Month: May 2018

vc funds
Equity

Build a better VC and founders will beat a path to your door

More capital seeking hard and fast returns

With returns from traditional asset classes eroded by low interest rates, there’s plenty of dry powder looking to ride the tech wave while it lasts. Amongst the riskier asset classes, (notwithstanding the cash flooding into cryptos and ICOs), VC is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for capital seeking hard and fast returns.

As an indicator, VC assets under managements have tripled in just 3-4 years, while corporate venturing is back with a vengeance. Pitchbook data also shows that recent VC vintages are distributing capital back to LPs at a much faster pace than older ones, as well as carrying down more than 70% of their capital by the third year of investment.

Compared to the return timelines of adjacent asset classes, one can see why VC presents an attractive alternative, especially with the average Private Equity fund taking a staggering nine years to achieve a Distribution to Paid-in Capital (DPI) of 1.0x.

The ‘Halo Effect’ of traditional venture capital

Fund performance data shows only a dozen of the top VC firms generate consistently high profits. Between 3-5 percent of firms generate 95% of the industry’s profits, whilst the big name funds in the upper decile rarely change.

In a world where these firms are only as good as their last unicorn, this creates a ‘halo effect’ around a handful of well-known, long-standing funds, making it much harder for new entrants with no track record to attract exceptional founders. Meanwhile, a VC fund requires a 3x return to be considered a good investment by LPs, creating a lot of pressure to identify outliers and invest in “fund returners”.

So what defines a VC fund’s success? Is it all about picking winners? Do the top funds have a magic-8 ball to predict the next big market, or the hottest new tech? Or are markets there for the taking, with interest from the top funds compounding valuations through a self-fulfilling prophecy? Surely, it’s all down to the agency of brilliant founders, who gravitate towards the funds with the most capital and the best advice?

VC’s differentiation challenge

While it is hard to assess the additionality of advice over cash, at a later stage, picking winners is notably easier: more mature startups are typically generating revenue (though still unprofitable) and have moved beyond the most uncertain market and product development stages. The odds of a successful exit are also higher, with average loss-rates down to 30% and shorter holding periods (six years, on average).

However, it is also harder for funds at this level to differentiate themselves and attract the best founders looking for the ‘smartest capital’ (cash + advice), although normally it defaults to whichever fund offers the highest valuation. So “if the pound in my pocket is no different to the pound in yours”, how can funds articulate their ‘value add’?

Scanning websites of the best-known funds, they highlight their talent network and team of GPs, but it’s the fund’s track record that stands out, but in practice, the additionality of cash plus advice is extremely intangible.

Since 2009, a handful of US funds, (most notably Andreessen Horowitz) have started to buck the trend, working harder for their portfolio, hustling for them, providing introductions to their network of customers, acquirers and next round money. At the same time, the rise of the micro-VCs (investing across the pre-Series A spectrum) has also crossed the channel into the UK and Europe. However, instead of following an identikit model, these funds are finding a better way…

The earlier the better?

Considering the circumstances, investing earlier makes a lot of sense, not least for pursuing fresh pastures, but also for the most capital efficient returns, where investors can justify a higher reward for the increased risk they are taking, following on relentlessly in the winners of each portfolio.

However, the risks aren’t trivial, and according to Pitchbook, the loss rate amongst pre-series A startups is greater than 65%. Mark Suster, an investor at Upfront Ventures, captures this in his “1/3, 1/3, 1/3” principle: He expects one-third of his investments to be written down to zero, one-third to return the principal, and the remaining third to deliver most of the returns.

There’s no shortage of microfinancing available to pre-seed (“idea” stage) startups (crowdfunding, ICOs, angels, grants, accelerators), but it takes more than just cash + advice to build a rocket, and traditional VC funds are not set up to operate at this level.

Breaking the “two and twenty” model

While accelerator models attempt to plug the gap, investing small amounts of cash, and providing advice via their support networks, they don’t provide startups with the rocketfuel they need. There are also more sophisticated ways of investing than placing small cheques on lots of different bets. VC can add a lot at this level, but at pre-seed and seed, the traditional venture capital model breaks down for three main reasons:

  1. From a risk-return perspective, fund economics don’t work. For most funds, it would require an unmanageable number of deals to beat the odds of a 35% success rate, and still return 3x to the the fund.
  2. The traditional VC workflow doesn’t scale: a handful of GPs/investors receiving polished pitch decks and warm introductions from well-networked founders stands in stark contrast to the thousands of “idea stage” submissions, and systematic screening efforts required. There’s a huge amount of serendipity involved, and this needs to be ‘designed in’ at scale.
  3. Most importantly, startups at this stage require more than just cash + advice. Founders need help to build stuff, and that requires resources most funds can’t sustain out of the traditional two and twenty model.

