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Being told economic prospects are Black or, at best Brown, had me puzzled for a second; thinking shady dealings equate to Black markets, is Brown marginally less shady….or was this confusing the Grey economy? All during a discussion which included the Green economy, although didn’t include the Blue economy nor mention the Golden economy; not to be mislead about money-trees turning Yellow, or Gold…..Although the Green stuff was mentioned, but there was no reference to Green money; the dialogue circumnavigated White money being in the Red or the Black, including the Pink pound and Blue chip with the potential for a Silver lining…..

Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF 2012


“I would always say you should take Independent Advice when looking to take out a new mortgage, because the Independent Financial Adviser is not tied to any one provider and can provide advice from the whole of market including deals offered directly from Banks or Building Societies. An IFA or Independent Mortgage Broker will also conduct a full financial review to take into consideration all the areas of need in connection with the mortgage”.

Nothing too unusual about that declaration – other than its written by someone who less than 3 years ago was an employee working in a Bank as a Manager probably telling people…..

“As a bank we value your business and have solutions for you which will give you the appropriate mortgage that addresses your needs. Our advice  will come up with the best deal for you to support your application,  because we don’t just give out mortgages to anyone…… “

Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF


Although annual inflation had dropped to its lowest  in 3 years at under 3%, Inflation and Productivity research by the Forum of Private Business’s (FPB)  showed, from those who took part in the referendum survey,  inflation was running at 6%-7%, with the most common increase in costs for SME’s being energy.  Also citing fuel and energy costs as a sector challenge, the construction industry saw a fractionally higher output in the Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index Mark/CIPS  with a figure that only just separated growth from contraction. Residential building activity showed as being the weakest performing sub-sector, with commercial activity also showing a drop.

According to Zoopla  figures for the last 12 months, the value of the average home in Britain has risen by £3,373:  the Independent shows the average home value as £226,369 and property prices in London continuing to rise.  Changes to mortgage lending regulations which intensify scrutiny of the borrower’s ability to pay have been put back from 2013 to 2014, whilst research, published by Cluttons, shows rents expected to rise significantly  over the next ten years in the Capital, will not be matched by a rise in supply -  therefore prices and rent will be pushed upwards in an area which already has the highest concentration of renters in the UK.

Not alone in wanting to see the evidence used for the postponement decision in the Revaluation of Business Rates, are The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS),  The British Retail Consortium (BRC)  also wants the scrapping of inflation based increases. As companies will have to pay rates based on property rents in 2008 (near peak evaluations) until 2018, they face hikes of over 2% next year. Every 5 years, the way bills are calculated is revised by the Valuation Office Agency, The Growth and Infrastructure Bill (clause 22)  includes postponing the next business revaluation until 2017.  With some commercial property values having fallen significantly since pre-recession any business rate fixture not relevant to current values could be hard hit – some potentially facing higher rates than rent.

Whilst there are now around 30 institutions taking part in BofE’s Funding for Lending which gives access to cheap funding; with the proviso of growing net lending into the economy Supply Chain Finance (SCF)  a cashflow scheme has been announced. Based on the strength of large companies i.e. Vodafone / Rolls-Royce / Tesco, credit ratings notifying suppliers’ banks that invoices have been cleared for payment, those suppliers can then arrange for their banks to give them 100% advance of the money they are scheduled to receive. With a £20bn target set,  the Government intends to implement this amongst its suppliers, starting with the Community Pharmacies in England and their 80 million monthly NHS prescription items.

Another month with no hanging-around in business, including for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) who, having some building work done,  spent £10,000 re-stuffing an old snake and taking care of their assets.

Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF 2012


The man ‘flu hasn’t receded: meaning I’ve been at the receiving end of quite a few ‘told you so!’ from those near and (increasingly) not-so-dear as they remind me of their fore warnings – ‘It’s colder out there than it looks’, ‘keeping those wet socks on won’t help’, ‘feed a cold, starve a flu… where does it say drink plenty of whisky?’

Basically I’m being told I’ve been a fool to mess about on the river  for an inclement day, when I’d  managed to get a boot full of water before I even set off… and now I’m paying the price twice; once with the persistent cold symptoms and once by the annoying ‘told you so’.

I haven’t had my flu jab… is more likely the reason.  It might be more opportune as a lone voice, or fighting conventional wisdom to be able crow ‘I told you so’ – like to those I’d warned to look at their metrics – but they’re managing to keep warm, out in the cold, fighting fires, trying to breathe new life into something that has clearly gone…. and I can’t be bothered  because I’m sick…. of people saying  ‘told you so!’

Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF 2012


To avoid future bailouts at taxpayers’ expense, the splitting-up of major European banks debate continues  considering the separation of  high-risk investment banking and other bank operations: similar to  the Vickers Commission (London) aim, in separating capital market transactions from banking activity (lending and deposits).

Since 2008, the familiar phrase ‘too big to fail’ banks, has ensured that four years down the line countries are running out of resources and the public are enlightened enough to want to know where their public contributions are being placed. Creating splits between the banking types seems to have two arguements;  should there be any future problems being split, they’re easier to be dealt with, whilst the counter argument is, it was the specialised banks which instigated the problems in 2008 and the universal banks were stable.

Complex problems require comprehensive explanation.

Business Week  -  Der Speigal -  Economic Times  -  And opinion

Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF 2012


In the hope of making something tasty for the economy to feast upon, one can only imagine the conversations that occurred during the process of creating something that has a bit of everything thrown in.

If ever there was evidence needed of Thick of It  goings on in Mr Osborne’s  department, the announcement of plans for a Government-backed ‘business bank’, to increase lending to UK companies, might be it.

