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ENCOURAGING MORE WOMEN INTO SENIOR ROLES IN THE CITY

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ENCOURAGING MORE WOMEN INTO SENIOR ROLES IN THE CITY

By Christopher Burke, CEO of Brickendon 

“Rather than just adhering to the Women in Finance Charter, companies should be encouraging a more supportive and flexible working environment to help women strive for senior positions. This could be setting internal, measurable targets, to ensure they remain fit-for-purpose, increasing legitimacy and buy-in, thus enhancing the rate at which targets can be achieved.”

“One initiative companies should seek to pursue is dismantling the ‘dusk ‘til dawn’ culture, and ensure they provide employees with the technology and supportive culture to work flexibly. A flexible working culture has been shown to increase productivity, wellbeing, and aid with the attraction and retention of talent across the board.[1]

“At Brickendon we are well aware of the advantages of a diverse workforce and are keen to hire more women to senior roles. From partner level down we support part-time work and are currently actively recruiting full and part-time partners. We are supportive of the needs of women returning to work after a career break, as well as those looking to progress up the leadership ladder. We have seen that facilitating the achievement of personal goals within a flexible working culture means that our staff not only deliver to the best of their capabilities, but are engaged and committed members of the workforce.”

 “While a cultural shift is gaining momentum, it could take years before it is commonplace. As such, financial services companies should start implementing steps now to provide a supportive culture and flexible working environment to ensure they retain their female talent, encouraging them to progress through the ranks and towards a thriving career in financial services.”

[1]Flexible Working Guide, CII, August 2015

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Logitech warns on FY 2022 outlook after pandemic-boosted FY 2021

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Logitech warns on FY 2022 outlook after pandemic-boosted FY 2021 1

(Reuters) – Computer goods maker Logitech International on Monday warned operating income for fiscal 2022 will drop back from a 2021 boom driven stoked by demand for mice and keyboards for work and leisure at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Operating income for fiscal 2022, measured under non-Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (non-GAAP), is expected to be between $750 million and $800 million, the Swiss-U.S. company said. That’s down from the $1.1 billion it now expects for fiscal 2021, a fraction up from a previous estimate of $1.05 billion.

Sales for fiscal 2022, measured in constant currency terms, will be about flat – plus or minus 5%. For fiscal 2021, Logitech raised its sales growth forecast to about 63% in constant currencies, up from the 57-60% range it previously expected.

In January, Logitech reported a more than three-fold jump in quarterly adjusted operating income, benefiting from the pandemic-driven boost in demand for work-from-home products and gaming accessories.

Sales at the company, which makes mobile speakers, keyboards, mice and video conferencing devices, increased 85% to $1.67 billion in the third quarter, which has traditionally been the company’s biggest sales period.

The company also said on Monday its expectations of long-term sales growth in constant currency have increased to 8% to 10%, up from high-single digits and that its non-GAAP operating margin target has improved to between 14% and 17%, up from 11% to 14%.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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South Korean tech firms shake up Japan’s storied manga industry

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South Korean tech firms shake up Japan's storied manga industry 2

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – Two South Korean technology companies are borrowing from mobile gaming to shake up – and dominate – Japan’s storied manga industry, a plot twist that has expanded the comics’ fanbase to a new generation of readers.

Backed by tech giants Kakao Corp and Naver Corp, Piccoma and Line Manga have become Japan’s highest-grossing mobile apps outside games. Such online manga platforms have seen a surge in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Piccoma’s third-quarter transaction volumes more than tripled year on year to 11.6 billion yen ($110 million), extending a wave of online manga sales that has already seen digital surpass print in Japan’s $5 billion manga industry.

Line Manga, now operated by SoftBank’s internet business Z Holdings, saw transaction volumes jump by a third to 8.2 billion yen in the same period. Naver declined an interview request.

Piccoma passed Line Manga to become last year’s top-grossing manga app on both Apple’s IoS and Android. Its rise can be traced back to 2016, when it introduced a revenue model it calls “zero yen if you wait.”

