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MPF conducts regular surveys of its extensive contact base. Recent ones include:
- Sector Trends and Priorities (jointly with the Professional & Business Services Council)
- Trade post Brexit (for the House of Lords EU internal market sub-committee)
- Women in Leadership
Few Boards can boast a CSO of equal status to the COO or CFO. This matters as the perspective of a strategist is very different from others at the table. 'Board Briefings from your Chief Strategist' fills the vacuum. Each is curated from an inspirational source such as a McKinsey insight, business book or HBR article into a digestible 200 word summary.
Successful strategy - Eight insights can help leaders to succeed with strategy, according to Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove:
- Deploy a process and set of questions that support decisions that: create high value for clients and enable you to make an attractive return; stay ahead of competitors; and open up possibilities for sustainable renewal (Roger Martin)
- The core of strategy is to discover the critical factors in a situation and design a way of co-ordinating and focusing your actions to deal with those factors. (Richard Rumelt)
- Ask questions and allow yourself to be pulled by real-life concerns rather than pushed by theoretical concepts. Give more attention to strategy formulation as a whole. (Henry Minzberg)
- Recognise that firms need to shape their social and political environment. (David Bach)
- Think of barriers to exit. Access to rather than ownership of assets will influence your ability to react to new opportunities (Rita McGrath)
- Mining existing markets is insufficient to secure future growth. Look for blue oceans - new profitable spaces with no competitors. (Renee Mauborgne)
- Everyone at a firm needs to think, care and make strategy choices. (Roger Martin)
- The main barrier when facing the next wave of growth is yourself. Get to know your business. You really can be your own worst enemy. (Chris Zook)
These are the key findings from recent surveys:
Sector trends and priorities
- Present levels of activity are near normal; slightly below for larger firms: with SME’s slightly higher than larger firms
- Expansion in activity and revenues is expected in the coming year, with SME’s more optimistic
- The key area for investment in the coming year is technology. This is followed by training for larger firms and marketing for SMEs
- SMEs expect to grow headcount in leaders, advisors and support staff; larger firms are expecting growth in advisors but a reduction in leaders and support staff
- Political uncertainty is the top constraint on growth over the next year, and is also by some margin the constraint that is most sensitive to an adverse change over current expectations. Skills, talent and employee turnover are seen to be of lesser importance.
Trade post Brexit
- 92% of firms currently provide services to clients in other EU countries
- Freedom of establishment under the EU’s services directive is seen as essential for cross-border trade by 39% of firms and important by a further 26%.
- 42% of firms are in agreement that WTO membership would allow most of their cross-border services to continue as at present; 30% disagree
- 75% of firms are in agreement that a comprehensive EU free trade agreement would offer similar access for their firm to that achievable at present; 12% disagree
- 59% of firms are in agreement that the EU’s free trade agreements with other countries provide helpful access for their firm beyond WTO membership; 9% disagree
- The EU’s professional qualifications directive is seen as essential in allowing recognition by 16% of firms and important by a further 39%
- Regulatory equivalence is seen as essential by 30% of firms and important by a further 34%
- Free movement of people is seen as essential by 42% of firms and important by a further 30%
Women in Leadership
“Put simply, a diverse and inclusive organisation delivers competitive advantage. Our belief in the value it can deliver is so strong that it sits front and centre of our business, which is paying dividends. We have seen an improved representation of all diverse talent among our leadership team, testament to the focus we place on creating an inclusive environment where everyone can achieve their potential.” Steve Varley, Chairman and UK & Ireland Managing Partner at EY.
MPF research confirms that professional firms are taking a lead in supporting women in leadership roles. A number already exceed the 30% Club’s aspirations and the 33% target set by Women on Boards. Women in the professions also outstrip comparable roles within FTSE 100 companies, with higher than average numbers in positions of leadership.
The report provides a perspective into the firms that are leading in this area and those that are on the right path, looking at what they are doing and how. We also look at best practice on supporting the women in leadership pipeline, and ask what the corporate world can learn from the professions.