October 04, 2022


Current inflationary pressures and uncertainty are affecting us all. How are you reacting to this internally and externally? Businesses across multiple sectors are considering their strategy and position, given such uncertainty in the market around inflation and other macroeconomic metrics. As part of Carlyle’s #asktheceo series, we hear from 7 leaders, across various industries, on their current position and view.

Sandy Begbie | Chief Executive, Scottish Financial Enterprise “The cost-of-living crisis is a key priority for the financial services industry in Scotland, which has quickly mobilised to support households, businesses and colleagues, through increased customer-facing support, financial inclusion initiatives, colleague wellbeing schemes and community and charity support.

As the member body for financial and related professional services, SFE has a key role to play in coordinating the industry’s response to the crisis. We are working with members, government and other stakeholders to share insights and best practice, promote the best examples of industry action, and drive forward initiatives that can make a difference. We are also leading by example internally. We have been a living wage employer since 2021, and recently announced a 5% pay rise for our entire team to help them manage soaring costs."

David Turner | Chief Executive Officer, Webhelp “For weeks rising inflation has dominated headlines around the globe. Here in the UK, we are seeing inflation have a significant impact on the cost of living and creating issues in the labour market.

As a business that relies on people we are very well aware that we need to take action. So, what can we do?

In a time of rising prices we are keeping a close eye on discretionary spend and doing our very best to manage our finances, just like most people and businesses across the UK. Perhaps surprisingly, saving money is not our biggest priority. In fact, the most important decisions we will make as a business is about where we should invest. We are thinking about what technology solutions will help us expand our digital footprint, which tools will help us support our people in growing their skills and capability while prioritising that investment to future proof our business for the next 10 years, not just the next 10 months. Finding the right balance between fiscal responsibility and careful, targeted investment in the future will ultimately help us weather the turbulence we are seeing today and put our people and our business in the best possible position to succeed tomorrow.”

Gerry Mallon | CEO, Tesco Bank “We are obviously part of the UK’s biggest retailer, and like the rest of Tesco we have spent recent months working even harder to manage input costs and our internal efficiency to ensure that we mitigate the cost of living pressure felt by consumers.

Tesco is all about providing value - at Tesco Bank through our insurance, savings and lending businesses our focus is on being highly competitive for customers. We also look to provide additional value through Tesco Clubcard: giving discounts on products such as insurance and travel money, and giving points and rewards when using one of our credit or payment cards.

We’ve also spent time helping customers and colleagues understand how they can maximise the discounts and rewards to spend less and get more value; and to help guide customers maximise through the money challenges they may be facing.”

Patrick Graham | Head of Scotland & Northern Ireland, BGF “There’s no doubt, that many businesses are once again finding themselves in a challenging macro environment. To manage inflationary pressures, many companies will look to cut costs, drive new revenue streams or potentially increase prices to support growth. At the same time, those operating in certain sectors in particular are having to really think hard about how best to support their employees through the cost of living crisis.

BGF works closely with the c.500 companies in its portfolio by sharing knowledge and sector experience on a range of issues, such as mitigating costs, working with suppliers, setting pricing strategy, and managing employees. Our funding can also help companies take advantage of opportunities that often arise in a turbulent market, therefore this is naturally an area we continue to support on.

Uncertainty is always challenging but it also forces a business to prioritise, demonstrate solid leadership and adherence to their mission and values. In the long-term, that type of experience can have a positive impact on the future trajectory of a business."

Blair Nimmo | CEO, Interpath Advisory "We are supporting businesses to sustainably reduce costs, and to review performance, lending position and cashflow. Whilst there’s no magic wand, there are some initial steps that we recommend businesses take right now to prepare for uncertain times ahead:

  • Make cash your priority - prepare a short-term thirteen-week cash flow forecast to identify cash pinch points and act early.
  • Find the wins - even the leanest business models can usually find efficiencies somewhere in their processes.
  • Review lending covenants - and run sensitivity analysis for worst-case scenarios.
  • Value chain renegotiation - consider an independent third party to broker. And finally, seek advice early – the earlier an issue is identified, the more options are available.”

David Montgomery | MD M&G Wealth, M&G "It’s important that we develop products and solutions that help grow and protect wealth over the longer term particularly in the current economic climate. We are also expanding our advice arm significantly – financial advice should be affordable and widely accessible.

We want our colleagues to be fully-engaged to deliver this. For many we will be making a one-off discretionary payment to those earning below a certain threshold in their next salaries. We are also recruiting more in key areas of the business with an increased focus on potential customer vulnerability.

We will not hesitate to act further if we believe it is the right thing to do to support our customers and colleagues."

Tracy Black | Director Scotland, CBI "The CBI message has long been clear: sustainable economic growth is essential if the UK is to power its way through current challenges and on to a brighter future.

Without sustainable and equitable growth, net zero ambitions hang in the balance. Aspirations for increased regional prosperity – here in Scotland and elsewhere – will remain a pipedream. Increased living standards, higher wages, improved infrastructure… all are likely to remain out of reach without an increase in productivity to turbocharge the economy.

The Government will need to bring forward a clear fiscal plan sooner rather than later to ensure its proposals are geared towards growth which is sustainable. We cannot afford another 15 years of anaemic growth when the stakes are so high. There are opportunities before us, so let’s make it count."

Carlyle hires new principal to support board and advisory practice