Financial Literacy and sustainability

Dr Ahmad Mlouk, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


In a ‘Global Financial Literacy Survey’ carried out for S&P in 2014, four questions were asked to measure financial literacy among world population whereby 150,000 people were surveyed in more than 140 countries. The following 4 questions were asked (answer options in brackets) and those who correctly answered 3 out of 4 questions were regarded as ‘financially literate’.

1. Suppose you have some money. Is it safer to put your money into one business or investment, or to put your money into multiple businesses or investments? [one business or investment; multiple businesses or investments; don’t know; refused to answer]

2. Suppose over the next 10 years the prices of the things you buy double. If your income also doubles, will you be able to buy less than you can buy today, the same as you can buy today, or more than you can buy today? [less; the same; more; don’t know; refused to answer]

3. Suppose you need to borrow 100 US dollars. Which is the lower amount to pay back: 105 US dollars or 100 US dollars plus three percent? [105 US dollars; 100 US dollars plus three percent; don’t know; refused to answer]

4. (i) Suppose you put money in the bank for two years and the bank agrees to add 15 percent per year to your account. Will the bank add more money to your account the second year than it did the first year, or will it add the same amount of money both years? [more; the same; don’t know; refused to answer]

(ii) Suppose you had 100 US dollars in a savings account and the bank adds 10 percent per year to the account. How much money would you have in the account after five years if you did not remove any money from the account? [more than 150 dollars; exactly 150 dollars; less than 150 dollars; don’t know; refused to answer]

You might wish to have a go at this survey. The first 10 correct answers to all questions can each claim a free bar of chocolate. In order to participate, you must be based at Staffordshire University Stoke Campus. E-mail your answer to: a.mlouk@staffs.ac.uk

Sadly, the outcome of the survey was that only one third of world adult population are financially literate. This picture is a lot better for most developed countries, in the UK for example, according to the same survey, two third of adults are considered financially literacy. However, a recent Financial Conduct Authority survey found that 4.1 million people to be ‘in serious financial difficulty’, which means they are unable to cope with the payments of credit card and other debts. According to the Money Charity in the UK, total debt per adult was £31,284 at the end of August 2019, total interest payment over 12 months to the end of August 2019 was a staggering amount of £50,722 million, that is the equivalent of £139 million per DAY! Students have a big share of this … they need to be savvy with their economics, political and financial affairs! They need to become super financially literate in order to overcome this big hurdle in their early life and career! The above is not sustainable and there has to be a way out of this ‘open prison’ for so many people.

Here is a good tip for you: plan your finances AND avoid the use of credit card if at all possible and, if used, ensure to pay off the balance on time otherwise you will pay ridiculously high interest. Credit card interest on average at the end of August 2019 is 20% per annum at the time when Bank of England base rate of interest is 0.75% (November 2019). For more information and to further develop your financial literacy, visit www.themoneycharity.org.uk.


We offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Accounting and Finance at Staffordshire Business School

Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Dr Bharati Singh, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


It’s that time of the year when it’s my turn again to write a blog for the Staffordshire Business School. So, I have pondered and contemplated and deliberated on what to write and have decided to continue with the theme from last year on sharing some thoughts from working in the corporate world.

Dr Bharati Singh

For this blog, I will dwell on gender diversity. Albeit, a narrow range consisting of pay gap and equal opportunities. While I have not personally experienced any gender discrimination with regards to pay and feel that I have been treated fairly in all my various jobs and roles with the various companies that I have worked with; I am aware that this is an ongoing issue and all the companies that I have previously worked for had a gender diversity forum.

Recently, I saw a video that was advertised by one of my previous employers. It showed young girls talking about their career aspirations. There was joy in their voices. However, when they were told that men in the workplace get paid more than women, the pictures captured of these girls showed confusion, anger, bewilderment.

A 2018 report by McKinsey (a consulting firm) states that companies do not walk the talk on gender diversity. While there are more women graduates than men who are negotiating their pay and promotions, while at the same time still in the same work as men, this is not translating into equal woman representation at higher levels of the corporate chain.

