Beat that bad boss!

Bad bosses are ruining lives. But you can manage the situation so yours doesn’t crush you.

Last year the Harvard Business Review published examples of bad boss behaviour, including remarks such as “If I wanted to know what you thought, I’d ask you”. Another boss noticed a staff member throw a paperclip in the bin and, in front of his 12 subordinates, admonished him for being wasteful. He also made him retrieve it.

Psychologist and workplace trainer Michelle McQuaid says the effects of a bad boss on the employee can be serious. Anxiety and depression, susceptibility to colds and flu, lack of confidence and poor job performance are just some of the side-effects of a bad boss.

We’re also prone to retaliation if we have a bad boss, including being rude, stealing time from the job and backstabbing.

Plus, research by Bayer University in the US shows people dealing with a difficult boss are more likely to have relationship stress at home.

“As a boss, is that the legacy you want to leave your employees?” McQuaid asks.

But despite the strain a bad boss causes, we don’t rush to resign. McQuaid says 22 months is the average time it takes a person to leave a job where their boss is behaving badly. “They think, ‘Oh they’re the boss’ or ‘I don’t know if I can find another job’ and they kind of stick at it thinking it will get better.”

It can be hard to change the behaviour of a bad boss, especially if they don’t want to change, McQuaid says. But we can all learn techniques to understand and manage our boss’s mood triggers and stay resilient.

Here are McQuaid’s tips for managing a bad boss.

1. Reduce the stress it’s causing you.

“The stress is your enemy more than the boss,” McQuaid says.

“When you’re under stress, you see less of the world, your peripheral vision narrows, you only see the thing right in front of you, which is often your boss.”

McQuaid suggests building positive “jolts of joy” into the day to break the cycle: go for a walk, listen to your favourite song or watch a funny clip on YouTube to decompress.

2. Figure out what your strengths are.

Does your boss enjoy telling you you’re useless? Then spend 10 minutes a day working on your strengths. This will make you more productive and feel better about life. It builds your confidence and gets your mind off your boss.

3. Be nice to your boss and others.

When you do something kind or appreciative for another person, the natural tendency is to return the favour. “If you can, do this towards the boss: offer to get them a coffee, or lunch while you are out. If not the boss, then maybe other colleagues,” says McQuaid.

4. Figure out what triggers their worst behaviour.

If you understand what triggers your boss’s bad behaviour you can pre-empt and even try to diffuse the situation. Or at least you’ll know when a rant is coming and you won’t be caught off-guard.

5. Have a conversation.

“Think about what a win-win situation will look like. We’re often good at articulating what we’d like them to do differently but not good at saying what we would like to see more of – and how you and the boss can work to make that happen. A win-win makes the boss feel safer and helps them see why it’s in their interests to change.”

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Still working at midnight? 1am? 3am?

Do you work in the middle of the night? Then chances are, you’re running your own business. Photo: iStockLike all businesses trying to understand its clients better, Bigcommerce, an e-commerce platform for retail start-ups, was recently analysing the time-of-day work patterns of about 1,800 of its Australian customers.

Some things were not surprising, for example that peak activity was around midday when more than 80 per cent of online retailers were working on their stores.

But one thing stuck out a mile – almost half of the retailers were working at midnight. At 1am more than a third of the retailers were stuck in and at 3am nearly 20 per cent were still at it.

To understand what’s behind those statistics you need to speak with people like James Hopkins and Rebecca Guest. They don’t know each other but they have one important thing in common – they are both living the dream of running their own booming e-commerce businesses. But they are doing it the hard way by piggybacking on day jobs.

Hopkins is founder of iCoverLover, which sells fashion-forward accessories for smart phones. He’s also a middle manager for a broadcast media company, a full-on job that leaves him only evenings and weekends to work on the retail business.

His site, icoverlover苏州美甲学校.au, first launched in December 2010. Hopkins’ business exceeded expectations so much that his partner and co-director, Lana, quit her own day job as a marketing executive in September 2012 to work on iCoverLover full-time.

It was a huge step for Lana to take the plunge and go full-time but so far the decision has been vindicated. The business has been thriving not just because of demand for the product but also because of perks they offer, like same-day delivery in the Sydney metro area.

“A lot of our customers want instant gratification,” says James. “We have the orders couriered to them at the home or office.” This kind of service is not available from most retailers.

