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Archives for: November 2009


The Z Factor....

Permalink 09:30:10 am, by Guy Email , 59 words, 1409 views   English (UK)
Categories: Outside of Work, BLT Recruitment Blog, Direct Tax Blog, Indirect Tax Blog

Sheila, the Head of our Direct Tax division has just called Emma and I the Jedward of Indirect Tax. I guess that makes Liz Simon Cowell?

Not sure whether to take this as a compliment or not, but if you would like us to sing very badly to you about the latest Tax opportunities, give us a call on 0207 405 3404!

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50% of UK Employees Emerge as Unsung Heroes

Permalink 02:27:21 am, by Caroline Email , 181 words, 2745 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog

UK workers have emerged as the unsung heroes of the recession according to new research from insolvency trade body R3.

50% of UK employees have taken actions that help companies survive the recession. By accepting pay freezes, working longer hours or making other changes to their work patterns, they are helping companies stay afloat and preserving jobs.

The poll commissioned by R3 shows that during 2009:

- One in three workers have worked overtime or longer hours without extra pay;
- One in ten have deliberately not asked for a pay rise in view of the recession;
- One in ten have taken unpaid leave;
- One in ten accepted a pay freeze;
- One in ten did not receive a bonus that they expected to receive;
- One in two people who work have taken at least one of these actions.

42% of R3 members believe these activities can be the 'magic bullet' to help save a failing business and 91% think they can be helpful as part of a package of measures.

Are you an unsung hero? What actions have you taken to help you company survive the recession?

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Tune In and Turn On to...... Media Consulting

Permalink 12:50:02 pm, by Angela Email , 414 words, 2239 views   English (UK)
Categories: Outside of Work, BLT Recruitment Blog, Management Consultancy Blog, Guest Bloggers

This month’s consultancy workshop is about media consultancy. Angela Heath responds to questions....

Media – where does that fit in consulting? Much of consultancy is aligned around market sectors or industry verticals. Media consulting can be found in TMT (technology, media and telecoms) and TME (technology, media and entertainment) practices, or as a stand alone unit. There are a number of medium-sized and boutique firms who’ve made a name for themselves as specialists in the media sector. There are also in-house consultancies at well-known media organisations.

What do media consultancies do? Pretty much the same as any consultancy with a sector focus: advise on mergers and acquisitions, help with restructuring, map out strategy in a fast-changing industry. Clients and projects might be: a newspaper group trying to replace lost classified advertising revenue; a cable TV company seeking new content providers; an entertainment group entering new markets.

Sounds interesting. Who do they recruit? Having a few years experience with a media company certainly helps, although as web-based media services become increasingly important, a career in an online business is useful too.

I went to Drama School and I watch a lot of telly. Useful, but not essential attributes. Better if you’ve done well in a business role or business-facing technology role in a publisher, broadcaster or media-related organisation.

Will I get paid as much as Wossie? No. Salaries are pretty much in line with most other consulting sectors: £30-40,000 for an Analyst; £40-50,000 for a Consultant; £50-70,000 for a Senior Consultant/Manager; £70-100,000 for a Principal/Engagement Manager. In-house salaries are 10-20% lower.

Will I get to meet Natasha Kaplinsky? You’ve got as much chance of that as I have of meeting George Clooney. Next question please.

Is the work mainly London based? Not at all. Whilst there’s a media cluster in London, there’s also one in Manchester. Not to mention Hamburg, New York and Los Angeles. Consultancies have a national, if not international reach in this specialist area, so you should expect considerable travel and quite a few nights away from home.

Any recruiting going on at the moment? Sure. BLT is currently hiring for a strategy boutique focused on the media sector and a fast-growing specialist media consultancy.

I’ve got this great idea for a reality TV show... And you’re up for eviction from this blog if you don’t switch off now.....(continued on page 94)

For more information on media consulting opportunities, contact Angela on now.

