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It’s August, and All of Europe Is on Vacation. How Do You Run Your Global Business?

Paid vacation time is mandatory in the European Union–four weeks is a minimum. That number can seem crazy to people in the United States, where it takes 20 years of service to reach an average of 20 vacation days a year–and even when we have it, we don’t use it all.

But, in my experience, Europe embraces vacation–sometimes in ways that make no sense. I’ve frequently found restaurants that close for two weeks during peak tourist season–because the owners want to take their own vacation time. I’d think they would close in the offseason and make money while they could, but the vacation culture is strong.

This summer, my family is basically staying put, for a variety of reasons. We’re making a couple of short trips, but otherwise staying in our home in Switzerland (which, admittedly, is a prime vacation spot in and of itself). And it’s impossible to get anything done.

My lawyer has been on vacation for the past three weeks and will be back next week. I have some things I need her to look at, and they have to wait.

Getting a doctor’s appointment? Good luck! At least the walk-in clinic runs year-round.

While this affects my day-to-day life because I’m physically here, it can also affect your business, even if you’re based in the United States. When someone says, “The Geneva office is closed for three weeks,” they aren’t joking, and no one around here even bats an eyelash. So, how do you do the international part of your business when everyone else is at the beach? Here are some ideas:

Plan ahead

This is going to happen every year. Some countries are worse than others, with everyone going at the same time. One of the problems is that European schoolchildren tend to have shorter summer vacations–six weeks is common–compared with the 10 to 12 weeks American schoolchildren get. Don’t cry for the poor, suffering schoolchildren here–they get an additional eight weeks throughout the school year.

But those six weeks are going to vary from country to country. German and British schools tend to get out at the end of July, while Swiss schools close the last week in June. So, you’ll have better luck with your London office in July than you will with your Swiss office. Go ahead and ask when peak vacation season is and plan accordingly.

Partner with larger companies

While small businesses can be excellent partners, if you will need people year-round, without fail, a large company will be a better bet than a small one. The multinational corporation isn’t going to shut down its Paris office for the summer, but the small business might close its doors for the entire month of August. Ask when you are building relationships. They won’t think to bring it up, because it’s often a normal part of doing business here.

Embrace vacation yourself

Go. Take a vacation. Step away from the office and your phone and your laptop. Europeans have proved that the world doesn’t end if you go on a vacation. If you’re good at what you do, people will be waiting for you when you get back. It’s OK to take some downtime.

Just make sure that if you do come to Europe for your vacation that the restaurants will be open in the small village you thought looked charming. Otherwise, you may be miserable during your vacation.

By: Suzanne Lucas, Freelance writer @RealEvilHRLady

Source: It’s August, and All of Europe Is on Vacation. How Do You Run Your Global Business? | Inc.com

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This Hedge Fund Superstar Thinks Climate Change Will Impact All Your Investments—And Soon

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Since November, Robert Gibbins has crisscrossed the globe attending scientific conferences, traveling from his home in Geneva, Switzerland, to Arizona, Spain and Austria. The events had a common theme—climate change—and were well attended by academics, bureaucrats and politicians. One group was conspicuously absent. “I didn’t see any other investors there,” he says.

That boggles his mind. “Climate change is something we have to include in every single analysis, every investment,” he says. Most people think—or hope—that global warming is something their children or grandchildren will have to reckon with. Gibbins disagrees. The 49-year-old founder of Autonomy Capital ($5.5 billion in assets) thinks that climate change is happening suddenly and soon.

He structures every bet his hedge fund makes around his belief that the world is skidding toward a future that’s overheated and underwater—and that carbon will be treated as a costly waste product that needs to be captured and stored. Gibbins has already made good money betting on European carbon-futures contracts and expects richer plays to come.

Gibbins has an impressive track record making big calls. His fund, which places large bets on sweeping economic and political trends, is an industry standout, returning an annualized 12.85% net of fees since its November 2003 inception, compared to 8.9% for the S&P 500 index.

The ski-happy, outdoors-loving son of a Vancouver real estate agent, Gibbins made stops at the University of Pennsylvania and the trading desks of JPMorgan and Lehman Brothers before starting Autonomy. For many countries, he believes, climate change will be a major stress on economic stability. If a country is a basket case now, it’s only going to get worse as the seas keep rising and other fast-paced changes hit. “It’s not enough anymore to create a cheap T-shirt, car or semiconductor,” he says. To that end, Gibbins recently shorted the debt and currencies of Turkey and South Africa. He views both countries’ governments—led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey and the ANC party in South Africa—as totally inept. “You can choose to be ruled by the ANC or Erdogan, or you can be a modern industrial economy,” he says. “You can’t have both.”

