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Conister’s Pledge: We’re Standing Up and Standing Fast

As another year is chalked off the calendar and the focus turns to 2022, the continuing Covid saga is hard to ignore.

For the IOM business sector, it could be a tricky year. Yet, despite any nervousness about where the economy is heading, staff at Conister, the Island’s community bank, are prepared for what lies ahead.
Douglas Grant, Conister Bank’s Managing Director, outlined in a wide-ranging interview that, whilst there are likely to be “headwinds and challenges” over the next 12 months – especially from inflation, interest rate increases and rising energy costs - being resolute should lead to a much brighter outlook for 2023 and beyond.

“UK inflation could go as high as 6%, which will also generate wage inflation,” he says. “But when overall inflation drops, there will be an element of permanent inflation, wage inflation, which is hard for employers but great for employees. At this point, there should be light at the end of the tunnel for consumers.

“Also, in the short term, our fixed-rate loans will help customers mitigate against any rate rises, which should certainly help. Once things improve, there’s always the opportunity to refinance if you want to,” says Douglas, who is also CEO of the bank’s listed holding company, Manx Financial Group PLC.

5 Key Challenges Facing SMEs in 2022

dg 2021 has been a real test of resilience for SMEs. Added to the existing challenge of COVID have been new disruptive factors, including a supply chain crisis, which led to an increase in demand for working capital, as well as rising inflation and labor costs, all reducing their ability to generate economic growth.

Whilst government-backed schemes such as the Bounce Back Loans Scheme (BBLS) and Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) have provided a lifeline for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) facing significant liquidity pressures, SMEs need a plan in place to avoid these challenges becoming a structural issue which will stifle their future growth and imperil their survival.  

Whilst the UK economy is currently on track to be the fastest growing economy in the G7, there are five key areas of risk which need to be managed by SMEs to ensure they can capitalise on and contribute to economic growth in 2022.

1.       Inflation
2.       Interest Rates
3.       Recruitment
4.       Technology
5.       Green Transition

Read more as Douglas Grant, Conister Bank's Managing Director, and Group CEO at Manx Financial Group PLC discusses the five key challenges facing SMEs in 2022.

It’s time for Retro Fit as Conister pumps up its Green Finance Initiative

Conister Bank, the Island’s primary green lender for local consumers and businesses, has welcomed the Isle of Man Government’s plans to provide grant aid for sustainable, eco-friendly home improvement – but warned that this won’t be enough on its own to satisfy the demand for green funding.   

Conister's Head of Sales, Andy Bass, said the Department of Enterprise’s Green Living Grant Scheme was a positive move in helping residents to reduce carbon emissions and cut household energy bills, by making their properties more efficient.  

But he advised that whilst the Scheme would be beneficial for certain types of home improvement, it would not be sufficient to provide adequate funding for many homeowners now looking to embrace a low-carbon future.  

“Our aim is to do all we can to help make a difference to environmental impact and in support of the Island’s Government. In our view, retro-fit represents a practical and advantageous route towards net-zero,” said Andy.

Huge economic benefits from ditching cars for short journeys, says Cycling and Transport Supremo

Startling statistics revealing the upside of replacing short car journeys with walking and cycling have been laid out to senior figures from the Island’s business and political community.

These were the stark messages from Greater Manchester’s Transport Commissioner and former Olympic Cycling Champion, Chris Boardman, when he spoke in Douglas this week at an event called, ‘Enabling Economic Opportunity Through Active Travel’.

The meeting, sponsored by Conister Bank, with close support from the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce, was attended by senior political figures, including Chief Minister Alf Cannan and more than 100 representatives from the Island’s business sector.

Mr Boardman was joined by Brian Deegan, Greater Manchester’s Infrastructure Lead, who has been heavily involved with Transport for London in combatting congestion in the capital. They revealed the challenges they faced and the reasons behind the delivery of Greater Manchester’s £1.5 billion fully integrated transport system, based around ‘Active Travel’.

Manx Financial Group and Conister Bank make key Main Board appointment

h Greg Jones, one of the Isle of Man’s foremost tax advisors, has been appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director of Conister Bank Limited (Conister) and its parent company Manx Financial Group (MFG).

Greg, the former Head of Tax at KPMG on the Isle of Man, where he spent 29 years before retiring in October 2019, will also be a member of the MFG Group Audit, Risk, and Compliance Committee.

The appointment is seen as auspicious, given Greg’s connection with Conister Bank stretches back nearly 25 years.

