Financial Planner Michael Shepherd is to succeed Suzie Branch as the new chair of BPS Birmingham Future.

Shepherd, who has recently moved to Beckford James as an Associate, has worked in the city’s financial services sector for 14 years. His appointment will be confirmed at a dinner at Hotel La Tour this evening.

His deputy will be our very own Joint Managing Director, Rebecca Simkiss!

In his role as chair Shepherd will also join the board of professional and financial services representative body, BPS Birmingham.

In addition to promoting the greater involvement of young professionals in the city’s wider community, he said main theme of his tenure would be civic responsibility. As part of this, next year Birmingham Future will be using its resources to work in collaboration with other key city region organisations to find ways to close the skills gap, a situation that threatens to derail the future prosperity of the city’s professional and financial services sector.

“Birmingham is an exciting place to live and work. Every one of us knows that. But we have to recognise that as a city and as a sector we are not without our challenges. The ability for our sector to be able to engage and stimulate the talent of the future which will resource professional and financial services in the decades to come is in my view the most acute issue we face as a sector and a city,” he said.

“Living in a global economy where workplace opportunities now literally span the globe we can no longer rely on graduates choosing this city to make their lives and careers. If we are to succeed we need to motivate, skill and inspire the young people who already live here to want to join us and make their careers right here.

“The skills gap is at last finding itself at the top of the agenda. Politicians, business and business organisations are realising that this complex issue can no longer be swept under the carpet and left for someone else to discover and solve. We are excited that at last the city is getting a grip of the issues we have been talking about for some time and was starkly highlighted in the Future Commission.”

Outgoing chair, Ms Branch said the past year had been stimulating and while challenging at times, always interesting and nearly always hugely enjoyable.

“Twelve months ago I launched Birmingham Aspire. An initiative to reach out to young people and stimulate them, inform them and importantly mentor them to gain the skills they would need to work in the professional services sector and to take advantage of the diverse opportunities the sector can offer,” she said.

“Under the inspirational Anisa Haghdadi I am delighted to say Aspire has been launched and one year on is now achieving some significant results. It is still in its infancy but all the signs are that we are making good progress. We are beginning to see real signs that young people are grasping the potential to make successful and sustained careers in our sector.”