CIMA Presents: Finance Business Partnering: The Conversations that Count

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On Thurs 23rd Feb, CIMA President Andrew Miskin FCMA CGMA visited UWE to present CIMA research on the changing role of the management accountant in the information age.

He addressed  an audience of public and private sector delegates, academic staff and students, and lead an interactive discussion on finance business partnering. He was welcomed by Tracey John, Head of Research and Business Development in RBI and supported by an introduction from Professor Robert Luther. 150 delegates enjoyed an insight into the future of the management accountant in the information  age and a lively panel debate ensued. A number of students from AEF attended and their comments included:

It was a very powerful talk that gave me new insights to approach my current modules with, as well as a rare chance to have an informal talk with leading academics and accountants that more students should utilise.(Maxwell , BAAF3)

‘It was an enlightening experience and was full of lots of relevant insightful information. Andrew seems to have a very real and positive idea about how management accountants fit into the future. I found the whole thing very interesting.’ (Abigail BAAF3)

CIMA are actively involved in supporting our accounting students and are already planning further events of this kind with us.

‘Replete with folly and injustice’ – Hammond follows in Osborne’s footsteps

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Author Jo Michell, Senior Lecturer in Economics

The media response to the Budget is always reliably low on content and high on hyperbole. Even by these exacting standards, 2017 has been a vintage year. Coverage has focused almost exclusively on the decision to raise National Insurance contributions for self-employed workers – with some side glances to the tax treatment of dividend payments. The macroeconomic implications of the budget have passed almost without comment.

In the days leading up to the budget statement, much attention was focused on Hammond’s proposed £60bn ‘rainy day fund’ – alternatively marketed in some outlets as a ‘war chest’ or ‘gas in the tank’ – to cope with Brexit contingencies.

What form does this fund take? The average reader probably imagines that ‘putting money aside’ involves a transfer of funds into an account somewhere. Maybe the Chancellor will open up an ISA to keep his £60bn safe from the taxman until he needs it?

In fact, the Chancellor’s £60bn ‘fund’ is not yet even in his own hands – it refers to planned additional borrowing between now and 2020.

How, the reader may reasonably ask, is planned borrowing a ‘rainy day fund’? The answer is that – despite determination by politicians and the media to conflate the two – household finances and government finances do not work in the same way. The endless references to ‘living within our means’ and ‘maxing out the credit card’ are deeply misleading – usually intentionally so – when applied to public finances.

Rather than ‘cash in the bank’, the £60bn ‘fund’ is a result of the Chancellor shifting his own fiscal targets around. When he took over from George Osborne, Hammond inherited a ‘fiscal rule’ requiring the government to be in surplus by 0.5% of GDP by the 2020-21 parliament. In plainer language, this means that the government must aim to be repaying its creditors to the tune of half a per cent of GDP by 2020.

In the Autumn Statement, Hammond – taking a leaf from the Gordon Brown rulebook – shifted the goalposts. Instead of aiming at a 0.5% surplus, the new target is a 2.0% deficit. By 2020, the government will aim to be borrowing an amount equal to 2% of GDP per annum.

Incidentally, a 2% deficit by 2020 is pretty much exactly what Labour proposed at the last election. Although denounced as the height of fiscal irresponsibility by the Tories at the time, this has now been spun into a prudent ‘rainy day fund’.

At the time that the Chancellor shifted the goalposts, official figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility showed projected actual borrowing to be a bit less than the target of 2% – by a total of £27bn over the period up to 2020. Since the autumn, official predictions about the public finances have shifted slightly in Hammond’s favour:  as a result of the credit-fuelled post referendum consumer spending spree, tax revenues are now projected to be slightly higher over the next few years.

If the latest round of projections turns out to be correct (they almost certainly won’t) the Chancellor will further undershoot his borrowing target, by a total of around £60bn over the period.

To use the government’s favoured credit card analogy, it is as if you were to obtain a credit card with £1000 limit, and then plan to spend only £400 – leaving you with a ‘rainy day fund’ of another £600.

But this misleading analogy shouldn’t be used. For one thing, the Chancellor is free to set his own limit: the 2% number is arbitrary. He could conjure billions more into his ‘fund’ simply by raising his borrowing target to 3%.

All this of course assumes that he doesn’t make any changes to his tax and spending plans – he could, of course, use public borrowing to fund additional spending on investment and services.

But he won’t do this. He is determined to miss out on the once-in-a-generation opportunity provided by ultra-low interest rates. Rather than taking the advice of the economics profession and spending on desperately needed new infrastructure, the Chancellor presents further austerity as prudence. It is nothing of the sort.

This highlights a more important difference between household and government finances. Spending by an individual household on accommodation, food and clothing will not affect the size of its wage packet. This is not the case for government. Increased public spending leads to higher employment and therefore to higher tax income and lower benefit payments. This is why the ‘credit card’ analogies are so wrong and so pernicious. Government expenditure and income are not independent.

