Monday, October 25, 2021

Net Zero Analogy: Cryptocurrencies deserve the attention of regulators: Mr Brown

  You know when a teenager creates an atmosphere of such low expectations that you end up congratulating them for the bare minimum, like putting one plate in a dishwasher.

Anyway, so the Nationals have agreed to Net Zero by 2050.

Twitter: Craig Reucassel

How the fight against climate change can get real at COP26 South China Morning Post. Roundup on COP26 from Bloomberg:

Climate change is likely to crank up geopolitical tensions as temperatures rise and nations argue about who is responsible for fixing it, according to a new national intelligence estimate.

A Quartet of Warnings Highlight Climate-Related Threats

Cryptocurrencies deserve the attention of regulators

A parliamentary report has proposed establishing rules for crypto-world - including future companies that may exist in the ether alone.

Many hopes and fears have been projected onto the helter-skelter new money of digital cryptocurrencies.

Writing on these pages, venture capitalist and crypto convert Mark Carnegie sees cryptocurrencies as a hedge against reckless printing of fiat money by governments.

The crypto rule book is coming. Bloomberg

Eminent economist Kenneth Rogoff argues conversely that in a flood of free money, nobody should be surprised if essentially worthless assets like cryptocurrencies prosper. Crypto’s only practical use, he says, is to criminals as currencies for the black economy.

But decentralised digital currencies and blockchains also have serious future advantages. All this is going to be part of the local financial system, and Australia’s future as a financial centre. Regulators need to maintain financial stability and consumer protection while also facilitating breakthrough technology that brings new growth.

This week a parliamentary report led by Liberal senator Andrew Bragg has made widely welcomed recommendations. They include licensing of exchanges, a custody regime for digital assets, and measures on taxation and money laundering.

It has also proposed putting purely digital-based organisations onto a proper legal footing. So-called decentralised autonomous organisations resemble internet share trading groups or fund raisers. They may exist only in the ether, but they manage money and make decisions, with transparency embedded in their software.

Age no barrier to keeping up with trends, says ex-Deloitte partner

Edmund Tadros
Edmund TadrosProfessional services editor

The former Deloitte partner who accused the firm of age discrimination says advisers in their 60s can keep up with trends just as well as younger people and continue to provide clients with insightful advice.

Colin Brown, who settled his case against the firm for a multimillion-dollar amount in June, now wants all professional services firms to end the legally dubious practise of forcing partners to retire based on their age.

Ex-Deloitte partner Colin Brown believes the use of age-based retirement policies in the consulting sector must end. Paul Harris

Mr Brown, now 65, had sought more than $3 million in damages after alleging Deloitte had a policy of making partners retire at 62, in breach of the Age Discrimination Act.

“I hope my case has made a difference. Three of the big four firms have already come out and addressed the issue. I don’t think PwC has yet,” Mr Brown said in his first public comments about the issue.

“I think the whole industry should simply do away with any age-based retirement policy. I don’t think older partners perform any differently. These days people still have got a lot to offer as they get older.

They’ve got a lot of experience, they’ve got a lot of know-how. They can be up with trends in industry and technology. They can continue to be good advisers to clients and mentors.”

Deloitte chief executive Adam Powick, 55, last week announced the firm would stop “expecting” partners to retire when they turn 62, less than six weeks after Mr Brown settled his case with the firm. Separately, KPMG and EY have both dumped age-based clauses from their partnership agreements.

Current and former PwC partners say the firm continues to have an understanding that most partners will retire when they reach 55. (The firm denied it had any such policy when queried by The Australian Financial Review.)

If you go to court against your employer in general, you’re potentially seen as a troublemaker.

— Colin Brown

Mr Brown said he was pleased that Deloitte had moved to dump the age-based retirement policy: “I’m glad Adam has clarified the situation around partner retirement a bit.”

The case had been expected to set a precedent for the long-running age-based retirement practice at Deloitte and in the broader professional services sector, with legal experts suggesting that many other partners could have had grounds for similar claims, had he won.

The former partner, who was limited in what he could discuss about his case due to the terms of his settlement with Deloitte, said many other partners in his situation did not want to “rock the boat” and had simply accepted they would be subject to age-based retirement.

“I think there’s been a general acceptance that that was it. Nobody’s really wanted to stand up to it. People think they’ve got a future career ahead of them [after the firm] and they don’t want to be seen as rocking the boat,” Mr Brown said.

“They’ve got different things to consider in their lives. They’ve got mortgages, other bills. If you go to court against your employer in general, you’re potentially seen as a troublemaker which can have a detrimental effect on your life going forward.”

He said that part of the reason he settled was that it was taking so long for the case to wind its way through the courts.

“It had gone on for 2½ years. Too long. I think the advice from the lawyers was that these things always settle and to take it all the way through would have been costly. They thought it would take another year to get to court,” Mr Brown said.

While it had been “slightly uncomfortable” to continue as a partner as the case wore on, he said his clients were very supportive of him.

“It was certainly challenging. I was still a partner there [during the case]. It was a slightly uncomfortable situation to be in and a lot of partners were maybe a bit wary,” he said.

“The good thing was my clients were supportive. That might have been a relationship thing. I still get on well with my clients. Some of them thought it was a stance against something that was wrong. I also had support from people from other firms as well.”

Mr Brown, a veteran auditor with more than four decades of experience, joined Deloitte Australia in June 2014 at age 58 after being headhunted the year before by then CEO Cindy Hook while working for a Deloitte Global member firm.

But just 4½ years after joining Deloitte Australia, and six months after his 62nd birthday, Mr Brown said he was told he needed to retire around May 2019. That request was to be the beginning of the end of his roughly 15 years at the firm in a career that spanned more than four decades.

Mr Brown said he continued to be on good terms with many of his former Deloitte colleagues as well as clients.

“The audit and assurance group Brisbane partners organised a farewell meal for me. My clients have also had farewell dinners for me, too,” he said.

And his advice to any other professional service partner being managed out of their firm because of their age? Get a lawyer.

He said: “I would suggest they should go and seek legal advice. Which is what I did. If someone’s been asked to retire and they receive a retirement agreement, they should first seek legal advice.”