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It's the uncertainty that gets you, David Smith, Economics Editor, The Sunday Times


July 2016
 

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If the response of many politicians to the referendum result was “What do we do now?”, so there has been a similar reaction in offices across the land – and beyond. Actually, I think businesses are better at handling these things than politicians, as we have perhaps already seen, but that does not mean that the fog of uncertainty that has descended can be followed by business as usual. The world that we are in now is different to the one before June 23.

In the run-up to the referendum I have to confess to getting one important thing wrong. In the end, I thought, the economic arguments would sway a majority of voters not to take a risk with Brexit. Indeed, that was true of more than 16m people, normally enough to win any electoral contest in Britain. But over 17m thought otherwise, either because they did not believe the economic arguments – which given the nature of the campaign I do not entirely blame them for – or because they wanted to leave for other reasons, to do with immigration, sovereignty, democracy and, in at least one case I came across, EU policy on incandescent light bulbs.

The things I did get right were to say that a vote for Brexit would hit the pound hard, usher in a period of political chaos – many people seemed to think David Cameron could stay on even if there was a vote to leave – and that there would be lasting economic and business uncertainty, at least until Britain’s new relationship with Europe becomes clearer. That, of course, could take a long time.

In one important respect, we have been spared the worst. Though the Labour party remains in a state of chaos, what opposition parties get up to is not a prime concern for most people in business. But the fact that we now appear to have what future historians may see as a quick and seamless transition from David Cameron to Theresa May (those of us who lived through the past few weeks will know it was anything but) is good news.


Business implications of Brexit


July 2016
 

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Richmond Events is calling for papers offering business advice in the wake of the EU referendum and the decision to Brexit.

Conference programmes are largely complete for Richmond’s portfolio of 19 Forums this autumn but we always have scope to include last minute pertinent topics.

Many companies will be thinking through the business implications of the decision to leave the European Union, and we will be considering all suggestions for sessions that can help this process and assist Richmond customers to identify areas they need to consider, formulate a process for reviewing their business and decide on changes needed, if they exist.

We welcome all thoughts and feedback to Sue Cartwright


After the ball is over, a legal perspective, post-referendum world, Nick Turner


July 2016
 

the law

By popular mandate, the UK has decided to leave the EU.

Millions of words both spoken and written have been expended on the rights and wrongs, and the implications of this seismic change in the political landscape.

However, now the decision has been made, it is up to all parties involved, both here in the UK, and in the remainder of the EU, to deal with that decision.

Unfortunately this is now where the real conflict begins. Politics and economics rarely mix well, and when an overtly political decision has economic consequences who should navigate the ship, that is the UK, through these troubled waters?

Politics has not only served, on this occasion, to divide the UK in two mathematically, and in three geographically, but also to create rancour, ill feeling, and fear within the rest of the EU.  Our former colleagues cannot be seen to let the UK cherry pick its requirements, and there is a distinct feeling that there is a real drive in Europe to make an example of the UK, if only to act as a warning to others thinking of breaking ranks.

We want our tariff free trade to continue, and yet we do not want free movement of labour ( as a lawyer, I always see free movement of labour as substantially different than free movement of people ). What do the population of the UK want?  They think they are gaining a migrant free country, with strong effective border controls, greater prosperity (having been freed from the bureaucracy of Brussels), an opportunity to increase growth, a well funded NHS, and more real jobs for the marginalised regions, outside the cities of London, Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool.

At the moment, if Article 50 is invoked, there will be 2 years to negotiate a retreat. At the moment the desire to negotiate is weak from the EU, whilst the desire to confront is strong.

Confrontation is akin to litigation with a winner takes all mentality pervading. Negotiation is the sister of mediation, and one thing is certain, that whilst mediation is a compromise, this has the habit of both sides feeling frustrated by the concessions made.

Negotiation and mediation rarely satisfy anyone. A case in point, is made clear by the current status of Canada and its still running, (7 years and counting), negotiations with the EU to obtain the kind of trade deal we would like to be in place by the time of the UK’s exit.

The descent back into rhetoric and political posturing must be avoided at all costs. It is with some concern that having voted to leave, that there does not appear to be a strategy, policy, or even team primed to argue the changes, maintain the trade agreements, and enforce the will of the people (whatever that was).

On the Monday 27th June when a packed House of Commons reconvened, the 2 principal establishment architects for leave were notable by their absence. I refer to Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

This alarms me, if only for the fact that this was a founding moment for the brave new world, when the potential architects of our departure need to be facing the House, and defining the strategy of negotiation and the requirements of the leave campaign in representing the will of the people.

There is now a political vacuum in the UK, and constitutionally it is now when lawyers need to step forward and provide expeditious routes to renegotiation, if necessary by conciliating and mediating issues to try and make the economic and business pathways as seamless as possible.

Politicians have shown no will or direction, so far, on either side to implement a free trade agreement that reflects the status quo and protects the businesses that depend on the current economic arrangements with our neighbours.

I believe that within a few weeks urgency will be injected into the process, as volatility continues to unsettle markets. The legal process is there to be used and used with tact and neutrality to negotiate and protect trade positions.

