A few weeks ago Alex Turnbull confidently slapped down the executives running Noble Group, a trading conglomerate in financial distress. The company's latest poor result was "even less shocking if you've had to interact with management over the last few years", he told a Bloomberg interviewer. "It's what you'd kind of expect."
The comments were an example of how Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's son is building a reputation in Hong Kong and Singapore as a rare personality: a young investment manager outspoken on topics he believes strongly about, even if he upsets powerful interests.
But Turnbull, who is around 36, is a case study for how the children of the rich and powerful often struggle to find professional success despite having all the advantages of a privileged upbringing.
The Singapore fund he established in 2015 manages several tens of millions of his parents' money, sources said, about enough to buy a top apartment in the wealthy city state. (Another source denied Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull are invested in the fund.)
Turnbull has confided in associates that he has struggled to find investors for the fund, Keshik Capital, because they are wary about investing with the son of a prime minister, according to sources.
Turnbull's lack of an investment record could also be a factor. Keshik, which is named after the horse-riding bodyguards of ancient Mongolian kings, operates a rudimentary website that invites people to log in using their Facebook accounts. It doesn't have an address, phone number or contact name.
In the past week Turnbull's credibility has been challenged. The veracity of his claim to have been pushed out of Goldman Sachs for raising concerns about Malaysia's notorious 1MBD fund was questioned after receiving wide coverage across the region.
Growing up the only son of one of Australia's most famous investment bankers wasn't easy for Turnbull. He attended Sydney Grammar School, where his father funded a scholarship for the disadvantaged out of gratitude for the financial assistance he received as a single-parent student there.
At most schools, Turnbull would have been at or near the top of the pecking order for his brains, wealth and good looks. At Grammar, surrounded by smart, driven boys, Turnbull was unexceptional.
No sports star, he debated and shot targets. A person who knew him at the time said he compensated by working on his wit. He became skilled at delivering an erudite quip, often with an obscure reference thrown in.
Going to Harvard
His year 12 score wasn't high enough to follow his father into law at Sydney University. He did, though, gain admittance to Harvard in Boston, where he majored in economics, worked on the campus newspaper and joined the cycling team.
After graduating, Turnbull bounced around banks and investment funds in Asia and New York. He had five jobs in 3½ years, all low-level, analyst-type positions. (One was a fund in which his father was an investor.)
Then, in early 2010, he hit the big time. Goldman Sachs, where his father was a partner and head of Australia, hired him for its Asian special situations group, an elite unit within the investment bank that operated as a kind of internal hedge fund.
Suddenly the Mandarin-speaking Turnbull, who fancied himself a savvy trader, had a front-row seat to some of the hottest deals across the region. In status-conscious Asia, a Goldman Sachs investment in your business was a coup.
He had made it, just as his father's political career had cratered. Four months earlier Malcolm Turnbull had resigned as Opposition Leader in humiliating circumstances after being fooled by Treasury official Godwin Grech and opposed by his own party over climate policy.
Alex Turnbull spent 4½ years at Goldman Sachs, according to his LinkedIn profile. While there he got into a bust-up with a popular anonymous Twitter account, @GSElevator, that poked fun at the investment bank and its staff.
Not only did Turnbull out the owner of the account, he apparently threatened to sue over a reference to himself. It is not clear if the lawsuit went ahead, but @GSElevator responded with a snarky putdown by calling Turnbull "#coffeeboy".
Then there was a disastrous private investment. Like many bankers, he was investing in his private time, including a technology firm that created a sports gambling app called PlayUp.
Turnbull invested $300,000. His father put in $1 million. Other investors coughed up $100 million over seven years, which was mostly wiped out when the company failed to generate much income. The Turnbulls converted their shares into debt, and were paid back before the employees' superannuation and wages.
The job of a lifetime ended badly. Turnbull resigned from Goldman Sachs with a 2000-word resignation letter that criticised the bank for not allowing him to trade in Australian media stocks while his father was communications minister or communicate in chat rooms, according to journalist Neil Chenoweth.
Turnbull, who didn't respond to three requests for comment, still appears to feel aggrieved about his former employer. He asserted to The Australian last week that his career was harmed because he complained about the huge fees Goldman Sachs generated from raising money for a Malaysian government fund, 1MDB, that may have been looted by the prime minister, Najib Razak, and others.
"When the 1MDB deal was done with Goldman I sent an email to some of my colleagues saying, 'What the f--- is going on with this?'" the paper quoted him saying. "'The pricing is nuts, what is the use of funds?'
