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Sesame Bankhall hires new MD to drive digital services

Adviser network Sesame Bankhall Group has appointed Richard Howells as managing director of Sesame Network to help drive growth in digital services.

Mr Howells has a long track record in the financial and intermediary sector, including Zurich Financial Services and Berkeley Independent Advisers.

In his new role he will report to group managing director, Martin Schultheiss. He will take up his new role at the beginning of April, joining the executive team.

Mr Howells has 20 years’ industry experience in a range of executive roles. He was most recently director of insurance wealth life & pensions at Experian.

Prior to this he spent spent seven years at Zurich Financial Services as UK intermediary sales director. Other senior roles include managing director of strategy & development at Bankhall, along with chief executive of Berkeley Independent Advisers.

Mr Schultheiss said: “Richard’s industry background is ideal for us, combining a successful financial advisory track record in executive roles, with recent years spent working on disruptive digital engagement strategies.

“Richard will bring fresh thinking to our future plans, helping to ensure our members compete successfully in a digital world. Our group is investing in a range of exciting new services that will be built with advisers, for advisers, and with a clear focus on the delivery of great service and good customer outcomes.”

Mr Howells said: “SBG is investing heavily in the future of professional advice and there are exciting times ahead for its members. I can’t wait to start working with the team to help strengthen our member relationships further, and develop a new range of compelling propositions, as well as ensuring that Sesame champions the valuable service delivered to customers by its mortgage and protection firms.”

Sesame has one of the UK’s largest appointed representative networks and its Bankhall arm supports adviser firms directly regulated by the FCA.

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Canaccord Genuity acquires UK advisory firm McCarthy Taylor

Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management, the UK and Europe wealth management arm of Canada’s Canaccord Genuity Group, has bolstered its national presence by taking over Worcester-based financial advisory business McCarthy Taylor.

McCarthy, set up in 1998, offers bespoke financial planning and discretionary investment management services. The firm services clients across the Midlands.

Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management CEO David Esfandi said: “The acquisition of McCarthy Taylor represents an opportunity to expand our Midlands presence and creates a regional financial planning centre of excellence, which will be fully supported by our broader UK team.

“Together we share an unwavering commitment to expanding our offering of best-in-class fully integrated investment management and wealth planning services to discerning investors across the UK.”

The acquisition, whose financial terms were not disclosed, adds around £171m to Canaccord’s books.

McCarthy CEO Paul Taylor said: “Today marks an exciting chapter in the evolution of our business, and I am confident that joining Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management will bring significant benefits for our clients and our employees as we expand our services and opportunities.”

Paul Taylor will remain actively involved in the business to ensure a smooth transition.

In 2017, Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management snapped up British wealth manager Hargreave Hale.

For more information about Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management, please visit https://www.canaccordgenuity.com/wealth-management-uk/

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Former KPMG professional steps down from top Kier role

Professional services firm Kier Group has seen its CEO step down with immediate effect, following a coup in the construction company’s boardroom. Haydn Mursell, an accountant who began his career with KPMG, has been ousted as the company looks to commence a new era of growth, amid a UK construction sector that has struggled in the last year.

The British construction sector has endured a tumultuous 2018. Despite obtaining a sequence of lucrative public sector contracts throughout 2017, Leicester-based firm Carillion collapsed at the beginning of the year, sending shockwaves through the outsourcing sector as a whole.

Amid the chaos which ensued, Capita saw its share value slump repeatedly, while the first quarter of the year saw Serco suffer a 3.9% fall, alongside G4S (-1.1%) and Interserve (-1.9%). This was particularly unhelpful for the beleaguered Interserve, as the group – also best known for its work in construction – was already grappling with poor trading and climbing costs. Kier was also impacted, and the first quarter saw a similar -1.3% fall.

The infrastructure services, buildings and developments and housing group bounced back after that, however. Recent key contract awards included the renewal of a three-year £70 million utility services deal in the South West and being appointed to three lots on the North West Construction Hub three-year £1.5 billion framework. More than £500 million of regional building projects were also secured during November and December, such as a major office development for Argent at King’s Cross in London, a research facility for the Pirbright Institute in Surrey, and a new hospital for Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust.

The firm’s balance sheet was further strengthened on December 31 after the receipt of the £250 million net cash proceeds of the recent rights issue, and Kier remains on track to report a net cash position at the year-end. Despite this, however, board discontent has reportedly led to the exit of the firm’s long-standing CEO Haydn Mursell.

A chartered accountant, Mursell commenced his career with KPMG in 1995, before working at Bovis Lend Lease and then moving to the construction sector firm Balfour Beatty. He joined Kier in 2010, initially as Group Finance Director, before being confirmed as CEO just two months later. During his time in the role, he took on operational responsibility for the company’s property division.

With his exit from the firm, Kier has commenced the search for its new CEO, in a bid to steer the company into a fresh era of growth. Until this search is completed, Chairman Philip Cox will act as Executive Chair on an interim basis, working closely with the Chief Operating Officer Claudio Veritiero. They will jointly oversee operations for the time being.