De-risking through operational support

At Forward Partners, we believe there’s a better way to support early stage founders. Charging a higher management fee to LPs (the percentage of their investment that contributes towards a fund’s operating expenses) unlocks a unique value-add in a team of operators. This allows funds to offer tech, growth and product expertise as well as the hands-on help that founders need in their first year of operations.

By offering a ‘scale up team in miniature’ with experience across UX, design, full-stack development, talent, growth, PR and comms, a VC can truly help to mitigate the mistakes made by early stage startups, build stronger foundations for startups.

About Forward Partners:

Forward Partners is the UK’s leading early-stage VC fund, providing a game changing combination of capital and operational support to supercharge tech startups. Our unique model is helping to build the UK’s next generation of talented AI, e-commerce and marketplace businesses.

proserv
Private ClientWealth Management

Preserving a Heritage of Excellence

Preserving a Heritage of Excellence

Proserv is a global leader with a worldwide presence, offering a fresh alternative in the delivery of engineering and technical services to the energy, process and utility markets. We spoke to Andy Anderson, Regional President MEA at Proserv, to find out more about the company and its innovative services.

Andy, could you begin by providing our readers with a brief overview of Proserv Middle East and the services you offer?

“Proserv is a global leader and a fresh alternative in the delivery of engineering and technical services to the energy, process and utility markets, supporting clients throughout the lifecycle of their assets. We operate in six regions throughout 22 facilities and 12 countries, offering 24/7 local support services. Core to the Proserv offering is our ability to manufacture, deliver and support solutions locally through our highly experienced pool of technicians and engineers.

“We have been based in the UAE for over 25 years, largely servicing customers across the energy sector, including offshore and onshore services, equipment design and manufacturing. Proserv has supplied the vast majority of installed wellhead controls in the region through its legacy brands – Brisco, CAC and eProduction Solutions.

“We deliver a broad range of hydraulic safety shut down systems for wellheads, chemical injection systems, downhole and surface sampling systems, from bases across the region; all of which are backed up by a strong technical team who are able to install, commission and maintain equipment in the field.”

Talk us through your approach to client service. How do you maintain the high standards synonymous with the Proserv brand?

“Meeting and exceeding our clients’ expectations is vital to ensuring our ongoing success. We strive to develop and maintain this through establishing business relationships built upon experience, competency and trust. We focus on regular face-to-face engagement with our clients, taking the time to understand their requirements.

“We then revert with a solution that is in line with our company ethos – Ingenious Simplicity. This concept is based upon challenging convention in an industry that continues to ‘over engineer’. Ingenious Simplicity is about being flexible and responsive to clients’ needs, while reducing unnecessary levels of complexity in order to get the job done in a cost effective manner.”

Following on from this, what is it that makes Proserv Middle East unique? How do you distinguish yourselves from your competitors, and present yourselves as the best option for your clients?

“Proserv has an extensive brand heritage spanning over 40 years. Through our acquisitions, we have shown the importance of embracing this heritage alongside a commitment to constantly evolve and develop innovation.

“A key topic in our industry right now is ageing wells, and as a result E&Ps are searching for adequate partners to support their OEM requirements, without full system replacement. Many parts for the old wells are now obsolete or superseded and so Proserv has recognised this and positioned itself as a partner of choice who can re-engineer the part required to maintain production.

“Also, we actively listen and collaborate with our clients to find cost effective solutions for their maintenance and production issues. A great example of this was the development of our cost-effective Smart Box solution. Also, we are currently working on the development of an Asset Enhancement Global Intelligence Solution (AEGIS), which will be released, to our customers this June.

In order to provide quality services, exceptional staff are crucial, so please tell us more about the culture within Proserv Middle East and the things you do to maintain and develop it. What do you look for when attracting new staff and how do these traits help them integrate into your company?

“Our growth is driven by a team of dedicated and talented people who provide the company with expertise in engineering and business, creating pioneering solutions that allow us to remain competitive. As a service EPC, our people are our biggest asset and we nurture an environment that encourages creativity and employee-driven innovations.