James himself usually works on the site from about eight in the evening until midnight but he admits that sometimes he can’t drag himself away until the wee hours of the morning. He estimates that both he and Lana put in 80-hour work-weeks – she exclusively on the e-commerce business and he on the business and his full-time job.

Rebecca Guest is another Sydney resident who burns the candle at both ends. She went on maternity leave in 2012 and then traded in her full-time marketing job for a part-time one that keeps her busy for three days a week. Between job and infant she’s flat chat and you wouldn’t think there’d be much time left to run an e-commerce business. Yet that’s exactly what she does.

Unable to work at it for more than an hour here and an hour there at odd times of day, it took her about eight months of business development to get to the point where she was able to launch her site, Mint Green, which offers a curated selection of home products.

“If I had been able to work on it full-time I could have had the site up and running lightning-fast,” Guest says.

It’s early days yet for Mint Green. Volumes are growing but overheads are significant. Guest has to maintain a full inventory in a storage facility since most wholesalers will not drop-ship. That’s a significant financial commitment for a retail business that is being exclusively self-financed.

Guest’s other challenge is that she knows the home furnishings business is a crowded space, particularly with international brands like Williams-Sonoma now muscling in on the Australian market. She needs to differentiate Mint Green from the rest of the pack. Her answer is to be a curator, or editor, of merchandise that represents her own personal point of view rather than a plain vanilla homewares store. She is also hoping that as a savvy user of social media she will be able to build bridges to her customers that the bigger players cannot.

Money is not the sole motivation for night owls like Rebecca Guest and James Hopkins. They will both be quick to tell you that working on their own e-commerce businesses on top of day jobs and domestic responsibilities is also about doing something you love and taking some control of your own professional destiny.

These toilers of the night are not to be pitied – they’re really loving every minute of it.

Michael Baker is principal of Baker Consulting and can be reached at [email protected]苏州美甲学校 and www.mbaker-retail苏州美甲学校.

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Dramatic rise moves IAG upwards

Insured against loss?As interested investors will appreciate, the financial sector has been strong in recent times, but most of the commentary has focused on the banks, the big four in particular.

Another component of the financials index, insurance, has also been doing well. Suncorp is up 50 per cent in a year. QBE has had similar rises since its price collapsed late last year.

Insurance Australia Group (IAG) has done even better, with its price up about 90 per cent in a year. The chart, produced by Paul Ash, Victorian president of the Australian Technical Analysts Association, compares IAG’s progress with that of the Financials (Insurance) Index. The index is in an uptrend, but its progress has not been as steady as IAG’s, mainly due to QBE’s gyrations last year.

Ash observes that IAG has been in a strong uptrend since June 2012. But since March it moved into a trading channel between $6 and $5.50, with the lower support line holding during that period. IAG has reached an important moment, with the horizontal support line reaching the upward trend line.

That means the price needs to turn up again for the upward trend pattern to remain in force. Ash says that given the support line has held up recently, and there is good support for the stock and significant momentum in the sector, IAG should move back towards $6 in the near future. For it to kick above that level, the broader market would need to take a strong step up, he says.

On the fundamental side, IAG has a price-earnings ratio of 13.7 times compared with the sector average of 14.6 times. Its dividend yield is 4.5 per cent, just shy of the industry average, but both dividends and earnings per share are tipped to grow strongly in the next two years. Earnings growth is an impressive 24 per cent.

Its underlying performance in the December half was driven by a 7.7 per cent rise in gross written premiums and an increase in the insurance margin to 23.1 per cent.

This column is not investment advice. [email protected]苏州美甲学校

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Joining Ichimoku with an Advanced Candlestick to Stay With the Trend

Joining Ichimoku with an Advanced Candlestick to Stay With the Trend Joining Ichimoku with an Advanced Candlestick to Stay With the Trend