This is what lies behind Keynes’ claim that cuts may not even achieve their narrow aims of reducing government debt. Spending cuts during periods of weak demand lead to lower growth and higher debt ratios.  Recent research finds strong evidence for Keynes’ position: ‘Attempts to reduce debt via fiscal consolidations have very likely resulted in a higher debt to GDP ratio through their long-term negative impact on output.’

In their analysis of the budget, the Institute for Fiscal studies noted that the UK has now gone a decade without growth (on a per capita basis). Average earnings are not projected to reach 2007 levels again until 2022 – by then the UK will have gone fifteen years without a pay rise.

This unprecedented situation is man-made. It is the outcome of seven years of macroeconomic mismanagement. Hammond’s insistence that austerity is prudence brings to mind Keynes’ response to demands for budget cuts in 1930, just after the Wall Street crash: ‘I suppose that they are such very plain men that the advantages of not spending money seem obvious to them.’

Analysis by the Resolution Foundation shows that the burden of cuts in the coming years will fall entirely on those on low and middle incomes, while the better off are set to see their incomes rise.

The emergency Labour budget of 1931 was, Keynes wrote, ‘replete with folly and injustice’. The statement could equally have been made about any budget presented by George Osborne. Hammond appears determined to follow in his predecessor’s footsteps.

 

The Distinguished Professorial Address: Professor Sylvia Walby -“Gender and the crisis”, March 30th

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The Bristol Business School invites you to Professor Sylvia Walby’s Distinguished Professorial Address at UWE Bristol on Thursday 30 March. Register your place here.

Sylvia Walby OBE is Distinguished Professor of Sociology, UNESCO Chair of Gender Research, and Director of the Violence and Society UNESCO Centre at Lancaster University. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and of the RSA.

She was the founding President of the European Sociological Association; and has been President of Research Committee 02 Economy and Society of the International Sociological Association. She has served on the sub-panel for Sociology for HEFECE REF2014, and as a non-executive director of the UK National Commission for UNESCO.

Her research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Commission, European Parliament, European Institute for Gender Equality, Council of Europe, ESRC, and the UN. Books on ‘society’ include: Crisis (Polity 2015); The Future of Feminism (Polity 2011); and Globalization and Inequalities: Complexity and Contested Modernities (Sage 2009). Books on ‘violence’ include: The Concept and Measurement of Violence against Women and Men (Policy Press 2017), and Stopping Rape: Towards a Comprehensive Policy (Policy Press 2015).

Her address will look at answering the question “Is the mid-twentieth century European nightmare, in which financial crisis led to economic recession, fascism and violence, being repeated today?” 

Abstract:

“What constitutes crisis is contested. The construction of government deficits as if they entailed fiscal crisis to be treated as a state of exception is contested. The cascading of crisis from one institutional domain to another is also contested, since renewed democratic forces potentially provide sites of resilience and resistance.

The significance of gender relations in this democratic resistance is often underestimated. How is the crisis restructuring the gender regime? The complex inequalities on which the financial crisis draws, and which the development of global finance exacerbates, intersect in diverse ways. The paper argues for a gendered conceptualisation of the crisis, not as ‘refamilialisation’ in which women are pushed out of production back into reproduction, but rather as a critical turning point in the trajectory of the public gender regime from a more social democratic form to a more neoliberal form.

The paper offers analyses of gendered practices of the stages of the crisis. It addresses whether the crisis – erupting in finance in 2007, and cascading through the economy, the fiscal, and the political – is now leading to an increase in violence. The theorisation of crisis is developed using complexity science, gender theory, and a reworking of the concept of social system.”

The event is free to attend. Register your place here.

Students gain “real world” presentation feedback from Robert Half Employment Consultants

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This term students in the final year of the BA Accounting and Finance degree work on an audit of a fictitious company Sheridan AV in the Audit and Corporate Governance module.   Last Friday they took part in a practice presentation of their work on the planning phase of the audit to a panel comprising the two tutors (Susan Whittaker and Nicola Horner) who acted as the audit manager and the audit partner.  Also on the presentation panel was Leo Hewett who is an Associate Director of Robert Half employment consultants.

Susan and Nicola provided feedback to the students on their technical audit knowledge and Leo gave them instant feedback on their presentation skills.

The intention is that students will be able to consider this feedback  before they make their assessed presentation next month.   Leo’s feedback will also be helpful for students to consider when interviewing for graduate positions.

