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Editorial comment.

The traditional view that the festive season is a time for winding down is fast becoming one of those "I remember when ..." legends of idyllic Christmases in years gone by. Hazy memories of whole afternoons spent chatting up receptionists under garish office paperchains or sitting for hours in the local pub with a "client" are now as old-fashioned as bewhiskered gentlemen with tail coats and sideburns talking to ladies in crinolines while carving the fatted goose.

Memories, particularly of the rose-tinted variety, are notoriously unreliable, and it may be that firms were never quite as reckless with their time and money over Christmas as we now like to imagine. Certainly, ostentatious spending on corporate hospitality merely to outdo the competition fell from favour after the boom years of the 1980s. Equally clearly, imaginative and targeted entertaining is still alive and well (page 18). It seems that firms are becoming more creative and canny about how to spend their money to create the maximum effect. Successful hospitality is hard work and mistakes can be expensive, but companies that attract the right people to the right place at the right time will be able to enjoy a very happy Christmas indeed.

While firms may now be expecting their staff to work harder at, and show more results from, seasonal jollies, the end of the year is still a time for celebration and for taking stock of achievements. This can cut both ways, of course. Those who can clearly demonstrate success should expect their firms to offer suitable recognition. Those who cannot may find themselves sidelined or even penalised. This is why, according to the latest work by Sir Andrew Likierman, professor at London Business School, the finance function needs to improve its ability to measure and demonstrate real value (page 22).

The more we ask of people, however, the more we need to acknowledge and promote genuine success stories, which is why the CIMA and FM Awards are the high point of the institute's annual conference (page 7). The awards recognise talent, hard work and remarkable achievements at all levels, from part-qualified up to business leader of the year. Likierman himself has practised what he preaches so successfully at both the Treasury and London Business School that he has won this year's special award for his overall contribution to management accountancy.

Of course, individuals are not the only ones who have to demonstrate value. This December it is particularly important for the institute and FM to take stock and look to the future. As the institute contemplates a future with the ICAEW and CIPFA, president Roland Kaye is urging members to get involved in the debate (pages 11-12). At the same time, the magazine is going into a Christmas chrysalis in order to emerge in an improved format in the new year. The FM that arrives on your doormat in February will have more pages, a new design and an exam section aimed at part-qualifieds. It will go to all members and students worldwide. We hope you like it and will welcome your opinions. In the meantime, have a merry--and profitable--Christmas.
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Author:Prickett, Ruth
Publication:Financial Management (UK)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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