I was delighted to attend the ‘Fast Track 100’ conference and awards yesterday, at the home of Sir Richard Branson. For those of you who don’t know, ‘Fast Track 100’ is an annual project organised by Fast Track in association with The Sunday Times, which ranks the UK’s top 100 companies for fastest growing sales over their latest three years. Barclays is a proud sponsor and this year’s instalment once again showcased just how vibrant and successful the UK’s entrepreneurial community is.
The rankings are released every December in The Sunday Times, and typically the companies which feature will have 50-200 members of staff, posting sales figures ranging from £5 million to £200 million. While the collective influence of entrepreneurs has long been cited as an important cog in the UK’s economic engine, it is very noticeable how much more they are starting to be looked upon as one of the major sources of future UK growth. Those of us lucky enough to hear the two excellent keynote speeches yesterday from Simon Arora of B&M Retail and John Roberts of AO.com, will be under no illusions about just how valuable successful entrepreneurialism is, and how crucial it has become.
During various conversations throughout the day, I was pleased to be able to reference our own research, with our biannual Entrepreneurs Index proving to be a very useful barometer that I could draw upon. I also found myself talking to people about our Accelerator Programme, and Barclays’ efforts to support the next generation of entrepreneurs, who are likely to be more tech-savvy than ever before. An excellent session at yesterday’s conference revealed how 2.5 billion people in the world are today connected via mobile, with that number expected to rise to a staggering 5 billion people. It will be fascinating to see how the impact of technology will shape entrepreneurialism in the years to come.
One the most significant themes this year centred on the economic recovery and it is pleasing to be in a more buoyant UK economy than at this time last year – there is undoubtedly a return of optimism, even if it is with a hint of caution. Last night’s awards ceremony highlighted the vibrancy and creativity that entrepreneurs are synonymous with and Barclays was delighted to present two very special awards – the award for Outstanding Achievement went to Julie Deane, the founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company, while the award for ‘Ones to Watch’ went to Loungers. Both winners epitomise the entrepreneurial spirit that we think can power the UK forward.
As we all know, the journey of an entrepreneur is varied and the personal attachment to their businesses is unique. Barclays Wealth and Investment Management takes an holistic approach when assessing what each of our clients wants to achieve, and our Corporate & Employer Solutions team helps entrepreneurs and business owners to align their employees with their business ambitions. What was fascinating was hearing successful entrepreneurs put this strategy at the top of their list for a successful business. Our research in this area, especially regarding benefit strategies that connect with all generations, seems particularly pertinent.
Furthermore, a number of staff in our Private Banker teams have come from different industry backgrounds and their experience makes them well placed to offer targeted and relevant support. Through our collective expertise, we can help entrepreneurs to realise their ambitions – whether they are personal for them and their family, or business-related and linked their employees.
If you would like to discuss how Barclays might be able to help you, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Congratulations again to everyone who took part in ‘Fast Track 100’.