I went to the IoD (Institute of Directors) annual convention yesterday at the Royal Albert Hall. They had a number of speakers talking about their businesses and what they are doing in the current climate. From Tim Smit, the founder of the Eden Project, who was extremely energetic and gave a very power talk on the positives of social entrepreneurship to the professionalism of Sir Stuart Rose, Executive Chairman of M&S.
I had previously had preconceptions about a number of these people and it was enlightening so have my opinions changed and see them as real people just trying to run their business. Michael Dell spent the whole time product placing (which is probably why turnover is £62bn) in such an American way that any Englishman would be embarrassed about such blatant publicity. Reid Hoffman was very business like and professional in a way I wouldn’t have expected a dot com to be (founded LinkedIn), but the most surprising talk was from Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Having a talk from him so close after the budget was very interesting, especially considering the majority of the room would be happy to see him hanged for the introduction of the 50% tax rate. But credit to him he is an extremely good speaker and goes to show the ability of a career politician in spinning their way out of any hole. He didn’t make any friends but you have to admire someone who walks straight into the lion’s den after taking away the lions dinner.
I haven’t spoken yet on the budget and the new tax rate but the general consensus at the IoD is that it will be bad for business as any high tax strategy inevitably is. As a company founder I am more interested in building my business and my payday will come in the form of dividends and share value but I am concerned what affect it will have on my staff. With a focus on rewarding success I am hoping that a number of staff will hit that bracket this year and for them PAYE being the only way they can receive their reward this tax rate seems to touch the wrong people. One thing Alistair couldn’t talk his way out of was that this tax is going to affect at most 700,000 people over the next few years and put a few billion back into the country. Nothing compared to the £178 bn the budget will be in deficit this year….