Joining Ichimoku with an Advanced Candlestick to Stay With the Trend

Joining Ichimoku with an Advanced Candlestick to Stay With the Trend

Ichimoku helps traders see a worthy set-up in one glance but once in the trade, Heikin-Ashi candles can help you see when it’s smart to stay in. Article Summary: Staying in a good trade is one of the hardest aspects of trading well. Heikin-Ashi is a modified candlestick that rearranges how price is displayed so traders can see when it is prudent to stay in a well-entered trend. This article will teach you about Heikin-Ashi so you can decide if you’d like to add it to your Ichimoku repertoire. In trading as in life, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Many traders utilize candlestick analysis to pinpoint reversals or continuation patterns in real-time. While this is helpful for deciding when to enter a trade once you’re in, a new candlestick view can be of major assistance to you. The new candlestick (not really new in general but likely new to you), is called the Heikin-Ashi or “average pace of price” candles when translated from Japanese and is available as a default indicator on FXCM’s charting package. Heikin-Ashi is simply an offshoot of what you’re likely accustomed to when reading candlesticks with their true display of the Open-High-Low-Close price. What’s altered is the open and close so you can get a better feel for the trend’s likeliness to continue. Learn Forex: Regular Candlestick Presented by FXCM’s Marketscope Charts Learn Forex: Heikin-Ashi Candlestick Applied Presented by FXCM’s Marketscope Charts Heikin-Ashi’s Smoothing Ability & CalculationAs you can see from the second chart, directional moves are smoothed out in a way absent from the first chart. What makes Heikin-Ashi an effective tool is that it doesn’t adjust price but only the way price is displayed in terms of the open and the close. Specifically, the open of an Heikin-Ashi candle is the average price of the previous bar , and the close of the Heikin-Ashi candle is the average price of the current bar while the high and low are unchanged. Here is the Heikin-Ashi CalculationOpen = (open of previous bar + close of previous bar) / 2Close = (open+ high+ low+ close)/ 4High = maximum of high, open, or close (whichever is highest)Low = minimum of low, open, or close (whichever is lowest) How Heikin-Ashi Helps TradersThe important point about this display of price action is that if the price of the current candle is above the average price of the previous candle (current candle’s open with Heikin-Ashi) then you’re in an uptrend. By representing the average pace of price, you can easily see with Heikin-Ashi when you should be in a trade that is trending and when it’s best to be on the side-lines. If Heikin-Ashi helps you stay in big moves longer that are in your favor, then this addition to your trading may be one worth using. The main thing traders want to look for is a shaved or wickless candle opposite the trend. In other words, if the trend is up and price is above the Ichimoku cloud, then Heikin-Ashi candles with no lower wicks show you a very strong trend to the upside. When there is no counter-trend wick, then there is no reason to exit the trade at this time unless your profit target is hit and you’re happy to exit. Learn Forex: Side by Side Comparison of Ichimoku with Heikin-Ashi Applied & Left Off of USDCHF Presented by FXCM’s Marketscope Charts Heikin-Ashi Combined With IchimokuHeikin-Ashi is best applied after a clear entry is identified with Ichimoku. Contrary to typical candlesticks, a large body with Heikin-Ashi and one wick displayed in the direction of the trend signifies the strength of trend. However, wicks on both sides of the candle show a choppy trend and gives off hints that the trend is weakening because price is breaking the average price of the prior candle. In closing, it’s important to note that Ichimoku is also used to filter out the noise in that the cloud gives us our starting point for building a bias with the trend. Adding Heikin-Ashi filters the noise out even further from candle to candle so that you’re focusing on the average pace of price as opposed to potentially worrying about each candle. If you decide to use them together, Heikin-Ashi candles can help you stay in the trend longer after Ichimoku has helped you identify specific entry points. Ichimoku Weekly Trade: Buy AUDCAD on A Clear Break of the Lagging Line through the Cloud Presented by FXCM’s Marketscope ChartsIchimoku Trade: Buy AUDCAD If Lagging Line Breaks Through As Price Remains Above the CloudStop: 0.9950 (Support at the Base Line)Limit: 1.0200 (Near Weekly R2 on Classic Pivot)If this is your first reading of the Ichimoku report, here is a recap of the rules for a buy trade:-Price is above the Kumo Cloud-The trigger line (black line on my chart) is above the base line (baby blue line) or has crossed above-Lagging line is above price action from 26 periods ago (above the cloud is the additional filter)-Kumo ahead of price is bullish and rising (displayed as a blue cloud). This is currently not fulfilled.This trade was picked because of the recent breakthrough of the cloud by AUDCAD. Trading trends is like planting a tree in that the best time to plant a tree is yesterday and the best time to enter a trend trade is as soon as it’s identified. Please note however that this is a heavy news week for both pairs so keep an eye on the DailyFX economic calendar if you prefer to incorporate fundamentals with your trading.Happy Trading! —Written by Tyler Yell, Trading Instructor To contact Tyler, email [email protected]苏州美甲学校 . To be added to Tyler’s e-mail distribution l ist, please click her e . Would you like dozens of trade ideas every day with updated charts to identify major levels support and resistance on the currency pair you’re trading? If you’d like to learn more about our Technical Analyzer on DailyFX Plus, click here .

