Improving the Workplace is Vital to Reduce Work-Related Stress
Stress can have extremely negative consequences on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing, and while there are plenty of factors contributing to an individual’s stress levels, the workplace is often a critical contributing factor.
This week marked the start of National Stress Awareness Week, a week devoted to increasing awareness of stress both in and out of the workplace. The goal of the week is also to equip employers with better tools and resources to decrease the negative effects of workplace stress and to give employees strategies for reducing stress.
Research carried out by The Stress Management Society found that 64% of employees have below average or poor mental wellbeing, while 48% of respondents have taken a day off work for their mental health. And while stress cannot be completely eliminated, too much stress, without doubt, takes its toll on employees, and thus the overall health of a company.
Some of the dominant causes of workplace stress include increasingly heavy workloads, limited time to focus on wellbeing and slow, out-of-date technology. A poor working environment was another negative factor, with 95% of workers stating that their physical work environment is important for their wellbeing, mental health, mood and productivity.
Businesses can implement a number of measures within the workplace to reduce the levels of stress experienced by employees:
Provide flexible working options
The workplace is changing significantly, and with rapid advances in technology and ultra-fast internet connections from almost anywhere, it has never been easier to implement flexible working measures, including flexible working hours, work from home opportunities, flexitime or job sharing. All of this helps employees to create a better, healthier work-life balance, and studies have found that flexible workers feel more engaged, motivated and productive.
Create an inspiring environment
The most successful companies in the world invest in their office environment for optimum employee satisfaction and wellness. From standing desks and in-office childcare to gyms and yoga rooms, some of the world’s most famous offices even include nap rooms, fitness classes and massage therapy.
Though you may not have the resources to offer the above, even implementing simple measures will create a more supportive working environment. From up-to-date technology and comfortable furniture to improved lighting and a fun break room, small but simple changes allows your employees to let loose during the day, which will lead towards a healthier, happier workforce.
Encourage exercise and meditation
There are proven links between exercise and mental wellbeing, so adapting the workspace to make time for this will make people more active, mobile and social. Meditation is also a huge stress reliever and even just ten minutes a day of mindfulness, meditation or quiet time helps people to work more effectively whilst reducing anxiety and stress.
Plan outings and teambuilding activities
Organising outings and teambuilding activities increases motivation, improves productivity and helps employees to develop better relationships with their colleagues. This gives them a greater sense of wellbeing, which means they are more likely to look forward to coming to work.
Offer a supportive workplace culture
You should provide support to each and every individual by offering regular catch-ups to check in on their well-being and identify any issues, whether at work or elsewhere in their life. Offering continued support, as well as putting a specific action plan in place when needed, is a great way to prevent a situation from escalating to the point where the employee feels unable to cope.
Stress management for employees is vital to your organisation’s success
Improving mental wellbeing in the workplace leads to heightened employee happiness, and, in an age where the supply and demand for talent are incredibly competitive, it has never been more important to develop and sustain a positive working environment that focuses on stress management.
The 2010s have been complicated and tense with regards to economic growth, particularly in the UK, which has suffered notably following the referendum vote in favour of leaving the EU. However, it’s not just the UK that’s been affected. According to the European Commission, Europe’s major economies are expected to grow at a slower rate within the next two years, while globally, almost all advanced countries are experiencing slower economic growth. All of which begs the question, why has the economy experienced such a slowdown, and what are the reasons for this overall slowdown?
While Brexit is one possible factor to explain the slow growth in the UK with a lack of confidence in the economy following the EU referendum, as well as the possibility of an imminent credit crunch, there are certainly other elements at play here.
According to a recent study, an ageing population could be one of the main reasons why economic growth has been slower than average during the 2010s, not just in the UK but globally too. In the UK, the average life expectancy for men is 79 years and for women is 82 years. Further, by October 2020 the state pension age will increase for both men and women to 66. This increased longevity – combined with the demographic bulge of the baby boom and an increased retirement age – has resulted in an ageing workforce, which isn’t necessarily good news for the economy.
One reason for this negative impact on the economy is that the older workforces are less productive than younger workers, which accounts for the overall reduction in economic output attributable to an ageing population. While an ageing population is satisfied to work at all, this demographic is regarded as less productive, less upwardly mobile, less geographically mobile, less demanding on wages and more interested in health benefits and flexible working. And while older workers value stability and security over adventure and ambition, younger workers bring new energy and perspective, workforce development, adaptability and agility as well as an ability to apply and understand different technologies and software quickly. As such, their presence in the workplace is fundamental if businesses are to remain competitive.
While young workers remain an asset, research suggests that younger people are now starting work much later, whether because they want to further their studies, travel or do something entirely different before entering the workforce. As a result of this, the older generations are now being given the chance to find jobs and remain in the workforce for longer than ever, with 40.2% of 55+-year-olds currently working, compared with just 32% in 2000.
However, in order for economic growth to improve, more prime-age workers – those between 25 and 54 – need to fill some of the many millions of jobs available. More young workers are needed, bringing with them their new skills, their willingness to work longer hours and their adaptability to an ever-changing and fast-paced economic, social and political environment.
In the meantime, more balance is needed between the older and younger generations, with societies implementing appropriate measures to tackle ageing populations in order to improve economic growth. This, in turn, will help businesses – and the economy – to not only endure but to thrive during these testing times.
How GDPR is Influencing Operations at AP Global Group
At AP Group, our goal is to deliver bespoke staffing solutions whilst helping ambitious professionals to fulfil their career aspirations. We operate with utmost efficiency, reliability and know-how, and are extremely proud of what we have achieved to this day.
As AP Group continues to adjust to global market conditions, we remain conversant with the many changes taking place within and around the international workplace. One of the most significant investments we have made in recent years is to our technological solutions, and by adopting the latest technological advances we are able to continually augment our success and support our clients in unparalleled ways.
One of the most pressing subjects in recent times has been that of the GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation.
The GDPR, a revised EU regulation set to replace the current EU Data Protection Directive and due to come into effect on 25 May 2018, has sent businesses across the globe into panic mode as they try to determine the best steps to take to ensure absolute compliance while under time constraints.
Many businesses around the world will be impacted by the GDPR, including those that manage and process personal data of individuals who are residents of the EU, the EEA and the UK (including the UK post-Brexit).
As an international business, we understand the importance of the GDPR’s requirements – as well as its complexities.
We are adopting many measures to ensure that our systems appropriately handle personal data and provide complete protection to our clients’ personal data.
Thus far, our innovative technology has helped to accelerate our response to the legislation and ensure we are GDPR ready.
We have also implemented a number of measures to ensure that we are always operating within the parameters of the GDPR and that all of our data processing activities and policies are regularly reviewed – and fully compliant. We regularly update recruitment policies as a member of APSCo, the governing body for international recruitment agencies, and we are pleased that APSCo have maintained a rigorous course in ensuring that its members are fully kept up to date and have GDPR information at our fingertips.
Our goal at AP Group has always been to maintain equilibrium for our clients whilst operating with utmost transparency, integrity and respect. We remain committed to keeping security and privacy at the forefront of our operations in order to safeguard our company, our reputation and above all else, our clientele.
Finally, we strive to consistently operate to the highest professional standards with utmost confidentiality, discretion and excellence. This is one of the many reasons why countless businesses and individuals choose AP Group to fulfil their recruitment requirements.
We are so proud of the relationships we have established with our clients and are excited about what the future holds at AP Group.
If you have any concerns or worries relating to data that AP Group may hold relating to you as a candidate or client then please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on email@example.com
NEW 2018 Salary Guides for Guernsey, Jersey, Switzerland and Cyprus
Specialist Annual Salary Guides have now been updated for 2017/2018.
AP Group salary guides offer an accurate steer to the current levels in the present job market. The guides offer up-to-date salary indications for sectors managed by AP Executive, AP Personnel and AP Technical.
With over 10 years of experience creating guides and figures of the guides, AP Group offers very comprehensive figures for salaries in the Channel Islands, Switzerland and Cyprus.
Purchasing AP Group salary guides is easy with flexible options - they can be purchased in full (by division and location) or by sector covered within each of the guides.
Apply HERE or contact your local consultant for more information.
AP Group is widely recognised as the market leader in specialist recruitment services worldwide. 2017 has started off on a positive note with industry awards under the group's belt.
AP Group Ltd was awarded Best Global Staffing & Recruitment Group and Award for Excellence in Wealth Management Recruitment Services, in the 2017 Executive Search & Staffing Awards. The awards, organised by Corporate America Magazine, recognises the work of companies and individuals who continue to provide outstanding service to job seekers and businesses alike.
Discussing the awards, Jordan Japel, Awards Co-ordinator, commented: "Recruitment is a vital part of the corporate landscape, and as such, it is a real honour to be able to showcase the hard work and expertise of our deserving winners. I would like to congratulate them and wish them the best of luck for the future."
AP Group's executive search division AP Executive is recognised as a trailblazer in the executive recruitment industry, with its continued focus on innovation and customer satisfaction. Supported by a strong team and sophisticated recruiting tools, AP Executive has been serving the executive staffing needs of the offshore wealth management market for more than 26 years.
Commenting on the recent achievement, Gina Le Prevost, the CEO and founder of AP Group, said: "Our staff are delighted to be awarded this coveted title The recruitment world is a competitive marketplace, and so to be recognised above other recruitment firms and to win this accolade, is very humbling. We look forward to being of continued service to our loyal clients and candidates".
Season’s Greetings! Our Christmas and New Year opening hours
As 2016 draws to a close, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude for making us the recruitment and career partner of choice. We had another very successful year at AP Group, with three global recruitment awards, business expansion into Canada and Luxembourg, membership of APSCo (Association of Professional Staffing Companies) and a lot more.
We have further strengthened our team across all the divisions and offices and have invested significantly in staff training and development. We have redeveloped three of our websites (AP Executive, AP Personnel and AP Technical) with two on their way in the new year to provide our clients and candidates with better access to the broad range of services we offer.
Once again, we would like to thank our clients and candidates for their continued support and we look forward to helping you find your ideal staff or job in 2017.
Please note our offices will be closed from 13:00 on Friday 23 December and reopen on 3 January 2017.
Wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year from the team at AP Group Global.
AP Group, a leading offshore recruitment firm, announces the release of 2016/2017 salary guide in Guernsey, Jersey, Switzerland. The guide includes junior to board level salary information for key finance and technology sectors covered by the firm's specialist divisions, namely AP Executive, AP Personnel and AP Technical.
The salary data has been compiled based on the information provided by specialist consultants with extensive knowledge of the local markets and industry trends, the disclosure of earnings by candidates and salary information supplied by clients on the advert as well as the actual job offer.
Some of the key highlights of AP Group's salary guides include:
Latest salary information for permanent finance positions and contract rates for temporary workers.
Some of the finance sectors covered include trust &company, fund administration, private equity, accounting and finance, banking and investment, risk and compliance, family office, asset management, accounting and legal.
Bespoke salary guide for the IT sector, including telecommunications, electronics, web, e-commerce and eGaming.
Low, Medium and High bandings to reflect salary ranges within each specialist position.
An indication of yearly salary fluctuation.
Several flexible purchase options are available, including competitive rates on a purchase of bundles.
Updated by experts to ensure accuracy and relevance.
Useful for companies of all sizes, ranging from small boutique firms to international blue chip organisations, for new staff hire, staff appraisals and salary reviews.
Salary is one of the most important motivational factors for employees and directly results in higher job performance and productivity. Given the competitiveness of the employment market, particularly within finance and IT, accurate salary evaluation against a trusted salary guide is vital to employee engagement and retention.
With over 26 years of experience in recruitment/HR consultancy, AP Group boasts an in-depth understanding of the local markets and requirements of clients within finance and IT sectors. Drawing on the firm's diverse specialist expertise, the salary guides accurately reflect the current salary trends in specific sectors and jurisdictions.
If you would like to discuss our salary guides with us or want to learn more about how we can help, please contact our dedicated recruitment consultants today!
At AP Group we are focussed on creating awareness about some of the common issues at workplace that often get brushed under the carpet. In this article we're throwing light on sexual harassment - any unwelcome sexual advances, both physical and verbal, which interferes with job performance, or creates an intimidating work environment.
A recent survey conducted in the UK revealed some alarming figures related to sexual harassment at work.
