The Week in Numbers

The Week in Numbers – 23/04

£35m – Customer redress hit taken by Wonga in 2014 following an intervention by the FCA. The payday lender made a pre-tax loss of £37.3m during the year.

56% – the drop in pre-tax profits at Towry during 2014, from £9.8m to £4.3m year on year

£4bn – value of Lloyds shares that would be sold to the public under Conservative plans outlined by David Cameron

£800m – Funds raised by Neil Woodford’s Patient Capital Investment Trust – the most for a new issue in the UK’s Investment history

£106bn – Assets on the Allfunds platform, making it the largest mutual fund platform in Europe according to the Platforum

1.99% – Five year fixed-rate mortgage deal launched by HSCB this week – the first sub 2% product in the market



Figures originally published in Money Marketing Magazine 23rd April 2015

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March Employment News

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 Key points in March:

  • Further marked increases in permanent placements
  • Salaries for permanent hires rise at sharpest rate in six months
  • Candidate availability tightens further.

The main indicators for March are:

Recruitment continues to rise strongly…

March survey data highlighted further marked growth of recruitment activity across the UK. Permanent staff placements rose at a rate unchanged from February’s considerable pace.

…supported by robust demand for staff

Job vacancies rose to a five-month high in March, signalling strong demand for staff. Marked rates of expansion were indicated for both permanent and short-term workers.

Salary growth fastest in six months…

Average starting salaries for people placed in permanent job roles increased further in March. The latest increase was the strongest since last September. Hourly rates of pay for temporary/contract staff rose at a robust pace, albeit slightly slower than in February.

…amid falling candidate availability

The availability of staff to fill vacancies continued to decline in March. The latest drop in permanent candidate supply was the sharpest in four months, while temp availability deteriorated at the fastest pace since last October.


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Research Section: A Candidate’s Experience

How a candidate’s experience of your recruitment process can have long lasting consequences.

 Why is this so important?

Getting the candidate experience right is so important. Mystery Applicant research shows 48% of candidates said they had a poor or very poor time when seeking a new role.

Where is it going wrong?

The two main areas where businesses seem to get it wrong are in keeping candidates informed during the process, mentioned by 58% of applicants, and how the candidate was meant to feel during the whole journey. Just over half of respondents said they didn’t feel that they were treated as an individual.

Stats and Facts:

  1. Recent data from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) shows that candidates who have a positive experience put in more effort in the job, to the tune of 15%.
  2. Those who have a positive experience are also 38% more likely to stay with that employer than those who didn’t.
  3. Candidates share their poor experiences with others. An amazing 83% tell friends and family while 64% take to social media.


So we know it’s important, but what are the main steps we can take to resolve the problem?

  • Be Explicit: if you explain what the recruitment process will be like before they apply, candidates are far more likely to feel more relaxed about the steps needed to be taken.
  • Early Self-Screening: when a job specification is clear, it helps prevent candidates applying for a job they know wouldn’t be right for them. Make the requirements obvious and easy to understand and you’ll see the dual benefits of cost saving with fewer applications that wouldn’t fit but you but also fewer candidates barking up the wrong tree.
  • Keeping on top of it: especially challenging when recruiting large numbers, but nothing is more disheartening for a candidate than simply never hearing back. Even generic feedback like missing qualifications or the wrong experience is far better than nothing. So ensure your application tracking technology or systems can help you keep an eye on your responses.
  • Be on the same page: make sure line managers are fully aware of how long a recruitment process is likely to take, let the candidate know from the start and set deadlines.
  • Communicate throughout: make it clear internally, whose role it is to meet the candidate, when? As a rule of thumb, there should be a follow up email or phone call after every significant contact, but who in your firm will make sure that happens?
  • Feedback: why not consider asking candidates for their view on your recruitment process? Whether they received the job or not, their opinions can help encourage a continuous improvement mentality, which in the long run could save you time and money.