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Stevens’ reserve on rates misplaced

Tim ColebatchG

lenn Stevens has never had less to say. His statement on Tuesday to explain why the Reserve left interest rates on hold was just 383 words. It said nothing about the biggest influence on our economy, China, or the industry that has dominated the economy’s growth since 2010, mining.

And, in part, that’s because the Reserve, too, is more than usually unsure what lies ahead. It wants to keep its options open.

Last month, it opted to try to make a difference. It cut its cash rate from 3 per cent to 2.75 per cent, taking the markets by surprise. Within three weeks, the Australian dollar tumbled more than 5 per cent to sink below parity with the $US – and, so far, to stay there.

There were other factors in that. The US economy is looking healthier, and Fed governors have hinted that its stimulus might be scaled back, or even reversed. Australia’s export prices continued falling. But the Reserve’s move played a part.

Time will tell whether Stevens and his board on Tuesday missed an opportunity to reinforce that trend and to deliver a second rate cut that would help the dollar fall sooner and faster.

Since 2010, mining investment has provided roughly half the growth in Australia’s economy. The rest of the economy has grown more slowly than our population. But that phase is over. Mining investment is either about to peak, or is already past its peak. Last week’s capital expenditure data suggests the latter.

The key issue for policymakers is how to lift quickly the growth of non-mining investment and net exports that we will rely on to take over the baton of growth as mining investment declines.

That is not possible while the dollar remains so overvalued. When it was above parity, the International Monetary Fund estimated that the cost of producing goods and services here was the third highest in the advanced world. And while part of that is due to our higher inflation rates, most of it is the byproduct of an overvalued dollar.

The gap between yields in Australia and yields overseas is clearly a factor in that overvaluation. Unless you think that a rate cut now would result in the economy overheating within a year or two, and inflation getting out of the Reserve’s control, why not trim that gap a bit more, and bring the dollar down closer to where you think it should be?

Stevens’ statement gives few clues as to why the Reserve chose the course it did. Much of his statement would read equally well had it decided to cut rates again.

It notes that growth in Australia remains ”a bit below trend”, and forecasts ”a similar performance in the near term”. Stevens concedes that ”unemployment has edged higher in the past year”. The Reserve last month forecast growth of just 2 to 3 per cent in the year ahead, with unemployment ”drifting higher”. Clearly, that is still its view.

Unlike some commentators, the Reserve has noticed the stunning fall in wages growth reported in recent data. The Bureau of Statistics estimates that the economy’s wage bill rose just 2.9 per cent in the year to March, down from 7.4 per cent a year earlier. Wages and profits combined have grown just 2.3 per cent in a year. Don’t be surprised if Wednesday’s GDP figures come out lower than the markets have forecast.

Stevens and his board are still not happy with the dollar. While the trade-weighted index has fallen 8 per cent since peaking on April 12, Stevens implies it’s not enough, adding: ”As the board has noted for some time, it remains high, considering the decline in export prices … over the past year and a half.”

Moreover, they see no problem with inflation. Nor should they. Take out the impact of the carbon tax and in the year to March, underlying inflation would have been 1.8 to 1.9 per cent, below the Reserve’s target of 2 to 3 per cent.

The bank retains its bias towards easing: Stevens’ closing comment is a hint that the next rate move is more likely to be down than up. OK, the Reserve thinks the economy is underperforming, the dollar overvalued, and inflation below target. So why not cut interest rates again?

The only explanation given is that Stevens sketches an optimistic scenario ahead. While global growth is now ”running a bit below average”, he says, there are ”reasonable prospects of a pick-up next year”. Similarly, he puts a lot of faith in the so-called ”green shoots” of growth in demand for new houses, home lending and, arguably, retailing.

The rate cuts to date have ”supported interest-sensitive areas of spending”, he says, have changed the behaviour of savers and investors, and have generated ”some signs of increased demand for finance by households”. His conclusion is the key sentence: ”Further effects can be expected over time.” Well, maybe. But will they be enough to offset the impact on the economy as mining investment turns negative?

Tim Colebatch is the Age economics editor.

