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Brexit: Dear Agony Aunt….

Dear Agony Aunt

My name’s John. I’d like to think I’m a pretty normal Brit; I’ve got a decent job and I think I’ve done pretty well in life. I love my country and I’ve worked hard. I get on well with most people and people are used to consulting me when they need help. I like to think I’m pretty easy going – so long as have my sausages for breakfast and a pint of real ale in the evening, I’m generally fine.

But I’ve got myself in rather a lot of trouble at the moment and need some advice.

You see, I’ve been married to Marie for the last 46 years. She’s not from these parts but we’ve muddled along pretty well all this time. She can be a bit bossy occasionally, and sometimes I get annoyed that her large family keep coming to visit and then don’t leave. But we’ve got on ok over the years. We’ve been able to provide for our family and it’s been good making friends with her extended family network – it’s certainly broadened my horizons learning about different cultures. To be fair too, the cousins work hard and help out with stuff that I can’t get my side of the family to do. (My side of the family tend to be a bit lazy). The cousins tend to gang up on me when it comes to Eurovision, but it’s all good-hearted fun.

One day a couple of years back, this bloke Nigel that I vaguely knew from down the pub started to tell me that I could do better. That I should ‘man up’ and take more control of my life. After a few pints, I got confused and without thinking of the consequences made a drunken call to Marie to tell her that it was over. I was leaving her. Call it a midlife crisis, call it a cry for help, I’d made that call under the influence, and I couldn’t take it back.

The kids were up in arms of course. The eldest James (who’s a bit left wing and likes to be known as Jock when he’s feeling militant) is keen for us to stay together and is distinctly grumpy about the whole thing and keeps threatening to never speak to me again. Gladys tends to keep her opinions to herself but has been known to butt in at the worst possible time. We don’t tend to listen to her much. It’s the youngest that the biggest headache; we fought really hard to have Paddy and he needs a lot of looking after. Marie wants access rights to Paddy but I can’t figure out a way to make it work.

The lawyers were pretty quick to get going of course. I’ve got Mrs June working for me, who’s a bit stern and humourless, but to be fair she’s been trying to make the best of a bad job. It sounds like she’s been having a tough time of it at work; her colleagues in the city don’t like her and seem to want to undermine her at every juncture for their own personal benefit. I’ve no idea whether the deal that she was trying to strike with Marie was a good one or not, but it’s all a bit of a mess and I don’t think she can now act in my best interests. I’m thinking of sacking her whole firm, but then as far as I can tell, Mr Fisher’s company round the corner is the only other feasible option, and he’s a bit of an idiot. If only we could do without lawyers.

It’s even got to the stage where I’m thinking about calling Marie to apologise and see if she’d have me back. I know her though – she’s proud and probably won’t want me. Even if she had me back, the trust is gone – she’ll keep things from me and will always be worrying about the next time I go down the pub. I really think that ship has sailed and it’s too late.

I’m really worried about being lonely and paying the bills. I think I need a new partner, but the dating game is hard these days. Donna’s meant to be a good catch, but I don’t trust her mental state these days, and she keeps on talking about walls and barriers. Jia Ling is very attractive, but I can’t read her. Kylie’s just laughing at me. I could look further afield of course, but it all looks a bit explosive and probably more hassle than its worth. I’m in conversations with Hans Christian but he’s very liberal round there and it would all be very different to what I’ve experienced before.

As you can see I’m in a mess and need all the help I can get. Any advice as to the way forward gratefully received.

If like John, you could also do with some advice, then do get in touch with us at BLT  ( We won’t be able to come with a miracle Brexit solution, but I’m sure we’ll be able to give you some options to help your future Indirect Tax or Management Consultancy career.

GNB Blog

New Year Resolutions? Are they worth making? by Catriona Cookson

So, we’re one full working week into the New Year so if you’ve made New Year Resolutions, you’ll be well on the way to seeing if you can stick to them! Many people will be doing Dry January …and good luck with that if you are, but January is a miserable month anyway so difficult to deny yourself even more. A dry October or November seems a much more sensible option before the fun of the Christmas festivities begins.

I’ve always thought this whole idea of New Year Resolutions seems to either be quite negative – in terms of things you are going to give up or so intense and radical that they’ll be impossible to achieve. The first Sunday Times magazine of the year on the 6th January took a different approach and was titled “Small Changes, Big Differences” which was refreshing and seemed achievable. This covered a whole range of topics from some tips on how to get a better night’s sleep to some healthy recipes from Tom Kerridge and the benefits of a walk in the fresh air for better wellbeing.

I prefer this idea of “doing more of …. “which should in turn reduce an alternative, so for example “I’d like to read more” should mean that I spend less time with the TV on not watching anything in particular. Or “I intend to eat more vegetables and salad for snacks” …surely a bowl of tomatoes, cucumber, sugar snap peas etc means I will be less likely to reach for the biscuit tin on some occasions. This is much more positive than “I am going to give up biscuits “which I would find so difficult, actually practically impossible!!

Perhaps that might be a better way to approach the New Year and the choices you make in your life!

NY new you

As we head in to the New Year are you thinking of refreshing and updating your cv? by Catriona Cookson

A recent article by which you can see here highlights 8 things recruiters don’t look for in cvs….interesting approach as usually we focus on what to include so a useful reminder on what to leave out!

While I’d broadly agree with most of them, I’d also suggest the following:

Review and update your cv regularly – Update with details of your last consulting project while it’s still fresh in your mind and don’t forget to reduce the content of your earlier roles as you gain more experience …you don’t want a 5-page cv!! On the other hand, don’t cram it all on one page – I’ve never seen a one-page cv I like!!