Commenting on the move, Cox said, “The board believes that, following the completion of the recent rights issue, now is the right time for a new leader to take Kier forward to the next stage of its development. The board would like to thank Haydn for his contribution during eight years, firstly as finance director and then as Chief Executive.”

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When is the real Brexit deadline?

Less than 180 days to go and the pressure is on. Talks between the UK and the EU are at deadlock, with the intractable Irish border problem the biggest stumbling block. But here’s the catch: they must also set aside time for the deal to be reviewed and ratified by both sides.

In the United Kingdom, parliament must vote through the withdrawal agreement into law, while on the European side, it must receive the support from member states and the European parliament.

We all know that the clock is ticking. But political process on both sides means the real deadline is not 29 March itself. So just how much time is there?

On the EU’s side, Danuta Huebner, who chairs the European Parliament’s Brexit committee, has suggested that approval could be granted as late as the 11 March 2019. Meanwhile, the fact that the EU commission has continually updated EU capitals and institutions throughout the negotiations means that they would be unlikely to reject the agreement – even if it were presented to them as late as March.

But there are several reasons why delaying the vote until March would be politically problematic. First, although national parliaments in the EU will not be voting on the withdrawal agreement, some heads of governments may still be still required, in line with their own parliamentary traditions, to discuss the deal before and after the vote takes place. The Danish parliament’s European committee, for example, has a strong tradition of organising hearings ahead of EU votes and, in some cases, has even managed to influence the government’s position.

Second, the EU is conscious that the longer it discusses the terms of the UK’s exit, the less time it will have to discuss the future trade and security relationship. The way negotiations are organised means that discussions about the future can only take place once a withdrawal agreement has been reached. Many predict these discussions to be far more complex and question whether a future deal can be reached during the transition period which, providing it goes ahead, will end in December 2020.

Third, businesses on both sides are demanding greater clarity on the UK’s position after March 2019. For them, the longer the talks last, the less time they have to draw up new plans.

For all these reasons, the EU has provisionally set the date of 17 November to vote on the withdrawal agreement. But it is also in the UK’s interest to reach a deal by the end of the year.

For starters, there is actually a UK legal requirement that the government reach an agreement with the EU by 21 January 2019. In the absence of an exit deal, the UK parliament could put pressure on the government to change course – it is not clear how the prime minister would survive such a vote.

But even if the UK and the EU did reach an agreement by January 2019, there is no guarantee that the UK parliament would support it. Worse still, if it did reject the deal, it is hard to see how both sides could negotiate and ratify new exit terms by March 2019. Faced with such a dilemma, is it time to be thinking about extending talks beyond March 2019?

Legally speaking, this could be possible. According to Article 50, talks can be extended beyond the two-year negotiating framework, although this would require the approval of all 27 member states as well as the UK. But politically, this might prove complicated.

First, it is unclear how long talks would be extended for. The EU parliament elections are planned for May 2019, so a Brexit vote would need to take place either before the elections or after a new parliament is in place. The elections will also lead to the appointment of a new commission in the autumn, possibly even a new president. The EU may be reluctant to vote before the end of the year.

Second, it is unclear what would happen to the transition period. Currently, the transition is due to end at the end of 2020, at the same time as the current EU budget. During this time, the UK would continue to be part of the single market and customs union – although it would have no formal say or vote over new EU legislation. As a consequence, the UK may be asked to contribute to the new EU budget if it wanted to continue accessing the single market and customs union beyond 2020. It is hard to see how UK politicians would accept this.

When voting takes place depends largely on how quickly the UK and the EU reach an agreement. If they fail to reach a deal by 21 January 2019, or if the UK parliament rejects it, then frankly, all bets are off.

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Industry predictions: Technology, Media and Telecom sector trends

The technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) practice at Deloitte, the business advisory firm, has today announced its predictions for the UK TMT sector in 2019. The news comes following the launch of the eighteenth edition of Deloitte’s TMT Predictions 2019 report.

Deloitte’s TMT Predictions 2019 report – summary:

Smart speakers will be the fastest-growing connected device in 2019, with expected growth of 63% year-on-year to reach £5.6bn in revenue worldwide

Global 3D printing revenues from large public companies will rise by 12.6% to surpass £2bn, representing a significant but small proportion (0.02%) of all manufacturing revenues

c.20 handset vendors will launch 5G-ready devices in 2019, with 50,000 5G-enabled handsets to be shipped in the UK by the end of the year.

Smart Speakers: the hear and now

Deloitte predicts that smart speakers – internet-connected speakers with integrated digital assistants – will be the fastest-growing connected device in 2019, with 164 million units to be sold globally, up from 98 million in 2018. The smart speaker market is expected to grow by 63% year-on-year to £5.6bn in revenue, with a global installed base of a quarter of a billion by the end of 2019.