 “Vee’re-a gueeng tu meke-a bunk?”, Mr O might have said, in a `Muppet-style Swedish Chef ‘ dialect to spice-up incomprehensible ideas because they’re rarely understood.  “Well we have tried, and we come up with jolly good names, remember Project Merlin?”, the advisers would encourage.  “Tag of ‘bank’ can’t do any harm. Tho, make it different from the credit schemes before; this time instead of giving tax-payers’ money directly to the banks for them to lend it back out, we could pass the loan applicants to the banks”.  “T- meke-a decishun.  Eff’en it’s a ‘no’, business bank will make a decishun….. Eff’en its a ‘no’, it will be passed out-a agin”  he might have continued. “Boot its nut reelly a bunk”, he’d confirm.

“Jolly good name tho’ : Business Bank, it could be run with a purpose, just like a business”.  After some thought he might have responded, “Yuoo meun Bunkroopt?”. The advisers overlooked what he’d said. “Indeed, in a speech delivered at Imperial College, London, Vince Cable called for the Government to be ‘more like a business’ by making strategic plans and sticking to them”.  “I hefe-a a plun…. und I’m steecking tu it!”   “Exactly! Perfect strategy sir, keep things moving. Err, would now be a good time to pencil in a discussion about direction?”  

Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF 2012


Being recognised as a caring, sharing company sounds better for business – It conjures up images of a big family ready to embrace you in their circle of products and services as they go about their daily activity of focusing on profit.  Interesting then to read an email sent to me with editorial-type articles – Including one from the MD of a major high street bank: quoting Churchill, pessimism and optimism, glasses half-full and half-empty…. and then a nifty self-promo of their product, along with the usual numbers-without-facts; Or rigorous statistical analysis or data. Which can, to some, be impressive stuff, things `getting better’, `enhanced services and offerings’ – These guys know where they’re coming from.

But it’s a bit disingenuous for a bank, at the centre of some major questioning about its own activities and context to be quoting Churchill out of context.  For me, that leaves more Unsaid than said – and what was said wouldn’t make a jot of difference to many people applying to them for funding – zilch, nothing – the cupboard can still be empty.  Many would say it’s impressive that such a high street bank is encouraging the small business to approach them, they like the sound of things going back to ‘normal’ because ‘normal’ meant before things changed.

Before the financial crisis there were small enterprises going about their business, holding tightly to the notion of value and doing the right thing. Before the financial crisis there were banks doing what banks did then, and still do now; Delivering for themselves.

Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF 2012.


The Business Equivalent of Lactic Acid – Am I Bothered?

It would be too simple to blame the Olympics,  too easy to blame the holiday period  and too British to blame the weather for absorbing business focus. But, without wanting to sound like a easily forgettable Award speech that lists the team involved – amongst the landlords, property developers, retailers, publicans, pharmacists, beauticians, hairdressers, builders, decorators, artists and others I’ve worked with (….almost forgot the portable toilet developer), I’ve never met a time before when “Can’t Be Bothered”, as an attitude, has been so disturbingly prevalent across so many different sectors and markets. The polarisation between virtually audible sighs and animated attitudes, laughable excuse and insightful reasoning is striking.

There are those whose business holds their attention and they want to fight for its long term existence and those who neglect it until annual account check when the fading pulse is obvious in the statement and returns.

Maybe it’s Clarkson-esque to make a sweeping statement and assert the character traits of those in business without delving further into their individual circumstances but, on this occasion, highlighting the inertia-busting characteristics of the Can Be, won’t be deflected by an ‘ but you don’t understand’, or ‘ it’s different for them ’ because, in my experience, there are few with the common denominator of being their own boss who can be sieved through into the Can Be bothered from the Can’t Be bothered: no matter the circumstances, we’re all in charge of our own attitudes.

Those who understand the need to spend their money to benefit their business before they can tweek any model definition and focus on their customer base already review the balance sheets, keep the files updated, monitor financial reports, use cash forecasts, know their margins – the Can Be Bothered.  They’re doing it, no procrastination for them, they understand business’s equivalent of lactic acid.

Can’t Be is unlikely to change: the MD of an independent lender who procrastinated for eight weeks in response to my concerns about misleading behaviour from one of its directors, the pharmacist who wanted a unique solution for business wavered for six weeks and couldn’t be bothered to implement the small amount of energy needed to implement it, pension-pot landlord who needed answers and wannabe property developer who sought guidance both picked my brains and all illustrated that Can’t Be could be a blueprint for the white-lie easy way to take out but not put in. They’re the mini-me of the greater culture of lying: politicians do it, banks do it, CEO’s do it, marketplaces do it, in our social lives sports people do it, celebrities do it, the ad-men sell it, – There would seem to be little incentive to behave differently. We all, to some extent or another, do it, attitude determines to what extent and purpose we are a Can Be or Can’t Be.

‘Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it’  – Lou Holtz.

It’s the way of the small independent in business – different business characteristics, run in different conditions, with different routines and different regulations; and so then the architect who went out of his way for wannabe property developer, the small enterprise owner managers who understand that to explore an idea doesn’t mean dirty tricks in the mix, our web/internet guy who reacts quicker than internet connection speed, the non-arrogant accountants who return calls, and the MD’s who lead their directors in accurate advice, are all their own Can Be bosses: As are the lender managers who gave time to pension-pot landlord and the manager willing to drive out on a second lengthy trip to reassure a small business owner.

Can’t Be seems to have a prominent feature; it’s from a culture of things coming easy, in which it’s easy to let things go. And it’s interesting to observe Can’t Be in moments of realisation, the finger of blame is pointed, weapon style, usually toward another Can’t Be in a type of Mexican stand-off, because they can’t be bothered to shoot first.

Weakness of attitude becomes the weakness of character – Albert Einstein.

Image credit: The Mad LOL Scientist   Article credit: Copyright SUF 2012


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