Tim spent the majority of his career working in the Treasury and Bank of England.
For the last decade, he worked from Cambridge in the Bank’s South East and East Anglia Agency, liaising with local businesses to assess macro-economic trends on behalf of the Monetary Policy Committee.
Tim has published many articles on the Bank’s website “Bank Underground”, on subjects such as the consequences of globalisation for the UK economy; how the diffusion of AI technologies might cause mass unemployment; and the outlook for labour productivity.
Ahead of our “Inside the Minds of Business Leaders” events, we asked Tim Pike, former Bank of England specialist and key panellist for our events some key questions…
1. What do you think is the top concern owner-managed businesses (OMBs) are faced with today. How do you recommend they might overcome it?
“Profit margins for many OMBs continue to be squeezed, and low confidence is discouraging business investment to raise productivity. Price competition is generally intense, there is upward pressure on wages due to skill shortages, and productivity levels remain poor in many industries. Brexit uncertainty is not helping. Businesses need to continue to focus on product quality and customer service, which in turn requires retaining and motivating key staff, investing in skills training and product R&D, and perhaps greater use of IT and social media to engage with customers.”
2. Where do you think the greatest opportunities lie in today’s business environment?
“There are opportunities to gain market share in all industries. But the greatest opportunities for growth probably remain in the tech and life sciences sectors. The US tech sector (most notably companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft) is increasingly dominant; Europe needs to raise its game if its economies are to remain internationally competitive in the coming decades. “
3. Of those surveyed, 71% anticipate using borrowing to fund investment into new equipment or facilities in the next three years. Do you think uncertainty around Brexit is holding businesses back from making such investments now?
“Most certainly many businesses (especially those trading with the EU) will be cautious about committing large amounts of capital to investment projects when our future trading relationships with the EU remain so uncertain. The Government has had nearly three years to negotiate a settlement; its failure to do so calls into question the competence of its leadership.”
4. Almost seven in ten firms see superior marketing initiatives from rivals as being a threat today. What advice can you give to businesses feeling the pressure from media-savvy rivals and market disruptors?
“The use of new technologies for marketing and e-commerce is only going to grow and grow. (For example, over 25% of all non-food retail sales are now made over the internet.) IT skills of the UK workforce remain inadequate relative to business requirements. In my view, firms need to ensure they have tech-savvy staff at all levels of the business: on their Boards of Directors, in their senior management teams, their R&D departments and amongst their customer-facing staff.”
5. 74% of business leaders respond to talent scarcity through more flexible and attractive working conditions. Aside from remuneration, how else can employers incentivise their top employees to stay?
“Retaining and motivating talent is becoming more and more important, in an increasingly knowledge-based, global economy that massively rewards success but punishes failure. Many of the successful businesses I have engaged with have prioritised regular communication between senior management and staff, both to make staff feel more wanted (and hence loyal to the firm), and to make them more aware of changes in operational performance and priorities.”
To hear more from Tim Pike, former Bank of England specialist, book your place at one of Price Bailey’s Inside the Minds of Business Leaders 2019 events, where he will be a panellist and discuss further interesting research and business insights. For more information and to attend one of the events, visit pricebailey.co.uk/leaders2019
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