Holiday food for thought for financial sector professionals
By Maite Barón, CEO, The Corporate Escape™
The countdown to Christmas has begun. The party hats are out, mince pies are already being handed round, parties and after work drinks are very much the order of the day, and of course, everyone’s putting together their wish lists of presents.
And for many in the corporate sector, there’s one thing they absolutely don’t want in their Christmas stocking and that’s a redundancy notice.
Sadly, for some that will be the case, and for others it’s already happened, like the 1,700 or so whose jobs Barclays have just announced are under threat – for them the festive season won’t be quite so festive.
However, with Barclays’ redundancies, it isn’t a need for cut-backs that has consigned staff to the wrong side of the corporate door, as has been the case in the recent past. It’s actually the consequence of changes in customer behaviour.
In other words, more and more of the bank’s customers are choosing to do their banking online, meaning that fewer staff are needed to do the job that’s increasingly being done by technology.
And with research revealing that 26% of working adults surveyed across 22 countries use their mobile for banking, with a further 16% all set to do so, the writing may be on the wall for many more front line staff who are no longer needed in this ‘self-service’ financial environment.
It goes to show how vulnerable the job market is to rapid changes brought about by technology, particularly where it can be implemented on a large scale, as in a corporate organisation.
So, for anyone in a corporate environment, there is a real and constant threat that a new piece of software, or an innovative algorithm, will shift the marketplace so fundamentally that bottom line considerations will decree more humans should be removed from the equation.
The irony of this, of course, is that with the economy finally improving, rather than feeling nervous about losing their job, more people should feel confident about keeping theirs.
Instead, despite a sector employment rate up on the previous quarter by 0.3%, equivalent to 155,000 jobs, and unemployment down by 0.1% in the same period, what staff are most conscious of is the threat to their individual job.
However, for those who think they’ve no choice but to stick it out and plough on in the hope that things will blow over, other statistics from the ONS reveal a sea-change in the way we work, with an increase of 34,000 on the previous quarter in the numbers moving into self-employment.
So, although there was an expectation among economists that the rate of self-employment would fall behind the rate of employment as the economy recovered, that’s not proving to be the case, with 4.21 million of us deciding that ‘going it alone’, far from being an alternative to ‘proper work’, is the right thing to do.
So is seems that the trend is becoming established and is not just a temporary reflection of passing recessionary conditions. And it’s one that’s being echoed elsewhere, as a recent report from the IPAG Business School in France also revealed:
“Traditional hierarchical organisations are struggling. People are increasingly rejecting traditional employment with its lack of personal control and repression of creativity. New ways of working are emerging, new forms of collaboration, new structures, new alliances and new opportunities.”
This extract from ‘Future Working: The Rise of Europe’s Independent Professionals (iPros)’ acknowledges the growing importance and economic relevance of fast growing numbers of highly skilled, self-employed individuals.
So while not ten years ago (in 2004) there were 6.2 million who could be categorised as such, by this year numbers had increased to nearly 9 million, a rise of 42%. This makes iPros the fastest growing group of workers in the European labour market. In the UK the growth rate was even higher at 63%.
The report concludes that becoming an iPro is now very much a legitimate and realistic career option for professionals and executives looking to move away from traditional forms of employment and is something that should be promoted and supported by government.
And far from leading a hand to mouth existence – something that’s often wrongly assumed of freelancers – iPros are high-value professionals, who have technical ability, quality skills and a desire to add value for their clients by finding ways to work both flexibly and through innovation.
There is also an increasing recognition among policy makers that this trend towards self-employment or entrepreneurship is not peripheral to our lives, but a deep-seated component of the economy.
Only this month, the Prime Minister spoke of freelancers as being the ‘engine of our economy’.
So, instead of worrying whether you’ll be in a job next year, the sensible thing might be to take charge of your own life and beneath the new iPhone, iPod or iPad that may be on your Christmas list, add iPro – it could be the best present you give yourself.
Do you want safeguard your professional future? Are you ready to take action to do so? Then download your free guide – ‘5 Keys To Help You Take Control Of Your Working Life’
Ahead of expected IPO, Deliveroo recruits Next’s Wolfson to board
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Deliveroo said on Tuesday it has beefed up its board ahead of an expected initial public offering this year with the appointment of Simon Wolfson, the veteran boss of clothing retailer Next, as a non-executive director.
The food delivery company said on Sunday it had raised a further $180 million from existing investors, including minority shareholder Amazon, in a move that values the business at more than $7 billion.
Deliveroo is set to hold an IPO in the coming months, in what would be the biggest new share issue in London for three years.
