the sake of your corporate treasury peers please resist any call to remove or penalise 1 month rolls in your loan documents. We don’t want this to get any momentum!

Hacking fintech hackathons

Here are the winners from the fintech hackathons held in Australia over the last couple of months:

  • June 2016: BoQ Hackathon, Brisbane: Start Young, teaching financial management to kids
  • July 2016, Fintech Startup Weekend, Brisbane:Kids bank,an app that helps put the fun back into saving by incorporating savings goals in an attempt to capture the ‘pocket money economy’
  • August 2016, CUA Hackathon, Brisbane: CUAngels, solutions to assist people in leaving domestic violence
  • September 2016, Fintech Startup Weekend, Sydney: Tap4Change, a social welfare payments platform

Notice a trend here?

If you want to win a fintech hackathon in Australia, prioritise a social outcome.

Your fintech startup is not a disruptor

I tend to keep my ear to the ground a lot in the fintech space. I enjoy learning about new things and learning about new ways of solving old problems. Australia has a lot happening in the fintech space, which is really awesome. In fact, in the space of 3 months in Brisbane (not exactly a financial capital) there were 3 startup weekends dedicated to finance.

With all that is happening, I see a lot of people throwing around the d-word. Disruption. Specifically, everyone is looking to “disrupt” the banks. The only problem is, almost none of them are actually disrupting anything.

I read an article a couple of days ago which has finally helped me to reconcile in my head how to categorise the fintech startups and their effect on the ecosystem. They’re not disrupting, they are displacing.

Peer-to-peer lenders andFX payments providers for instance… they are not disrupting the banks, they are merely displacing them (or part of their profits).

Peer-to-peer lending, as a model, doesn’t really work in my opinion. Many offshore companies in that space are now raising trusts to fund loans. That’s not peer-to-peer, that’s securitisation delivered through an online portal. Aussie John Symond was first to take it to the banks – the result was a significant shift in the home lending landscape. But the banks are still here – he didn’t disrupt them, he displaced them. The result was a decrease in margins, and at best that is what the peer-to-peer lenders can hope to inflict on the banks. At the rate they are going at the moment, I’m not hopeful.

In the end, the Australian banks are some of the most profitable in the world. The fintechs that are in the market at the moment, that I am aware of, are displacing some of the banks’ business and will probably chip away at their profitability. It is unlikely that any will cause more than an annoyance. If you know of any fintechs that have true disruptive capacity, shoot me an email I would love to learn about them.

 

Internet Button – How to set it up

Recently, one of my colleagues and I bought an internet button from Particle.io. I thought it would be fun to play around with. After spending a few (frustrating) hours trying to get it to work as I wanted, I thought it might be helpful if I gave an overview of how I got it running. If you’re a whiz developer, you probably don’t need to read this. However, if you’re not a programer and thought that you’d buy an internet button to play around with, this guide is going to save you a serious amount of time.

What are we going to learn?

In the first instance, the plan was to enable you to hit the button to send an email. Fundamentally, we will get the button up and running and connect it to IFTTT.

Why is this guide needed?

Fundamentally, this guide is needed because all of the instructions seem to be old and don’t work. Also, the code repos that they recommend you download into your IDE also seem to be old and don’t work. So rather than you try and figure it out, I am going to give you the TL;DR.

You’re not a developer, but you got it to work. How?

This question is simply an excuse for me to insert my new favourite meme (thanks Shaw!), which pretty much sums up all of my development efforts. I laugh, because it is true (mostly).

Pasted image at 2016_08_19 08_46 PM

Cale is not a developer

 Ok, what needs to be done

Well, once the button arrives you need to follow the instructions to set it up. When the instructions get to a part about “flashing” the memory of the button from the console, this is where it gets tricky. Rather than muck about, here is code that is guaranteed to work (well, it worked for me):

#include "InternetButton/InternetButton.h"

// Create a Button named b. It will be your friend, and you two will spend lots of time together.
// You may be wondering about those two slashes and this gray text- they're called comments, and
// don't affect the code. Think of this as the voice of the narrator.
InternetButton b = InternetButton();

// The code in setup() runs once when the device is powered on or reset. Used for setting up states, modes, etc
void setup() {
// Tell b to get everything ready to go
// Use b.begin(1); if you have the original SparkButton, which does not have a buzzer or a plastic enclosure
// to use, just add a '1' between the parentheses in the code below.
b.begin();
}
void loop() {
if(b.buttonOn(2)){
Particle.publish("allbuttons","Tim", 1, PRIVATE);
delay(1000);
} 

else {
b.allLedsOn(0,165,0);
}
}

You simply have to copy and paste the above code into the IDE, hit the Verify button at the top left (the tick), and then flash the code to your internet button (press the button above – it looks like a lightning bolt).

Now, log into your console and click on your device. When you press the button, it should come through with “Tim” to the log. If that’s the case, you can now connect IFTTT to listen for “Tim” and you are away… the world is your internet button oyster.

Why Tim?
Long story.

Treasury Today article

I was recently interviewed by Treasury Today regarding an article I wrote on LinkedIn. It was an interesting process, both internally at work and with Treasury Today. Whilst the article didn’t necessarily come out exactly as I had envisioned in my head, I thought James from TT did a great job. Reading the article, the theme fundamentally reads as “technical skills should not be forgotten on Treasury’s march to become strategically relevant”. That is something I totally agree with, and was a sub-theme of the LinkedIn post.

However, the over-arching theme to the original LinkedIn post was really, “The difference on the bottom line between a good and a bad treasurer is many times your CEO’s salary. So choose your treasurer thoughtfully.”

Here is the article on Treasury Today’s website. A big thanks to James Hayward for his flexibility and for thinking that anyone would be interested in what I had to say!