Businesses & Unions Call for Urgency over Brexit

Businesses & Unions Call for Urgency over Brexit
Business and union leaders from across the UK and Europe have joined together to plead for “pace and urgency” in Brexit negotiations. The CBI and the TUC along with their European counterparts are calling on the UK government and the European Union to make “measureable progress”.

UK and EU leaders will attend a European Council meeting this week.

The groups say the UK and the EU must “put economic interests and people’s jobs, rights and livelihoods first”.

The CBI, BusinessEurope, the TUC and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) collectively represent 45 million workers and 20 million employers across the EU.

In a joint statement, they said: “We are calling on the UK government and the EU to inject pace and urgency in the negotiations, bringing about measurable progress, in particular a backstop arrangement to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

“Decisions will be needed in June and October to finalise the withdrawal agreement and the transitional arrangement, and put economic interests and people’s jobs, rights and livelihoods first.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May will attend the European Council meeting on 28-29 June. However, she will be excluded from a gathering of the other 27 EU nations where chief negotiator Michel Barnier will provide on update on Brexit talks.

Carolyn Fairbairn and Markus Beyrer, the director-generals of the CBI and BusinessEurope respectively, as well as Luca Visentini and Frances O’Grady, the general secretaries of the ETUC and the TUC, met earlier this month in London to discuss Brexit.

Ahead of the European Council meeting they said: “The UK government and the EU will need to agree on all aspects of regulatory alignment, which is of the utmost importance, without jeopardising the integrity of the single market.”

A spokesman for the UK government said: “We absolutely agree. That’s why we have put forward workable proposals to the EU on a range of areas from the backstop to security, and the White Paper – which will be published after June Council – will continue to drive this process forward.

“We are confident that we can make progress if both the EU and UK engage constructively.”

 

Simplify Branded Risk Assessments for Your Business

Simplify Branded Risk Assessments for Your Business
Many people like the thought of being able to produce high quality branded risk assessments and other paperwork for their business to help them portray a professional and successful image to clients and other associates, but think that the effort and hard work required will be too time consuming when they have plenty of other tasks to get done.  But by simply using the correct software it is possible to produce branded and well laid out risk assessments and other documentation in no time at all and at RAMs App they are able to provide everything you need to get started right away.

Whether you are looking to produce one document or a number of documents regularly throughout the course of a year at RAMs App they will be able to provide a service that is well suited to the needs of your business.  With a flexible options available no matter the size of your business they will be able to offer you a package that is both financially viable and also able to cope with the demands of any business no matter how busy they may be.

Using RAMs App risk assessment software to create branded risk assessments not only helps give your documents a more professional finish it also helps you to complete them more efficiently and thoroughly as you simply fill in the pre created template with all the necessary information and then you can either print it out or send it directly to the recipient. As RAMs App software is compatible with all devices you can take advantage of its flexibility and complete your risk assessments on site no matter it might be ,which can help you save administration time.

So if you would like to be able to produce professional risk assessment software and other health and safety documentation complete with your own company logo why not take a look at the excellent packages on offer at RAMs App?  You might be surprised how simple the process is and how affordable it can be.

With reasonable rates and an excellent service offering you all the help and information you need it could be the perfect way to help improve your businesses working practises. For further information visit the RAMs App Risk Assessment website or give them a call today on 0800 066 2957.

EU to Launch Counter Tariffs Against US

EU to Launch Counter Tariffs Against US
The European Union will launch a raft of retaliatory tariffs against US exports on Friday, a top official has said. The move comes after US President Donald Trump imposed steep duties on steel and aluminium earlier this month.

American exports such as blue jeans, motorbikes and bourbon whiskey will be targeted, trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom confirmed.

However, she said the bloc “did not want to be in this position. The unilateral and unjustified decision of the US to impose steel and aluminium tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice,” she said.

Brussels drew up the list of products in March when Mr Trump initially proposed the 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% on aluminium, which also target Canada, Mexico and other close US allies.

Cranberries, orange juice, sweetcorn and peanut butter are among the other goods targeted.

It comes amid an intensifying row over trade between the US and its partners.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump threatened to impose duties on an additional $200bn (£151bn) of Chinese goods after hitting $50bn of products with tariffs. He said the 10% duties would come into effect if China “refuses to change its practices”.