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Original article by the Institute of Recruitment Professionals first published by Kevin Green, Chief Executive on HR Magazine’s Website.
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The Week in Numbers – 16th April 2015

0% – Rate of Inflation in the UK in March, according to the Office for National Statistics

£10K – Annual allowance for savers earning more than £210,000, under plans outlined in the Conservative Manifesto

£21K – Maximum government loan a person can receive under Help-To-Rent plans unveiled by the Liberal Democrats last week

42,200 – Number of PPI complaints that may have been rejected unfairly by Clydesdale Bank, according to the FCA

£7.5bn – Amount Labour says it will raise through policies to reduce tax avoidance and evasion

4 – Number of FOS complaints upheld against advice firms relating to investments in Harlequin since the beginning of the year.

Net balance of 4.2% – of small firms have taken on new staff, up from a balance of 2.1% a year ago

Businesses who have applied and been approved for a loan from their bank is up to 57% compared to 45.3%, 12 months ago

37% – of firms say a lack of skills are a barrier to growth compared to 25.4% 12 months ago.

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Figures and articles originally published in Money Marketing Magazine 16th April 2015 or the magazine of the Federation of Small Businesses

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Snap Shot Headlines 16th April 2015

“Just Retirement Offers Simplified Advice Service”

aiming to provide a service for individuals who need advice on their retirement planning but have smaller pension pots. They will provide a telephone based advisory service which will include offering clients personal recommendations such as whether to keep their funds invested, take a lump sum or generate an income. According to Just Retirement Director, Stephen Lowe, the service is aimed individuals with “straight forward needs” . Fees for the service have not yet been disclosed.

Original article by Sam Broadbeck


“Uk Dodges deflation… but only for now”

The Consumer Price Index stayed at 0% last month following the surprise drop from 0.3%. But concerns are arising from low clothing prices and weak food prices, dragging the core inflation level lower. It dropped to a nine-year low in the latest data from the ONS. This could mean that consumers see a clear improvement in their purchasing power of the next few months.

Original article by Laura Suter


“Private Equity Firms eye £100m 7IM”

The wealth manager and asset management firm founded in 2001 by Justin Urquhart Stewart and Tom Sheridan was reported to be looking into a potential sale in February. Originally it was valued between £50m and £60m but it could be valued significantly higher at £100m and above. The firm initially began with a handful of employees, has now grown to around 170 with £8bn of assets.

Original article by Tessa Normanleft laptop


Articles originally published in MoneyMarketing magazine 16th April 2015

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Telephone Interviews – A Serious Business

Recruiters reveal an alarming level of complacency by job applicants during important telephone interviews

Tel pic 2

Distractions detract from telephone performance

Going to the toilet, having a bath, eating a meal, walking a dog, breastfeeding a baby, arguing with a family member. These are all perfectly normal human activities; and they are all things that recruitment candidates have done during telephone interviews.

A recent survey of nearly 800 recruitment and HR professionals by Changeboard in association with the Post Office found that many candidates fail to take telephone interviews as seriously as face-to-face interviews, and risk losing out as a result.

Some 60% of organisations (74% of private sector firms) use telephone interviews as part of their recruitment process. They are most commonly used to save time and money by screening applicants before inviting them for face-to-face interviews.

This means that a telephone interview is an important opportunity for the candidate to make a good impression and secure a meeting with the recruiting organisation. But many candidates fluff that opportunity.

 Common candidate mistakes

According to the survey respondents, the biggest mistakes telephone interviewees make are:Father Holding Baby on Shoulder

  • Doing something else during the telephone interview
  • Not preparing properly for the telephone interview
  • Not listening to the interviewer’s questions
  • Having a poor telephone manner.

These errors can all ‘seriously harm the candidate’s chance of progression’ to the next stage of the interview process.

Respondents cited many real-life examples of telephone interview faux-pas. One recruiter revealed: “During the interview it became clear that the candidate was on the loo.”

Another said: “The candidate was pulled over by the police for taking a call in the car without hands-free.”

