Can anyone imagine a large UK business being run like this?

Brexit comment for Advisers and Paraplanners

28 Jan 2019

Can anyone imagine a large UK business being run like this?

Some headlines from last week to make you feel proud about British democracy, values and standards.

  1. “May faces ‘high noon’ Cabinet meltdown on Brexit”
  2. “Philip Hammond refuses to rule out QUITTING if the UK leaves the EU without a deal”
  3. “Rudd threatens to walk out to back Remainer revolt”


Now for a scenario to imagine as you look around your office today.

Assume that for electorate read shareholders and customers, read for UK PLC that the CEO as Mrs May. Mr Hammond is the CFO and Ms Rudd has just come back to the business in a different role as Head of HR.

Both these board members are briefing against the business, the CEO and the shareholders are being ignored by these two directors. They have also had a Ratner moment, branding their customers and shareholders as ‘stupid.’

Two shareholder EGM vote results in 2016 and 2107 saw the board being given instructions to pursue a change of business direction also indicated by their customers, by survey.

The CEO is trying to progress the EGM direction change but half the board are not supporting her and want to ignore the shareholders. The resulting board conflicts are made very public causing damage to the corporate brand and the fallout is starting to damage business opportunities.

We had some interesting thoughts expressed on my LinkedIn post that I thought worth a share.

Chris Taylor, Global Head of Structured Products at Tempo Structured Products

I think our thoughts on this might differ. Because a company would be pragmatic, not dogmatic. A company would recognise that if nearly half of its shareholders (who are also customers) expressed polar opposite views to only very marginally more than half of its shareholders / customers, then they are dealing with a truly divided shareholder / customer base. Companies also do not deal with things in such a binary way as the referendum result has required – as democracy seemingly required. They would also recognise the need to move with the times, if they have good reason to believe that the views of their shareholders / customers have changed over time. Companies are kinetic. They know they must adapt … or die. They adapt to the interests of their shareholders and customers.

Campbell Macpherson, Business advisor, speaker, NED and author of 2018 Business Book of the Year, ‘The Change Catalyst’

Normally I would agree with you that the CFO and HRD’s lack of loyalty is shocking but, in this case, the CEO is such a terrible leader. She only listens to a vocal minority of her shareholders, ignores more than half of her customers, doesn’t engage at all with her fellow Exec Team members and has no vision for the company.

To borrow from the wit and wisdom of the late satirist Peter Cook who might have reported a Brexit conversation with Mrs May on the subject as follows “I said to her, with all the dignity I could muster, is this any way to run a ******* ballroom?”

My LinkedIn question was “If you were the CEO, what would you do”?

Over to you!

Brexit conspiracy theory, they thought it was all over. It is now.

Panacea comment for advisers and Paraplanners

13 Jun 2017

Brexit conspiracy theory, they thought it was all over. It is now.

Winston Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

I have been reading a very interesting book by Sunday Times journalist Michael Hume called ‘Revolting. It is a tome exploring in some detail how the establishment elites are or might be seen to be undermining democracy.

Now I am not a big fan of conspiracy theories but I had a bit of a “Damascene conversion” today and I will share my thoughts with you.

Brexit is the new ‘Gunpowder, Treason and Plot’. It is Cavaliers and Roundheads. It is Braveheart. It has divided the nation and it is about to get worse. In fact so much so that it may end in civil unrest with the electorate ‘revolting’.

Here goes my very simple conspiracy theory.

The referendum produced a result that the establishment neither expected nor wanted. A bit like the Trump Presidency or even the resurgence of the Labour party in the last weeks of the election, depending on your political leanings of course.

When the Brexit result was declared, instead of triggering Brexit the very next day as he said he would, David Cameron resigned, buying the elites some time.

And with that the establishment wheels started to turn to ensure that the right outcome of that referendum would eventually prevail. Behind closed doors those elites that control so called democratic UK set in train a series of actions to ensure that outcome prevailed.

It would take a year or two but….hey ho, wheels with a precise function move slowly.

Establishment wheel 1: The conservative party needed a new leader. Strangely, after some very convoluted, overt Machiavellian machinations, Boris was sidelined (knifed) by Michael Gove, Theresa May won the contest on 11 July 2016, after the constructive withdrawal of the only other candidate, Andrea Leadsom, left her as the sole candidate without any vote needing to take place.

