Wealth Management

Voted #6 on Top 100 Family Business influencer on Wealth, Legacy, Finance and Investments: Jacoline Loewen My Amazon Authors' page Twitter:@ jacolineloewen Linkedin: Jacoline Loewen Profile

January 29, 2010

And how is the Canadian economy doing?

"When we see government stimulus end and the private sector to walk on its own two legs, I will feel a lot more confident," says David Rosenberg, Chief Economist & Strategist, Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc.
David spoke at YPO Leadership conference and gave the strong message that he is looking for sustainability. For investors, the market is being driven by government stimulus. This is the reason he is a bear on the US equity market. Canada is different as it is financial and commodities only, so much less of a diverse market. Resources have driven up the value of the Canadian dollar.
Look for multinationals who can benefit from the weaker Canadian dollar - those with Chinese and Indian businesses.

Posted by Jacoline Loewen, author of Money Magnet. See Financial Post video interview.

January 26, 2010

What do you think of upfront fees?

The Private equity and Venture Capital Group has been running the longest discussion on Linkedin on the hot topic of paying up front fees for capital raises.
Here is one comment that caught my eye"
I've worked with the CEO's and BOD's of many companies in their efforts to raise series A, B, or C capital. The issue of upfront fees normally arises when efforts to raise angel or VC funds have been exhausted and companies reach out to the alternative capital markets. As we all know during the last 18 months the traditional sources of capital have become scarce.In the alternative capital markets, it is common practice for the investment finders to charge upfront fees and generally these are large sums before beginning any work.

That being said, I have recently, through close long-term contacts in the VC industry, been introduced to an investment capital finder who does a great job raising capital and unlike investment capital companies like Bain, Goldman and others who charge large upfront fees. Loewen & Partners does not. 
Rather they  take a strategic partnership approach with company CEO's who have a business model they think can be executed successfully by charging a modest monthly cost share during the capital raise period. They don't want to make money on the front end but rather taking a strategic partnership approach with their clients, money is made on the back end of the deal when the capital closes escrow.
Loewen & Partners' business model makes complete sense to me as a outsider and business person. They have some skin in the game utilizing staff to zero in on sources of capital that would be a good match with the entrepreneur's business model. And with the cost share model , the entrepreneur has skin in the game preventing him/her from window shopping for money and then just walking away when the capital sources are brought to the table to negotiate the terms sheet. 
In my opinion, If you can find a similar capital finder who will do a cost share approach during the raising period, rather than charge large up front fees, you will have a win/win approach in raising your capital needs.

Peter's Question

“If the company disappeared, would it be missed?”

This question was posed by the thoughtful Peter Barlas, a portfolio manager at KJ Harrison, a company that invests high net worth individuals’ money. Peter was taking us through his logic in picking companies for this next stretch of market which is going to have "S" curves with oil slicks galore. 
If you want to know his stock picks, which I thought to be shrewd, you can get hold of him at KJ Harrison.

Now, what about you, what companies would you miss? Philip Lieberman, KJ Harrison, told me he would miss Gillette, but not Crate & Barrel, which is why retailers are falling from favour currently. For me, Apple would be a big black hole; their podcast feature alone has changed the way I get information.

If you are considering attracting money to your business, Peter’s question is a good one to ask each and every day. Would your company be missed? If not, why not? What would be the much requested features? That could add to your valuation.

January 25, 2010

What happens to companies with private equity?

Financial Post's John Turley-Ewart discusses private equity with author and entrepreneur Jacoline Loewen.

Watch the video

Family businesses can grow to become major forces in their economies.

It is tough to keep a family business in the hands of the family, yet there are options. Private equity likes family businesses as other companies prefer doing work with them and customers like the feel of a family brand over a corporate one.
Very few large family businesses thrive beyond the third generation. Those that do, find ways to run themselves professionally while making the family happy. Private equity can play a huge role in keeping family legacy but the business moving forward profitably.
McKinsey and Co did research on how family businesses have managed to evolve and survive in various countries.