And a third recalled: “The candidate suddenly said: ‘Sorry, I’ve got to go – the snake has escaped,’ and hung up.”

 Telephone interview hints and tips

Telephone interviews can be especially tricky for candidates, as it is difficult to express yourself clearly on the phone. Nearly all survey respondents (95%) said that candidates can come across differently on the phone compared with face to face. And nearly half (49%) admitted that their mental image of candidates they have interviewed by telephone is often proved wrong when they meet them.

The top tips from recruiters for candidates facing a telephone interview are:
• Prepare yourself for the call as you would a face-to-face interview
• Choose a quiet place to take the call with a landline phone and no risk of interruption or background noise
• Pay as much attention to listening as to speaking

One recruiter advised: “Do not underestimate the seriousness of a telephone interview. It is often harder as you don’t have the ability to demonstrate body language.”

Another offered: “To get in the right mindset I always advise telephone interview candidates to sit at a desk and dress formally to help them think more professionally.”

And a third added: “Stand up when on the phone as your voice will project better. Change the tone of your voice and use it to show enthusiasm when appropriate.”

 Expert advice on telephone interview performance

Rob Willock, chief operating officer of Changeboard, said: “Faced with a huge pile of CVs from equally qualified candidates, recruiters need a way of weeding out the weaker applicants, and many use telephone screening interviews. Don’t give them a reason to reject you them by performing poorly on the telephone.

“Prepare yourself properly, research the organisation, rehearse answers to standard questions, have relevant examples of your achievements to hand and ask some smart questions of your own.

“It may also be worth practicing your telephone manner,” added Willock. “Recruiters reported being annoyed by candidates using colloquial or ‘street’ language during telephone interviews. Calling your interviewer ‘mate’ or ‘love’ or using phrases like ‘innit’ are not recommended, even if you do so with your friends and family.

“There’s even something to be said for cultivating a more business-like ‘telephone voice’ for occasions when you want to impress people on the phone.”

The Apprentice winner and recruitment expert Lee McQueen said: “It’s difficult to give anything your full attention if you’re doing something else at the same time yet it’s apparent that candidates aren’t taking their interviews seriously enough.  They wouldn’t turn up to an interview dressed in a bobble hat and trainers and the same kind of consideration needs to be given when speaking to potential employers over the phone.

“It’s all about selling yourself and making an impression in the first two minutes. One key tip is to take the phone call in a quiet room on a landline so you can be confident that it won’t cut out; the lack of distractions and quality line will ensure a more professional interview too.”

And Hugh Stacey, Head of Post Office HomePhone added: “Telephone interviews are often the first real opportunity that candidates get to shine in front of a prospective employer.  From our research it’s clear that if you fail to impress at this stage, then it is likely that your application is over before it’s even started.  It’s therefore vital to stay focused and get it right first time around.”

The survey of 790 senior recruitment and HR professionals was carried out from 14-24 September by Changeboard, in association with the Post Office.

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Interview Tips…

Interviewing can be daunting for some and to do it with confidence requires preparation otherwise you can fall flat on your face! For those keen on giving a spectacular interview, here are a few helpful hints to make sure you give the best you can and get the job you want.


When you prepare for an interview, looking smart and having your CV is important but a few added efforts and doing some homework before hand can help more than you may have realized.


If an employer wants to speak to you first then do so with as much preparation as you would a face to face (more info) Don’t forget that in most roles a good telephone voice might just be one of the things that is important for the job.

Don’t be late for an interview as it tells the employer that you care very little about the job. If, however, you were late because of an unavoidable emergency, then . . . well, call forward and warn the client or go via the recruiter. Always aim to be at your interview 5 or 10 minutes early.  You will make a much better first impression this way.

First Impressions

  • Look your very best.
  • Smile and be polite
  • Don’t ask how much the job pays – not yet!

Pretty obvious but here are a few more..