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Time Trending Trades with CCI

Time Trending Trades with CCI Time Trending Trades with CCI

Timing market entries is a critical skill for Forex traders to master. Today we will learn to time trending trades using the CCI Oscillator. Article Summary: Timing market entries is a critical skill for Forex traders to master. Today we will learn to time trending trades using the CCI Oscillator. When traders think technical indicators, normally oscillators come to mind. Oscillators are a class of indicators designed to track price by moving (oscillating) either above or below a centerline. Knowing how to read and understand these indicators can help trader’s specifically pinpoint market entries. Today we will review one of these indicators from the oscillator family, the Commodity Channel Index (CCI), and discuss how we can use it to trade retracements with the trend. Learn Forex –CCI Overbought / Oversold (Created using FXCM’s Marketscope 2.0 charts) If you are already familiar with RSI , you are one step closer to trading with CCI. Both utilize a mathematical equation to depict overbought and oversold levels for traders. Pictured above, CCI uses a +100 value to indicator overbought levels, while below -100 value represents an oversold value. Normally 70-80% of the values tend to fall between overbought and oversold levels. As with other overbought/oversold indicators, this means that there is a large probability that the price will correct to more representative levels. Knowing this, trend traders will wait for the indicator to move outside of one of these points before reverting back in the direction of the primary trend. Let’s look at an example using the strong trend on the USDJPY. Learn Forex –USDJPY Trend with CCI (Created using FXCM’s Marketscope 2.0 charts) Above we can see an example using a Daily graph of the USDJPY currency pair. The pair is in an established uptrend with price remaining above a 200 period moving average. Knowing this, trend traders should look to initiate new buy positions. The primary way of timing entries with CCI in an uptrend is to wait for the indicator to move below -100 (oversold), and enter into the trade when CCI moves back above -100. This creates an opportunity to sell the currency as momentum is returning back in the direction of the trend. As CCI now reads below -100 on the USDJPY, traders can wait for an opportunity to trade with the resumption of the trend. It is always important to wait for momentum to return with CCI closing above -100. On a daily chart, this means waiting for a daily candle close in order to confirm CCI moving back above an oversold reading. To contact Walker, email [email protected]苏州美甲学校 . Follow me on Twitter at @WEnglandFX. To be added to Walker’s e-mail distribution list, CLICK HERE and enter in your email information Want to learn more about trading CCI ? Sign up for our free CCI training course and learn new ways to trade with this versatile oscillator. Register HERE to start learning your next CCI strategy!

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Touching the Unknown: the bright future of XCOM

Familiar XCOM enemies such as the Sectoids will make an appearance in The Bureau: XCOM DeclassifiedThe revival of XCOM, the classic strategy game in which a desperate humanity tries to fight off invading aliens, followed an interesting path.

Publisher 2K Games owned the rights, and the first new title they unveiled for the long-quiet franchise was a first-person shooter, called simply XCOM. The fans were understandably annoyed. XCOM was always a turn-based strategy game, so a FPS reboot that kept only the setting and threw out all of the classic gameplay seemed like a really bad decision.

Live demonstrations at E3 2011 backed up the fans’ distaste. The game seemed clunky, with very erratic pacing and unwieldy controls. The critical response was lukewarm, and it was not too surprising that the game vanished from view for almost two years.

The thing about 2K is that they exhibit a great willingness to give a good project the time it needs to come together, a rarity in the modern video game industry. Bioshock Infinite is a great example, a game that was delayed time and time again, with 2K stating repeatedly that they would not ship it until they were satisfied is was the best it could possibly be.

In the meantime 2K-owned studio Firaxis, most famous for making the last few iterations of Sid Meier’s Civilization, was revealed to have been working on an XCOM reboot more in keeping with the classic series: turn-based, tactical, and deadly. It was released late last year to immense critical acclaim, satisfaction from fans, and healthy sales. It even netted a handful of Game of the Year awards.

Last month, 2K’s XCOM shooter finally popped its head up again, and it had clearly undergone a major re-think. The new name – The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – indicated that 2K had accepted that strategy is the heart of the XCOM franchise, so a shooter could only ever be a spin-off of the main series.

I was given the opportunity to get my hands on this newly made-over title, and what I saw was very pleasing. First of all, internal studio 2K Marin has done away with the first-person view and made it a third-person shooter. This might sound like a minor change, but it signals a new way of thinking: once again, you are looking at troops on the battlefield, rather than being there yourself.

You directly control a single recurring character, a field agent of the secretive XCOM organisation. Heading out into the field, you choose two support characters from a pool, much like assembling a squad in Enemy Unknown. These characters have specific abilities and skills, and they gain experience if they survive being deployed. That’s right, survival is not certain: agents in The Bureau can be injured or killed, just like in the original strategy game.

