The snowflake economy

If your business depends upon discretionary spending take note:
Buy now, pay later. The retail sector has had a tough start to the year with some big names heading into administration. Last week’s snow will have made things even worse as shoppers stayed away from the high street. So it is unfortunate timing that January’s lending data showed even more spending is occurring on credit. Credit card balances rose at almost 10%, suggesting consumers are still keen to buy now and pay later. Whether this is from renewed confidence in their future finances or because the cash ran out over Christmas remains to be seen but will have big consequences for future growth.
Turning tide. Consumer credit might be threatening double digit growth, but companies are being much more cautious with their finances. Borrowing in January by UK businesses was only 1% higher than a year ago. That’s quite a slowdown given that growth of 2-3% was typical through most of last year. Even more striking is the behaviour of different sized firms. Broadly speaking, large companies are still borrowing, but SMEs now owe no more than they did in January 2017. Is this Brexit uncertainty finally beginning to bite, or a gradual response to the Bank of England’s message that we should expect rates to rise? Either way, the contrast to the behaviour of households is stark.
and if you’re in your 40s and feeling chipper you’re bucking the trend.
Happiness. Like Churchill on democracy, GDP is the worst way to measure an economy, apart from all the others. One criticism is GDP fails to measure the things that matter, like happiness or anxiety. So the ONS produces a ‘personal wellbeing index’. The good news is that we were slightly chirpier in 2017 than in 2016 – and we’ve getting steadily more perky since the index began in 2012. Women tend to feel happier, more worthwhile and yet also more anxious than men. Oh, and we’re most happy in our 60s and 70s, least happy in our 40s. Sounds about right.

The Incisal Edge Podcast – The Seven Mistakes Dentists Make After Retirement with Ray Prince.


My guest in this episode of The Incisal Edge Podcast is Ray Prince.

Ray is a Certified Financial Planner with Rutherford Wilkinson in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He has specialised in advising dentists since 1996, his passion is working with and helping clients throughout the UK who want an unbiased view as to how they can achieve their desired lifestyle, financial goals and objectives, including, for many, early retirement.

His website his

Telephone: 0191 217 3340

You can follow Ray on Twitter @rayprincecfp



Ten years after the financial crisis..

Good series of articles in the Weekend FT magazine marking 10 years since the start of the financial crisis.

The commencement is recorded as the day the chairman of Northern Rock, Lord Ridley, went to the Bank of England to beg for money from the Governor, Mervyn King. Ridley (5th Viscount Ridley & Baron Wensleydale) resigned later that year but was rewarded with a life peerage in 2013. He is a keen Brexit supporter and climate change sceptic…

Adam Applegarth was chief executive of Northern Rock also quit in 2007. He received a £785,000 “golden handshake” and a pension of £2.6m…

Northern Rock had distributed £235.8 million to charitable causes in the North East through its foundation – mostly funded from its profits. The new owners Virgin Money stopped making donations so the foundation closed…

Sub-prime mortgages which contributed to the crash worldwide are alive and well and are now called “nonprime”.  There is pressure from investors who want yield, skewed incentives on Wall Street and the Trump government who want to relax the restraints introduced by President Obama.

No one has been held accountable for the crash.

My favourite story is from Alistair Darling who was Chancellor of the Exchequer. A CEO of a UK bank tied to reassure him and said, “From now on we’ll only take risks we understand.” So what was he doing before that?

A reminder – the most dangerous words anybody in finance can say are, “this time it’s different”.

Peter Ward exposes the NHS(E)’s “Cunning Plan”

Nice editorial in the BDJ from BDA Chief Exec Peter Ward. HERE

Edited highlights only

Death by commissioning

….That master plan looks like a determined effort to wrest away NHS dental care from small autonomous units. That model that has been supplied by a legion of conscientious practitioners ever since the beginning of the NHS. This applies both in salaried dental service and in general practice.…….

….’Savings’ is the name of the game. That coupled with ongoing ‘efficiency’ signals a race to the bottom, as each year becomes more and more squeezed than the last. It can’t be long before the social enterprises seek freedom from the obligations of NHS terms and conditions – think about the savings to be had there!…..

…..So, it is clear that the NHS in England stands to gain by ‘going large’ in all its areas of practice. But its gain is at the expense of the dentists who serve it. In essence, the wholesale dismantling of access to NHS terms and conditions provides the opportunity for savings. Proposing such a move overtly would be met with horror and outrage. Doing it stealthily and by downstream consequence may be less dramatic but the result is the same. It is not a good result for either dentists practising in England, or for patients expecting enduring, high quality care…

If only it was as easy to dismiss as Baldrick…


The Monday Morning Quote #416

The four most expensive words in the English language:

“This Time It’s Different”.

Sir John Templeton


The Monday Morning Quote #408

“Productivity isn’t  everything but in the long run it is almost everything”.

Paul Krugman (Nobel prize winning economist)


The Weekend Read – What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark H McCormack

9781781253397First published in 1984, I see that it is still one of the top sellers in the Business sections of airport book shops. Its very longevity proves that it either must have something going for it or because it has always been popular it must be good. Well you pays your money and you takes your choice. I find it a well written, easily digestible book with plenty to offer anyone in any business.

I read it when it was first released by Collins in 1984 (so yet another thank you to my Dad)  thinking that the lessons of “big business” which at the time were a million miles away from my life as a peripatetic associate in dental practices would not apply to my life. In this as in many other things I was wrong – the fundamentals of business large or small are the same. I have re-read it a couple of times since and although the landscape may have changed the fundamentals have not – nor will they.

The book is split into three sections People, Sales & Negotiations, and Running a Business. The opening four chapters should be compulsory reading for all new dental graduates including as they do with getting on with people, making an impression and getting ahead. The Sales and Negotiations isn’t as high blown as you may think and has plenty of nitty gritty advice.

The last four chapters on running a business are invaluable to anyone thinking about getting into business on their own or wanting to be a first class employee. There is a lot of B***S*** spoken these days about being an entrepreneur; those people who say they want to be an entrepreneur, especially in dentistry, would do well to read the last chapter of the book where he states that 99% of people should work for somebody. Start by examining your motives and if they are dreams, if you are running away from things or you ‘want to make a lot of money’ then McCormack writes, “forget it”.

In case you don’t know who Mark McCormack was (he died in 2003) here’s the blurb, “dubbed ‘the most powerful man in sport’, founded IMG (International Management Group) on a handshake. It was the first and is the most successful sports management company in the world, becoming a multi-million dollar, worldwide corporation whose activities in the business and marketing spheres are so diverse as to defy classification. Here, Mark McCormack reveals the secret of his success to key business issues such as analysing yourself and others, sales, negotiation, time management, decision-making and communication. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School fills the gaps between a business school education and the street knowledge that comes from the day-to-day experience of running a business and managing people. It shares the business skills, techniques and wisdom gleaned from twenty-five years of experience.”

Available from The Book Depository.

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