Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Money played for laughs at launch of service for young professionals

Leanne Curtis of Money Savvy MateFinancial services are not something usually associated with laughs, especially over the last six years. But a new business aimed at young professionals is being launched in Swindon this month – with a comedy night.

Money Savvy Mate, set up by Purton resident, Leanne Curtis, will be kicked off with an after-work party featuring Edinburgh Fringe comedy award winner Ivo Graham, and includes a free buffet and drink.

The business is aimed at young professionals who are, Leanne says, “hopeless with money but want to change.”

It's a subscription service which appeals to people more used to the inside of a pub than a bank.

Leanne explains: “Money Savvy Mate helps those who earn a decent wage but wonder where it has gone at the end of the month – or earlier!

“The crunch comes at a big lifestyle change, and they realise they need a decent amount of capital – for a wedding, to start a family or to take a gap year or launch a new business, for example.

“They don't know where to start because they are used to spending money not saving it.”

Leanne works with her clients to look at where their money is spent, how they can rein in their spending, and how best to save.

And because it appeals to people who don't want to grow up, Money Savvy Mate keeps it light, fun, very 'un-banky', but still with excellent financial guidance and support.

“My clients may have got themselves into financial difficulties which look scary but are completely solvable. Money Savvy Mate can look at their options without the emotion that a supportive family member may show,” said Leanne.

The service is different to the usual one provided by an independent financial adviser or bank. As well as the usual phone and email contact, Money Savvy Mate dispenses sound advice via social media and has a client-only Facebook group to lend motivation support to resist spendthrift temptations.

In addition, says Leanne: “I don't take commission on products sold, neither am I employed by a bank and restricted to their services. Money Savvy Mate is paid for by the client, so the only person I have a responsibility to, is my client. This means the guidance I give is tailored completely to them.”

Leanne talks more about why she set up Money Savvy Mate at www.moneysavvymate.com

Money Savvy Mate is launched at a secret location in Swindon's Old Town on Thursday 23 January, from 6.30pm. To join the guest list and receive details of the location, visit www.moneysavvymate.com or Facebook.com/moneysavvymate

About Money Savvy Mate

Money Savvy Mate is aimed at young professionals in their late twenties to early forties, who earn a good salary but are, frankly, hopeless with money.

Currently they might enjoy regular pubbing, clubbing, daily trips to Costa, restaurant eating, handbags, clothes, expensive phones and tablets… all the things that haemorrhage money from bank accounts.

But now they may have met their long term partner and need their own home, or who’d dearly love to go on holiday to Australia for a month, or would like to start a business, or get married, etc - all things that require a decent amount of capital.

Money Savvy Mate supports its clients away from frivolous spend and towards new life goals through a monthly subscription service.

Client spending is analysed and then guidance is given on how to best to spend/save money - from bank accounts, phone contracts, ISAs,the size of mortgage that's affordable to identifying and cutting down on non-essential spending.

And just as importantly, MSM does this in the spirit of fun, and offers support to keep clients motivated - away from a daily coffee spend and towards their goal.

Ivo GrahamAbout Ivo Graham

An Edinburgh Fringe comedy award winner, Ivo hails from Ogbourne St George. The twenty-three year old has been building his comedy name since before he graduated from Oxford University in 2012 and is now in demand in clubs and theatres UK wide, with appearances on BBC3 and BBC Radio 1.

His solo show, Binoculars, is at London's Soho Theatre at the end of February.

Withy King achieves top 100 best companies to work for ranking

Graham Street managing partner at Withy KingLaw firm Withy King has been shortlisted as one of The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Mid-Sized Companies to Work For and awarded the highly sought-after Best Companies Two Star Accreditation.

Withy King, which has offices in Marlborough and Swindon, as well as Bath, Oxfordshire and London, has been recognised for its outstanding levels of staff engagement and its commitment to creating a positive working environment for its people.

The firm’s ranking in the Top 100 will be revealed at an awards ceremony taking place in London on February 27 and in a league table to be published in the Sunday Times on March 2.

“We are delighted to have been named as one of the Sunday Times’ Top 100 Best Companies To Work For,” commented Graham Street, managing partner at Withy King.

“For our staff to view Withy King as a great place to work and feel motivated and valued is paramount to the success of the firm and is the most effective way to ensure our clients always receive the best possible service.”

The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work For is the most comprehensive analysis of workplace engagement, opinion and satisfaction in the UK, with 896 organisations taking part and more than 240,000 employees surveyed. 

Withy King employs 270 people across a network of offices in Bath, Swindon, Marlborough, Oxford, Abingdon, Thame and London.

In 2013, the firm was awarded top marks in seven categories in a survey of trainee solicitors run by Lex 100, the student guide to law.

Withy King was ranked second for job satisfaction and quality of work out of student entries from across the UK including global London-based law firms, achieving an average score of 96 percent in both categories. 

Chief economist to address business breakfast

Robert Gardner of NationwideNationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner will be giving fellow Swindonians an insight into the local and UK economy at the January meeting of the town’s Chamber of Commerce.

Armed with trends, graphs, pictures and stats, Robert will deliver practical advice on the fiscal outlook, and what this means for Swindon businesses.

He will also comment on implications for the economy from December’s Autumn Statement.