Pacing has also undergone major changes. This is no longer a non-stop action game, but a tactical squad-command shooter that requires intelligent and careful command of your two assisting agents. The game it reminds me of most strongly is Mass Effect – you can just ignore your squad and let them do their own thing if you wish, but you will get much better results directing their efforts. Unlike Mass Effect, though, your troops can be permanently killed in combat, so you need to keep a close eye on them and get them out of danger if they are taking too much of a beating.

Orders are issued in an almost-but-not-quite paused command menu, in which time is slowed to a crawl. Different actions are selected from a familiar command wheel interface, and it is a simple task to pick a special attack and choose an enemy target, or to pull your soldier back into stronger cover. Simply telling both troops to attack the same tough enemy to concentrate fire can make a significant difference in a big firefight.

What I especially loved was how the different abilities could interact with each other. Some troops gain the ability to telekinetically lift an enemy into the air, bring them out from behind cover and allowing allies to fire freely. This could be made more powerful by complementary skills from other troops, such as an explosive attack that needs to be centred on an enemy target. You can even have an engineer place a turret and then telekinetically lift it up to get a better firing angle on your enemies.

I didn’t see enough to be absolutely certain that The Bureau will be a success, but everything in my short demo was very encouraging. You will be able to try it for yourself when The Bureau is released in August this year.

In other excellent news, 2K is not resting on their laurels in regard to classic turn-based XCOM. No, there hasn’t been a sequel announcement as yet, but last year’s release of Enemy Unknown is still being expanded and improved.

Before playing The Bureau, I was given some hands-on time with the upcoming Apple touch device port of Enemy Unknown, and it may be the best version yet. Commanding a squad of troops on a grid-based battlefield is perfectly suited to a touch display, and this new version uses the touch-screen to excellent effect.

All of the expected gestures are there: swipe to scroll, pinch to zoom, and so on. You can tap to select a soldier in the field, tap on a map location to give them a destination, then tap the confirmation button to send them on their way. Everything works exactly as you expect.

Also, thanks to Epic Games porting the Unreal Engine to iOS, the game looks almost identical to the PC and console versions. Some of the finer details have been simplified to make it run smoothly on mobile devices, but for the most part it looks great. All of the voice acting in the original release is present, too.

This is not a cut-down version; this is the full XCOM: Enemy Unknown experience in portable form. The only exception is multiplayer, which we are told will be added on with a free patch some time after launch. No precise release date has been revealed yet, but it’s definitely coming soon.

– James “DexX” Dominguez

DexX is on Twitter: @jamesjdominguez

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No more Gallen indefeat, this series isone for the ageing

Paul Gallen can see the end. Of Queensland’s streak, but also of his own relentless role in it all. He can see a time when, instead of throwing his body into a group of Queensland forwards, he is watching the next batch of NSW players doing it.

He can also imagine an occasion when, with the Maroons’ streak finally over, the Blues are able to embark on their own winning run. Looking on the bright side  may appear  hard when you face the prospect of an eighth straight series defeat but, if the past few years have taught him anything, belief is not as much of a problem as it used to be.

‘‘You look at a lot of these younger players coming through that are on the cusp of this side at the moment, who will be here in the next year or two years. If they can keep progressing … there’s a lot of players at the moment, Boyd Cordner, Tariq Sims, Wade Graham, who have the potential to keep getting better,’’ Gallen said.

‘‘If they do keep getting better, they’ll have their time. It’ll be nice to see them going on a nice run. [Laughs] I’ll probably be gone by then. If I can just hold the fort and turn the tide, they can take over.’’

This year represents 31-year-old Gallen’s eighth attempt at winning a series. He has played a role in every series since 2006, when the Maroons began their remarkable streak. If anyone is entitled to be frustrated by the run, it is the prop and lock.

And he is. He is frustrated by the questions asked of him and his players. How are you going to beat them? Are the Maroons the best Origin team in history? This camp, Gallen points out, the players have tried not to focus on their opponents.

‘‘We can’t control what they’re doing,’’ the Cronulla player said. ‘‘That’s something that we’ve said. ‘Let’s just control what we can control’. We can only worry about what we can do.’’ This year, they are in a better position to do more. The NSW players are in good form this season; some might argue better, in general, than their revered opponents. Competition has been more heated than it has been in previous years for positions.

