One of the most popular lunchtime networking events in the Black Country attracted its largest crowd ever this October, with bookings from over 125 people.
Black Country Diners Club (BCDC), hosted by BCRS Business Loans, has been a prominent event on the region’s networking calendar for over ten years, boasting a prestigious reputation that attracts leading business people from across the West Midlands.
A key factor in the success of this event is the eclectic blend of professionals that attend, providing an excellent forum in which to network and strengthen professional contact bases. Accountants, bankers, brokers, chambers of commerce, engineers, consultants, HR, lawyers are just a few examples of the sectors that are enticed to this event.
Held on a quarterly basis, this event offers delegates the opportunity to either attend as individuals or host a table of 10. Paul Kalinauckas, Chief Executive of BCRS Business Loans, expressed his gratitude to HSBC, Price Pearson Kidderminster and Trade & Export Finance Limited who each took the opportunity host tables for colleagues and clients alike.
In line with the traditional format of BCDC, the event opened with 45 minutes of networking over light refreshments; followed by a two-course lunch provided by Wolves Corporate and a speaking session from a guest speaker.
The BCDC was delighted to welcome Mark Berrisford-Smith, Head of Economics at HSBC, as October’s guest speaker. Mark is a highly regarded economist and an engaging, keynote public speaker who possesses an ability to understand an audience and speaks about difficult topics with professionalism, presence and humour. Although economics can be difficult for many people to digest, Mark explains his thoughts in a clear and understandable manner.
In this speech Mark made a few predictions about the UK and world economy for the next 12 months.
Mark started by highlighting that, although the current UK rate of growth is lower than pre-recession figures, it is actually one of the best performing economies in the G7. Furthermore, average UK disposable income has increased, leaving many people feeling remarkably more positive about their financial situation. While inflation remained at 0% – mostly thanks to a slump in commodity prices – average private sector wages in the UK have increased by 3%.
He did, however, express concern that unless interest rates are raised soon, some countries may not have enough money to fall back on when times get tough – which may be sooner than first thought. Considering that economies tend to work in eight or nine year cycles, we are now much closer to the next downturn than we are to the last.
Mark predicts that the Bank of England will not increase interest rates until at least March 2016 and, even then, only if the United States does so first. There is then likely to be a second increase in interest rates towards the end of the year, but in the long term it isn’t expected to be higher than 1.5%.
Mark has a particular interest in China and has conducted a large amount of research into their economic performance and staggering growth statistics. In the past year the growth of China has slowed dramatically and Mark predicts that the country will never achieve double-digit growth figures again. China is now considered a source of risk as well as a source of opportunity for the global economy.
There is a common misconception that may prove detrimental to China’s future success. China is considered to have a mostly manufacturing-based economy which, in previous years, has been incredibly competitive against rivals. However, the growth of the country has also seen a rise in the cost of production, meaning that it is cheaper for many companies to locate their production facilities in less-developed countries that have weaker economies. China may need to broaden its appeal to continue to attract high levels of Foreign Direct Investment.
Iran is a country that has real growth potential in the coming years. Widespread trade restrictions have harnessed the growth of Iran in previous years, but a deal signed in July 2015, which agrees to lift all trade sanctions on the condition that Iran curtails the development of its nuclear missiles, could see the country achieve some impressive growth statistics.
According to Mark, Iran is the country to keep an eye on in the near future.
Mark Berrisford-Smith speaks at over 140 events per year, so if you would like to hear his interesting take on the UK and global economy first-hand, keep an eye out for him at future local events.
Black Country Diners Club will be back in January next year, with the same successful format and a new exciting special guest speaker. Stay tuned for updates on this event, which can be found either by email or on the @B_C_R_S Twitter page.
For any more information about Black Country Diners Club or to register an interest in attending the next event please email Events@bcrs.org.uk .