MARKET TRENDS & 2012 ?…..

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I guess my outlook on the current market is just one of many opinions and contains as much guess work as most others peoples views. Every time the stock market and the euro-zone which is dominating the economy currently seems to be settling down another spanner gets thrown into the works and its all over the news again, unsettling people and damaging further confidence in business generally. However sometimes its good to take a step back from the daily news and take the longer view.

Its said that in normal times economic forecasts and projections are only 50% accurate at best, so we shouldn't be surprised in times like these that they get re-aligned almost daily and in such times to be honest nobody can second guess what's coming next, good or bad. This quarter the forecasts for next year were reset downward but last quarter they were being corrected upward so its never good to react to today's news as tomorrow it will be different. I think only one thing is certain, it will get better sometime as what goes down must come up !

The job market is currently a curious place if we are all honest, people are recruiting and we are placing people and in fact since I've been writing this in the last few days we have had an influx of jobs for January starts but more people are currently coming onto the market than normal. The run up to Christmas is normally a time of change with people coming onto the market due to re-organisations and redundancies (doing this has been a 'tradition' for many years which always seems very cruel to me just before Christmas). However its fair to say this year that the quantity of people is greater than I have seen before.

So what's in store for 2012 ? Well it would be a brave person who would bet their pension on what's going to happen but here are my views. The 'first' recession in 2008/9 saw a lot of redundancies and cut backs but this was nothing compared with the last 4 months or so where a larger increase in the number of people becoming 'available' has been seen. This 'second' recession is real and actual whatever the statistics say. I think this was due to reduced levels of business in the Motor Industry generally, no confidence in the euro-economy and lack of available credit meaning that business's have had no choice but to reduce operating costs below the levels already reached.

So where does that leave everybody for 2012 ? Well not totally negative if you look closely, most business's are currently staffed below minimum operating standards, its an example I've used previously but I once worked for a major car manufacturer owned leasing company as an Account Manager, I looked after 5 of their top accounts and that filled my day. In total there were about 25 Account Managers at various levels, however today there are only 9 people doing this work.

These 9 people can 'hold the fort' for some time, but attention to detail will slip, accounts will be lost as they come up for renewal, customer service levels will drop, there will be no holiday or illness cover and time spent with each client will reduce. In effect all the KPI's that makes a business sustainable are being mortgaged.

This is mirrored in the retail dealer network, most dealers are below minimum staffing now, put a bit bluntly if these dealers were to carry on with current staff levels they will at some point fail all their KPI's and the manufacturers will take away their franchises so the tough times can't go on much longer as that won't be allowed to happen. However this additional recruitment above normal 'replacement' levels won't come until there is confidence in the market. That will happen at some stage, its just exactly when is the million dollar question.

So where does that leave us all in the early part of 2012, well as I've mentioned the bulk of the redundancies have happened so I do think the worst is behind us, if further staff l