In advanced economies, as well as in emerging markets, most companies start out as family-owned businesses. From their humble beginnings, driven by entrepreneurial vision and energy, some have grown to become major forces in their economies. Indeed, this still happens not only in emerging markets, with their chaebols in South Korea and grupos in Latin America, but also in North America and Europe, where relatively young family-owned businesses such as Wal-Mart Stores, Bertelsmann, and Bombardier, to name just a few, have become front-runners.
But family-owned businesses—companies in which a family has a controlling stake—face a sobering reality: the statistical odds on their long-term success are bleak. In fact, a number of studies, taken together, suggest that only 5 percent continue to create shareholder value beyond the third generation. This statistic should come as no surprise, given the business challenges any company faces in increasingly competitive markets, to say nothing of the difficulty of keeping growing numbers of family shareholders committed to continued ownership. One kind of risk for these businesses comes from the generations that follow the founder, whose drive and business acumen they might not match, though they may insist on managing the company.
Jacoline Loewen, partner, author of Money Magnet, How to attract investors to your business.

Top 50 CEOs list has only 15 out of 50 MBAs - what gives?

The MBA does bring a great deal of value in taking you to the next level in thinking and giving you a instant network of equally competitive and performance driven people. It is always worthwhile revisiting the objective of obtaining an MBA. Is it to get you on the top 50, highest performing CEO list or to give you an introduction to management? 
Roger Martin, Dean of Rotman, is one of the leading edge leaders of business schools, I believe, and we are lucky to have him here in Canada. In the USA, here are thoughts on the MBA by one of my favorite out of the box investment advisors - Check out Clemens Kownatski' blog for more:

MBA Reality Check: "Harvard Business Review just published: The Best-Performing CEOs in the World
Very interesting to see who is on that list and even more interesting to learn what their backgrounds are.  As a Business School graduate, I often wonder about the merits of an MBA degree, considering the time, effort and substantial capital that went into the education.  Going through the list of  Top50 CEOs, I noticed that only 15 out of 50 (less than a third) had a formal business education.  Although I still consider business school one of the best investments I ever made, one has to wonder what these Non-MBAs know that isn’t taught in business school and whether or not that skill can be taught at all? Next time you consider an investment, you may wonder what makes people like Steve Jobs such an “out of the box” thinker; perhaps the same thought process could be used when analyzing your next investment."

You can read more by Clemens Kownastski's latest issue of Market Insights, also available at: http://fxinvestmentstrategies.blogspot.com/

As always, please email any questions to Clemens at: info@fxistrategies.com.

Financial Post interview with Jacoline Loewen: http://bit.ly/8bDKmJ

January 24, 2010

The new way of investors partnering with owners

Our research with the owners and CEOs of private companies and their private equity partners illustrates that there are three leverage points for investors to impact the trajectory of the business: 

  1. Strategy and strategic contacts, 
  2. People, and 
  3. Execution. 

Loewen & Partners provides investors with a window of meaningful involvement in a portfolio company that goes far beyond the typical boardroom interaction. It allows a private equity partner to rapidly come up to speed on the key issues within the firm and help leverage the potential of the firm.

Click on who we are to get some background on our partners. To explore the RED™ process in detail, go to what we do.

January 22, 2010

Family-owned companies run by eldest sons tend to be managed relatively poorly.

"I do not want to hand him the business yet, as he is only 28 years old. Yet, I do need to retire and get my money out of the business. I'm only 47 years old," said this owner of a large business at a YPO dinner in Yorkville last night.
She shrugged, "Too bad that he cannot have the company but I am not ready to hand it over."
This is how the Queen must feel with Prince Charles wanting to take over the throne; he is simply not ready or competent enough. As I chatted with this entrepreneur and mother about her succession plans, she expressed her frustration. Despite having her eldest son running her business, I sensed she, like the Queen, did not respect his ability to take the ball and run with it.
"Succession planning is my biggest issue. All my money is tied up in that one business. Can you imagine that?" she worried.
Yes, I could.
I see it all the time. Owners do not know their options available. Meanwhile, they jeopardize their entire family wealth. McKinsey and Co have researched the results of handing family businesses to elder sons and the results should make this mum stop, "gulp" and take another look at using private equity.

Family-owned companies run by outsiders appear to be better managed than other companies, a study finds, while family-owned companies run by eldest sons tend to be managed relatively poorly. Moreover, the prevalence of family-owned companies run by eldest sons in France and the United Kingdom appears to account for a sizable portion of the gap in the effectiveness of management—and perhaps in performance—that we observe in their companies relative to those of Germany and the United States.
These findings come from a study of more than 700 midsize manufacturers in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The study, conducted by McKinsey and researchers at the London School of Economics,1 looked at the quality of key management practices relative to performance metrics (such as total factor productivity, market share, sales growth, and market valuation) and found that they are strongly correlated.2 On a scale of one to five, with five being the highest, US and German manufacturers scored best on these metrics (3.37 and 3.32, respectively), while French and UK companies scored worst (3.17 and 3.09).3

January 19, 2010

Which are better - public or private boards?