"And I got a talking-to by compliance. Whistleblowing is a shit business."
The implication that a top investment bank punished an employee for raising ethical concerns about a client that may have been corrupt was global news. (Goldman Sachs said it wasn't responsible for how the money was spent.)
Opposition political parties in Malaysia used Turnbull's comments to attack Najib, who is due in Australia this weekend for a meeting of the Association of South-East Asian Nations.
Australia has never hosted an ASEAN summit before, and it will be a chance for Malcolm Turnbull to demonstrate his diplomatic skills. Malaysia is an important ASEAN member, and Alex Turnbull's comments came at an awkward time for his father.
with John Stensholt
Using a previous scholarship essay contest we hosted, where our judges received more than 4,000 essays, we noticed some frequent mistakes students make that can instantly disqualify you from an essay contest.
We thought to ourselves, "Hello, learning opportunity!
Here, an example of what NOT to do in an essay – and some tips on making yourself a better candidate for scholarship cash.
Here’s one of the essays we received for a previous scholarship contest, to help you learn the do’s and don’ts of essay writing:
“To be able to hold onto your money you have to know how to manage it. Money management is a complicated process. As teenagers we often have no idea how to manage money and we end up wasting a lot of it. But in a bad economy most of us have had a crash course in what happens when you don’t manage your money properly. We have had to delve into a world foreign and unfamiliar to us and solve our own money problems. The most successful of us have managed to still have some semblance of a social life without going over our small budgets. The keys to doing this successfully are actually quite simple.
Set up your own budget of expenses. Teenagers may not have to worry about paying a mortgage or rent but we do have to be able to pay for gas, insurance for our vehicles, and the never ending list of project expenses and supplies for classes. So you have to sit down and balance what you spend in a month with what you actually make, and whether that’s the money you get for your birthday that you manage to stretch with help from mom’s pocketbook or it’s the minimum wage that you get from the local fast food joint where you have managed to find employment the money comes from somewhere and it needs to be written down.
Review your expenses daily. This includes balancing your checkbook and reviewing your online statements, as well as calculating any emergency expenses that you were not considering. This needs to be fluid as sometimes things come up that you just couldn’t have forseen.
You have to get creative. You are not always going to have the time to sit there with a calculator crunching numbers so create small ways to keep thing balanced without having to. Send yourself easy phone reminders about a few of your expenses. Always bring your school id with you because a lot of places will give students discounted rates. And finally, just remember where your money is going it will help.”
So, what was wrong and what was right?
One thing the essay writer did correctly was to stay within the word count for the contest.
The essay contest stated within the rules that essays should range from 250-350 words and this essay comes in at 349 words. Good job!
Another positive is that the writer stayed on topic and answered the question that was presented.
However, even though the writer did stay on topic, the response took a meandering approach and didn’t take a strong or memorable stance. In short, the “meat” of the essay wasn’t there. Think of it this way: sum up in one sentence what you want the reviewer to know and remember after reading your essay. Did you get that across in a clear and concise way?
Each essay should get across at least one breakout idea (aka, the thesis statement) and the rest of the essay should focus on selling that point. If it’s a new, creative or off-beat idea, focus on selling and explaining that. If it’s a common idea, focus on trying to say it better than anyone else.
Here are a few more examples of what the essay writer did wrong:
Misspellings are the fastest way to ensure an essay is disqualified. When combing through a stack of essays, a judge will first rule out the essays with simple misspellings. Long story short: run a spell check and have someone else you trust look over it. It’s always best to get a second set of eyes.
Incomplete sentences – Remember, each sentence should have a subject (someone or something) and a verb (action). Wondering if your sentence is complete? Here’s a hint: A complete sentence tells a complete thought.
No capitalization –
it’s bad enough not to capitalize words at the beginning of a sentence, but at the beginning of a paragraph it stands out even more! Yikes!
Missing punctuation –
In this example, the writer does not have proper command over the use of commas — namely they are missing in places they should have been added and added places they are not required.
Poor grammar and sentences that don’t make sense –
The essay writer uses poor word choices, improper grammar and mistakes such as having too many spaces between words. Another example of poor grammar is the confusion of grammatical persons — in the beginning of the essay the writer uses the first person plural (we) and toward the end, the writer uses the second person (you).
Run-on sentences –
In this essay, one sentence has 72 words. As a rule, try to keep sentences no longer than 35 words each.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you write an essay. Remember, you don’t want to give the judges any reason to disqualify your essay right off the bat.
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