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The new broom sweeps in mysterious ways, David Smith, Economics Editor, The Sunday Times

August 2016


It would be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that nothing is happening except You Know What, even if You Know What has delivered the lowest interest rate in our history, just 0.25%, and a sharp initial downturn in the economy. It would be a mistake to do so, not only because we will get very bored very quickly if we obsess only about the consequences of what we decided on June 23rd, but also because the process of extracting ourselves from our existing relationship with the rest of Europe will take many years.

In the meantime, we have a new prime minister, with a new ministerial team and, possibly a new direction for business and economic policy. Theresa May has already chaired the first meeting of her new cabinet committee on the economy, suggesting that she intends to be in the driving seat in her self-declared drive to spread the proceeds of growth more evenly across the country and raise productivity levels to those of Britain’s international  competitors.

Whitehall’s business department has been rebranded again; it is now the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, under a new secretary of state, Greg Clark. Its expanded role, together with a new department responsible for negotiating trade deals with the rest of the world (under Liam Fox, when recruits some trade negotiators), will take some power away from the Treasury.

Comparisons have been drawn between Mrs May and Margaret Thatcher, not least by the new prime minister herself, in which case Philip Hammond, the new chancellor, may be taking on the Sir Geoffrey Howe role; influential but with no doubt about who is in charge.

What we don’t know about Mrs May’s business and industrial strategy so far greatly exceeds what we know. She has given the impression of being more interventionist – on boardroom pay, and even the composition of boards (favouring worker representation) – than any of her recent predecessors, Conservative or Labour. She thinks people who run businesses, particularly big businesses, have become too disconnected from the people who work for them and, indeed, their customers. More generally, she has dumped on George Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse, which she thinks had too narrow a focus, and on his ambition of achieving a budget surplus by the time of the next election. This may be just bowing to the inevitable, though Hammond has also talked about a “reset” of policy, which some have interpreted as borrowing more at current very low interest rates to fund additional spending on infrastructure.

So, we did not have a general election in June, but we appear to have acquired a new government anyway. Of course, some of what we have seen from Mrs May and her team may simply be an attempt to convey the impression of a new broom, and the actual changes may be less than meets the eye. Even so, business should be watching what comes out of the government with rather more interest, and the potential for greater surprises, than has been the case for a while.

That also applies to relations with other countries. The government’s decision not to proceed immediately with the £18 billion (plus financing costs) Hinkley Point C nuclear power station once it had been approved by EDF, the French power company, surprised just about everybody. It surprised the French, who put a brave face on it. It surprised the Chinese, who are part-funding the project, even more. Hinkley C was hailed by Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, on his state visit to Britain last year. It signalled, he said, a new “golden era” of UK-Chinese relations. One thing the Chinese do not like is what looks like a snub, which implies a loss of face. There are suggestions that £100 billion of proposed Chinese investment in Britain could be at stake.


CIO buying intentions - Fall 2016,

August 2016


Delegates attending Richmond CIO Forums in the USA this fall have been giving us details of what they wish to discuss with suppliers whilst attending our events.

This gives a pretty good indication of where corporate USA is looking to invest currently.

Business continuity and resilience  looks to be the major area of interest, with security, disaster recovery and business continuity  the top areas within the sector.  Over 50% of delegates are looking to further address these issues and will be talking to our suppliers about solutions.

Business intelligence  is also on the minds of a majority of delegates, both in terms of Big Data and its use for business intelligence and also within the specific areas of analytics, dashboards, and reporting.

Application development  is the third most important area of interest to CIOs.

Other areas of interest to more than a third of all delegates attending include:

Application management/optimisation
Software development
System integration
Mobile application development
Predictive analysis
Project management
IT/Business alignment
Server virtualisation
Risk Management

For full details of the buying intentions of Richmond delegates and information on our events, please contact
Banner Conanan if you are interested in attending as a delegate or Stephen Reid if you are interested in becoming a supplier.

US Business panel research on Customer Service

August 2016

report-cover.png27% of organizations have a dedicated customer services manager / director ultimately responsible for their customer service.  14% of organizations leave customer service in the hands of the Operations director and 8% in the hands of the Sales director.