Advocates of the private-equity model have long argued that the better PE firms perform better than public companies do. This advantage, these advocates say, stems not only from financial engineering but also from stronger operational performance.
Directors who have served on the boards of both public and private companies agree—and add that the behavior of the board is one key element in driving superior operational performance. Among the 20 chairmen or CEOs, McKinsey & Co. recently interviewed as part of a study in the United Kingdom,1 most said that
PE boards were significantly more effective than were those of their public counterparts. The results are not comprehensive, nor do they fully reflect the wide diversity of public- and private-company boards. Nevertheless, our findings raise some important issues for public boards and their chairmen.
When asked to compare the overall effectiveness of PE and public boards, 15 of the 20 respondents said that PE boards clearly added more value; none said that their public counterparts were better. This sentiment was reflected in the scores the respondents gave each type of board, on a five-point scale (where 1 was poor and 5 was world class): PE boards averaged 4.6, public boards 3.5.

January 12, 2010

5 Tips to attract more revenues to your business

Wanting to attract more money to your business? Add on consulting.
Developing a consulting suite of skills has many side benefits, one of these is getting to know your client better. At the private equity firm, Loewen & Partners, the economic downturn - OK, cliff dive - meant they had to look for revenues elsewhere. Loewen & Partners had the blueprint on how to raise money for businesses but more than that--they knew the strategy required to achieve growth once businesses got their big payment. This was a scarce skill set, particularly with Canadian companies lulled into complacency by being next to the world's best market--America.
Since expanding into consulting services, Loewen & Partners has been impressed with how their client relationships have deepened and they have been able to push the growth strategies developed at the time of the capital raise. The best part is that the firm no longer has to be a transaction driven corporate finance expert. They get to stick around and be the high integrity, results-driven relationship that they always wanted.
Here are some of Loewen & Partners’ tips:
  1. Design daring documents. You're charging consulting clients a pretty penny for access to your blueprint for success. That blueprint better be detailed, adaptable and actionable.
  2. Speak to your current relationships. To uncover consulting prospects, make it a habit to ask clients to stick their necks out for you and make some introductions. When beginning, consider charging clients below-market rates in exchange for referrals.
  3. Exploit internet connections. Social networking, blogging, Linkedin Groups are valuable, low-cost vehicles for spreading the word about your consulting service.
  4. Tune in to opportunities. Train yourself and your sales force to listen to clients and prospects to spot opportunities to bring up your consulting services when a situation warrants.
  5. Boomerang back frequently. Don't leave implementation of your recommendations to a client to chance. A positive outcome is critical, especially for a fledgling consultancy in need of glowing references, so stay in touch with clients to be sure they are continuing to execute the plan you put in place. 

Surprised by who won the UK's top green contract?

I was expecting to be bored out of my skull by corporate jargon and those charts dotted with activities on some flow chart, but my first contact with Siemens was the complete opposite. I was in Johannesburg and had organized a "Strategy Summit", inviting a range of companies to present their practices around innovation. 
The Siemens Project Ventures team arrived looking alarmingly like Mr. Smiths in the Matrix movies but then they put up their first slide and blew us away. Their innovation project was examining the fastest uptake of cell phones - South Africa went from zero to 60% within a year. They tied this to looking at the vast geographic ranges with little technological investment and how to make money from that scenario.
These mostly German young men then went on to explain how their findings were being applied to China and India where there were similar technological and geographic challenges.
I was not surprised to read that Siemens Project Ventures  won the British government's contract for a wind farms. If you read the fine print, none of these windmills will be made in Britain, instead Germany will get the jobs, keeping that German engineering competence sharp. Here's part of the story and a link:

The successful bidders for the nine new British offshore wind farms have been announced, paving the way for the UK’s most ambitious renewable energy project, which aims to deliver a quarter of the UK’s electricity by 2020.
Costing £75 billion, the new wind farms will be on a far bigger scale than anything so far in Britain and are expected to create 70,000 jobs.
 However, there is concern that few of the 6,000 turbines will actually be made in the UK. The companies granted licences today to build the farms will not be obliged to source any parts from domestic manufacturers and most are expected to buy turbines made in Denmark or Germany.
Jacoline Loewen, expert in raising capital for companies who want to grow and author of Money Magnet.

