A Downtown Share

Madam/Mr Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters and honored Guests:

Things in life do change. Be it situations in your personal life, perhaps a need to adjust the procedure how things are to be handled at work, or just about anything.

As a need rises to inform people about changes in the status quo, then so rise the need to inform and educate.

There may be a need to retrain employees, a need to teach how to operate new machinery, a inform about new routines in a delivery chain, for instance.

Not everybody does hold the necessary basic knowledge to understand how the changes affects.

To illustrate this, I have an example when things did not work out as supposed.

In the end of the 1980s, the finish insurance company Sampo had decided to reorganize the structure of the company.

Not being a expert in corporate law, I need to simplify things.

Until then, the insurance policies and the ownership of the company was bundled. In plain text, if you had, say, your home insurance or your car’s insurance with Sampo, you owned a little fraction of the company.

The company had decided to separate these two matters, separating ownership and insurances. The holders of the insurancy policies would get shares of the company, and then Sampo would get enlisted at the stock exchange of Helsinki.

A simple formula was created to determine how many stock shares each policy holder was to receive. Simplified, it was that every policy holder was to receive one share, and then one share per X amont of how much your insurance portfolio was worth.

This said, every insurance holder was to receive at least two shares.

Then Sampo mailed each and every policy holder a letter in which the company stated how many shares each individual was about to receive at a given date.

Until this point of this speech, everything is true, I have checked the facts from reliable sources.

What comes next may a telltale.

The legend says, that the good people at Sampo received a letter, supposedly sent by a senior citizen, a old lady. It turns out that she had a small policy with Sampo, and was entitled to receive two shares.

In her letter, she gives instructions to the company: One of the shares was to be situated in downtown Helsinki, but the location of the other one didn’t matter, she would let that one out for rent.

Certainly these instructions doesn’t make much sense. Some explanation is required.

In Finland, a very common way to own a home is to get involved in something called a Limited Liability Housing Company, or in finnish Asunto-osakeyhtiƶ. If you own shares in such a partnership, you will get access to a certain flat according to the said housing company’s articles of association.

You actually don’t own that particular flat, the house and the flats in it is property of the Housing Company. Being a owner of given shares in a given Housing Company, you can do with a given flat what you want — you may live in it yourself with your family, perhaps put it out to rent to anyone you choose, use it as a second home.

Some people tend to say that they own a “Share”, or in finnish, a “Osake”, when they are refering to “the ownership of certain shares in a Limited Liability Housing Company which gives the ight to possess a certain flat”.

It was obvious that this old lady had no clue that the word share, or the finnish word Osake, may mean many things.

If this story is true, I don’t know how the folks at Sampo managed to get the old lady to understand that she certainly was not about to receive ownership of two free flats worth tens or hundreds of thousand euro, but she’d rather get two shares of a publicly traded corporation, worth much less.

Madam/Mister Toastmaster:

This story give light to a need to educate. If the receiving end does not understand what she is reading, doesn’n have the right training, he whole effort may be in vain, time and money wasted, and the whole change to the status quo be fruitless.


This is a outline for a speech delivered at Stadi Talkers Toastmaster, delivered on 25.11.2013.

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