A good deed.... maybe

At Fulton Garrick, we do a work from home Wednesday, a day for searching, meeting clients and just good for general mental health. Alas, this is standard company-wide here and not a good deed, rather the norm and something more companies are taking to with good results personally and professionally.

I digress, after a morning searching for exceptional analysts to join a fantastic real estate PE fund (email awebb@fultongarrick.com if you fit the bill). I boarded the 12:05 train from Gerrards Cross to Marylebone en route to a meeting in Central London with a new developer client.

I was one of few people to board said train, but not the only suit, as a young chap (mid twenties) had got on the same carriage and sat opposite me. He was wearing a navy blue suit, black shoes and a tie that didn’t really go with his shirt, however, he had definitely made an effort and I was 99.9% sure he was on his way to an interview and had definitely gone to a lot of effort and was carrying a brand new notepad and pen.

However, this is not me dishing out style tips (I’m no Charlie Casely-Hayford), but in my humble opinion, his hard work was undone by 3 spiked earrings and I debated for the whole trip to Marylebone whether I should say something (bearing in mind, I had no idea if he was going to an interview or where he was interviewing, where it could be completely acceptable - let alone it wasn’t my business or place to say something).

We actually ended up on the same carriage underground towards Oxford Circus and out of pure interest, I did ask whether he was en route to an interview. To cut a long story short, he was and it was with a radio station near Leicester Square, I told him he looked smart and asked how it was going. He said he was down to the last two and was nervous; I gave him a few interview tips and said if it was a professional vibe as the suit indicated, then the earrings may be a swaying point (but it was completely up to him) he agreed and said he would take them out and was really thankful (rather than defensive, as I had feared).

After chatting a little bit about what I did, he said he was interested in recruitment but had no luck. I told him the name of our company and if he didn’t get the role at the radio station; to drop me an email - I hope he put his pen and paper to good use but I also hope he gets the role he was so excited about.

I’m not qualified to dish out finance or legal advice, but I feel like, I put what skills I do have to good use ‘pro bono’ and if it helped this young man at least 1% - I’m a happy man.

If you’re reading this and interview candidates for your business, I would be interested to hear your thoughts about visible tattoos, piercings, beards, jewellery etc… and although society is teaching us to be more individual and accepting, does this have an impact positively/negatively either at first or last impression of the candidate.

Feel free to comment, DM or email me your thoughts….

Adam Webb

awebb@fultongarrick.com

The unfortunate case of Claudio Ranieri - What the corporate world can learn

Even those not interested in football will have heard about how Claudio Ranieri - - the affable, father like figure who is so softly spoken and loveable that you wonder how he still exists in the sleazy, corrupt world (case and point: FIFA) that is Football - who masterminded the most audacious heist since the City Bonds Robbery in May 1990 - when he took Leicester City from the mid/lower table doldrums to Premier League Champions in 2016 at odds of 5000-1 and into the latter stages of the Champions League.

 

Fast-forward 8 months; he was sacked after a poor run of form from a job without a chance to redeem himself. The players and his staff turned on him and he was hounded out of the very place he had put on the map to the rest of the footballing world.  Every man and their dog jumped on the bandwagon, put down his achievements and basically credited everyone but him, as if he was some kind of silent figurehead.  A truly sad state of affairs.

 

His Assistant Manager (Craig Shakespeare) took over as Manager and their Head of Recruitment (Steve Walsh) essentially got a promotion to a senior role at rival club Everton; star players Ngolo Kante got a dream switch to Chelsea and Jamie Vardy became a regular starter for England with Mahrez securing Player’s player of the Year.

 

Yet here we are – Oct 2017 - Craig Shakespeare is sacked, Steve Walsh’s miracle recruitment strategy has Everton languishing near the bottom of the Premier League and coveted players and no longer so desirable (Bar Kante) by European heavyweights. All the while, Ranieri has Nantes near the top of the French league (they were 7th and 14th in the last two seasons) – all signs point to the fact he is indeed a great manager who gets the best out of his average squad and is a fantastic tactician. 

 

So what can the corporate world learn from this debacle. I have come across countless occasions where Senior Leaders are let go by their companies or allowed to leave without a fuss because they believe that really, the team that is behind them are doing the real superstar work and essentially making him/her look good.

