26 Mar 2012

Levels of stress felt by business leaders have shown their lowest annual increase since 2005 according to global research of 6,000 businesses from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR). With economies depressed and the outlook for many still uncertain, this raises the question of whether business leaders are managing their goals to alleviate stress, adding a further brake to growth, or whether they have learnt to better manage the challenges they are facing.

In 2010, net* 45% of business leaders reported an increase in stress levels over the past 12 months, but this fell to just 28% in 2011. And the pattern is consistent around the world; net 21% of business leaders in North America cite an increase in stress in the last 12 months, compared with 35% in 2010. Asia Pacific is the most stressed region with net 44% reporting an increase in stress over the past 12 months, but this too is down from 58% in 2010. Even in distressed Europe, where the focus of economic turbulence resides, the net increase in stress has declined from 40% in 2010 to 22% this year.

Ed Nusbaum, CEO of Grant Thornton International, said: “As the economic crisis has continued, the majority of business leaders have learnt to better manage the challenges they are facing, including dealing with stress by adjusting to more realistic performance measures and goals. This is just as true in the booming BRIC economies as in troubled Europe.

“What we are seeing from our clients across the globe is more effective management of this economic volatility and uncertainty. Businesses have also learned to analyse risks better, factoring them into their performance, and are setting themselves more realistic targets. And, of course, some businesses are faring well despite the bleak economic backdrop.”

The issue of stress in business was highlighted recently when António Horta-Osório, CEO of Lloyds Banking Group in the United Kingdom, was forced to take almost three months off because of a stress related illness.

The IBR indicates that reaching performance targets is by far the biggest headache for businesses; globally 30% of business leaders cite it as the major cause of workplace stress, as do 37 of the 40 economies covered by the survey. Stress caused by the volume of communications, office politics (both 11%) and work/life balance (9%) are much less cited.

Professor John Maule, an expert in Decision Research at Leeds University Business School in the United Kingdom, said: “The increased demands on managers that occur during periods of economic volatility have the potential to increase stress levels. However, people always try to actively manage the demands to reduce these levels. Since they are unable to do much about the pressures coming from the external business environment they must look internally for the solution.

“With achievement of performance targets the greatest contributor of stress for business owners, by reducing these goals they can lower the discrepancy between what they want to achieve and what might happen. This is an effective strategy for reducing stress, but the consequence of lowering performance aspirations will decrease economic activity – this at a time when it is most needed.”

Playing sports/exercising emerges from the research as the principal way in which business leaders relieve stress. Globally 62% of respondents relieve stress in this way, although interestingly this ranges from 78% in North America to just 40% in the BRIC economies. Other popular ways of relieving stress are entertainment both in (54%) and out (46%) of the home. Delegating work and keeping a regular working pattern (both 35%) are also cited by businesses.

However, the IBR indicates that just 42% of business leaders take a holiday to relieve stress, behind exercise/playing sports (62%) and entertainment in home (54%). This is despite a clear correlation between the number of holidays taken by business leaders and their levels of stress (as shown below).

Those countries where businesses take the fewest holidays – such as Japan, mainland China and Thailand – report the biggest increases in stress. Conversely, business leaders in the Netherlands, Russia and Denmark took the most days off in 2011 and reported the lowest increases in stress.

Ed Nusbaum added: “The results provide clear evidence that taking a holiday can reduce the impact of stress on business leaders. Business growth prospects benefit from having strong, focused direction so we strongly advocate taking the time to step away, reflect and recharge in order to bring a new perspective to decision making.”

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Notes to editors
The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) provides insight into the views and expectations of over 11,500 businesses per year across 40 economies. This unique survey draws upon 20 years of trend data for most European participants and nine years for many non-European economies. For more information, please visit: www.internationalbusinessreport.com.

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22 Mar 2012
Pierre Charbonneau

Pierre Charbonneau

Congratulations to Pierre Charbonneau, Consulting Partner with our affiliate Raymond Chabot Human Resources Inc., for his appointment by the Office des professions du Québec to the Ordre des ergothérapeutes du Québec’s Board of Directors as a Public Representative.