Smile and offer a respectable handshake upon meeting the interviewee, then you are already on the right track. If you stare at the floor and wait for him to approach you, you are only showing that you feel uncomfortable and nervous and perhaps lacking the necessary confidence for the job. Nervousness is not always a bad thing, but when you let it control you during the interview, you may come away feeling embarrassed and let down.

After you greet the interviewer with self-assuredness, try making a little basic conversation. Small talk is quite common during the first few minutes of an interview as both parties try to assess each other and determine the mood the interview will adopt. You needn’t think of something profoundly witty to say, but you might want to try to make the interviewer feel that you are comfortable with the situation. Whether you compliment the decor of the office, talk about the weather or how glad you are to be there for the interview, it doesn’t matter. What matters is giving the impression that you are an easy person to get along with.

A great way to avoid being nervous is to make a list of some common questions asked by interviewers. If you already know how you want to reply, you’ll find that much of your anxiety disappears. Here are a few sample questions to practice answering before you go:

  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • What kind of career do you have planned?
  • What are your strengths? weaknesses?
  • What is your greatest achievement?

When you practice your replies to these questions, make sure you can answer with confidence. If your voice is sincere and your replies are intelligent, you will give the impression of someone who really knows what they want out of life.

It is not the interviewer’s job to make sure that he tells you everything there is to know about the company. You should have a few questions for him as well. In order to prove that you really prepared for your meeting, Always learn a little bit about the company itself so that you can discuss it intelligently. Here are some questions you might want to ask about the company:

  • What is your biggest product or service?
  • Who are your customers?
  • Who are your toughest competitors?

Or questions relating to the role..

  • To whom would I be reporting?
  • How is performance evaluated?
  • What is the company promotion policy?
  • Does the companies have developmental programs?
  • How many days per week? Office hours?

Make sure your questions are relevant to the topic at hand. Don’t just frantically spout them off before the interviewer even has a chance to sit down. You want to sound interested and receptive, not uptight and neurotic.

The Top Ten list of what NOT to do in an interview!

  • Try to be funny..humour has its place but not always at interview as it can come across as flippant.
  • Be a sloppy dresser
  • Be uninterested and know nothing about the role..
  • Not communicate effectively.
  • Do NOT interrupt…although you should do most of the talking.
  • Fidget
  • Overly polite /insincere..can be a bit creepy
  • Have no questions.
  • Bad-mouthing others especially your current company.
  • Only interested in money.

Although money will be a concern, it should be the interviewer who broaches the subject first. Never call before hand or begin an interview asking how much money you will be making. You must prove your worth it before they can finally decide. So, if you give a superb interview and suit their needs, who knows, they just might feel that you are entitled and offer you a little more than they had originally planned.

When the end is in sight….

It will be obvious when the interview is nearing its end. The interviewer will have no more questions for you, you will have asked all of your questions, been clever and alert, made just the right amount of chit-chat to leave a friendly impression and managed to smile genuinely all the way through. When you stand to leave, tell the interviewer that you hope he/she will consider you for the position and that you have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with him/her. Reiterate when you can be contacted if need be and thank him for his time. When you turn gracefully and saunter from the room, you should feel proud of yourself. You have just given a spectacular interview!

I’m often asked if its OK to follow up with a thank you…

If you feel you had a good interview, it is quite all right to send a “thank you” note to the interviewer, especially if they have given you there business is fine and it will refresh the interviewer’s memory and help you to make a positive last impression.

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Market News Feb 2015

UK wide there has been stronger growth of staff appointments…

left laptopPermanent staff placements rose further in February. The rate of growth in appointments was marked and the fastest since last October….

…buoyed by improved demand for staff

Vacancies available for people seeking employment continued to rise in February. Overall demand for staff rose at the strongest rate in four months, with both permanent and temporary workers seeing faster increases.

Further marked rise in salaries

Permanent staff starting salaries continued to increase in February. The rate of growth was unchanged from the marked pace seen in January.

