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A Brexit slowdown but not a recession, David Smith, Economics Editor, The Sunday Times

September 2016


As you read this, it is almost exactly three months since we voted to leave the European Union. What have we learned in that time and what does it tell us about where we might be heading in the future? It is very early days, and the economic evidence is decidedly mixed, but I think we can be fairly sure that Britain has not collapsed into the English Channel since June 23, even though it is quite likely that growth has slowed in recent weeks. Importantly though, business and consumer confidence are holding up better than was feared.

That there was a short-term Brexit shock is not in doubt; sterling’s sharp fall and a big drop in consumer and business confidence in July told us that. But other factors helped mitigate against a sustained drop in business activity and any sense of panic. The Bank of England’s early August interest rate cut and other measures helped, but much more important was the near-seamless switch to a new prime minister and cabinet. It is sobering to think that we might only now have been coming to the end of a two-month Conservative leadership battle between Andrea Leadsom, a hard Brexiteer, and Theresa May. Even if May had won, which she was favourite to do, the uncertainty would have been considerable. As it is, the new prime minister has made an assured start.

Other factors have also helped. For financial markets the prospect of interest rate cuts, or on the case of America delayed rises, overcame other worries. What central banks do is still more important for the markets than anything else. Many in business, meanwhile, appear to have taken a leaf out of the books of consumers, which is that it is too soon to start worrying about what the future might bring. One theory about consumer spending I heard was that Brexit voters spent in celebration, while Remainers have done so to cheer themselves up. Whatever the cause, and foreign tourists taking advantage of the cheap pound also helped, the tills mainly kept ringing. There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence among businesses that some decisions were merely delayed by the referendum and have gone ahead over the summer months because they could be delayed no more. Pent-up activity is as good as any other activity.

UK Business Panel Research on Brexit

September 2016

 report-cover.pngIn terms of the panel’s attitudes to the Brexit result from a personal perspective, 12% are very optimistic and 21% cautiously optimistic.  Whilst 11% are undecided, 28% are not very optimistic and 28% not at all optimistic.

From a business perspective, even fewer are optimistic, 24% (4% very & 20% cautiously).  A much larger % is undecided, 29%, leaving 31% who are not very optimistic and 16% who are not at all optimistic.

In terms of their company’s fortunes, 40% feel revenue will decrease as a result of Brexit, whilst 39% feel profits will do likewise.  The corresponding figures for those expecting an increase are 11% for both. 

52% expect a decrease in confidence over the next 6 months (within their organisation) compared to 9% who expect an increase.  41% expect to see investment decrease versus 7% who expect an increase.

Almost a ¼ of the panel are already making changes to their business plan due to Brexit, with a further 31% saying it is likely to happen.

The highest proportion of the panel (36%) feel there’s no rush for the Government to activate clause 50, closely followed by those who feel they should leave it as late as possible (27%).

56% of the panel feel there should continue to be no restrictions on EU immigration into the UK, with the remaining 44% saying we should start to put limits on the number of EU immigrants.

Whilst almost ½ the panel feel it’s critical we stay within the single market, a higher proportion feel it’s as much in the EU’s interest that we remain.  A further 10% say leaving would allow us to negotiate better deals for the UK.

Asked if access to the single market and free movement of people are inextricably linked in any future negotiations (again) the panel are divided in their opinions. The highest proportion (just) believe we should negotiate for both, closely followed by those saying the negotiations should allow us to choose what’s best for the UK.  The remaining 28% don’t feel we’ll have a choice, it’s either both or none.  Time will tell.

Finance Directors - are the Swiss different to the British?

September 2016


Jens Korte opened the Richmond Finance Directors Forum in Interlaken Switzerland yesterday with his insights from the New York Stock Exchange on where the world’s economies are heading.

We can share which conference sessions at the event were most popular with Swiss delegates and can also compare the current areas of “buying” interest of Swiss Finance Directors, with their British counterparts attending the UK Richmond Finance Directors’ Forum next month.

The most interesting conference topics were:

Profiling for Leaders, Managers & Teams
Intelligent teams
The Better Story Wins – Ways to Pitch, Persuade & Prosper

The three supplier presentations, selected on merit and popularity by the attending suppliers were also very popular:

Advanced analytics
Integrated planning – combining planning, optimization and prediction
Big data

As compared with the subject matter that FDs were interested in, the areas that the Swiss FDs were most interested in for purchase of services were:

Transfer pricing
Internal control system advisory
Additional of high interest were:
Cost accounting
Foreign exchange planning
Acquisitions, mergers, disposals
Employees expenses management
Compliance & control
Fraud prevention
Leadership management
Business intelligence/business analytics
Invoicing/E-invoicing management
Strategic Risk Management


US Chief Learning Officers' buying intentions

September 2016


The Richmond CLO Forum opens in Tuscon at the Ritz Carlton on 25th September 2016.

As is usual with Richmond Events, attendees have indicated in advance, the areas they are most interested in discussing with suppliers with a view to making future purchases of products and services.

