Owner, C.Kay International

British business owners offering professional services in the U.S. that are all about people— specifically communications and relationships with people—find there are some distinct challenges and advantages to being a Brit.

Oscar Wilde said, “We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.”

Two Countries Divided by a Common Language (and a Few Other Things…)Two Countries Divided by a Common Language (and a Few Other Things…)

I’m a Brit living in Seattle and running a U.S. business that produces large corporate conferences and events. It’s a business that’s all about people. No matter how complex the agenda or how intricate the logistics, the success of a business event comes down to people—communications and relationships with people.

Offering a people-based service, I find there are some extra challenges—and advantages—as a Brit in the U.S.  When I share a pint and compare notes with my British friends and colleagues here who also offer people-focused services, I hear similar stories.

Oscar Wilde said, “We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language.” (And he said that before the Internet and abundant trans-Atlantic flights…) Brits and Americans have a lot in common, but there are still some cultural and linguistic differences I keep in mind.

One of the biggest differences I find is the nature of business relationships. It’s harder to build deep business relationships in the U.S. than it is in the U.K. Paul Graves, who runs a branding consultancy, See Seven, in Seattle, agrees: “Brits are more apt to build deeper relationships with people they work with than people in the U.S. It’s much less common to build relationships with clients here outside of work. We are quite a social bunch in Britain.” I agree. Business relationships quickly become friendships when you lift a pint together every Friday afternoon.

When you’re in a business that’s all about people, the linguistic differences create some challenges. But get past the spelling, pronunciation, and vocabulary differences and let’s face it, as Brits, our accents do give us some advantages in the U.S.

Kevin May, who runs the consulting firm, Sticks Company in Seattle, finds that Americans hold Brits in a certain regard, partly due to the accent. “I find people here are very attentive to what I say. When I go home to the UK, I must remind myself I’m not the funniest and smartest person in the room…”

We both feel it’s important to keep the linguistic differences between the U.S. and U.K. in mind. Use U.S. spelling, perhaps even adopt American pronunciation on words that stick out. Kevin says, “Think of American English as a foreign language that has a lot in common with British English. Getting your head around the language is an important part to being successful in the States.” I agree. Whilst there are advantages to being a Brit in the U.S., there’s nothing more annoying than an arrogant Brit!

Advantages for Brits in the U.S. may differ depending upon where you live. Companies in Seattle do a lot of international business. There’s a global perspective here and British experience and knowledge is valued. “People appreciate me being from London, another global business center,” says Paul.

(Though it does make for a long international business day in Seattle. Europe is a business day ahead and Asia is a business day behind. Being in the middle makes for odd business hours—no wonder they drink so much coffee here…)

I love living and owning a service-based business in the U.S. My cultural bias toward building deep business relationships is a major advantage in a business that relies on strong connections with clients, vendors and partners. I just watch out for what Americans call “gotchas”—the little things that will “get you.” Like British English spelling on a PowerPoint slide, trying to schedule a business event on July 4th, or serving beer less than ice cold.

Partner, Moore Stephens

M&A points to consider before executing a U.K. inward investment strategyM&A points to consider before executing a U.K. inward investment strategy

Investing in the UK, an acknowledged world-leading business destination, is a strategic objective for a number of global companies and international investors. But what should you consider before you take those steps?

  1. Have a pragmatic strategy beyond Brexit

In January 2017, UK PM Theresa May set out her 12 point plan for negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU. A good entry strategy should be Brexit agnostic and therefore plan beyond it in order to effectively navigate the uncertainties likely to arise as Brexit is expected to be formally triggered in 2017.

  1. Structure of the transaction

Consideration should be given to the type and form of entry strategy. Identifying the right acquisition candidate is important and involves market mapping, exploring the universe of candidates and assessing whether the target is the right fit and the most appropriate way to engage with them.

Undertaking an acquisition in the current political change facing the UK and other G7 countries in 2017, a strategy that is flexible with optionality built in may well benefit all.

  1. Do you have the right professional advisers

It is important that you have the right professional advisers who understand the UK, share your values, know your story, and have the right skills to service you in this vibrant economy beyond the completion of an acquisition.

The right advisers will help you gain insight into and navigate the regulatory framework, act on your behalf during negotiations, provide access to their proprietary database of potential acquisition targets thereby avoiding corporate auctions, help engage with and project manage other advisers that may need to be involved, provide valuable sector expertise as well as conduct a tailored due diligence exercise.

  1. Is your bank global

It may also be worthwhile assessing your banking relationships. Will your existing bank(s) be able to service you adequately and do they have a presence in the UK? Working with a bank who has a presence and breadth of services across sectors is vital, even down to the fundamental differences that your sector needs to be supported with. Therefore, it is important to assess your relationships in good time.