It is not only in the corporate world that the pay gap between the genders is high but also in the world of sports. Serena Williams, a US tennis player and winner of 23 grand slams, had spoken out on this matter more than a decade ago which finally led to Wimbledon being last on the block of grand slams to equalise the gap in 2007. However, the gap remains across other sports. Some argue that this is because women sports earn less money, but this was not the case with women’s soccer, which has led the US women’s soccer team filing a gender discrimination lawsuit.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 22: Serena Williams speaks on stage during keynote conversation at 2019 Watermark Conference for Women Silicon Valley at San Jose McEnery Convention Center on February 22, 2019 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Marla Aufmuth/WireImage)

Globally, there remains a 32% gender gap as per a 2018 report by the World Economic Forum. It states that the progress towards closing this gap is rather slow with more countries regressing rather than progressing. The countries with the highest parity are the Nordic countries. They can do so due to the explicit support of policymakers towards gender equality in all public and private aspects. Hence, for countries to remain competitive and inclusive, policymakers will require gender equality to become critical to a nation states human capital development.

A 2019 research report in HBR confirmed that higher gender diversity leads to more productivity in firms in relation to market value and revenue. However, countries which did have liberal policies towards childcare and parental assistance, such as Japan, still do not benefit due to stiffly patriarchal work cultures. Another research by Australian Government states that a more inclusive environment helps retain employees. 

What is needed is a monumental shift in thinking as to why gender diversity is important. Just a few companies or a few countries cannot help the cause; the requirement is a cultural change. Where women make almost 50% of the world population, it is imperative to recognise gender diversity as a need of the hour towards enhancing organisation performance and attracting and retaining top talent. 

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The power of branding #racetowin 2019

Prof. Vish maheshwari, Associate dean and professor of marketing


It is that time of the year again when festivities are in full swing for the imminent arrival of Christmas. There is a special feeling around mostly ‘merry’ but with a touch of somewhat uncertainty about few other developments that I would like to avoid discussing on this occasion!!

However, concentrating on the interesting #racetowin approach from most retailers to acquire as much customer interest, awareness and conviction (in the form of business), it is fascinating to see and experience how power of branding and varied marketing communication strategy is put in action.

From emotion to cognition, symbolic to functional and logical, social to societal aspects, but all with a touch of empathy, being crafted by retailers to connect with their customers at the time of this wonderful festive season. Below are some of the examples to understand application and delivery of brand essence through impactful storytelling:

McDonalds’ Christmas advert portrays close bond between Archie the imaginative reindeer and a young girl called Ellie, displaying the love and togetherness for families.

(Image: McDonald’s)

As usual much awaited each year, John Lewis (and Waitrose) advert this time aims at combining the sense of joy, love, compassion, excitement and friendship between a little girl Ava and a young dragon called Edgar.

(Image: John Lewis & Partners/PA)

Whereas, Boots have focused its advert around practicalities and struggle to find the right gift for your loved ones and is part of its wider festive campaign ‘Gift Like You Get Them’. This is alongside the launch of its new and creative approach through developing various personas to find perfect gifts using curated edits online called Boots ‘Boutique’ covering both offline and online platforms.

On the other hand, the online retailer Very.co.uk has focused its Christmas campaign around important aspect of community spirit promoting a powerful message of social responsibility and sharing the joyfulness of festivities by ‘act of giving’ and collectiveness.


Finally, it’s the return of Amazon’s singing boxes again for third year in a row but with a better emotional touch where the delivery of Christmas gifts through these boxes claim to play an important part in bringing smiles for your loved ones and create wonderful festive memories.

The examples above demonstrates that the concept of delivering brand essence and identity through meaningful interactions. Using relevant messages helps in connecting with customers through different attributes across all channels of integrated marketing communication. It also develops a recognisable brand image for recollection and reconnection with a positive impact and assured conviction during ‘selection/choice making’ stage as part of buying behaviour process. It reinforces the power of brand and branding that goes beyond mere physical and experiential attributes of a product or service.

To end – it is important to assert what philosopher Stephen King once stated that ‘products can be quickly outdated but a successful brand is timeless’


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

What makes an entrepreneur?

June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School


We’ve been celebrating Global Enterprise Week at Staffordshire Business School this week and have welcomed some fantastic guest speakers.  What’s been very evident is that there is no one reason or way to start your own business – each guest speaker has had a uniquely individual journey and experience. In some instances, they have fallen into self-employment, in others, it was a well thought through and planned decision to do so.

So what makes a successful entrepreneur?

There are so many lists out there that can offer you the top 3 or 7 or 20 traits you must have to be a successful entrepreneur.  This is my list based on what our guest speakers shared this week!

