”Good performance goes hand in hand with good corporate governance” says Judith Mackenzie of the QCA and Downing Capital LLP

As we await the result of the Financial Reporting Council’s overhaul of the UK Corporate Governance Code, it is worth noting that change will not just be restricted to companies listed on the main market. From September, smaller companies listed on AIM will also be required to apply a recognised corporate governance code for the first time.

However, most small and mid-sized companies are likely to find the FRC’s UK Corporate Governance Code unsuitable to their size and stage of development. In fact, research indicates that around 400 companies on AIM currently refer to the Quoted Companies Alliance (QCA) Corporate Governance Code, which is specifically tailored for companies at the smaller end of the market cap spectrum. It includes 10 corporate governance principles that companies should follow, and step-by-step guidance on how to effectively apply these principles and adopt best practice.

At Downing, we expect our investee companies to apply rigorous and effective corporate governance and have directors who understand their duties and are familiar with their legal responsibilities. These can be demanding – directors are accountable for the culture, foresight and success of the company, and must act in the best interests of the company to benefit current and future shareholders.

Competent boards should be regular constructive challengers to management teams. They should also help develop strategy and long-term objectives, monitor performance, ensure the build-up of necessary assets, skills and capable management, and lead in setting a culture of integrity.

The crucial role played by good corporate governance is demonstrated by one of our holdings that has been less successful. We took a board seat, suspecting that governance could be improved, and quickly uncovered both bad governance and false accounting. The structure of our investment has allowed us to drive change throughout the business. Board members and top management were changed, the business refocused and we now believe that the company should generate a gain for shareholders in due course.

Correct governance of companies is critical to corporate health and investor confidence. At the core of good governance is directors actively ‘directing’, striving for the success of the company, overseen by nominated advisers who should be doing more than going through the motions, and by an FCA AIM team that should monitor with determination.

As the UK faces an uncertain future, good corporate governance will become ever more important, and will be a valuable contributing factor in creating and growing successful UK companies.

Judith MacKenzie, Partner and Head of Downing Public Equity & Board member, Quoted Companies Alliance

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Newly transformed Norman Broadbent offering a unique mix of business lines

Mike Brennan, chief executive of Norman Broadbent PLC (LON:NBB), tells Proactive’s Andrew Scott he came on board two years ago and in that time the business has been transformed into much more of a professional services business. ”We’re focusing instead of on one thing we’re now looking at five different service lines – across search, solutions, senior interim, assessment and research & insight”. ”It’s a fairly unique mix of business lines”, Brennan says.

As for the year ahead, Brennan says: ”There may be some challenges around Brexit for some companies but I don’t think we’ve got that … we’ve not got too much exposure to Europe or to financial services … we’ve got a great team in place and it’s all about getting the message out”.

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The Inaugural Future HR Leaders Programme

Norman Broadbent is proud to be sponsoring The Guild of Human Resource Professionals’ new HR Leadership Programme, aimed at HR professionals (both generalists and specialists) who have the potential to fulfil a “Head of Function” role in the next 3 to 5 years.

Applications to join the HR Leadership Programme are open until 30th June and it commences in September. Should you have any members of your team who would benefit from the programme – or wish to self-nominate for the programme – then please visit the HR Guild website onwww.hrprofessionals.org.uk to register an interest. Inquiries can be sent toinfo@hrguildleadershiprogram.org.uk

As many of the contributors are providing their time pro bono to “give back to the world of people management”, the course is being offered at £2,500 per person, with three scholarships available for individuals whose organisations are unable to fund this cost

Delivered by Heads of HR from world-renowned organisations and supplemented by personal mentoring by leaders in this field, this one year programme comprises the following:

  • 8 Masterclasses representing a deep dive on topics ranging from Governance, Ethics and Reward through to the Future of Work, the Future Role of HR and the impact of technology. Each session will additionally feature the career paths, personal experiences and insights of the Heads of HR delivering these sessions
  • 4 mentoring sessions, by current or former Heads of HR, to help individuals acquire the credibility, influence and self-awareness to operate at the top level
  • Expert input from both an occupational psychologist and an employee communications specialist to ensure maximum personal impact.

Please see the below the HR Leadership Brochure and also click here for a recent article from the HR Magazine, which describes the programme, its objectives and learning outcomes.

