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Business as usual, David Smith, Economics Editor, The Sunday Times

December 2016 |


It is fair to say that many people did not foresee the big political upheavals of this year. Ahead of the EU referendum in June, I regularly asked business audiences what they expected to happen. Overwhelmingly they expected a vote to stay in the EU. Later, when the US presidential election was approaching, the consensus, by a large margin, was that Hillary Clinton would see off Donald Trump.

Business people have the excuse that they are not political experts and, even more, that most of the experts did as badly. Riding the waves of political uncertainty are but one more challenge for business. Expecting that uncertainty to go away looks like wishful thinking. In 2017 the spotlight will turn to Europe, and elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Only a fool would attempt to predict the outcomes of these votes.

Italy has just said no to constitutional reform in a referendum, losing a prime minister, the reformist Matteo Renzi, in the process. There is a photo doing the rounds of Renzi, along with David Cameron, Francois Hollande, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel, posing at a summit. By the end of next month only Merkel will still be in power.

What is business to do when faced with all this political uncertainty? The point was put to me well by somebody in business the other day. Their point was a simple one. The only thing that firms can do is get on with it. Trying to second-guess political outcomes is a mug’s game. Trying to work out what some of our new and unusual elected leaders will do is even trickier. Is it better to listen to Donald Trump’s speeches or follow his twitter feed in the early hours of the morning?

Business probably also needs a suitably sceptical attitude of the ability of politicians to genuinely change things. President Obama came to power eight years ago with a promise of both reviving America’s economy and transforming attitudes to America in the rest of the world. It is fair to say that he fell short on both. Trump boasts of doubling America’s growth rate with aggressive tax cuts and a $1 trillion infrastructure programme but it is hard to find anybody who believes that will happen.

The Human Resources Forum at the Four Seasons, November 2016 - why delegates attend

December 2016 |


The Richmond HR Forum at Four Seasons,  Park Lane,  had its strongest year ever in 2016. The event was fully subscribed with all 120 places taken. The following are some highlights from the event – the reasons why delegates find it valuable to attend:

Professor Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organizational Pyschology and Health at Manchester Business School was the opening keynote speaker on “Mental Capital and Well-being at Work”. 

He explored the costs of lack of mental well-being to business, the link between well-being and productivity, and the sources of  workplace stress that undermine job satisfaction and well-being. 

The top five issues for delegates were:

Reward & recognition
Change management
Culture engagement tools
Leadership development
Succession planning & motivation

The most popular suppliers from a delegate perspective were:

  • The Happiness Index: Measures employee satisfaction with HR analytics
  • Glassdoor: Job posting, Recruiting and Employer Branding Solutions
  • Green Hat People: designs active meetings, workshops and business games engaging employees on an entirely new level
  • Halton-Bridge: delivers employee engagement campaigns with a sense of purpose and fun
  • The Storytellers: innovative culture change consultancy, and pioneers of storytelling in business
  • Reward Gateway: employee communications, benefits and recognition

Forty years on, Nick Turner

December 2016 |


Forty years on, when afar and asunder
Parted are those who are singing today,
When you look back, and forgetfully wonder
What you were like in your work and your play……

And so another year, albeit an extraordinary year politically, winds to its close, these winter months seem to beckon out to our pasts with Christmas cards from long-forgotten friends and “We must meet up soon!” scrawled hastily at the bottom of each such card.

We never do meet, unless of course, out of the blue, some organised “reunion” is suggested. I am well used to the constant invites, dinners, commemoratives, and other functions put on by my old school. It's one of those independent schools that relies heavily on active fund raising in addition to the fees paid by the parents of the current students. I still live near the school, as do many other friends from my time there and so these “reunions” have no real meaning or shock value.

BUT about two years ago a recently retired close friend of mine from university, with spare time on his hands, took it upon himself to track down each and every one of our “crowd” at college.

Our college, at Oxford, was always renowned for producing free-thinking individuals, and back in the 70s, we were at the forefront of political activism against, and often in conflict with the University as a whole, with demonstrations, sit-ins, and occupation of University buildings. We believed we cared. We were largely long-haired, left-wing hippy types. We defined ourselves by the albums we liked to be seen walking about with clutched under our arms.

To be hip, cool albums were as follows:

Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd (a great cover for rolling tobacco on, etc.)
American Beauty, Grateful Dead
Astral Weeks, Van Morrison
Sailin Shoes, Little Feat
Velvet Underground
Grievous Angel, Gram Parsons
Any Hendrix, or Led Zeppelin
The Captain and Me, Doobie Brothers
Exile on Main Street, Rolling Stones
Bowie, and Desperado, The Eagles

2017 Richmond Forums

December 2016 |


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

All events are free to attend for  delegates and offer a combination of learning and  development through conference, direct meetings with potential suppliers of your choice, and networking with the peer professionals from all walks of industry.

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

To discuss joining us please contact the relevant Richmond Project Manager direct or call us on +44 (0)20 8487 2200 and we will put you in touch with the right person.

We look forward to many of you joining us in 2017


Thanks for 2016 and best wishes for 2017

December 2016 |


2016 has been a fascinating year.

As David Smith said in our opening article, the surprise results of Brexit and Trump wins have not (so far at least) impacted business, which seems to be continuing as usual.

From my perspective, the two sides of the Atlantic having both had surprise election results , are now looking at rather different immediate futures.

The US is embarking on a new path in January. The prospect of lower taxes, less regulation, the removal of (some or many) green taxes, self sufficiency in energy and (possibly effective) infrastructure investment should see a faster growing US economy. Those of us who are free marketers would certainly hope so.

In the UK, having made the decision to Brexit, we now look like taking two years at least to clarify exactly what the future looks like. That period of uncertainty will hamper business and growth.

In the EU, the position seems worse. The institution of the EU is facing an existential crisis (though they deny this) and there is the very real threat of more countries leaving.

Meanwhile, there is virtually no growth and many member countries have a dreadful economic situation and disastrous unemployment levels, particularly for young people.


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