January 8, 2010

Why business owners will benefit from tough year ahead for private equity

The toughest year is ahead for private equity as it will seek to buy companies, putting  business owners in the driver's seat. Valuations are causing the most trouble for both private equity and business owners. This is the traditional disagreement with private equity wanting three times EBITDA while businesses think they should get 12 times EBITDA.
The problem here is that business owners need to realize that this means their company is expecting to grow 12 times per annum. This means getting going in other markets, not just their same-old, same-old. A partnership with private equity would help but they are not miracle workers so workers will need to become more realistic. Here is a great article on the struggles ahead for private equity and how that will benefit business owners - written by Financial Times:
There is a suspicion among investors that when a private equity company is seeking to raise a new fund it seeks to sell some of its best-performing assets to keep its backers happy by returning some cash to them.
Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone's chief executive, has told investors his group plans to float eight companies and sell five this year. In the UK, Permira has promised to return a "wall of cash" to investors. This could trigger a wave of buying opportunities for other private equity groups, as many of these companies have no obvious trade buyer and may not make ideal flotation candidates.
In some cases, buy-out groups that raised their last fund in 2005 - such as BC Partners and Cognetas - are nearing the end of their five-year investment periods.
After a private equity group goes beyond its investment period it can no longer do new deals, unless investors grant it an extension or if it raises another fund. This could leave some big buy-out houses out of the market, at least temporarily. Several buy-out groups are in the happier position of having recently raised big funds, such as Hellman & Friedman, First Reserve, TPG, CVC Capital Partners, Warburg Pincus, Nordic Capital and Advent International.
Yet with bank debt still in short supply and the recession failing to produce the expected flow of opportunities to snap up good companies on the cheap, these groups are having to work harder to put their capital to work.
As buy-out groups still have about $450bn of "dry powder" left to invest, there is fierce competition for the best opportunities, which is pushing up prices.
Jacques Callaghan, head of private equity at Hawkpoint, the investment banking boutique, says there are more than 65 private equity groups that can still write a £100m equity cheque for a deal in Europe.
"A number of firms are going to feel under pressure to invest in the next year or two, or they will face calls to reduce their fund size," says Mr Callaghan.
So even those buy-out bosses who fulfil their New Year resolutions by raising fresh funds will still face pressure to show they can spend the money on attractive deals.
This is good news for businesses who are thinking about selling in the next five to ten years. Make it your new year resolution to find out more about private equity investors

Jacoline Loewen, expert in helping business owners get the money and the partners they deserve.
National Post video interview: http://www.financialpost.com/video/index.html?category=Financial+Post&video=XgmEI_w_0T1ljmKoXzmCCjo_6u1hka1w

January 7, 2010

Sellers of businesses seeing the last of private equity

Listen up sellers of businesses. You may have been chased relentlessly these past few years by private equity funds wanting to invest. Here's a warning. Those times may be coming to an end within the next five years. 
Just as industry has been outsourced, so is capital now rewarding those emerging markets too. Money is flowing to China and India and that means less for local comapnies. Here in Canada, funds are still doing well raising new capital as our banks do have money to lend at good rates, allowing the private equity model to work. Elsewhere in the wolrd, the tide of money is retreating. Here is an article from the Financial Times. You need a subscription to read it all but I pulled a few key points.
As private equity bosses consider their New Year resolutions, many are likely to commit themselves to overcoming the meanest fundraising market in the industry's history by raising a fresh pool of capital. This tough challenge will separate the buy-out industry's sheep from its goats as increasingly choosy investors decide which groups deserve to be given more money to invest and which should be left to wither away.
Being starved of fresh capital is the kiss of death for a private equity group, giving it little option but to go into run-off, slowly selling off assets to return cash to investors. Some groups have already been forced out of the market. In the UK, Candover terminated its new €3bn (£2.66bn) buy-out fund this month after struggling to meet its own €1bn commitment.
Alchemy Partners has suspended new investments until at least 2011 after its founder Jon Moulton's shock departure plunged it into crisis earlier this year. Next year, scores of private equity groups are expected either to exhaust the capital available in their existing funds or to reach the end of their fund's investment period. This is likely to push some of the world's biggest buy-out groups - including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, BC Partners, and EQT - to take the plunge and start fundraising in 2010. Some are already on the fundraising trail, such as Lion Capital, which is seeking €2bn for consumer goods buy-outs, and HG Capital, which has raised half its £2bn target.
But as investors are still smarting from big paper losses after the massive buy-out deals of the credit bubble, there is unlikely to be enough money to go round. As a result, next year could produce a shake-out in the private equity industry, rewarding the better performers with capital and leaving others to expire.
Partners Group, the Swiss fund-of-funds, has forecast that a third of buy-out groups "will be unsuccessful in raising meaningful amounts of additional capital for future funds and will eventually dissolve".
Jacoline Loewen, expert in private equity, author of Money Magnet, described as the best book on private equity by Austen Beutel.