Passion & determination – if you are to succeed, you need to be passionate about your business proposition.  What’s the point of setting up a business in something you don’t like or believe in?  However, passion alone will not be enough.  It really does help if you love what you do, but you need to be prepared for setbacks.  I can promise you that things won’t go as smoothly as you hoped. There will be times when you question whether you did the right thing.  That’s when you need to be resilient and, as they say, ‘keep calm and carry on’.

Strong work ethic & self starter – when you work for yourself, it’s very easy to have a lie-in when you don’t feel like working without realising that time is your most precious commodity.  Even when you don’t feel it, you have to push yourself to make that phonecall, finish the report or knock on the door.  You need to be disciplined.  One friend, when he didn’t have any work, used to go to the cinema or meet friends for a coffee.  Another friend would purposely post leaflets around the neighbourhood to promote his business.  Can you guess which one was most successful?

…but also a good finisher – basically, you won’t get paid until you finish the job.  And, you need to finish the job in good time.  So don’t procrastinate.  Sometimes, ‘good enough’ is better than not getting the job done in time. You won’t get repeat business if you don’t deliver on time.


Creativity – you don’t necessarily have to have a new-to-the-world invention or be able to design amazing advertising campaigns, but you do need to be a good problem solver and find ways around problems that come your way.  That’s being creative! 


Keep an eye out for opportunities – Be a purposeful networker.  You don’t have to be an extravert to develop a supportive network and you never know what’s around the corner!  Nearly every contract I received resulted in further business, either from the same organisation or as a result of them passing my details on to a third party.  For example, as a result of writing Mintel reports, I was contacted by the chief executive at the time asking if I could act as an expert witness in a court case.  The timing wasn’t great and I had to juggle domestic commitments and workload but saying yes to this one phone call provided me with the opportunity to be one of a handful of special marketing experts – and it paid well!

Know your worth – friends may ask for freebies or big discounts sometimes with the promise that you’ll get lots of publicity.  If they value you, they will pay for your services or goods.  Occasionally, they may be able to offer you something in kind, such as your first review or office space.  I got a free hair cut from my hairdresser when we spent the time it took to cut my hair discussing how he could improve his pricing policy.  It was win-win and neither of us took the other person’s services for granted. As an expert witness, I realised no one queried how much I was charging, so I increased my fees by £50-£75/day for each new quote.  I never got turned down….

And finally,

Be prepared to learn – constantly!   If you weren’t successful in getting a contract – find out why.  If you made a mistake, learn from it.  Get feedback whenever you can and look at ways to develop new skills.


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

Digital Entrepreneurship – A Game Changer

Professor Fang Zhao, Staffordshire Business School


Digital revolution is in its full swing now. Digital technologies become pervasive and ubiquitous, disrupting and reshaping business models and processes. According to the estimation of McKinsey Global Institute (2017), by 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers, about 3 to 14 percent of the global workforce will have to change their job categories thanks to digital disruption. Digital technologies have also created and grown the gig (or sharing) economy and generated new entrepreneurial opportunities and new types of entrepreneurship called digital entrepreneurship. The forecast is that digital entrepreneurship may add $1.36 trillion to the future world top ten economies and could generate 10 million additional jobs by 2020 (Nanterne 2014).

What is digital entrepreneurship?

Based on our team’s research, digital entrepreneurship is a distinctive concept signifying a strategic mindset and transformation, through which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organisations pursue business opportunities and create new and transformative services/products, processes, digital ecosystems, markets, business models, and ventures involving digital technologies.

What are the opportunities for businesses and organizations?

There are many opportunities that digital technologies can give rise to, in terms of the growth of digital entrepreneurship. In short, they present three key opportunities: connectivity, scalability and speed. Social media, one aspect of digital technologies, plays a key role in connectivity through network relations which may lead to co-creation and co-ownership. Digital connections are the veins of new venture creation linking creative people and focusing minds and actions on making something people want. On the other hand, the scalability and fast speed allow start-ups to scale up and down quickly and extend their reach across borders and time zones. 

What are the key challenges?

However, the low barrier to use digital platforms increases competitions and minimizes the chances of distinguishing one’s products/services from its rivals. There are also intellectual property issues, cyber security, data protection, to name a few. Digital entrepreneurs need to learn fast to upgrade their capability and skills. New learning becomes a continuous part of venture and business capability development. Knowledge bytes are a daily venture building feature as learning and working become integrated and fused in the digital entrepreneur’s world. Last but not the least, technology is just a tool, just a conduit, just a pathway, the goal is the business. The ultimate objectives that you use technologies for your business count the most. 


