Colors: Purple Color

As sellers became reluctant put their homes on the market in 2017, buyers became increasingly frustrated that they were unable to find their dream home and so the market slowed. But, with more stock on the market, those buyers are now more likely to find their dream home.

In order to move into their new home, buyers must first sell their existing home, adding even more stock to the market. With more stock on the market, transactions are likely to climb and confidence in the market will grow.

Antony Gibson, Romans’ Sales Managing Director comments; “One of the biggest frustrations being voiced by home hunters may be coming to an end. The absence of choice in the market place – and the cry that there are simply not enough homes on the market to satisfy demand.

This has in recent times caused many to give up hope of finding the right property or place searches on hold.”

Those buyers need to take another look as we are taking instructions from more sellers than this time last year and the choice of property to buy through Romans is up 15%!


With more stock available and less competition from landlords, first time buyers are also more likely to find a suitable first home. This, coupled with their exemption from stamp duty has resulted in a record number of first time buyer purchases being recorded by Halifax at the start of the year.

First time buyers are incredibly important to the overall housing market as they allow existing owners to sell up and take their second step.

Antony summarises, “Buyers want choice and we have sellers who want to move. Finding a property to buy this spring will be easier than in previous years – you just need to get out there.”

A new, free of charge service has just been launched to help local businesses. Business owners can come along to a business clinic where they can ask questions about their finances or about how to move their businesses forward.

The service has been set up by accountant, Anna Goodwin, of Anna Goodwin Accountancy in Walsall. Anna knows that business owners find aspects of accounting daunting and sometimes difficult to understand. She says,

“Business owners often have questions about their finances. I did a quick survey among my contacts and asked them whether they would be interested in a business clinic where they could come and ask me any questions they might have. The response was an overwhelming ‘yes’.”

Anna’s Business Clinic takes the form of 15-minute slots, which can be booked in advance with Anna and is open to both clients of Anna Goodwin Accountancy and non-clients.

Having been an accountant for over 30 years, and with more than 12 years’ experience of being in business herself, Anna knows how small businesses work and understands the highs and lows that come with self-employment. Small business owner, Tiffeny Hildick came to Anna for advice. She says,

“Anna is very approachable and understanding and offers a space of openness and honesty. With very little information she’s able to piece together the options with clarity and simplicity for the non-accountant!”

Anna’s Business Clinic takes place twice a month locally. The first is usually on the first Friday of the month in the coffee bar at the Village Hotel in Walsall (Tempus Drive, Walsall WS2 8TJ), near junction 10 of the M6. And the second is usually on the third Friday of the month at Burlington Hotel in Birmingham (Burlington Arcade, 126 New Street, Birmingham B2 4JQ) until further notice.

Anna also welcomes accountants who wish to explore new ways to develop the broader advisory services required by business owners today. She recognises that the role of accountants is changing due to new technology, increased competition and evolving client expectations.

“There is real concern among accountants that technology will literally take their jobs. I provide a mentoring service, which helps accountants to future-proof their practices. The business clinic is a good opportunity for accountants to find out more about my mentoring service.”

The mentoring service Anna provides covers the key issues that business owners face and how accountants can address them, how to reach out to new and existing clients via channels that are often overlooked, and how to build successful working relationships with clients. Jen Parker of J.P. Accountancy Services recognised the need to start her new accountancy practice on the right footing with some timely advice from Anna. Jen says,

“After meeting with Anna, I was given a fresh boost of confidence in how to make my business work. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when starting an accountancy practice but Anna’s advice has given me the clarity I was lacking. I would definitely consider using her as a mentor in the future.”

If you have a burning question about your business finances or are an accountant looking to future-proof your practice, book your place at Anna’s business Clinic by contacting Anna on 07711 805183 or by filling out the contact form on her website

Intra-Commonwealth trade and productive greenfield investment is expected to reach US$1.6 trillion by 2020, in spite of the global trade slowdown caused by the 2008 financial crisis.