Wolfson’s appointment comes after Deliveroo named Claudia Arney as the company’s first chair in November.
Deliveroo founder and CEO Will Shu said Wolfson would bring “great knowledge and insight” to the board.
Wolfson has been Next’s CEO since 2001.
He is also a peer of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, sitting in the upper house of parliament.
(Reporting by James Davey and Paul Sandle; editing by Sarah Young and Pravin Char)
Dollar drops as traders prepare for Yellen to talk up stimulus
By Tommy Wilkes
LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar dropped on Tuesday as investors prepared for U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen to talk up the need for major fiscal stimulus and commit to a market-determined exchange rate when she testifies later in the day.
The dollar’s fall came after a 2% rise so far in 2021, a gain which caught off guard many investors who had bet on a further decline following its weakness in 2020.
The dollar has been helped in January by rising U.S. Treasury yields and some investor caution about the strength of the global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. But most analysts are sticking with their calls for a weaker dollar from here.
“On fiscal policy, Yellen is to suggest that the US `act big’ and make use of the low borrowing costs. On the dollar, it should be reiterated that the new administration is committed to the market-determined exchange rate. Both are in line with our weak USD outlook,” ING analysts wrote.
President-elect Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package.
The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported Yellen, who is appearing before the Senate Finance Committee, will affirm a more conventional commitment to market-set currency rates in her Senate testimony on Tuesday.
That contrasts with outgoing President Donald Trump, who often railed against dollar strength.
The dollar index, which measures the currency against a basket of other currencies, dropped 0.3% to 90.472, but it was still above the its more than two-and-a-half-year low of 89.206 touched at the start of this month.
With the dollar weakening, the euro gained, rising 0.5% to $1.2132.
The single currency was unaffected by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s facing a confidence vote to stay in office. The result vote is due after 1800 GMT.
More volatile and commodity-linked currencies, such as the Australian dollar, also benefited from the weaker U.S. currency, with the Aussie up 0.3% at $0.7707.
Rising commodity prices in recent months have boosted currencies of countries with large commodity exports, such as Australia and Canada.
“We continue to see scope for further gains in commodity-related currencies in the year ahead, which should benefit as well from the strengthening global recovery once vaccines are rolled out more widely,” said Lee Hardman, an analyst at MUFG.
Sterling rose 0.2% to $1.3620.
The dollar rose against the yen and was last up 0.3% to 104.02 yen, although still consolidating in a narrow range after reaching a one-month high of 104.40 last week.
Emerging-market currencies were mostly higher but were some way off recent highs.
(Editing by Gareth Jones, Larry King)
Creating a people-centric workplace centered on flexibility, experience and wellbeing
By Anne Marie Ginn, Head of Video Collaboration, Logitech EMEA
The light is appearing at the end of the long, dark tunnel that has been 2020. With vaccination schemes now underway, we can (albeit cautiously) dare to dream of a general return to relative normality. Yet in the wake of the pandemic, neither our personal liaves nor our work lives will ever be quite the same.
A wholesale change to working practices, and the nature of how and where we work, is set to be one of the big lasting legacies of 2020. Cal Henderson, co-founder of Slack, recently came forward to say he thinks that the age of the office is coming to an end. In a less extreme view, AWS’ CEO Andy Jassy predicts we’ll see the rise of ‘hot offices’, where employees will mostly work remotely, only coming into the office when they need to work on specific projects. And Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicts the age of business travel is over, with only 50% of business trips set to resume.
As the office evolves it’s clear employers will have to adapt their spaces in line with new, post-pandemic wellbeing and workplace trends, and create an office centred around “super experiences” that makes it a destination in itself.
So, in what ways will working practices change, and how do we see the physical workspace evolving?
Re-focussing on the employee
Ultimately, the pandemic has re-focussed the discussion on how employees can best work, and how teams are spending their time. It has also given employers the opportunity to ensure they’re in a better position to help people find a good work life balance.
Yet even after Coronavirus, it’s clear we won’t be working from home forever. The UK government says work from home orders may stay in place until April 2021 and with this in mind a flexible, and hybrid, way of working is set to stay. Employees feel that way too – a recent Simply Communicate survey found only 2% want to go back to the full week in the office.
With the digital tools available and the experience gained over the past 10 months, the idea of everyone being in the office everyday seems old fashioned and unnecessary. People don’t want to travel into an office to then just be sat at their desk for eight hours. What they want is to connect with colleagues, to learn, to be inspired and to share with others.
Whilst getting your head down to work is important, social time and collaboration is equally valued, and central to general wellbeing. For many employees, their work is central to their sense of self, their meaning and purpose, and after a long period of being at home alone, they’ll be yearning for those in-person, face-to-face experiences. This should be placed at the forefront of modern office culture and design.
