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The Irregular Newsletter of Z/Yen Group Limited

Catch up with current projects, new ventures and see some very bad puns (Editor: bad metaphor) via Z/Yen's blog or the eagerly awaited newsletter.

To receive your copy electronically, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Security Forward Workshop and Dinner – 30 June 2014

Security Forward Risk and Intelligence Forum’s June meeting was very kindly hosted by Willis at their Lime Street headquarters.  Z/Yen aficionados will remember 350 people singing down in the Willis Building’s cellars along with Brian Eno about financial reform at the Long Finance Spring Conference on Enduring Value in 2010 -  Security Forward was more rarified, up in the impressive boardroom on the 22nd floor  with quite a good turnout from members.

The meeting started with a presentation from our ‘Speaker in Residence’, Lt Col Crispin Black, “Is Demography Really Destiny?”  Crispin explored the political and security implications of the world’s growing population for Europe and the United States of America.  Crispin provided rather sobering facts and figures on population growth and pointed out that more people live in the area encompassing India, China and Indonesia than the rest of the world.  He looked at projected growth for the UK population and how various ethnic and religious groups would change demographically. He also looked at the growing influence of the Hispanic population in the USA for comparison.  His presentation explored the political realities of short-term demographic resistance and long-term accommodation to voting patterns.  As ever, Crispin’s presentation was challenging and stimulating and enjoyed by all present.

After our usual round-robin to identify ‘in tray’ issues and concerns, our second speaker was John Burbidge-King of Interchange Solutions. John is a corporate governance & integrity risk expert with significant cross cultural and senior international management experience at board and director levels. He is an ex Royal Marine officer and served with the Sultan’s Armed Forces in Oman.  The title of the talk was “Not In My Backyard” because so many of us choose to put corruption to the back of our minds as we do not believe it will happen to us.  The talk was based around four themes, namely (1) Definitions, Culture, and Crime; (2) Why corruption is a real and present danger to national security and government; (3) Impact on corporations - the train coming down the tunnel; (4) Solution - what solution - is there one?  John gave a wide-ranging and fascinating talk.  Given John’s expertise, we discussed the crisis in Ukraine at some length as well as the rise of ISIS, recently renamed the Islamic State, and their objective of building a new state which ignores internationally recognised borders. The question and answer session was lively and informative due to the variety of experts present.

Eddy Castles, the Managing Director for Willis, London and South East hosted us for dinner on the 22nd floor and entertained us in great style.  We had a panoramic view of south, east, and north London.  We were lucky to have Lt Colonel Simon West, a serving officer based at Shrivenham and working on long-term strategy, as our dinner speaker.   Simon is a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman in the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers with Keith Holland.  He gave an informed and fascinating talk on gunfounding in the City, cleverly using the amazing view from the dining room on the 22nd floor to illustrate his talk.  It was a delight to hear of several centuries of gunfounding while gazing on the Tower of London, Billiter Street, and the Honourable Artillery Company, let alone staring directly at the Proof House.  A salutary reminder that defence is part-and-parcel of sound City boundaries.

UNISON Shortlisted for Analytics in Action Award

Z/Yen is delighted to announce that its client, UNISON, has been shortlisted for the Not-For-Profit Team of the Year, Analytics in Action Award.   Z/Yen has been working with UNISON over the last few years, using statistical learning analytic techniques to assist with the retention of members and income processing. 

Some of this work was described in the Charity Finance paper last year, Rust Never Sleeps, written by Ian Harris and Mary O’Callaghan.  This year, UNISON has allowed us to nominate them for this prestigious and high-profile award. 

The esteemed panel of judges includes two top analytics specialists from Accenture, together with industry experts from Visa and British Airways.  The Management Today editor took great pains to explain, in his letter to Ian Harris, how stiff the competition had been.  Indeed, our Ian assumed that he was reading a “Dear John” letter - until he reached the phrase which read, “…and I’m pleased to say that your submission is one of those that has been shortlisted”.  Suffice it to say, there was an audible whoop in the Z/Yen office.

Interest in Z/Yen’s predictive analytics work has never been greater.  As well as our hands-on client work, we are currently producing coaching and training courses for those clients who want to utilise the skills of their own analysts to get more out of their information.  If you are interested in learning more about our predictive analytics advisory and/or training offerings, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   by e-mail or on (020) 7562 9562.

GFCI 15 And Other Indices

The Global Financial Centres Index 15 was published a month ago.  We suspected that it would be popular with the press but were still delighted with the coverage it achieved.  It seems to go from strength to strength - we got coverage in the Financial Times on 15 March, several subsequent TV and radio interviews and press mentions from all round the world in publications including the BBC, MSN, the Gulf Times, the Dubai Chronicle and Compass Cayman.  This coverage has generated wide publicity for our sponsors the Qatar Financial Centre Authority.

