27 June 2017 | Issue 22
Market corner

by Ghillie Little
Head of Corporate Consulting, SBC London
I spy a lucrative contract
The “Digital Trade Chain Consortium” has awarded IBM the contract to build a blockchain-backed trade finance platform. The consortium is comprised of seven European banks: Rabobank, KBC, Natixis, Unicredit, Société Générale, HSBC and Deutsche Bank. Using blockchains inbuilt security and trust checks, IBM’s platform will allow banks to potentially bypass middlemen and third parties and deal directly with one another, in processes like settlement and clearing.

For those who have had the pleasure to experience the elaborate, albeit out-dated process, that comes with certain trading transactions, this is definitely something to get on board with and a real taste of what blockchain is capable of within the financial mainstream. For IBM, this contract has the potential to be the gift that keeps on giving.

Content battle heats up
Facebook continues to make live-streaming content deals left and right and center - from live-streaming music concerts, to cricket tournaments, to landing the UEFA Champions League. Facebook has now made a deal with Fox Sports to live-stream more than a dozen matches from the UEFA Champions League, one of the biggest football tournaments in the world, through Fox’s Facebook page. Traditional cable services beware. 
An Italian bailout
The Italian government has agreed to a taxpayer-funded bail out  of two regional banks that are struggling to pay back several loans in full - Veneto Banca and Banca Popolare di Vicenza. Some are saying this threatens the establishment of a eurozone-wide banking system as it undermines the EU rules that were created to prevent such rescues. Although the move by the Italian government has provoked some controversy, European stocks have not been affected.

UBS on DB's naughty list
UBS has been excluded from Deutsche Bank's recent rights offering, after UBS was caught schmoozing Asia-based Deutsche Bank employees. Perhaps mere speculation, but the exclusion is quite the statement and seems too coincidental to be a "your invitation got lost in the mail" scenario. UBS is pitching to work on the partial sale of Deutsche's AM business, TBD on whether these two can mend fences.

Worthwhile read

Sorry for the delayed response

...the email replies we've all, at one point, wished we could send.

Corridors of power

by Louis Rynsard
Director, Reputation & Strategy, SBC London

Britannia rules the waves, but can it rule the net?

So today is the day HMS Queen Elizabeth takes to the waves! With the best weaponry, the best crew, the best aircrafts, the most up-to-date naval technology and... Windows XP as its operating system. Yes, you heard that right. Windows XP, no longer produced by Microsoft, last issue - April 21, 2008.

The UK has now become the second nation in the world to boast a supercarrier in its naval arsenal (joining America) but when it comes to cyber warfare, serious questions have to be asked. 

It increasingly looks like we are lagging behind in the battleground of today. The biggest worry however, is that at the top levels they just don’t seem to know what they are talking about. Only today Michael Fallon stated the OS doesn’t matter because of “the security around it.” Try again Mr "the door-is-paper-but-the-lock-is-great" Fallon.  If you hadn't studied surgery you wouldn't give a prognosis for a liver transplant.  In the absence of an even basic knowledge of software, you may want to take the same line.

May DUP'd

It only took a few false starts and delays but at long last Theresa May has completed the arduous task of getting ten MPs who hate the leader of the opposition to agree to keep her in power.

While most of the details, the pros and the cons, have been covered in length already, the missing aspect is how far away the current state of play is from May’s reputation just last year. 

From the leadership candidate who mocked Boris Johnson’s failures in negotiation to the PM who struggles to get a deal with the DUP, (when the opposition is led by a man with strong Sinn Fein links). Reputations take a lifetime to establish, but can be gone in seconds. This is especially true when they aren’t backed up by reality.

Dynamic London

Business as usual may be the order of the day after all the hits London has taken this year, but there is nothing ‘usual’ about our great city. Topping Savills Investment’s ranking of the world’s most dynamic cities, London is a world-leader in "arts, commerce, education, entertainment, fashion, research and tourism". It is one of the few places on the planet that is simultaneously inclusive and open while being a hotbed for ambition, innovation and success.
As Churchill said, “to be perfect is to change often”. London is an ever-changing place, that one can never tire of. So, we salute all those who make this the most dynamic city on Earth.

Notable Headline

Man gets hit by bus, gets up and walks casually into pub

...nothing gets between a Brit and their pub.

C-suite comment

by Lief Anya Schneider
CEO, SBC London
Traditional news is the new black - corporate PR strategies retreat from social over-dependency
Over the past few years much of the corporate public relations sector sold its soul to social. Panicking old flaks fuddled around, realising that a few boozy drinks with an ex-Fleet Street hack wasn’t going to cut the mustard any more, and employed youngsters and oldsters in jeans wot noo ’ow to social. Social was going to take over, we heard and social was going to make all those naughty trained journalists utterly redundant.  Everyone was a journalist now! Oh how the PRs in their pitches loved to befuddle with their quick-flick through pretty-picture “social” capabilities.

But rumours of the death of the mainstream, traditional, respectable media were greatly exaggerated. Social quickly began, in fact, to eat itself. Smarter money took a more measured approach to the scope of usefulness for serious organisations of the 140-character boy-wonder and other picture-led outlets. Even though it absolutely needs to be engaged with as a channel, and watched like a hawk, social media had its limits from the off.

Then came the rise of fake news. And serious people retreated from social as a direct news source like sunbathers from Jaws. They still used it – but to push around clips and cuttings from traditional news sources, and produced by those not-so-redundant, real journalists.

If you examine the chart below, while many would wring their hands in outrage at how mistrusted the mainstream media is…just look at how we feel about social media content.

Who's having a good week?

Feliciano Lopez

"'s the best week of my life"
Silicon passage

by Louis Rynsard
Director, Reputation & Strategy, SBC London

Computer says...guilty!

After disrupting retail, travel, finance, leisure, industry, manufacturing, even dating, now the tech revolution is coming to the law. In a recent SFO case against Rolls Royce an artificial intelligence was used to sort documentation, quicker and often better than people. This same AI is now being used to make subjective judgements and point investigators to relevant data.

AI judges evaluating all the evidence and come to conclusions is still a matter of if, not when. But with even the work of junior barristers now ripe for automation, it really is time to start asking, what are you going to do when automation runs wild over you?

Risky Business

Technology is spreading throughout financial services and capital markets. It is creating an algorithm arms race in trading, changing what consumers and organisations expect and even potentially restructuring our entire financial system. It is almost true to say, that every FS firm now also has to be a tech firm.

Well, over on Mount Olympus Financial Sector, (third City in Switzerland and straight on till morning, if you're looking for it) the Regulator Gods, the Financial Stability Board, are getting a bit worried all this fintech may be a bit risky. From our point of view, yes, fintech needs rules but governments and regulators the world over should take every effort to avoid killing the goose that is laying the golden egg. This is the time for smarter regulations, not more.

OK Google, how do I not abuse a market leading position?

But onto anti-competition regulation (as opposed to financial risk reg)...

Google is one of those companies so successful and so well known that its name is now a verb. Its parent company tops the list of the world’s largest companies by market cap and it ranks alongside Lego as the world’s most powerful brand.
Well today, the titans of Silicon Valley were reminded, regulations matter and regulators can be nasty. With a record breaking £2.14 billion fine from the EU and orders to change abusive practices in 90 days. Google is considering an appeal, but this event highlights how, along with the rise of tech behemoths, all trying to build an ecosystem of products and services, regulation really does need to be looked at. The days of the tech Wild West may already be behind us, but the playing field still needs to be kept level.

Poem of the week


Picked by Louis Rynsard

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SBC London is a corporate reputation and communications advisory firm based in the City of London. 

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