Finally, Heads of HR, or potential candidates, who would like to find out more about the programme, are invited to the Open Evening on 20th June, which will be hosted at 1 Churchill Place London, E14 5H within Barclays from 6 pm to 7.30 pm. This will also provide an opportunity to meet with the HR Leaders and Course Tutors who are managing this exciting new programme for the HR community.

If you would like to find out more information regarding the Open Evening then please click on this link: https://hrprofessionals.org.uk/event/leadership-programme-launch/

The HR Guild look forward to receiving expressions of interest and hopefully seeing you at the launch event.

If you would like to find out how The Norman Broadbent Group can help your organisation, please contact a member of our HR Practice which can be found below:

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Norman Broadbent 2017 Results

Norman Broadbent plc Registered Address: Portland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5BH Registered company number 00318267
Norman Broadbent plc
(“Norman Broadbent”, the “Company” or the “Group”)
Final Results and Annual Accounts

The Board of Norman Broadbent (AIM: NBB) – a leading Professional Services firm specifically focussing on Leadership Acquisition & Advisory Services (Board & Leadership Search, Senior Interim Management, Research & Insight, Leadership Consulting & Assessment, and executive level Recruitment Solutions) – is pleased to announce its final results for the year ended 31/12/2017.

• Overall revenue increased by £0.86m (+15%) to £6.5m with lower, but higher quality headcount. New businesses grew substantially in line with the strategy to create a more balanced business of high quality revenue

• Cross selling between brands has increased significantly resulting in c.50% of NB Solutions deals being generated by NB Executive Search

• NB Interim revenues increased by £1.1m (140%), NB Leadership Consulting revenues increased by £0.4m (148%), NB Solutions revenue increased £0.2m (45%), and our recently (2018 H2) launched Research & Insight service starting to contribute. These increases are offset by the decline in Search revenues (due to the transformation) of £0.9m (-23%)

• Strong Q4 for NB Executive Search

• Loss after tax increased by £0.6m (60%) to £1.6m reflecting restructuring costs and associated short term impact on fee earner numbers in Search but masked a strong Q4 2017 performance

• April 2018 office relocation to generate £300k in savings pa for lease duration

• Group now more relevant and competitive in terms of pricing, proposition and people

• Trading update: Q4 2017 strongest quarter for new wins and revenue during the last financial year and positive trend continuing into Q1 2018; Q1 2018 ahead of Board plan at EBITDA/revenue level

Commenting on the results, Group CEO Mike Brennan said “The ongoing reinvention of Norman Broadbent Group is progressing. Our broader, more integrated service proposition is landing well with clients, the business is increasingly competitive, and culturally we are more innovative and collegiate. In summary, the Group is now more relevant and competitive in terms of pricing, proposition and people”

For further information, please contact:

Norman Broadbent plc: Mike Brennan (Group CEO) / Will Gerrand (Group CFO) 020 7484 0000
WH Ireland Limited: Adrian Hadden / Jessica Cave / Alex Bond 020 7220 1666




Norman Broadbent 2017 Results Announcement

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Got a Perfect Digital Strategy? Now it’s all about Execution

John Wilkinson is part of the Norman Broadbent network of senior Interim Managers. After a successful career in Financial Services working with companies such as Nationwide, HSBC and L&G, he set up his own consultancy business and, for the last two years, has been focusing on developing digital advice models for companies such as Barclays Wealth & Investments. As a long-standing ‘friend-of-the-firm’ he talked to Mike Davis about digital strategy and the art of execution.

MD: Whilst getting the strategy right is important, we all know it is then all about execution. Where is the best place to start?

JW: Once the target market, strategy and customer proposition are agreed, a high-level customer journey can be mapped. The best starting point is the Target Operating Model design. The high-level customer journey represents the value chain from which the Target Operating Model (technology, people and processes) can be sketched. It is important to have a sketch not only for stakeholder engagement (which is critical) but also to give early indications of the size of the task. This could include new technology (including third party software) and the integration of technologies, existing processes to be changed and new processes to be mapped and implications for organisational design, capability development and workforce planning.

MD: More of our clients are choosing to buy in third party software rather than build themselves. What aspects are critical in choosing this route?

JW: ‘Adopt not adapt’. I learned the first of these out of necessity many years ago when deploying new advice software for a regulatory drop-dead date. We had to adopt the ‘out of the box’ solution so we did.

