17 December 2012

That was week ending 14th December 2012

This is the last TWb4TW until after the Christmas and New Year break. I started writing these articles in April and can hardly believe it is now nearly the end of the year and I am still writing them. I have been encouraged by the kind responses from you the people that read them and I thank you for those.
This week I thought it appropriate to produce my Christmas wish list, wishes for myself and others.  Here goes.

Cable not able

Last week Vince Cable took yet another swipe at big global companies that don’t pay enough or any UK tax. For Mr. Cable it is still the moral high ground that matters so no mention of our unfit for any purpose tax system. If the companies concerned are obeying the law then it is clearly the law that needs changing if it is not producing the result the country needs and that is the job of government.
Whilst Mr. Cable has done some good work at BIS underneath he is fundamentally anti business, or if isn’t he certainly sounds like it. I once heard him speak and claim that he was experienced in business because he had spent time as an economist at Shell. Anyone who knows anything about what economists do in organisations like Shell will know this doesn’t count as business experience.
So my Christmas wish for Mr. Cable is that he should get another job.  Minister for Overseas Development might suit his moralising better or perhaps being made to run an SME for a year might give him some “real” business experience.

It’s the economy stupid

Talking of experience my Christmas wish for George Osborne is that he too should find an opportunity to get some real experience. He is an example of yet another politician who is no doubt very intelligent but has done nothing but politics almost since he left primary school. This was demonstrated in the Autumn Statement and its aftermath where he was clearly more interested in scoring political points over Ed Balls than coming up with radical policies that would really get the economy moving. You can usually leave Ed Balls to score political points over himself, so why not get on with the job we pay you for, George because it really is the economy that matters and you are not stupid.

Does one more make a difference?

After the announcement that Canadian Mark Carney is to succeed Sir Mervyn King as Governor of the Bank of England last week we heard that Hector Sants was to join Barclays as head of compliance. Sants was previously Chief Executive at the FSA.
Now you can’t blame all the FSA’s failings on Sants. However he did step up to Chief Executive in time to rubber stamp RBS’ acquisition of ABN AMRO and he did publish just a 12 line press release on the FSA’s investigation into RBS, rather than publish the full report.
I understand that Barclays already have around 1800 compliance officers. So whilst Carney’s appointment does represent a new direction at the BoE you have to ask what real difference appointing a regulator to head up compliance will really make at Barclays.  My Christmas wish for Mr. Sants is good luck, but I have a feeling he will end up between a rock and a hard place with this one.

Train the trainers

The investigation into what went wrong at the DfT over the West Coast Mainline fiasco continues but with growing signs of avoidance tactics from anyone in the DfT who could possibly be blamed. My Christmas wish is that anyone at senior level in the DfT should be given a train set for Christmas and  required to assemble it in to a working model of the West Coast line in 30 minutes or be shown the door. Simple and effective.

HP used to work

I own an HP printer which I bought in the days when you could truly say buy HP because you just plug it in, turn it on and it works. What’s more my printer still does work, even though HP has had about 5 CEOs since I bought it. My Christmas wish for HP is that they should make me an offer for my old printer, with a suitable Autonomy sized premium and I would be delighted to sell it back to them. Then they could examine it and discover what it was that they used be really good at.

Oh no it's Silvio

You could not make it up; Silvio Berlusconi is running for Prime Minister of Italy again. This proves the view of a previous British ambassador to Italy who said “it is not difficult to govern the Italians, it is simply unnecessary”. Sr B’s first public pronouncement was to state “who cares about how much interest we pay to people who invest in our debt obligations compared to Germany”. This will be music to many Italian’s ears but maybe this time not enough of them will buy the message. So I wish Silvio Berlusconi everything he deserves.

So that was some of the week before this week. We hope you found some of the above thought provoking and useful for you and your business. TWb4TW will be back in the New Year so have a great Christmas and New Year holiday.

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