More than half of the women said that they have been subjected to "unwelcome jokes" and/or "unwanted touching" at work, a research by the TUC suggested. What's worse is the fact that most of the incidents were not even reported - victims were afraid of losing their jobs, or of facing social ridicule. Many incidents may appear minor with victims not even realising that they are being harassed, or its part of the workplace culture where slight offences have become a norm.
If we have a look at the worldwide figures, they reveal a far grimmer picture. One out of three American women has been sexually harassed at work. Although more than 75 countries have enacted legislation prohibiting it, sexual harassment remains a highly pervasive and challenging problem to deal with.
The UK Equality Act 2010 defines sexual harassment as "unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating someone's dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them".
"Sexual harassment constitutes any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature. It's not about fun or friendship but about the abuse of power," explains Lyndsay Ray, Head of HR, AP Group.
It is worth pointing out here that sexual harassment is not exclusive to women but also affects men. 40% of the complaints to the Equal Opportunities helpline in the UK regarding sexual harassment are by men.
Nevertheless, the sexual harassment rate for women is higher than men in every industry. The situation is particularly bad in male-dominated industries such as finance, banking, construction or transport services, and for men, in female-dominated industries like fashion or education.
Here're some examples of sexual harassment in the workplace:
Making unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances such as touching, hugging or kissing
Displaying obscene sexual images or pornography in the workplace
Asking for sexual favours
Whistling, patting, pinching, caressing or brushing against someone in a sexual way
Commenting on appearance, clothing, or body parts
Sexual assault, or rape
"Whilst there is no strict definition as to what behaviours constitutes sexual harassment, the Sex Discrimination Act UK gives you the legal right to file a complaint against the perpetrator, and it is also unlawful to treat women (or men) less favourably because of their sex," Lyndsay stresses.
It is not difficult to understand why sexual harassment has taken an endemic proportion - a pervasive culture of acceptance creates a sense of fear of being branded humourless, or a spoil sport. Victims are made to believe that they are "on the joke" no matter how intimidating, humiliating or offensive the act is.
Here the employer has a crucial role to play in addressing the complaints and taking appropriate steps to prevent sexual harassment from occurring.
"A responsible employer is legally accountable for the behaviour of its workers and must take appropriate disciplinary action when needed," says Lyndsay.
"At AP Group, we have policies in place, accessible by all, which clearly outline the process to follow should any of its employees become a victim of sexual harassment. Our HR department will be able to offer support and advise the employee on the best course of action - even if the employee is powerless to take effective action themselves, it is an important step should they consider taking a legal case at a later stage," she adds.
When an episode of sexual harassment is brought to light, it becomes the employer's responsibility to conduct a thorough internal investigation, and if needed, enforce its company policies with a stern punishment, which may involve the termination of the alleged harasser.
However, the victim has every right to bypass all the red tape and report the incident directly to the Police for indecent assault.
Don't forget, the law protects you from wrongful termination or discharge - and that means your employer cannot take any retaliatory measures against you for speaking up against harassment.
The only way to deal with sexual harassment is to speak out against it - loud and clear. Ignoring or normalising sexual harassment is the worst thing you could do.
During our 25 years of experience in the recruitment business, we have witnessed first hand the effects of ageism. Despite a majority of over-60s choosing to work beyond the retirement age, the rate at which employers have embraced the benefits of matured workers is highly disappointing.
Gina Le Prevost CEO of AP Group says: "The days of discrimination on the grounds of age should now be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, a lot of employers still consider people in their 50s to be approaching retirement."
The average retirement age in most countries is inching towards 70; and by scrapping compulsory retirement, workers are being given full flexibility to work as long as they are productive (For example in the UK and Jersey). Laws across the UK and Europe have also been in favour of the ageing workforce - employers are generally not allowed to hire, dismiss, promote, or decide an employee's compensation based upon their age.
The dramatic rise in life expectancy is an indication that more and more men and women will be willing to work beyond their retirement ages, and a failure on the part of the employers to create an inclusive and mixed-aged workplace can have negative repercussions. One such effect is low candidate morale.
Gina says: "Some candidates I speak to, who are in their 50s, usually talk themselves down because they have been discriminated for so long that even they now believe they are too old to find work."
It is true that both senior and entry-level employees experience age discrimination in the workplace, but the mature are the worst victims of false stereotypes, especially in regard to their competence - often, resulting in the workers themselves submitting to these stereotypes.
While research backs that people up to the age of 70 can be as productive as their younger counterparts, the society often generalises this demographic as having some cognitive and physical limitations.
Unfortunately, most companies get caught up in the stereotypes and biases that are created by the society. The result is a loss of valuable experience, employee productivity, as well as accompanied financial and legal troubles. Earlier this year, our CEO issued a statement asking businesses to "quickly and effectively" adapt to the changing retirement laws for better integration and engagement of the ageing workforce.
"With the new pension age legislation coming into place (in the UK and Jersey), it is important for companies to adjust accordingly and not have the historical retirement ages in their contracts and procedures. [..] Companies have to adjust and embrace this new era of candidates who are now able to work longer. ," she said in the press release.
One of the reasons why most employers look favourably upon the Millennials is because of their mastery over all things digital. In today's age of technology, companies want to cash in on the power of the worldwide web and social media to drive sales and customer engagement. And this is where the millennial generation proves to be in the driver's seat.
But when it comes to maturity, loyalty and work ethics, mature employees tend to lead the way. The experience and business skills they bring to the table more than compensate for their lack of tech skills. Besides, it is important for all employers to incorporate relevant training programmes to give mature workers the opportunity to advance their careers, as well as offer mentoring opportunities for them to transfer their skills to the younger generation. However, what is more worrying is that despite policy changes and age-discrimination legislation, a significant proportion of over-50s continues to be overlooked during the hiring process (The Missing Million: Pathways back into employment). So what's the best way to tackle this problem?
"Legislation on its own will not eliminate ageism in the workforce, and companies have a crucial role in creating an inclusive and fair environment that not only attracts but also retains the skills of this demographic," suggests Gina.
AP Group is committed to ensuring that all staff are treated fairly, irrespective of their age and has taken measures to ensure that it fully meets the requirements of age-related legislation in all of its global jurisdictions ( 2010 Equality Act in the UK for example). Age is not a factor in any decisions made concerning recruitment & selection, access to employee benefits, opportunities for promotion or training, performance management, application of discipline or capability procedures or selection for redundancy.
Quotes are taken from our previous press releases. To read the full articles, click on the links below:
Job Satisfaction and Employee Retention: The Importance of Salary Evaluation against Salary Guides
Employees are a company's greatest asset; they directly translate business goals into profits and drive a company forward. If an organisation's success depends largely on its staff, then how can engagement and retention not be your primary focus? Here's how salary guides can help your business stay ahead of the competition by improving employee satisfaction.
Research shows that job satisfaction is a reliable indicator of talent retention; a satisfied employee is more likely to be loyal, committed, motivated and productive. There are several factors influencing job satisfaction including career progression, job fit, work/life balance and pay & benefits.
A recent Workforce 2020 study conducted by Oxford Economics and SAP SE highlighted that competitive compensation and benefits package is the key to employee retention. While salary compensates the employees for performing the tasks assigned to them, incentives are incorporated into the package to reward them for exceptional results and boost their morale.
Companies are always engaged in a cut-throat competition to attract and retain the brightest talents in the market; and here, an attractive remuneration and benefits package is often used as a primary incentive. When designed and implemented properly, employee compensation schemes, including benefits, bonuses and other rewards, can motivate workers towards achieving business goals and create a satisfied workforce. On the other hand, if the employee package is not on par with industry standards or jobs are not benchmarked against market data, then the company is likely to suffer loss, both in terms of financial and human resources. That's why it is important to benchmark your salary packages against salary guides that are specific to your niche industry and jurisdiction.
Whether you're looking to evaluate an employee's worth in the job market or gain industry insights, to check what skills are in-demand, salary guides can prepare you to successfully hire and retain high-performing professionals. A salary guide offers comprehensive salary information for a particular job or for multiple jobs across one or more sectors and geographic regions. By helping inaccurate salary evaluations, these guides enable you to check if you're overpaying, or if you need to revise your staffing strategy.
Without a sound understanding of the salary and employment trends, it is difficult to roll out a comprehensive incentive scheme. For example, market insights highlight specific areas of skill shortage. Accordingly, employers can review and improve their compensation packages to attract professionals with specialist skills that are in-demand.
And the first step towards successful recruitment is posting an effective job ad - a sales pitch attracts the right candidates only when it clearly highlights the benefits and perks and career development opportunities on offer. Here salary guides can help you craft compelling job descriptions with better-defined employee responsibilities and salary range.
Overall, salary guides are vital for businesses to make informed and effective decisions relating to employee remuneration and budgeting.
Owing to fluctuations in market conditions and salary ranges, it is advisable to conduct a salary evaluation at least annually, as well as to keep your job adverts updated. For benchmarking, companies can access salary information from publicly available salary surveys or annual company reports. However, most organisations either lack the resources to analyse and effectively use this information, or fail to find a guide that caters to their specific sector and/or jurisdiction.
Given the competitiveness of the employment market, particularly within finance and IT, accurate salary evaluation against a trusted salary guide is vital to employee engagement and retention. Using guides created by established staffing/HR specialists, such as AP Group, to create a compensation structure that's tailored to the organisation's goals can save a lot of time and resources.
Backed by over 25 years of experience in recruitment/HR consultancy, AP Group's salary guides offer junior to board level salary information for key finance and technology sectors covered by the firm's specialist divisions, namely AP Executive, AP Personnel and AP Technical. Drawing on the firm's diverse specialist expertise and extensive knowledge of the local markets, the salary guides accurately reflect the current salary trends in specific sectors and jurisdictions, primarily dealing with Guernsey, Jersey, Switzerland and Cyprus.
Updated on a quarterly basis for relevance and accuracy, the guides include salary indications for range of sectors including trust &company, fund administration, private equity, accounting and finance, banking and investment, risk and compliance, family office, asset management, accounting and legal, as well as the IT sector, covering telecommunications, electronics, web, e-commerce and eGaming. The AP Group salary guides are useful for companies of all sizes, ranging from small boutique firms to international blue chip organisations, for new staff hire, staff appraisals and salary reviews.
"AP Group's divisions AP Executive, AP Personnel and AP Technical have been working at the coalface of salary evaluations since 1990. Speaking daily to clients and candidates we have developed an in-depth knowledge about the current job market's salary levels and expectations from prospective employees. We are well placed to provide the information you need when reviewing your annual salaries or during performance reviews," comments Gina Le Prevost, CEO and Founder of AP Group.
For more information on our salary guides and comprehensive consultancy in all areas of recruitment and talent management, please contact our dedicated recruitment consultants today or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AP Group Ltd wins Corporate Vision’s 2016 Recruitment Award
AP Group, a leading offshore recruitment firm, is pleased to announce that it has won the prestigious 2016 Corporate Vision Award in the category: Best Global Recruitment Specialists.The award held by Corporate Vision, a monthly magazine focussing on the corporate landscape, recognises the outstanding recruitment firms, and the people behind them, who have showcased exceptional commitment to client service and innovation over the past 12 months.
Steve Simpson, Awards Co-ordinator, commented: "This awards programme recognises the hard work, professionalism and dedication of those whose role it is to keep the global job market moving. As such it is my great honour to turn the spotlight on our deserving winners, and I would like to wish them the best of fortunes in the future."
The winners were decided by the in-house research team of industry experts and corporate specialists, combined with the votes from industry partners. In selecting the winners, the panel focussed on three key parameters: skill, dedication and client service.
Gina Le Prevost, CEO and Founder of AP Group, commented: "This award is a great accomplishment and could not have been achieved without the hard work of all the AP Group consultants and support staff."
With offices in eight prime locations (Guernsey, Jersey, , London, Geneva, Zurich, Nicosia, Limassol and Singapore), AP Group offers specialist recruitment consultancy across more than 55 jurisdictions, covering wealth management, trust, family office, accountancy, legal and commercial sectors, IT, Telecoms, oil and gas, and temporary placements. Apart from recruitment, AP Group also provides HR services to its clients, including salary guides, payroll services and HR administration in selected locations. With a focus on quality service and innovation, the firm invests in cutting-edge recruitment tools and advanced training programs for consultants to stay ahead of the competition. The team comprises of senior consultants with specialised sector experience and market knowledge, as well as a strong candidate pool and client network, both local and international.