This ensured that a PM was in place who was a remain voter. She did not trigger the Brexit process either, feeling it best for the nation that a delay happened giving those elites time to start making some carefully calculated mischief. And that is what they did.

Court cases, more court cases, EU threats were all the hazards being put in the way to try and get some momentum to make the country think again, vote again- like Ireland (until they got the vote the establishment elites and the EU wanted).

None of this worked and in order to ensure that some clear blue water was put in view to keep the Brexiteers happy, on the 29th May 2017, Theresa May formally wrote to Donald Tusk announcing the intention of the UK to leave the EU.

Establishment wheel 2; The Brexiteers were now happy but there appeared to be no strategy declared to deal with the negotiations. Many said this was because there was no strategy.

That could be because the end game here is that Brexit as wished for by the majority Brexiteers was never going to be allowed to happen. To ensure that outcome a very cunning plan indeed needed to be put in place.

It would cost politically but that did not matter. It is/ was about country, about the elites who control UKplc and certainly not about the people or indeed politicians.

Establishment wheel 3: Theresa May, in thrall, possibly hock to the Remain elites had to take some desperate measures. She claimed that an election was needed to boost her majority to ensure the ‘right outcome’ for UK plc prevailed, giving her negotiating strength in Brussels.

The right outcome for the Brexiteers was so called ‘hard Brexit’. The right outcome for the elites was a soft Brexit or perhaps no Brexit at all.

Establishment wheel 4: The problem with boosting the majority was that this was the very last thing the elites needed. The polls were suggesting a triple digit majority that surely would see ‘hard Brexit’ the result.

But the elites cunning plan was on track, instead of setting the election date to fit with the local elections- the most obvious option for a so called ‘snap’ election, the date was rolled back several weeks to allow campaigning to take place.

Something that would definitely muddy those clear blue waters.

Establishment wheel 5: With waters muddied, Tiny Tim went to work on the Brexiteers, to little effect. The Conservative lead was still looking impressive and Brexit on track. Manifesto time for the elites was the ‘nuclear’ option’ and the button was pushed.

Establishment wheel 6: The so-called leaked Labour manifesto started the wobble the élites needed, more state spending on the NHS, infrastructure, free university education, nationalising the railways and utilities but it was still not enough. What was needed to ensure true chaos and a Brexit sanity sabotage was something almost unthinkable.

Establishment wheel 7: With a Conservative majority still looking at upper two figures the final act was played out. The core Conservative vote is the old. They actually go out and vote.

They have worked hard for a lifetime, paid into the system, gone through wars, plague, famine, pestilence, recessions and even a number of Labour governments are still live in their thoughts. All those strikes, union power, three-day working weeks. They would never vote for Corbin.

Establishment wheel 8: How do you stop that mindset? Simples. You produce your manifesto last and in it you lay the ground to take away all your entire core vote that as a party have strived to retain.

To add a bit of toxicity to ensure more Labour votes you propose to end the fox-hunting ban, refuse to rule out tax increases and bring back Grammar schools.

The result? Job done, electoral chaos, a country fed up with elections, a Prime Minister who has no power without DUP support and what’s more cannot resign without risking yet another election that Corbin might actually win.

Not quite the ‘Up yours Delors’ result for the Brexiteers anymore.

Michael Gove was on record as saying “I think there’s a grassroots feeling of being betrayed by the elites in some way: that the system is working for itself and not for the people at the bottom”.

He was right, but it has escalated further up the system now.

Just a thought, after all, what do I know?

Politicians and Pyrrhic victories

Panacea Comment for Financial Advisers and Paraplanners

12 Jun 2017

Politicians and Pyrrhic victories

As the dust settles on the political mess that surrounds us, I, like you no doubt, have been reflecting on what ‘learnings’ (that wonderful word that those who should be responsible trot out when they have messed up) have been coming out, a little before Thursday and now in the swirling dust cloud of verbal spin, catch phrases, excuses, retributions, pollsters and egos.

My own MP, a junior minister at the Ministry of Justice, visited me last week and expressed his concern that the Tory party had gone ‘off piste’ into danger.

In skiing parlance this was because the small group of skiers had no guide, had not listened to a weather forecast and had no piste map with them or even an avalanche safety device.

I tend not to be too political. This is because I have met a few MPs over the years, some on the TSC, some who were not. I have been amazed at their arrogance, general stupidity and lack of any knowledge of real life.

The nation today should be, in Hector Sants speak, ‘very afraid’.