As of mid-2018, 12% of UK adults, approximately 6.2 million, had access to a smart speaker. This compares with 22% of adults in urban China and 19% in the USA. With 8% of global shipments reaching the UK, UK revenue for smart speakers will reach £44.8mn ($56.7mn) in 2019.

Paul Lee, global head of research for technology, media and telecoms at Deloitte, comments: “Smart speaker adoption has seen phenomenal growth in recent years. With improvements continuing to be made, demand for smart speakers could be in the many billions of units, possibly even higher than for smartphones. In the future, smart speakers have the potential to be installed in every room in a house, hotel, office, school and even beside every hospital bed.

“Significantly, smart speakers have, literally, a world of opportunity for growth in non-English-speaking countries. So far, the vast majority of these devices have been sold to markets with English as the primary language. As linguistic software improves, demand will continue to soar, particularly if these speakers appeal to customers speaking Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.

“We expect smart speakers to be the seventh most-used consumer device this year, and it may take some years before this technology’s true impact is felt. Mass adoption has yet to happen, voice recognition accuracy has plenty of scope for improvement, and there are still relatively few apps available.”

Radio: Revenue, reach, and resilience

Radio, the 99-year old traditional medium, will maintain its hold on UK media consumption, with 47 million people listening to radio weekly or more often. Global radio revenues are forecast to increase modestly to £31.6 billion, still many multiples of emerging media formats such as eSports, whose revenues are likely to be 40 times smaller.

Globally, Deloitte predicts that nearly three billion people will listen to radio weekly in 2019, and that total radio revenue will reach £31.6bn ($40bn), a one per cent increase from 2018.

Lee comments: “Due to the rise of on-demand media and streaming services, many underestimate the influence radio still holds. The perception that video or indeed streaming has killed the radio star is simply not the case. Whether it’s in the car, over breakfast, or even at work, the vast majority of people in the UK still have at least one ear on the airwaves during the course of the day. Radio is alive, well and enjoyed by all ages.”

The UK is the fifth largest market globally for annual radio revenues, with revenues of £1.3bn ($1.6bn) in 2017. The US is by far the largest market (£17.2bn/$21.8bn) followed by Germany (£3.1bn/$3.9bn).

Lee adds: “Radio advertising is underestimated, with many unaware of the influence it holds for brands. As traditional media and television viewing figures continue to struggle, listening figures for radio are holding steady. Radio will continue to play an integral role in advertising campaigns for years to come. In a world where digital changes everything, radio may be the exception.”

3D printing: Growth accelerates again, but remains niche

Deloitte predicts that sales related to 3D printing by large public companies will surpass £2.1bn in 2019 and £2.4bn in 2020, growing by 12.5% year-on-year, more than double its growth rate compared to just a few years ago.

This growth will be driven by faster printing speeds, larger printing volume and, crucially, an increase in the number of materials able to be printed. Metal is expected to overtake plastics and represent more than half of all 3D printing within the next two years.

Lee comments: “In 2019, 3D printing will finally start to make its mark. Companies across multiple industries are using the technology for more than just rapid prototyping. 3D printers today are capable of printing a greater variety of materials, which mainly means more metal printing and less plastic printing. Plastic is fine for prototypes and certain final parts, but the trillion-dollar metal-parts fabrication market is the more important market for 3D printers to address.

“Bionic prosthetic limbs for children for instance, which are usually costly, particularly due to the need to replace these frequently as children grows, have been revolutionised by the introduction of 3D printing and can now be produced for a mere £20.”

5G enters the mainstream in 2019

2019 will also see the first mass-market generation of 5G-enabled handsets go on sale. Deloitte predicts that around 20 handset vendors will launch 5G-ready handsets in 2019, with the first available in Q2. Approximately one million 5G-enabled handsets will be shipped by the year’s end, out of a projected 1.5 billion smartphone handsets which will be sold in total in 2019. In the UK, 5G shipments will number around 50,000.

Julian Rae, Technology partner at Deloitte in Cambridge, concludes: “The introduction of 5G handsets expected this year will look a lot like 2010, when 4G phones first entered the market. There will be a lot of noise in the first year from vendors vying to be first to market, and relatively little action from consumers. We’re not talking about an overnight switch to faster connectivity with lower latency, we will see 5G used by consumers in hotspot locations in the next two to three years, with mass adoption by 2025.”

To hear about the above TMT Predictions and more, Julian Rae and Paul Lee will be hosting the Deloitte Telecoms, Media & Technology Predictions Breakfast Event in Cambridge on 13 February at 1 Station Square, Cambridge, CB1 2GA. For more information please contact [email protected].

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Pint after work networking

It is being organised by Talbots Law Firm and will be running at The Great Western, Sun Street, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm for business professionals.

Those who sign up by 12 noon on Friday, February 8, get a free drink.

If you would like to attend this initiative, please email [email protected].