Founded in Guernsey in 1990, AP Group has expanded into new business locations and established itself as truly 'global' recruitment firm, known for professionalism, integrity and innovation.
How To Know If You Are Being Bullied Work? And Fight It Back
Workplace bullying is on the rise, and here are some alarming figures that prove it. According to statistics, nearly 96% of Americans and a third of Britons have experienced bullying at work.
But what is even more concerning is the fact that most don't even realise the signs of bullying or fail to take adequate steps to curb bullying.
We at AP Group believe it is important to encourage and promote a healthy work environment, that can boost camaraderie around the office as well as work productivity of employees. Keeping this in mind, we're highlighting some of the common issues at the workplace that often get brushed under the carpet. This week we're focussing on workplace bullying- a systematic and persistent pattern of mistreatment at work that jeopardises health, career and work productivity.
We caught up with Lindsay Ray, AP Group's Head of HR, to learn more about this problem and know how to deal with it.
AP Group announces partnership with ‘The Commonwealth Trade Initiative’ for HR and Staffing consultancy
AP Group, a world-leading offshore recruitment firm established in Guernsey in 1990, is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Commonwealth Trade Initiative, engineered by AMPP Group and The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC). The partnership is to promote business investment throughout the 53 Commonwealth countries. This alliance brings together the Commonwealth Trade's cloud based trading and collaboration platform that fosters networking opportunities between organisations established and those considering a move into Commonwealth markets with AP Group's 25 years of expertise in recruitment consultancy.
Through the partnership, AP Group and its specialist divisions aim to help organisations entering the Commonwealth markets with bespoke and comprehensive HR/staffing solutions to tackle recruitment challenges in the established and emerging economies. With the tremendous growth in the commonwealth market, attracting and retaining high quality talent for specialised roles has become a challenge. Most nations are also grappling with a lack of leadership, specialist skilled talent and/or management/executive level professionals. Dealing across a range of industrial sectors, including wealth management, trust, family office, accountancy, legal sectors, finance, IT, Telecoms, oil and gas, and temporary placements, AP Group's dedicated team of specialised consultants help overcome human capital challenges in highly-localised markets through unrivalled talent sourcing expertise and market intelligence. Its executive search division AP Executive is an acknowledged leader in mid to senior management and C-suite level recruitment for wealth management across commonwealth countries and globally.
The innovative communication platform, which will be accessed by AP Group's global recruiters, allows AP Group to engage with new customers and prospective partners, throughout the Commonwealth, as well as gather strategic data-driven market intelligencethrough data analytics and data visualisation. The AP Group has recruitment divisions servicing businesses in the wealth management, legal and accountancy, IT, Oil & Gas, Construction and Commercial sectors.
Gina Le Prevost, CEO and Founder of AP Group, commented: "This fantastic new initiative by the UK Government, is a massive opportunity for AP Group to deliver bespoke professional recruitment services to new and existing companies. We feel privileged and flattered to have been chosen as a commercial partner and are very much looking forward to dealing companies across the Commonwealth to provide our expert recruitment services where needed. Our offices are strategically placed across the globe to be able to deal with this exciting undertaking. We are looking forward to being of service!"
AP Group also offers advisory services in order to equip companies with up-to-date regional market knowledge, as well as identify specific investment opportunities in emerging economies. To ensure smooth and efficient global expansion, AP Group also provides selection of HR services to its clients, including salary guides, payroll services and HR administration in selected locations.
With extensive international recruitment experience and an enviable candidate network, AP Group is uniquely placed to take care of all HR/Staffing needs, as well as offer advisory services relating to global expansion, relocation and immigration. Known for its efficient, confidential and reliable professional services, AP Group is the trusted recruitment partner of choice for many blue chip firms.
AP Group CEO: Companies need to quickly adapt to new State Pension scheme for better integration of ageing workforce
With the introduction of the new State Pension age in the UK, companies need to quickly and effectively adapt to the recent changes for better integration and engagement of the ageing workforce, according to Gina Le Prevost, CEO of AP Group.
The suggestion for companies to give a better chance to over-50s and 60s comes after the official announcement for a new State Pension age in Britain from 6 April 2016, which was proposed in view of a dramatic rise in life expectancy.
Currently, the state pension age is 65 for men and 63 for women; however, this is set for planned changes over the next few decades. From 2020, the State Pension age for both men and women will be 66, with an expected rise to age 67 between 2026 and 2028, and thereafter linked to life expectancy. These changes will directly impact the average retirement age, pushing it higher than it was before. Similar changes have been proposed in the Channel Islands, with Guernsey's State Pension age expected to rise to 70 by 2025. In Jersey, the current Pension age is 65, which, under the current changes, will undergo increment by two months in every 10 months from 2020, until it reaches 67 in 2031.
The average retirement age in most EU states is also expected to gradually rise to 67 by 2030, including in France, Germany, Spain, Greece and Italy.
Gina Le Prevost, commented: "With the new pension age legislations coming into place, it is important for companies to adjust accordingly and not have the historical retirement ages of 60 for women and 65 for men in their contracts and procedures. Job seekers over 50 are now effectively able to work additionally a substantial 20 years before they reach their retirement age. This is fantastic news for people I speak to regularly who feel they are discriminated upon for being close to retirement. Companies have to adjust and embrace this new era of candidates who are now able to work longer. It gives hope to those people who feel they are too old to be able to start a new career."
As the retirement age is slowly inching towards 70, it has become necessary for employers to take proactive steps to recruit, retain and embrace productive matured workers, maximising their potential and work performance. Given the constant technological changes, significant investment in the necessary training of the older staff is of critical importance, which coupled with the employees' previous experience can give them a competitive advantage. When recruiting for a job, employers should consider a person's qualification, experience and skills, without judging by the age. In fact, research shows that older employees are as productive as their younger counterparts (AgeUK Study).
A multi-generational and diverse workforce can be an asset for any company, where mature employees are engaged in mentoring and training of the younger members of staff with their vast professional experience and wise knowledge gained.
The UK already has stringent age - discrimination law in place under The Equality Act 2010. New Jersey's new law protecting against age discrimination is expected to come into force on 1 September 2016, if approved by the States.
Despite policy changes and laws against age-related discrimination, a recent report suggests a significant proportion of over-50s continue to be overlooked during hiring process due to certain age-old negative stereotypes ( The Missing Million: Pathways back into employment). The representation of 50-64-year-olds is particularly worse in Finance (20%), as compared to other sectors.
Gina added: "Although age discrimination acts are in place and implemented, some companies still have presumptions and operate based on stereotypes against mature candidates. Companies should be doing all they can to retain the in-depth professional and organisational experience and knowledge this generation has developed and holds. Recruitment policies and procedures should be reviewed and job postings should not promote indirect discrimination by avoiding youth-oriented code words, such as "energetic" and "enthusiastic"."
"Re-training of this demographic through development tools or encouraging key mature employees to stay past retirement through flexible working hours or mentoring opportunities should exist to create an inclusive and equitable workplace. Legislation on its own will not eliminate ageism in the workforce and companies have an integral part in creating an inclusive and fair environment that not only attracts but also retains the skills of this demographic, including embracing mature generations."
Given the advantages of an age-diverse workforce, companies need to undertake measures against ageism in the workplace and facilitate entry of matured workers into the labour market.
AP Group provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to sex, race, colour, National Origin, age, disability, religion, reprisal and genetic information.
AP Group Global, a world-leading group of specialist recruitment consultancies, is pleased to announce the recent hire of Chara Christou as the new Head of HR. Joining at an exciting time of AP Group's 25-year history, Chara will continue to build on the company's success as an international boutique recruitment firm, and also utilise HR best practice knowledge to meet the needs of AP Group's expanding business and strengthen the overall operations of the firm.
Chara, who is based in AP's Cyprus offices, will lead the company's HR team, by establishing the function's presence within the business, providing HR strategic planning, management and supervision, coordinating the company's resourcing requirements, optimizing employee engagement and forging business ties with global clients and candidates.
She will focus on talent acquisition, by attracting specialised recruitment consultants that match the organisational divisional needs and importantly have the drive and ambition to develop the company's presence in new and existing trading locations. Chara will also help to further develop a sustainable and attractive reward programme to incentivise both front office and business support employees. Finally, she will focus on developing capability frameworks and training programmes to foster a culture of talent development and engagement.
Chara Christou commented: "I am pleased to join AP Group at such an exciting time, when we are looking to grow our business and establish our presence in existing but also new locations, particularly where the job markets are booming. At the same time, our priority is to establish key HR policies and procedures and embed a culture for our existing and new employees, where they will be incentivised to deliver results, develop within sustainable career paths and finally engage with our ethos and values. Our vision is to support an agile environment, where everybody feels part of one wider international AP Group team, whilst playing an integral part to our strategy through individual contributions."
Chara joins AP Group with more than five years of Human Resources Generalist and Reward experience. She worked in HR and Reward roles in global companies in the UK, such as Deutsche Bank, Fujitsu Services and Experian Plc. She received her master's degree in Industrial Relations and Managing Human Resources as well as CIPD status from the University of Warwick. Additionally, she holds a master's degree in Management from the University of Surrey.
Gina Le Prevost, CEO and Founder of AP Group, said: "Finally, we are now once again able to establish an international footprint and work further afield, as the global economy is stabilising from the last 7 years of instability and job loss. I am thrilled to bring onboard Chara who will add so much value to our group's growth strategy in the next coming months and years. Chara has an excellent in-depth HR experience, relevant to the key areas we wish to nurture and develop. I am very much looking forward to working closely with Chara and her team."
Celebrating 25 years of experience in providing bespoke recruitment service to clients and candidates since 1990, AP Group has established itself as an employer of diversity by promoting a culture of collaboration, innovation and results.
As an international recruitment firm, AP Group aims to strengthen its existing business and venture into exciting recruitment concepts and job markets. The HR team at AP Group is always seeking qualified recruitment professionals for positions within its growing business.
If you have the experience, skills and are interested in making a contribution to our growing business, please contact our HR Department at email@example.com
AP Group, one of the world's leading offshore recruitment firms, is celebrating its 25th year anniversary this month. Since its inception as a recruitment provider to financial and commercial companies in Guernsey in 1990, AP Group has emerged as a leader in its field and expanded to Jersey, Nicosia, Limassol, London, Geneva, Zurich and Singapore.
AP Group has earned the title of being the largest Channel Island recruitment firm, recognised across the globe for its confidential approach and technical expertise.
The vision of the company was conceived by founder and CEO, Gina Le Prevost, a professionally qualified and experienced recruitment specialist.
Gina Le Prevost said: "Reaching this massive milestone of 25 years hasn't been without much laughter but also with many tears too along the way. For AP Group to still be operational is truly a major achievement by AP Group's directors and staff and for that, I thank them for their loyal support, hard work and having had their wits about them during the difficult economic downturn."
Currently, the company has four divisions, namely AP Executive (senior-level appointments), AP GlobalEnergy (appointments in the oil and gas sector), AP Personnel (junior to mid-level appointments in finance and commercial sector) and AP Technical (IT/Communication appointments), each providing specialist recruitment service to clients and job seekers.
With an international reputation for its efficient, friendly and reliable recruitment service to both candidates and companies across the globe, AP Group is a truly 'global' recruitment firm. It is also a member of the recruitment governing body, Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), reflecting its commitment to high professional and ethical standards.
However, the journey over 25 years, as Gina admits, has not always been a smooth one.
"Particularly since 2008 our industry has seriously been at the coal face of major job losses caused by the worst global recession in 100 years. The recruitment industry worldwide, along with many other industries, has battled through and suffered real hardship and pain, and difficult management decisions have had to be made in order to survive".
Nevertheless, Gina admits that it has been a "challenging experience and a steep business learning curve", and with the hard work put in by all the employees and the "economic conditions improving in more jurisdictions", AP Group is now seeing the job market growth once again.