However, China accused the US of “blackmail” and said it would “fight back firmly”, raising fears of a full-blown trade war.

Markets Fall as Trade War Fears Mount

Markets Fall as Trade War Fears Mount
Stock markets have fallen around the world in the wake of President Trump’s latest tariffs threat to China. The Dow Jones closed down almost 1.2% or 287 points after Asian and European markets fell sharply earlier.

Mr Trump has threatened to put tariffs on an extra $200bn (£141bn) of Chinese goods, sparking fears of a trade war. The US president said the tariffs would be imposed if China “refuses to change its practices”.

He condemned China’s “unfair practices related to the acquisition of American intellectual property and technology” and added: “Rather than altering those practices, it is now threatening United States companies, workers, and farmers who have done nothing wrong.”

The markets reacted badly with China’s Shanghai Composite faring the worst in Asia, ending the day down 3.8%.

In Europe, Germany’s Dax index was down 1.2% by the close and France’s Cac 40 had lost 1.1%. London’s FTSE 100 ended the day at 7,603.85, a fall of 27 points or 0.36%.

In the US, the losses on the Dow thrust the index into negative territory for the year, with firms with business in China, such as Boeing, driving the index’s sixth day of declines.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell, closing down 0.4% and 0.3% respectively.

“The fear from here is a continued back and forth, escalating trade penalties on both sides with a further negative impact on growth,” Stifel Chief Economist, Lindsey Piegza said.

Away from Mr Trump’s dispute with China, Russia said it would impose tariffs on certain American goods in response to the recent tariffs placed on steel and aluminium imports by the US.

Russia’s Economy Minister, Maxim Oreshkin, said the tariffs would target goods of which the Russians already had domestic equivalents.

Microsoft Staff Demand End of Border Patrol Contract

Microsoft Staff Demand Firm Ends Border Patrol Contract
The BBC News website are reporting that An open letter signed by more than 100 Microsoft employees has called on the tech giant to stop its work with US Border Patrol.

The call comes as the Trump administration faces intense criticism over the separation of children from their families at the Mexican border. The letter, posted on an internal message board and published by the New York Times, said the employees “refuse to be complicit”.

Microsoft has said its technology was not being used for “projects related to separating children from their families at the border”.

In a statement published before the employee letter surfaced, the company said: “Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border. Family unification has been a fundamental tenet of American policy and law since the end of World War II.”

However, the firm does have a $19.4m (£14.7m) contract with the US Immigration, Customs and Enforcement agency, known as ICE. In January, it posted information about how its cloud computing platform, Azure, was being used to facilitate data “security and compliance”.

The post read: “We’re proud to support this work with our mission-critical cloud.”

 

New Technology & Traditional Values

New Technology & Traditional Values
The Winning Combination for Building Society Sector 

Combining new technology with traditional values is the winning formula for the building society sector, which is enjoying a healthy growth in market share this year.

That was the upbeat message from the Building Societies Association’s annual conference in Manchester, a two day gathering which more than 500 executives from the UK’s 44 building societies attended.

The latest lending and savings figures from the BSA for Q1 2018 show that the societies, which last year had a 22 per cent share of the £1.4tr UK mortgage market, were accountable for 43 per cent of its growth – and took 40 per cent of cash savings deposits – between January and March.

Industry leaders believe the increased trust consumers have in building societies over the larger banks is one of the key factors in this growth in market share, a trend which the recent TSB online banking debacle will surely have only aided.

But there is also a recognition that the sector needs to move ever quickly on the adoption of digital technology to meet the demands of the tech-savvy digital consumer preferring a responsive banking app to a passbook at the counter.

One of the keynote speakers, Nationwide Chief Executive Joe Garner, wrote in his conference blog: “We must be able to adapt to members’ changing needs, whilst retaining the essence of our heritage and our humanity…Our goal is digital convenience with a human touch, a service enabled by technology, and made meaningful by people.”

In 2015, the Nationwide committed to invest £500m into its branch network, introducing new technology such as Nationwide Now which combines market leading technology and human service.

