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BLT sponsors VAT & Property Event 2020

BLT are delighted to sponsor this year’s Orca Law VAT & Property event once again – a veritable highlight of the VAT calendar. This year the event is going digital, and will be held over two days, 3rd and 5th November. We’re sure it will be just as insightful as ever.

Colin Smith, Chris Nyland, Kirsten Prichard Jones, Martin Scammell and HMRC’s David Millar will explore the latest hot topics at this two day digital event.

Full access to both days is £200 + VAT but if you sign up at first, you can receive a 20% discount from your booking.

For full details and to book your place go to


TRUST – why it’s never been so important… Catriona Cookson

We all know how important trust is in all areas of our life across our personal, professional and business relationships and why we feel we must be able to trust the leader of a business or organization.

And it’s certainly come sharply into focus in the recent weeks in the midst of coronavirus and all that it brings. From the big questions of “Do we trust the government are following the “right” strategy”, and “Do we trust the advice of the scientific experts?”, … the seemingly smaller ones (although crucially important) of “Can I trust the other shoppers in the supermarket to observe 2m social distancing (and not come and stand at my shoulder when I’m looking at the yoghurts!?!).

Similarly, we look to our business leaders to see true leadership and trust to reassure us. In this article in the HBR, Professor Frances Frei and Anne Morriss explore trust and the role it has in business leadership. Beginning with a case study of work they did for Uber at a very challenging time in Uber’s development, it moves more broadly on to explore trust and the three points of the trust triangle.

Some interesting points here:

“Building trust, however, often requires thinking about leadership from a new perspective. The traditional leadership narrative is all about you: your vision and strategy; your ability to make the tough calls and rally the troops; your talents, your charisma, your heroic moments of courage and instinct. But leadership really isn’t about you. It’s about empowering other people as a result of your presence, and about making sure that the impact of your leadership continues into your absence.”

“Trust has three drivers: authenticity, logic, and empathy. When trust is lost, it can almost always be traced back to a breakdown in one of them. To build trust as a leader, you first need to figure out which driver you “wobble” on.”

This is a really worthwhile read and even if you’re not a captain of industry, it’s worth asking yourself the questions and working through some of the answers. Life has changed for all of us and will continue to evolve over the coming months – there will be no quick fix to “getting back to normal”. Who we trust, which brands we trust, which businesses we trust, will be crucial in the coming months……. businesses which not only survive but flourish will have a high trust rating among their community.

Here at BLT, we’d like you to trust us in Recruitment or Executive Coaching, in either of our two sectors of Management Consultancy or Indirect Tax, please do get in touch if you’d like to discuss further.

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Do we need privacy in lockdown? by Catriona Cookson

I’m working my way through the topics and tips from Jon Bailey – @SloopJontyB , the ex Royal Navy chap who spent a lot of time in submarines, and this week it’s privacy.

I’d never really thought much about privacy during this lockdown phase until I read this from Jon …

PRIVACY: the only place private at sea was your bunk. Make a dedicated private time / place in the routine. Even if you timeshare the front room get everyone a couple of hours alone. Do whatever you want: watch shit films, pray, yoga, arrange matches: whatever gets you through.

In my house at the moment it’s just me and my husband, and we are lucky to have a garden. We’re both working from home during the day and can really do as we wish in our “free time” ….no tiny tots at our feet or teenagers skulking around, no challenges of home schooling. The working from home is fine, but being confined to home every day in free time is trickier.

In the first couple of weeks we had lunch together every day ……”This is nice” I thought as we tucked into our sandwiches, but after reading Jon’s article and putting a routine in place, I suggested we eat separately at lunchtime and have some free time and space away from work. And so I moved to a later lunch more in tune with what I would do in the office and like to catch up on some Outlander – it makes me feel connected to Scotland, the scenery is lovely and it also means I don’t graze on the rolling news channels. It also saves our “How was your day?” chat to dinner time too!

Like many other folks we’d also got into the habit of watching tv in the evenings. And again, I introduced some changes, so we each have the living room one night a week to watch something alone which the other doesn’t like. I love going to the theatre and so far I’ve enjoyed on the “big” television the NT Live at Home productions of One Man Two Guvnors and Jane Eyre, and Alfie Boe with some chat and tunes on Easter Sunday as part of the Royal Albert Hall Home series too. I see that some Matthew Bourne productions are coming on to Sky Arts so these will be a treat to enjoy for future weeks too.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, and the possibility of some private time may be a luxury for many. Even if it’s a last cup of tea when everyone else has gone to bed , or 20 minutes of your favourite tv programme on your own, or heading off for a bath for half an hour with a glass of wine…..if you can find some privacy in your day away from those you live with, it’s very likely everyone will benefit!