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IPO Market Bounces Back

Permalink 12:22:08 am, by Caroline Email , 316 words, 800 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog, Company Secretarial / CSS Blog

The number of Initial Public Offerings across Europe almost doubled in the three months to September 2009, while the total value of all deals nearly quadrupled suggesting IPO investors are returning to the market after a long drought, according to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Normally the summer period, between July and September, is a quiet time for IPO activity and yet this period saw 44 IPOs across Europe, raising almost €1.8bn. That compares to the previous quarter in which just 28 deals raised a far more modest €456m.

Richard Weaver, a partner in PwC’s capital markets group, believes the figures signal investors are beginning to return to the IPO market. That marks a move away from the secondary offerings companies made to strengthen their balance sheets in the first half of 2009. “With investor sentiment appearing to improve and with a pent-up supply of private equity portfolio companies considering an IPO exit, we continue to believe there will be a substantial pick-up in IPO activity in the first half of 2010,” Weaver said.

“With some advisers taking the view that there will be a race to market once the IPO window re-opens, our advice to those considering a listing would be to get their preparations underway now and be ready to get their IPO out ahead of the competition.”

Weaver’s believes are backed up by Nicholas Holmes, a corporate partner at leading international law firm Ashurst, who said "A large number of potential IPO candidates are under early-stage discussion - there is a lot of bank pitching going on and a number of deals are under way."

This should bode well for Chartered Secretaries as companies heading for an IPO will need to hire experienced specialists to meet the compliance and corporate governance requirements entailed.

The banks are generating a lot of interest in IPOs but will that alone be enough to see the equity capital markets recover to pre-recession levels?

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Employers unsure how to improve staff wellbeing

Permalink 12:17:48 am, by Caroline Email , 293 words, 1668 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog

Employers are committed to improving the quality of jobs in the UK but lack guidance about how to achieve it, a new report published on Monday by The Work Foundation, shows. 50% of the organisations surveyed for the report agreed that the recruitment of key staff was a problem and 41% felt there was a role for recruitments agencies to help them with the ‘good jobs’ agenda.

Employers understood a ‘good job’ to involve: being valued and appreciated, interest and fulfilment, job satisfaction, autonomy, decent working conditions, morale and teamwork, effective management, and staff development.
The research involved a series of workshops with UK private and public sector employers and a survey of 600 organisations. Employers listed the major factors in organisational effectiveness as being:

- fair pay (81%)
- a culture of trust (75%)
- investment in staff training (72%)
- fulfilling and interesting jobs (59%)
- autonomy (58%)
- keeping up with technology (54%)
- employee engagement (51%)
- flexible working (31%)

Stephen Bevan, managing director of The Work Foundation said: “Employers grasp the link between staff wellbeing and how it can affect productivity. What is missing is how to deliver this.”

Bevan goes on to say that the government needs to take a lead in supporting employers to tackle the root causes of lost productivity and ill-health and this could be achieved by forming a centralised body with a clear identity and a clear remit to work in partnership with employers to crack many of the UK’s persistent job quality problems.

In addition, the report suggests that government should champion better working conditions; promote best practice; carry out further research; publish case studies and incentivise employers to experiment with new approaches to good jobs.

What measures could your employer implement to improve your working conditions and what role do you think the government should play in the process?

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Businesses shift their attitude towards finance and supply chains

Permalink 12:11:53 am, by Caroline Email , 415 words, 1965 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog

The CBI launched its report “The Shape of Business - The Next 10 Years” on Monday saying that the recession and credit crunch had become the catalysts for a new era.

The report flags four key areas of UK business where fresh approaches will develop because of the downturn:

- Businesses have become wary of high debt and will look for alternative ways to protect investment and innovation leading to more financing options being created and deployed.

- Companies will reorganise and re-examine their approach to working with partners - from suppliers to universities, and even competitors. Ongoing concerns over a 'domino effect' of supply chain failures and issues around trade credit insurance will compel firms to forge more collaborative supplier relationships.

- Sustainability and ethics will become more integrated into the business model. Firms will seek to improve accountability and corporate citizenship further to attract and retain customers and staff.

- A more flexible workforce will evolve with some firms cutting their core workforce and making increased use of flexible workers.