But what about the other mutuals? How are they embracing FinTech? By being, well, innovative. They are courting the technology incubators and collaborating with the digital disruptors. Combining new technology with the popularity of local branches offering face-to-face customer service is the key.

In April the Coventry Building Society launched a recruitment drive for more than 80 head office IT roles, increasing personnel at its UK-based IT department to nearly 450 – double its size just three years ago. The positions include system delivery engineers, analysts, cloud specialists, IT security specialists and IT architects.

Meanwhile last month the Cambridge Building Society returned to its roots by launching a new city centre branch close to its original offices which opened in 1884. But following a model that worked for a relaunch of its St Ives store in 2017, the new branch offers customers digital and assisted-service technology as well as face-to-face expertise.

Andy Jukes, Head of Direct Distribution, said it “combines technology with expertise from our team members – something we know is valued by customers”.

Bank of mum and dad ninth biggest mortgage lender

And what about the financial needs of borrowers? People struggling to afford a mortgage or deposit was the subject of a recently released report by Legal & General which revealed that the ninth highest mortgage lender this year will be neither a bank nor a building society.

With £5.7bn of lending for £81bn of property purchases and an average ‘loan’ of £18,000, the bank of mum and dad is in the top ten mortgage lenders list.

The report found more than a quarter of housing transactions are dependent on financial help, with 43% of buyers aged 35 to 44 and 26% of those aged 45 to 54 relying on support from their family.

With the average age of a first time buyer having risen from 30 to 33 between 2006 and 2017 and a forecast that borrowing by people in their 20s will halve by 2030, the BSA has commissioned a study on intergenerational mortgages describing inequality between the generations as ‘a growing challenge in our society’.

Financial Services dinner

HW Global Talent Partner will be hosting an industry dinner in London in September. The informal networking event offers an excellent opportunity to make new executive and non-executive industry contacts.

Guest speaker is David Stewart, Chairman of Enra Group and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committees of M&S Bank, HSBC Private Bank (UK), and LSL Property Services plc., and former Chief Executive of Coventry Building Society. He will talk on how he managed to create a non-conflicting NED portfolio in financial services.

The event, which is aimed at helping FS executives to launch and develop their NED careers, is being held in Mayfair on Wednesday September 12th with drinks and canapes from 6.30pm. If you would like to attend please contact darceyl@hwglobalpartner.com as there are only a few remaining places.

To find out how we can help your business, or if you want to discuss executive search, interim or NED opportunities, contact MD of HW Interim and Head of the Financial Services practice John Wakeford via his LinkedIn page, email johnw@hwglobalpartner.com or call +44 (0) 113 243 2004 for an informal discussion.

Google Diversity Figures Show Little Change

Google Diversity Figures Show Little Change
The BBC are reporting that in a new report from Google has revealed that little has changed despite a commitment to increasing diversity among staff employed by the tech giant. Overall nearly 70% of Google staff were men, as has been the case since 2014. In the US almost 90% were white or Asian, 2.5% were black and 3.6% Latin American.

The figures also showed that black and Latin American employees had the highest attrition rate in 2017 – those choosing to leave.

“….despite significant effort, and some pockets of success, we need to do more to achieve our desired diversity and inclusion outcomes,” wrote Danielle Brown, diversity vice-president, in the report.

Ms Brown said the firm would increase transparency and include senior leaders in diversity-related work in order to try to drive progress.

Other figures from the report included:

  • Just over 25% of leaders were women in 2018, up nearly 5% since 2014.
  • Of the overall US staff hired in 2017, 31.2% were women, although this dropped to 24.5% for tech new recruits
  • In the US, just under 67% of leadership positions were held by white staff and 2% by black employees
  • White and Asian staff make up the vast majority of the workforce in all areas listed: tech, non-tech, leadership and overall
  • In non-tech roles the gender divide is the closest, with around 48% women and 52% men

Last year a former Google employee, James Damore, was fired after writing an internal memo arguing there were few women in top jobs at the firm because of biological differences between men and women.

“We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” he wrote.

While it is the first to release figures for 2018, Google’s figures are broadly in line with other big players in the tech sector, which has long struggled to broaden the diversity of its workforce.

