Life – Terror. Ecstasy. Fight. Denial. Flight. Failure. PAIN. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Peace – Death.
Business has shaped the world in pursuit of profit and growth with an apparent disregard for consequences, other than increased profits.
The 21st Century process of insatiable value creation has been extraordinarily successful in creating wealth through satisfying consumers’ needs and wants.
The world’s fortune is at a historical peak: the global economy has never been so highly valued. By some measures, the model can only be considered a success?
But at what cost?
The most profitable industries in the UK are usually serviced by huge corporations, such as utility companies, banks, insurance firms, supermarkets, and pension funds. But there are also many profitable sectors that are more accessible to entrepreneurs setting up a business.
What is the UK’s biggest income?
The services sector—which comprises many industries including finance, retail, and entertainment—accounts for more than three-quarters of the U.K.’s GDP, while manufacturing and production account for less than 21%.
It is increasingly evident that the focus on profitability has led to the neglect of, at least, two other dimensions:
the environment & the fabric of society.
We are rapidly losing species and natural areas. Income inequality is rising more than ever, with the latest figures showing a historic high. Yes, undoubtedly, the world is getting richer, but only for some, wealth is not fairly (properly) redistributed.
We are informed daily that we must cut our cloth, we should not complain, we need to NOT request pay rises to keep up with soring inflation and ever higher rises in the cost of living. Fuel (heating/cooking), food, transport, the basics for basic living have become out of reach, unaffordable for normal, working families, let alone family’s dependent upon state subsidies.
Yet, SOME are thriving?
And a small percentage are thriving beyond belief.
The same private companies that are telling us that it is beyond their control that our energy costs have increased by more than 150% (in some cases) within six months and that they will increase again by a further 50-100% by the end of the year, are publishing record breaking profits for their shareholders and are awarding record bonuses/salaries for the senior managers.
For far too long (since the re-rise of Neoliberalist Free Market Economics of the 70’s and 80’s led by Regan in the US & Thatcher in the UK) have we been force-fed the profit motive economics, once a desirable incentive to wealth creation, ‘sharing the post war American Dream’ US boomtown Capitalism and in the UK, Thatcher’s carrot, the promise that even you, ‘an ordinary working man’ has the right to and can, own his own home is so far removed from the truth (have you seen the price of property in London?) it should now be seen as something more akin to an evil reminder, a symbol of injustice and inequality.
There is an urgency to change the model, an imperative to reassess the purpose of business, not just to satisfy shareholders and accountants but also to work in tune with all relevant stakeholders.
Surely, we are ready to accept that the successful company is no longer one that just makes money. Especially obscene amounts of money, ever increasing obscene amounts of money? A financial return is a necessary condition, but how much is enough? Currently there are no boundaries. Nothing is enough, no amount of profit is sufficient for shareholders?
Few can now argue that there is a desperate need for change.
True sustainable/equality will only be assured if there is a proper investment return in the three dimensions of business, not solely one: financial. Social and environmental dimensions require equal address.
Yet, few companies have been able to implement this. Financial markets focus exclusively on financial reporting. If all that matters is immediate and increasing profitability, in a publicly quoted company where the voice of owners is only answered in term of dividends, it is inevitable that this can only implode.
Companies, (especially, the powerful, multi-national conglomerates) should be evaluated in terms of their net contribution to society, and pressurised into giving back at least as much as they take.
There are many ways in which they can do this. Sharing (investing) of some of their profits. Training employees, promoting ethical values, integrating ethnic minorities and ensuring fair pay for all are only a few of the obvious activities which need to be recognised and valued. In environmental terms, reducing ecological footprints and better managing consumption and the natural resources cycle could work as useful metrics, among many others.
None of this is rocket science, but it is usually met with stock answers such as “we cannot afford it” or “shareholders would not approve, as it has an impact on the all important profit margin”. I would argue that we cannot afford not to make the change if we care about people and planet as well as profit.
Such transformational changes will not take place without the emergence of a new generation of leaders able to change the current management paradigm. Under such enlightened stewardship, companies will again be able to thrive in the dual and common interest of humanity and the planet and evolve a more appropriate response to the current world challenges.
The new technology tsunami, currently underway, is currently part of the problem but could easily become part of the solution, to provide an opportunity for a successful reboot. Its disruption to the existing business model must be harnessed for good. If instead it is just seen as a new opportunity for business as usual the situation will become even worse. Company management should be rewarded along the lines of people, planet (first) and profit.
This would encourage companies to repair part of the damages sustained to the global commons since the beginning of the industrial age two centuries ago – and to develop a stable growth engine which will produce the necessary return on investment without, literally, costing, the earth. Let us look towards the corporate sector as a part of the solution and no longer as the problem.
Today, as in the past, growing wealth and prosperity is surely needed for a properly functioning system where all humans can live sustainably and in harmony with each other and with nature.
Providing this must become the new purpose and prime focus for ALL business – we have reached the point where we must now realise and ACT. It is not just the way you spend money that matters but the way you make and share it.
The 10 Biggest Industries by Revenue in the UK
- Supermarkets in the UK. £207.0B.
- Pension Funding in the UK. £155.9B.
