Shocks & Stares » Big Society H&K\'s Financial & Professional Services Team Blog Tue, 19 Mar 2013 08:00:56 +0000 en hourly 1 FPS’ Friday Fiver Fri, 26 Aug 2011 16:21:25 +0000 Edward Jones Friday Fiver

Good afternoon and welcome to this week’s Friday Fiver. Thanks to Clare, Sallie, Dave and Jo for contributions. Conscious of your likely yearning to get out of the office and enjoy your Bank Holiday, we’ve tried to keep this one brief.


Up for the Jobs?


Waking up to the 6am news on the Today programme yesterday to hear that Steve Jobs had resigned as CEO from the company he founded, I was struck by the fact that one man’s resignation could make global news. It made me wonder how many other resignations – aside from those that take place in the political world – would garner so much interest. My conclusion was: not many! It then got me thinking about how many CEOs I could name from other technology companies. And the answer was none. So what is it about Steve Jobs that helped him capture the world’s imagination?

Like the rest of the world, I have fallen under the spell of a range of products that have not only made my life easier (I do not know what I would do without my iPhone) but products that enhance it because, to be frank, I think they are beautiful. It strikes me that this is the genius at the core of Steve Jobs and the company that he built in his own image.

Apple’s share price has remained largely stable after an initial blip following Job’s announcement. Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, now has the unenviable task of keeping the share price where it is (if not higher) whilst fusing beauty and simple functionality for high spec new technologies that the world awaits with baited breathe.

It makes me wonder whether Tim Cook has the best job in the world – or the worst?

More good news…

Picture: The Times

Two surveys featured in the Times this week have blown out of the water hopes of an export led recovery. The first is Barclays Corporate’s survey of 664 UK based business leaders which suggests a lack of ambition to export, particularly among small businesses. The same survey reveals that 79 per cent surveyed expect foreign ownership of British assets to soar in the next decade.

The ippr think tank have published a second survey suggesting the UK now accounts for 3 per cent of global exports and of those exports only 7 per cent are going to the BRIC countries.

Social Impact Bonds

The Government this week launched a new pilot scheme to encourage investors to fund Social Impact Bonds. The Government believes up to £40million could be raised for the four pilots in Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster, Birmingham and Leicestershire. The money raised will go towards tackling family problems. If successful, meaning families are taken out of deprivation and crucially, off state dependence, investors will be rewarded by the state ‘with a decent return.’

It seems another bold move for the ever elusive big society agenda, but one which we will reserve judgement on for the time being.

Good Week/Bad Week…..

At the moment, if you’re involved in the commodities world, you’re generally not doing too bad, especially if your involved in gold – despite a slight drop off, it’s still trading at a premium price. If you’re involved in commodities and you work for Glencore, chances are you’re doing even better. This week the company announced its first results since being floated earlier this year. First-half revenues were up a third, meaning bumper share dividend payouts for workers holding shares following the float.

If on the other hand, you used to be involved in the banking world and have now moved into architecture, it was a less good week. Sir Fred Goodwin’s had a fair kicking over the past three years, and this week it got even worse. A new book (with the rather witty title ‘Masters of Nothing’) reveals how ‘Fred the Shred’ terrified staff with angry rants over the colour of his favourite commodity – biscuits (pink as opposed to a dour Scottish blue he hungered for I suspect). Our advice to Sir Fred – go for the trusty bourbon. It never fails.

Who said training had to be dull?

Having spent a weekend in the beautiful town in the province of North Holland known as Bergen (and I wouldn’t even bother trying to pronounce this unless you are a native Dutch speaker, like Jo ;) my faith has certainly been restored  into what I’m sure many of us find a necessity when working for a major cooperation.

In 72 hours,  I slept for about 10,  met over 30 likeminded and brilliant people from all across Europe, watched a comedy show on social media (Boom Chicago in case you are now interested), visited the most beautiful beach I have ever been to…in the North of Europe, used The Dutch main transport system, aka a bike, by cycling 10km in the dark, learnt what Pecha Kucha (I wouldn’t try and pronouncing this either) means and within 2 hours was using this exact technique to pitch to a panel of directors. I learnt more in these 72 hours than I did during my three years at university and  finally challenged and motivated myself more than I ever thought possible. All at H&K Europe’s Summer School 2011!

