Month: March 2019

Articles

Brexit-proof Oliver Brown’s annual turnover set to hit £5million

Regarded as one of the finest gentlemen’s outfitters in the UK, Oliver Brown is the home to classic British ready-to-wear menswear and exquisite bespoke tailoring. Proprietor Kristian Ferner Robson brought the company out of liquidation in 1998 when it predominantly sold women’s country clothing. He has since transformed the business into a multi-million-pound success, with 50% growth predicted for 2019, building on the previous year’s growth of 50%.

The current Brexit-woes experienced by the high street are not affecting Oliver Brown – with more customers from Europe than ever before and spend per customer increasing significantly over the past two years, annual turnover is set to hit £5million. With worldwide appeal, Oliver Brown also attracts clients from the UAE, Australia and America –US trade is experiencing particularly strong growth, supported by the Breeder’s Cup.

At the helm of the business, Ferner Robson has used his knowledge, expertise and love of tailoring and formalwear to transform Oliver Brown’s offering. A wise decision in the early days to introduce the option to hire formalwear of the highest quality now sees Oliver Brown on target to hire over 2,000 morning suits over Royal Ascot week alone. Men’s suiting remains the key sector for the brand, with the number of suits sold growing exponentially with a 275% increase projected for 2018/19 compared to the previous year.

One of the most significant developments for their tailoring in recent years has been the store expansion – doubling in size in late 2017 – which provided space for a dedicated bespoke department. The decision to expand bespoke tailoring at Oliver Brown was borne out of the success of the existing alterations service and the brand hasn’t looked back since. Oliver Brown’s revenue from Bespoke services alone is on course to reach £750,000 by the end of 2019.

Oliver Brown boasts the most comprehensive collection of top hats in the world, as well as being an Official Licensee of Royal Ascot which contributes over £1million to the brand’s annual turnover. This licensee agreement activation was one of the greatest accolades for Kristian; as someone who spent his childhood attending race meetings with his father, this was ultimately where his interest of top hats and racing started.

Further establishing the brand in the racing world, many international champion jockeys and trainers come to the store specially to buy their suits for prestigious race meetings. Oliver Brown is also the official sponsor of the Chelsea Thoroughbreds syndicate, with Kristian himself owning a stake in a racehorse.

Alongside his love for horse racing and an extremely successful career in tailoring, Kristian also has a passion for property, having worked on a portfolio across the British capital. Kristian sought to secure an offer on his current house, a charming mews in Ladbroke Grove, by offering to make the suits for the agent who sold it to him. The interior was designed by Alberto Marcos Flores who created a scandi-inspired feel throughout by installing a living wall and digging a basement extension. Kristian’s property is currently listed with Strutt & Parker.

blockchain
BankingFinance

Swiss President Ueli Maurer to Attend 4th International Blockchain Conference

blockchain

Swiss President Ueli Maurer to Attend 4th International Blockchain Conference «CV Summit» in Zug

The CV Summit, held in the heart of the Crypto Valley, in Zug, Switzerland, has become one of the most important blockchain events in Switzerland. The summit’s 4th edition on March 27th will revolve around #BUIDL, focusing on the development of the technology instead of crypto speculations. The welcome address will be held by the President of the Swiss Confederation and Finance Minister Ueli Maurer, who is a strong advocate of the blockchain technology and the Blockchain Nation Switzerland.

The 4th edition of the CV Summit starts on March 26th with an Open House networking afternoon and the CV Competition Top 10 pitches at the CV Lab’s newly inaugurated Liquid Lounge. The Top 3 projects will then present their blockchain solutions the next day at the official CV Summit. The CV Competition is a startup contest for blockchain projects. Each competition targets a specific industry: this year everything revolves around the real estate industry. The winner receives $100,000 in funding, expert coaching and complementary working space at CV Labs.

On March 27th, the official CV Summit at the Theater Casino in Zug starts with opening remarks by the newly instated Mayor of the City of Zug, Karl Kobelt. The Mayor won’t be the only political representative at the summit: later in the day, the Swiss President Ueli Maurer will provide some updates on “Blockchain Nation Switzerland”. As the head of the Federal Department of Finance, Ueli Maurer is responsible for the new blockchain regulations expected in the next weeks.
Throughout the day, experienced industry leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs will be sharing their insights and views on how to #BUIDL towards the crypto spring. Notable speakers include Jorge Sebastiao (CTO Ecosystem, Huawei Technologies), Nathan Kaiser (Chairperson, Cardano Foundation) and Niklas Nikolajsen (Co-CEO and Chairman, Bitcoin Suisse), with more to be announced soon. Companies represented at the summit include Alethena, Bitcoin Suisse, Cardano, Coreledger, Forctis.io, Bank Frick, Generali, IOHK, inacta, Kucoin, Lamassu, Lykke, Mt. Pelerin, PwC & strategy&, Swiss Economics, SwissRe Sygnum, ZBX and others.

“Over the last two years, the CV Summit has become an integral part of the Crypto Valley community and the international blockchain scene. Themed #BUIDL towards Crypto Spring, this year’s edition shows how the industry is focusing on the further development of blockchain technology after the market correction in the so-called ‘Crypto Winter’”, says Mathias Ruch, Founder & CEO of CV VC and the CV Summit.