AP Group has a strong global network of top professionals and reputed companies, and offers assistance with overseas recruitment across a range of industrial sectors, including wealth management, trust, family office, accountancy, legal sectors, finance, IT, Telecoms, oil and gas, and temporary placements. The firm boasts of a team of highly dedicated and specialised recruitment consultants and has an impressive track record of placing candidates at all levels of business and finance. They deal with more than 55 jurisdictions across the world.
Looking ahead to the future, Gina said: "I hope AP Group will continue to grow and our staff will continue to enjoy their work well into the next 25 years."
She added: "I have exciting plans for AP Group's future which we hope to implement in the not too distant future. I am as enthusiastic for AP Group's success as I was 25 years ago when the first office officially opened in Guernsey on 1 July 1990."
Over the 25 years, AP Group has provided bespoke recruitment service to some of the leading international companies, and helped a number of high calibre candidates achieve their career goals.
AP Group concerned over shortage of experienced trust and fund administrators
While economies across the globe are slowly limping back from the massive credit crunch, the effects of the recession, however, are still haunting some sectors such as trusts and funds. A leading recruitment consultancy AP Group has expressed concern over the shortage of experienced administrators in the trust and fund sectors. This shortage is a direct result of the recession that hit the global economy in 2008.
AP Group has years of experience in recruiting professionals in the wealth management and commercial sectors.
Gina Le Prevost, CEO of AP Group, said: "Due to the lack of recruitment in trust and funds industries to employ and invest in junior staff caused by the downturn in 2008, this has now caused a shortage of experienced administrators. Since early 2015, we are noticing a recruitment upturn in the Channel Islands and other global locations which specialise in trust and fund professionals. However, companies specialising in these popular sectors are now struggling to find candidates qualified with the important 3 to 5 years' level of experience."
This is one such area where the global economic crisis has had a lingering effect. To cap the costs, most organisations, during the economic crisis, abstained from recruiting graduates and junior to mid-level administrators. This, in turn, has made it difficult for employers to find suitable candidates with the requisite level of skills and knowledge base. Had there been the recruitment of junior staff since 2008, they would now be qualified to take on the role of experienced administrators - which are in high demand at the moment.
The current 3 to 5 years experience requirement means the candidates should normally also hold the professional qualifications like STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) and/or ICSA (Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators). It takes up to three years to complete these types of qualifications.
To fill this acute shortage, employers may have to consider candidates who do not hold work permit or local qualifications for these jobs but meet the required professional qualification and length of experience criteria.
Gina Le Prevost continued: "Companies need support by the Guernsey and Jersey respective authorities to be able to employ non- locally qualified candidates if necessary, and strict work permits policies, which have been in place for so long now, should be more relaxed."
She concluded: "Without companies being given more leeway with bringing in non-locals and if the numbers of jobs in specialist areas continue to increase in the islands, it is inevitable that salaries will need to rise in these industries. In fact, job seekers moving to the islands because of work offers would also improve the Guernsey and Jersey sluggish housing markets, which both islands are currently experiencing."
However, for employees, it is an encouraging trend as the job market is becoming more buoyant particularly in wealth management industries.
She said: "We are now in an 'employees' job market which is going to become a 'fast track in gaining experience and professional qualifications' for job seekers looking to get into funds and trust."
The AP Group Ltd Jersey office first opened in 1999. As well as AP Personnel it now operates two other divisions offering recruitment consultancy. AP Technical specialises in IT, Multi-Media and Telecoms recruitment from junior to senior management and board level, both locally and internationally. AP Executive, established in 1999, specialises in sourcing local and international candidates for management, board level and executive positions in the financial services and legal sectors.
The AP Executive Ltd first opened an office in Cyprus in 2004, originally as AP Group which was established in Guernsey in 1990. AP Technical specialises in IT, Multi-Media and Telecoms recruitment from junior to senior management and board level, both locally and internationally. AP Executive, established in 1999, specialises in sourcing local and international candidates for management, board level and executive positions in the financial services and legal sectors.
AP Executive, the global executive search division of AP Group, is pleased to announce two senior-level promotions. Fabrice Drouin has been promoted from manager to Director of the company's Geneva office and Emmanuel Auperin, the Manager of Zurich office has also been promoted to Director status.
The AP Executive Ltd first opened an office in Cyprus in 2004, originally as AP Group which was established in Guernsey in 1990. AP Technical specialises in IT, Multi-Media and Telecoms recruitment from junior to senior management and board level, both locally and internationally. AP Executive, established in 1999, specialises in sourcing local and international candidates for management, board level and executive positions in the financial services and legal sectors.
The AP Group Guernsey office was the first office to open in 1990. As well as AP Personnel it now operates two other divisions offering recruitment consultancy. AP Technical specialises in IT, Multi-Media and Telecoms recruitment from junior to senior management and board level, both locally and internationally. AP Executive, established in 1999, specialises in sourcing local and international candidates for management, board level and executive positions in the financial services and legal sectors.
AP Technical is the leading name in technical recruitment for IT, Multimedia and Telecoms professionals in the Channel Islands, with offices firmly established in Guernsey and Jersey as well as Cyprus, London and Switzerland the company offers a dedicated professional consultancy service to both clients and candidate alike, so if you have an IT or Telco vacancy to fill or maybe you are a job seeker looking for a new IT, Multimedia or Telecoms job, then AP Technical are well placed to help you.
With the growing success of AP Technical in the Channel Islands, the company has appointed Caroline Roberts to service its existing operation in Jersey. More recently, Guernsey-based Manager, Andrew Cullen had been providing the point of contact for all Jersey-based clients and candidates whilst we secured a dedicated Consultant capable of complimenting the existing team, and with the right level of experience required to provide an excellent level of customer service to our clients and candidates in Jersey.
'I am very pleased to introduce Caroline to our Jersey clients and candidates, Andrew Said. 'Caroline joins us at an exciting time as we continue to expand our AP Technical brand internationally, and I am sure she will be a familiar name to many of our clients and candidates in Jersey having spent a number of years in both IT recruitment and within the IT industry locally'. 'Caroline brings with her a wealth of experience and enthusiasm, and is a welcome addition to the AP Technical team.' She will be an invaluable asset I am sure to our clients and candidates in Jersey.'
AP Group is one of the key sponsors of the Sportingbet Guernsey Marathon for the second year running. The event attracted more than 500 entrants in 2009 and this year is set to be even more successful.
'A number of AP Group staff has run marathons in New York, London, Paris, Geneva and Jersey during the past years and so we like to support events that are competitive but promotes fitness as well as it being open for anyone to enter', said Gina Le Prevost, CEO of AP Group, adding 'Having run two myself, (London and New York), I was keen to add our support to this new competition in Guernsey - I am hoping that someone from my Guernsey office will find time to train for next year's event.
Last year's event not only showed the island's spirit but also helped to raise support and awareness for charities: Mines Awareness Trust, Headway Guernsey and Hope for Guernsey. This year the money is raised for two local charities: 'Headway Guernsey' and 'Get Kids Going!'.
The marathon will take place on last Sunday in August - 29th, giving the Bank Holiday Monday to rest all those sore feet!
There is still time to register! Entries are accepted until 28th August. For more information, fees and registration forms please visit www.guernseymarathon.gg.
AP Group is pleased to announce two senior-level appointments. Michelle Goodenough joins the company as Manager of AP Personnel, joining from Barclays Wealth where she has spent the past two years as HR Business Partner. She takes over from Steve Gibson, who is promoted to Director.
In her new role, Michelle will be responsible for further developing the group's junior to middle management recruitment teams in both Guernsey and Jersey. Michelle brings with her a wealth of experience having gained exposure to recruitment, from both an HR and agency perspective, over the past 18 years.
During her career, Michelle has completed the Certificate in Personnel Practice and has now commenced study for the REC Certificate. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and an affiliate member of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals.
Steve, who now focuses on senior level recruitment for AP Executive, will also assume responsibility for the day-to-day running of the Guernsey office. Steve joined the company in 2005 and has completed the REC Certificate and REC Diploma during this time. He is also a member of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals.
Chief Executive, Gina Le Prevost, said 'We're delighted to welcome Michelle to AP Group. Her knowledge and experience will be a real asset to us and she adds real strength to the current management team.' Gina added, 'Steve's promotion highlights our commitment to the future success of the Channel Island business, ensuring we remain a leading name in the world of wealth management recruitment. Our global recruitment partnerships with the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI) further add to our unique proposition'
Confidentiality But Not Secrecy – The Guernsey Way
Guernsey features alongside the United Kingdom and United States on the OECD 'white list' that was published at the conclusion of the G20 summit in London at the start of April. Here, Peter Niven, chief executive of GuernseyFinance, tackles the issues of confidentiality, secrecy and transparency that are at the heart of the debate on the role of international finance centres.
I remember vividly on my first day at work the 'talking to' I had from my branch manager on the need for the utmost confidentiality when it came to customer information - that was in Lloyds Bank back in 1975. And how right he was to lecture me on the subject. But of course, confidentiality is not a recent phenomenon.
Banking has traded on that concept since the Joint Stock banks were born out of the coffee houses of the City of London and even before that in the banking houses of Renaissance Italy.
And so it is today - and banking in Guernsey is no exception to this. All players in the wider financial services marketplace adhere to this concept. For trust companies, this duty is no less real, although in their case it arises through their fiduciary relationship with their clients.
But this confidentiality is not enshrined in the law in Guernsey, nor indeed in the UK - it is case law that gives us our marker and the Tournier case of 1924, in particular, is the reliably held English court precedent. This decided that a bank owes all its customers a duty to keep their affairs confidential. But importantly, it also gives us four occasions when this duty can be over-ridden, and specifically, these are: where the law compels it; where there is a duty to the public to disclose the information; where the bank's own interests require it; and where the customer permits it.
(The principle is also enshrined in the BBA Code of Banking Practice, to which most of the banks in Guernsey subscribe).
And here, I believe, is where the distinction lies between confidentiality and 'secrecy'.
Guernsey, again like the UK, does not have a banking secrecy law and sees no reason to have one - unlike, say, Switzerland. But how many times have we heard the comment in newspapers and the media in general of 'secrecy' in so-called 'tax havens'. All very emotive stuff and designed to catch either the reader's or the viewer's eye. And to an extent - e.g. Switzerland and Liechtenstein - the statement is correct.
Unfortunately, the truth - and certainly in relation to Guernsey - is far less exciting. Guernsey, unlike those other jurisdictions, has never passed any specific law relating to banking secrecy and has no intention of doing so.
However, a comprehensive series of laws is also available to ensure that the island mitigates, as far as it possibly can, the potential abuse of the international finance system, of which the island is a part, to fund the drugs trade, terrorist activities or hide the proceeds of crime through money laundering. We must in those cases be prepared to divulge information and under the law, we have that duty to disclose.
At the same time as accepting the need for confidentiality, the new watchword in the international financial community is transparency. Tax transparency, in particular, has been highlighted by the OECD in its Harmful Tax Practices Project, launched over ten years ago and were 32 international finance centres, including Guernsey, have agreed to participate and enter into Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs) with OECD members and, indeed, non-OECD members alike.
Guernsey has signed 13 agreements in all, including with the US and the UK, and it is likely that this momentum will be kept up in 2009 and beyond. I believe this comes at no cost to confidentiality for those undertaking legitimate business.
Only those with something to fear will indeed have something to fear.
There have been cries that this will be the end of private client business for those who sign up. Well, if it means that those clients who have been sailing close to the wind decide to up sticks and move to another more accommodating jurisdiction, then we should say 'so be it'. We really don't need any of that business; there is far too much good business out there to have a long-held reputation tarnished.
Also included in this concept of transparency is an understanding of the underlying ownership of corporate vehicles and looking at the requirement to maintain details of beneficial owners of companies. I am afraid that it is a question of 'do as I say' and not 'do as I do' when we hear the rhetoric from the US Senate as a specific example. Firstly, we have in place a TIEA with the US and have since 2006 - so matters of both a criminal and civil nature can, therefore, be dealt with under existing legislation and the TIEA. Also, the new Companies law in Guernsey requires details of beneficial ownership of Guernsey companies to be available through the directors or the corporate service provider to ensure that the authorities on the island can access them if necessary and under the appropriate law or agreement.
