Just after the financial crisis hit, I was asked to present to a new corporate client. It became apparent during my preparation that the senior most attendee from the client shared my love of Charlton Athletic Football Club.
Keen to make an impression and prove that research presentations can deliver serious insight without sacrificing fun, I sought out a way to introduce this mutual footballing affection (some would say affliction). What followed was a simple line graph showing the correlation between Charlton’s league position and world GDP since 1990. I had expected to apply huge artistic licence to this analysis for comic effect but much to my (and indeed the audiences) surprise a strong correlation was evident. And so it continued. As the Eurozone crisis engulfed us all my beloved team were still grappling with the third tier of English football. When they finally escaped with promotion, economic sentiment also improved and core European markets came out of recession.
But as we move further into 2014, I have a real fear. On the footballing side things have not been going well. Charlton look most likely for a return back down to the third tier. Reason to be wary perhaps?! Well perhaps not.
Because on the economic side, 2014 looks like the point at which this quirky statistical relationship finally turns. Economic and, critically, corporate sentiment has turned markedly. There is a real sense that corporates will finally commit to investment through the release of the cash piles they have built during the crisis and / or through re-entering the more favourable debt markets.
This is encouraging. As my Occupier Predictions video maintains 2014 looks like a year of action.
It feels like the year when well-formed corporate real estate strategies will finally start to be implemented. It feels like the year when investment in the workplace – either existing or new – really starts to emerge. It feels like a year when platforms are built in emerging markets and portfolios are restructured to reflect new business models and business realities.
This is all good news. But my hope is that it is also a year when eleven men in red shirts start to show similar levels of confidence and invest their collective energies in getting to a better place themselves.