Richard Lambert, CBI Director-General, said:

“We may be at the start of a new era for businesses, in which attitudes to finance and to corporate leadership are changed for a generation by the shock of the past two years.

"What we now need is a more balanced, less risky pathway to growth – one in which the short-term returns may be lower, but the long-term rewards for management success will be a lot more sustainable and secure.

"There are important questions around how businesses are going to finance growth and investment in the future. And in a more collaborative, less transactional world, closer relationships with customers, suppliers, employees and shareholders look like becoming the new norm.”

The CBI’s vision for the future is backed up by the results of a new survey conducted by Ipsos MORI that revealed a shift in attitudes towards financing and supply chains. More than half of the respondents said that they will now only tolerate a lower level of risk from gearing and 68% said they were reshaping their business financing.

The deployment of alternative financing options to reduce high levels of debt, a stronger ethical culture and more collaboration between suppliers are all measures that should help to ensure our economic recovery.

But what of the suggestion that firms may cut their core workforce and use more flexible workers? Will this herald a boom for the temporary jobs market or will we see a swathe of employees turning freelance and setting up their own nano-businesses?

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SHOULD CONSULTANTS BE PAID ON RESULTS? - summarising our October survey results

Permalink 04:36:02 pm, by Don Email , 267 words, 1590 views   English (UK)
Categories: Outside of Work, BLT Recruitment Blog, Management Consultancy Blog, Guest Bloggers

As you may know BLT launched a new initiative.

We wanted to hear your view and thoughts about topical issues that we usually come across.
We choose a question and invite you to have your say and share what You think.

Here is the summary of the first Question.

The October Management Consultancy Question of the Month – Should consultants be paid on results? – produced a pretty conclusive result: Yes 79% No 21%

But although almost four-fifths of consultants thought that payment on results was, in principle, A Good Thing, they also – being consultants – pointed out plenty of difficulties in such a scheme.

That clients – particularly in the public sector – are often unwilling to take the tough decisions that are critical to project success was cited by a number of respondents. Others suggested that as ultimate responsibility for the project rested with the client, some of the risk should be shouldered by them too.

Can the project’s success be measured in financial terms, asked one? If not, no deal, she advised. And if it’s just advice about something that’s way off in the future, when does the payment get made?

Another frequently mentioned suggestion was that consultants should get paid a percentage of savings made, or take an agreed base fee and a share of the return on investment.

Discussions on a risk-sharing fee model are already underway, with senior figures in the industry using various platforms to opine on the desirability – or otherwise – of a change in practice. This debate will run and run.

Our next question is coming soon...

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Finding skilled staff needn’t be difficult

You would think that in times of recession it would be easy to find high calibre staff, but that isn’t proving to be the case. Especially for jobs that require specialised skills, there appears to be a lack of qualified candidates. We know that in certain sectors there are skills shortages, but in others could the problem be that prospective employers simply aren’t looking in the right place?

There are plenty of job seekers out there, after all the most recent figures from the Office of National Statistics outs the unemployment rate at 7.8%. So what can prospective employers do to increase their chances of finding the perfect person to fill their vacancies?

That is where niche, specialist recruiters, such as BLT, really come to the fore. Savvy job seekers will register with employment agencies that have an in-depth knowledge of their particular sector and skill set. After all, if you’re looking for a job as a Company Secretary, you wouldn’t sign up with an agency that specialises in placing people in engineering roles.

The same is true for employers who will greatly enhance their chances of finding the right person if they call on a specialised recruiter to assist them. Our consultants know their business inside out. We have a tailored approach to recruiting and work hard to ensure that we have a clear understanding of business structures, corporate cultures and personal motivations, as well as the technical criteria necessary to fulfil your requirements.

You can have a look at the list of job vacancies we are currently handing in the areas of Direct and Indirect Tax, Management Consultancy, and Company Secretarial Services.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the use of specialist recruiters, and if you have a success story, why not share it with us...