Equipping Line Managers for People Management: A Leading Edge Workshop, 5th April 2017

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Author: Debbie Bishop, Lecturer, Human Resource Management, Bristol Business School

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“I am very lucky, my line manager is Assoc. Professor Sue Hutchinson, who has impressive research credentials from her work looking at front-line managers and their role as people managers’. She understands the critical impact this role can have on operational performance. I get plenty of feedback from Sue, not just once a year, but whenever she has a chance to pass something on to me. She is accessible to me, if I want to ask a question or discuss an issue. My performance reviews, as you might expect, are very useful. I feel listened to, valued and know I have a variety of development opportunities available to me. And these are some of the key aspects needed in a good line manager.

Recent survey evidence from the CIPD[1] found that 35% of employees were neutral to dissatisfied with the relationship they had with their line manager. Further, they found that 40% of employees rarely or never had their training and development needs discussed with them.

Only half of employees felt they always or usually had the resources to do their jobs and perhaps a slightly different 50% felt their line manager always or usually recognised a good job. And there is plenty more research to back this up. Mike Clasper spoke at a Distinguished Executive Address in September 2015 and in his position as Chartered Management Institute President, pointed to their research findings that nearly 50% of line managers are ineffective. It is a frightening statistic, but the findings consistently point in this direction. But as Sue’s own research has shown, line managers face many challenges at work, with “people manager” being only one aspect of their demanding and varied workload. And when you add to this CMI research findings that 2/3 of employers offer no management training, we can hardly be shocked at the predicament.

On the 5th April at 5pm, Sue will be leading a free workshop aimed at helping you think about how to equip your line managers for people management. Sue will help you consider how to enable, resource and support your line managers so that they are equipped to manage people fairly and effectively. We hope the workshop will be interactive and welcome questions or discussion on your own circumstances and challenges.

We think the workshop will be of benefit to senior managers, owners/directors of SMEs as well as those with responsibility for HR. I will be there also, as will my colleague Dr Helen Mortimore. We will be adding our own mix of HR practitioner experience in this area, in the hope that this hour gives you access to as much expertise as possible!

Sue’s track record in this area is proven; her research findings in this area have helped a diverse range of organisations support their line managers as implementers of HR policies, and transformed the way they work in this area. She has also carried out research on this subject for the CIPD. A list of Sue’s research is available here.

For more information about this workshop and the Distinguished Executive Address that will follow click here. To book your place on the workshop please email us directly at Events@uwe.ac.uk stating your name, position and organisation and “Leading Edge Workshop 5/4/17” in the subject would be very helpful.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at debbie.bishop@uwe.ac.uk

We look forward to meeting you!”

The Faculty of Business and Law launch new Research Centres and Groups

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A ‘soft launch’ of the new research centres and groups was held on 25th January 2017 at the Executive Conference Centre.  The groundbreaking research undertaken at UWE Bristol aims to make its mark on business, industry and the wider community.

There are three new research centres and five research groups:

  • CALR- Centre for Applied Legal Research
  • BCEF – Bristol Centre for Economics and Finance
  • BLCC – Bristol Leadership and Change Centre

The groups are:

  • IOMS – Innovation, Operations Management and Supply
  • HRM – Human Resource Management
  • AMG – Applied Marketing Group
  • EE – Enterprise and Entrepreneurship
  • BBEC – Bristol Business Engagement Centre

Donna Whitehead Pro Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean in her introductory remarks stated:

I’m really excited about the future of our research. What we are launching today represents our ambitious and creative values. We have created new research centres and groups that really reflect our strengths; where we have significant resource, capacity, capability and ambition’

 Presentations were given on each of the research centres and the research groups, outlining the aims of each centre or group.

All the presentations stressed the applied nature of their research and links with their stakeholders.

The soft launch was held prior to Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, Chairman of Cobra Beer’s Bristol Distinguish Address.

In his concluding remarks Lord Bilimoria congratulated the centres and groups and focused on the benefits of collaborative research that impacts on both policy change and decision -making. Lord Bilimoria outlined the benefits of collaborative research and the resultant opportunities.

Over 120 staff and external stakeholders attended the soft launch.

UWE Student Conference: Final call for abstracts

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Organised jointly by staff and students, the inaugural UWE Student Conference will celebrate research/enquiry/evidence-based practice from undergraduate and postgraduate taught students across all years of study and all disciplines.

There will be prizes for the best paper and poster presentations, and posters will be printed at no cost. Your name, paper/poster title, abstract and short biography will be included in a colour programme.

 What can you present?

  • Dissertation work
  • Group based/individual projects
  • Placement/Internship activities
  • Essays
  • Evidence-based enquiries
  • Reflective evidence-based practice/ service improvement.

You can use existing coursework material or present new ideas to gain feedback

What is the time-line?

  • Revised and final abstract deadline: Friday 20 January 2017
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: Monday 30 January 2017
  • Conference registration opens: Monday 30 January 2017
  • Submit papers and posters online: Friday 24 March 2017
  • UWE Student Conference: Monday 10 April 2017 (first week of Easter break)

How do I submit an abstract?