And finally, what if…

…You had the option to send a hologram to work instead of yourself? Would you do it? What if it could predict how you might react in certain situations? What you might say? What if its behaviour was purely based on your online life? Your YouTube likes, Facebook comments or Twitter posts? All of this is not so far away… so watch what you say online now as it might become the basis of a future you! And then, watch this 5 minute video to find out more.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver Fri, 25 Mar 2011 14:50:26 +0000 David Chambers Hello All! And welcome to our brand new, dedicated Financial Services blog from our FPS team here at H&K. This blog will cover all things related to finance, money, the economy, politics, consumer trends and probably a bit of humour along the way. We hope you enjoy reading it and look forward to your comments.

In the meantime, here’s this week’s Friday Five with contributions from Ed, Ross and Marie.

George Osborne's Budget has generally been well received, but more pain lies ahead

Two days on from the Budget…There’s always a mad rush to get initial reaction out on Budget Day. Two days on though, where do we stand? Our initial reaction remains largely the same – George Osborne delivered a Budget for business and one designed for growth. The question though is at what cost.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies argued yesterday that due to inflation the pain on the public sector will be even greater than originally thought as we try to cut our public spending and drive growth. Moody’s then compunded this, putting a chill on the UK with a warning that slow growth and our high debt risk our precious AAA debt rating. It’s not any rosier in Parliament for the Coalition either. Ed Miliband is picking up some momentum, his key spinners have found a more coherent message, and local elections are on the horizon – never easy for an incumbent government, especially if the Lib Dems suffer again as they did in Barnsley last month.

Never thought you'd see these two in the same image? No, us neither. Until now

What Anne Hathaway and Warren Buffett have in common…We came across a fascinating column on the Huffington Post this week. It explored the lengths financial traders are going to in order to extract the best possible return by sourcing as much information as possible, no matter its source or content.  The post noted the curious way in which Warren Buffett’s investment company, Berkshire Hathaway, saw its shares rise on occasions when actress Anne Hathaway appeared in the news. The theory goes that this is a result of automated financial trading engines picking up the chatter on Anne and applying it to the stock market.

US site, The Atlantic, picked up the story and delved a bit deeper – it’s well worth a read, but is perhaps summed up by a quote from computer scientist John Bates, who simply explains companies are now trying to “correlate everything against everything”.

Change for Takeover specialists…In a move reminiscent of the curtain opening trick in the Wizard of Oz, the UK’s merger regulator, the Takeover Panel proposed changes to its rules that would seek, among other things, to make deal fees public to increase transparency. In particular, it proposes that the maximum and minimum fees, including incentives and success fees, paid to deal advisers by both bidders and targets should be revealed.

Cadbury Law - change for takeovers, but what about for takeover advisers?

What does this mean? Ultimately, that the value M&A ‘wizards’ who provide financing, corporate broking, legal, accountancy, consulting and PR services will be open to more public and in particular shareholder scrutiny. What impact this will have is unclear though. Everyone knows that bankers make considerable fees from M&A, just as everyone knows bankers make considerable salaries and bonuses as a result of these fees. No one seems to be able to do much about the latter and so it is unlikely that much will be done about the former.

Clearly, based on the strong reputation of many of the top investment banks, people are likely to still pay good money for that wizardry. What about the rest of us though? Aided by these new transparency measures and given that knowledge is power, will M&A advisory services become more of a buyers’ market? Certainly, it will become more value-focussed, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Whether ‘public scrutinisers’ really understand what they are evaluating is another matter.

Still waiting for the Big Society?…David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ has received mixed reviews, but a common response has been from those who claim to not understand what it is. MPs from all parties as well as the media have often muddled the concept, perhaps to undermine it before it has even got off the ground. Credit then to The Economist which this week has analysed exactly what BigSoc is and presented it clearly without trying to induce scepticism. The paper breaks the concept down into three strands: pluralism, localism and voluntarism.

The struggle to define BigSoc has clearly served to slow down people from embracing and committing to it – is this failure to agree the reason why businesses aren’t engaging with and supporting it with any gusto at present? It remains to be seen though whether debates like The Economist’s can actually serve to shape what the Big Society is. Nearly one year on from the General Election, many would argue we’re still waiting to answer even that basic question.

David Buik - "One of the last true city gents"

Farewell to a legend…Finally, a short note on the passing of an institution. BGC Partners’ David Buik has been an ever present on TV screens, in newspaper columns and on radio for many a year, but today retires. Described by some on Twitter today as one of the last ‘true gents’ in the City, he’ll be missed.

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