About the Ordre des ergothérapeutes du Québec

The Ordre des ergothérapeutes du Québec has more than 4,000 members across all administrative regions of Quebec. Its mission is to guide the practice of occupational therapy, support professional development and foster the evolution of the profession.

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21 Mar 2012

MONTRÉAL, March 20, 2012 – Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is proud to publish its post-budget tax bulletin containing a summary of the main tax measures for individuals and enterprises announced by the Quebec Minister of Finance. The document is available here: www.rcgt.com/en/budget-quebec-2012.

Measures to Maintain Growth

The Firm would like to highlight certain budgetary measures that will assist enterprises and foster their competitiveness, specifically the creation of Ressources Québec and a $5M increase in the mining and hydrocarbon envelope.

In light of these measures, “there is no doubt that business is a central component of Mr. Bachand’s third budget, as evidenced by the $1.3 billion in new capital and investments to support business development through such measures as the creation of ESSOR 2.0 and PME 2.0, and investments in the clean technologies sector,” stated Bernard Poulin, Tax Partner.

Furthermore, to support the labour sector, the government has decided to invest $361M over three years to support businesses of all sizes in developing human capital skills, as well as earmarking $60M to upgrade specialized equipment and increase professional development.

“In a context where economic growth appears to be sluggish in the short term, these are decisions that will help Quebec business owners stay on course,” added Bernard Poulin.

Other Awaited Measures

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton would also like to draw attention to the importance of addressing the issue of tax inequity in business transfers. On December 2, 2010, the Firm sent a copy of its related report entitled, “Business Transfers: Problems and Suggested Solutions” (http://www.rcgt.com/en/news/business-transfers-report/) to the Quebec and federal Ministers of Finance. Since then, the Firm has demonstrated a very clear interest in the matter, specifically in its reactions to last year’s budgets and by raising awareness about the inequity among tax authorities.

“In its Quebec Entrepreneurship Strategy released last fall, the government indicated that it would be reviewing tax issues related to business transfers to family members by 2014, alongside the federal government. We encourage the government to take action as soon as possible,” stated Jean Gauthier, Partner and National Tax Director. He continued by stressing that “the ongoing problem is that owners are at a disadvantage if they want to sell their business to their son or daughter, which is not the case if they were to sell to a perfect stranger.”

Suzanne Landry, University Partner, Tax Professor at HEC Montréal, and the report’s main author, specified that “for intergenerational business transfers, the capital gain is considered a dividend, which results in the seller losing the advantage of the capital gains deduction, representing up to $750,000. Therefore, it’s highly relevant for our governments to solve this matter once and for all to further stimulate family successions and the sustainability of local businesses.”

About Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Founded in 1948, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is a leader in the fields of assurance, taxation, consulting and recovery and reorganization services. The Firm owes its success to over 2,000 employees, including more than 230 Partners in over 90 offices in Quebec, eastern Ontario and New Brunswick. For the past 30 years, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton has been a member of Grant Thornton International Ltd providing its clients with the expertise of member and correspondent firms in more than 100 countries.

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For more information:

Francis Letendre
Public Relations Consultant
Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton
Tel. : 514-390-4201
Fax: 514-554-1685
[email protected]

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20 Mar 2012

Michel Lefebvre

Since March 15, 2012, Michel Lefebvre, Tax Partner in the Montréal office, has had the pleasure of being a Huffington Post blogger as an ITC expert. Michel already has one blog entry on the site about mobility in Quebec and will produce regular blog posts going forward.

Le Huffington Post Québec is a general and exclusively Web-based news site, launched in February 2012. It uses various experts and external sources to supply its blog content.

Consult Michel Lefebvre’s Le Huffington Post Québec profile here

To read his first blog entry (Pleins feux sur la mobilité, French only), click here

Congratulations to Michel for achieving this major visibility! Visit the site to follow and comment on his blog.