This rising share of intra-Commonwealth trade and investment underscores the growing significance of Commonwealth markets for member countries, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Commonwealth Trade Review 2018, which will be published this month, says proactive policy measures such as improving trade facilitation or tackling non-tariff barriers could trigger even greater gains for member countries.

In 2017, cumulative intra-Commonwealth greenfield foreign direct investment was estimated at $700 billion, creating 1.4 million jobs through 10,000 projects. The Secretariat projects intra-Commonwealth greenfield investment - when a parent company establishes its operations in a foreign country - could reach $870 billion by 2020.

Trade among Commonwealth countries grew to just under $600 billion in 2016 and is expected to increase by at least 17 per cent to around $700 billion by 2020. Together, intra-Commonwealth trade and greenfield investment is expected to surpass $1.5 trillion.

“This is a remarkable indication of the power of Commonwealth connection and of the benefits that accrue to member countries as a result of Commonwealth Advantage, particularly with world trade only now emerging from the unprecedented slowdown triggered by the financial crisis a decade ago,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.

She added: “With rising protectionist sentiments and a backlash against globalisation in many countries, the role of the Commonwealth becomes increasingly important as a positive influence for strengthening trade links across boundaries and building prosperity in which all can share.”

The review found that Commonwealth countries, overall, are less protectionist and tend to apply fewer harmful measures against fellow member countries.

On average, Commonwealth members enforce commercial contracts much faster, taking 20 per cent less time compared to the world average. “This finding is a significant selling point for boosting investor confidence in the Commonwealth,” the report’s authors said.

Their research also explores how Commonwealth members can harness new technologies, especially digitisation, to strengthen their domestic trade governance, further reducing costs and fostering new trade and investment.

The new research reinforces earlier studies into ‘Commonwealth Advantage’ by which Commonwealth members tend to trade 20 per cent more, save around 19 per cent in costs and generate 10 per cent more foreign direct investment inflows.

Secretary-General Scotland said: “Our trade review shows that economic and governance ties in the Commonwealth provide ready and robust foundation fabric from which collectively as a family of nations we can tailor a future that is fairer, more sustainable, more prosperous and more secure”.

The new research was prepared ahead of this month’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, taking place in London. Intra-Commonwealth trade and investment will be a major issue under discussion with member countries seeking to expand markets and increase growth.

A Birmingham law firm is celebrating after having raised £20,534 for Alzheimer’s Society with a year-long charity partnership.

Squire Patton Boggs has been fundraising across 2017 with a number of activities such as an abseil, silent auction and taking part in Memory Walk.

The law firm united friends, colleagues and family members against dementia and raised awareness about the condition throughout their fundraising.

Neil Taylor, Partner at Squire Patton Boggs, said: “This fundraising has been very much a partnership between us and Alzheimer’s Society: we have been involved in some public events such as volunteering at the Memory Walk in Sutton Park last year. It was a very inspiring moment when the final figure was revealed and it is double the sum we raised last year.”

Squire Patton Boggs employees Rose Chaudry and Christina Georgiou, both Associate Solicitors, co-chaired the charity committee that oversaw the calendar of events dedicated to raising money and awareness.

Rose Chaudry said: “We are very proud to have raised so much money, with fantastic backing from across our office. The scale of the problem that dementia presents has become apparent as so many people have a connection to someone with dementia. Dementia doesn’t just affect the person, it affects everyone around that person.”

The NHS estimates that there are currently more than 13,000 people over-65 living with dementia in Birmingham and this number is set to increase.

Lisa Courtney, Community Fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society in Birmingham said: “This is a fantastic achievement on behalf of Squire Patton Boggs and Alzheimer’s Society is very grateful for all their fundraising. This money will help fund important research into dementia and valuable support such as our National Dementia Helpline for those currently living with the condition.”

Squire Patton Boggs has selected Prostate Cancer UK as their next charity partner of the year. To find out more about dementia or how people can access support in Birmingham, visit or call 0121 706 4052.

The University of Wolverhampton is investing £1.6 million in a new Digital Library Platform - making significant improvements to its learning resources.