I then await the new manifestos of the 2 leading political parties with interest, as we move from confrontation to protection. It may well end up as predicted at the outset, that by negotiation we are left with no option but to follow the example of Norway, and concede fundamental key issues simply to avoid more unpleasant consequences of a vindictive European bureaucracy.

This is a time for trained negotiators, namely lawyers to become involved and to disentangle reality from the politics of confrontation.

I do not believe that any of the main characters fronting either campaign will emerge as leaders in the forthcoming weeks.

A strong political figure, with a proven track record will need to be elected as a replacement to David Cameron, and he or she needs to arm themselves with the best negotiators the country can provide.


UK Business Panel research on Career Planning


July 2016
 

report-cover.pngThe panel see their main strengths as being a strategic thinker as well as team / people management.  Over 60% of them also feel they have the ability to motivate and inspire others, as opposed to 6% who feel they can’t.

Asked if they felt their career would benefit from any further training, the top 2 choices were in the areas of leadership and social media.
 
The three qualities the panel rate highest in a good CEO are being a strategic thinker, the ability to motivate and inspire others, and a good communicator at all levels.
  
The highest proportion of the panel would replace some or all of their senior management team if they were to become CEO!  A third would also increase all staff incentivisation. 

Respondents have been in their current position for an average of 6.3 years.

The average time they expect to remain in their current position is for another 2.8 years.

The main criteria when potentially joining a new organisation is for the nature of the opportunity offered and the improved financial reward.

Head hunters and recruitment consultants have most influenced the panel’s career moves.

In terms of their end game the highest proportion of the panel see themselves in a board level position within a different sized organisation.

The majority of the panel are quite happy to undertake weekly travel in order to further their career, though more are split on whether they’d live away from their family through the week.

An organisation downsizing & being taken over by a competitor are seen by the panel as the main threats to their future employment (the research was done before Brexit).


Developing a social media and digital strategy - advice from TomorrowToday


July 2016
 

 

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This month’s Richmond research on career planning asks what training our delegates would most like.  Top of the list are Leadership and Social Media.  We are therefore including some thoughts on Social Media Strategy in an extract from a report by TomorrowToday.

There can be no doubt that social media is a valuable business tool, especially for companies that are built around networking and connecting people to people. But too many people and organisations are using it ineffectively. In fact, some are actively damaging themselves by using social media badly. In order to get the most out of social media, it is important to have a clear strategy and a number of structures in place.

 Each DSA company is different, serving different markets in different ways, and each DSA company is at a different stage of their journey towards effectively using social media and digital tools. This report cannot, therefore, provide “one size fits all” recommendations. What this report can do is provide a framework for decision making and strategy for the next few years.

A few years ago, a Harvard Business Review article entitled “Seven Characteristics Of Companies "Effectively Using Social Media" received critical acclaim. The seven habits remain true today, and the framework we suggest below will assist you to put these in place. They are:

Specific goals, integrated with other strategies and objectives
Had a budget
Multiple channels
Use social media for more than just outward communication
Talk and listen
Measurement
Linked to marketing solutions.

This section of the DSA social media report outlines the systems and structures required to develop a social strategy, and provides an eight step process for deciding on your social media strategy. You will then be much better place to determine where best to focus your resources for maximum effect in the social space. The next section will go into detail on best practice on each social media platform. These can be used at both a corporate level, and for individual distributors and their teams.

Developing a Social Strategy

Before diving into different social media platforms, it is vital to ensure that everyone in your network (corporate and distributors) has a clear picture of what you plan to do with social (why, what, how, when and who are all important, but especially the what and why).

A key observation of the social media presence of many of the DSA member companies is that they seem to lack a cohesive social strategy. In the absence of this thinking the social activity is experienced as a directionless "bumbling" that adds little to the brand and risks detracting from it.

We highly recommend you run a workshop on your social media usage, working through the following eight steps to ensure your social strategy is properly developed and understood. Note that you will come to each of these steps over and over again as you develop your social media presence.


Thanks to David Cameron and all best wishes to Theresa May, Mark Rayner


July 2016
 

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This month’s Richmond Events’ newsletter is very UK centric but perhaps correctly so as we see the formation of a new UK government and the start of a new relationship for the UK with the rest of the world.
 
David Cameron successfully led the coalition and then the Conservative government which has steadied the UK economy. His decision to hold a referendum has led to the UK leaving the EU.  This was not the result that David Cameron wanted or supported and he has therefore resigned.
 
I appreciate that people are divided on the EU issue, but most agree that the EU needs to change. Some believe it can be changed from within, others feel it won’t change and we must leave. In any event the UK decision is made. We are now obliged and indeed have the opportunity, to forge a new relationship with the EU and/or its constituent nations. Time will tell if this was the right or wrong decision, or indeed, if it makes little difference, but this is the road we are taking.
 
Right now we need our new Prime Minister, Theresa May, to lead a strong team to negotiate this new relationship in the best interests of the UK but hopefully to the benefit of all European nations as well.
 
Theresa May has made a good start, we wish her every success

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