January 6, 2010

7 Habits of Investors in Inefficient Markets

What is the market up to? I get to listen to the market, or at least a fairly large part of it, as I belong to a finance club with Bay Street's smartest money guys. Collectively they control several billion Canadian dollars, so when they talk, I listen. Over the last five years, since I joined, I have listened to leaders of public companies, owners of private companies, stock promoters, investors and many more. Yet few of these people spoke about the big crash coming up in 2008.
As we leave the decade of the "Naughts" and wrap up lessons learnt about markets in the past ten years, I realize that even this club of such smart men and women followed the markets off the cliff in 2008. What were they thinking?
Back in 2007, Paul Krugman summarized the seven habits that help produce the anything-but-efficient markets that rule the world. I thought a great way to begin the next decade would be a quick review of these:
Seven habits that help produce the anything-but-efficient markets:
1. Think short term. 
2. Be greedy. 
3. Believe in the greater fool 
4. Run with the herd. 
5. Overgeneralize 
6. Be trendy 
7. Play with other people's money 
I got these 7 habits courtesy of Paul Krugman, quoted in Fortune back in 2007. Worth contemplating.
Jacoline Loewen, author, writer, and expert in private equity.

Movers and Shakers in VC Circles

Private equity is increasingly the phrase used for larger Venture Capital firms. There is also a more regular career track beginning to form for many top VCs. Private equity professionals increasingly either move from an operations role or from corporate finance. 
The last year saw interesting career moves for industry professionals in the emerging markets along with transition from big to small firms or shifts from industry domains to private equity. In the emerging markets with high growth, talent does get ahead, whatever the gender, which will be the challenge for the Americans. 
One such high rising female in India is Vishaka Mulye. She took over from Renuka Ramnath as the new MD & CEO of ICICI Venture in April 2009. A career banker who joined ICICI group in 1993, Mulye has occupied various roles in treasury, structured products and insurance. She was the CFO of the bank between 2005 and 2007 and later the CEO of ICICI Lombard General Insurance. Her appointment at the helm of India's largest private equity fund (with about $2 billion fund under management) has catapulted her into the big league.

January 2, 2010

How would you learn from your lousy leader?

Douglas Adams once noted: "Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
On the same theme, Keith McFarland was in Toronto to speak to the YPO Leadership Forum. He is the author of The Breakthrough  Company and talks about the impact of leaders who have not matured. Keith talks about one leader who said "All Buyers Lie". This negative attitude to customers impacted terribly on his long term revenues eventually.
Here's a quick story I valued from Keith in BusinessWeek:
The hotshot vice-president who took over the marketing group where I worked when I was in my 20s was a great anti-mentor. Arrogant, quick-tempered, and controlling, it took him only about six months to turn a great department into a loose collection of warring fiefdoms. I knew I wanted out, so I observed what I thought at the time was proper etiquette:
me out of it but finally relented, extracting only one promise: I would allow him to tell the president of our organization about the change.

What I didn't know at the time was that he and the president were at war over some of the same issues that were causing me to flee and that he intended to use my departure as a weapon against the president, who had been my friend and sponsor for a number of years. So my boss said I was leaving my post because I was tired of the president meddling in the affairs of our department. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but the president appeared to believe him and was so offended by the statement that it took several years to repair my relationship with him.

What did my first anti-mentor teach me? That people, even those you view as untrustworthy, are essentially reliable. Wait, hadn't this person betrayed me by lying about my motivations for leaving the job? Yes, and that's precisely my point. His actions were entirely consistent. I knew he was selfish, manipulative, and insecure. So to expect him to behave otherwise was bad judgment on my part.

I realized right then that people are surprisingly dependable and vowed to use what I knew about them to predict how they're likely to act. When my boss asked me to let him relay my move to the president, I should have been on my guard. I should have said: "You know, my relationship with him goes back almost 10 years, and I wouldn't want to offend him by not telling him myself."

The funny thing is, as the years have passed, the anger I felt for my first anti-mentor has dissipated. The lesson to treat every person as reliable (based on who they really are) has served me well as an entrepreneur, whether I'm dealing with colleagues, investors, or customers.

Posted by Jacoline Loewen - see YouTube interview with National Post: VIEW