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Synpulse widens circle of Partners

International management consultancy Synpulse has two new partners. The appointments are a result of strong growth in the company’s business with banks and insurers in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Synpulse has appointed Prasanna Venkatesan and Salomon Wettstein as new partners, according to a news release on Thursday. The firm also announced that Yves Roesti has joined its team of managing partners.

Roesti is based in Singapore and responsible for Synpulse’s consulting business in Asia. He studied computer science and economics at the University of Zurich and started his career at Synpulse in Zurich in 2006. Since his relocation to Singapore in 2008, he has led the expansion of Synpulse’s consulting business in Asia.

Promoting Digital Roadmaps

In 2015, he was appointed partner. Under his leadership, Synpulse grew the team in Asia to 150 consultants across three key markets – Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. In particular, Roesti has been promoting banking operating model transformations and digital roadmaps.

Wettstein joined Synpulse in 2011. He holds a Master in Computational Science and Engineering at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. Wettstein heads the Hong Kong office and oversees the banking practice in the Greater China region. He manages strategic business and technology transformations for clients in that region and is part of the global Operational Excellence leadership team.

Consulting Private Banks

Venkatesan also started his career at Synpulse in 2011 and is based in Singapore. He holds an MBA from the Nanyang University of Technology (NTU) in Singapore. He specializes in consulting for the private banking sector in the areas of advisory excellence, large scale transformation and leads the regulatory, risk and compliance practice in Asia.

Since its founding in 1996, Synpulse has supported banks and insurers along the entire value chain – that is from the development of strategies and their operational realization to technical implementation and handover. Synpulse stands out due to the industry expertise, passion and commitment of its more than 350 employees. The firm has offices in Zurich, Geneva, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Bratislava, Vienna, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and London.

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UK entrepreneurs pledge support for construction skills initiative

An initiative designed to attract new talent into the built environment industry has secured the backing of entrepreneurs from three high-profile firms.

Black & White Engineering (B&W), s h e d and James Christopher Consulting are the latest companies to become sponsors of PlanBEE (Built Environment Education), a flexible training programme designed to attract and retain the brightest new talent in the region, plug skills gaps and create a more flexible workforce capable of working across various construction disciplines.

The initiative was launched in 2016 when Gateshead College and Ryder Architecture formed a powerful alliance with a network of architects, designers, contractors and engineering specialists.

Rather than follow a traditional training model where students complete their qualifications while working in one company, PlanBEE gives trainees the chance to work in several companies across the built environment industry.

This radical approach allows entrepreneurs to make their business more competitive and efficient by hiring staff with a more rounded understanding of the industry.

Students on the programme will now benefit from a wider range of expertise with B&W, s h e d and James Christopher Consulting on board.

Launched in the United Arab Emirates in 2007, B&W is a mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) design consultancy with offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Baku, Manila, London and Newcastle. The company offers design and consultancy services to the construction industry worldwide and has worked on numerous large-scale iconic projects including high-rise towers, data centres, hotels, shopping malls and airports.

Steven Horn, director, in B&W’s Newcastle office, said: “We need to see more young people coming into our industry with knowledge of different areas of the built environment. The way PlanBEE is structured allows us to achieve this. The programme is ideal preparation for how we want to develop our staff, which is to give them opportunities to experience different ways of working on various projects around the world.”

Newcastle-based s h e d is a structural and civil engineering design consultancy that specialises in complex engineering design and Building Information Modelling (BIM), an approach that helps firms risk-assess projects at an early stage by generating intelligent 3D models of buildings before construction takes place.

Marc Horn of s h e d said: “Our expertise in BIM requires us to recruit staff with a rounded understanding of the built environment sector. PlanBEE enables us to achieve this because it moves away from traditional off-the-shelf training initiatives that shoehorn professionals into narrowly defined roles in a single company.”

James Christopher Consulting, an established engineering practice in Gateshead, offers design services to the built environment sector and works on a wide range of projects, from small-scale specialist structures to large-scale commercial developments including land reclamation and drainage works.

Technical director Craig Higgins said: “We were delighted to get involved with PlanBEE and were impressed with this novel approach to recruiting, training and developing staff. There’s a strong emphasis on the application of digital technologies to different types of construction projects and we want our workforce to be at the forefront of this revolution.”

Working with Gateshead College, the PlanBEE group has created a bespoke higher-level skills programme that provides budding professionals with study and off-the-job training at the college’s construction facility on Team Valley, along with a job working with some of the region’s leading companies. It has been tailored specifically for and by the North East construction sector, providing students with a starting salary of £10,700 per year, a professional qualification and a guaranteed job opportunity on graduation.

Established by Ryder Architecture, the initiative has already attracted some high-profile names, including Brims Construction, NBS, Desco (Design & Consultancy), BIM Academy, Sir Robert McAlpine, Xsite Architecture, Robertson, 3e Consulting, Cundall, Arup, FaulknerBrowns, Sadler Brown Architecture and Tolent.