IT experience – include any systems/applications etc which you would be hapoy working with on a daily basis as increasingly key word searches are used to filter applications. Likewise, include relevant qualifications – yesterday I was speaking to someone who had included his PRINCE 2 qualification on his LinkedIn profile but not his cv. Ensure this information is included as again it may be a preselection criteria on cv screening and you don’t want to miss out.

Home address – while you don’t necessarily need to include your full postal address, it is useful to have a sense of where an individual lives, and may be particularly helpful in sourcing for roles outside of Central London. If this information is missing, I assume the individual is living miles away and trying to disguise this. If you live in Glasgow and want to work in London or relocate from Paris, let’s talk about it and see how we can facilitate this.


New world bank president appointment could have far-reaching implications – by Tariq Siraj



The World Bank will begin the search and selection process for a new president in February after President Jim Yong Kim’s surprise resignation last week.

Kim has spent the best part of 30 years as a leading light in the development of the world health infrastructure. He founded Partners in Health, oversaw the World Health Organisation’s HIV/AIDS work with incredible success, and he led academic initiatives at Harvard and Dartmouth in the US.   At the World Bank had been in the role since 2012, was re-appointed for a second term and has generally been considered a success in the role.

So, with all this in mind, it is hard to begrudge him seeking a new challenge to join a private investment firm where he will focus on infrastructure investments in developing countries.

The issue is that Kim’s resignation has raised concerns among the international development community that the United States — which traditionally dictates who runs the organization — will seek to replace Kim with someone less supportive of financing climate change projects. The Trump administration could also exacerbate tensions with China by selecting someone sure to reduce the WBs lending to Beijing.

The World bank is political by its nature and history – but at a time when the world is more polarized, where populist governments are coming more and more to the fore and where aid and development budgets are more under threat than ever, it would be worrying if the appointment of the World Bank President was politicised to the degree that it effectively minimises World Bank influence and feeds into trade war, isolationist and foreign-aid budget reduction policies.

The World Bank provides billions of Dollars in loans each year to help countries develop capital projects and has a stated aim to eradicate poverty, combat disease, reduce child mortality, promote gender equality and many others.

Many are demanding the bank shake off the historic U.S. stronghold over the appointment process and, in a statement, the bank’s board has affirmed its commitment to an open, merit-based, and transparent appointment system.

A new process agreed in 2011 where the board itself shortlists candidates and has the final say on selection should allow for an inclusive candidate. This appointment and the direction of the World Bank over the next few years will be interesting to watch – to say the least.

-          Tariq

Pre-Retirement Planning – Do You Have One? by Liz Watt

We meticulously plan so many aspects of our lives. The planning that marks the transition from school to University or further education; the thought and effort that goes into career planning; the intricate detail that is involved in organising the ‘big ticket’ events in life – significant birthdays and celebrations, holidays; and even the more mundane ‘what’s for dinner tonight?’ type of planning.

And yet one area of our lives that is often significantly under planned or suffers from a lack of deep thought and attention, is what the plan is for life post retirement. Or should I say pre-retirement? As the concept of traditional retirement rapidly evolves, the consideration should be what life might look like post 55 – 60.

The Centre for Ageing Better has published a report on retirement which states that a significant number of people worry about retiring. Data from a poll of over 50’s suggest that over half of those planning to retire in the next five years are not looking forward to it. A third are concerned about feeling bored, and 32% about missing their social connections from work. 24% are worried about losing a sense of purpose.

Employers are being urged to play a far greater role in supporting their staff and helping them to plan for this major life transition. The sense is that being open and positive about managing the transition into retirement will help retain experienced staff. It sends out a really positive message that plugs directly into the health and wellbeing strategies championd by most businesses.

An increasing number of us are finding ourselves in the position of considering our options at a far earlier stage than previous generations, especially as there is quite likely to be a gap between when we finish conventional employment and when pensions (state or otherwise) kick in. This may be an enforced situation – eg redundancy, or driven by health or family issues; it may be that one experiences a growing realisation that life in the corporate world is no longer as fulfilling and ambitions wane; or one may be in the fortunate position that financially suddenly it is possible to change tack.

Whatever the reason, 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 now. Consequent issues can include boredom, loneliness, ill health, loss of purpose and direction and often financial hardship.

I think it makes good sense to start thinking about what your future life might look like a couple of years before the change takes place. That way, you have the time to mentally acclimatize and put practical steps in place – for example, to undertake a good financial health check. You can also consider whether you still want 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?

If you aren’t planning to work, how will you fill your time? Consider what your interests and passions are and how you might develop these. Or maybe there is an unfulfilled ambition or interest that you would like to focus on. It may be that charity work or volunteering are on your agenda. Then there is travel, time with family and friends, and some well-deserved down time to weave into the mix. For most people it will be a combination of all of the above!

In my experience, though, it is those with a sense of purpose that make the most successful transition. Everyone is different and the same plan won’t work for everybody. And undoubtedly there will be some trial and error involved. I know people convinced that they will just want to potter at home find only to find they are bored senseless and have to return to work; others who had grand plans and find that actually they were far too ambitious. But undoubtedly the happiest and most fulfilled pre-retirees are those that have thought about the change, embrace the opportunities and challenges and go into this new phase of life with a sense or curiosity about what might be possible.

If you are at the stage of considering your future life, but aren’t quite sure how to go about planning for it and would like some help, you might like to consider my Pre-Retirement Planning programme. If you would like further information, please contact me Liz Watt – at or on 07867 517919

And if you are an employer looking to help your team with pre-retirement planning, I run Future Life learning lunches. If you would like to find out more, please contact me :


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