Where time is somewhat less pressured, large companies have, in the past, tended to want ‘bespoke solutions’ to meet their specific needs. Vendors who are keen to impress have tended to say ‘yes’ and in some cases this has led software being deployed that is so different from the core software that it is unable to automatically take upgrades which are nowadays ever more frequent. At best this leads to delays and more likely, will also have cost implications. Eventually the software is then subsequently discarded.

When selecting software choose a solution that is highly configurable so that it can map to your workflows, advice policy, product set etc., without ditching the ‘adopt’ principle.

Related to this it is critical to ensure that any chosen third party can meet your company standards for Application Protocol Interfaces (APIs). Your TOM is likely to include a variety of internal and external technology solutions (digital front end, advice software, CRM and books and records platform etc.) and these standards dictate how both data and services can pass to and fro. Chosen third parties need to operate to these standards. This can be examined as part of an RFP process (see below).

MD: From experience, what are your tips for choosing the best supplier?

Software vendors are good at providing written responses to RFP documents as they do it all the time. In a recent RFP the high to low score margin across all vendors was less than 15% for written response alone.

Adopting a more rigorous approach including demos, site visits, vendor suitability assessments, model office insights as well as, importantly, prototyping (we asked vendors to prove their API capability and we also asked them to build something for us) provided clear blue water. The margins for some of these were >33%, >36% and >54%.

Although it is critical to gather good requirements up front to use for vendor assessment, it is also useful to document in the RFP that you are going to restate requirements at the end of the process as you are bound to learn things along the way.


MD: Whilst it seems that a number of our clients are going down the ‘hybrid’ route rather than pure roboadvice, what part does automation play in building a digital advice model?

JW: Put simply, automate all you can. This comes in a variety of forms.

  • Use Business Process Management Software (BPMS) to enable advisers to advise and nothing else. BPM (Business Process Management) is a business solution approach which views a business as a set of processes or workflows. BPMS enables businesses to model, implement, execute, monitor and optimize their processes and workflows to become more efficient and adapt to ever-changing environments. This allows companies to manage entire process life cycles by defining and maintaining best practices in their processes. By using BPMS, one business has driven adviser productivity to 10x traditional levels as the BPMS directs all non-advice activity towards lower cost resource.


  • Digital front end (DFE) to fact find and gather information. Many companies are trying this, balancing the need to gather rich data to give good advice against digital best practice, which says build with iPhones, in mind i.e. pages that are not too busy and not too many pages, so customers do not abandon the process. Open banking has the potential to streamline this activity further.


  • Automated paraplanning and automated suitability. Suitability letters have been automated for simple advice, but these boundaries are being extended through more and more configuration. This is important from a risk perspective as automation delivers consistency. It also drives efficiency.


Calculating lifetime allowance and the tapering of annual allowance for high earners etc can be automated relieving paraplanners of some of their workload. Provided the models are tested and validated this again provides excellent risk control and efficiency.


  • AI and Machine learning (ML). These will likely form part of the solution going forward but I do not believe they will provide the whole solution. Rule 1 according to Machine Learning for Dummies, is to identify the specific business problem you are trying to solve rather than jump on the ML bandwagon.

MD: Finally, and most importantly, what type of leader is needed to execute a transformation excellently?

JW: Successful transformational leadership requires huge collaboration. Recently when leading a TOM team, we worked very closely with Proposition, Digital, Model Office, Compliance, Distribution, Risk and others and pretty much hand in glove with Technology (including Technology Architecture), HR and Operations.

Leading this type of transformational delivery requires gravitas and clarity in high level communication (being able to put complex topics such as a programme plan, an RFP process or a Target Operating Model ‘on a page’) to ensure good executive stakeholder engagement as well as an eye for detail whether regarding requirements gathering or a review of a legal agreement.

It also requires a respectful assertiveness and a willingness at times to challenge stakeholders driving the programme to the best outcome in the shortest realistic timeline.

Leading an RFP process requires significant amounts of drive and energy. The peak of a recent process was a 3-week period where we had workshops across the 10 assessment categories for each vendor in the process. Outside the workshops, we were scoring and then calibrating so that we could deliver a recommendation to stakeholders promptly at the end of the process.


Email: mike.davies@normanbroadbentinterim.com
Mobile: +44 (0) 75 9024 4869

DDI: +44 (0) 20 7484 0067

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