Newest Business and Finance Reviews

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Review of

Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again (3rd Edition) by James Reed

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Six years on from the original edition, the book is being re-issued with a bonus chapter entitled The Future of Work which includes an additional 10 questions. I've come to this some 6 years after reviewing the original book and my life has changed significantly in the meantime. I'm no longer working in middle-management having opted for a down-shift into reduced hours freelancing to enable me to focus on other (not necessarily paying) work. I can therefore relate to the first point made in this chapter namely that independence and flexibility are core skills that employees need to have. Full Review

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Review of

Making a Difference: Leadership, Change and Giving Back the Independent Director Way by Gerry Brown

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You're not there to run the organisation. You are there to make sure that it is run properly.

Gerry Brown is passionate about the benefits which Independent Directors can bring to a board - not just a corporate board, but the board of an NHS Trust, a university, a sports organisation or a charity. He's particularly keen that there's increased diversity on these boards and feels that this would help to avoid some of the scandals (Oxfam, Kids Company - we're thinking about you) which have occurred in recent years. For this to happen, boards need to have a wider field of people to choose from when they're looking for an ID. Full Review

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Review of

The Independent Director in Society: Our current crisis of governance and what to do by Gerry Brown, Andrew Kakabadse and Filipe Morais

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Independent Director: a job for which no one is qualified (Financial Times)

Independent Director: An independent director is a member of the board of directors who (1) do not have a material relationship with the company, (2) is not part of the company's executive team, and (3) is not involved with the day-to-day operations of the company. (Corporate Finance Institute)

Gerry Brown, Andrew Kakabadse and Filipe Morais feel that the relationship between the executive members of boards and the independent directors (formerly known as non-executive directors), trustees or governors of organisations is frequently unbalanced. The function of the independent director is to have general oversight of the executive side of the board - to spot when and where things are going wrong - but all too often the relationship is too cosy, too antagonistic or the independent director lacks the knowledge and/or experience to understand what's happening or to know how to intervene. Covid-19 has highlighted the failings and weaknesses of leadership and governance and you might be tempted to think that these are extraordinary times and that all will be well once we get back to 'normal' but a pandemic was predicted and modelled in the past and there has been a general failure to prepare for what has happened - and is still happening. Full Review

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Review of

Banking On It: How I Disrupted an Industry by Anne Boden

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Anne Boden had an impressive track record in the financial services sector: she had thirty years experience at a senior level including Group Chief Operating Officer at Allied Irish Bank. AIB was in the throes of recovering from the 2008 financial crisis when she arrived and she was one of the first to realise that banks needed to do things differently. AIB thought it was at the cutting edge when it proposed opening a branch which allowed customers to access their accounts via a terminal. Boden took things a step further, realising that customers could access their accounts from their homes: the old branch network, employing thousands of people, would soon become redundant. Full Review

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Review of

The Journey Mapping Playbook: A Practical Guide to Preparing, Facilitating and Unlocking the Value of Customer Journey Mapping by Jerry Angrave

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I had no idea what 'journey mapping' was until I read this playbook but any business that engages with their customers will benefit from reading the book and acting on the contents. You're going to learn how to run a workshop to discover what it feels like to be one of your own customers. At this point, please don't say 'oh (expletive deleted) not another workshop' because this is going to be fun and you're going to be surprised by what emerges. Full Review

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Review of

The Radical Innovation Playbook: A Practical Guide for Harnessing New, Novel or Game-Changing Breakthroughs by Olga Kokshagina and Allen Alexander

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So, why bother? Every time you set out to do something new you end up with the same thing in a slightly different form and quite a bit of money spent. Why not just leave it as it is? After all, it's roughly working, isn't it?

You might not have said it, but you've probably thought it. You've also thought the small, incremental improvements which you have been able to make - the optimisation of your core business with cost efficiencies wherever possible, the extension of your existing products into new areas - haven't really delivered in terms of growth. It's been manageable and largely risk-free but you could easily be challenged by a competitor who takes a more radical approach. You've merely kept the business ticking over and there's a nagging suspicion in the back of your mind that an organisation designed for the twentieth century might not survive in the twenty-first. What you need is innovation - radical innovation. Full Review

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Review of

Creating Value Through Technology: Discover the Tech that Can Transform Your Business by Andrew Hampshire

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I was once told that 'technology' is anything that happens after you're eighteen, so there's been a lot of technology in my life. I once worked for a manager who judged if an accountant was reputable by establishing whether or not they had a typewriter. Times - thankfully - have moved on. Nowadays the problem is that someone running a business doesn't have the time to keep up with constant innovation and they might also be scared because previous IT investments haven't delivered as expected. It's also a fact that no one develops a business because they have the knowledge of the required technology, so they start off in conversations about technology feeling that they're at a disadvantage. They need help, but they frequently don't know what help they need. Full Review

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Review of

Dosh: How to Earn It, Save It, Spend It, Grow It, Give It by Rashmi Sirdeshpande

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What a relief! A book about money, for children, with clear explanations of what it is, why it matters, how to acquire more of it (nope - robbing banks is out) and what you can do with it when you've managed to get hold of it. Your reasons for wanting money don't matter: we all need it to some extent. You might want to go into business, be a clever shopper, a saver (you might even become an investor) and there might be something you really, really want to buy. There's also the possibility of using to do good in the world. Full Review

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Review of

The Double X Economy by Linda Scott

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Women are economically disadvantaged in every country in the world. It's a bold statement for an opening chapter, but it's far from hyperbole as the following pages explain. This book shines a light on what is happening in different places, and the impact on the local and world economy. What can be learnt from the great strides in gender-equalising legislation in the west? What can be done about the selling of young women into marriage, and what can chimpanzees and bonobos teach us about mothering? Full Review

