‘Not missiles, but microbes’ – Why didn’t we see it coming?

Famously, in 2008, the Queen asked economists why no-one saw the great financial crisis coming, not least as they were giving her a full retrospective inquest into why it happened1. She might well ask the same question again now about the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, some commentators did predict the likelihood of a similar pandemic. … Continue reading ‘Not missiles, but microbes’ – Why didn’t we see it coming?

Are you rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic? Taking corporate risk management seriously

  I travelled from Tashkent to Moscow on an Aeroflot Ilyushin 86 in the early 1980s. The seats were basic metal framed deckchairs, screwed to the floor1. Why don’t airlines nowadays use simple deckchairs on airplanes, instead of very heavy, crash-resistant ones? The fuel saving alone would be enormous and the temptation, especially to low … Continue reading Are you rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic? Taking corporate risk management seriously

Carillion – a salutary reminder on due diligence

Carillion has entered the pantheon of cursed companies following its recent failure. Politicians and the media have worked themselves in another fit of righteous indignation about greedy management and incompetent boards. The search is out for people to blame, shame and even prosecute. Regulators, sensing the flow of the political wind, are climbing on the … Continue reading Carillion – a salutary reminder on due diligence

To buy or not to buy, that is the question

  Whether ‘tis nobler to buy back shares or pay a dividend?     Introduction Maybe Hamlet was not so concerned with shareholder distribution, but most modern company directors certainly are. In an earlier article I reviewed why and how companies make shareholder distributions and in particular pay dividends. However there is another form of … Continue reading To buy or not to buy, that is the question

What’s your favourite part of being a non-executive director?

Now I’m going to take a wild guess here, that the least favourite part of a typical NED role is setting executive remuneration. To the media, and now even the government, it appears that NEDs love nothing more than awarding large pay increases, bonuses and pay-offs to executives. It often seems that investors share this … Continue reading What’s your favourite part of being a non-executive director?