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Retirement planning post lockdown….by Liz Watt

We meticulously plan so many aspects of our lives. It starts at an early age – what do I want to be when I grow up? Then there is the planning that marks the transition from school to University or further education; the thought and effort that goes into career planning; the detail that is involved in organising the ‘big ticket’ events in life – birthdays and celebrations, holidays; what we’ll do when lockdown finally ends?

And yet one area of our lives that is often significantly under planned is what happens when you quit your job – or when your job quits you? As the concept of traditional retirement rapidly evolves, something we should all give a bit more thought to – but so often do not – is what our lives might look like once we move on to the next phase, whenever that might be?

And as so many of us are doing a great deal of self-reflection right now, this question might be on our minds more than it ever has been.

Many of us are considering our retirement options at a far earlier stage than previous generations, especially as it’s likely there might be gap between when we finish conventional employment and when pensions (state or otherwise) kick in. It may be an enforced situation – e.g. redundancy, or driven by health or family issues; or quite possibly in the current climate, a growing realisation that life in the corporate world is no longer where you want to be.

Whatever the reason, whether you quit the job or the job quits you, the reality is that having made the decision to change direction or retire, many are blind-sided by the question ‘Now What?’ Lack of planning can leave a huge gap between the world that was, and the reality that is looming and the consequent issues can include boredom, loneliness, ill health, loss of purpose and direction and often financial hardship.

So it makes sense to start thinking about what your future life might look like in advance and not be caught napping. That way, you have the time to mentally acclimatize and put practical steps in place.   You can consider whether you still want or need to work and if so, in what capacity? Part time? Consultancy? Do you want to change tack completely and re-train? Or would you like to find some form of employment that simply provides company and a supplementary form of income?

And how will you fill your time? This is something many of us are finding challenging right now, so what happens if this is a permanent new reality not a temporary one? What your interests and passions? Are charity work or volunteering on your agenda? What about travel (yes – it will happen again!), time with family and friends? You might have already started writing a bucket list of things you want to do once lockdown is over and this could be a great first step to showing you all the things you really want to accomplish.

In my experience, it’s those with a sense of purpose that make the most successful transition. Some people are convinced that they just want to potter at home, then find that they are bored senseless and have to return to work; others had grand plans and find that they were far too ambitious. But undoubtedly the happiest and most fulfilled are those who have thought about the change, embrace the opportunities and challenges and view pre-retirement with a sense of curiosity about what might be possible.

So if this period of isolation is causing you to reflect and think beyond to a time when you aren’t in formal employment and you’d like some help planning this, get in touch for an initial no strings conversation. In the first instance, I can send you my Getting Started questionnaire to help you make the first steps to planning a successful transition to retirement. Contact me:  



The Women in Indirect Tax Networking Group goes virtual! By Liz Watt

The Women in Indirect Tax networking group goes virtual! We had our first Zoom networking group meeting at the beginning of April and it was a great success! The topic – Self Care Tips and Tools for Troubled Times – delivered by Sarah Maguire, was the perfect antidote to all that we are currently facing, providing us all with some much needed respite. Just taking the time out to reflect and follow Sarah’s meditations and breathing exercises felt very restorative. And of course it was lovely to see the group and connect!

The group has grown a great deal since its inception 3 years ago and I am very keen that we keep maintain the sense of community and connectedness that it has fostered. New connections have been made, and old friendships rekindled, so I think that it is really important that the group can continue to offer an oasis of support, learning and networking. With this in mind,  I’m planning sessions that we can run virtually as part of our June programme,  so if you would like to find out more about the group and join in, please get in contact.

In addition the plans for a new group focussing on women at an earlier stage of their Indirect Tax career are well advanced. The initial April launch date has been postponed, but as soon as we are able to arrange the first meeting I will be in contact. If you would like to fine out more about this new and exciting development please contact me :

In the meantime, I would like to offer my support to group members in any way I can so I am offering all group members a complimentary Coaching session. If you’d like to find out more or have an initial conversation about this, please get in contact.

And finally – given the current situation we have  had to postpone our party for all group members on the   30th April. Rest assured though, it will go ahead! A new date will be arranged as soon as we are given a green light, and getting together then will be an even greater cause for celebration!

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