‘‘Look at poor old Johnny Sutton; he’s been one of the form five-eighths. You could have picked four five-eighths in this side and they’re all good enough to be here,’’ Gallen said.

‘‘And … not so much last year, but certainly in years gone by, we’ve never really had a core group of players who have stuck around for a few years. But we’ve had that now. I think that’s a plus for us. That’s obviously a positive that they’ve had.

‘‘They’ve had more than just a core who have been able to stick around. But we’ve got a good four or five players who have been here for a while now. Hopefully we can help the other blokes along and get a result.’’

The Blues have not approached a game one with a more experienced line-up since 2007. This year, they have 105 combined State of Origins between them, which still pales in comparison to the Queenslanders, who will have 225. But it does show  the Blues have attempted to pick and stick a little more than they have in the past.

‘‘We know what it takes to get the job done; we’ve just got to jell together as a team and get it done,’’ Gallen said.

Experienced as he may be in Origin, Gallen will still enter the first match slightly underdone, having not played since round eight due to a knee injury. Yet that comes with its own advantages; he feels fresher approaching an Origin series than he has for some time.

‘‘If I had have played the last couple of games, I would have struggled with my knee for the rest of the year. I’m pretty happy with where it’s at,’’ Gallen said. ‘‘Obviously it would have been nice to play a game or two coming in. But in the first 10 minutes of Origin, it doesn’t matter whether you’re the fittest bloke in the world and have played a hundred games straight. It’s fast and it’s hard. I’m sure I’ll be OK.’’

To add to  fresher legs, Gallen has simplified his game to a point where he believes he can be more effective. The transition began at Cronulla, where a squad has been developed that has enabled him to take on a ‘‘less is more’’ role. With players such as Todd Carney, Michael Gordon and Luke Lewis in the squad, less is expected of the lock.

‘‘To be honest, I don’t feel I’ve got anything to prove to anyone any more,’’ Gallen said. ‘‘I’ve just got to get out there and do my job, and be part of the team. We’ve got good enough players to do the job, and if I can just worry about my role, we can be a better team. The simpler it is for me, the better and the longer I’m going to be able to play for.’’

Longer in a career sense, anyway. In Cronulla, and indeed NSW, he no longer feels the need to try to be in everything. On Wednesday night, he can’t see himself playing the full 80minutes for the Blues.

‘‘No way,’’ Gallen said. ‘‘I don’t need to. We’ve got Trent Merrin on the bench, Andrew Fifita, who’s one of the best attacking front-rowers in the comp, ‘Choc’ [Anthony Watmough].

‘‘I’ve got nothing to prove any more, except get results for the teams that I’m playing in. You look at those games [when] I played 80 minutes in the front row, we never won a series. What’s it matter? It’s all about the result.’’

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Hockey relative loses life savings

Patricia Babbage: ‘It was a trust factor letting them invest my money. What a mistake.’ Photo: Wolter PeetersPatricia Babbage still gets emotional when she thinks about her horrific experience at the hands of a financial planner employed with the Commonwealth Bank. The 77-year-old mother-in-law of shadow treasurer Joe Hockey, Mrs Babbage says the planner, Chris Baker, put her life savings into high risk products and wiped out much of her wealth.

”I thought I had been placed into conservative investments but when I saw my money falling from $200,000 to $184,000 in a week and then kept falling, I would call him and he would say ‘it’s the GFC, don’t change anything, it will come back’,” she recalls.

By June 2009 her retirement savings had fallen to $92,000 and Mrs Babbage was in a panic. She said her husband Terry had died in 2004, and in 2005 she had been diagnosed with bowel cancer and underwent chemotherapy. ”I was sorting out my finances, and spoke to the Commonwealth Bank, and they suggested I speak to their financial planners. I was told to contact them at Martin Place and I then met Chris Baker,” she said.

She said she was told that since she had turned 70, she needed to pull her money together and roll it over into products that Mr Baker had suggested. ”I had put my life savings in with the bank since I was a kid at school with the little envelopes and so it was a trust factor letting them invest my money. What a mistake.”

In April 2012, Mr Baker was banned for five years by the corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, following an investigation into seven planners in the bank’s Commonwealth Financial Planning division.

Mr Baker wasn’t the only planner who was banned. An investigation by Fairfax Media revealed that six others, including Don Nguyen, were banned and the bank initially tried to cover up his misconduct. A group of whistleblowers tipped off ASIC in October 2008 and in March 2010 the regulator finally acted.

