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Timothy Vasko

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Finaeos: Entrepreneurship, Equality & Access

July 1, 2015 11:37

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During President Obama's first election I said to my son, who was just old enough to vote in the United States, "he's taking on a mess in that country, let's see how he pulls it off..." That was nearly eight years ago.

Today, in my opinion, President Obama has masterfully made many of the changes the nation has needed. His latest push supporting the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on equality in gay marriage is a capstone to a tough job – but one well done. Politics and all policies aside (which I do not pretend to speak upon with authority nor seek agreement on), in the realms of finance, health care, innovation, and access- President Obama has left an indelible mark on the nation, and in my opinion it has undoubtedly been for the better. Of that I am certain - I speak with first hand knowledge and conviction.

There can be no denying that many sectors in the U.S. were a mess after decades of failed policy and approach – in particular finance and health care. The economy was decimated - I saw it coming 18 years ago, when I immigrated to Canada. Untold times during the last few years people have asked me, "how did you know?” It was obvious to me, that the fraudulent practices some of the biggest players in the economy employed, could not last and would not lead to anything but economic instability, massive debt and recession. I had experienced first hand the impact of one of these massive corporations on the brink of failure, and I did not intend to stick around to see this replicated on a national scale.

So, as a single Dad, lacking options and seeking direction, I decided to start again in a country that seemed to be more accepting, more open and more in line with my values and beliefs. Back then.

 

I have been proud to be a Canadian citizen for years. The Canadian government has done much to support my dreams and my work towards creating an equitable financial and technological environment through the many grants and government programs I have received and participated in. For this support I will be eternally grateful.

But today, I can equally proudly say that I no longer see the U.S. the way I did when I decided to leave my home nation. It has turned the corner, as demonstrated with the historical decision on gay marriage equality this week. Although recent events in Ferguson, Baltimore, and too many cities across the nation demonstrate there is still far to go in terms of racial equality, I believe the United States is on the path to true equality and access for all. With the JOBS Act working to reshape finance, and Obama Care, much like LBJ in the 1960s, President Obama has left a legacy. The foundation, the opportunity is set - the rest is up to us. As history reminds us, the "old guard" won't just give up. But now we have the tools to work with, tools that were lacking for far too long. This is a new era and a new country, again. This is the United States I grew up believing in - not the one I left with my kids.


Thanks to the JOBS Act, I believe America is once again on the path to becoming the land of opportunity and plenty that it once was both in the collective imagination and in reality for so many new immigrants, like my grandfather who passed through Ellis Island. With the barriers to finance for smaller businesses broken down through the JOBS Act, I’m proud to see that the American Dream can once again begin to thrive. That’s why I invented Finaeos, to help entrepreneurs and small businesses in both the U.S. and Canada recapture that dream, and attain it.

To be able to provide Finaeos to support American and cross border entrepreneurs and SMBs, to be able to next launch FinaeosConnect to share these opportunities to investors, and to be focusing our efforts in helping drive financing and healthcare innovation and connectivity - well, this could not have happened without the recent advances in American policy. I’ve spent my career trying to break down barriers for entrepreneurs and small businesses. This began with my invention of an affordable, customizable CRM platform and hybrid cloud environment that provides more functionality and power than Salesforce to organizations a fraction of the size and without that massive budgets traditionally required for this kind of automation. Now, I’m proud to say that I can provide more than just a technical leg up to small businesses. With Finaeos, we’re simplifying and reducing the cost in terms of time and money for businesses seeking the opportunity to grow and scale through funding.


I've never believed in money for the sake of money, I did not become an entrepreneur simply because I wanted to become rich. I believe at the root of entrepreneurship lies creativity, innovation, and a desire for true autonomy and freedom- an independent spirit that seeks to control its own destiny.


I believe these new financial legislations on both sides of the border, whether the JOBS Act in the United States or the CRM2 amendments in Canada, help eliminate the kinds of loopholes only the financiers (and their high priced lawyers) have had for centuries.


To see governments supporting Entrepreneurship, Equality and Access, to see the albeit belated recognition that these are some of the most fundamental things in a healthy society, is nothing short of galvanizing.

Now it's my mission, and every entrepreneur’s obligation, to help make sure it sticks. That's what these new laws are there for - setting up for the generations to come through innovation and access.

I am starting with Finaeos - and I look forward to working with, and helping others who have the motivation to do the same.

Follow me @Finaeos @TimSVasko - let's do this together !

Tim

The Importance of Being Equitable: Thoughts on the NEO Exchange

March 27, 2015 07:51

 

Today, March 27th, 2015 the NEO Exchange officially became a part of the Canadian financial landscape. And, after three and a half decades in the financial markets, I can only shake my head and say “Finally!” when I think of the changes about to come to fruition thanks to the innovative and courageous work of Aequitas.

