Thursday, 28 November 2013

Sticking mud will mean many businesses will steer clear of RBS

The old saying "mud sticks" will almost certainly prove pertinent for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Earlier this week a report from a government adviser said the bank had taken advantage of struggling businesses, seizing their assets at cheap prices.

RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton made a clumsy effort to defend his bank, saying: "We will almost certainly have been too heavy with some customers from time to time. And we will almost certainly have been too lax with customers from time to time, given that we have dealt with many, many thousands of businesses in distress in recent years.

"I am certain that we will have got it wrong in both directions because there are so many people that we have had to deal with in deep distress."

The Tomlinson Report said that when a business was put into the RBS's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) lending division, it generated revenue for the bank by fees, increased profit margins and, perhaps most significantly, the purchase of assets as knock-down prices by their property division.

It all smells a bit unsavoury.

Investigations continue, but mud sticks. Many businesses will stay away from the RBS now.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

If it sells none at all, tell the BBC!

The BBC has published an article on its website on 20 November 2013 headed “ ‘Dullest’calendar – of telephone boxes of Wales – fails to sell”.

The article tells us how the calendar has struggled to sell a single copy, even being branded by its publisher Kevin Beresford as “naff, nerdy and boring”!

He was hoping to build on his success of 2012: Roundabouts of Great Britain, which was a surprising success.

This could turn out to be an amazing example of “no publicity is bad publicity” as sales will probably soar into their tens in the coming days, out of curiosity.

If it was Mr Beresford who contacted the BBC about his nil-sales calendar, then I commend him for bringing it to the BBC’s – now the nation’s – attention.

An example of marketing for us all.

On the other hand, it still might not sell any copies!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

HostPapa here we come

I have used a couple of hosting companies for some years for my business and my clients, but one of my clients has had problems with email so wanted to change hosting company.

I wanted to use someone new, but who to use?

I did a Google search for "best hosting companies uk" and the first (it was a paid ad) result was here:

So I've decided to bite the bullet and go for new hosting with HostPapa.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, 8 November 2013

S&P downgrades France's credit rating

Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has downgraded France’s credit rating from AA+ to AA, putting on the same level as Belgium and two places above Italy.

This is a blow to President Fran├žois Hollande who has already had some of the lowest poll ratings in recent French history.

The country has relied on tax rises to reduce its annual budget deficit, but this effort, together with some reforms of business subsidies, bureaucracy and labour restrictions has not worked.

S&P said: “We believe the French government’s reforms to taxation, as well as to products, services and labour markets, will not substantially raise France’s medium-term growth prospects. Furthermore, we believe lower economic growth is constraining the government's ability to consolidate public finances.”

The government in Paris was not happy and said S&P had ignored the long-term effects of many of its initiatives, especially pensions and benefits reforms.

Finance minister Pierre Moscovici said: “They are underestimating France's ability to reform, to pull itself up. During the last 18 months the government has implemented major reforms aimed at improving the French economic situation, restoring its public finances and its competitiveness.”

Hollande has given in to protests against some business taxes, but in spite of the threat of a footballers' strike, has stood firm on a 75% rate on earnings over €1m. Clubs say this threatens "the death of French football".

French workers pay the highest aggregate tax rate in the EU.

Those who would have us pay more tax in the UK, be warned.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

UK growth is looking good

So the UK economy is recovering nicely.

Its growth is one of the highest in the Western world.

Business confidence is at its highest for ten years according to a survey by the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

This is excellent news for the country and, of course, for the Government and Chancellor George Osborne. However, the latter might come under pressure to share some of this recovery wealth with taxpayers, many of whom will not recognise this apparent good news story.

The third quarter showed growth at 0.8% in the UK, and Christmas spending, good demand in construction, and increasing business investment could produce a fourth quarter figure of 1.3%. Time will tell.

In the meantime, heads down, let's keep the growth going.