ASIC slapped an enforceable undertaking on the bank’s financial planning arm in October 2011, which expires in four months. The investigation by the bank into Mr Baker found that between March 1, 2005 and February 27, 2007 he committed various breaches including failing to ”determine the relevant personal circumstances and failing to make reasonable inquiries in relation to the personal circumstances of clients before implementing advice”. It found that many of his clients were profiled with aggressive risk profiles and that he failed to provide a Statement of Advice to clients when he was required to do so.

On May 15, 2009 the bank wrote to Mrs Babbage telling her she had been given a new planner to replace Mr Baker. ”If your financial or lifestyle circumstances have changed since you last spoke to Chris, or you would like to review your financial strategy, please call me to make an appointment.”

In another letter she was told that ASIC had accepted an ”enforceable undertaking from Chris Baker which precludes him providing financial services for a minimum period of five years”.

In August she was offered $43,286 in compensation, which included $8213 in interest, an offer that was valid for 60 days. She refused. Last November the bank increased the offer to $67,092, which included $5131 in interest. Mrs Babbage said she never mentioned her relationship with Mr Hockey in her dealings with the bank. She also never mentioned her relationship in her discussion with Fairfax Media.

Mrs Babbage took the offer. ”It was too hard to keep fighting,” she said. ”I had been in hospital again and I needed the money,” she said. ”There must be a lot of people inside CBA that knew what was going on. Don Nguyen was not the only person involved in these sorts of activities.”

Mrs Babbage said she didn’t follow up with a formal complaint because she had to deal with cancer and was overwhelmed with what was going on. ”But when I look at the miserable compensation I got and the huge profits the CBA makes each year I ask, ‘How can this be?’ I still get emotional when I think about what I had to go through,” she says.

A spokesman for the bank said: ”We confirm Mrs Babbage was a client of Chris Baker and her case was investigated by the bank. The bank used a remediation framework approved by ASIC, and was signed off by an independent consultant. Following an initial offer, Mrs Babbage provided further information and her remediation was adjusted and accepted.”

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ASIC caned over tardy probe on CBA financials

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has been lashed over its failure to investigate the claims of whistleblowers at the centre of Commonwealth Bank’s financial planning scandal.

In a heated exchange at a Senate estimates hearing, Nationals senator John Williams slammed ASIC deputy chairman Peter Kell over a 16-month delay between the time whistleblowers approached the corporate regulator and ASIC’s move to seize the files of CBA financial planner Don Nguyen.

The hearing follows a Fairfax Media investigation that found the CBA had concealed improprieties by a financial planner who once controlled about $300 million in retirement savings on behalf of at least 1300 clients.

The misconduct by Mr Nguyen, who has been banned by ASIC for seven years, allegedly includes forging client signatures, creating unauthorised investment accounts and overcharging fees. Some clients lost more than half their life savings, forcing them to seek help from Centrelink as they battled with CBA for compensation.

Senator Williams compared the case to that of insolvency practitioner Stuart Ariff, jailed for six years in 2011 on fraud charges. “To me this sounds like Stuart Ariff Mark II,” he said.

Whistleblowers contacted ASIC by fax about Mr Nguyen’s activities on October 30, 2008, but ASIC did not investigate the allegations until the whistleblowers visited ASIC’s offices in early 2010.

Fairfax Media found that some bank staff took part in a cover-up that allegedly included falsification of documents after Mr Nguyen left the bank in an apparent bid to stall or limit compensation amounts.

“I believe in that fax it said there was some urgency in ASIC securing the files as they are being cleaned up. Why did it take ASIC 16 months to follow up on that fax, and numerous emails from the whistleblowers, to act in relation to the Commonwealth Financial Planning files?” Senator Williams asked.

Mr Kell declined to comment on the timing of ASIC’s investigation but defended its handling of a “large and complex matter”.

“It has been a landmark achievement that has completely changed the way the bank does business,” Mr Kell said.

Leadership of the bank’s financial planning division “was changed wholesale”, he said, and $23 million had been recovered for 202 investors, with nine more cases to be finalised.

He refused to say whether ASIC would refer allegations that signatures had been forged on some documents to police – “it’s very difficult to comment on hypotheticals”.

Senator Williams responded: “There are $1.3 trillion in superannuation funds in our nation, and this nation is going to rely on good, sound, clean advice for financial planning. You are the corporate watchdog, and I expect you, if you see wrongdoings and criminal acts, you report them.”

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