Shall we forget about 2020? Not at all.

We are following up our earlier thoughts about links between viruses, and recessions. It’s not that there is a medical link. But if you want an excuse for doing not much, then COVID is the best you can get. And it could have been so much better! We give you a RoadMap – an essential quick Biz Guide, how to not just survive but succeed and enjoy the rest of the year,

RECESSIONS ARE NOT CAUSED BY VIRUSES. RECESSIONS ARE CAUSED BY HUMANS.

We look at the concept that battening down the hatches in difficult times, is good for our corporate health, and ask; maybe it’s not so good for our health… We give an alternative RoadMap.

My good colleagues in our Insurance Clients, show me the data, and it goes something like this – those companies who abandon their marketing and sales ship in any ensuing storm – will lose around 23% of their revenues that year. And it will take them a further two years to recover.

I do “get” that the above scenario is tempting. Our Press and Media do not get our attention by publishing good news stories. The constant doom and gloom which populate all of our news feeds and Inboxes, gives the end of the world impression of reality.

Except that it is not reality. Our experience over the past two months, in monitoring our corporate colleagues and clients, is that it is a true case of “be careful what you wish for”. Maybe you haven’t thought this though…

Why Inclusion & Diversity Is An Executive Priority

Creating inclusive, respectful and engaging workplace cultures is essential for an organisation’ success. Seems just right on paper but how do companies define and create this culture, empowering employees to feel motivated?

GLOBAL WARMING. YES, WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. YOU AND ME. EVERYONE ELSE.

I’m sitting at one of those speed awareness courses run by our UK police people to chastise errant speedy drivers like myself, and I am looking out of the window, and there is this girl next to me and she too is looking out of the window. And my mind is starting to wander. It’s not that I’ve had a bad day – but I am increasingly tired of the doomsayers telling me that my new hybrid motor car, actually costs more in fossil fuels to make the thing – than my lifetime of electric driving savings can generate.

CAN A.I. HELP THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND CAN IT INDEED HELP YOU?

We take an advance peek at the upcoming AI Legal Forum from the experts at IQPC, in London this week, and ask – where does AI fit into this very personal relationship-based industry?

The AI Legal Forum is rocking up at what should be already the centre of UK artificial intelligence. With its base for two days this week at the Hilton London Canary Wharf, the venue is surrounded by the movers and shakers in the banking and financial industries. If anybody depends on accurate use of data – it is them.

So we are in good company. The Forum already has some of the UK’s leading Legal Firms as Speakers, including a couple of large Media companies and PDA vendors. It is a broad church. And it needs to be,.

Reading through the nice announcements, what the Forum is there to do, is ask questions of its delegates rather than deliver information. Sure, there will be experience lead discussion – but as much can be gained from the feedback as the initial presentations from each leader or speaker.

A key element will be the redefining of how legal firms calculate their revenues, from what source. A major bugbear from customers who require legal advice is the constant focus on billable hours, and this is a key topic under discussion, as we move in to new ways of assessing client value.

It’s about time. But then, in the legal profession, you could say it has always been that way.

The Financial Market is Changing. Time for some New Thinking.

We look at the I-FIHN management consulting company in Paris and ask, has their time come, to seize the initiative in their core financial markets?

It’s a mistake easily made, that any conversation with a French company will be philosophical, psychological almost. It’s not like they haven’t had enough practice. I can’t think of any time since Voltaire, where the impression has not been one of internal ennui.

And consulting companies generally, either continue this trend and deliver reports but no deliverables; or they focus on the cart of technology, rather than the horse of actual business need.

“Hey, we are the best in the world at blockchain!”… Well, that’s wonderful.

Yet at a time when all financial and business leaders recognise that 2019 will demand considerable innovation in how we develop our businesses, not just pure tech competence – now is the time for new players to come to the front, with a new focus on a different mix of delivering what you and I know we need.

But that still leaves the question of “what” constitutes “original thinking”. The risk of compliance and legislated focus of financials, still requires adherence to a set of rules, and competence in what business is all about. Sure, technology is important – but that starting point remains the balance of where do we want to take our business matched by – the deep understanding of the financial business in which our service providers are involved.

And whilst London has always been, and continues to be seen as, the leader in financial innovation – so that has not stopped newcomers from taking the lead, from other areas. And yet these are not newcomers. It its just that they have been below the radar – until now. It is similar to the sudden superstar actress, who has been treading the provincial boards for so long, now landing the key movies role. Suddenly, with their own unique and business approach – their time has come.

The I-FIHN Consulting company based in Paris, typifies the new approach – sure, they talk about their expertise and their competences, all within a deep understanding of financial practice – but it not until page eight of their Brochure, that you finally understand that this is no technology company; this is advisory and innovation based on human face to face values, covering a wide variety of international experience.