The investment will ensure that students have improved access to the print and electronic resources they need to support their studies.

As part of the investment, Ex Libris - a leading global provider of cloud-based solutions for higher education that helps institutions improve library impact, research outcomes, and student engagement - has been awarded the contract to deliver key elements of  the Digital Library Platform, including their state of the art Alma® Library Services Platform and Primo®Discovery solutions.

Ex-Libris will also supply their Resource List Solution (LEGANTO). LEGANTO will be integrated with the University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and student portal to improve pathways to course reading. There is also a plan to implement Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to improve self-service of printed materials, streamline library tasks and enable extended library opening times.

James Anthony-Edwards, Directorate of Academic Support at the University, said:  “We have listened to student feedback on the learning resources that we provide and our new Digital Library Platform will lead to major improvements in resources and the student experience.

“Not only will this benefit all students and staff, it will make the library service more efficient. Currently we spend £1.7 million on books and journals every year and it is important that we are investing this in the resources that students, staff and researchers at the University really need.

“The new library platform will allow us to be much more responsive to demand and provide us with data to understand library use and ensure that investment is being targeted as effectively as possible. By providing a state-of-the-art cloud based Library Platform, students will be able to access the most recent and relevant reading material easily and ultimately will provide students with a responsive library service which recognises the need to constantly adapt to changing learning, teaching and research practices.”

Ofer Mosseri, General Manager and Vice President of Ex Libris Europe, said: “We are delighted that the University of Wolverhampton has selected Alma, Primo and Leganto for this important project. Our solutions will help the library services team to make even more significant contributions to the University of Wolverhampton’s priorities in teaching, learning and research.”

The Digital Library Project is underway. Alma, Primo and RFID will be in place by the 2018/19 Academic year with Leganto to follow in 2019/2020 Academic year.

A fall in inflation to its lowest rate since July 2017 should alleviate concerns over further interest rate rises, business leaders said today.

Consumer price inflation fell from 3 per cent to 2.7 per cent in February, with falling petrol prices and a slower rise in the cost of food cited as contributing factors.

It is hoped the fall will ease pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates.

There had been speculation it could raise rates at its meeting in May.

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Paul Faulkner (pictured) said: “While it was pleasing to see the rate of inflation fall to its lowest level in over six months, the figure for February is still way short of the Bank of England’s target rate of 2 per cent.

“Since the referendum result, households have struggled with a squeeze on living standards, so hopefully today’s results, coupled with the announcement that nominal wages have seen an uplift in the last few months, will start to lessen the pressure on consumers – however, it remains to be seen whether this will translate to an increase in real wages.

“Lower levels of inflation might also rein in the more hawkish sentiments from the Bank of England concerning a further interest rate rise later this year, a move which will no doubt please the city and see a spike in the value of the pound.

“Data from our latest Quarterly Business Report suggests that price pressures have slightly eased for local firms over the last few months and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues into the summer.”

The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s next Quarterly Business Report will be launched with an event at Birmingham City University on 17 April.

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham has today announced it is to further build upon its reputation as a pioneering centre of world-class surgical excellence by introducing robotic-arm assisted surgery for the first time.

The hospital, home to one of the largest and most respected specialist orthopaedic surgery units in Europe, has confirmed it has invested in new robotic-arm assisted hip and knee replacement technology.

The advanced Stryker Mako robotic-arm assisted surgery transforms the way joint replacement surgery is performed, enabling the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital’s team of highly-trained surgeons to operate with even more accuracy.

The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital will introduce the revolutionary surgery in its newly launched Woodlands Suite.

The investment comes as demand for joint replacement surgery, especially among those aged under 60, has risen dramatically in the UK over last decade, according to statistics.

British hospitals saw a 76% increase in hip replacements for those aged 59 and under between 2004-5 and 2014-15. There was also a 47% increase in the number of hip replacements across all ages during this period.

More than 217,000 hip and knee replacement operations were carried out at NHS and independent hospitals in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man last year, with 1,325 hip procedures undertaken at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital alone.

