Shocks & Stares » Paralympics H&K\'s Financial & Professional Services Team Blog Tue, 19 Mar 2013 08:00:56 +0000 en hourly 1 FPS’ Friday Fiver Fri, 09 Sep 2011 17:17:04 +0000 David Chambers Happy Friday peeps! Here is our fiver with a definite sporty feel to it this week. Thanks to KB, DC, CC and newby Sallie Bale, who writes about life as a fresh graduate, for this week’s contributions.

A new virtual team member….First of all, a quick welcome to our new virtual team member, DR DOOM, who we anticipate making more appearances on this blog over the coming months. We may yet recruit an alternative superhero breeding confidence into our markets, but for the time being we provide you with a depressing reminder that:

  • German, Italian and French markets were all down this week
  • Gold is reached a record value of $1,900/oz
  • And the all important services sector recorded its weakest growth in a year this August according to the Markit and our client CIPS’ (Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply) services index this week

International Paralympics Day….This week all eyes have been on the Paralympics with a huge event being held in Trafalgar Square to mark the occasion of International Paralympic Day yesterday. The event drew an impressive crowd, unsurprising considering there was a lot on offer: David Cameron and Boris Johnson taking on a (rather competitive looking) friendly doubles tennis match and Paralympic stars such as Oscar Pistorius and Ellie Simmonds were also in attendance.

Boris and Dave faced off over the net this week - it could be a sign of things to come (Image: Daily Mail)

The event took place ahead of Paralympic tickets going on sale this morning at 9am – so now all that remains to be seen is how much demand there will be for the Paralympic events. Organisers have been working hard to raise the profile of the Paralympics and ensure full stadiums during Games time, so fingers crossed all this activity pays off and our athletes – both Olympic and Paralympic – will have plenty of support and cheers from the crowds when competing in 2012.

The hottest ticket in town?….The Rugby World Cup is off to a great start for the hosts, New Zealand, as they commence their bid to lift the William Webb Ellis Cup again for the first time in 24 years. The big question is whether all the stadia will be full in the world’s most rugby obsessed country?

According to press reports, only three of the tournament’s games have sold out so far. Earlier this week organisers claimed that 63% of available tickets had been sold, with some 100,000 tickets being sold in the past three days. Yet fears persist about whether teams will be playing in front of less than capacity crowds in scenes reminiscent of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Some commentators have claimed that tickets prices are too high which is impeding sales – and New Zealand’s sole source of income from the tournament.

Whilst a spike in sales is anticipated once the tournament begins, it does make you wonder why countries take on these sporting events given the risks involved, be they financial, reputational or security related. Perhaps the joy of the game outweigh the risks and the prospect of being World Cup winners. We shall see.

Uni blues….Having just returned from my graduation ceremony it is sad to see even more headlines shouting about people being put off university by the hike in tuition fees and the cuts in funding for low income families. I do think everyone should have the chance to enjoy three years of study (and fun) that I have had, and especially the chance to don the age old cap and gown for the ceremony.

But I think it is about expectation setting. Most of the people in my class were able to afford a pretty decent standard of living whilst at university. Long gone are the days of baked beans and re-heated microwave meals. Most went out 2/3 times a week, ate out for lunch at least as many times and had an iPod or smartphone and laptop; of course with varying levels of funding from various sources. But all (except one) had a part time job, and none of whom received a lower final grade than they expected.

So please if you are reading this and considering going to university, don’t be put off by higher tuition fees or lower funding. If you want to make it happen you will be able to. And you won’t regret it.

Good Week/Bad Week….Undoubtedly a star of the media week has been Alastair Darling. Hot on the heels of Blair, Brown and Mandelson, Ally D added his memories of time in Downing Street to the ever growing list of 21st century political memoirs. As Chancellor at the time of the financial crisis, it’s certainly sure to make an interesting read. He learnt a trick or two off Mandelson as well, offering the Sunday Times the chance to serialise the book ahead of publication. Or at least that was the plan, until someone leaked a draft to political website Labour Uncut.

Gordon Brown's death ray super stare is likely to intensify after Alastair Darling's revelations this week

Still, the former Chancellor had a fine week enjoying his moment in the spotlight. The same can’t be said for just about everyone mentioned in his book though. His former boss and once close friend, Gordon Brown got it. Mervyn King got it. Bankers got it (although they’re pretty used to it). And as Steve Richards pointed out, Ed Miliband might get it in the future.

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FPS’ Friday Fiver Fri, 19 Aug 2011 15:39:30 +0000 David Chambers Hello All! August really isn’t showing any sign of slowing down is it? At the start of the week there was a collective pause for breath, but since Wednesday it’s been a case of deja vu with the world’s markets continuing to do their best impression of the Pepsi Max Big One. The focus of the Friday Fiver this week is understandably on these events, but we also find time for a bit of sporting action too. Thanks to Ed, Ross, Jonathan and new writer Helen this week.