  1. Create a credible project team with authority to execute documents and properly project manage the inward investment

As with any M&A transaction, investing in the UK will consume management’s time and resources. During the project it is important to have a committed and dedicated team who have board level authority. Project management teams should ideally include management, outside advisers and operational experts.

Negotiations, even at the preliminary stage, can be lengthy with long periods of silence between key stages. It is therefore important to keep communication channels open at senior levels. We believe a corporate transaction is a significant milestone in a business’s lifecycle and therefore board level buy-in and signoffs should be timely obtained.

  1. Innovative solutions can minimise or avoid deal leakages

UK M&A activity remains one of the highest globally; the UK economy is one of the strongest and most innovative G7 economies.  Innovations in transactions continue apace as often the headline value is not always the purchase price paid.

Innovations include the use of locked boxes, warranty and indemnity insurance, escrow accounts, deferred consideration, buy out of certain obligations by a third party (e.g. pension obligations), corporate loan notes, asset sales and subsidiary swaps amongst other ways used to minimise deal leakages.

 

Commercial Director, Business Birmingham

From a personal view, as someone who has lived here all my life, this is terrific news.  And professionally, working at Birmingham’s inward investment agency, it marks the beginning of a truly golden period.

Connectivity has always been one of our greatest strengths, even before the arrival of HS2, but additional transport plans are predicted to stimulate growth through greater access to greater numbers of skilled people.

Where railways lead, prosperity follows – the industrial revolution of the 21st centuryWhere railways lead, prosperity follows – the industrial revolution of the 21st century

After years of planning and consultation, work is now starting on a new high speed rail line – High Speed 2 (HS2) – between London and Birmingham, bringing the UK’s capital and second city to within just 38 minutes of each other.

And long before the first arrivals board is due to light up, I’m proud that Birmingham, at the heart of the Midlands region, is already enjoying the benefits of the largest infrastructure project in Europe.

Birmingham’s time has come, economically and politically, and that’s largely because of HS2.  From a personal view, as someone who has lived here all my life, this is terrific news.  And professionally, working at Birmingham’s inward investment agency, it marks the beginning of a truly golden period.     Read More “Where railways lead, prosperity follows – the industrial revolution of the 21st century”

Chairman, International Churchill Society; Chairman, Geller Capital Partners

Thought Leadership Platform

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2017 Transatlantic Conference

British-American

Business Council

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Innovation, strategy, and best-defined risk brought to focus upon the globally destructive force of dementia.  The synergism of for-profit and non-profit collaboration and the “open-source” sharing of best practices to the entirety of the elder care community.

Dementia.  A Global Pandemic.  “Tick, Tick, Tick”Dementia. A Global Pandemic. “Tick, Tick, Tick”

Let me start by making one simple fact crystal clear – Dementia is always fatal.

Globally there were an estimated 9.9 million new cases of dementia in 2015. The math is severely straightforward- there is a new case of dementia every three seconds and it’s getting worse. Unless stopped, the number of dementia sufferers could double in 25 years. Simply stated, it is likely that in any group of aging people, one in three will be afflicted by this indiscriminating killer

“Tick, Tick, Tick”– by the time you have read those three simple words, someone else is a victim of this gruesome disease. Read More “Dementia. A Global Pandemic. “Tick, Tick, Tick””

CEO, Pomerol Partners

Thought Leadership Platform

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2017 Transatlantic Conference

British-American

Business Council

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A case study in the role of strategic partners in global expansion.

UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT, formerly UKTI)

Kansas City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDCKC)

Business Analytics – From the City of London to Kansas CityBusiness Analytics – From the City of London to Kansas City

A Study in a British Company Establishing Itself in the US — the Role of Strategic Partners

Our data consultancy has been on a wild ride since spinning out of Deutsche Bank in 2013.
Swapping the city for the prairies has been a great challenge and adventure – both commercially and on the family front.

Read More “Business Analytics – From the City of London to Kansas City”

VP OF MARKET STRATEGIES, MISSOURI PARTNERSHIP; BRITISH HONORARY CONSUL - MISSOURI; GLOBALSCOT

Thought Leadership Platform

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2017 Transatlantic Conference

British-American

Business Council

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Greetings from Across the PondGreetings from Across the Pond

Last year, after spending a few days in my home town of Farnborough, England at the Farnborough International Airshow, and standing outside 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister Cameron left for the last time as he headed to Buckingham Palace to bid adieu to Her Majesty, I jumped back on a plane, taxied past the iconic Concorde and headed to my current home—Missouri, USA.

And I couldn’t help but think of just how more connected the globe is since I first emigrated to the U.S. last millennium. Read More “Greetings from Across the Pond”