Professor Edward Davis, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, said: “The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital has been pioneering care in the field of orthopaedics since its inception and this investment in leading-edge technology represents another exciting chapter in that story.

“With this technology we can provide each patient with a personalised surgical experience based on their specific diagnosis and anatomy.

“Using a virtual 3D model, Mako allows surgeons to create each patient’s surgical plan pre-operatively. During surgery, we can validate that plan and make any necessary adjustments while guiding the robotic-arm to execute that plan.

“It’s exciting to be able to offer this transformative technology to in our newly created Woodlands Suite offering state-of-the-art care to patients at every step of their journey through the process from planning to post-operative recuperation and care.”

Osteoarthritis was the main diagnosis for primary hip replacement and almost exclusively the diagnosis for primary knee replacement during the 2016 calendar year, in 90 per cent and 99 per cent of cases respectively.

The Mako Total Hip application is a treatment option for adults who suffer from degenerative joint disease of the hip. During surgery, the surgeon guides the robotic-arm during bone preparation to prepare the hip socket and position the implant according to the pre-determined surgical plan.  The tool aids precision surgery, helping reduce post-operative pain and speed patient recovery time”.

Mum-of-two Elaine Spencer, 69, was the first patient to undergo the treatment. And six weeks after the surgery, the mum-of-two has gone from strength to strength.

She said: “I have been keeping my own diary of my progress. After two weeks I was back swimming, after three weeks I was driving and could go up and down stairs normally, rather than a step at a time, and at four weeks I got rid of my walking stick altogether.

“Since then I have been to the theatre and I’ve got on the train, both of which involved lots of steps. I can now sleep on the side that was operated on and I am enjoying going for walks, in fact I am just in from a walk just now.”

“I am really really pleased with how things have gone. It has been a transformation.”

Professor Davis said: “We are proud to be the first NHS hospital to offer this highly advanced robotic technology in the UK.

“The addition of Mako to our orthopaedic service line further demonstrates our commitment to provide the community of Birmingham, the West Midlands and beyond with outstanding healthcare.”

A series of masterclasses aimed at getting West Midlands businesses confident enough to export their goods and services is being launched in Birmingham.

Funded by ERDF SME International Growth Project and organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, the three half-day masterclasses take place in the city centre and will be headed by a specialist trainer in international business strategies. There is no cost to eligible businesses attending.

The first takes place on April 19 and will focus on how to increase export sales. It will include techniques on how to upsell to existing international clients, how to identify new markets and build brand awareness, as well as mitigating risks and using a range of channels to sell.

The second takes place on May 22 and will examine how companies can pitch their business to an international audience, looking at business style, culture and market, using the Export Opportunities platform, and how to make the most of Department for International Trade networks and overseas contacts.

The third masterclass on May 10 is about the eight steps to successful international negotiation skills, planning and how to improve the outcome of negotiations.

Patrick McCarron, business development manager at the Department for International Trade, said: “More often than not, businesses need a guiding hand when it comes to having a strategic plan for export growth because there’s a step up from being reactive when an enquiry comes in from really planning to grow the business’s overseas markets.

“Our masterclasses can put businesses on the right path towards exporting, give them the confidence they need and also provide vital information on where they can get DIT support.”

Eligible businesses can sign up for the masterclasses relevant to their needs and the sessions will be hosted by Richard Jeffrey, of Business Navigators, at KPMG, at One Snowhill, Snowhill Queensway, Birmingham.

The Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Phil Page, opened the new Food Warehouse (Iceland) flagship store at the Peel Centre in the city.

Wolves at Work employment programme has helped the major new Stafford Street retailer successfully recruit city residents for 50 permanent jobs.

Forty-five of the 50 (90 per cent) retail assistant and night replenishment assistant roles have been filled by City of Wolverhampton residents – and of those 45, 27 were previously unemployed.

The Food Warehouse joins the recently-opened Home Bargains store and JD Gyms’ new gym on the rejuvenated retail park.

Food Warehouse Store Manager, Adam Allmark, said: “It’s great to finally open the doors after a lot of hard work by the team.