For further discussion on the topic area, please contact Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise in Staffordshire Business School, Staffordshire University at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

4 Things that Aspiring Entrepreneurs can learn from the England Rugby Team

As we enter November and preparations for Global Entrepreneurship Week begin around the World, Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean of Staffordshire Business School reflects on sporting success, failure and the qualities of a successful entrepreneur


Mention the title entrepreneur and who do you think of? Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Anita Roddick? These famous names are just the tip of the iceberg – actually there are 582 million entrepreneurs in the world. So with a world population of 7.7 billion, this means that there is approximately a 1 in 13 chance that you are or will become an entrepreneur!

Whilst cheering the England boys along in the Rugby World Cup recently, it has occurred to me that our team offers a few tips for budding entrepreneurs. England last won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, so the battle continues after 16 years of knock backs and failed efforts. Disappointment in the finals, losing against the Springboks shouldn’t lessen acknowledgement of the victory that we saw just one week earlier, when England beat the All Blacks to claim their place in the finals.

So, what can the budding entrepreneur learn from a team of brawny sportsmen who crashed out at the final hurdle?

1. Never give up

The odds were against our England boys in the semi-finals against the All Blacks, but they stood proud and strong as they faced their nemesis, determined not to give up or let the competition threaten them.

Even after suffering a crushing defeat in the finals the England team should take time to recognise what they have achieved over the course of the competition. As coach Eddie Jones said after the game, they “didn’t meet their goal to be the best team in the World, but they are the second best team in the World, so that’s how they should be remembered”.

Nothing is impossible. At times you will probably make wrong decisions, feeling like everything is going against you, but when the chips are down you need to stand strong – pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start again. It’s all about resilience and the ability to bounce back from adversity.

2. Everyone needs a team

Individually you can be brilliant, but with the support of a strong team you can be amazing! As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work! The phrase is said to be coined by John Maxwell, an American clergyman, who went on to say, “but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team”. Even the most successful entrepreneur has a team around them and it is often the hard work and determination of the team that makes sure the entrepreneurial dream becomes a reality.

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY

England captain Owen Farrell converted some magnificent tries throughout the competition, but the ability to kick a peculiarly shaped ball between two goal posts would not win a match without the hard work of his teammates, battling the opposing side tirelessly and creating opportunities for conversion.

3. Don’t be intimidated

Starting out as an entrepreneur, there will always be people who will tell you that you’re wrong, you’ve no idea, you’re living in cloud cuckoo land! It’s important to have the courage of your convictions and not to be deterred. You have a vision and you need to hold true to that – don’t be put off or intimidated by others. Face your fears, hold your head high and believe in yourself.

The Haka, a ceremonial dance complete with angry faces, stamping of feet and what could be perceived as threatening growls, was performed as expected prior to the England versus All Blacks semi-finals in the Rugby World Cup. The England team stood strong, forming a v-shaped formation and showing that they were not intimidated in any way. Their response, as reported in The Guardian said “Challenge laid down, challenge accepted”

Image from https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/oct/26/england-haka-response-eddie-jones-idea-rugby-world-cup

4. Look after yourself

We wouldn’t expect a professional team to play an energetic and bruising game like rugby, day after day without giving their bodies time to rest. World cup tournaments are planned to allow rest days between games, in recognition of the fact that teams need to rest and reform. A week between the semi-finals and the finals in the Rugby World Cup gave the England team time to recover, rest and prepare themselves mentally and physically for the all important culmination of years of training.

Creative thinking, invention, innovation and challenging the norm can be hard work. There will be days when everything falls apart and your risks are costly, times when you feel you can’t go on. It’s at times like these that you need to take time out to rest. Downtime is crucial – learning how to balance work and rest is essential to avoid burnout.


About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24 November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

Staffordshire Business School awarded Government funding to help microbusinesses use tech to grow

30th October 2019

Staffordshire Business School has been awarded funding to support 50 microbusinesses to engage with technology to boost their productivity.

Staffordshire Business School is part of a consortium of business schools accredited by the Small Business Charter for their expertise in supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs who will deliver the programme. The Leading to Grow Programme will be offered at no cost to microbusinesses across Staffordshire.