 

These star performers who are making the big deals or big plays might go above the manager in question and tell some C-suite members that the manager isn’t pulling their weight and doesn’t offer much or that he’s lost the respect of the team – office politics at its best - with this persistent unrest and with senior figures keeping one eye on the bottom line, that manager who led the team to these great figures is given the same treatment as Claudio Ranieri.  Any guess as to how that team is performing now?

 

Conversely and I will argue the other side, I have seen some very senior people literally climb the scales of greatness and in one instance to a Country Manager role (UK) for a FTSE 100 company mainly because he had a great team round him and when I say great I really do mean world class and he made sure they were always around him as he scaled up (even to the detriment of his team, bypassing them for other promotions for his own self gain), but as sources say, they were never really credited with any of the key decisions or input that made his star rise - he took, but worst off, was given, the credit for the innovation and results others had really achieved.  (Pep Guardiola anyone? - Time will tell!).

 

This certain exec was moved to an international leadership role in the US HQ for the same FTSE 100 Company and was found out in the first 6 months that he really wasn’t the man they thought he was as he had no team behind him on a daily basis - His career never recovered.

 

So you are coming to the end of this blog post, thinking, what the hell is the point of this and this bit is really for my senior level audience (The Thai Owners in my analogy). Know your company, know your team, find out the nuts and bolts of the success (and the failures) and maybe you won’t let a superstar like Claudio Ranieri walk out the door. The only real way to know who is responsible for what; is to have your finger on the pulse. The bigger the company, the harder it is, but in doing so, the risk is mitigated and the rewards are great.

 

For my Claudio Ranieri's out there, the best leaders mould a team of various talents, get the best out of them and leads them to success through motivation, control, mutual trust and respect. If you manage to succeed in all these departments, you will make yourself indispensable. Claudio lost the support somewhere along the line and in a short space of time. The corporate world can be just as brutal but long lasting legacy's like Sir Alex are achievable through great management in the bad times and good management when the goings good. 

 

For my ambitious mid level candidates (Jamie Vardy), don’t play games, keep doing whatever you do that makes you great and you’ll get rewarded and promoted; if you don’t, give me a call and we will find you a company that will value you. If you put a target on your bosses’ back, you will tarnish your own character and you might face a similar ending to Mr Shakespeare – Et tu brute?

Ironic eh?

 

N.B - Thanks for reading; I welcome any comments or differing opinions. They will all be treated with respect and replied to as soon as possible.  

 

The UK Tax System explained in Beer

Suppose that once a week, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100.

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this: -  

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.

The fifth would pay £1.

The sixth would pay £3.

The seventh would pay £7.

The eighth would pay £12.

The ninth would pay £18.

And the tenth man (the richest) would pay £59.  

So, that’s what they decided to do.  

The ten men drank in the bar every week and seemed quite happy with the arrangement until, one day, the owner caused them a little problem. “Since you are all such good customers”, he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your weekly beer by £20. Drinks for the ten men would now cost just £80.  

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free but what about the other six men? The paying customers? How could they divide the

£20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share? They realized that

£20 divided by six is £3.33 but if they subtracted that from everybody’s share then not only would the first four men still be drinking for free but the fifth and sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.  

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fairer to reduce each man’s bill by a higher percentage. They decided to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.  

And so, the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (a 100% saving).

The sixth man now paid £2 instead of £3 (a 33% saving).

The seventh man now paid £5 instead of £7 (a 28% saving).

The eighth man now paid £9 instead of £12 (a 25% saving).

The ninth man now paid £14 instead of £18 (a 22% saving).

And the tenth man now paid £49 instead of £59 (a 16% saving).  

Each of the last six was better off than before with the first four continuing to drink for free.  

But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings. “I only got £1 out of the £20 saving,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got £10.″  

“Yes, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved £1 too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me.”  

“That’s true” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get £10 back when I only got £2? The wealthy get all the breaks.”  

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison, “we didn’t get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor”. The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. 

The next week the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important –they didn’t have enough money between all of them to pay for even half of the bill.  

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy and they just might not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier."  

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.

Professor of Economics

The End of the Road for the GCC Expat?

Adam Webb, Managing Director

What does the future entail for expats in the Middle East?

As you can imagine, I speak to a lot of expats in the Middle East region. I myself focus on the Real Estate Development and Architecture industries. In these industries there is a diverse mix of expats from all over the world based in the region, collaborating to design and bring to life some of the most exciting projects in the World. 

With the uncertainty of the economies of the GCC at the present time, people are wondering, “Is the bubble about to burst?”