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Review of

Life's Work: 12 Proven Ways to Fast-Track Your Career by James Reed

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Do you have a guaranteed and more-than-adequate income which will last the rest of your life? Do you have no need to work, either for income or fulfilment? If you even hesitate over either of those questions then you really ought to read Life's Work': 12 Proven Ways to Fast-Track Your Career. If you're not yet in work or considering that you might need to make some changes then this is the book you need. James Reed is the chairman and chief executive of REED, Britain's biggest and best-known name in the recruitment industry. Who better to give you the advice you need? Full Review

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Review of

The Money Revolution by Anne Boden

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Money is changing. It might not be in the ways you think. We’re not suddenly getting a 3p or £3 coin (and have you ever even found a country that offers anything different to the 1, 2, 5 model?) We’re getting a lot more digital with payments, which seems to suit most people apart from charity collectors and the homeless on the street, but although this book has the subtitle that includes the word digital, it’s not really about this either. Instead, it's about the management of your finances, and how to take control. Full Review

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Review of

Financial Accounting Essentials You Always Wanted To Know: 4th Edition by Kalpesh Ashar

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Financial Accounting Essentials You Always Wanted to Know gives people without an accounting background who have risen in a company the knowledge to understand the accounts which show how the company is doing. The book begins by looking at why financial accounting systems are necessary, then moves on to give an excellent overview of the types of accounting systems which will be encountered and the terms used. We then look in detail at the balance sheet, the income statement and the statement of cash flows... Full Review

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Review of

Cost Accounting & Management Essentials You Always Wanted To Know by Vibrant Publishers

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I'm capable of drawing up a profit and loss account (income statement in the USA) and a balance sheet and I do so for my own business and for another organisation. The accounts give me broadly what I need: I know whether we're making a profit or a loss and I can look at the expenses and see what looks as though it could be trimmed back in future years. My problem was that the accounts didn't really give me any help in making decisions, which was why I turned to Cost Accounting and Management, part of Vibrant Publishers' Self-Learning and Management series... Full Review

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Review of

The Simple Act of Self-Publishing With Amazon: A Simple Step by Step Guide by Georgianne Landy-Kordis

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I frequently meet authors who are struggling to be published by the traditional houses, but when I suggest self-publishing they explain that they don't have the big bucks required to go down that road with Author Solutions or Matador or their like. I then ask if they've considered Kindle and the answer is, inevitably, that they wouldn't know where to start. I can empathise with that. Despite having used a computer for about thirty years, running most of my life and a website online, I'm still nervous when it comes to starting something new. I like someone to hold my hand as I go through it for the first time. That was why I was very interested when The Simple Act of Self Publishing With Amazon came across my desk... Full Review

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Review of

Fast-track the I.T Journey - How to move from Supplier to Partner by Alok Ranjan Tripathy

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So, what brought me to this book? As the owner of a small business and a buyer of IT services I should be the senior partner in the relationship with my suppliers, but I've frequently found myself the junior partner and I've regularly been let down by them. I needed to know where I could improve that relationship and, by looking at the situation from the supplier's point of view, what steps I needed to take. Alok Tripathy's book looked as though it might provide help and possibly some of the answers as to how my suppliers could better help me. Full Review

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Review of

Storytelling: The Presenter's Secret Weapon by John Clare

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I was a little bit nervous when I picked up Storytelling: The Presenter's Secret Weapon. After all, the majority of presentations which I've seen or given were in a business context and what was required was absolute professionalism, not an act put on for light entertainment. I needn't have worried though: the book is an essential guide to preparing and giving your presentation, with or without what has now come to be known as The Dreaded PowerPoint. I've been making presentations successfully (but I'll say more about this later) in various professional situations for some forty or more years and I did wonder if the book would be able to teach me anything. It did. Full Review

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Review of

Boards That Dare: How to Future-proof Today's Corporate Boards by Marc Stigter and Sir Cary Cooper

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I wasn't optimistic when I started reading Boards That Dare. I feared that I would encounter new ways of minimising tax liabilities, of getting as much as possible out of employees whilst paying them the legal minimum and constant reminders that the shareholders own the company and of the necessity of maximising their return. In the event, I was only a few pages in before I discovered that I couldn't have been more wrong, that we were looking at ways of future-proofing the company. I began to feel hopeful... Full Review

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Review of

Trials and Tribulations of a Travelling Prostitute by Andrew Mackay

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Just chance you think that you're picking up a book about what can go wrong in life for an itinerant sex worker I'd better explain exactly what it was that author Andrew Mackay did for thirty-three years. A travelling prostitute is a worker who is employed by one company but his services are sold out to other countries, usually at a substantial profit to the employing company and a lot of inconvenience to the employee. Mackay was an engineer who knew all that there was to be know about turbines and generators, or if he didn't could soon be up to speed to the extent of being able to teach other people. Occasionally his skills were used in the UK, but frequently he was abroad. Just every now and again he would be in those parts of the world which has the rest of us green with envy, but then there were those areas which feature heavily in the news and not in a good way. Full Review

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Review of

The DIY Investor: How to take control of your investments and plan for a financially secure future by Andy Bell

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Investments are confusing. They're also rather frightening unless you have a background in finance: you could invest in equities which seem likely to make your fortune, only to find that you've lost all your money. On the other hand, you could put all your savings into a nice, safe building society or bank account only to find that the interest is so derisory that your capital doesn't actually have the same buying power that it did when you opened the account. You could, of course, spend the money, but what about when you want to buy a house, replace the roof or retire? The roof might be relatively cheap but the other two are going to need a substantial investment pot. Full Review

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