“The initial reaction from customers has been very positive and the staff are very proud to be serving them in their home city.”

City of Wolverhampton Council, Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor John Reynolds, said: “It is great to see the Peel Centre being brought back to life by these major businesses.

“It is another example of the £3.7 billion of investment currently on site or in the pipeline across the city also paying dividends in terms of job opportunities for the people of Wolverhampton."

Anyone interested in local jobs or employers needing recruitment support in Wolverhampton can register at

A collection of new high-value manufacturing, business and logistics investment opportunities in the City of Wolverhampton and Staffordshire has been unveiled at MIPIM in Cannes.

The M54 Wolverhampton – Staffordshire High Growth Zone will be one of the biggest in the UK and was showcased at The Right Landscape for Growth hotspot at the global property forum.

The Growth Zone consists of six strategic cluster sites next to the M54 and junctions 10a and 12 of the M6.

It builds on the award-winning i54 joint venture formed by City of Wolverhampton, Staffordshire and South Staffordshire councils in 2012, working closely with private sector partners.

The Growth Zone has the potential to deliver more than 11 million sq ft of floor space and 20,000 jobs over 15 sites.

It provides investors, developers and occupiers with exciting opportunities over a ten-year programme.

The six strategic cluster sites are i54, Wobaston Park, Wolverhampton Business Park, ROF Featherstone, Mercury Park and Vernon Park, and West Midlands Interchange and Four Ashes Park.

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “This is a great opportunity to join global brands in a nationally significant growth zone.

“These strategic sites are centrally located with first-class connectivity and major public-sector infrastructure investment.

“The scale of the proposition makes it one of the biggest in the UK and also offers access to a highly skilled workforce.”

The first cluster is the final 15 acres on plots C, D and E at i54, where the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Moog, ISP, Eurofins, ERA and Atlas Copco (Tentec) are located.

The i54 partnership is now proposing a 100-acre western extension of the site, off junction 2 on the M54.

Wobaston Park offers two adjacent sites with easy access to the newly-improved Wobaston Road and M54, with planning permission for B1, B2 and B8 use.

Further north along the A449 is Wolverhampton Business Park on M54 Junction 2, which boasts available plots for professional services and end occupiers.

It is already home to Sunday Times top-ten company, Charter Court Financial Services.

ROF Featherstone, just north of M54, junction 2, is a 60-acre former ordnance site, owned by St Francis Group. It includes plans for a 30-acre extension. Joint venture partners are funding a new access route to the site, which will be followed by a planning application later this year, with plots available from 2020.

Mercury Park and Vernon Park lie just off M54 junction, where there are opportunities to join brands like Mann & Hummel, DHL, Squire, Hough and J Banks.

West Midlands Interchange is a proposition developed by Four Ashes Ltd – a joint venture between Grosvenor First, Kilbride Group and Piers Monkton. It will have direct freight access to the West Coast mainline and onward to the nation’s key deep-water ports. It will be subject to a ministerial development consent order this year, highlighting the significance of this national infrastructure project.

Four Ashes Park is the new home to international manufacturer Gestamp. It has also seen international developer First Panattoni invest in a 400,000 sq ft speculative build. The private investment is matched by public sector investment already being developed to support business growth and success.

The M54 Wolverhampton – Staffordshire High Growth Zone is supported by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, West Midlands Combined Authority, and Midlands Engine.

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader, Mark Winnington, said: “The M54 high growth zone presents huge opportunities for global investors and so presenting it at MIPIM is a vital part of our marketing of the area.

“All of the sites within the zone complement each other and are already home to world-leading brands which are playing an important part in UK and regional growth.

“The fact that the zone contains thriving enterprise hubs is due in no small part to the highly successful partnership of councils which has levered in millions of pounds of private investment.

“Its central location and road and rail links of course strengthen our pitch and we expect more improvements to infrastructure.

“The continued expansion and growth of the zone will create thousands more quality jobs in our area and ensure we have a skilled workforce to meet the needs of future business.”