Perhaps they should look closer to home and in particular the new vice-president's home state of Delaware, which, by their own definition, could be classed as a 'tax haven' with over 600,000 companies, many of which are shell companies lacking any transparency, with no requirement for the disclosure of beneficial owners and therefore potentially vehicles for tax evasion and money laundering. For Delaware, also read a number of other US states.
At the end of all this, I believe that those clients who are doing good legitimate business will have nothing at all to fear from the any of the initiatives to enhance transparency in all the world's financial centres. Client confidentiality still has a pivotal role to play in our day-to-day business.
The Sportingbet Guernsey Marathon and Relay Race 2009 will be held on Sunday 30 August. AP Group is pleased to be a sponsor for the event and you will find an entry form on this website.
This year marks the centenary of the first-ever Guernsey marathon and the 2009 race is the first for 17 years. The appeal of the event has been broadened with the addition of the relay race, which enables runners of all abilities to be involved, even if 26 miles would be too much for them.
The first prize for marathon runners is £1,000, with second and third collecting £500 and £250 respectively. There will also be awards for the first Guernsey runner and the first Channel Island runner.
AP Executive, the senior-level division of AP Group, has opened an office in Zurich. Already well established in Geneva, as well as London, Cyprus, Jersey and Guernsey, AP Executive's Zurich branch is centrally located in Bahnhofstrasse, in the heart of the city.
Chief executive Gina Le Prevost is enthusiastic about the new venture. 'Switzerland has a unique reputation in the global financial services market,' she said. 'The Zurich office will enable us to enhance our service to clients and candidates in that part of the country, complementing our already successful Geneva team servicing Suisse-Romande.'
The Zurich office will, like its Geneva counterpart, service the mid to senior end of the trust, family office and private banking sectors. The hitherto Geneva-based consultant Emmanuel Auperin has turned his attention to Zurich to assist in establishing the new office. Born in France, Emmanuel graduated in working psychology and human resources management before specialising in HR and recruitment in Paris for several years. Emmanuel focuses on the placement of private banking relationship managers in Switzerland.
AP Executive managing director added: 'AP Executive works in a relationship-critical market, and although we expect a challenging year ahead, our team has some enviable relationships with key players in the Zurich market. We are looking forward to exceeding our clients' expectations in 2009 and beyond.'
The US Government is unfairly bracketing co-operative offshore centres with 'abusive tax havens', says Ed Shorrock, director of forensic and regulatory services at international law firm Baker Platt, which has an office in Jersey.
Alarmed at the stance of new US president Barack Obama, who endorses the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (STHAA), Mr Shorrock has warned that Jersey, along with Guernsey, the Cayman Islands and others, is being unjustly targeted as the president seeks to deal with the fact that 'the US Government loses US$100bn a year' through tax avoidance strategies.
'From Jersey's point of view,' Mr Shorrock added, 'this is extremely unfair, as it signed a tax information exchange agreement with the United States as long ago as 2002.'
Mr Shorrock described the 'evidence' on which the US Government's approach is based as 'worryingly reminiscent of the flimsy and flawed intelligence that laid the path for the invasion of Iraq.' He questioned the methodology used and said that assumptions made 'are as arbitrary as those used in drawing up the notorious blacklist of "offshore secrecy jurisdictions."'
A report by the US Government Accountability Office acknowledged that there was no agreed definition of a tax haven or an agreed list of jurisdictions that should be considered tax havens.
'Time will tell,' Mr Shorrock concluded, 'whether this new offensive will be sidelined by more pressing issues.'
Social networking sites are part of life for many young people in the UK and throughout the world. But could they cause trouble in the workplace? Chris Morvan spoke to Jersey advocate Helen Ruelle, who has been researching the subject.
The huge increase in recent years in the use of social networking sites - Facebook, Bebo and a host of others - has spread from the home to the workplace - creating concerns for users and employers alike. The potential implications in terms of privacy, discrimination and other issues have led a Jersey lawyer to launch a study of the subject. Helen Ruelle, a senior associate with Mourant, explained the reasons.
'It's something I've considered to discuss with some of our clients in terms of "Have you thought about the broader implications of social networking?" We try to be proactive with our clients and if there's an issue that we think could be important, we'll research it and maybe set up seminars and workshops.'
For many employers, the first stage could be understanding exactly what social networking sites are all about and what people do on them. It is, after all, something that is widespread among younger people, while those over, say, 30 are less likely to be involved.
For those who have no understanding of the subject, this is how it works: users write a 'profile' in which they include personal details about themselves and perhaps add some photographs and news about what they are currently doing or have been doing. There are restrictions designed to reserve certain information for contacts who are invited to be 'friends', but Helen's research shows these to be far from foolproof. 'People put information on these sites and they think no one can see it unless they have given permission, but that's not strictly true. People can get into it - and do. And that's where it starts to be more problematic. It is even being used as a recruitment tool. Some employers will do a Facebook search to see what a potential employee might be up to. But there are huge implications there, such as how do you know it's true?'
The problem in that respect is that, just as we should all be wary of accepting information found on the internet as correct because it could be either unintentionally or deliberately wrong, there is the possibility that a profile may not have been created by the real person at all. It could be a spoof, designed to cause mischief or something more sinister.
'You could go and create "me" and say anything you wanted about me,' Helen speculated. 'Or the profile you're looking at might be that of a different person with the same name. Identity theft, as we all know, is becoming increasingly common. So am I saying that, as an employer, you should not use these sites? No. What I am saying is that you should be extremely careful how you use that information.'
So if an employer did look at somebody's Facebook profile, for instance, and discover that he or she had, perhaps, had a sex-change operation or had a particular - and irrelevant - criminal conviction, any decision not to employ them on that basis would be subject to the discrimination and other laws applicable in that jurisdiction.
Above all, Helen urges caution.
'As a reputable employer, do you really want to rely on this, rather than getting your own official verification? It is potentially a useful tool but also potentially a nightmare.'
And it's not just the employer who needs to be careful. Social networking site users talk about their life, which almost inevitably involves discussing what they do at work. And that can open them up to all sorts of charges from disgruntled employers. Helen named three examples: 'Breach of confidentiality, breach of restrictive covenants and even dilution of the brand. So there is a tendency now,' she continued, 'for employers to be more controlling about when and how people access these sites, and even what to do when it's outside working hours. But most aren't going so far as to ban their use at work completely. I think often there is a balance to be struck. If people are working very long hours, and it's not a nine-to-five job, for instance, employers tend to like to give their employees some flexibility. You might want to have a break and go onto Facebook at seven o'clock in the evening or during your lunch hour, so there is a reluctance on the part of employers to completely ban it. That said, there is a growing tendency for employers to monitor internet use more, and I'd say that is quite a recent thing. Some businesses are saying "Okay, here are the rules, and if you can't play within them, we're going to ban it." But it's far from universal. Of the firms that I deal with, I don't think many of them ban it outright. They're more likely to say "The internet is primarily a business tool. You can use it during your lunch hour and before and after working hours." And they tend to have generic rules about "excessive or inappropriate use". But in my experience, it is not the inappropriateness that's an issue, but the amount of time. Most people are just booking flights, doing a bit of online shopping, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, there are some people who still think it appropriate to look at unmentionable things on their work computer.' Internet monitoring is actually quite a simple matter. As long as you've got the contractual right to do it and you're in accordance with the interception and other relevant laws, then off you go. The problem with social networking sites is that it spreads beyond the work environment. Companies are becoming more aware of these sites because the people who are spending excessive amounts of time on the internet at work tend to be on those sites. Employers want to know what they can do, how they can deal with it. And sometimes it's not a response to a situation, but a question of how they can draft their policies and procedures to make sure that if it does happen, they can deal with it appropriately.'
Helen's advice to employees is to keep off such sites at work, and when they use them in their own time they should restrict the information they give out to purely personal matters and not discuss work at all. 'They should not be discussing work colleagues, and certainly not in a derogatory or discriminatory way.'
On a similar note, there is the issue of someone being bullied by a colleague on a social networking site outside working hours, in the same way as one hears of children being hounded by text by schoolmates.
Even removing the work element, Helen advises people to be cautious. 'You should be very careful what details you put on the site. If you don't want something becoming common knowledge, don't put it on there. People can and do manipulate what they find on there. There was a man in the UK recently who was awarded £22,000 in damages against a former friend for breach of privacy and libel. As for employers, I think they should make it very clear what their policy is regarding internet use in general and social networking sites in particular. As an employer, you are entitled to monitor, but you have to have said you are doing it and why. You have to be clear whether you are just monitoring the amount of time or if you're monitoring which sites people are looking at. It's the same with emails: are you monitoring traffic or content? There should be no surprise to employees. And as a business, you have to think "If I'm monitoring email and website content, what am I doing with that information?"'
Gina Le Prevost, Chief Executive of AP Group, looks at a trend for globe-trotting that sees many qualified individuals - particularly in the trust world - using their talents and experience as a passport to international freedom.
The number of employees on international assignments has doubled over the last three years as part of the continuing trend towards globalisation, according to a survey conducted by leading international HR consultants Mercer.
The company's 2008/2009 Benefits Survey for Expatriates and Globally Mobile Employees covers 243 multinational companies worldwide, including over 94,000 expatriates.
It concludes that '47 percent of companies surveyed said they had increased the deployment of traditional expatriates (employees on 1-5 year assignments) and 38 percent reported an increase in "global nomads" (employees who continuously move from country to country on multiple assignments... Gaining experience in various geographies is becoming an essential step on the career ladder of international firms.'
This is something that we have been aware of for some time. We have seen candidates move to a new jurisdiction, gain experience and then come back to us after a few years, looking to move somewhere else again, and it is particularly prevalent among those who work in the field of trusts. I have never known a time - even in the present recession - when there have been enough trust professionals available to fill all the vacancies. Obviously, this is good for the individuals, provided they have the ability to deliver the goods when they take up their new post, and for employers, it means fresh insights and broader experience, which can rub off on their less adventurous staff, with positive results. Not everyone is cut out for this kind of roving lifestyle, but for those who do have the confidence and no ties - and a second language can help too - it can be very rewarding. As an additional bonus for all concerned, moving around in the cause of work could lead to a reduction in the disruptive fashion for taking a year off to 'go travelling'.
AP Group has recently had its Investors in People accreditation renewed. Investors in People (IIP) is an award that companies measure its success not just in terms of sales and profits, but in a happy and motivated workforce.
Investors in People stated aim 'to provide straightforward, proven frameworks for delivering business improvement through people'. AP Group first gained the accreditation in 2004 and it was successfully renewed in August 2008.
HR director for AP Group, Gillian Gorvel, points out, it is a very worthwhile step to take. 'As much as any manager or director would like to think they know the prevailing mood within the company, our view of things is inevitably incomplete without input from our people,' she said. 'The Investors in People assessment helps gather important data to show that, as an employer and as a business, we continue to move in the right direction.'
Survey supports optimism in Jersey’s finance industry
Jersey Finance, www.jerseyfinance.je, has welcomed the conclusions of the Survey of Financial Institutions 2007, which confirm the generally positive picture of the island's finance industry.
Geoff Cook, the organisation's chief executive, said: 'Real term growth of 9% across Jersey's financial services sector for 2007 is an excellent result. The real term growth of 21% that was recorded in 2006 was truly exceptional, so it is particularly pleasing that the Finance Industry in Jersey has been able to maintain impressive growth and achieve a third consecutive annual rise in total profit in 2007.
'Whilst the banking sector is driving the overall trend, the findings also highlight that this dynamic is being supported by introduced business generated by the trust and company administration, legal and accountancy sectors, which are displaying continued steady growth. After a sharp increase in profits of 35% in 2006, fund management is also reporting total profits for 2007 above the levels recorded between 1998 and 2005.
"I think it is also worth noting that there is a renewed determination by financial institutions in the island to diversify their services in order to succeed in increasingly competitive international markets. Moreover, firms are confident about their profits for this year, with more than three-quarters of firms anticipating a rise in profits in 2008. These expectations are a good benchmark, with 77% of firms correctly forecasting the direction of movement of their profits last year. This is clearly excellent news, given the current uncertainties in global financial markets.'
He added that the figures also provide a noteworthy commentary on the industry's contribution to the island's economy:
'It is also pleasing to see that more than three-quarters of the growth in employment in the finance industry was from local people, including 230 new recruits coming directly from schools or universities.