Image: The Leading to Grow programme will run from January

Businesses that employ up to nine people will be able to apply to take part in workshops around how to use existing technologies to improve efficiency and profitability.

The funding has been made available through the government’s £8m Business Basics Programme run by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK.

Hazel Squire, Head of Department at Staffordshire Business School, said:

“As a digital University, this learning is an essential part of our offer to students and we’re delighted to be able to run The Leading to Grow Programme for small businesses in our region who may not have had access to this level of training and expertise.

This is in keeping with our Civic University commitment as it will ultimately enable businesses to grow and become more successful and have a positive impact on skills and the region’s economy. The programme will run from January and we are inviting interest from small businesses in our region who fit the criteria.”

Due to the small size and the dispersed nature of microbusinesses, they have not routinely received planned interventions by government agencies. The government is now targeting this type of business due to their potential and readiness to scale-up, and this is the first time that such a programme has been coordinated across the country.

The UK’s 1.1 million microbusinesses employ over 4 million people and contribute £533bn to the UK economy. The business schools, the Small Business Charter and the government hope to make a real impact on this important part of the economy.

Anne Kiem, Executive Director of the Small Business Charter and Chief Executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, said: “We are excited to be working with business schools to help improve the productivity of a range of microbusinesses. The pace of technological advances means that today’s small firms who embrace innovation will be tomorrow’s success stories.”

To register your interest in the Leading to Grow programme, email Eloise White at Staffordshire Business School on Eloise.White@staffs.ac.uk

The Return of the Post Study Work Visa

Dr Mohammad Ali Wasim, Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


In this time of uncertainty where Brexit is looming round the corner there is some form of relief for international students who make their way to the UK for higher education. Despite paying a significantly higher fee they end up being unable to find work due to strict visa restrictions which make it difficult for companies to sponsor their work visas. Experts argue that this was a smart move by the government given the fact that post Brexit there could be a significant impact on the labour market and to cater to the potential shortage the post study work permit would be a ‘win, win’ scenario. The employers would be able to fill the gaps with UK qualified international students and the international students would get an opportunity to benefit from UK work experience.

It is difficult to evaluate at this stage the impact the visa regime would have as a further analysis on the impact of Brexit on different industries needs to carried out. In hindsight when the visa regime was made stricter during the tenure of Theresa May as Home Secretary in 2012, the UK found it difficult to recruit international students and the students then preferred Australia and other EU countries over the UK. Experts argue that the full benefit of the scheme would be observable once the new visa regime comes into operation in 2020 and how it pans out for the benefits of the students and whether it is extendable beyond two years. A longer term opportunity would be beneficial for both the potential UK employers and their international student employees. This scenario also needs to be looked at keeping in mind the excessively high visa and its extension fee which the international students will have to bear when shifting to the new regime.

Staffordshire University has a significant influx of international students every year and this new visa regime would help secure more international candidates who would not only add to the diversity at the University enhancing student learning but also contribute to the local economy where initially students may participate through part time jobs to gain experience. In addition, employers would also have an advantage as they will have a bigger pool of resources to recruit and potentially benefit from.

Like any government policy, consistency is the key to its success. With changing governments and their fluctuating policies the impact of potentially beneficial schemes may be limited. The hope is that given the circumstances and uncertainty due to Brexit, the return of the post study work permit would be a permanent policy decision and not impacted by the outcome of the Brexit deal. Otherwise it would be considered more of a political gimmick to gain short term support and appease the disgruntled public because of the Brexit uncertainty.

Professor Fang Zhao joins Staffordshire Business School

Greetings! My name is Fang Zhao. I’ve recently started my new post as Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise at Staffordshire Business School, Staffordshire University. I look forward to getting connected and work with you in the areas of digital transformation strategy.

Prior to joining Staffs, I was a team member in Yellagonga Wetlands Smart Monitoring Project awarded under Australian Government Smart Cities and Suburbs Program in 2018 (Total Project funding: AU$ 2.05 million). My current research focuses on digital strategy in entrepreneurship and Smart Cities strategy and community engagement. I have led and completed a large number of research projects funded by governments, industry/business and universities, including Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant and Australian Federal Government grant.

Being a global citizen and a strong advocate for international mobility and education, I have extensive MBA and other management education and teaching experience in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Fiji, and the United Kingdom.

fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk

https://www.linkedin.com/in/fangzhao/

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