“I am delighted that the Group have asked me to become a non-exec Director at this time,” Greg explained. “To join the Conister family is a really interesting development for me. It helps that I know the company well.”

He continued: “With a background in tax-related financial services, rather than banking, hopefully, I can bring a different, more generalised commercial approach, to the Board.”

Douglas Grant, MFG’s Group CEO and Managing Director of Conister Bank, said this appointment further demonstrates our intention to continually broaden the Board’s experience with knowledgeable local business leaders who can add value to our growth strategy.

Conister sponsors Chris Boardman's ‘Active Travel’ Initiative on the Isle of Man

cb One of Britain’s best-known names in cycling, Chris Boardman MBE, is due to give a keynote speech on the Island in early November, to promote ‘Active Travel’ as the route to healthier and more productive lifestyles.

The event, sponsored by Conister Bank, entitled ‘Enabling Economic Opportunity Through Active Travel’, is aimed at key influencers in Government and the local business community to help create, as part of a long-term strategy, less reliance on cars in our daily lives.

The objective is to provide high-quality infrastructure, that enables people to use their cars less frequently for everyday journeys, by encouraging cycling to work or school and even going to the shops.

The free-to-attend breakfast event is scheduled for Tuesday, November 2nd at the Claremont Hotel 8am – 9.45am.

Sustainability is a lifestyle at Conister Bank!

Conister Bank is leading from the front and intends to assist the Isle of Man, and the wider financial sector to be recognised as a business that properly mitigates and responds to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks as we embrace opportunities that demonstrate that we are a sustainable and responsible business.

As part of our ESG initiative, Conister Bank has purchased 5 Electric Bikes available for staff to use to encourage active travel within our workforce. Transportation makes up the second-biggest source of greenhouse gases. As a responsible employer, we want to give our staff the opportunity to take part in active travel with an option to leave their cars at home and cycling to work, or simply use an E-bike to take a break throughout their busy day to enjoy the Manx scenery. 

We have been working closely with Dot Performance who captured an early morning ride with our Head of Sales, Andy Bass as he led the way through the stunning Marine Drive.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle for a cleaner life, and a cleaner Isle of Man

Conister was privileged to be asked to be a part of the ‘Time Enough Climate Change Solutions’ produced by Dave Armstrong and Isabella Hawke.
The Time Enough project aims to find local solutions to global problems and has created a platform to discuss climate change on a global scale, with an emphasis on what individuals can do to create a positive impact. The overall climate project is supported by the Time Enough film project that tracks the Ilse of Man's journey to a sustainable future. 

Dave and Isabella met with Conister's Clara Isaac at the Royal Manx Agricultural Show.  In this video, Clara talks about how she is making recycling easier for all Isle of Man residents so that we can all play our part in keeping things green and healthy through recycling! Recycling reduces our carbon footprint by eliminating plastics instead which would otherwise end up as litter on landfills or seashells breaking apart into microplastics when they hit ocean waves - real impacts right there but those aren't even half if you consider where these materials come from (which often includes mining). All that waste adds to warming greenhouse gases like methane trapping more heat radiation away from Earth than reflected back towards ourselves causing climate change.

Is the Two-Pillar Global Tax Reform a threat to zero-10?

James Smeed, Finance Director at Conister Bank, believes the Isle of Man must ensure it’s ready for the changes when the G20 countries finalise the details of proposed tax changes thrashed out at the G7 summit earlier this year.

In an interview with Business 365 James discusses his views as to whether the Two-Pillar Global Tax Reform a threat to zero-10 and if the Isle of Man needs to make sure it is best placed to withstand a wave of global tax reform that is inevitably coming.
Conister Bank as an independent institution that has adapted to many changes, both domestic and international, over the years. James talks about how it is in our interests, but also the Manx economy, to support a collaborative effort to see the Manx Government engage with counterparts to ensure the island’s economy remains strong and the Isle of Man continues to offer the perfect location for businesses of all sizes.

Conister Bank’s Response to the IoM Climate Change Plan 2022-27:

The IOM Climate Change Plan 2022-27 provides a pragmatic framework for change and demonstrates a positive step in the right direction towards a sustainable future.

Conister Bank understands the importance of actively tackling climate change and fully supports the positive aims of the plan and the ‘Vision of 2050’. As one of the Islands' oldest banking institutions, we are leading from the front on sustainability. We see ourselves as sustainability leaders for the Isle of Man and the wider financial sector as a business that properly mitigates and responds to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risk and embraces the opportunities that being a sustainable and responsible business offers.

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Conister Bank Limited, Clarendon House, Victoria Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 2LN

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