About a Friday evening in the Eurostar

In the last 12 days, I have experienced intensively the life of a global wanderer, clocking about 10,000 miles, 4 different countries, 3 time zones and a yet again a new stack of air miles.

All this made me think of one word: Distance. Physical distance, to be perfectly accurate. It seems the only true barrier left in today’s world.

The world is evermore a global village. From Hong Kong to London, via Paris or Geneva, the same consumerism, the same brands, same vibes are present. The same mega trends are emerging, creating an almost universal framework with different coloring from North to South, East to West.

The world is now hyper connected. From one city to another, networks are being created, ecosystems are blossoming, as are innovation, art, and entrepreneurship.

Speed is everywhere. An idea can instantaneously be sent to the other end of the world, or even everywhere at the same time.

There is a voracious appetite for new and now and fast, or even faster. These are our new masters. They conquer every part of our life.

So what is left to conquer? What barrier is still to fall? Physical distance. 

No matter how you look at it, it still takes 13 hours to fly from Hong Kong to London. It is a 2.5 hours ride from Paris to London, to close a deal or be reunited with a loved one, you have to factor that in.  It’s an  absolute truth…or an absolute tyranny.

So what if the next and only remaining(?) real technological revolution was about transportation? How could we bring physical distance down to its knees once and for all, and embrace a limitless world?

Faster and cleaner planes? Where are you on that journey, Airbus, Boeing and others? 

Faster and cleaner trains? Where are the next versions of the bullet train? 

Or shall we dream a little harder and try to defeat matter, space and time? A blink of an eye, and magically you are where you want to be…how easy it would be to manage, follow-up, solve problems, avoid conflicts…but also to keep in touch and share precious moments with friends and family.

Wishful thinking on a Friday night in the Eurostar… or wait…could it also be hell? 

Tags: Speed

A nose for quality can capitalize on liquid assets ...

Alternative investments are becoming increasingly popular. Read my new column on Global Corporate Venturing and discover a new world of investing opportunities….

Let's start with Wine… 


When I was a little girl, I used to wonder through the vineyards with my grand father. He was an artisan de la magie in the South of France’s Languedoc Roussillon Corbieres AOC making full-bodied and intense red wines. He patiently explained to me the wine life cycle and I discovered the pleasure of drinking good wines with him and now investing in them. ‘’