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Recent ONS figures contradicted by Bank of England

Permalink 08:05:18 pm, by Caroline Email , 266 words, 2478 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog

According to Andrew Sentance, a member of the Bank of England’s rate-setting committee, the economy emerged from recession in the quarter between July and September, contradicting initial figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

He said that a wide body of evidence “suggests the UK economy has moved on to a recovery track and growth has resumed in the second half of this year”.

The National Statistics Office last month confounded analysts who had expected a rise of about 0.2 in GDP. However, the ONS is due to issue more detailed figures this month that could lead to a revision of the headline GDP figure.

“I would not take a negative signal from the decline recorded in the third quarter — which may change, anyway, as a result of data revisions,” Dr Sentance said.

He added that “A very significant fiscal tightening is necessary to rebalance the UK economy ... cutting the government deficit will be a major challenge for the British economy as we move through the coming recovery phase of the economic cycle,”.

He also warned that private spending could be dampened by tax rises and this in turn would curb the speed of the recovery.

The Treasury is coming under increasing pressure to cut the public debt which now stands at a record 59% of GDP. December’s pre-budget report is due to outline the Government’s plans.

What should the Government do to cut the public debt? What measures can Alistair Darling introduce to ensure that consumer confidence continues to rise, employment prospects improve and the country makes a full and speedy recovery?

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Corporate Governance; is it an issue for you?

Are you on top of best practice?

Is your ‘comply or explain’ framework in place?

Do you have up-to-date executive remuneration policies and procedures?

How are you going to handle ever-increasing regulatory requirements?

If not, BLT/CSS can help!

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CSS met the President...

Permalink 04:02:31 pm, by Caroline Email , 131 words, 1488 views   English (UK)
Categories: Company Secretarial / CSS Blog

of the ICSA that is at this year’s Annual Banquet. Caroline, Michelle and Nicola once again had the pleasure of hosting a very entertaining table at the London Guildhall on 15th Dec. The chilly weather certainly didn’t cool anyone’s enthusiasm for a very sociable occasion! It's an event we have been attending now for a number of years, each one different but as memorable as the one before.

A champagne reception, followed by dinner and talks from R. Anderson Cowe President ICSA and Tim Waterstone founder of Waterstone's bookstores, the magnificent surroundings of the Guildhall was once again the ideal venue in which to start the festive celebrations!

It was good to see some of you there and for those we missed we hope to catch up soon.

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Here come the CSPPG girls!

Permalink 04:01:25 pm, by Caroline Email , 84 words, 834 views   English (UK)
Categories: Company Secretarial / CSS Blog

Michelle and I would like to congratulate the CSSPG on the success of their annual Christmas Party held at The Last Bar on the 7th December.

It's was a well attended event and a great way to meet new faces and network in a relaxed social setting. It was particularly enlightening for us to learn more about the hot topics for those of you in the professions.

To find out more about the Group and how to join please visit

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Pure Indulgence!

Permalink 03:59:26 pm, by Caroline Email , 209 words, 2466 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog, Company Secretarial / CSS Blog

Pure Indulgence! Not something one would typically associate with the life of a company secretary, so when the opportunity came to participate in some well deserved relaxation we jumped at the chance to sponsor the Molton Brown Pure Indulgence evening that Kerry Porritt hosted on behalf of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in early December at the Royal Exchange in the City of London.

With several long established livery members with impressive company secretarial careers in attendance, it was a unique opportunity for junior company secretaries to network and learn more about the Livery Company and its importance; both in terms of the support it provides to the profession and in respect of its considerable charitable activities.

The rich aromas and cosy, sylish setting of the Royal Exchange store gave a very festive feel to the evening; during which we all indulged in the complementary wine, nibbles, and complementary hand massage, shopped with a £10 voucher and left with a delightful goodie bag.

The lucky winners of the CSS raffle prizes were:

Catherine Odigie
Yvonne Barnes
Christina Parry

If you would like to know more about the Livery Company and/or how to become an Apprentice please visit or give us a call!

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CSS - Celebrating Success

Permalink 03:56:20 pm, by Caroline Email , 554 words, 2511 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog, Company Secretarial / CSS Blog

What better way to round up an inconsistent 2009 than by celebrating this year’s stories of achievement and success!