“In the UAE, we employ more than 20 different nationalities and unite through a clear set of values. The five values – encompassing teamwork, service, communication, entrepreneurship and right thing, right way, guide each of our decisions and behaviours. When we recruit new people to join our team, we look beyond a person’s technical ability and experience and place emphasis on ensuring a person’s values are aligned to Proserv’s. Internally, we provide training for our staff, encouraging continuous development and learning through our internal ‘Proserv Academy’. One example is our ‘technician training school’ which we have developed and implemented for the needs of our Saudi business. The school will enable many young Saudis to gain the necessary skills to learn and develop as part of the Proserv family.”

As your regional headquarters are in the UAE, can you please tell us a bit more about the opportunities and challenges you experience being based there?

“The UAE has the world’s seventh largest proven reserves of both oil and natural gas, estimated at 97.8 million barrels and 215 trillion cubic feet. There is no doubt that oil will continue to provide income for both economic growth and the expansion of social services for decades to come. In the coming years, natural gas will play an increasingly important role in the UAE’s development – particularly as a fuel source for power generation, petrochemicals and the manufacturing industry.

“The industry itself is going through a difficult transition; CAPEX is not always a viable option for our end user clients and OPEX is typically only being spent to perform safety or production critical work. However, with ADNOC being restructured and the oil price creeping up towards $70 per barrel, new investments are planned for the short/medium term. These challenging times have called for a fresh approach in maintaining operational efficiency, whilst decreasing OPEX through scheduled and maintained inspections, but also longer term planning. Our approach has been to offer services across the complete life of field through locally supplied products and services. We have existing long-term service contracts with our clients, where we have proven we can repair or upgrade existing assets, rather than replacing them, thus enabling them to maintain production and reduce downtime at a fraction of the cost.

“The UAE serves as a Centre of Excellence for Proserv’s growing business and organisational presence in the Middle East and Africa market. Our regional headquarters and equipment-manufacturing facility is located in Dubai, while the service centre is located in Abu Dhabi.”

In your opinion, what are the key advantages to being based in the UAE? Are there any core areas of growth that you believe make it the ideal hub for your business?

“For some time, the UAE has been viewed as an energy hub/gateway for the Middle East region. While many companies located in the UAE solely distribute products made in the USA/EU across the Middle East market, Proserv manufactures and provides services from its local facilities in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“Proserv recognises that the best support for our clients is achieved by local, in country support. The energy industry is a 24-hour operation, and, as such, has a need for timely service capability. We are able to immediately mobilise service engineers/technicians with local visas/work permits to address unplanned events that can cause our clients expensive downtime via lost or reduced production. Also, we provide client specific intelligence solutions to map and track inventory parts, enabling us to provide or quickly call off replacement parts. Our focus remains on world-class respond and resolve solutions.”

Reflecting on the past 12 months, what have been the most prevalent trends in your industry and how has your business adapted around these?

“Last year was a year of innovation for us. Our track record, coupled with our ability to create new value for our clients, allows us to continue to expand our business. The opening of our facility in Saudi Arabia – an Aramco Approved Manufacturing and Service Facility – was a key moment for us back in 2016 with the region very much continuing to be a key growth market for us.”

Looking ahead, what does the future hold for Proserv in the Middle East? Do you have any future plans or projects you would like to share with us?

“Moving forward, Proserv will continue to secure its footprint within the GCC through the establishment of a Manufacturing & Service facility in KSA, as well as investing in expanding our service centre in Abu Dhabi. This will further strengthen our capabilities and capacity to service the increasing demand for our product and services within the region.”

Contact Details 

Company: Proserv Middle East

Address: Jebel Ali Facility, Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai, 16922, UAE

Phone: 00971 4 808 3500

Website: www.proserv.com

Select Element
Bowmark Capital
Corporate Finance and M&A/Deals

Bowmark Capital backs buy-out of leading alternative legal services provider

“This is all about access to capital for our next stage of growth,” comments LOD CEO Tom Hartley. “We have been exploring alternative options since the summer of 2017 following our successful merger with AdventBalance in Asia and Australia in 2016.”

Neville Eisenberg, BCLP Partner responsible for LOD, said: “BCLP is extremely proud to have been a pioneer in the alternative legal services market. Nurturing the creation of LOD over 10 years ago, and supporting its growth and considerable influence over the legal market as a high quality provider of flexible legal services, has been an extraordinary journey for us all. We believe that LOD is ideally placed for further growth and that this new investment by Bowmark will help facilitate LOD’s ambitious plans. BCLP has committed to remain close to LOD, partnering with the business for its flexible lawyer needs and we look forward to seeing the results of this exciting new chapter in LOD’s development.”