The answer is not as cut and dry as one might think; although there are plenty of people who are predicting the apocalypse of the expat (normally a retired or out of work Oil and Gas engineer found in a corner of Mcgettigans), it is important to segment the diversity of people that occupy the Middle East. On top of that, you have to look at the different countries in the GCC as the predicament really does differ from Saudi to Qatar to the UAE. You cannot tar all expats with one brush.

Without listing every nationality currently residing in the GCC (I’m sure every country in the world is represented in some form or another), expats can broadly be split into: Western (English speaking), Regional (predominantly Arabic speaking and fluent in English) and Asian.

You have all seen the ‘before and after’ picture of Dubai showcasing how far the Emirate has come and there are countless more examples which are similar for their drastic transformations. Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain etc. They are all going through their own transformations looking to emulate and better what Dubai has created and challenge them in becoming a hospitality and business powerhouse in the GCC.

This in itself could provide the answer in how and where the longevity of the expat life will next come from. Will the modern day expat take on the same risk and challenges that the former professionals of 20 years ago did by moving to a baron desert with a bucket load of potential and one watering hole after tasting the luxuries and comforts that Dubai has to offer? Again this is an individual question where the answer will change from person to person and depend on a multitude of factors, but there will still be opportunities aplenty for those looking to step outside their comfort zone.

The Western expat 20 years ago could name their price. The region lacked expertise in a number of industries and they did a great job in making the GCC what it is today. Fast-forward 20 years and the talent in the region is diverse, competitive and capable. In some cases, regional talent is a lot more attractive due to their language skills and cultural familiarity and has become essential for a lot of employers in the region. 

Of course, there are some industries that benefit from Western expertise, most notably the Banking and the booming Fintech/E-commerce industries, but how long will it be before the regional talent, catch up, just like they have in other industries such as Development, IT and HR – 5-10 years, but don't be surprised if it is even sooner!

Regional talent from countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Bahrain and other regional powerhouses will continue to play a strong role in the GCC economy and workforce, these are the candidates that are mainly competing with Western expats for these roles and are more often than not, winning the contest. However, with companies reacting to the financial forecast and outlook and tightening their purse strings, candidates risk pricing themselves out the market and longing for days of old. There is no time for nostalgia in this fast moving region, you will simply be left behind or glossed over.

The Asian workforce and their tireless work is what the GCC is built upon. The backbone some may say, not occupying the most glamorous roles on the whole, but the important ones that are critical for most projects success. There is no shortage of talent in sub-continent countries such as India and Pakistan, however, to climb that ladder and eventually lead teams and companies, their management skills and language skills will no doubt have to match their talent.

A Harvard Business review shared the stat that in the Fortune 500, a staggering 30% of CEO’s heralded from Indian shores. For a country that gets a lot of bad press, this stat shows that given the right opportunities, Indian business leaders can mix it with anyone else in the heady heights of the C-Suite. The GCC is in a prime position both economically and geographically to build upon Asian success (most notably in the USA and UK). This is very promising and something that Asian business leaders can strive towards and more importantly realise.

So has the Expat Bubble burst?

For those that want to cash in the last 5 years of their working life before retiring, most probably yes. The opportunities for industry experts for one last payday are generally gone as there isn’t as much of a shortage of talent as there was 20 years ago. Don’t get me wrong, those opportunities ARE still available, but perhaps in not the most glamorous locations such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi or on the salary you might expect. A close friend gave up his Director role in a UAE based Oil and Gas Company after hefty cutbacks and took a role with the same company in Mexico. Would you be willing to make the same move for your career?

Recruitment for Expats in the GCC will be as selective as it is anywhere else in the world. Competition is fierce and as one of the most desirable places to relocate due to tax breaks, only the candidates who offer their employer real value will reap the rewards.

The job market has finally caught up; it is in direct correlation with the health of industry in the region and it is no longer a free for all for those longing for a decent paycheck, Thursday sundowners on a warm February night and a Friday brunch. The landscape has changed and everyone else will have to adapt with it. (including me!)

If you are a candidate that can offer value to an employer or an employer looking to find the ideal candidate, then we at Fulton Garrick are perfectly suited to help you in a consultative, precise and focused manner across the Development, Architecture, Fintech, FMCG and Legal sectors.

Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read this article and please do share your insights and thoughts. All opinions are welcome and readily received.