You can find the abstract submission form and further details via: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/newsandevents/studentconference.aspx or by checking Infohub.

Email your abstract to learningforall@uwe.ac.uk using the conference abstract submission form by the revised deadline of 20 January 2017. In the subject of your email state: your faculty, your name, student conference e.g.:  ACE, John Smith, student conference.

 

UWE Women Researchers Mentoring Scheme: Applications open for mentors and mentees until 13 January 2017

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The Women Researchers Mentoring Scheme (WRMS) aims to promote and facilitate professional development for women researchers working at UWE Bristol, helping them reach senior research roles.

Applications to the scheme are now open and will close on Friday 13 January 2017.

This mentoring scheme provides support to female staff to develop and strengthen their research portfolio, thereby making them more able to compete for senior research roles alongside their male counterparts. It also aims to address the imbalance of male and female staff in senior roles. In the longer term, it is anticipated that such a scheme will help to achieve the strategic aim of increasing the number of women in senior research roles across the University.

The scheme offers a specified number of mentoring opportunities which aim to provide mentees with encouragement, support and advice from a more experienced colleague, and to help them realise potential and fulfil their research career aspirations. The scheme will entail a nominated woman researcher being matched to a mentor, who can be a woman or man.

The scheme is available for all women in academic and research roles, employed by UWE Bristol who wish to develop their research careers. Professors, Associate Professors and other experienced researchers are invited to take on mentoring roles.

PhD students, staff seconded from other institutions, staff in receipt of the current Vice-Chancellor’s Early Career Researcher Award and new members of staff who are being mentored as part of their probation period are not eligible to apply as mentees.

Applications are now open for both mentors and mentees. It is important that we gain as much information as possible on each applicant and their reasons for applying to the scheme in order to enable us to make the most suitable mentor/mentee pairing. The WRMS team will strive to match everybody that applies, so we welcome as much details as possible on the application form.

More information and the application form for mentors and mentees can be found here.

Business skills for a vibrant economy – are you equipped for the post-Brexit world?

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Expert Panel Discussion and Q&A with Hilary Lindsay, National President ICAEW

Friday 25th November, 12:00 – 14:00 , 2S704 Frenchay Campus

The Faculty of Business and Law at UWE Bristol invite you to a lunchtime panel  discussion and Q&A with Hilary Lindsay, National President of the ICAEW, and a panel of expert business leaders and researchers, followed by a light buffet lunch.

Please register your attendance at his free event here.

The discussion will  address some key challenges for business in the future as the national and global economy changes, focussing on the skills businesses require to take advantage of opportunities and be at the forefront of change.

The Panel will aim to provide some insight into how today’s young professionals and business leaders can be best equipped to excel in this environment. What will businesses demand from their teams? Where are the skills shortages, what are the opportunities and what will future career paths  to look like?

The Panel includes representatives from regional and international companies, the ICAEW and UWE research. It offers expertise across a broad spectrum, including  financial market structures and the challenges of globalised markets outside the EU, customer service and the effective use and management of digital media and communications,  regional business development opportunities, new enterprise growth and the role of the professions in supporting and driving the new economy.

Panel members:

Hilary Lindsay – President, ICAEW

Rick Sturge – Head of Business Development, Firstsource

Tim Lincoln – Practice Leader, Grant Thornton’s

Jon Tucker – Professor, UWE Bristol

Damian Whittard – Researcher in Regional Economics, UWE Bristol

Please register your attendance at his free event here.

Help the Bristol Business School with a research project on wellbeing and space with a collective walk

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As part of a research project titled Thinking urban spaces differently: Articulating and contesting ‘green’ imageries of Bristol as an enterprising city”, Pam Seanor, Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Enterprise, is looking for participants for a collective walk.

The walk takes place on Saturday 22 October at 12.30pm from Arnos Vale Cemetery. The walk will take around 1hr 30mins and refreshments will be provided at the end of the walk. The walk is part of a series of events taking place as part of Healthy City Week.

The idea of a collective walk is that it enables ideas to flow more freely than they might do if sat behind a desk.

Pam is interested to hear about what Bristol means to you and if you see any perceived benefits between “green” spaces and wellbeing. She is keen to hear from local residents, people who use green spaces for leisure and those that work in Bristol.

This is the third walk that Pam has hosted as part of the project. In Spring 2017, she will be hosting a workshop “Exploring Spaces of “Green” Practices”. The workshop will include a short film of the walks and will collaboratively explore the different narratives identified on the walks. Additionally there will be a report shared on how walking and talking with other can help social change. Anyone who took part in the walk will be invited to attend the workshop but it will also be open to anyone who is simply interested in learning more about the project.

Places are free but most be booked. Email Pam for more information and to register your place: Pam.seanor@uwe.ac.uk