Bowmark Managing Partner Charles Ind said: “We have been tracking the alternative legal services sector for a number of years and are delighted to have the opportunity to become the principal shareholder in LOD and support the whole LOD team as they build on the impressive growth they have achieved to date.”

Hartley adds, “BCLP has been a great owner, client and partner and this is the logical next step for us to take. LOD has already been a separate entity from BCLP for the last six years, during which time we’ve seen excellent growth.  We want to maintain that expansion by continuing to add new service lines, geographies and technology to our existing offering for our lawyers, consultants and clients. LOD is now in the perfect position to continue to lead the alternative legal services market supported by the capital and expertise of Bowmark.”

DasCoin
Finance

Dascoin Now Listed On Coinmarketcap.Com

Coinmarketcap is used by crypto experts and new adopters alike and is ranked as the 44th most popular website in the US according to Amazon rankings.  DasCoin’s Coinmarketcap listing gives the coin and its associated ecosystem, heightened credibility in the sector.

Michael Mathius, CEO of DasCoin said: “We’re excited to be recognised by Coinmarketcap.com.  This shows how much we’ve developed DasCoin and gives us enhanced visibility within the cryptocurrency space.”

Coinmarketcap lists more than 1,600 cryptocurrency prices among other key statistics about the coins and tokens including:

  • Total market capitalisation
  • Current price
  • 24-hour trading volumes
  • Circulating supply
  • Gain/loss

In April, DasCoin became available to trade on public exchanges CoinFalcon, BTC-Alpha and EUBX with several more in the pipeline.  DasCoin will only be traded on public exchanges that operate the same strict “Know Your Customer” authentication protocols that underpin DasCoin itself.

More than 750 million DasCoin have already been minted since March 2017. Members of the NetLeaders community purchase licenses giving them access to a certain number of Cycles – units of capacity – on the blockchain. These Cycles can either be used for a variety of services or submitted to the DasCoin Minting Queue and converted into DasCoin. There will be a total volume of 8.589 billion DasCoin.

DasCoin possesses and operates best-in-class Blockchain technology based upon BitShares’ distributed ledger technology, known as Graphene.  BitShares is one of the longest ledger in existence and is one of the highest performing ledgers with capacity exceeding 100,000 transactions per second.

Addtionally, DasCoins are not “mined” like those of Bitcoin and other proof-of-work coins. The minting process results in a significant reduction in energy consumption, as well as a more equitable distribution of value.

About DasCoin: DasCoin is a better way to store and exchange value and is the next step in the evolution of money. 

DasCoin is the blockchain-based currency at the center of an innovative digital asset system that seeks to optimize the strengths and eliminate the weaknesses of existing currency systems. It is fast, efficient, balanced, secure and scalable. 

DasCoin is focused on creating a digital currency that delivers superior performance through greater operational efficiency, increased transaction capacity, wider distribution, better governance and greater regulatory compliance. Protected by industry leading security protocols and a permissioned blockchain, DasCoin is a pioneer in the sector with the goal of becoming the world’s first mainstream digital currency.

Website: www.dascoin.com

Issues

Issue 5 2018

Click the image below to read this months issue!

Wealth & Finance Magazine Wealth and Finance Wealth & finance banking finance funds markets regulation risk management tax wealth management market trends stock trends stock market trends wealth management magazine wealth magazine finance magazine

Wealth & Finance Magazine is a monthly publication, which provides an array of news features, and articles from across both traditional and alternative investment sectors. In the fifth issue for 2018 of the magazine, we cover a vast range of subjects from financial advisors, education and training specialists, and alternative asset management firms. This month’s issue is packed full of insightful articles for you to read.

In recent news, GCM Grosvenor announced that its Labor Impact Infrastructure business has adopted a Responsible Contractor Policy that includes an agreement to proactively collaborate with the North America’s Building Trades Unions (“NABTU”). The policy will ensure “responsible contractors,” including contractors who are signatories to collective bargaining agreements, are part of the bidding and selection process for its Labor Impact investments.

In this month’s edition, we discover more about Learn to Trade, which is a forex education and training specialist. The firm offers a range of courses that help people learn about and understand the forex market and the opportunities and risks within it. We recently spoke with their CEO, James Matthews who provided us with an insight into the firm and the exceptional services they provide.