Chris Toon, deputy principal at Gateshead College, said: “It’s great to have three additional sponsors on board. The industry has called for employees to be skilled in a greater range of disciplines, such as surveying, landscaping, architecture and planning, and PlanBEE addresses this fundamental need.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of an industry-led initiative that’s becoming a national exemplar for the recruitment and development of construction employees.”

Mark Thompson, managing partner at Ryder Architecture, added: “It’s fantastic to see the positive impact the programme is making on the students and sponsoring businesses, and we’re delighted to be welcoming the new sponsors to our third cohort.”

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DLA Piper boosts trainee salaries to £77k, as pay rises continue

DLA Piper has upped the salaries of its trainees and newly qualified (NQ) solicitors, as City law firms continue to chuck extra cash at their rookie ranks.

The global titan has confirmed that first years will now receive a salary of £45,000, up 2% from £44,000, while those in year two of their TCs will earn £50,000, again a rise of £1,000 or 2%. There’s extra cash for DLA’s NQs, too. The firm’s new associates will now receive £77,000, an extra £2,000 or 3%, putting them on the same remuneration levels as their peers at Baker McKenzie and Norton Rose Fulbright.

The firm, which offers around 70 training contracts each year, has also bumped pay across its offices outside London. First year trainees in the English regions and Scotland now earn £28,000, while those a year ahead will now receive a salary of £31,000 — an extra £1,000 across the board. Regional and Scottish NQ pay now sits at £44,000, up from a previous figure of £42,000.

News of the uplifts come just weeks after it emerged that DLA Piper had ditched a policy which ensured its London and regional trainees were paid the same while completing secondments overseas. Speaking at the time, a spokesperson for the firm said the “adjustment to the secondment policy for our UK regional offices” was part of a “new international graduate programme”.

A host of City firms have confirmed salary rises in recent weeks. A full breakdown of what they pay (and much, much more) can be found on the 2018 edition of our Firms Most List.

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Who’s switching jobs? People moves for October 12th

The latest news for People on the Move, including insights and opinions from employment experts around the globe.

Octopus Property

Specialist property lender Octopus Property, part of the Octopus Group, announced the appointment of Paula Purdy as business development manager (BDM), north of England, reporting directly to D’mitri Zaprzala, Head of Sales. Paula’s appointment follows on from the three regional BDM hires announced last month, with representatives now established across the UK. Paula brings over 17 years of residential, commercial, buy-to-let and bridging lending experience. She joins Octopus Property from Shawbrook Bank, where she was head of sales, residential mortgages, increasing business and raising Shawbrook’s profile amongst intermediaries. Paula will be responsible for deepening relationships with introducers, alongside building new ones, in and around major North of England cities including Chester, Liverpool, Crewe and Warrington, leveraging Octopus Property’s residential, commercial and development product range.

White & Case LLP

Global law firm White & Case has expanded its global project finance practice with the addition of Simon Caridia as a new partner in London. Simon focuses his practice on debt financings for infrastructure M&A and private equity transactions. He advises industry sponsors, infrastructure and private equity funds, commercial bank lenders, multilateral agencies, institutional investors and host governments on brownfield transactions and greenfield projects, including acquisitions, refinancing’s, restructurings, project finance and public-private partnerships. He joins White & Case from Herbert Smith Freehills, where he was a partner. “There are very few lawyers in the London market who can match Simon’s reputation, experience and market knowledge in relation to advising clients on debt financing for infrastructure M&A and private equity deals,” said White & Case partner Mark Castillo-Bernaus.

Houlihan Lokey

Houlihan Lokey, the global investment bank, yesterday announced that David Brock had joined the firm as a managing director in its industrials group, focused on the building products sector. He is based in London. David joins from Jefferies, where he was a managing director and head of the construction and building materials group. Prior to Jefferies, he was also a managing director and head of the construction and building materials group at Deutsche Bank. David’s previous experience also includes equity research roles in the building products sector at Credit Suisse and HSBC. “I am excited for the opportunity to be part of this momentum and to be joining the market-leading Industrials team,” David said.

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High Court blocks iPhone data breach class action against Google

The High Court has blocked a mass legal action against Google over claims that it collected sensitive personal data from more than four million iPhone users.

Mr Justice Warby, sitting in London, announced his decision on Monday.

The litigation was brought by campaign group Google You Owe Us, led by former Which? director Richard Lloyd.

The tech giant faced claims that it bypassed privacy settings on Apple iPhone handsets between August 2011 and February 2012 and used data to divide people into categories for advertisers.

The campaign group hoped to win at least £1 billion in compensation for an estimated 4.4 million users of the device in the UK.