Wine is a product that requires passion, patience and resilience. 
The managing director of a boutique wealth management company said: “I remember my grandfather in tears time and again when an unexpected hail storm in April was destroying his hopes for the year. It has always made me humble when it comes to wine, and wine as an investment.”
But, partly as a result of such fickle weather patterns, fine wines have proved to be a healthy alternative investment. In the past 10 years, the fine wines market has consistently outperformed most major financial indexes and commodities, such as gold, silver and oil, driven by growth in worldwide demand especially emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, according to the World of Fine Wines.
While there is some concern about a speculative bubble, insiders say demand is outstripping supply of quality wines. Mathieu Jullien, managing director of Wine Source, a UK-based fine wines merchant, said: “Demand for top grands crus [the best bottles of wine] has doubled in the past three years.”
David Roberts, buying director of UK-based wine merchants Goedhuis and Company, said: “The product is by nature supply constrained. We have seen progress on vineyard techniques of course, but the overall production of fine wines can hardly go up. Some chateaux are more and more conscious of quality and not quantity.”
And Roberts’ Hong Kong-based colleague, Tom StopFord Sackville, added that demand in Asia was growing as drinking wine was regarded as a sign of good taste and sophistication. He said: “What is happening to Asia right now is to some extend what happened in the US in the 1960s. One needs to remember, it takes about 20 years to create a wine culture [but] with the internet and the free access to great wine knowledge, with the Parker Guide, Alan Meadows or Wine Spectators publications, this cycle can only go down.”
A number of wine tasting clubs and wine funds have sprung up across Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai, China, as well as Europe to meet the needs of individual drinkers and collectors. 
Philippe Kalmbach, founder of the Malta-regulated Wine Source Fund, which is to be launched this year, said: “It took us about three years to work on creating the ecosystem that will benefit a fund. We started with a merchant arm [in order to] understand and get exclusive access to the supply side.  We then added with a distribution arm to get first-hand data on consumer behaviour in the most reliable channel: restaurants and luxury hotels around the globe. Finally, we spent some time forming the right investment committee and building a balanced portfolio of products, with a real focus on rare wines and spirits.”
The fund takes valuations from different data sources and has a foreign exchange hedging strategy. But for those wanting to indulge in wine investment, remember there are added perks. As one Singaporian wine expert said: “When you start to drink wine, you see the women eyes start to sparkle like diamonds… without the tears.” 
Before buying, ask
Buy to drink or Buy to hold?
Roberts said: “Buying to hold requires a much longer term strategy, and demands for flawless provenance and supreme storage facilities.”
Sackville added: “Investors would need to think about unit value per bottle and storage costs, so getting a critical mass is important, anything below £500 [$750] per case will not be economically viable.”
If you buy to drink might require merchant-managed wine clubs, as giving you more immediate access to your bottles, then funds or similar products.
What types of access to supply does the product offer (Entry point)?
In terms of investment, allocation rules so ask “what type of relationship to which chateaux and what could be the level of yearly allocation might we have?”.
Keep in mind that premium Bordeaux are easier to get, but differentiation could come from allocation of rare burgundy or high-end Italians or even new world wines. 
Any answer of less than £10m per year for allocation should raise a red flag in relation to scalability and look for products offered by wine merchants rather than from an ex-private banker who happens to have a passion for wine.
On provenance, always enquire about their documentation protocol and safe keeping, especially if you are an Asian investor following a number of scams in the region. 
What types of access to distribution does the product offer (Exit point)?  
As equally important to have the right access to supply, benefiting from access to diverse distribution channels is important to make your investment liquid (pun intended). Select products offered by wine distributors that have multiple channels, including their own customers, such as restaurants or hotels, or wine club and access to other wine clubs and auction houses.
For liquidity, think about balancing maximum returns and easy access to cash. Best products would offer a quarterly or semi annually redemption, but incur a penalty fee for less than one to two years tenure in the product. 
How would the bottles be stored and insured? 
Roberts said: ‘’Storage is an extremely important issue in Asia and its impact on the physical presentation of the label. While the quality of the wine itself is imperative, buyers also want the bottles and labels to be in impeccable condition.”
In Europe, the safest and best option remains Octavian, which is used by Bordeaux chateaux and most of the UK merchants. 
Make sure your stock is adequately segregated from other owners. 
If your storage facilities are in France beware of the corporate tax on any cork sold and ensure the inventory is hold on a tax-free zone. 
Finally, inquire about insurance. Any product offering a replacement value of less than 80% should raise another red flag and best is net replacement value. 
What is the investment strategy?
Different varieties can see large fluctuations. Last year and 2008 saw a massive drop in Bordeaux prices, while rare Burgundy appreciated by about 30%, and Tuscan wines by 25%.
Ask who will be the most likely buyers?
High-powered bankers are very keen on Bordeaux, for example. But make sure your portfolio is well balanced and ask for Burgundy or new world wines. 


In loving memory of my Grand-Father- Jose Clement Pech. 


Tags: Alternative Investment

The High Net Worth of your Networks


net·work·ing noun

Definition-  The Merriam Webster Dictionnary

The exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business-

Definition-  Andy Lopata- Business Networking Strategist … please click on the link  The independent

Same same but different. 



Filling the Gap : Asia and Entrepreneurship

Not quite Happy Valentine… but Happy Reading…

Filling the Gap- Asia Entrepreneurship 


Bringing on back the good times !


Do you want to know how life was in ''Shell Center'' in 1963?

Click on the following link : Uk Shell Office in 1963 

8:57 minutes that might trigger:

A bit of thinking: in the very short span of forty-nine years - so many things have changed:

On technology - we have welcomed fast and sleek looking computers and we said goodbye to green phones and typewriters.

On office planning - we have welcomed open spaces and open plans, but kept the focus on health and safety.

On corporate culture - we have made progress on the diversity agenda. Today, you would account for a good percentage of males in the open space area and some women in the corner office.

On the power of corporations - how many companies could currently enforce direct access to public transportation for their very own employees? New times, new masters!

A bit of a laugh! What changes fifty years can bring to fashion, comfortable clothing, trousers or power suits for women.  A shame though, we also lost the cute little hats!

And… maybe…for some of you, Ex-Shell Center dwellers- and clearly for me! - it will trigger a bit of nostalgia… I used to sit on this very 14th floor not so long ago !

Have a click, have a look and happy Friday!