'In addition, of the finance industry's total expenditure on goods and services of £568 million, more than half was spent in Jersey, four-fifths of it on non-finance sector firms. This is an aspect of the finance industry's contribution to the island's economy that is perhaps not always so obvious.'
An in-depth interview with Geoff Cook can be found in the February issue of the AP Group magazine - see the link on our homepage.
Original Dragon's Den panellist and Yo! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe has advice for speakers and interviewees
Simon Woodroffe was the dragon who didn't want to breathe fire. Chris Morvan met him and found he had advice for both public speakers and candidates at interview:
'Know your subject, know the background, but stop thinking about what you're going to say. It's the same when you go into any presentation or meeting.'
Here on the third floor of Fortis Guernsey's seafront office block there is a familiar face ploughing wearily but good-naturedly through an afternoon of media interviews. A businessman? Certainly. A highly successful one. But Simon Woodroffe doesn't look like millions of businessmen around the world. Sure, he's wearing a suit, but it's a medium shade of blue and has a satin collar. There are overlapping, jeans-style seams down the sides of the trousers. Wacky, decidedly unconventional shirt, and I don't know if you've ever seen purple socks, but I have, because he's wearing some.
And then there are the sideburns, which slink down his cheeks into points, like knives.
It all adds up to this: he's a rock'n'roller at heart. The freedom to wear what he likes, to bend the rules that bind the average nine-to-fiver, comes from his success and the fact that he is an entrepreneur - a maverick. This is the man who dreamed up the Yo! brand, the first manifestation of which was the Yo! Sushi chain of restaurants and which now includes Yotels - with their small airline/ship-style cabins rather than conventional rooms.
It is a way of thinking that is truly, to use an overworked word, innovative - and it has earned him an OBE.
Despite that, Woodroffe is best known to most of us as one of the original panel on Dragons' Den, the top-rated TV programme on which hopefuls with business ideas pitch them to five millionaires in the hope of getting them to invest in the company.
Woodroffe was born into a nomadic army family, which traipsed around the world according to where his father was posted next. Young Simon escaped much of this through being sent to an English public school, which he left, aged 16 and with two O levels, at the end of the 1960s. 'That focused my mind,' he says self-deprecatingly of his lack of qualifications. 'I was variously a bus conductor, a roadie and a stage designer.' The latter was his first serious business. 'We did very well. We worked with bands from Motorhead to the Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, The Faces, Elton...' He trails off. 'There were very few people doing it at the time [the 1970s and 80s] because in those days there was rock'n'roll and showbusiness, and never the twain should meet.'
Another overused word that springs to mind is entrepreneur. Is that how he thinks of himself? 'A classic entrepreneur,' he says firmly. 'I didn't come from money - I didn't come from poverty either, but certainly not from money. There is something that drives all of us and I was going to be a millionaire by the time I was 20, but I was having a good time at that age, so I put it off first till I was 30 and then till I was 40. Then I thought "I'm running out of time, so I'd better do something about it." Then I came up with the idea of Yo! Sushi after talking to a guy called Mr Uahara, who told me I should do a sushi bar with conveyor belts and girls in black PVC miniskirts. Two years later we opened, and I'm making it sound easy, but it was quite a struggle. I always knew I had the vision for it and that I would find people to make the whole thing work, but I lacked two fundamental things: I didn't have a track record in the restaurant business and I didn't have any real money. I put in the last £150,000 that was left after my divorce. Rationally, I knew it was a very high risk, but emotionally I knew it would work. At that level I think you often do things because you believe in them.'
Woodroffe actually turned down Dragons' Den at the first time of asking. 'We were scared of it,' he says candidly. 'A programme in which you had to invest between £300,000 and £500,000 of your own money? That actually turned out not to be the case, but it sounded like paying to be on TV and throwing your money away.' When he says 'we' he means himself and other entrepreneurs, many of whom knew each other through their shared interests and lifestyle, bumping into one another at awards ceremonies and the like.
The pilot episode went ahead without him, but then the producers approached him again, concerned that one of the dragons wasn't suitable. The format of the show had settled down and it was a less alarming proposition, so this time he said yes.
What, I wondered, was the best deal he did through the show?
He smiles. 'I made more money out of the first two series than anyone else - and what I made was... zero. You don't do Dragons' Den to get great investments. What I would say to the people walking up the stairs is "Don't think there are five people up there waiting to make money out of you: there are five people there thinking they're on a TV show and they're going to give a performance." The one that I'm best known for is the truffle farm, but like a lot of those investments, nothing ever really happened. The young man thought he could inject fungi and make truffles, which I later found out was the holy grail in that business, but it turned out that he didn't have the formula and it didn't actually work. What you don't see on the show is that a presentation can take up to an hour and a half, rather than the couple of minutes you do see, and while the other dragons were saying "It's never going to work," I was saying "I know, but I'm going to make a fortune out of truffle-hunting clothing and merchandise: big trousers you can put the truffles in, secret service glasses, special truffle-hunting torches... people are going to be going clubbing in truffle-hunting gear."'
Devotees of the show will know that it is set in a disused warehouse, but again, things are not what they seem, as Woodroffe reveals:
'For the first two series they used a lovely old warehouse in north London, and all the features you saw were real, but for the third series they couldn't use it, for some reason, so they recreated it in a studio in east London.'
The people pitching their ideas are kept two floors below, and Woodroffe says he felt sorry for them. 'They had to climb two sets of quite steep stairs, so by the time they got up there they were out of breath and also terrified, especially on the first series, because they didn't know what they were walking into. You hear the word "jeopardy" in TV companies a lot, because they like to create it, the possibility that someone could fail, because it makes good TV. It's a very intimidating thing, especially if you're not used to speaking in public. But the advice I would give is don't prepare anything. Know your subject, know the background, but stop thinking about what you're going to say. It's the same when you go into any presentation or meeting where you're trying to raise money in real life. Do your preparation, but be yourself. It's much better to do something from the heart than if you do some prepared speech. It's the same in anything: just think "I'm going to be myself and if they don't like me, who cares?" And when your brain relaxes enough, natural things come out and you can be spontaneous.'
He stayed for only two series and still feels he was slightly out of place. 'I wasn't prepared to be a horrible, nasty dragon. They always said to me that I was the nice one,' he says, suggesting that the programme-makers would have preferred him to join in the criticism and occasional savaging of one of the hapless applicants when his or her bizarre idea was exposed as unworkable. 'The real reason was that I couldn't do the next series because I had speaking engagements and other things, but I'm actually glad I didn't do it. It stood me in good stead, but it's become a bit of a cartoon of itself now.'
Nowadays he spends much of his time on the Yotels - there's one at Heathrow, another at Gatwick and a third coming soon at Amsterdam's Schipol airport. He stayed at the Gatwick one the night before this trip - in one of the economy rooms, rather than a luxury one. Now, he could just be saying this for effect, but you get the impression it is the kind of thing he would do, when he follows it up with this: 'The holy grail of retail is to give to ordinary people what rich people have. To do that you have to have a quantum leap, and in this case that leap is the size. They're designed by people who do the designs for luxury aeroplanes.'
Japanese food has nothing to do with it. 'Yo! is into a number of things at the moment. There's the radio thing I'm doing, RadiYo!; there's a publishing business, Yo! How, which is mainly my own stuff at the moment. We're doing Yo! Home, residential property, and Yo! Zone, the spa, is on its way.'
A version of this interview appeared in Business Active magazine. Adapted and used by permission of The Digital Works.
The chief executive of the Securities and Investment Institute has a way of delivering a talk that keeps his audience's attention. He makes a fascinating interviewee, too, as Chris Morvan found as he listened to tales of integrity, government indecision and the Channel Islands' place among international finance centres.
Here's some news for anyone who has suffered through a long, tediously dry talk on a business subject: the speaker was probably as bored as you were. Sometimes they have to think hard to find a way to liven it up - because its just one of those subjects.
The point was made by Simon Culhane, chief executive of the Securities and Investment Institute (SII), when he visited both Guernsey and Jersey recently. Simon is a busy man, and trips such as this don't make his life any quieter, with a tight schedule that included signing an agreement making AP Group his organisation's exclusive global recruitment partner - to help its members with recruitment matters. The schedule was ratcheted up further by good old CI-style travel delays that resulted in a bit of island hopping, even before his first appointment at the OGH in St Peter Port, his Guernsey-bound flight having 'gone technical' and obliged him to head for Jersey and then across, only to return the next day. What lightened his mood was that he was actually looking forward to the talk he was here to give.
The theme was integrity, a subject that is important to every company in every sphere, but a hard one for an employer to broach. 'People were asking what I had that could help them, rather than having to pontificate about "Thou shalt be good," Simon points out. 'So what I've got here is a book of case studies that stretches right across the waterfront of the financial services sector. We explain a case study and ask people "What would you do in that situation?" We've sent the book to every member and it is extremely interactive. It's amazing because it is a terribly dry subject. Tell someone that you're going to talk about ethics for an hour and they think it's going to be a lot of philosophical mumbo-jumbo, but this is the real stuff. Two of the case studies are particularly relevant to the recruitment market. One of them is about lying on a CV: what do you do if you employ someone and 20 years later, as you're about to offer them a board position, you discover that they haven't got a degree when they said they had? The other is about poaching people from another company: what are the rights and wrongs of doing that? And people can relate to that sort of thing.'
The idea is that people go back to their own company and discuss some of the case studies with their team, thereby building their own company culture.
Like any professional body, the SII is something of a mystery to non-members. So here is Simon's explanation of the organisation that began life in 1992 as the Securities Institute.
'The SII is a uniquely British creation which helps both customers and individuals remain up to date and professional. We do three main things: help people to attain their competence through qualifications and examinations, help them to maintain their competence through CPD (continuous professional development) events and seminars, which are usually free to members, and the third thing is to promote integrity and trust in the industry. We've got 40,000 members, of which half are students and the other half qualified, and in the last 12 months we've opened offices in Singapore, Mumbai, Shanghai and Dubai.'
The reasons for choosing those locations varied. 'In some cases, the regulator had asked us to come and raise the skill level, or companies said they were offshoring or expanding and wanted their staff to have the same level of skills as they are required to have in the UK.'
He is proud that the SII is in many of the top locations in a recent survey by Z/Yen Group on competitiveness. The Global Financial Centres Index rates jurisdictions according to 'people, business environment, market access, infrastructure and general competitiveness.'
London ranks first, followed by New York, with Geneva seventh and the Channel Islands 23rd
out of 50.
On behalf of all naturally competitive Channel Islanders, your correspondent chokes on his cup of tea at this information, but Simon is quick to put it into perspective, pointing out that the measurement has much to do with sheer numbers of personnel: 'Guernsey and Jersey have, what, 60,000 and 80,000 residents? You're up against Shanghai, Singapore, places with millions of people. I reckon if you can get into the teens you'll be doing really well.'
Even so, the Isle of Man, with a similar population to Jersey, is at 21, while the Cayman Islands, with fewer than 40,000 inhabitants, are just one place below us.
On the plus side, the Channel Islands are well ahead of Brussels, Madrid, Vienna and Rome.
Back to the SII. Simon talks about how essential CPD is and how much more convenient it is for companies to use the SII to provide that, rather than trying to do it themselves.
Before joining the SII, Simon worked for Lloyds Bank and then Deutsche Bank, along with three years with what he calls "the grand-sounding Prime Minister's Efficiency Unit in the Cabinet Office in London", trouble-shooting in various government departments. It has given him an appreciation of the value of positive decision-making.
'I don't know if it's true of Guernsey, but it's certainly true of central government in the UK that there isn't one person in charge - there are lots of little fiefdoms and they don't share, they don't talk and they're constantly in the glare of the media, so they daren't do anything unless they know it's particularly safe. They are risk-averse. Therefore, you get sub-optimal decision-making done slowly and late, with everybody agreeing on a consensual basis, with the result that one and one makes less than two. In business, you wouldn't do that, but in government, it's risk avoidance, not risk management.'