Smaller businesses in the West Midlands are embracing apprenticeships, with 76 per cent of SME owners and senior workers who have taken on apprentices saying that they have added value to their business within six months of taking them on, according to a new study by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians).

The study, commissioned for National Apprenticeship Week (5-9 March), shows that businesses appreciate the value apprenticeships can bring to them, with 60 per cent saying that taking on apprentices has been good value for money for them, 64 per cent saying that they get staff who are more suited to their businesses and the skills they need by taking them on as apprentices, and 48 per cent saying they have boosted productivity within their business.

The average number of apprentices taken on by small businesses in the West Midlands in the past two years is four (compared with an average of three across England as a whole), with 12 per cent saying that they have taken on five or more. 80 per cent say that the number of apprentices they have taken on in the past five years has grown. In a signal of satisfaction with their apprentices, all of those questioned say that they are very likely or quite likely to take on more apprentices in the next two years.

68 per cent of those who have taken on apprentices also said that apprenticeships are the best pathway into the industry in which their business primarily operates, versus 24 per cent who said a university degree is the best.

On average, the businesses in the West Midlands who have taken on apprentices say they have offered to keep on two thirds (66%) per cent of them after they finished their apprenticeship, with one in five (20%) saying they have offered to keep on all the apprentices they have ever taken on.

When looking to take an apprentice on, 40 per cent found out how to hire one from a government website, 32 per cent found out from a registered training organization, 12 per cent found out from their local FE college or training provider, and 12 per cent got a word of mouth recommendation. 64 per cent of those who take on apprentices said they take the initiative and contact their local FE college or training provider to help them find apprentices, 56 per cent say they get contacted themselves, but 8 per cent say they don’t contact or get contacted by local colleges.

40 per cent of those who have taken on apprentices say they have already accessed available funds from the Apprenticeship Levy to help train a new employee. 40 per cent say they have already accessed funds to help train an existing employee. 20 per cent say they have not accessed funds but intend to do so this year, 8 per cent say they have not accessed funds but are likely to do so over the next few years, and 8 per cent say they were totally unaware that funds from the levy were available for their business.

Of the businesses spoken to who have never taken on an apprentice, 41 per cent say that they feel there are still barriers holding them back from taking one on (compared to 39% across England as a whole). Of those, 24 per cent say trying to find out how to get funding is too complicated, 19 per cent say the cost of starting an apprenticeship scheme is the biggest barrier, and 10 per cent say they don’t know how to start a scheme. Despite there still being perceived barriers for these businesses, over two thirds (67%) of those who have never taken on an apprentice say they are currently planning to take some on.

Rob Alder, Head of Business Development at AAT says: “The theme of this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is ‘Apprentices Work’, and our research shows that smaller businesses in the West Midlands hugely endorse apprentices within their own firms. It shows that many smaller businesses value the benefits apprentices can bring to them, and that apprentices can over time be trained to meet the skill requirements the business needs. Those who have taken on apprentices are happy with them, and even those who haven’t yet taken any on are making plans to do so.

“However, the fact that there are some who still feel that there are barriers to them taking on apprentices, and who are having problems with costs and understanding the system, shows that more still needs to be done to raise awareness and help smaller businesses especially.”

Now a rapidly growing market, the Luxury Property Show will have some 50 exhibitors from around the world to present investment opportunities ranging from Mediterranean villas to beachside apartments in Thailand via alpine retreats in Northern Europe to luxury lofts in New York.


To be held at the London Olympia, in the UK, exhibitors and sponsors list is long and distinguished, with the likes of St. James Place Wealth Management, Remax, Almanzora, Baker Woods, Mansion Global, Yamaha Music, Corcoran Group, Prime Properties, the International Property Awards and many more already expected to be present.


The two-day event will highlight fabulous properties on sale; including - Beachfront homes in Dubai and The Caribbean to Asian penthouses, Prestige golf villas in Portugal, Spain and Florida to French Chateaux, Luxury apartments in New York, London, Moscow and MonacoEuropean mountain & lake retreats to Australian Waterfront Homes.