Because it now comes to light that the government, since Brexit, has in effect been run by two unelected individuals. They have excluded many senior ministers and MPs from the formulation of policy, a campaign strategy and manifesto.

That is bad enough.

What is worse is what we find out now.

Not only do we have an idiot as PM, we have a bunch of spineless ministers who sat there and said absolutely nothing. Not even a whimper of discontent, in effect offering up a ‘Nurnberg defence (we were only acting on orders) in fear of their jobs in the next government that was expected to have a hundred plus majority.

And even worse, the post election complete lack of contrition. Today from Michael Fallon on the Andrew Marr Show, making possibly the best Uriah Heep impersonation I have ever see by a politician.

Readers of Charles Dickens will know that the character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness, and insincerity, making frequent references to his own “‘umbleness”.

And this lot want to form a government to see the nation through the Brexit process?

Once again I am reminded of Bob Monkhouse’s quote about his career aspirations. He said, “everybody laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. They’re not laughing now”.

In this case think of Mrs May. Nobody laughed when she called an election that was not needed. Well, they’re all laughing now.

God save the Queen.

Brexit, What next for MiFID?

The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MIFID) was an EU regulation initiative that aimed for harmonisation of financial services regulation in Europe’s 31 member states.

The intention was to see increased competition and more consumer protection.

MiFID 1 in EU directive 2004/39/EC was the first step and in April 2014 MiFID 2 was approved that tidied up the original MIFID thinking and by January 2018 MiFID 2 and MiFIR (Markets in Financial Investments Regulation) will take effect.

MiFIR/MiFID II had the potential to boost transparency and increase investor protection and readying the member states for implementation was likely to be a very painful process and no allowance for any transitional stage will make the deadline even harder to meet.

And what about the massive MiFID costs already incurred and about to be incurred by the UK? So far:

  • One-off compliance costs for the UK were estimated to be up to £188 million
  • Ongoing costs from 2017 are estimated to be  between £79.8-£150.4 million
  • The UK will/ would have bear 36% of the estimated total cost of Mifid II
  • Total transition cost estimate is £194.8 million
  • Average annual cost, excluding transition: £112.5 million

*Source: HM Treasury Impact Assessment

Now we have voted to leave the EU, where does the UK go on implementation, almost two years on from when article 50 to leave will have been implemented?

Where does the EU go as the UK market is amongst the biggest of global financial players?

Time for some guidance from the FCA and HM Treasury I think?

Especially as the Stock Exchange is about to be acquired by the ‘Germans’…..or will it now?

It’s much more complicated than that

It’s much more complicated than that

Despite last minute attempts by Germany to woo a UK ‘stay vote’ with some very tempting offers such as:

1.    We’ll acknowledge the Wembley goal

2.    We’ll stop making jokes about Prince Charles’s ears

3.    We’ll stop using sun cream on the beach out of solidarity with your sunburn

4.    We’ll reserve a place with our towels for you on the hotel sun-lounger

5.    We’ll introduce tea breaks

6.    We’ll turn our clocks back an hour to be in synch with you

7.    We’ll do without a goalie in penalty shoot-outs with you to make it a bit more exciting

8.    We’ll introduce an EU regulation banning a frothy head on beer

9.    We’ll all come along to the Queen’s 100th birthday

10. We’ll willingly provide the villain in every Bond film 

we have voted to leave.

Al Murray explains how economics worked very well in 2015. As he says. it is much more complicated than that.

However you voted yesterday this might bring some cheer to your day if you are still feeling a little down.

On a more serious note, the markets are looking at doing their job of making money with fresh vigour as Brexit presents an opportunity as well as a threat. The day started with the pound taking a hit against the dollar but more interestingly the euro has collapsed against the dollar, suffering its worst fall ever in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

By lunchtime today , as I write, the markets have recovered half their losses already showng a loss of 4.23% on the day.

Winston Churchill said A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

A ‘Brexit’ negotiated via “article 50” will take at least two years. David Cameron was right to announce his resignation, as he would have been in an impossible position in negotiations for leaving. Do not forget there are general elections in Germany and France in 2017 and those we would start to negotiate with, in particular Merkel and Holland, may no longer be in office by then.

And, very importantly, the US Presidential elections in November.

There will be some turbulence and there will be money to be made. Markets will bounce back. The vision must be positive and this Bento is an overview of informed comments about the impact of leave.