Wither Angela, Woe Nicolas…..Tuesday’s summit between Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy was their latest attempt to tackle the Eurozone’s woes. However, no matter what they do to try and convince markets otherwise, politicians both sides of the Atlantic are still failing to win over investors’ confidence.

It's not all hugs and smiles in the Eurozone anymore - another tough week for Merkel & Sarkozy

Does democracy have any culpability for this? Well yes, it does. Merkel is finding it increasingly difficult to win domestic support for the continued underwriting of Eurozone debt – Germany’s latest growth figures won’t help her cause here either. She knows that the electorate are less likely to vote for a Chancellor who uses German money to bail out other nations, than one who does not. Despite this, the Eurozone’s survival largely depends on German financial commitment.

The recent debacle in the US over their debt ceiling and subsequent ratings downgrade was another prime example of politics trumping the good of the nation. Make no mistake, this episode was driven primarily by party political point scoring with the Presidential election around the corner – the Republican’s are already calling it the ‘Obama downgrade’.

With politicians at the helm the economic situation seems to be worsening. However, what they seem to ignore is that voters often reward politicians who show strong leadership and make bold decisions that solve difficult problems. The current status quo – a lack of leadership and an unwillingness to meet the problem head on – means that no-one wins, including politicians seeking re-election and investors craving market stability.

Big retailers in small communities…..According to the BRC, over the past week in particular we’ve seen how closely retailers are connected to their neighbourhoods. Really? This seems a curious statement given it was precisely those in the neighbourhood who smashed in their windows. For Ed, the lasting image of the riots were people walking out of JD Sports with a new pair of trainers. This is a nationwide retail outfit with a turnover of £770m. That’s a different proposition to an independent butchers or clothes store, which we’d associate much more with community.

Independent retailers face a tough task rebuilding from the riots

As neatly summarised in the Independent on Sunday: “Supermarkets are cheap and efficient. They stabilise quality and increase choice. They have transformed shopping, but this comes at a cost…The counterpoint to this has been the drastic decline of neighbourhood shops. We have reached a tipping point where the increased expansion of supermarkets will do more harm than good.”

Most agree that our high street retailers need as much help and support as they can get, especially after the riots. They are fundamental to the economy – which is why David Cameron has asked Mary Portas to lead a review into how to revive the high street. But let’s not kid ourselves about the role the big boys play in the local community. Rather, celebrate and revive the independent stores that do.

There’s more than one Olympic Games next Summer…..Awe-inspiring to spend time this week with Paralympics legends past, present and future just ahead of one year to go to the London 2012 Paralympic Games. We were lucky enough to pop into the Paralympic simulation training camp at Bath University with an eager group of national media all clamouring for a word with 11-times Paralympic gold medal winner Tanni Grey-Thompson and other assembled Paralympic royalty, including the inimitable 9 times gold medal-decorated Lee Pearson.

Humbled doesn’t really cover it when you hear stories of bright young talent including Will Bayley, current world number two table tennis player who trains for six hours a day, every day and gave a up a promising acting career after time at the Brit School for his sport; or the Paralympic swimmer Kate Grey who told her story of meeting another athlete with one arm who taught her a great lesson in life: how to put your earrings in one-handed. Helen for one will be among the first in line to bid for tickets come the start of the process on September 9th.

Good Week/Bad Week…..A bad week for US/China relations as chaos erupted in a supposedly friendly basketball match between Georgetown University and the Bayi Rockets. The contest, which was organised to coincide with Vice President Biden’s visit to China saw players brawling on scratchy camcorder replays of the scene.

It would be an inappropriate stretch to link the on-pitch animosity to the tension between the two nations. However, it’s the latest in a string of public spats between the two superpowers. Friction between the two countries is predominantly a result of economic realities – Jonathan insists you click HERE for a better explanation by dancing pandas. Let’s hope they keep the squabbles on the sports field.

No, the Chinese player's foot didn't slip in this picture, he really is going straight for the American's 'in-goal' area (Image:

Our good week award goes to tech entrepreneurs and their shareholders. In a deal likely to have significant repercussions for the mobile industry, cash rich Google snapped up Motorola for $12.5bn in the company’s quest for patents and an edge in mobile. It’s been a busy week and today we have seen one of Britain’s most successful start-ups, Autonomy, acquired by HP in a takeover worth £6.7bn.

And finally, the field of dreams…..or rather, the plastic, indoor sweaty sports hall of dreams. Last night the Financial & Professional Services team took on our arch H&K rivals, the Sports team in a winner takes all 5-a-side match at London Bridge’s T47. The result was convincing – a 13-6 win for us moneyheads. Sitting just round the corner from them today has been an unrivalled joy it has to be said.

On a more serious note, T47 is due to close soon which is a great shame. Finding a good football pitch for hire in central London is already difficult. It just got even harder.

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