One exhibiter, Annette Reeve, of Mayfair International Property, said: “We’ve been here every single year and it does exactly what we want; it brings our clients terrific exposure for their properties.”


Alessandra Merola, of The Good Estate Agency Overseas concurred: “We have made a lot of good business contacts and I recommend joining the show next year. I know we’ll be back for sure.”


The Luxury Property Show 2018 will be held from November 1 to 2.



Investors in the West Midlands under the age of 35 are much more likely to take a ‘hands-on’ approach to their wealth compared to older generations, according to a survey of over 1,000 UK savers and 500 High Net Worth Individuals commissioned by Rathbone Investment Management.

Over half (54%) of investors in the West Midlands aged between 18 and 34 have taken steps to protect or safeguard their savings as a result of recent economic uncertainty; in comparison, just 40% of investors aged over 45 had done the same.

Rising inflation, historically low interest rates, and the ongoing Brexit negotiations have contributed to an atmosphere of heightened economic uncertainty in the past year, and today’s research shows some striking differences in how the different generations are navigating these choppy waters. Indeed, 19% of 18-34 year olds had diversified their portfolio amidst uncertainty, and almost a quarter (23%) had personally reviewed their portfolio.

Part of the reason for younger generations being more involved in their own finances may be because a higher proportion have generated their money themselves, rather than inheriting it from previous generations. According to the research, 14% of 18-34 year olds in the West Midlands had made their money through owning and running – or subsequently selling – a business. This is less than the over 45s, with 9% saying this was the case. Another potential factor for the younger generations being more actively involved in their approach is that they have grown up in very different economic times.

Rathbone’s research also revealed that younger generations were more likely to use their money for good than older generations. 10% of 18-34 year olds believe social impact investing is one of the best ways to use your money for good, compared to just 5% of over 45s.


Ian Tansley, Regional Director of Rathbones’ Birmingham office comments: “Younger generations – particularly millennials – have grown up during times of prolonged economic uncertainty, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that they are taking a hands-on approach to their finances.”

“Typically, it’s assumed that younger generations are less financially astute, but our research suggests that this is not the case. The start-up boom and rise of entrepreneurship in the UK means that younger generations are now much more clued up on their investments, and how best to protect and grow them.

“Higher inflation and the current economic uncertainty over Brexit mean that investors should be taking steps to ensure their portfolio can weather any storm as well as possible. A large part of this will be making sure that portfolios are well diversified.”

More than 100 ambitious businesses from across the West Midlands took part in a major event funded by ERDF SME International Growth Project that could help them grow their exporting plans.

New Year, New Markets at the ICC featured 30 market specialists representing 93 markets from across the globe – including Africa, Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Gulf.

Organised by the Department for International Trade (DIT) and West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, funded through their ERDF SME International Growth Project this trade event was open to small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) based in the West Midlands region. Attendees ranged from experienced exporters looking to expand their global reach to those that have never traded outside of the UK before.

More than 300 1:1 meetings took place with market specialists and trade advisers, and parallel workshops provided specific market intelligence too.  Those focusing on North America, Africa, UAE, Germany and India proved to be the most popular among delegates.

Andy Smith, International Relationships Manager for the SME International Growth Project, said the turnout demonstrated that companies from across the West Midlands region – which includes Coventry and Warwickshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire – are keen to explore overseas markets.

“This was a great l turnout for such an event and it shows that businesses are hungry for export advice and intelligence,” he said.

“It was heartening to see the level of interest across the market spectrum, from close EU neighbours to further-flung growth markets such as those in Africa or South East Asia.”

Some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics and creatives will gather to celebrate UK technological excellence at the GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong this spring.

Taking place March 21-24, 2018, the event has already attracted a host of top names to take part in a packed conference programme, with thought-provoking sessions touching everything from the future of free trade to the threats and opportunities posed by the development of artificial intelligence.