30% of the panel have seen an increase in their customer services budget over the last 12 months, with only 12% seeing a decrease.  12% of organizations don’t have a specific customer services budget.

85% of organizations measure customer satisfaction levels, 63% on an on-going basis and 22% occasionally.

25% of the panel say their organization gives customer service training the highest importance, whilst a further 44% say they give it ‘reasonable’ importance.

Exactly 50% of the panel admit that social media currently plays a limited part in the whole customer service mix, but it is becoming more important.  20% say it’s currently central to it, though this figure is likely to increase.

Given a list of options, the panel rate their organizations’ performance highest in terms of complaint handling, reputation management and building increased customer loyalty through customer service. 

The most important area to an organization in terms of their customer service offering is handling complaints quickly and efficiently.

Three keynote speakers head over 40 speakers on board Aurora from 5th - 8th October 2016

August 2016


MEP, Dan Hannan, economist, David MacWilliams and astronaut Michael Foale head a list of over 40 speakers at Richmond's forums on board the P&O Cruises' ship Aurora from 5 – 8 October this year.

If you are considering attending you will have the opportunity of choosing the most relevant industry sessions for yourself, as well as professional development sessions and hearing the keynote speakers above.

If you would like to know who else is attending from your own profession, or would like event details please contact

The Marketing Forum - Vicki Barford
The Communication Directors' Forum - Chris Gault
The Finance Directors' Forum - James Walker
The IT Directors' Forum - Ellen Kielland

Keynote Details:

Brexit:  unchartered territory - where to now? Dan, Hannan
The world economy in 2017, David McWilliams
You too can save the space station! Dr Michael Foale

Attention to detail, Nick Turner

August 2016

Attention to detail

This month I went to the funeral of a friend and work colleague. This friend had taught me more about winning cases than any lawyer, law book, or professor ever could, and it struck me as we said farewell how easy it is to forget how much we often owe to others, and how unexpected those others can be.

By background my friend came from simple origins. At the age of 17 he joined the Lancashire Constabulary and signed up as a Police Constable. Whilst he never rose above the rank of PC, he, nevertheless, on joining the traffic department, became not only a leading forensic UK expert on tachograph analysis, but was recognised across the world for his skills. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to the police and after 30 years service, he retired on full pension at the age of 47.

It was then that he was actively recruited by a leading international haulage and logistics company in the UK to head up their large Motor Insurance and Prosecutions Department. This company, who were effectively self insured, were responsible for a fleet of some 18,000 vehicles from HGVs, through every size of commercial vehicle and including a sizeable fleet of directors, managers, sales reps, and pool cars. Their freight involved international haulage, and shipping and air transport.

It was, at this point, as a lawyer that I first met the man. He immediately impressed by his ability to speak on every incident, accident or prosecution with fine detail, noting that at any one time there would be over 2,500 active files running at any one time. However it was his attention to detail that marked him as unique. His motto was simple, “The worst cases well prepared will usually win, over the best cases badly prepared”

In fact this motto proved to be vindicated time and time again. But even more importantly it was his constant review and examination of all the evidence on every case that in the end proved invaluable.

We were running a liability case on a very serious and tragic road traffic accident. The quantum proved to be nearly £3,000,000, and therefore the stakes were high. The nature of the case was either that the fault lay with a negligent driver, or the vehicle had been negligently serviced. The driver was employed by another Company, but we had serviced the vehicle.


Richmond HR Forum nearing capacity

August 2016


This year’s Richmond HR Forum at the Four Seasons, Park Lane on 24th November is nearing capacity. 140 delegates are already confirmed including HR Directors or Heads of HR from companies such as

National Express
Rio Tinto
Royal Bank of Scotland

And even taking into consideration the small number of late cancellations that always occur, we can only accommodate some 20 additional HR delegates.

If you are thinking of attending this year and have not yet made a decision, please be aware that we will be at capacity and anticipate not being able to accept more delegates after the end of September at the latest.

Full details of the conference programme and attendees can be obtained from Sophie Katon


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