Looking forward to 2024?

It lasts but a moment, that fleeting time between the end of 2023 and looking forward to 2024.

By the time the 2nd rolls around, and certainly by the end of the week, the wheels will have started turning again, and we will be back in it.

What just happened?

So what has just happened, and what do we have to look forward to in 2024?

  • 2023 was a year in which we finally seemed to escape the shadow of COVID lockdowns, and the world started travelling again – definitely a bright spot for me.
  • Hybrid working was still a thing, and despite pressure in many sectors to get people commuting daily again, employees still resisted, not wanting to give up the flexibility and extra couple of productive hours gained in their day.
  • Consumer Duty – finally went live in the UK, ushering in a whole new language around good customer outcomes, sludge practices, and evidencing these outcomes.
  • Economically borrowing levels continued to bounce back, especially in credit cards, with savings rates decreasing.
  • Arrears levels, despite all the doom and gloom noises we made, remained relatively moderate, only showing a slight, albeit steady increase… with energy being a potential exception.

It really felt like a year when things started to get going again, investment in new tech and gear rebounded and new strategic investments started to be made… the rush to digital continued.

… and then there was ChatGPT, which burst onto the scene and sucked much of the attention for many of us… suddenly this tech was widely accessible, although a lot of people seemed quite worried by it all too.

Some Turbulence

However, it was also a year with some big dark clouds…

  • Geopolitics continued to be turbulent, with three major conflicts underway (Ukraine-Russia, Gaza-Israel, and not forgetting Sudan).
  • And politics was not much better. Continued lurches to the right and the left across much of the world… populism and access to new media swaying what seemed fickle opinion quickly and seemingly not generating better outcomes in general. It was all a bit uncertain, upsetting, and anxiety-generating for many.

So what do we have to look forward to in 2024… more change? more of the same?

Peering into the near future…. maybe.

There are continued expectations of increasing arrears levels, a further focus on Consumer Duty (and in particular evidencing), with probably more and similar regulatory intervention being seen (and elsewhere around the world)…. not to mention elections and regional conflicts, which are big wild cards.

But an Optimistic Outlook

But, rather than dwelling on these… which we will no doubt hear plenty about next week (whether we want to or not), today it is worth taking a different tack.

We need to remember that we continue to live in the world of amazing… human technology is continuing to extend our lives, making our lives easier and providing new ways for us to build knowledge, making it so easy to interact with people all around the world.

Yes, there are plenty of uncertainties, but the key is flexibility.

And Remain Flexible

Rather than trying to live in the world of the past, pre-COVID, the certainties of the old ways of doing things, is it time to let go and think about how to make the most of the environment we live in today?

I accept this is not going to make some of the bigger problems go away, and we need to solve for these, but it does allow us to free ourselves and make the most of the opportunities we do have in front of us.

5 things to look forward to

So with this in mind, here are a few things to look forward to in 2024.

  • A total solar eclipse… on April 8th, 2024, across much of the USA.
  • A bonus day in the diary… it is a leap year.
  • The Olympics & Paralympics… the festival of sport arrives in Paris this year.
  • MS Co-pilot – Chat GPT 5? Will this finally roll out? This could be a game-changer to make AI even more seamless and adopted (we will not even realize by the end of the year, I reckon).
  • … and of course, the Taylor Swift Era’s tour comes to the UK 🙂

I am sure there will be more, but it is a start. So here’s wishing you a fabulous, flexible, and fun 2024… have a good one, everyone.

Posted in Opinion | Leave a comment

It is starting to feel…

It has been a bit strange this year; I seem to have struggled to feel Christmassy for some reason.

  • Maybe it’s because Christmas is on a Monday, and everything seems to have run much longer, busy until Friday.
  • Maybe it’s because we all work remotely these days, and there is now less routine since the pandemic, or…
  • Maybe, and this cannot be ruled out, it’s that I am just getting older!

It’s not like I haven’t tried… I think I have watched every Christmas movie going, I have eaten over four boxes of mince pies. I have certainly enjoyed the all Christmas parties, they have helped.

But now, on Christmas Eve, it is upon us. The house is cleaned, the turkey is defrosted(ing), and the nut roast is cooked. It is really starting to feel like Christmas.

It now seems inevitable; finally, the Christmas spirit is rising.

So at this point, I wanted to wish everyone, if you celebrate it, a wonderful Christmas, and if not, then best wishes for the season…

Thanks for all the help and support this year… will see you all on the other side.

Posted in Observations | Leave a comment

A plan for Jan… to carry on jingling

With the year winding down, in contrast, I have been finding that everything activity-wise has been winding up… getting busier rather than slowing down.

This has meant a fair bit of rushing around, setting and meeting deadlines and of course not getting the time to reflect and write quite so much.  My regular blog posts have been pushed into a mini hiatus!

Jingle Bells

And, its not just me, everyone I speak to seems the same. It’s a very familiar story… rushing to wrap up work projects, attending a whirlwind of social commitments, and a flurry of holiday preparations.

It is of course a holiday season… and there are parallels to similar effects we see in the summer too. 

Seemingly the psychology is this…. put on rush, make all efforts to finish tasks… officially all for  a sense of closure and completion, yes… but also in a somewhat desperate, yet ultimately futile, attempt to avoid being swamped with emails when you get back.  (hands up… who takes their laptop on holiday?… and more relevantly, who will be doing emails on Boxing day… just remember ‘delay send’ for the rest of us please!).

The irony here is that for a holiday season, it’s hardly a break and sometimes the rush to ‘get everything done’ can send us into a frenzy… Once you make it collective, the effect becomes exponential… and here we are a mad rush to the end. 

And then relax

One would think, but not really… once the holidays start, even then ‘the break’ is hardly tranquil.  Our days quickly packed with family visits, social gatherings, and activities.

It can be a juggling act trying to see everyone, an impossible feat as everyone else off trying to do the same! And to make it worse there is none of the infrastructure we have at work, at least I have not seen Calendly invites for family gatherings just yet…!

Then, the  New Year and it is over… January begins and… tumbleweed.

The party’s over

We return to work, laugh about the holidays and by the second week realise we are staring into the grey abyss of winter weather and the prospect of no holiday until March break (or Easter here).

Put like this it all does all seem a little crazy…

Now I really don’t want to be a party pooper… it is great to be busy, have fun and see everyone… I am here on this.

Yet, maybe we need to also think about spreading a little more cheer into January and February too. Even creating a little more time to relax in the holidays.

After all collectively we do need to give ourselves something to look forward to.

Or is it?

So yes, the weather is still cold, but it is also still a great time to get together, meet new people and start on the plan of execution for the year. 

And with so many of us still working remotely these days, maybe the social interaction is something we all need too… to keep us engaged, motivated and upbeat… an anti-dote to the lack of sunshine.

So this is a first New Year’s resolution… to try to a different approach, to spread events and commitments better throughout the year. 

It may alleviate the year-end pressures, create a more balanced, enjoyable work calendar and maybe, just maybe provide a little un-seasonal cheer too.

With this being said… it is now 10:30pm and I am off to put up the outside winter lights, in the rain…

Enjoy the run-up to Christmas everyone (just remember to relax and leave a little to have some fun in Jan/Feb too!)

Posted in Opinion | Leave a comment