Candidate availability continues to fall

The availability of staff to fill job vacancies decreased further in February. Both permanent and temporary candidate supply deteriorated to a greater extent than in the previous.

Whilst in London and the SE…..

Permanent staff placements growth strengthens

Permanent placements increased further in February, continuing the trend shown since August 2012. Moreover, the

rate of growth accelerated since January, and was stronger than the average over the current sequence of expansion.

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Key Points from the January Employment Survey

Key points from the January survey:


  • Permanent and temporary appointments rise, but rate of growth slows.
  • Vacancies increase at stronger pace.
  • Rate of decline in candidate availability moderates.
  • Slower growth of staff appointments…


Permanent staff placements continued to rise in January, but the rate of expansion eased to a 20-month low. Temp billings growth moderated slightly to the least marked since October 2014.

…despite accelerated rise in demand for staff

January data pointed to a faster increase in demand for staff, with the overall level of job vacancies rising at the strongest rate in three months. Sharper growth of both permanent and temporary vacancies was recorded.

Strong pay growth maintained

Average starting salaries for people placed in permanent jobs continued to rise at a marked pace in January, with the rate of growth quickening to a four-month high. Temp pay also increased further, but the latest rise was the weakest in nine months.

Slower fall in candidate availability

The availability of staff to fill permanent job roles fell further during January. The rate of deterioration was marked, despite easing to the slowest for a year. Temporary/contract staff availability meanwhile fell at the weakest rate in 11 months.

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Job Market Report For Dec 14

Key Points in Summary

  • Growth of permanent placements eases to 18-month lowopen notebook
  • Strong Salary Growth
  • Further marked drop in staff availability
  • Average earnings and Inflation, any improvement?

In the world of staff appointments for November, the rate at which permanent roles are placed, rose at its slowest rate in 18 months. Several sources found they experienced a shortage of skilled candidates and slower client decision-making with this appearing worst in London. Although in the Midlands a stronger growth was experienced.

The demand for staff from employers is rising at its lowest rate in 13 months. The latest official data from the Office for National Statistics shows that vacancies rose by 24.7% on an annual basis in the three months to October. Furthermore, internet-based recruitment spending continued to increase at a strong annual pace. Latest data showed an 8.8% rise in Q2 2014 from the corresponding period one year earlier.

Good news in terms of salaries with the average starting salaries for permanent jobs continuing to rise in November although this is after October’s 8 month low. This has largely been attributed to stronger competition between employers for quality candidates. This increase was sharpest in the Midlands and slowest in London.

Adding on to this, averaging earnings growth has caught up with inflation for the first time in five years. Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that average earnings, excluding bonuses, rose 1.3% on an annual basis in September. Consumer price inflation in September was 1.2%, rising to 1.3% in October. However, earnings including bonuses were up just 1.0%. Pay growth has remained sluggish in spite of the recent recovery in employment. In a recent speech (“Twin Peaks”, 17 October), Bank of England Chief Economist Andrew Haldane drew attention to ongoing structural changes in the labour market which he argues have led to “polarising patterns” at the upper and lower ends, in turn resulting in a marked rise in wage dispersion.


On the one hand, high-skilled professions such as IT, engineering and construction continue to see skill shortages, leading to increased rates of pay for new hires, as signalled by the Report on Jobs in recent months. On the other hand, lesser-skilled jobs have seen a rise in the supply of labour which has more than offset rising demand, thus depressing wages.

Haldane identifies three key drivers of this. First, the ‘hollowing out’ of mid-skill jobs, a longer-term trend reinforced by the financial crisis, has led to displaced workers seeking jobs for which they are overqualified. Second, labour force participation has risen significantly, particularly among women and older age cohorts, reflecting changes to the default retirement age and benefits regime, plus concerns over the adequacy of pensions and savings. Third, immigration over the last 20 years has boosted the supply of labour.

As Haldane puts it: “This paints a picture of a widening distribution of fortunes across the labour market – a tale of two workers” … “This has been a jobs-rich, but pay-poor, recovery.”

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