Founded in 2008, Magni Global Asset Management LLC developed the Sustainable Wealth Creation principles, based on widely accepted economic concepts, by researching the accounting, legal, regulatory, adjudicative, and economic infrastructures of countries. Today, they are a global leader in country-level research on corporate governance. We profiled the leading firm and its team which gave us an insight into the company’s extensive accomplishments.

Elsewhere in this issue, Constantine G. Varley is a financial advisor attached to Synovation Financial Services, and specialises in a vast range of services. Recently, we caught up with Constantine to discover more about both his work and successful company, Synovation Financial Services.

Here at Wealth & Finance Magazine, we hope that you thoroughly enjoy reading this month’s edition, and look forward to hearing from you.

gdpr
Global ComplianceRegulation

Debunking Five Crucial GDPR Misconceptions

There’s now less than a month to go until the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, and yet research shows that many businesses are still struggling to understand what they need to do. Worse still, many remain unaware of the full extent of the legal implications of non-compliance – whether deliberate or accidental. A YouGov poll in March found that 72% of British adults hadn’t even heard of the regulation, whilst a study by Crowd Research Partners carried out in April found that just 7% of companies worldwide were ‘fully prepared’ for GDPR’s arrival.

These figures should be cause for concern, since GDPR represents a huge change in the way in which every business uses, manages and protects personal data. It enshrines the sanctity of personal data ownership with the individual, with businesses merely the custodians. And as Jan Phillip Albrecht LL.M, Member of the European Parliament and Vice Chair of its Civil Liberties, Home Affairs and Justice Committee wrote in 2016: “It is paramount to understand how GDPR will change not only the European data protection laws but nothing less than the whole world as we know it.”

With this in mind, here are the five most common myths about GDPR, and some steps you can take to ensure you’re on the way to being geared up for the change.

This isn’t just about the EU

One of the biggest misconceptions about GDPR seems to be that it’s only an issue for companies physically based in the EU. This is not the case. GDPR essentially applies to any business anywhere in the world wanting to sell products and services to EU customers, or monitor their behaviour using personal data. In other words, if you’re based in Dubai wanting to do business with a customer in Germany, then GDPR – or equivalent standards – still apply.

It’s not as simple as following the rules

One of the reasons why GDPR is causing a certain amount of angst – amongst those who have, in fact, heard of it – is that it is principle-based regulation, which means that judgement will be based on whether data has been processed in accordance with designated principles, rather than hard and fast rules. If a company is investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), then the ICO will look at whether ‘effective’ consent has been obtained by the data’s owner and whether that data is deemed ‘current’. This leaves the door open for interpretation, which would be entirely at the ICO’s discretion and involve a legal-based assessment. This means there’s a big job for the legal profession in helping businesses understand and act on their responsibilities.

It’s about more than just compliance

The other source of confusion in all of this is that many companies have assumed that this is a compliance, or even a technical issue, which can simply be left to the relevant team to deal with. The problem is that GDPR is so all-encompassing that any individual handling data in an organisation will undoubtedly require training to understand the regulatory demands and what to do in order to comply. It also means assessing processes for handling a serious data breach and examining every contract – with employees and subcontractors – to ensure that they are GDPR compliant. For some companies, it may also mean hiring a dedicated data protection officer or at the least gaining specialist legal advice on their current practice and system.

Technology is no panacea

Likewise, GDPR is not something that can be ‘fixed’ with technology. A lot of people have mistakenly assumed that GDPR is only concerned with extreme data hacking cases, but the regulation imposes draconian sanctions for a range of other breaches, too. For example, if consent of use has not been properly obtained, or the data is not processed as set out in the regulations, then serious penalties, including hefty fines, could be on the cards. There are also some data breach risks that simply cannot be fixed by technology, for example a staff indiscretion or mistake such as leaving confidential information in a public place. What’s more, GDPR forbids reliance on automated decision making, as typically seen when loan companies refuse customers based purely on an automated credit score. The point is that this regulation demands that companies take a holistic and intelligent approach to the treatment of personal data – it’s not a question of picking and choosing the bits you want to adopt or relying on your systems to do the job for you.