Sponsoring the ICSA Awards Ceremony at The Brewery on 18th November was a first for CSS but it certainly won’t be the last.

We were thrilled – if a little frightened! - to play an active part in such a positive and upbeat evening celebrating the profession and properly recognizing the imperative role that the Company Secretary plays in ensuring the commercial effectiveness of all sorts of business, from the ‘bluechips’ to the niche entities. It’s a message we really support and advocate.

This key industry event, highlighted the hard work, commitment and enthusiasm needed to become first-class in our field and it was great to see this being widely acknowledged, particularly by contributions and active participation from outside the industry.

The speakers, Sarah Montague and Paul Myners, were both entertaining and inspiring and it was clear that everyone involved took great pleasure in celebrating with like-minded professionals in an impressive social setting.

The introduction of the ICSA Hermes Transparency in Governance Awards certainly signals increasing importance of transparency in governance. It’s a crucial development and an area we have been focusing on following increasing demand from our clients for dedicated corporate governance professionals. In 2010 this trend is surely set to rise so watch this space!

We were very proud to play an important role by sponsoring an award and would like to congratulate not only the winners but the nominees for the following awards:

ICSA Company Secretary Awards

Company Secretary of the Year
• Susan Adeane, rpmi
• Lawrence Dickinson, Barclays plc
• Paul Hollings, Epsom Downs Integrated Care Services Ltd

Deputy/Assistant Company Secretary of the Year
• Mandy Arnold, Greensquare Group
• Carole Barnet, McBride plc
• Rachel Benjamin, Mitchells & Butlers plc
• Alison Drew, Wolseley plc

Company Secretarial Team of the Year
• Abbey National plc
• Barclays plc
• British American Tobacco plc
• Standard Chartered plc

The One to Watch
• Winifred Chime, Capita Company Secretarial
• Peter Lawns, Scottish & Southern Energy plc
• Jennifer Wright, PwC Legal

2009 ICSA Hermes Awards - Shortlist

Innovation in governance disclosure

FTSE 100:
BAE Systems
Land Securities
National Grid

FTSE 250:
International Personal Finance
Tate & Lyle

Best practice disclosure on strategy formulation and execution

FTSE 100:

BAE Systems

FTSE 250:
Venture Production

Best practice disclosure on risk management and internal control

FTSE 100:
BAE Systems
Land Securities

FTSE 250:
Tate & Lyle
Davis Service Group

Best practice disclosure on director development, board evaluation and succession planning

FTSE 100:
BAE Systems
National Grid
BHP Billiton

FTSE 250:
SOCO International
Davis Service Group
DSG International
COLT Telecom Group

Best practice disclosure on audit policy and practice

FTSE 100:
BHP Billiton
BAE Systems

FTSE 250:
Hargreaves Lansdown
Venture Production

Best practice disclosure on remuneration policy and practice

FTSE 100:

HSBC Holdings
British Land Company
Reed Elsevier

FTSE 250:
DSG International
Venture Production
Dana Petroleum

Best practice disclosure on sustainability

FTSE 100:

BHP Billiton
Johnson Matthey
Scottish & Southern Energy
Land Securities

FTSE 250:
Tate & Lyle
Rathbone Brothers

Best practice disclosure on stakeholder engagement

FTSE 100:
Johnson Matthey
Anglo American
National Grid

FTSE 250:
DSG International
WS Atkins

It’s definitely something CSS will be doing again; we hope to see you there next year!

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No evidence that private funding schemes provide value, says NAO

Permalink 04:23:05 pm, by Stephen Email , 380 words, 1749 views   English (UK)
Categories: Outside of Work, BLT Recruitment Blog, Management Consultancy Blog, Guest Bloggers

In a recent Parliamentary enquiry by the NAO into the financial viability and success of the much debated Private Finance Initiative (PFI), it was declared that the PFI does not offer value for tax payers money.

There are currently 500 PFI projects around the UK, representing a capital value of nearly £50bn.