The link between the SII and AP Group is indicative of the difficulty of finding the right staff in a specialised field. 'Finding good long-term employees is what everybody's after,' Simon continued. 'Even from our own perspective, we're finding that some of the people coming here from abroad have the key skills that we don't find too often in the UK. They have the attitude and flexibility, which to me are some of the most important things. You can teach people the technical stuff, but if they haven't got the attitude and flexibility... '
From complaints about planning permission to the phenomenon of the six-figure one-bedroom flat, the UK has long had a love-hate relationship with property. So when one of the country's top property programme presenters is in town, it is worth listening to what he has to say. AP Group's resident writer Chris Morvan heard a refreshing viewpoint from Phil Spencer.
This article was first published in Business Active magazine.
Television viewers all over the British Isles are fascinated by 'property programmes' - shows that fuel our dreams of either upping sticks and going to live somewhere else, or at least trading up to something closer to our dream home. Among the top programmes is Channel Four's Location Location Location, presented by Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp.
With property prices in London and other parts of the UK currently at such a level that buying a house is out of the question for many young couples - let alone singles hoping to do it on their own - we are acutely aware of what is happening in the housing market.
Spencer occasionally makes personal appearances for Barclays Wealth, talking to intermediaries about the state of the property market in the UK, and it was on just such an occasion that I grabbed a chunk of his precious time.
Unusually, this is a man who sympathises with the poor, embattled buyer.
The fact that estate agents delight in telling us that prices are still rising indicates whose side they are on.
As a reaction to that, before beginning his TV career, Spencer had set up a company - in which he is still actively involved - that looked at the property process from the buyer's point of view. But was that just an angle?
'It was something that concerned me - and still concerns me. I trained as a surveyor and it dawned on me that the way we buy and sell property in the UK is very biased, very one-sided. It's not the same in other market systems around the world. I don't think you could find another marketplace - particularly considering the price of the property - where all the help goes to one side of the deal. Estate agents in this country are in business to look after the seller. Buyers go into an estate agent's office in the mistaken belief that they are about to be helped and advised. While that might appear to be happening, it's not really. I thought that was very odd. It's the biggest purchase we make in our lives and it's not something we become very experienced at because we don't do it very often, yet we do it all on our own. So I set up a business 11 years ago to offer that service. There wasn't anybody else doing it at the time.'
Spencer contrasts the British way with that in the USA, where the realtor, whom he describes as highly respected and well qualified, brokers the deal and receives fees from both sides.
Each country has its own way of doing things, based on culture and tradition, so the prospective buyer should beware of finding a property online and deciding to steam ahead without knowing the possible pitfalls.
'My advice to people looking to buy in other parts of the world is "Get help". It's hard enough doing it in a country you know, but in a place where you may not know the language or the legal structure, you're opening yourself up to difficulties. You need professional tax, legal and property advice.'
Home for this globetrotter is London - largely for convenience because his business is based there, as is the bulk of the television industry. He also has 'a tiny cottage in Kent', the county where he grew up, where he can escape at weekends. When your job involves living out of a suitcase, presumably the idea of popping over to France or flying to Spain for the weekend has less appeal than it does for the rest of us. Anyway, he is a countryman at heart.
'London has been good to me and I've always seen it as a land of opportunity, but now that I'm not using it as I used to, it is an expensive place.'
The break into television came through a production company who wanted to make a programme about the thrills and spills of buying a property and realised that they had no idea what to expect. Knowing the unique approach of his company, they asked him to go in for half an hour and talk them through it. Kirstie Allsopp was running a similar business by then, 'but there weren't very many people doing it so I suppose they had no-one else to talk to but us, and eight years later we're still doing it and it's been a lot of fun.' And of course, it hasn't done his business any harm either, providing free marketing.
It is time-consuming, though. They film nine days a month and Spencer is normally away from home from Tuesday to Thursday three weeks a month, which gives him three Mondays and Fridays and one full week in the office.
He is understandably proud of his TV career and seems momentarily taken aback to be asked when the programme is on - well, I'm sorry, but I don't watch that sort of thing and his name didn't even ring a bell when the PR company offered us an interview. Nice bloke, though, seems very genuine and you can see why he keeps the female viewers occupied while their partners feast their eyes on Ms Allsopp.
And when he has made his pile and decides to buy a place somewhere else, where is that going to be?
'Melbourne,' he answers without a nanosecond's hesitation. 'My wife's from there and I love it. That's a long way off, though.'
Probably even more than most small communities, Guernsey is very self-aware and locals have perceptions about how the island is doing in relation to other jurisdictions. But what is the general employment picture like, compared with elsewhere? Chris Morvan asked someone who ought to know: Commerce and Employment minister, Stuart Falla.
There is always more than one way of looking at a subject, and Stuart Falla is very keen on doing that. Perhaps it is part of his success as a businessman, which has seen the family building firm founded by his father, Roy, grow far beyond building bungalows to being entrusted with some of the most prestigious projects this part of the world has ever seen, from office blocks for leading international names in the finance industry to the Barclay brothers' Brecqhou castle.
This analytical approach greets the first question of the interview: how is Guernsey doing as far as having a suitable pool of staff is concerned?
'You've got to decide where your measuring point is, or your perspective,' he says. 'If you are an employer, then it is quite attractive to have a level of unemployment, because that means you can have a greater degree of influence on your staff, with reasonable control over salaries and other parts of the package. So if you were to see it solely from the employer's point of view you would like to see unemployment at, say, five or six per cent. That encourages the workforce to better themselves by training and gaining new experiences, attempting to fit themselves with the jobs that are available. If, however, you have in Guernsey what could be regarded as, rather than a plus 5%, a minus 5% rate - in other words, there are more jobs out there than there are people available - that moves the weight in favour of the employee. So employers have to almost cosset their staff and sometimes put up with behaviour that they wouldn't put up with under other circumstances. From an employee's perspective, it is very attractive because they can move jobs more easily, and there is a wide range of opportunities and better conditions. One of the dangers of that is that they perhaps don't train, because there is a level of complacency; you can get a job simply by having a Right to Work document in your pocket rather than a degree or a diploma. So the real challenge politically is how to get through that possible impasse of complacency. How do you get people to train and better themselves when they don't have that forced upon them by the potential for unemployment? I'm not trying to cast everyone in the same slot, but there are those who will become comfortable in their job because they feel almost immune.'
On the other hand, would he not agree that we are a long way past the age of the 'job for life'?
'Yes. In those days, maybe 30 years ago, the majority of people worked for someone they knew. They worked for a company that was Guernsey-owned, or Channel Island-owned. And a firm that employed more than 50 people was considered big. Now it's not unusual to work for a company where there are 150 or 250 people. And that has changed the relationship. If you work for someone you know, you become part of the team, there's a level of intimacy. Many of them were family firms and you became part of the family, so jobs did turn into jobs for life. Now, because they're working for a company where they don't know the owners, people find it easier to work somewhere for three or four years and then move on.'
The issue of staff who come in from outside Guernsey is, for many people, a contentious one; but again, Deputy Falla examines it from the other side. This is an attractive place to live and work and we should see that as a positive thing. He also points out the fact that a great many of our young people choose to return to the island after university or travelling. 'You have to think about what if people didn't want to come and work here. We'd be wondering what we were doing wrong. So I think we should applaud our success. What we don't want to do is overpower the community by the number of people coming in, so it is important to strike that balance.'
As for that closely related bugbear, the price of housing, he contends that it is the same everywhere that is successful. With four daughters of his own, Deputy Falla has first-hand experience. Two of them are living in London and can't afford to buy a house there, even in relatively modest Earl's Court, because prices are high and they are earning less than they might be in Guernsey.
'If you want to go and live in, for argument's sake, south Wales or the north-east of England, you might find it relatively cheap, but you wouldn't be able to find a job. So we're managing success, which is perhaps more difficult, but more enjoyable, than managing failure.'
As for the range of industries in Guernsey, it is obviously still dominated by the finance industry, but is it broadening? Typically, Deputy Falla refines the question.
'It depends what you mean by broadening. We tend to regard the finance industry as one homogenous industry. It isn't. If you could plot on a piece of paper the shape of the industry 25 years ago when I came back to Guernsey and the shape every five years since, it would be different every time. So I think there is a diversity within the financial services. If I look at other areas such as Healthspan, Healthy Direct, Specsavers, Polar Instruments or NRG, for instance, if you go into their offices, you wouldn't know, unless you'd seen the sign above the door, if you'd walked into a financial institution or not. They're all working at keyboards, often they're working on financial transactions or dealing with marketing or buying, so it's more about what they're doing at that desk rather than what the company is called. And most people want to go to work smartly dressed - they don't want dirty jobs or factory jobs, they want a job where they can use their intellect and that usually means sitting in front of a screen at least part of the time. It's just about what the end product is and I think there is probably more of that kind of diversity in Guernsey than there ever has been. There are more people in marketing, sales and design than there were 10 or 15 years ago. If you are someone who wants to work with your hands, the construction industry still offers a fantastic opportunity in that respect. There still are light engineering businesses in Guernsey, not massively, but then trying to attract apprentices into light industry is almost impossible.'
And why is that?
'Because young lads are told that if they can go to work wearing a tie, they're a success. If they go to work and get their hands dirty, they're less successful. It's indoctrinated through their parents, through their education and through the media. So we can't work counterculture to what the school-leaver wants. We have a problem - there's no doubt about it, there's been a problem for the last 30-odd years - that Guernsey people don't want to work in service industries. We are not attracted, and nor are people in the rest of the British Isles, to working in bars, hotels, restaurants, the straight client-facing services. And that now extends to shopkeeping as well, the retail sector. I was in Paris recently visiting my youngest daughter who's studying languages there and she was remarking about all the middle-aged men working in bars, restaurants and shops - and thoroughly enjoying it. They don't see it as demeaning, they don't see it as anything other than a great career.
'So one of the reasons that we still import quite a lot of people is that they are mostly working in jobs where local people have said "No, it's not for me". So it is very rare now to come across a chef or a head waiter or a barman who is what you and I would describe as a Guernseyman.'
But is that important? As long as Guernsey people are working, does it matter what they are doing? Deputy Falla seldom betrays the fact that he needs to think about anything before answering, but he does stray onto the periphery or revisit old ground occasionally, which may be his trick.
'I believe that all of those who wish to work can work, so that's one measure. And a far more important measure is that people return to Guernsey, therefore the job opportunities must be there. We've then got to say, should we encourage and permit jobs that are unattractive to local people? It would be perverse to say that local people don't want to work in retail, so we won't have any shops. But if you opened twice as many shops, half of them would close because they didn't have enough business, so the number of shops is self-regulating. But if you look at other areas, I genuinely believe, for instance, and I know this is not generally accepted, that Guernsey people don't want to have a large tourist industry. We don't want to work in hotels, so if we were to double the number of hotels we would have to increase massively the number of people we imported to work in them. There is no way to break that link, so what we should have is a size of tourist industry that suits our appetite for it. And our appetite for it can be broken down into elements such as that we all eat out more than we did, and hotels tend to incorporate restaurants. We go out more often for anniversaries, parties, firms' dos, club events and so on, and they're in hotels, so we want sufficient hospitality places to satisfy the community's demand for all that, and they work better if they've got bedrooms with them for visitors. So it's that mix of what the community demands as part of its social infrastructure with the fact that the industry supports the air and sea routes in and out of the island. I think we've got the size of the tourist industry about right now.'
We move on to the way tourism in the island is changing in nature as well as size, with people such as Chris Sharp at La Fregate, Ian Walker with the Fleur du Jardin and Bella Luce and Derek Coates with the Fermain Valley, who are going for lower volume and higher quality
Deputy Falla even goes so far as to cast our tourism heyday of the 1950s, 60s and beyond in a less rosy light than the conventional 'those were the days' view. 'I don't think Guernsey really wants, and ever has wanted, the kiss-me-quick, bucket and spade, what you might call low-denominator tourist. When the Sarnia and the Caesarea were arriving packed every day, it was because the company was giving its employees free trips. Free transport for British Rail workers - that's what our tourist industry was. Every year they would get a free ticket to anywhere on the network and British Rail owned the boats. Once they sold them, it all stopped. It was like a free gift for us, and we took advantage of it. Once the free transport was taken away we weren't attractive enough. Southern Spain became more attractive, because it cost roughly the same amount of money to get there and they had almost guaranteed sun.'
Returning to the theme of job opportunities for locals, he concludes: 'If someone wants to train as a chef or become a hotel manager, there is nothing stopping them, but the College of FE has trouble attracting local students in that area. You can't force people to do what they don't want to - and nor should you.'