This isn’t just another overhead

It’s hard to overstate the risk of getting this wrong – the potential fines are on a level we’ve never seen before in data protection. Certain infringements are subject to fines of up to €20 million or 4% of worldwide annual turnover – whichever is higher. Severe breaches also run the risk of class actions. But the fines only tell part of the story. The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal wiped around £25 billion off the social media platform’s value in the first 24 hours after the story broke and the reputational fallout continues. Businesses simply cannot afford the reputational damage that could be wrought by such a significant change.

Not sure if you’re in breach of GDPR regulations? Take the GDPR quiz to test your resilience.

Four things you should do straight away:

1. Review your processes for data breach notification, security and risk assessment.
2. Ask yourself whether the data you handle could be anonymised.
3. Review your contracts for GDPR compliance.
4. Consider hiring a data protection officer or seeking specialist legal advice.

http://www.bestcriminaldefencebarrister.co.uk/ 

FairFX
FX and Payment

9 top International Payment tips for businesses

Multi-currency payments provider FairFX has revealed that since the Brexit referendum, the Euro has decreased 13% against the pound increasing financial pressure on businesses who operate cross border.

Uncertainty over future trade agreements alongside fluctuating currency rates have put the spotlight on the cost of doing business internationally and highlights the importance of monitoring foreign currency transactions.

An estimated 17% of UK based SMEs are doing business internationally, boosting their own bottom line, as well as the UK economy.  Whilst international expansion offers access to new markets, ambitions for growth need to be well planned financially, starting with the basics.


35% of SMEs state cashflow is a barrier to growth, making smart currency moves essential when it comes to international payments, and by getting the best value for every international transaction, both business ambition and cashflow can be supported.


FairFX Top tips for getting the best value when making international payments

 

  1. Know what you want

To get the best international payment provider for your business you need to know what you want. Consider how regularly you’ll be sending and receiving money overseas, how many currencies you’ll need to transact in and understand the costs associated with making both singular and regular transactions. 

Fees and charges can vary by transaction type, day, time and speed you require the transaction to be completed in, so list out the different transaction types you may want to make and understand how the fees and charges can vary so you don’t get caught out. Understand how currency rates are set and how they compare to other providers. This can be confusing to unpick so speak to a currency expert if necessary.

 

  1. Review your current payment package

High street banks don’t offer the best value when it comes to international business payments. Using your current banking provider to handle international as well as domestic transactions may be convenient but defaulting to them might mean you’re missing out on better rates and lower fees.

As your business grows and develops, your business banking needs will also evolve and if you’re transacting regularly small charges can add up, meaning you could be paying a high price for an unsuitable service

  1. Select a transparent, convenient and consistent service

If you’re regularly buying from and selling abroad, fees could soon take a portion of profit from your bottom line. Pick a provider whose fees are transparent and made clear upfront so you can better manage your expenses. Look for a service where rates are consistently good – don’t be lured with teaser offers that expire and leave you trapped or unaware of post introductory fees and charges.

 

  1. Understand the market you’re operating in

Keeping track of currency movements can be easier said than done, so sign up for a reliable rate watch service, like the one provided by FairFX which alerts you when currencies you operate in have moved in your favour. This way you can make international payments when rates give you a commercial advantage.

 

  1. Maintain your standards

The rigorous standards you set for expenses and payments at home don’t stop when your employees pass border control, so find a solution where you are confident in who is spending what. Consider prepaid corporate cards which allow you to transact with competitive exchange rates and top-up in real-time, giving your staff the funds they need to travel for work, providing peace of mind and control over expenditure on a global scale.

 

  1. Watch the way your employees pay

When it comes to travel, regardless of whether your staff are hosting meetings or need to cover the cost of their own accommodation and essentials, make sure you’re in charge of the exchange rate they are using for their payments.

 

The FairFX corporate prepaid card allows staff to pay for expenses with the amount of money you have approved them to spend, whilst you can track and report on spending on the integrated online platform, so there is no reliance on employees using their own payment methods, choosing the exchange rate and fees charged and reclaiming the cost from your business.

 

  1. Benefit from the best rates

Exchange rates fluctuate from day to day with the euro currently 13% lower than before the Brexit referendum announcement, a sum that on a large transfer could make the difference between profit and loss. Consider a forward contract to ensure you can benefit from peak rates by fixing international transactions up to a year in advance.

 

  1. Ask an expert

If you are regularly making international payments it is worth finding an expert to help you with services not offered by your bank to help minimise risk and maximise the return of doing business overseas.

