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All the best for 2017, Mark Rayner


January 2017 |

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We wish you the very best for 2017 and hope it’s a very successful year, both for you and your business.

There is no doubt it’s going to be interesting.

There will soon be a new and very different President in the United States, with a very different agenda.

The UK will begin to get to grips with Brexit, its implications and what life outside the EU is actually going to be like.

There are elections in both France and Germany. In France, there will be change, but in which direction is not clear. There may even be change in Germany.

The EU continues to face huge challenges which only appear to be getting worse. Relations with Russia, and to some extent China are uncomfortable and the Middle East continues with conflict and unrest.

The outlook for business looks more positive than negative.  Although there continues to be much concern over bad corporate behaviour and (partly as a result) a tendency by some governments to attempt to interfere in the private sector, there appears to be a general shift away from the left, towards lower corporate taxation and (an attempt at least) towards lower regulation.

As David Smith writes in his article this month, this is already translating into greater business optimism in the US, and in the UK (so far at least) the decision to Brexit has not adversely affected growth or the economy generally.

 



Only in America?, David Smith, Economics Editor, The Sunday Times


January 2017 |

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As I write this, there are still a few days to go before Donald Trump’s inauguration, and one of the oddest political developments in my lifetime becomes a reality. Even before he has formally taken up the role of president, however – there being a debate about how much time he will actually spend in the White House – he has made a difference, particularly as far as business is concerned.

By tradition, presidents and prime ministers stick to the macro when it comes to business issues. They set out general principles, or expectations. They elaborate on policies which impact on business, such as corporate tax, trade and regulation. Sometimes they may cite businesses as examples of good practice. Rarely do they get involved in individual decisions, or pressure firms directly to take a course of action.

Trump, as in so many respects, is different. Even as president-elect he has used the weight of his office, and his Twitter account, to pile pressure on individual businesses.  Some have responded. After Trump attacked Ford as an “absolute disgrace” for a new plant it was embarking on in San Luis Potosi, in Mexico, Ford announced that it was scrapping the $1.6bn plant, and would instead invest an additional $700m in Michigan to build electric and self-driving cars. Ford had a good cover story, which was that it was responding to the weakness of small car demand, but it counted as a victory for Trump.

There were echoes of another Trump intervention, soon after his election victory, when he claimed to have prevented 1,100 jobs from being shifted from Indiana to Mexico by the Carrier air conditioning firm.  In this case, Carrier said it would continue to expand its operations in Mexico. Its decision to keep the other jobs in America was partly conditioned by a $7m tax incentive deal negotiated by the Indiana state government and the incoming administration.

Not all of Trump’s attempts to “make America great again” on a deal by deal basis have been successful. General Motors, under attack by the president-elect for making its Cruze model in Mexico, and threatened with tariffs on imports into America, said the vehicles it makes in Mexico are not mainly for the American market.

Toyota, also under attack for Mexican expansion plans, engineered a response from no less a figure than Japan’s finance minister Taro Aso.  “Toyota is responsible for large employment at US plants such as in Kentucky,” he said. “It’s questionable whether the new US president has a grasp of how many vehicles Toyota builds in the US.”

So it does not always work, but it is certainly a different approach, which is worrying some. No chief executive would want to risk falling out with the president at a time when boardrooms are already seen to be out of touch with the concerns Trump tapped into in his campaign. There is another view, which is that big business is prepared to allow the new president his victories in return for what will be an overwhelmingly pro-business agenda but that remains to be seen. 



Which conference is right for you in 2017?


January 2017 |

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Choose from our 2017 Portfolio

During this year, 2017, Richmond Events will be organising 50 Forums across 4 countries: UK, USA, Switzerland & Italy.

We will probably invite you directly to attend one of our events.

 

However, you know more about your diary and your own priorities than we do. If you might be interested in attending one of our conferences, please check our portfolio and choose which would be most appropriate to you.

All events are free to attend for delegates and offer a combination of latest updates on what’s happening in your industry, learning and development through conference, direct meetings with potential suppliers of your choice, and networking with the peer professionals from all sectors of your industry.