The app’s manga tales – from classroom love stories to supernatural horror – are serialized. Users must wait for a timer to unlock the next instalment, or pay to read ahead.

Inspired by smartphone games in which playing is free but extra content is not, the approach marked a radical departure from the typical model of selling an entire manga volume up front at prices of $4-$6.

“We thought if we could grab 5% or 10% of the bigger games market it would drive growth,” said Yukiko Sugiyama, senior manager in Kakao Japan’s business strategy department.

Readers, eager to find out what happens next, often end up paying. The business model has become standard as dozens of book sellers, tech companies and publishers rushed to offer their own apps.

PAPER TRAIL

Megumi, a 34-year-old office worker in western Japan, said she reads 20 pages or so of manga on her phone during her lunch break, and turned to the two apps when stuck at home taking care of kids during last year’s pandemic state of emergency.

She became “addicted” to and paid for a hit Line Manga series, “True Beauty”, about a young woman whose makeup skills make her popular with men.

The strip originated in Korea, where the rise of the internet saw paper sales collapse, replaced by smartphone-optimised comics.

Manga apps offer a vast back catalogue of titles and exclusive strips.

“You can read manga carrying just your smartphone – it’s handy,” said Kana Misaki, a 36-year-old care worker living near Tokyo who reads manga “overwhelmingly” via apps.

In Japan, online manga is generally still formatted like a book, and traditional publishers are a powerful force, with editors closely involved in each stage of production.

Printed in black and white on cheap paper, paper manga remains affordable and disposable. The industry is protected under Japanese law from books being sold for less than their cover price, even online.

“For new titles, paper sales are much higher,” said Shu Hashimoto, an editor at publisher Kodansha’s long-running Weekly Shonen Magazine.

Even the most ardent app users say they will buy paper editions of their favourite titles.

“You don’t know when titles will disappear from the apps, so when I want them close at hand I buy them,” Misaki said.

($1 = 103.6900 yen)

(Reporting by Sam Nussey and Yuki Nitta; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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For manga’s striving artists, success lurks online

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For manga's striving artists, success lurks online 3

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – Manga artist Kamentotsu didn’t expect much when he uploaded a four-panel strip about an anthropomorphic bear who runs a cake shop to his Twitter account three years ago.

But the first instalment of “Koguma’s Cake Shop”, drawn as consolation for a tired friend, attracted tens of thousands of likes. Within a week, 40 companies had approached him with offers.

“Publishing company editors have gone from bringing up manga artists, like they are farming, to hunting for them,” said Kamentotsu, who goes by his pen name and wears a mask in media appearances.

By searching for talent online, publishers squeezed by the rise of the internet can see an artist’s audience potential out in the open.

For Japan’s striving manga artists, many of whom toil in obscurity for low pay, that means going viral can be life changing.

Kamentotsu’s strip, which is published by Shogakukan, has gone on to sell more than half a million books. The titular bear, who wears a chef’s hat, has become a popular soft toy and its image was used to promote frozen dumplings.

Japanese pop culture is piled with such cute, memorable characters.

Industry observers say that a feel-good style – known as the “iyashikei” or “soothing” genre in Japanese – is particularly fitting online audiences.

But other recent hits are quite a bit darker, such as “Jujutsu Kaisen” and “Demon Slayer”.

HIGH CONCEPT

Kousuke Oono’s “The Way of the Househusband” has a high concept idea: a feared yakuza gangster – tattooed, clad all in black but wearing an apron – quits crime to take care of the home while his wife works.

“A comedic story with easy-to-understand characters and title is suited to the internet… we thought about that from the planning stage,” said Arimasa Nishikawa, an editor at manga site Kurage Bunch, which first published the strip.

“Househusband”, popular on manga apps and in print, plays with gender stereotypes at a time of social change in Japan. A line of aprons has been a hit with fans.

The strip has been made into a TV drama, with an animated version set to stream on Netflix this year.

(Reporting by Sam Nussey and Yuki Nitta; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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