 

  1. Set up a stop loss or limit order

Protect your business against market downturns with the aid of a Stop Loss, which will ensure any losses are limited if you’re aiming for a higher rate and the market takes a turn.

Also consider a Limit Order where you set up ‘target’ exchange rates and ask your currency dealer to process the transaction when the rate you’ve set is achieved to give you certainty over how payments will affect your bottom line.


Ian Stafford-Taylor, CEO
of FairFX said:

“Easy access to international currency at market-leading rates whether travelling abroad or sending and receiving payments is vital for businesses breaking into and operating successfully internationally, especially in a market where rates are constantly fluctuating.

“Many small and medium sized businesses settle for high street bank accounts which can charge extortionate fees for international transactions and offer poor service. The right account and sensible planning could add up to big savings, something that SMEs can ill afford to waste in a competitive marketplace

“As future trade agreements post Brexit become clearer businesses could find themselves with heavy workloads as they adjust the way they operate, so finding a trusted payment provider and reaping every possible benefit when it comes to currency will continue to be crucial for success.”

5 Benefits of Investing in Contractors
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

5 Benefits of Investing in Contractors

5 Benefits of Investing in Contractors

By: James Trowell, head of tax and accounting at contractor specialists, Dolan Accountancy

For most startups, the most common issue they face is cash flow. The need to expand to increase that level of cash flow often involves hiring staff. Whilst this is a positive in terms of managing the ever increasing workload, paying for staff is another story as it absorbs even more of your income. The solution? Look to the flexibility and expertise offered by contractors.

In this article we will explore the top 5 benefits of using contractors to help you grow your business.

 

1. Affordability

The whole process of recruiting and training staff can soon add up cost wise. Recruitment agencies will often charge a fee for filling your vacancy and even advertising yourself can have an associated cost. You’ll also have to consider the cost of your time to train that person up in the role they have filled as well as their actual salary. By hiring a contractor to fill your position, you have the option to choose someone with the expertise or specialist skills that you need so the time needed to train them is often negligible.

2. Flexibility

Unlike a permanent member of staff, contractor’s can work on a project by project basis, so you could just pay for their expertise as you need it. Contractor’s tend to choose this path as they like to be able to set their own hours, which really could be a massive benefit for you. For example if you dropped an email on a Friday night with a list of assignments, you could be coming in on Monday morning to find the list is completed! Remember a contractor is a small business like you and good ones will be keen to meet deadlines, deliver above your expectations with the hope that you will want to engage in their services again.

3. Expertise

Contractor’s are unlikely to have made the move to contracting unless they are experts in their field. This means they keep up to date with the latest industry trends, be that in technology or statistics. This is excellent news for you, as you and your company can benefit for their knowledge. For example they are likely to adopt cutting edge technology and could suggest a new piece of software which could increase your productivity. Not only do you benefit from this knowledge but you also don’t have to pay for them as a salaried employee in the long term.

4. Attitude

When a new member of staff joins a business, they tend to need weeks if not months of training before they can contribute positively to your turnover. Contractors however are used to working on their own and getting on with the job in hand immediately. This means that they ‘hit the ground running’ so you will see a positive input to your business quickly. You will need to be good at setting clear briefs and expectations though, but you shouldn’t need to sit down and explain everything. Instead you can focus on your business knowing your contractor will be completing their projects in the background.

5. Availability

The great thing about using a contractor within your business is that they only need to work for you when required. So if you have a specific project you need some help on, but dont have the capacity yourself, a contractor can come in and fill that gap in the short term. They also tend to build relationships with their employers so that they can be called back in to make additions to their work or start new projects, with the knowledge that both parties have prior experience of eachother.

About the author: James Trowell, is head of tax and accounting at contractor specialists, Dolan Accountancy. Starting off in the admin team at SJD Accountancy James’ role expanded over the years, working his way to accountant and then team manager. Three months ago, Trowell took on the head of accounting and taxation position at Dolan

Are banking biometrics about to take off?
BankingSecurities

Are banking biometrics about to take off?


Are banking biometrics about to take off?

We’ve all been there; sitting at a computer struggling to remember a password, or entering the wrong pin number at a cash point while a queue forms behind you. Thanks to the rise in biometric technology, consumers can look forward to a decreased reliance on remembering alphanumeric passwords.

Through the integration of the technology into smartphones, people around the world have been using their fingerprints to unlock their devices for years and today millions of people are familiar with biometrics and its benefits. The recent unveiling of the iPhone X and Apple’s facial recognition system moves things one step further.