By contrast, he’s going long on Argentina. On recent trips there, Gibbins found people were exhausted after a decade of economic hardship and failed policies, convincing him the country won’t return populist Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to power (she last held the presidency in December 2015). The country’s debt is priced for disaster. “My view is, in Argentina, the society has had enough. It doesn’t want policies that are designed for the next three days,” Gibbins says.

As he sees it, all sophisticated investors these days have access to the best government and economic data. He travels 150 days a year in the pursuit of an edge and expects the 24 investment pros and economists working for him to do the same. He meets with local bureaucrats, journalists and business executives to gauge how decisions are made and how well local institutions function—and whether they can handle chal­lenges like climate change.

What about individual stocks? One obvious thought is to avoid property insurers like AllState and Travelers, which seem likely to get clobbered by rising costs, paying out more as weather-related damage piles up. Gibbins doesn’t buy it. He thinks insurers could fare just fine because much of their business is writing coverage for short periods, giving them the chance to reprice their products. Gibbins says REITs have a lot more risk.

You want even more against-the-grain thinking? Despite President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, Gibbins anticipates the U.S. will eventually take the lead with Europe on a global deal to limit carbon emissions and penalize countries that don’t comply. So Gibbins thinks big oil stocks, like Exxon, or the currencies of oil-addicted nations, like Nigeria, are vulnerable.

I am a senior editor at Forbes who likes digging into Wall Street, hedge funds and private equity firms, looking for both the good and the bad.

Source: This Hedge Fund Superstar Thinks Climate Change Will Impact All Your Investments—And Soon

Why You Should Not Risk Your Personal & Financial Data For Attractive Deals Online – zoaib Saleem

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A recent WhatsApp forward claimed that a popular e-commerce website is offering 99% discount on popular gadgets. The message included a link to the website that looks similar to the original e-commerce website. It could be an attempt to steal your personal information by tricking you into believing that you are getting a great deal. This type of fraud is called phishing. This can also happen over emails, where you get an email that seems to be from an authentic source, but in reality it is not.

A recent survey by cyber security firm McAfee India has revealed that a majority of consumers are willing to take risk while shopping online. The survey had 72% respondents (including 44% who said, “Yes, I would” and 28% who said “probably”) admitting they would purchase the same item from one online retailer over another if the item’s price was significantly cheaper, even if they weren’t 100% confident the website was genuine or secure. At the same time, 74% of the respondents said they consider clicking on unfamiliar websites or emails as dangerous, but do their research before making a purchase.

The study that was commissioned by McAfee India in October 2018 surveyed 1,017 adults between the ages of 18 and 55, in India.

Online risks

The survey has highlighted that a big percentage of those buying products online, particularly during festive sales, do not mind if their details like mobile number, email, residential address and bank account details fall in the wrong hands.

Cyber criminals can exploit any information, so users should be cautious about what they share on social media platforms, online forums, on websites or via email. Jens Monrad, senior intelligence analyst at FireEye, a cyber security firm, said, “As we rely more on digital communication, our digital footprint has dramatically expanded during the last five years. From a cyber criminal perspective this means that the information can be used in cyber attacks or to appear more trustworthy (by social engineering) or even exploited in extortion attacks.”

A recent example of how this information can be used, Monrad said, is that unsolicited emails are being sent to users, where the sender claims to have explicit content, stolen from the victim’s computer. In order not to submit the “embarrassing material” to co-workers, family and friends, the victims are being told to pay a fee via cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

The survey also found that many users face financial stress due to the purchases they make during the festive season; 77% of the respondents said they feel some stress about spending during online sales. This could further lead these people towards risky behaviour like using shortcuts to get a good deal. In fact, 55% of the respondents said they check their bank or card statements frequently during the festive sales period.

What you should do

You do not need to be a cyber security expert to protect yourself while being online. A lot can be dealt with by just being alert. “Today, using the Internet, either for shopping, for work or browsing, requires that the user employs a degree of scepticism and tries to judge if the content they are viewing or receiving via email is legitimate, coming from a trusted source and potentially can be verified in other places or sources,” Monrad said.

It also involves updating softwares on your devices. Having a cyber security product on your devices that offers malware scanning and protection also helps, he said.

So do not fall for emails and forwards that promise you steep discounts that sound unbelievable. Also, make it a point to report such messages as spam. This could help prevent the spread of such information and keep you and others safe online.

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