The business breakfast will be held on Friday, January 17 at the Swindon Marriott Hotel, starting at 7.30am. Attendance costs £21.60 for members and £33.60 for non-members. For more information, or to book a place, log on to http://www.thamesvalleychamber.co.uk/events/

Swindon's motor manufacturers fail to keep pace with accelerated growth

Motor manufacturing enjoyed its best year since before the recession last year, but Swindon-based firms failed to accelerate as quickly as their rivals, new figures released this week show.

Sales of new cars in 2013 were up 10.8 percent on the previous year, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, with a total of 2.26m new vehicles sold.

The bumper year secured the UK’s status as the second largest car market behind Germany, and the only one to consistently grow throughout 2013.

But while Swindon’s two car manufacturers - Honda and BMW Mini - achieved higher sales, their increases were a long way behind the general industry trend.

Sales of Mini - which is produced by BMW from parts made at its Swindon pressings plant - climbed 1.19 percent to 51,933 new registrations, while Honda’s sales figures were up 2.68 percent at 55,660.

Ford’s perennially popular Fiesta topped the list, with its Focus in second place. Vauxhall’s Corsa claimed the third podium position.

All sales types recorded growth in 2013, although it was the private sector that saw the largest volume gain.

Increase in private registrations accounted for two-thirds of overall market growth. In 2013 private buyers accounted for 47.5 percent of the market, up from 45.5 percent in 2012.

“With its best year since a pre-recession 2007, the UK new car market has helped stimulate the country’s economic recovery,” said Mike Hawes,chief executive of SMMT.

“While the European market is only now showing signs of improvement, the UK has consistently outperformed the rest of Europe with 22 consecutive months of growth.

“The 10.8 percent increase in 2013 reflects the attractive financial offers available as well as increased demand for more technologically advanced new cars.

“We expect new car registrations to remain stable in 2014 as customers return to a more regular replacement cycle.”

Award-winning management seminars come to Swindon

Steve Medd of The Winning FormulaAn award-winning series of leadership and management seminars will be delivered in Wiltshire this Spring, by business growth specialist Steve Medd of The winning (formula).

Over 20 years The winning (formula) has delivered events to over 1,000 companies and more than 100,000 individuals.

Its practical and pragmatic Leadership and Management seminars have been twice recognised by the National Training Awards for their design originality, outstanding client results and delivery expertise.

Launching in February, the seminars – which are being held at Alexandra House near Wroughton - will focus on the following areas of leadership and management:

  • Business Leaders Masterclass
  • The High Performing Manager
  • The Newly Appointed Manager
  • The Skilful Interviewer
  • The Performance Review
  • Motivating Others
  • Managing Change in the Workplace
  • Coaching Others
  • Effective Team Working
  • Inter-departmental Working
  • Professional Presentation Skills

“With the economy clearly showing cautious signs of recovery, many more business owners will be turning their thoughts to growth and actively looking to take advantage of this upturn in confidence,” said Steve.

“To make this a reality will require skilled leadership and management.”

“Our seminars are very much based in the real world and focus on practical skills that both business leaders and managers require in the workplace.

“We positively encourage delegates to bring their own case studies along so that everything that you learn can be quickly implemented on their return to their organisations.”

The first seminar programme begins on Tuesday, February 25, and prices start at £297+VAT, with discounts for early birds and group bookers.

For more information or to book a place, log on to twfsouth.co.uk or call 01793 915045. For dates, check our Events calendar.

Court fee changes - a good time to try alternative dispute resolution?

Anthony ReevesA consultation is under way before the next set of court fee increases. The Government is maintaining the policy that the costs of running the civil courts - county courts and high court - should be funded from court fees.

In recent years this had caused significant increases in court fees. This is making access to the civil courts much more difficult for a person on very modest means. Although there are fee exemptions for those on low incomes, the threshold above which you are eligible for fee exemptions is very low, especially for a single person.

The proposed changes are perhaps not as bad as they could have been in some respects as they are proposing no change to enforcement fees and court hearing fees and to abolish the allocation fee and listing fee; however, the abolition of these fees is merely being front loaded onto the fees for issuing a court claim.

The burden is falling heavily on small claims in the bracket of £5,000 to £10,000. This will have a large impact on small businesses trying to recover troublesome debts.

While it is right to encourage disputes to be settled by alternative means, I do wonder whether those who simply don't want to pay will have an added shield in that they know the creditor won't be able to follow through with their threats of legal action.

Businesses that are in a genuine dispute, but want a quick and cheap resolution to the issue, may find alternative methods more attractive.

Indeed, at The Merriman Partnership, I will be offering dispute adjudication whereby businesses (who have no connection with the firm) can agree to let me decide their dispute, which will be much quicker and cheaper than the court system.

I would encourage all local businesses and individuals to visit the Court Service website and comment on the proposals before the consultation closes on January 24.

Hopefully, it will be a genuine consultation and the views expressed will be taken into before the final changes are announced.

  • Anthony Reeves is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and an author of law books. His main areas of interest include debt recovery (both claimant and defendant), contractual disputes, employment law (unfair dismissal cases), claims against large institutions (such as banks/utility companies) for harassment of debtors, professional negligence claims, judicial review, and consumer law. He is a consultant at The Merriman Partnership in Marlborough. www.anthonyreeves.co.uk

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