The benefit of this approach is that it takes financial transformation into new areas of “what could be possible” – rather than play safe within the trusted hallowed of your own organisation.

It is an important differentiation.

I talked with Ladan Haghighi, Head of Advisory Practice at I-FIHN – she told me: “the multinational experience that we all have, is now coming into fruit, in the different ways each of our Team view a client situation”.

We expect to see more of this approach and this company in the future.

The I-Fihn company can be contacted at their Paris office on +33768481502.

The Future of Finance 2019

We look at changes that need to happen in 2019, if Financial Service providers can actually “provide” what you and I want.

The upcoming Future of Finance conference at Hurlingham London in a few weeks, is a landmark – a pointer in the sand if you will, a meeting place where key decision makers in the financial industry can meet to discuss well, where is their market going, and by implication, where are they themselves going?

There is a suspicion that actually, they are not going anywhere. This is reasonable or understandable. It is far easier to paper over the cracks, and this is seen in the way such organisations create “transformation teams”, but still retain the same people and attitudes;  change people’s job titles, play musical chairs with executives, or focus on costs savings – but still carrying the same methodology and still looking at costs instead of looking at efficiency. The two are not the same.

Yet there are two areas that can make a difference, and they simply require a cool look at how you and I behave. In particular; how do we prefer to access our financial info; and what sort of info do we want to have. 

Key vertical market in this, is the rise of the self-service private client – the guy who has savings but where the return on investment is nothing when compared to actual portfolio investment. Surely there are now sophisticated tools that can algorithm all this stuff for the man in the street? Indeed there are. The Tetralog company in Munich (as an example) focus on this sort of Robo Advisory that still retains the use of the face to face Advisor – but gives the client the info in a way he can understand and monitor, automatically. There is nothing worse than seeing graphically how your savings otherwise  are gradually deteriorating over time.

Equally important, is the tangential thinking that wakes up to the fact that, with mobile technology, we are all different now. The irony is that this is not a tech discussion, but a business discussion, by people who may not necessarily be financial – but who can spot how people want to work in the future. Richard Copland, formerly CGI Logica and now Partner at The Futureshapers told me; “ executives no longer have time to take a pause or have the courage to throw out legacy solutions, or legacy ideas”.

But throw things out, they must. And this includes being very open to new ways of doing things. 

We expect the winners in 2019 to be those organisations who are prepared to back their hunches, and the losers? Well, they will be the ones who carry on as before.

Financials are changing. Is 2019 the Year of Wake Up?

As more and more high street stores close, what does it take for us to realise that our entire financial landscape is changing?

The man sits opposite me in one of Edinburgh’s posh hotels. He is CDO of one of Scotland’s. main finance tech  companies,  and says; “You know, Richard – young people – our Millenials – won’t go to brokers any more, as you and I might have done. Their app on their phone will do their search and recommending for them – and it will be more intuitive and better informed, than any independent adviser that you care to meet”

I am in Geneva and my colleague leans across; he is CEO of one of Switzerland’s main Consulting houses – and  almost conspiratorially he says; “Our Generation Z have no material aspirations or rather, do not see value in actually acquiring the objects of desire that has driven consumer manufacturing for so long.  Aspirational values will be what their peers think of what they do or how they do it – rather than the expensive object that their parents could have chosen.”

These two statements are either damaging – or opportunistic. It depends on how you want to see them. One of the reasons for the decline in our retail environment, is that said retailers have not woken up to the fact that their market has changed.  People are still spending money. They just don’t spend it on the same things as before, or rather, they do – but in a different way. 

But it goes deeper than that. It is a change in how our future generations see life, where you do not have to own a car to be able to “enjoy” driving  a car; where simply being able to “be” at a cool place, wherever that might be – is more important than your ability to fly biz class or your upgraded loyalty points.

Current forecasts are that we will all be eating out more, but what that means is that we will order in our food, and eat at home rather than actually “go” to a restaurant. dinner will be prepared on some industrial estate and wizzed to us by a guy on a bike.  I can’t think of anything more horrifying, but here I am at family dinner when my son wants to eat Italian and my daughter wants to have vegan and I want Chinese. 

Maybe it is time to stop crying over the demise of the High Street – and start to welcome the changes that can revolutionise our high street experience.  Because the one thing that is staying the same, is social contact. People are once again appreciating that actually getting together, is far better than purely relying on our social media giants for proper communication.  So maybe life is now a compromise of all  things hybrid. Because,  after all – even if we eat different food – we have to eat it somewhere, and we will get our mortgage and buy our shares etc, from the nice lady hologram  on our mobile phone as we eat.