It started in Alderney and moved to London before coming to Guernsey, but Sportingbet is now established as a sizeable local employer. Chris Morvan spent an afternoon in the buzzing atmosphere of the online gambling company's trading room
The man I'm talking to, Gary Pearce, has a copy of the Racing Post open on his desk. He also has six computer screens - a square bank of four on which are the sort of things you'd expect to find on an office computer screen and one on either side showing horse racing on TV. Gary is sitting in a large open-plan office in which everybody else seems to have a similar set-up, although some of them are watching football, others tennis, golf, all sorts. But these people don't have their feet up on the desk - the atmosphere is busy and happy and concentration is high.
This is the trading room of Sportingbet, a 21st century online bookmaker, and the guys in here are setting the odds on sporting events, monitoring what happens so they can amend them according to unfolding events, such as an injury to an important player and, in Gary's case, keeping one eye on a scrolling screen that advises him of every bet that is taken. He is the company's trading director, the man with his finger on the pulse of just about every match in every major tournament in every major sport.
The scrolling screen shows the event, the country where the bet has come from, the amount, the odds and the customer's surname and username. They're flying in at the rate of five or six a second.
'And this is three o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon,' Gary points out. 'If you followed the screen on a Saturday your eyes would be spinning in your head.'
They are betting in the UK, having a punt in Portugal and trying their luck in Bulgaria. To enable all these people to use Sportingbet, the web pages come in 30 different languages. Gary clicks onto the Spanish site and it looks exactly the same from a distance, but on closer inspection, the categories include 'football' and 'tennis'.
The number of bets Sportingbet takes each year is growing rapidly and has now reached over 50 million each year, with individual ones from 50 pence or so upwards.
Gary and his team have to set the odds correctly, based on the true probability of a particular result when all the relevant factors are taken into account. The basic requirements for the job, therefore, are twofold.
'I need to see a real passion for the sport and in-depth knowledge of three or four individual ones,' Gary says as he shows me around. 'And they have to be good at mental arithmetic.'
Because he is showing me around, Gary asks one of his staff to keep an eye on a race meeting he was covering. 'Take over Ludlow for me for 20 minutes, okay?' he calls across the room.
A third crucial quality for a trader emerges as Gary tells of the demands of the job. 'My team has to be prepared to work weekends because a lot of sport happens on Saturdays and Sundays. And working hours can be long and antisocial too. If you're working on a tournament in Australia or New York, they're in very different time zones, so you might be here until the early hours of the morning. There is a very strong work ethic here: we don't have days off sick and all that.'
So this is no place for the faint-hearted or the casual. If someone is down to do a shift, Gary expects them to be there.
The trading room is the engine room of the company, but there are other critical elements too. Obviously, with so much money flowing through - not in cash, but via online credit card payments - someone needs to process the transactions and make sure the successful customers receive their winnings. In addition, the company manages its Europe-wide marketing from Guernsey. Its accounting and administration are carried out in Guernsey and Alderney too, although most of the IT services are provided from London and its customer call centre is based in Dublin.
Sportingbet employs more than 70 people in our part of the world, including eight in Alderney, where the company originated.
Managing director Bob Dutnall sets the scene. 'We started in Alderney in 1997 because it had an advanced regulatory framework and licensing process in place. The massive growth of the Internet generally and our industry, in particular, meant the business outgrew the island's infrastructure, so when the UK became geared up for online gambling, we had to move to London'.
More recently, Alderney and Guernsey combined their strengths to create an arrangement that allows businesses to be based in both islands, so Sportingbet returned in 2007 and now occupies two office suites in the Bordage as well as an office in Alderney.
Mr Dutnall is proud to say that the Guernsey and Alderney workforces have provided every member of the teams in the administrative functions and an initial group of junior traders who are being trained and have already begun to move up the ranks. Sportingbet has a simple hierarchy and clear-cut career paths to positions of greater responsibility.
It's a great opportunity to join a very different world that is vibrant, exciting, rewarding and still growing rapidly.
Caption: Gary Pearce (sitting) and Bob Dutnall in the trading room at Sportingbet.
Despite the fact that we all love a bargain, there are still those in Guernsey and Jersey who didn't see the need to have a second telecommunications provider, when the existing companies were attending to islanders' needs anyway.
Now, though, there is a third, in the shape of Airtel Vodafone, which has been in the larger island for six months and has just set up in Guernsey too.
So there was one main question to ask the company's Channel Islands CEO, Iain Williams: why?
'There is never real competition until you have a third operator,' he said when he called in at our Guernsey offices. 'With two you can have a duopoly. A third stimulates the market and improves the technology on offer as well as the pricing. The consumer is the winner.'
What Airtel has for us in terms of technology is 3G+, which offers faster data speeds and improves the performance of, for instance, the Internet on a laptop.
Airtel is part of the Bharti group of companies, which has 60 million subscribers in its native India and is one of the fastest-growing telecommunications companies in the world.
The Channel Islands are nothing like the sub-continent, though, so why come here? It goes without saying that no-one in his right mind would go to all the trouble of setting up a complex and expensive operation if it wasn't likely to be profitable, but there has to be more to it than that.
'It's an experiment,' said Mr Williams. 'The Channel Islands are one of Airtel's first overseas ventures, along with the Seychelles and Sri Lanka. We want to see if the business model works here - and we're investing substantial money to do it.'
The reaction to Airtel's arrival has been mixed, with the States welcoming - 'they helped us to push it through' - but the other operators predictably 'reluctant'.
However, his company, Mr Williams said, has a 'culture of collaboration', with no desire to add to the friction that has been all too evident between Cable and Wireless/Sure and Jersey Telecoms/Wave.
Airtel's stated approach to the contentious issue of masts concentrates on rooftop sites where possible. When it has to erect its own masts, Mr Williams said, 'Everything we build is shareable and we camouflage them as much as possible. We make them look like telegraph poles or flagpoles.'
Appearances are not the public's main concern about phone masts, of course. Radiation emissions are the real bone of contention and, while Mr Williams is inevitably well aware of this, he pointed out that despite all the research that has been carried out, no concrete evidence has yet been published to suggest that masts and handsets can be harmful to health.
Meanwhile, mobile phone users in the Channel Islands anticipate benefits from the presence of Vodafone, having looked on enviously as their UK counterparts enjoyed some exceptionally good deals.
The new Guernsey shop is at the top of High Street, near Boots, while the administration is taken care of at Les Caches Business Park, St Martin's. In Jersey, Airtel can be found in Queen Street and at La Rue Le Masurier, St Helier.
Sunil Bharti Mittal started his career at 18 after graduating from Punjab University in India and founded Bharti, with modest capital, in 1976. Today, at 49, he heads one of the top five companies in India, employing over 30,000 people.
Bharti has formed successful partnerships with various leading telecommunications companies, including Singapore Telecom, Vodafone and British Telecom.
Bharti Airtel is the flagship company of Bharti Enterprises. The other businesses in the group are consumer electronics (Beetel), life insurance with AXA of France (Bharti AXA), and a joint venture with the Rothschild group to develop Indian horticulture and export fruit and vegetables (FieldFresh).
Guernsey has made a bold move in the field of tax as part of its continued efforts to stay at the forefront of global financial jurisdictions. As from 1 January 2008, the standard rate of income tax on company profits is 0%, with only a limited number of specific banking activities being taxed at 10%. This is what is referred to as the "zero-10" regime.
The island's Treasury and Resources Minister, Lyndon Trott, insists zero-10 is the best and least-risky course of action, particularly in the light of recent global economic turbulence.
'International credit markets have had a torrid time in recent months,' he told the Guernsey Press. 'Many believe that growth in the world economy will slow significantly as a result of the lack of investment capital or, more accurately, the lack of appetite for lending that capital. I doubt the Bailiwick of Guernsey will be immune from these global influences, but the policies we have in place will certainly help to offset many of the negatives the credit crunch has brought.'
Deputy Trott said failure to change would have been far more risky and far more unpredictable. 'We opted for the safer option and for that I make no apology. The key to our future success is maintaining sustainable levels of employment, controlling public expenditure and remaining a good place to do business.'
Public Services Minister, Bill Bell, said Guernsey was already benefiting from zero-10 because a record 2,000 companies had been formed in the island in 2007 up to November.
'All the evidence, and there is an abundance of it, is that zero-10 is working,' he said. 'Listen to the professionals in the various industries which make up the finance sector and they say they are being flooded out with business.'
As the island attempts to balance the needs of the sector with the danger of over-population, there is an estimated shortfall of 1,000 people in the financial world, and the onus falls on recruitment firms to help companies find the key staff of the right calibre - with AP Group's global reach giving it a distinct advantage.
With similar issues to address, Jersey is poised to adopt zero-10 in 2009.
AP Courses has been awarded the Institute of IT Training (IITT) accreditation - the only Channel Islands training provider to have achieved it. The locally based company underwent a rigorous assessment process to ensure it met the standard required to impress the UK's official IT training body.
Director of AP Courses Nicky Salmon is delighted that the quality of training offered by the company has been recognised. 'We achieved the accreditation through our commitment to excellence and our clear understanding of the elements necessary to deliver an effective IT training service,' she said.
'I saw the IITT accreditation programme as an opportunity for AP Courses to be seen to be making a public commitment to compliance with the IITT Code of Practice, thereby giving clients confidence that we are the people to come to,' Nicky continued.
The services provided by AP Courses include training manuals and assessments both before and after the courses, which are designed by a courseware supplier in the UK that is itself fully accredited by the IITT. This is to ensure that delegates are registered at the correct level, based on their current knowledge.
One of the things that set AP Courses apart is its dedication to aftercare. 'Clients and students are welcome to phone or e-mail us as often as they need to after the course has finished if there is anything we can do to help them,' Nicky concluded.
Courses available either in AP Group's fully equipped training rooms or at the client's premises include full training days and two-hour 'bite-size' sessions for those who can't afford to be away from their desk for long periods. There are also 'floor-walking sessions', where AP Group trainers are on hand in the client's offices, answering questions and helping staff along while they implement their newly learned skills. Qualified tutors can also discuss with clients their individual needs in order to tailor-make training programmes at no extra cost.
AP Group has signed an agreement with the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) to be the organisation's exclusive global recruitment partner. With five offices around the world and dealing with more than 40 jurisdictions, AP Group, one of the largest offshore recruitment firms in the world, will be responsible for finding key staff for CISI members as well as advising members of opportunities across the globe.
The group's founder and CEO, Gina Le Prevost, who was instrumental in making the deal, said: 'We are delighted to have come to this arrangement with the CISI and look forward to providing them with high-quality candidates for a wide variety of roles. We have a wealth of experience in this area and are confident that it will be a mutually rewarding relationship.'
Simon Culhane, CEO of CISI, said: 'As a membership organisation, the CISI is keen to provide relevant and useful services for its members. Therefore, we are delighted that our association with AP Group means that members can take advantage of a high-quality, full-service recruitment partner whose reach covers not only the UK but also many of the key areas overseas where the institute now operates, especially in the Gulf and South-East Asia.'
Since 2003 AP Group has had a similar partnership with STEP, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, and the success of that venture paved the way for this new undertaking.
Since it was founded in 1990 in Guernsey, where its headquarters remain, AP Group has expanded considerably and now has offices in London, Jersey, Cyprus and Geneva, with a Zurich office due to open early next year. From these jurisdictions, it can find candidates for roles in any country.
'International recruitment won't be a problem for members now that we are able to provide our global service to the CISI, and members can browse all our vacancies at their leisure by logging onto CISI.org.uk instead of trawling through all the website job boards currently in existence,' said Ms Le Prevost. 'Likewise, if a company has an important role to fill and there is no-one on the doorstep, we'll look further afield and keep looking until we find suitable individuals from whom they can draw up a shortlist.'
With its head office in Guernsey, the group has been established since 1990, and caters for a broad spectrum of business areas, with dedicated teams for senior recruitment (AP Executive) and low-to-middle level (AP Personnel), plus the commercial sector (AP Commercial), law firms (AP Legal) and IT (AP Technical). In addition, its communications division, AP Promote, performs PR, advertising and event management services for the group's clients as well as handling all its internal requirements.