We also run the Global Intellectual Property Index for leading law firm Taylor Wessing and are considering other indices including a global creative services index, a regulatory burdens index, a professional services index, an emerging markets index and a city sustainability index. 

We are always looking for partners and sponsors for these indices – if you are interested in becoming more involved, or know someone who might be, please get in contact – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  

Security Forward Workshop and Dinner - April 2014 – Z/Yen

The Security Forward Risk and Intelligence Forum held its quarterly meeting at the offices of the Z/Yen Group, near Guildhall, on Wednesday 30 April.

The meeting was introduced by the chairman Keith Holland, and there was the traditional discussion of “top of the in-trays” security issues. 

The first presentation was by Speaker-in-Residence, Crispin Black, “International borders – the invention of tradition”.  The central thrust of Colonel Black’s argument was that many international borders are comparatively new – not just the redrawing of Europe’s borders after the 1939-1945 War against Germany.  Further, traditionally borders have been regarded as fluid.  Indeed, territories have been exchanged peacefully between unfriendly nations without resort to violence – the handing over by Great Britain in 1890 of the North Sea Island Helgoland to Germany, in exchange for territorial concessions in Southern Africa, being the most striking example.   Given current tensions in Eastern Europe, he recommended a more selective and relaxed approach by Western policy makers to some border disputes.  After all, if Schrodinger’s Cat can be two things at once – so can borders. Where a particular border is not crucial to the West – we shouldn’t get involved.  If a particular border is deemed crucial to Western security, we should defend it.

Simon Dukes, Chief Executive of CIFAS, the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, then gave a presentation on “Cyber: Threats and Opportunities”, setting out in chilling detail the extent of online fraud and other financial scams.  This sector of criminal activity is growing exponentially and imposing vast unseen costs on individuals and the private sector.  Most striking was the sheer guile and imagination of some of the more sophisticated stings.  Slightly depressing was the level of gullibility in some areas of the population, and the ruthless targeting by some criminals of the vulnerable, particularly the elderly.  He also outlined how CIFAS can help the fightback by keeping detailed records of fraudulent individuals, including those who have not been convicted of any crime – available to any of its members.

Finally, over dinner, Gordon Corrigan, former Gurkha officer and distinguished military historian, gave a talk on his book about the Great War – “Mud, Blood and Poppycock”.  In a direct and compelling presentation he dispelled a number of myths about the First World War, arguing convincingly that what might be called ‘The Blackadder view’ – the war was pointless and allied commanders detached and useless - was a construct of the 1930s; and was certainly never the view of most of the British soldiers who took the field between 1914 and 1918.  One astonishing statistic drove the point home – 74 per cent of British soldiers who fought in the Battle of the Somme   (1 July – 13 November 1916) survived in one piece.  Everyone was delighted to receive a copy of Gordon’s book, signed naturally.

New York Knocks London From The Top Of The Global Financial Centres Index

For the first time in the Index's history, New York knocks London from the top of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI). Over the weekend, Z/Yen Group published the 15th edition of the GFCI, sponsored by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority.

The main headlines include:

  • New York, London, Hong Kong and Singapore remain the top four global financial centres. New York is now the leading centre although its lead against London is insignificant - two points on a scale of 1,000. London being overtaken by New York in the index is mainly due to London falling (it is the largest faller in the top 50 centres).
  • The 'big four' financial centres are being chased. It is easy to focus on New York, London, Hong Kong and Singapore but others are catching up and now close behind. Three years ago (in GFCI 9) the difference between first and tenth was 117 points. The top ten centres are now within 75 points of each other.
  • The leading Asian Centres pull away from the weaker. There is a 'shakeout' in Asia, the leading centres - such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul and Shenzhen are doing significantly better than the weaker centres (e.g. Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Jakarta and Mumbai).
  • Middle East centres continue to rise in the index. Qatar remains the leading Middle Eastern Centre just ahead of Dubai. Riyadh is up 16 places, Bahrain is up 12 places and Abu Dhabi is up 10 places.
  • Financial centres in Europe are still in turmoil. 23 of the 27 European centres in the GFCI declined by rank. Significant falls include Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Dublin, Madrid, Lisbon, and Rome. Athens in last place (83rd) is now 82 points adrift of Reykjavik, second to last.
  • Offshore centres struggle with reputation and regulation. All except Gibraltar and the British Virgin Islands decline in the ranks.

GFCI 15 provides profiles, rating and rankings for 83 financial centres (including three new centres - Busan, Almaty and Casablanca), drawing on two separate sources of data - instrumental factors (external indices) and responses to an online survey. 103 factors have been used in GFCI 15, of which 52 have been updated since GFCI 14 and 1 is new. GFCI 15 uses 25,441 financial centre assessments completed by 3.246 financial services professionals.

For more information: