September 21, 2011 09:11 ET

SMEs Move from Boom-Bust to Trust

Entrepreneurs Seek a Solid Board That Can Guide Their Business

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Sept. 21, 2011) - SMEs value trust and loyalty above all else from their ideal company board according to a new SME study out by small business insurance specialist Hiscox*. Nearly half of the SME owners polled cited trust and loyalty combined (48%) as the most important attributes of a perfect board team, followed by direction and advice (20%) and business growth/financial management (17%).

Hiscox' business insurance expert, Joanne Musselle, commented: "Now more than ever employees have to earn their position at the top table by demonstrating their expertise and leadership skills. In today's complex business environment, male and female respondents both agreed, having trust and loyalty are the key attributes to successful boardroom leadership."

Behind the boardroom doors

In a qualitative assessment of leadership attributes, the study by Hiscox also found that:

  • The perfect board leadership team consists of a mix of expertise (44%), followed by a mix of experience (29%) and personalities (12%)

  • Creativity and decisiveness are two key attributes that can turn an ordinary employee into a board member

  • 56% of SME respondents said they brought positivity to the boardroom, while just 5% admitted to bringing aggression

The dream team

SME owners polled were also asked to select their top pick for their "dream board team." Sir Richard Branson topped the list with 33% of the votes, closely followed by The Apprentice's Lord Sugar (32%) and Microsoft's Bill Gates (28%). LastMinute.com's Martha Lane Fox and Net-à-Porter founder Natalie Massenet were the highest-ranking women to make the dream team board.

Psychologist Aric Sigman commented: "The fact that trust and loyalty were cited as the most important qualities of an organisation's board over business growth, really taps into the zeitgeist, symbolising a significant shift in social priorities and values. We've witnessed a move away from instant gratification towards a more sensible, measured, ethical way of planning business. British small businesses clearly got burned in the recent recession and have come out with a different set of priorities now."

The gender agenda

When asked about the "gender agenda," 44% of those surveyed said the ability to "do the job" was more important than the gender of their board team. The research also shows that only 5% of SME owners rate a mix of gender as key to a successful leadership team.

Notes to editors

*Research of 500 SME owners was carried out on behalf of Hiscox by RedShift from 10th – 14th March 2011 and 4th - 5th April 2011.

About Hiscox

Hiscox, the international specialist insurer, is headquartered in Bermuda and listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE:HSX). There are three main underwriting parts of the Group - Hiscox London Market, Hiscox UK and Europe and Hiscox International. Hiscox London Market underwrites internationally traded business in the London Market - generally large or complex business which needs to be shared with other insurers or needs the international licences of Lloyd's. Hiscox UK and Hiscox Europe offer a range of specialist insurance for professionals and business customers, as well as high net worth individuals. Hiscox International includes operations in Bermuda, Guernsey and USA. Hiscox Insurance Company Limited, Hiscox Underwriting Limited, Hiscox Europe Underwriting Limited and Hiscox Syndicates Limited are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

For further information, visit www.hiscox.com.

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