I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the people behind the NEO Exchange over the last 12 months, because my company, 1to1Real, was selected to be apart of the new exchange. It has been quite a journey, and everyone has worked incredibly hard. Yet this hard work has been extremely rewarding, first and foremost, because of what we’ve been working towards. The NEO Exchange presents a vision of a more equitable world. This is a world where investing is equitable for both the investor, and the investee. The NEO Exchange provides opportunity for investors, but also for companies that need financial support to operate, grow, invent and innovate.

Businesses need capital at all stages.   Funding these businesses requires outside capital. This is essentially how the “stock exchange” was born. Despite its reputation today, the public market has humble origins. Historians and economists have argued that the first stock exchange dates back to Roman times. Others point to the Dutch East Indian trading company as a point of origin. But no matter the century, stock exchanges, public markets, have been an integral part of the world economy for centuries. Historically, they have presented essential resources for companies to raise capital, to trade the ownership through shares and bonds, and thus to bring new services, products and jobs, to the world.

For the investors, the people who have that much needed capital, stock exchanges present an opportunity to “recycle” capital in imaginative and productive ways. To extend the impact of capital, to invest in the ideas that people believe in – that’s what the “stock market” is truly about.

Being an entrepreneur my entire adult life, I’ve been involved in the markets from every angle. From my beginnings in the early 80’s, when I established my own Investment Banking Brokerage company and commodities trading firm (I was backed by now infamous REFCO - and Tom Ditmer, when I was the ripe old age of 21); to my trials, being a part of the early fall-out after creating (again from scratch), my own public company that was forced to fail under the weight of the now defunct and fraudulent antics of FINOVA (one of the largest bankruptcies in US History and a prescient precursor to Enron); I’ve experienced the good, the bad, and the incredibly ugly.

The financial markets, the way things really “work”, what forces are behind the way money moves and is managed, manipulated and used, from the bad, to the good, to the ugly, has directly impacted my life in countless ways. In fact, these markets impacts us all, every day, from the politics behind the products we buy, to the payroll we receive or make as business owners, ultimately, the public markets shape the very way we see and experience the world.

The public market, despite affecting everyone, is not accessible to everyone. The model of high frequency trading (HFT), that rips profits off the top hurts not only investors, but the integrity of the businesses.

Derivative activities like HFT, left unchecked in the market, prevent a fair playing ground for investors and businesses to operate, to invest capital, to get capital to operate and grow, from emerging.

The “fundamental” investor, who invests at a company because they believe in what it does, who is ready to hang in for the long haul, is damaged and discouraged by the manipulations of volumes of trades that “clip” coupons off minor fluctuations. Due to HFT, companies are not measured by financial results, or the opportunities of R&D and the future; they are measured by micro-movements, pushed to and fro by the programs that trade in Nano seconds.

How is this productive? For anyone other than the folks who own the firms that take profits for their own benefit out of the market, instead of letting the markets emerge to assist the best investments to rise and fall based on the merits of the management, to put it simply, it is not. It is not productive for our economy either, as we have seen time and time again. The markets should benefit those people who invest wisely.   Warren Buffett, the famous investor of “buy and hold” didn’t have to worry about program trading back in the 50’s when he started his trek with now famous Berkshire Hathaway. He had an investment philosophy: invest in the fundamentals, invest in the management.

It is these fundamental values that made Buffett the most famous investor in the world. It is these fundamental values that the NEO Exchange, and the team behind it, are boldly seeking to bring back to the public market. Personally, my interaction with the people behind Aequitas’ NEO Exchange, true visionaries, brought back those early dreams of how the markets could work for investing and for business. It’s been exciting to be a small part of this big picture they’ve spent the last several years working tirelessly to create.

Want some financial advice? Support this exchange. Support NEO. When you do, you are bringing more than a better chance at profits into your pockets. You are supporting the autonomy of business, the creation of new opportunities for investors, businesses and entrepreneurs who also work tirelessly to imagine and realize the innovations the world needs.

Thanks to the NEO Exchange, businesses and investors can collaborate without the fear of an HFT program trading engine. So, the next time you invest, the next time you consider a company to invest in, be confident that you can evaluate it for the people and products behind it. Be confident that you are “investing in the fundamentals”.

For me, that is what NEO Exchange is all about. Making sure “equity” remains “equitable” all the way around.

As a fellow believer in the fundamentals of business, I’d like to extend my thanks to the team at Aequitas NEO Exchange. Your vision and courage to bring an equitable financial landscape to Canada and to the world, to create a new stock exchange will make Canada stronger, our economy stronger, and the world more aware than ever, of how money and markets are supposed to work. For everyone.

 

Tim Vasko

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