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Letter from the Co-CEO, Lynette Lim

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”      

                                                                                                Mother Teresa


This is one of the lesser known quotes of Mother Teresa.  However, ever since I heard it for the first time eight weeks ago, it has haunted me ever since.


Mother Teresa’s ( entire life as we know it had been dedicated to being a friend of the poor and helping the poor.  So at first glance, when you think of what she meant in that context; she probably meant that we have no peace until we recognize that the poor are part of us, and we simply cannot ignore them.  We have a duty to help the poor, and to give dignity to the poor both in life and in death.  It is only when we recognize and do something about it, that we can have peace.  But I started to see bigger implications of her quote and appreciate the profoundness of it.


I look at my own personal relationships.  I thought of how issues have escalated when I only cared about my own needs and not considered the other party.  Alas!  I do not have peace because I have forgotten that I belong to the other person!  If I could have taken the time to step outside myself and to understand the other person needs, how much happier and richer both our lives would be!

I look at the problems in America today and I think about the gun violence.  It is literally hitting too close to home (no pun intended).  Homicides in Chicago have skyrocketed to 524 this year to a crisis level, and have already exceeded last year’s numbers.  Recently there was a shooting of a cop and a man just three blocks from my home at 8:30 pm in the evening.  We could have been there.  If the violence continues to escalate, eventually we will have to consider moving to the suburbs, and live in a house with a white picket fence.


We cry in dismay “NOT AGAIN!” when we hear of recent mass shootings of yet another school/movie theater, and how the shooter calmly walked into the place, and shot anyone in sight and himself.  During the aftermath of the crime, we hear more of the background of the “evil” person who is capable of committing such a hideous crime.  We hear testimonies from neighbors, teachers, and ex-colleagues of how he was aloof, prone to anger and kept to himself.  We might hear later that he had bouts of depression but refused treatment.  We might hear he was on drugs or alcohol. Yes, he is clearly not one of us.  He is the problem.


But is he?  The crucial question to ask is what did the neighbor, the cashier, the teacher, the classmate do when they first noticed this person acting strange?  Why did they look away?  Would the story have changed if someone had intervened?  If someone had cared?


Is our society preaching too much about individual freedom of choice?  That we want to give people the freedom to choose what they want? But what if they choose violence?  What if they do not have the ability to make the right choice?


I realize that the poor are not the only ones in the world who are being ignored and put aside.  It is also the people who have been disenfranchised in some way or another, who can no longer function “normally” in society.  


It is not hatred that causes most of our problems.  It’s apathy isn’t it?  We ignore because we are too busy with our own lives, and we have our own problems to worry about.


Unless we take action to address the disenfranchised, to help those who need help, to reach out to those who feel alone, they will eventually cry out for help in ways that are far more destructive than what we can imagine or think of.  And it becomes our problem whether we like it or not.


Hitting even closer to home for most of us working in the financial industry, there have been countless scams by financial institutions that have chosen greed over doing the right thing, and cheated investors of millions of dollars.  Hollywood has made these stories into big budget movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Margin Call,” “Money Monster,” and “The Big Short” in very recent years.


What caused the mortgage crisis to happen? More recently, what caused Wells Fargo, the nation’s third largest bank, to illegally open 2 million credit card accounts without customer consent for years?  We only know about this because they were recently fined $185 million, and thousands of their staff have been fired.  (Coincidentally, we closed our credit card account a week before the fine because we were unhappy about the way they tried to hide customer payments on their website as a way to incur late fees).


Former employees at Well Fargo told CNNMoney that they were given unrealistic sales targets and were under tremendous pressure to perform.  Hence many resorted to sordid practices to meet goals, and their supervisors turned a blind eye as long as targets were met, and everyone was rewarded.


With today’s practice of modern scientific management, where in the name of productivity and efficiency employees have a limited job scope and specific KPIs (key performance indicators), it is easy to lose sight of the big picture and the most fundamental thing that we are called to do which is to help and serve the customer.  If the CEO and the employees at Wells Fargo would ask the simple question –“Am I helping the customer?” – I believe that none of this would have happened.  Lest you think that the banks are the only guilty parties, I was talking to a sales person from one of the largest FCMs. He said unabashedly that the role of the FCM is to be “toll booths” for the customer, and all he needed to do is to keep charging the customer fees.  His views are sadly not unusual.


“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

I want to leave you with an inspiring story.  I met a business associate and was marveling at how well behaved her four teenage daughters were.  I commented how I wanted to learn her tips of how she managed to discipline her kids so well.  She told me her secret.  Her youngest daughter had severe epilepsy when she was younger, and this disability caused the other daughters to complain less, learn how to be independent, and look after themselves and also each other, because the parents had to focus all of their attention on the last child.  They did what they had to do, and because of their sister’s disability, they became more matured and better behaved teenagers than their average peers.  They all (including the parents) became better people.


Most times we think of helping someone who is weak, either at worst as a sort of big sacrifice or at best as a big inconvenience.  But if you talk to people who are involved in caring for the sick or helping someone in need, they will often tell you that they were the ones who were being helped, and how blessed and rich their lives have become.  By helping others, you become a better version of yourself.  Thus the poor and the underdogs are a necessary fabric of society for the rest of us to grow and become better folks.


I hope my little rant will make you think and act a little differently.  We cannot sit on the sidelines and live the status quo.  We cannot afford to live our lives with blinders on, hoping that someone else will solve the problems and issues of the world we live in. 

May you find peace in this journey of life.


RISK DISCLAIMER: Trading in futures products entails significant risks of loss which must be understood prior to trading and may not be appropriate for all investors. Past performance of actual trades or strategies cited herein is not necessarily indicative of future performance. The information contained herein is provided to you for information only and believed to be drawn from reliable sources but cannot be guaranteed; Phillip Capital Inc. assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions. The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Phillip Capital Inc. or its staff.