These stumbling blocks are exemplified in the Wakefield Waste PFI. It will not sign off its £700m waste disposal contract until next year. The scheme was set to be the next major PFI deal, but the council has struggled to reach financial close since selecting preferred bidder in November 2007 - Construction had been planned to begin in 2009.

The NAO paper, produced for the Lords economic affairs committee, noted that ‘assessing the pros and cons of alternative procurement routes is especially important in the recession’. Rising costs of private finance since the credit crunch had ‘implications for their value for money’. So what does this mean for the hundreds of consultants, contractors and bankers that have spent most of the last decade working in this area? More nervous times ahead?

This issue was discussed in a previous blog, but needs to be pointed out again to those consultants worried about the future – the government, whatever colour, are always going to want to go off balance sheet whenever they can with capital expenditure. Cost cutting is definitely needed, and the PFI has not always presented the best value for money, but it has taken enormous capital expenditure off balance sheet. In this present party politics culture we live in, this holds more weight than an interest that needs to be paid in thirty years time – PFI is going to have to be flexible and streamline, bit its staying.

I think it is all of our prayer that the government take on even more of a private sector mentality – avoiding needless waste all round – but do not throw the baby out with the bath water. Don’t overspend and under negotiate on PFI, but make it profitable for all.

Read more about Private Finance Projects in the NAO publication. If you have any more questions about the current PFI market, or would like to talk to someone about your next career move within this sector, then please talk to our consultant, Stephen Humphreys.

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New consulting for the public sector – Red Quadrant

Permalink 03:41:34 pm, by Stephen Email , 167 words, 3431 views   English (UK)
Categories: Outside of Work, BLT Recruitment Blog, Management Consultancy Blog, Guest Bloggers

On the 16th November BLT attended the Launch party of the new government consultancy, RedQuadrant: New consulting for the public sector.

Red Quadrant, offer a fresh and effective approach to public sector consulting. They operate in an innovative associate basis. Unlike traditional consultancies that have to pay a large, permanent consulting staff, they have a team of around 30 independent consultants ‘on call’.

Unlike typical freelancers and interims, they don’t want to make themselves indispensable, but to make themselves redundant – leaving public sector managers with the right foundations and capabilities to deliver and drive change from within, over the long term. This approach is going to be vital in the forthcoming axing of public sector consulting budgets. As Rebecca Harding of Delta Economics said recently, smaller consultancies that carve out a specific niche, will survive this downturn; and that is what Red Quadrant have done.

If you would like further information about Red Quadrant, or management consulting in the public sector in general, then please contact Stephen.

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Should Ethics Training for Senior Managers be Mandatory?

Permalink 02:39:44 am, by Caroline Email , 211 words, 2650 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog, Company Secretarial / CSS Blog

Regulators will veto the appointment of senior bankers who are deemed not ethical enough, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) announced on Monday.

Hector Sants, chief executive of the FSA, said that bankers still did not accept collective responsibility for the financial crisis. "I personally remain unconvinced that all senior management have taken on board the need to change and operate in a genuinely different manner."

The new regime would ensure that senior people in regulated institutions were both technically equipped and demonstrated "the required integrity," he said.

The FSA has rejected 18 out of 172 candidates for City directorship on the past year. Until now most of the vetoes have been because of concern about the ability of the candidate to understand and mitigate risks.

Whether as an employee or an individual shareholder of a company, we surely have a right to expect senior business officials in all sectors to exercise strong ethical leadership. A major function of senior roles is decision making and having the judgment and courage to do the right thing can affect the entire organization.

Should other sectors adopt the FSA’s approach and veto senior appointments if the applicant is not deemed ethical enough? And how about existing personnel? Should ethics training for all senior managers be mandatory?

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Signs of Optimism Abound

Permalink 02:36:12 am, by Caroline Email , 411 words, 2140 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog

Recent press articles show that there are plenty of reasons for optimism in the run up to Christmas.