Microsoft’s diversity figures in 2017 revealed a gender divide of 81% men and 19% women in both its leadership and tech divisions.

In leadership 66.8% were white and 2.2% black or Afro-American, in tech those figures were 53% and 2.7%.

Flexibility the Key for Firms Hiring CFOs

Flexibility the Key for Firms Hiring CFOs
Flexibility really is the key for firms based in the regions wanting to attract top finance talent. Experienced Chief Financial Officers have found themselves in increasing demand over the past decade. The modern finance leader has a broad and complex role spanning strategic insight and operational responsibilities. Changes to the regulatory environment and a highly challenging economic climate have ensured their prized technical and analytical qualities are an invaluable and irresistible addition to the boardroom.

The CFO market is therefore hugely competitive and salaries are constantly rising – with double digit wage inflation. Talented CFOs often have a number of options for their next move and as a result it can be hard to lure the best to the regions. It can be, then, extremely frustrating for a head hunter working on an executive search assignment to put forward a strong shortlist of candidates for a CFO position, only to find the client is unrealistic about the offer they are prepared to make.

Every board is looking for diversity today but many executive teams don’t truly understand that, in order to achieve it, something has to give.

If a business wants to attract the right candidate they need to make an attractive offer, which often means demonstrating flexibility in terms of the remuneration package, working arrangements, and being prepared to consider finance executives from other sectors.

If a candidate is based in London, for example, and your business is located in Leeds, Manchester or Birmingham they may not want to relocate their family – often the case when they have school aged children.

It is understandable that a finance executive will be reluctant to move their family north for a position which they may have for three or four years before potentially moving on again.

But if you allow the exec to work from home part of the week, and either commute on other days or arrange local accommodation, you could be removing the one obstacle which would prevent them from joining your board.

It may be some years away but with HS2, journey times from London to Birmingham will be down to under 50 minutes and London to Manchester under 70 minutes. It should be much easier to attract South-East based execs commuting to work for firms based in the regions. Until then, boards in the regions will need to understand the ball is firmly in the court of the talented finance leader they are trying to attract and respond accordingly.

John Wakeford is a founding director of HW Global Talent Partner. Contact him at johnw@hitchenorwakeford.com or +44 (0) 203 691 1917 for a confidential discussion.

US Arrests 74 in Global Email Scam

US Arrests 74 in Global Email Scam
The US has arrested 74 people including nearly 30 in Nigeria, as part of an effort to combat email scam artists. It said the arrests reflect a coordinated crackdown on people who convince correspondents to wire them money for fraudulent activities. The US said such scams are “prevalent” and pledged to pursue perpetrators “regardless of where they are located”.

Authorities said they have seized, recovered or disrupted more than $16m (£12m) since January. The effort, which involved local and federal law enforcement agencies, targeted scammers who trick people into transferring them money, for example by impersonating a business partner or colleague.

In one case, the US alleged that two Nigerians living in Dallas posed as a property seller when requesting a $246,000 wire transfer from a real estate attorney.

Authorities also went after “money mules” – “witting or unwitting accomplices” who receive the money from the victims and transfer it as directed by the fraudsters.

The US said arrests occurred in the US, Nigeria, Canada, Mauritius and Poland.

One man was extradited from the UK in 2016 for his role in a scheme that allegedly sought to take $2.6m. He pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud and identity theft.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, whose agency funded and coordinated the operation, said: “This operation demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that target American citizens and their businesses.”

The FBI said people have reported losing more than $3.7bn since it started tracking the issue through its Internet Crime Complaint Center. “The devastating effects these cases have on victims and victim companies, affect not only the individual business but also the global economy,” the US said.

 

New Look Cuts Prices Amid Fall in Annual Sales

New Look Cuts Prices Amid Fall in Annual Sales
Fashion chain New Look is continuing to cut prices as it tries to turn around its business. New Look wants 80% of its clothes to sell for less than £20. The price cuts come amid falling sales. Like-for-like sales plunged by 11.7% in the financial year which ended in March, and website sales tumbled 19%.

New Look is one of many retailers this year that struck a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) under which a company buys time to sort out its debts. It is trying to broaden its appeal to include older customers, giving it an age target range of between 18 and 45.