Assessment and evaluation tools are their top priority, the top six being:

High potential development
Leadership & management skills & 360s
Skill assessments
Evaluation & measurement
Analytics & dashboards

Also of high interest are:


  • Employee engagement
  • Learning strategy design
  • Change management
  • Organisational agility 
  • Organisational effectiveness & development
  • Performance management


Life after Brexit

September 2016

mark-for-web.pngMore than 2 months have passed since the UK referendum on EU membership produced its surprise result and life appears to continue pretty much as usual.

But the surprise seems to continue. Delegates at the Swiss Finance Directors Forum were told yesterday by Jens Korte that the UK’s decision was and continues to be a surprise. People in the US, now focusing on their own presidential election, seem surprised and intrigued.

The BBC and media generally, seem surprised and not very accepting of the vote. Many reports seem to be topped or tailed with the words “despite Brexit”.

I’m interested in the views of you, our customers and readers. I, personally,  have always been anti-EU. I think it is a bad organisation and is doing the citizens of its member countries more harm than good.  However, in surveys that Richmond conducted before the referendum, the majority of you,  our customers,  were for remain. Do you still feel the same, or with hindsight are you happy with the decision to Brexit?

The currency has devalued a bit , but this is both bad and good news.

The stock market dipped but has rallied.

The housing market is stable

Unemployment is dropping

Growth is continuing – no recession has occurred

Inward investment had a record month in August

The sky appears not to have fallen in.  Admittedly it is still early days but the gloomy predictions appear not to have materialised.

I'm  very interested in your feedback. What are your feeling on Brexit today?

Olympic ideals versus Nationalism, Nick Turner

September 2016

Olympic flag

Baron de Coubertin back in 1896, under the auspices of a fledgling IOC, organised the first modern games which were held in Athens. 14 nations and 241 athletes competed in 41 events. The city of Athens and a private trust fund helped pay for the games with any monies outlaid to be recouped by ticket sales and a commemorative stamp.

The athletes were all amateurs and the principles were aimed at personal achievement rather than national success. Faster, stronger, higher.

The games lurched through the early part of the 20th century. The St Louis Games in 1904 took place alongside the Worlds Fair, when there were 650 athletes, of which 580 were from the United States.

Nationalism of the worst kind was evident at the Berlin Games of 1936. Political boycotts have been a feature with particular note of 1980, and 1984 when the Russians and Americans boycotted each others games. Only Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Australia, and Greece have been present at every Olympics.

The blur between amateur and professional athletes was already meaningless by the '80s.   The prestige attaching to the bidding cities and by default the respective countries was regarded as a rich prize, until it was realised that the economic cost is actually now considered to far outweigh the commercial benefits. Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney and Beijing all suffered a negative financial effect. London’s games were some of the cheapest to stage of modern times and those Games probably accrued a small commercial/tourism benefit to the City.

However as the bidding process for future games takes place it is notable that the competition to win the games is now seeing less cities bidding. Tokyo, in 2020, only had to compete with three other cities, to win the host city title. For 2024, so far only 2 possibly 3 cities are expressing an interest.

What value does Olympic success bring, and does it matter?

Whilst there is obvious national euphoria in the UK about the success of Team GB, there does need to be an analysis of how success is achieved.

China is an example of state influence over sporting achievement. For years China has enjoyed “State sports academies” where children from an early age are trained intensively and this reaped its rewards at the Beijing and London Games but as the middle classes have grown there has been a clear resistance for parents to give their children over at an early age to the intensity of physical training doled out at the sports schools, The result is that China has seen their haul of Gold Medals substantially diminished at Rio from the earlier glories of Beijing and London. At Beijing they had won 51 golds, London 38 golds.

In 1990 there were 3,687 sports school academies in China, and that number is now down to 2,183. The country with 1.4billion people, state involvement and a political drive to be seen to be the leaders and better than other countries, particularly western countries, is therefore one of the Olympic under achievers.

The UK, at its worst had a haul of one gold medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games of 1996. Since then a steady increase in state funding has seen Team GB drawing from a population of some 66million people, now enjoy unprecedented and disproportionate success at the Beijing, London, and now Rio games.

The Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, which to my mind, smacks a little of Orwell’s, 1984, together with the National Lottery, have this year raised and distributed £543 million into “UK Sport”.

UK Sport, whose tag line is “world class success”  then distributes those funds:   £61 million is used up by “PARTNER INVESTMENT”, £387 million into “WORLD CLASS PERFORMANCE INVESTMENT, £70 million into UK SPORT PROGRAMMES, and £25 million into “GOLD EVENT SERIES”.  These monies filter into the respective National Governing Bodies of the various sports, and they organise on an 8 year cycle of World Class Programmes. Some 1300 elite athletes in their chosen fields then enjoy the benefit of the structured and well scrutinised funding.

The state involvement is specifically there to maximise performance and success. Success is measured by medals won, the number of medallists developed, and the quality of the systems developed.

Financial support per athlete is typically worth around £36,000 to £60,000 per athlete “at the podium level”, and £23,000 to £40,000 at the “podium potential level”….dependent on the sport.

On top of this athletes can further be awarded “Athlete Performance Awards”….

BAND A; Olympic and world medallists      up to £28,000 pa
BAND B; Top 8 finishers in the above        up to £21,500 pa
BAND C; Likely to be in the above within 4 years  up to £15,000 pa



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