The best October retail sales since 2002 provided evidence that consumer confidence is improving ahead of the crucial Christmas trading period, although the figures were flattered by "dreadful" trading last year when the banking crisis gripped the nation.

The star performers were shops selling children's and women's clothes, footwear, furniture and homewares, but grocery sales slowed again as food price inflation fell.

Like-for-like sales jumped by 3.8 per cent and total sales were up by 5.9 per cent over the month, the latest British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor found.

And confidence returned to the housing market last month with prices rising and more properties coming onto the market. London led the way, where the percentage of surveyors reporting price rises was at a 13-year high of 95 per cent. The proportion of surveyors with more new instructions was 15 per cent, against September’s 5 per cent.

People have also started saving money regularly according to The Nationwide Savings Index, a monthly survey measuring consumer attitudes to saving which rose by three points last month to reach its highest level since December 2008.

Good news on bad loans provided more evidence that the worst of the recession is over for HSBC and Barclays two of Britain's - and Europe's - biggest and healthiest banks.

The financial services giants, neither of which took direct government bailouts during the financial crisis, said loan impairment charges, while still high, were easing.

HSBC said loan impairment charges had fallen to their lowest quarterly level in more than a year whilst Barclays expect full-year loan impairment charges will be near the bottom end of the previously forecast range of £9-billion.

Michael Geoghegan, chief executive officer of HSBC is optimistic, saying "I believe the biggest jolt has now passed through the global economy."

On the jobs front, there was an increase in the number of vacancies in October fuelling speculation that the UK jobs market is finally on the road to recovery. Although there is always a seasonal increase in temporary vacancies at this time of year, permanent placements also increased at their fastest rate in two years.

Whilst it may still take some time to return to a pre-recession economy, things are definitely looking up.

Are you starting to feel more optimistic that the worst is behind us? Do you feel we can now put the past behind us and enjoy the run up to Christmas?

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2009 Sees a Sharp Decline in the number of NEDs

Permalink 08:35:37 pm, by Caroline Email , 293 words, 1792 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog, Company Secretarial / CSS Blog

The financial crisis has caused the number of non-executive directors to drop sharply, according to new research.

Remuneration research firm RTF has revealed that the number of FTSE 100 non-executive directors (NEDs) has fallen from 753 in 2007–8 to 631 in 2008–9, a drop of more than 16 per cent.

More worrying, perhaps, is that more women are being removed from boards than men. Of the 123 women on FTSE 100 boards last year, only 96 remain this year, a fall of 22 per cent. By comparison, the number of men has fallen just 15 per cent, from 630 to 535.

RTF founder Peter Newhouse said NEDs have been an "easy target" for disposal in the recession as the boards of Britain's biggest companies look to trim down. However, he warned that non-execs play a "vital role" in monitoring governance and executive remuneration and the loss could be keenly felt. 

Are these figures cause for concern? Following the release of the Walker Review earlier this year, the burden on non-executives is likely to increase, with those in the financial sector in particular likely to have to work for more days and reduce their number of board positions. He believes that NEDs on all bank or financial institutions boards should be prepared to give a time commitment of between 30 to 36 days a year.

We are also in a situation where individuals are increasingly being put off by the risk, responsibilities and time commitment involved in being a non-executive director.

Fewer NED’s plus increased pressure of work must surely equal a decline in corporate governance. The direct opposite of what we should be trying to achieve.

Will the number of NEDs start to increase again once the country pulls itself out of recession? And what can be done to ensure women are more equally represented on boards?

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Permalink 04:36:11 pm, by Becky Email , 258 words, 1802 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog, Indirect Tax Blog

The Indirect Tax market is definitely picking up. We are working on a number of new VAT, Customs and Excise positions and we are talking to many organisations firming up on plans to recruit in the short to medium term.

It is a good time to get ahead of the game and contact us on an informal/no strings basis about your next career move. BLT’s Careerwatch programme is specifically designed for those who are not necessarily actively seeking an urgent move but would like to be able to plan their career by being kept in touch with suitable opportunities. This is going to be particularly relevant over the next few months as firms move back into recruitment mode.