An office designed for the people working in it
Offices will become destinations unto themselves – for collaboration, innovation and strengthening team relationships – and less about desk-based or task-based work. The space should also be vibrant and different.
These offices should offer a mixture of meeting rooms and open operational space, which will promote gathering for teamwork, collaboration and companywide networking events. At the same time, smaller collaborative working areas, enabled by video, will facilitate break away group work for those both physically present and working remotely. Banks of individual cubicles will disappear, and instead we’ll see occasional, dedicated concentration pods for when employees need to get their heads down between meetings. And how about relaxation pods should employees want a quick break and recharge?
Beyond work, offices also need to become social destinations in themselves. A recent JLL study found that nearly half of employees hope their office will prioritise social spaces, such as coffee areas, lounges or outdoor terraces and gardens. Common areas play a central role in nurturing informal work relationships, which improve development opportunities and help career outlook – especially crucial for people early in their work life. These spaces allow employees to maintain the inspiration, energy and social connection that comes with belonging to a physical team and environment – something which many found a real challenge to maintain virtually during the pandemic.
Flexible schedules and shared spaces will also lead to a “rightsizing” of office space, where organisations will rethink their real estate, in what will undoubtedly save costs. Some are even predicting that we’ll see the creation of an office ‘ecosystem’, which will comprise of employees working from offices, houses, and third places such as cafes, coworking spaces, and libraries.
Tech and video as the glue for hybrid working
While all of the above will support flexibility, functionality and employee wellbeing, for it to all work it needs high-end peripherals, such as Logitech’s MX Series of high-performance mice and keyboards, and collaboration software to pull it together. This tech needs to help us and not take us away from people, helping our collective mental health in environments that could be potentially isolating.
This human centred approach to work collaboration requires non-intrusive, seamless video conferencing and productivity tools. Through each space in the office, from large town hall style areas, through to smaller huddle rooms, personal workspaces and even satellite offices in the suburbs, these video solutions and smart productivity technologies can help to bring together a team as one.
Fortunately, there are a wide variety of high-quality video tools available that can fit the needs of the modern worker within each individual environment. From large 4K cameras with the ability to pan, tilt and zoom to focus on an individual speaking within a large room, to wide angled huddle room cameras for smaller groups, and webcams with integrated high-quality microphones and optics to make sure remote workers are seen and heard just as clearly as if they were physically in the office.
The hybrid opportunity
The hybrid office presents itself with an opportunity to make work better for employees, while creating a more committed and motivated workforce. There’s also potential to save money through reduced office related overheads.
Tied together by smart technologies such as video, this hybrid office has the potential to make employees happier, more motivated and equipped to do their best work. Video will pivot from being the technology we used to survive during the pandemic to the one we use to thrive.
ComplyAdvantage Releases State Of Financial Crime Report For 2021
Designed as an must-have strategic roadmap for compliance teams, the comprehensive report covers financial crime insights related to fraud, cyber,...
What is the procedure for proving a missing or lost Will?
By Alexa Payet, Partner at Bolt Burdon and listed specialist in the Certainty Contentious Probate Hub & Area Initial steps...
KBC Bank chooses Finastra for LIBOR transition
Fusion Loan IQ Alternative Reference Rate module and Fusion LIBOR Transition Calculator will help the bank move away from LIBOR...
How contactless payments helped a pizzeria survive
By Kaushalya Somasundaram, Head of Payments Partnerships & Industry Relations at Square, UK The Covid-19 pandemic has caused continued uncertainty...
Open Banking: a new mindset for future service delivery
By Christoph Berentzen, Head of API Banking, Commerzbank, addresses what Open Banking means to the Bank and how its proper...
Oil prices rise as investors look to higher demand seen in second half
By Shadia Nasralla LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices climbed on Tuesday as optimism that government stimulus will eventually lift global...
Automating your way out of disruption
By David Brightman, Director of Product Marketing at BlackLine The coronavirus pandemic has underlined the vital role that automation plays...
Ahead of expected IPO, Deliveroo recruits Next’s Wolfson to board
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Deliveroo said on Tuesday it has beefed up its board ahead of an expected initial public...
Dollar drops as traders prepare for Yellen to talk up stimulus
By Tommy Wilkes LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar dropped on Tuesday as investors prepared for U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet...
Trial by fire: Why 2020 experience will help the FX industry in 2021
By Vikas Srivastava, Chief Revenue Officer at Integral I think I can say with confidence that 2020 has been the...