At the first hearing of the case in London in May, lawyers for Mr Lloyd told the court that information collected by Google included racial or ethnic origin, physical and mental health, political affiliations or opinions, sexuality and sexual interests and social class.

They said information about an individual’s financial situation, shopping habits and their geographical location were also obtained.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, representing Mr Lloyd, said information was then “aggregated” and users were put into groups such as “football lovers” or “current affairs enthusiasts”.

These were then offered to subscribing advertisers to choose from when deciding who to direct their marketing to.

Mr Tomlinson said the data was gathered through “clandestine tracking and collation” of information relating to internet usage on iPhone users’ Safari browser – known as the “Safari Workaround”.

He told Mr Justice Warby the activity was exposed by a PhD researcher in 2012 and Google has already paid 39.5 million US dollars to settle claims in the United States.

Google argued that the type of “representative action” being brought against it by Mr Lloyd is unsuitable and should not go ahead.

Lawyers for the California-based company said there is no suggestion that the Safari Workaround resulted in any information being disclosed to third parties.

They also said it is not possible to identify those who may have been affected and the claim has no prospect of success.

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Chaotic Brexit will ‘hit property market for six’

The average house price across the UK inched up in September according to a leading survey, but experts are stepping up their warnings that a chaotic Brexit will hit a weak property market ‘for six’.

Property values rose by 0.3 per cent on August, according to figures by Nationwide, to reach on average £214,922 – although that disguised significant regional disparities with the capital again experiencing falling values. Annual price growth remained stable at 2 per cent, unchanged from the August rate which was the slowest in five years.

Jonathan Samuels of property lender Octane Capital said that despite a rising average price, the property market is ‘sterile at best’.

‘The little annual house price growth there is, is being driven as much by the lack of supply as it is demand,’ he added. ‘A strong jobs market and continued low borrowing rates are keeping transactions ticking over despite pressure on household finances, interest rate uncertainty and the ever-present threat that is Brexit.

‘Few would bet against the market staying in the same supply/demand rut for the rest of the year and well into 2019. A chaotic Brexit has the potential to hit confidence and the property market for six.’

That sentiment was echoed by Jonathan Hopper of Garrington Property Finders, although he noted that, while prices in the capital are still falling and have now notched up five straight quarters of decline, the slide is slowing.

‘For London house prices, there may be light at the end of the tunnel,’ he added. ‘The only problem is no-one is yet sure if the light is a Brexit-shaped train.

‘While many regional markets are relatively insulated from Brexit concerns, in London and the South East these fears are a real threat to the market.’

Lucy Pendleton of independent estate agents James Pendleton said that people are ‘waiting to see whether the Brexit gods deliver us a very bad Brexit or just a tumultuous one’.

Like other recent surveys, the Nationwide report showed that prices in London and the outer commuter belt continued to fall, while Yorkshire and Humberside and the East Midlands saw the strongest growth in the country.

Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide, said overall national growth was stable in September, but said future developments depended on how broader economic conditions evolved, especially in the labour market, but also with respect to interest rates.

The Bank of England raised interest rates to 0.75 per cent from 0.5 per cent in August, but is not expected to make the next hike until next year.

‘Subdued economic activity and ongoing pressure on household budgets is likely to continue to exert a modest drag on housing market activity and house price growth this year, though borrowing costs are likely to remain low,’ Gardner added.

‘Overall, we continue to expect house prices to rise by around 1% over the course of 2018.’

Yorkshire & Humberside was the best performing region for the first time in more than a decade with a 5.8 per cent rate of growth, while the North saw the biggest annual price fall of 1.7 per cent.

In London, prices fell by 0.7 per cent last month – the fifth quarter in a row of declines, Nationwide said.

However, if we look at the change in prices since the peak of 2007 just before the credit crunch, the picture is reversed, according to the report.

Prices in London are still over 50 per cent ahead of its 2007 figure, while Wales, Scotland and the three regions of northern England are largely unchanged over the past decade.

Nationwide found that the East Midlands continued to see ‘relatively strong growth’, with prices up 4.8 per cent year-on-year, followed by Northern Ireland, which saw a pick up in annual price growth to 4.3 per cent and was the best performing amongst the home nations.

Wales saw a slight softening in growth, with prices up 3.3 per cent year on year. Price growth also slowed in Scotland, from 3.1 per cent in the second quarter to 2.1 per cent. England was the weakest performing nation, with prices up 1.4 per cent year on year.

It comes as Theresa May announced at the weekend plans for foreign buyers to be charged a higher stamp duty rate when they buy property in the UK.

The move will be seen as an attempt to neutralise the success of Jeremy Corbyn’s drive to attract young voters with pledges to provide more affordable housing and target high earners.

Mr Murphy at the CML said: ‘Any impact that the potential introduction of additional Stamp Duty on overseas buyers on investment property is likely to be more keenly felt in the capital, however how much of a bearing it will have in real terms is potentially up for debate.’