Organised by the UK’s Department for International Trade, a number of the Festival’s key speakers are amongst the leaders of globally recognised technology businesses. Names confirmed include former GCHQ boss Robert Hannigan; Tea Uglow from Google’s Creative labs; Sanjay Aurora, from cyber-security experts Darktrace; Alex Kong of currency transfer firm TNG Wallet; and entrepreneur and co-founder Brent Hoberman.

The four-day Festival will examine the future challenges and opportunities of our increasingly connected world, and showcase the UK as one of the world’s best places to visit, study, invest in and do business. There are over 58,000 technology firms based in the UK, and the Festival aims to deliver further growth and investment through enhanced international trade.

Day One has a tech focus and some of the sessions announced so far include Fintech Futures, a look at technologies such as blockchain, apps and online lending that are driving start-ups in the financial sector; Disruption in Business, examining the societal and technological changes that businesses should protect themselves from; and Securing the Global Network, a debate into the importance of cyber-security.

Other tech sessions include Powering Tomorrow’s Ideas, an examination of how governments and the private sector can develop low-carbon cities; Dawn of the AI Age, a look at the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning; and Workplaces of the Future, with some of the world’s top architects and business leaders examining the changing role of workspaces to keep employees healthy and happy.

Outside of the conference programme, the Festival will offer specially-invited UK business leaders the chance to meet counterparts from across Asia to discuss possible future trading and investment opportunities.

The Great Festival of Innovation Hong Kong will be the third of its kind, following successful events in Istanbul (2014) and Shanghai (2015). Its vision is to create long-term partnerships that drive the future of free trade and prosperity between the UK and Asia.

The GREAT Britain campaign is currently active in 144 countries and has already delivered £2.7 billion in economic benefits for the UK.

Several hundred invited delegates will attend the Hong Kong event, which takes place at the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre and will feature more than 60 panels and events over its four days.

A training scheme to help retailers tackle the risk of selling alcohol and cigarettes to underage young people has been launched by Sandwell’s trading standards team.

Believed to be the first in the country, the Responsible Business Scheme helps shops and their staff avoid the offence in the first place – known as the ‘due diligence defence’ in law.

More than 20 shops have already signed up and yesterday (Thursday) representatives from nine shops received certificates for completing their training. Councillor Elaine Costigan, cabinet member for public health and protection, said: "There are strict laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol and tobacco to young people because they are considered to present a real risk to their health and welfare.

"We recognise that the vast majority of businesses want to comply with the law in order to trade fairly and successfully and at the same time make a positive contribution to their local community.”

Councillor Costigan added: "Even before the launch of the scheme, 23 retailers have already signed up and many more are waiting to join, showing the popularity of the scheme.

"Last year, our Trading Standards team carried out 82 undercover test purchases with 32 per cent of shops selling an age-restricted product to a young person.

"All the offending shops were subject to tough enforcement action. I would urge retailers to join the scheme and avoid being one of the offending businesses."

Bob Charnley, Sandwell Council’s trading standards and licensing manager, said: "The scheme provides businesses with a comprehensive package of training for staff and an annual onsite audit by the trading standards team for just £159."

Mr Charnley added: "It's the sort of package you would expect to see at all the major supermarkets. With this scheme, you don't have to be a major national supermarket to protect your business from legal action such as criminal prosecution or risk losing your alcohol licence."

Mr Gurdip Bali, owner of Hilltop Wines in West Bromwich, and a member of the scheme, said: "Working in partnership with our local trading standards department, the very people who enforce the law, has helped our business to thrive and prosper.

"Their help has been invaluable in helping us to ensure the shop is fully compliant with the law surrounding the sales of alcohol and tobacco and it has been essential in building up a good reputation within the local community."

The shops who have completed their training are:

  • M&M Supermarket, Smethwick
  • Hill Top Wines, West Bromwich
  • Loco-252, Smethwick
  • WB Store, Carters Green
  • Hill Top Supermarket, West Bromwich Quality Convenience Store, Rowley Regis
  • Quality Supermarket, Wollaston
  • MGB News Ltd, Cradley Heath
  • Samras, Cradley Heath