These applications have shown consumers how easy it is to use their biometrics to access their personal devices. This has created a consumer who is comfortable with the technology and have it integrated into other elements of their life, like banking or at the checkout – a point reinforced when looking at a recent study, where 86 percent of consumers said they are interested in using biometrics to verify, identity or to make payments. The financial sector has begun to react to this growing level of acceptance.

MasterCard recently announced its commitment to guaranteeing that every one of its customers will have access to biometric authentication services by April 2019 – a decision made off the back of their own research with Oxford University, which found 92 percent of banking professionals wanted to introduce biometric ID, and 93 percent of consumers would prefer biometric security to passwords. As we have seen before, new technologies challenge traditional business models and transform the way organisations interact with their customers – this is no different.

Many established financial institutions and economies around the world are now getting behind biometrics. In India, NCR has been involved in a nationwide rollout of next-generation ATMs offering biometric user authentication, in addition to cash recycling and other features that could prove beneficial for banks and customers.

Bahraini Fintech firm Eazy Financial Services offers the next step in the evolution of biometrics journey of creating a seamless customer experience. The company has been working with NCR on the region’s first biometric payment network. The system will allow consumers to register their fingerprint with their bank and use this biometric data to initiate ATM or point-of-sale transactions, removing the need for a card. The combination of security and convenience this technology delivers is an attractive proposition for a customer.

Today’s digitally driven consumers want the way they shop and bank to be consistent across every channel, including how they identify themselves when making a payment. As biometric identification increasingly becomes standard across smartphone devices, the combination of these two technologies is starting to win the battle for hearts and minds when it comes to simplicity, convenience and seamlessness across all channels.

However, there are still some hurdles to overcome as far as biometric technology is concerned, particularly when it comes to customer acceptance and security. One of the biggest causes of failure for technology is low adoption, and even though the figures show that consumers want to see more of the concept, the solution must be simple, logical and easy to use it if it’s to be adopted.

Like any burgeoning technology, biometric authentication still has its fair share of challenges to meet and questions to answer. But these obstacles are quickly being overcome, partly through the work of mobile phone manufacturers, which is paving the way for biometrics to become a vital component of the 21st-century payments landscape.

Duologi
Finance

Specialist finance platform launches to offer 30% sales boost to retail sector

Backed by global investment firm, Oaktree Capital, the company offers merchants the chance to increase their sales, boost customer satisfaction and grow profitability through the delivery of tailored point-of-sale finance options.

Duologi research shows that by providing finance options to customers, merchants can expect to achieve a 30% average uplift in sales, with 57% of shoppers saying they would have bought elsewhere if finance wasn’t available.

In the retail market which – in the past six months alone – has struggled with ongoing store closures and profit uncertainties, the question of consumer spending power is of particular importance. Duologi’s platform allows retailers to offer flexible loans to their customers, from £150-£25,000 on 3-60 month terms; many at a 0% interest rate. Lending decisions are typically made within just four seconds, allowing shoppers to immediately purchase goods, either online or in-store.

Unlike many other similar businesses currently in the market, Duologi does not offer a ‘one size fits all’ model; aiming instead to work with each partner on an individual basis to ensure a bespoke service is created for each. The platform is powered by ground-breaking technology, built from scratch in London, allowing retailers to quickly and simply start offering finance to their customers.

Duologi is led by co-CEOs, John Taylor and Gary Little, who between them count more than 50 years’ consumer lending experience at institutions such as Barclays and Close Brothers. Since launching in September 2017 as a two-man start-up, the business has already secured £100m in annual rolling commitments, with ambitions to have a seven-figure lending book within five years.

 

Gary Little, co-CEO of Duologi, said: “Retail is having a tough time at the moment, so it’s more important than ever that brands set their business apart from competitors and keep up with today’s savvy consumers. Innovative, user-friendly finance solutions can do just that; providing shoppers with the flexibility to purchase items from your store and pay back the cost in a way that suits them.”

 

John Taylor, co-CEO added: “Our vast experience in this industry means that our finance products are backed by decades of expertise and specifically tailored to the way the retail sector works. We look at each business individually in order to create an approach that fits with that particular organisation’s needs.

“There is a whole host of retail brands out there that we can support and add value to, and we are committed to building specialist solutions that will help these businesses deliver robust sales growth and customer loyalty. We are incredibly excited to be launching Duologi and look forward to working hard to create innovative solutions for our partners.”