If you choose to register for BLT’s Careerwatch you will enjoy early access to top openings as they arise – not all of which are advertised. You will have the benefit of career coaching and market knowledge from an Indirect Tax team of three consultants with a combined total of 45 years Indirect Tax recruitment experience. If you do decide to take the plunge and make a move we will help you prepare a relevant and incisive CV and advise you on interview technique. Any approached made on your behalf will be on a confidential basis and at a high level.

If you would like to find out more about our Careerwatch programme or even find out a little more about what is happening in the market over a coffee send me an e-mail to

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Permalink 04:57:47 pm, by Guy Email , 238 words, 1907 views   English (UK)
Categories: Outside of Work, BLT Recruitment Blog, Direct Tax Blog, Indirect Tax Blog, Company Secretarial / CSS Blog


Changes to VAT on 1st January 2010 will have major implications for UK and EU businesses.

A package of changes to the EC VAT system will be introduced on January 1st 2010 which will have a major impact on businesses that trade with customers in other EU countries, and may require the implementation of revised accounting and IT systems in the run up to 2010.

In order to assist you through the potential issues, BLT is holding a breakfast seminar at 8.30 on the 9th December, at our offices in Chancery Lane, London. Alan Pearce, VAT Partner with accountancy practice Blick Rothenberg, will be leading the session. Alan is an experienced VAT specialist with almost 20 years private sector consulting experience. Prior to that he worked for Customs & Excise as a Senior VAT Officer. A significant and growing proportion of Alan's time is spent on dealing with the VAT implications arising from clients' intra EU and international transactions involving goods and services, and he is ideally placed to communicate the issues in an accessible and informative manner.

Alan will speak for approx 25 / 30 minutes and then will be available to answer any questions you might have. There will also be time to meet other guests and network with them.

If you would like to attend, please email Liz Watt on to apply for a place (spaces are not guaranteed and are limited!)

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Stock Market Love Affair Over?

Permalink 10:34:54 pm, by Caroline Email , 304 words, 1593 views   English (UK)
Categories: BLT Recruitment Blog

The British public’s love affair with the stock market seems to have come to an end, at least temporarily.

According to figures from the October issue of Private Investor Watch from Capita Registrars, UK investors owned just 9.4 per cent of the FTSE All Share at the end of September – an all-time low. Indeed, at the end of September, private investors' holdings were valued at just £153 billion.

By way of contrast, 1968 was the peak year ever for private investors. The value of their shares in today’s prices was £473 billion, four times as much as today, and their share of the stock market was 49 percent. 40 years on, the picture is very different.

Private shareholders sold £1.3 billion of shares in August and September, moving away from cyclical stocks and into defensive shares and savings. The sudden shift saw the largest private trading volumes recorded in the last 18 months.

‘Private investors seem to have judged the market rally has gone far enough,' says Michael Kempe, operations director of Capita Registrars. 'With the FTSE All Share up nearly 50 per cent from its low point back at the beginning of March to a one-year high in September, private shareholders’ minds are turning to profit taking. Unlike professional fund managers, private investors are more interested in absolute returns rather than relative gains.

'All the signs add up to a distinct caution among private shareholders,’ Michael continues. 'High turnover, net sales, and a switch into defensive shares all suggest private shareholders are more risk-averse than in previous upswings and are now wary of a possible market correction.'

Trading on the stock market is a gamble, but have UK investors gambled correctly? Is there going to be a market correction or will they be kicking themselves in months to come as share prices recover further? Does anybody have a crystal ball...?

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BLT Recruitment Blog | Consulting, Tax, CSS

Beament Leslie Thomas are leading UK specialist recruiters in the areas of Management Consultancy, Direct & Indirect Tax, and Company Secretaries.

Our blogs are an opportunity to engage with you about Management Consultancy, Taxation, Company Secretarial Services and Recruitment as a whole. Perhaps you're an employer wanting to understand what makes us different, or a candidate wanting the low down from people who genuinely understand the market. Choose a category below and get involved - a BLT Hamper to the most deserving contributor every month...

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