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In the news
Good Week: Boris Johnson
Outgoing Mayor of London Boris Johnson demonstrated the full extent of his influence on, well, just about everyone at the beginning of this week. His declaration of support for a Brexit sent the pound tumbling to a seven-year low against the dollar and saw Citibank raise its forecast for the likelihood of Brexit by 10pp to between 30% and 40%. BoJo can’t take all the credit for the widespread alarm though. This week has also seen Justice Secretary Michael Gove and London Mayoral Candidate Zac Goldsmith declare their support for the Leave camp. Still, it was the boisterous MP for Ruislip stealing the headlines amid swelling rumours that he has his eye on the top job in politics.
Good Week: Social Mobility
The Sutton Trust’s latest Leading People Survey reveals that a third of FTSE 100 CEOs went to a non-selective state school, equalling the number that went to fee-paying schools for the first time. Less promising was the report’s findings on women in business leadership – just five FTSE 100 companies have female CEOs. With mounting evidence proving the commercial benefits of social, gender and ethnic diversity in leadership to businesses, firms ignoring the issue do so at their own expense.
Bad Week: PMQs
It was a new low for Prime Minister Questions on Wednesday as the PM and leader of the opposition were drawn into a comical my-mum’s-more-principled-than-your-mum type exchange. After being told to ask his mother for her opinion of current NHS reforms, David Cameron replied: “I think I know what my mother would say… she’d look across the dispatch box and she’d say: “put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem.”” To which Jeremy Corbyn retorted, “my late mother would have said stand up for the principle of an NHS free at the point of use for everybody.” Great theatre or a playground squabble? You decide.
Bad Week: RBS
A bad seven days for the beleaguered Royal Bank of Scotland saw the lender announce losses of just under £2bn for 2015, its eighth straight year in the red following the financial downturn. Chief Executive Ross McEwan chose his words carefully in the aftermath, stressing that low central bank rates are putting downward pressure on loan returns, adding that the bank has also faced some poorly timed litigation settlements in the US. It wasn’t enough, however, to prevent an 8% drop in the RBS share price to below 230p earlier today. The price is more than 50% below the 500p per share the Government paid for its current 73% stake back in 2008.
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TheCityUK’s Chief Executive, Chris Cummings, was quoted in media including the Financial Times, BBC and Telegraph this week responding to David Cameron’s reform deal for Britain’s EU membership. The membership body suggests that the deal “lays solid foundations on which to build a stronger EU.”
The latest research from Willis Owen on consumer appetite for financial risk was covered by the Herald Scotland and Belfast Telegraph. Just 15% of those surveyed in a recent national survey said they were willing to consider reasonable risk in order to boost their chances of better returns.
Business Quarter and the Birmingham Post both reported that Aston University has appointed the University of Western Australia’s Professor Alec Cameron as its new Vice-Chancellor.
We’ll be attending an event with the Institute of Directors assessing how businesses can protect themselves in the age of cyber attacks.
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