- Construction Contractors in the UK. £121.8B.
- New Car & Light Motor Vehicle Dealers in the UK. £109.9B.
- Hospitals in the UK. £106.4B.
- Banks in the UK. …
- General Insurance in the UK. …
- Management Consultants in the UK.
Industries with the Highest Profit Margin in the UK in 2022
1. Electricity Distribution in the UK
Profit Margin 2022: 42.5%
Operators in the Electricity Distribution industry maintain an extensive network of lines and cables across the United Kingdom, carrying electricity from the high voltage transmission grid to end users. Electricity distribution network operators (DNOs) have regional monopolies, so pricing in the industry is heavily regulated by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) in Great Britain and the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR) in Northern Ireland. In the United Kingdom, there are currently 15 different DNOs managed by seven operators and 15 independent distribution network operators (IDNOs) working primarily to connect new housing, commercial and industrial premises. Learn More
2. Gas Distribution in the UK
Profit Margin 2022: 42.3%
Operators in the Gas Distribution industry maintain a 284,000-kilometre gas pipeline network across the United Kingdom. The industry is comprised of eight Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs) across Great Britain, owned by four companies which operate regional monopolies. To protect consumers, operators are heavily regulated through price control frameworks. There are also a number of smaller networks operated by independent gas transporters (IGTs) that primarily connect new build homes and industrial sites to existing networks, while a further two IGTs operate the Northern Ireland distribution network. The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) is the regulatory body for Great Britain,… Learn More
3. Private Equity in the UK
Profit Margin 2022: 34.7%
The United Kingdom is the largest European centre for the management of private equity investments and funds, and second only to the United States in terms of global importance. Private equity firms pool investment funds to purchase other companies. They attempt to improve a company’s performance by implementing managerial and operational changes, before selling the company for a profit, generating return for their investors. The industry’s key source of revenue is fees derived from management fees, calculated as a percentage of assets under management (AUM), and from performance fees on the total return from an invested company’s initial public offering… Learn More
4. Open-Ended Investment Company Activities in the UK
Profit Margin 2022: 33.8%
Open-ended investment companies (OEICs) are a type of collective investment scheme that can adjust their portfolios to maximise returns, given a specific investment remit. The size of the fund depends on demand for fund shares, which are created and cancelled upon purchase and redemption. As a result, the fund size is proportional to its investment performance. OEICs are priced to reflect the net asset value of their investments and may have multiple share classes. Funds invest in a range of assets, including domestic and global equities, government and corporate fixed-income securities, and a range of derivatives. While fund styles differ… Learn More
5. Search Engines in the UK
Profit Margin 2022: 33.6%
The Search Engine industry is highly concentrated, with three companies controlling almost the entire industry; the largest company in the industry, Alphabet Inc, has a market share greater than 90% in 2021-22. Industry operators provide web portals that generate and maintain extensive databases of internet addresses. Industry participants generate the majority, if not all, of their revenue from advertising. Technological growth has resulted in more households being connected to the internet, and a boom in e-commerce has made the industry increasingly innovative.
Over the past decade, an increase in the percentage of households with internet access has supported revenue growth, while… Learn More
6. Commercial Property Agents in the UK
Profit Margin 2022: 33.4%
Operators in the Commercial Real Estate Agents industry act as intermediaries when non-residential property is bought, sold, rented or leased. Typically, estate agents can earn income via fees and commissions charged to clients. Agents may also provide clients with value-added ancillary services through which they can generate additional revenue. These services include specialist transaction advisory services and escrow services; legal and financial services are not considered to be relevant to the industry.
Over the five years through 2021-22, revenue is forecast to decrease at a compound annual rate of 0.7%. However, this masks what has been a volatile operating period for… Learn More
7. Legal Activities in the UK
Profit Margin 2022: 33.3%
Solicitors, barristers, patent agents, notaries and bailiffs carry out legal activities on behalf of private and corporate clients. Over the five years through 2021-22, industry revenue is expected to rise at a compound annual rate of 0.4% to reach £37 billion. Widespread business uncertainty following the EU referendum and the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak have limited industry growth. However, the industry is countercyclical, meaning that demand for legal work in certain areas, such as litigation and insolvency matters, grows in times of economic downturn. This is expected to mitigate steeper declines. In 2021-22, revenue is expected to grow by 4.7%, supported… Learn More
8. Water Collection, Treatment & Supply in the UK
Profit Margin 2022: 32.1%
The Water Collection, Treatment and Supply industry manages, stores and distributes clean water to domestic and industrial customers. Barriers to entry are high in the industry, with large start-up and maintenance costs, and the industry is dominated by regional monopolies. All industry operators are subject to regulation in terms of prices charged and services provided. Companies in the industry submit a breakdown of their performance and five-year business plan to industry regulators, namely the Water Service Regulation Authority (Ofwat), which then set the prices companies can charge. Industry services are essential so demand tends to remain steady from year to… Learn More
What is the UK’s biggest income?
The services sector—which comprises many industries including finance, retail, and entertainment—accounts for more than three-quarters of the U.K.’s GDP, while manufacturing and production now only account for less than 21% UK GDP.
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