To determine the events and timings most appropriate to yourself, please look at our portfolio of events



Call for ideas - what do you consider to be your top issues for 2017?


January 2017 |

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Many conference crganisers issue “Calls for Papers”.  Richmond rarely does.  Our conference producers are working throughout the year to identify the hottest and newest topics most relevant to you and your business.

They speak to industry, academics plus past and present customers. Since we don’t sell attendance at our events, their aim is simply to offer you the best possible programme of options when you attend a Richmond event.

We are interested in hearing from you.

  • What are the problems you face in 2017?
  • What are the latest ideas, products and services coming down the track?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • What do your customers want?
  • What subjects would you like to hear presented this year, what discussions and debates would you most like to be involved in?


UK business panel research on attitudes to suppliers


January 2017 |

report-cover.pngOnly 1% of the panel will meet over 50 potential new suppliers per year and none will appoint this many. 

On average the panel talk to 12 potential suppliers over the course of a year.  They then appoint on average 3.5 new suppliers per year – i.e. just over 1 in 4 (or 29%) of the companies they meet.  
 
The average number of suppliers that the panel employs over the course of a typical year is 21. This can be further broken down to 15 (71%) existing and 6 (29%) new.

Formal tender process – the highest proportion of organisations insist on it above a certain contract value, whilst a further 26% sometimes do it.

In terms of a short list – the highest proportion say they sometimes do it, very closely followed by 39% saying they always do it.

In terms of input from other departments during the appointing of new suppliers, procurement are most likely to be involved, finance and legal in some cases and HR and the CEO less so.

The 2 top ways of sourcing potential new suppliers are recommendations/word of mouth and through meeting at a conference. 

No surprise that in this day and age reputation and price are the top 2 factors the panel look for when compiling a shortlist of suppliers. They are closely followed by product quality and financial stability, the latter coming back to the issue of ‘trust’.

The vast majority of the panel have not changed their payment terms; only 11% have with the rest saying they haven’t yet ruled it out. 



The ghost in the machine, Nick Turner


January 2017 |
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History never repeats itself they say, and if so, surely there are no lessons to be learnt by studying the same. 

However, history remains one of the great subjects at the core of university learning across the nations.

Musing so, it seems that history has resonances that beat out a rhythm we can recognise and heed so that we can learn at least something of worth from it.

The past year has seen a turmoil and upset across the political world that promises to change the world order from the expected to the uncertain. A disquiet now lies across the free world that is felt but largely unexpressed. There is a palpable fear of the future which for many millions now seems uncertain and at best ill defined.

The last time the world faced this type of fear was during the 1930s. Economic depression had gripped both Europe and America, economic poverty brought different reactions from country to country largely dependent on the level of misery imposed by the economic failures per nation.

In every case nations started to look inward. The League of Nations founded after the First World War disintegrated. Blame was looked for to assuage the deprivation being suffered by ordinary people. The Banking system fell into disrepute, and in Germany this led to blame being attached not only to the system but to the racial qualities of some of the most well-known banking families. Despite the underlying disquiet both in Germany and outside Germany the specifically self-styled National Socialist power edged into power.

Like many democratically decided mandates this was not one universally endorsed by an overwhelming majority. The Nazis scored a narrow majority, drawing their suffrage from the most disenfranchised and the hardest hit in the recession…. what the UK would term as the working classes and the lower middle class.  The reaction against Hitler internationally was simply that of an underlying unspoken fear, without any direct outward condemnation.

Accommodation, appeasement and just a deliberate refusal to recognise Hitler as a dangerous right wing racist fascist was the universal affliction of all the free-thinking world.

Issues of inward looking extremism were besetting other countries including Japan, Italy, Spain, and Russia where Stalin was departing substantially from the ethical values of Lenin, to embrace totalitarian fascist policies himself.

Fear walked like a ghost in the machinery of the world.

The results of this remain etched in comparative recent political memory save and except for the fact that the last of the generation of world leaders and politicians that actively lived through that War have now passed the baton of leadership to a generation that now only know of those times from the history books.

It is simple enough to draw prophetic comparisons with the 1930s world, and probably naïve.



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