Glossary: #BUIDL
Crypto slang for “to build” – meaning do develop the technology and the ecosystems. Derived from the term “to HODL”, which is slang in the cryptocurrency community for holding a cryptocurrency rather than selling it. It originated in 2013 in a post on a Bitcoin forum message board, when an apparently inebriated user wrote “I am hodling” (sic) instead of “holding”.

Relevant Links:
Media Registration (Accreditation or media partnership)
Preliminary Program
CV Competition
www.cvsummit.com

Transactional and Investment Banking

Why Are Investor Relations So Important?

Sometimes overlooked by smaller funds and companies, there has been a surge in focus on investor relations, the investment equivalent of customer service, in recent years, with many businesses now dedicated entire websites, job roles and even departments to the practice. Staff Writer Hannah Stevenson discusses the importance of good investor relations in today’s financial market.

Following the implementation of GDPR, consumers, investors and businesses around the world are becoming increasingly aware of every communication they receive from a company.

As such, compliance, in all its forms, is now even more important to businesses than ever before, and in the financial and investment space this is as vital as it always has been, if not more so. Whilst it has always been crucial to success in the investment market, now compliance, and assuring investors of compliance, has been bought to the fore.

For example, the recent announcement that the UK Government is suspending its Tier-One Investment Visa Programme, with a view to making important changes to this to combat the risk of money laundering. Bruno L’ecuyer, Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Migration Council, made the below comment on the changes and how these would affect investors.

“The UK government may not have much influence with the European Parliament these days, but it has provided an object lesson in how to manage investor migration sensibly and for the benefit of its citizens.

“According to reports, potential investors will have to agree to undergoing a thorough audit of their financial assets, proving they have control of the required capital for at least two years, and will require audits to be undertaken by suitably regulated UK firms.

“Most notably, it appears the UK government recognises the value of investment migration and desires any investment made by individuals to have a greater impact on the UK economy, which is why it is apparently looking at scrapping its own government bond option in favour of directing investment into active and trading UK companies.”

As Bruno highlights, the importance of audits and transparency in this space is as vital as ever, and firms need to be able to prove to both their investors and the authorities that they are acting properly and are fully compliant with all relevant regulations to ensure their continued success.

This is why investor relations have, over recent years, become a vital aspect of any company, fund or asset manager. Many multinational companies, such as Hitachi, Etsy and the Coca Cola Company all operate their own investor relations departments, showcasing the increasing focus companies are putting on the role.

After all, as client satisfaction and feedback become buzzwords within the corporate space, it makes sense that investor relations should also increase in importance, and many companies and investors are now embracing this side of their business. Through strong communication and specialist support, companies, investors and fund managers can ensure that their investors remain on-side and that they understand that their money is in safe hands.

Foreign Direct InvestmentFunds of Funds

Bitcoin: Stability Not Likely For Burgeoning Investment Product

Since it first became accepted as an investment product, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been fluctuating in price and popularity, going from a viable replacement for cash and credit cards through to merely another flash-in-the-pan concept. Hannah Stevenson, Staff Writer, shares an insight into this product and how its value has changed since it first took off.

Cryptocurrencies, a digital currency that can be exchanged for goods and services in a similar way to cash, have been in circulation since around 2009, although they only became mainstream more recently. Some firms even started accepting it as genuine currency, whilst others have viewed it as an investment opportunity.

Over the years, the currencies have fluctuated in value, as investors and users alike try to understand their potential and adjust to the realities of using online currency as opposed to physical money.

On 8th May, the world’s largest and original digital currency, Bitcoin, jumped around 10 per cent within 24 hours, pushing past $3,700 for the first time in three weeks. Nigel Green, chief executive of deVere Group, commented on the increase.

“It was a relatively sudden jump, and, of course, positive news for those currently holding Bitcoin. However, the price only reached the top of the trading range and investors should not be popping champagne corks just yet.”

 “There are three likely drivers of Bitcoin’s price spike. First, there are widely published reports that according to a leaked interview with a commissioner, a Bitcoin ETF could imminently secure approval from the U.S. securities watchdog.

“Second, the development of the lightning network which will dramatically improve Bitcoin’s well-documented scalability issues, allowing it to move towards mass adoption. And third, the 2020 Bitcoin halving. The code for mining Bitcoin halves around every four years and the next one is set for May 2020. When the code halves, miners receive 50 per cent fewer coins every few minutes. History shows that there is typically a considerable Bitcoin surge resulting from halving events.”

“Bitcoin is the flagship cryptocurrency and, as such, we can expect when its values climb, it will drive prices of other major digital currencies such as Ethereum and XRP.”

This increase is a positive point for Bitcoin, which has faced many challenges in 2019 already, with a number of firms deciding that the currency’s popularity in 2017-2018 was not enough to continue to make it a viable option as a form of payment. 

Among those firms whose attitude towards Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is forward-thinking waste management firm, BusinessWaste.co.uk, which has recently said that it is ‘reluctantly’ no longer accepting cryptocurrencies – such as Bitcoin – as payment for its services.

The company originally announced it had become the first refuse and recycling business to accept these virtual currencies as payment in 2017 in order to give flexibility to their customers in an increasingly digital age. However, the firm says that despite its efforts, the uncertainties of the market are making digital currencies an unreliable source of payment.

Mark Hall, Communications Director of BusinessWaste.co.uk, commented on the figures and his firm’s inability to accept the currency as a form of payment.

“Cryptocurrencies have become much more mainstream in recent years – which is why we were happy to move with the times and accept these digital forms of money as payment. As a business we are dedicated to being thought leaders and innovating to provide the best service to our clients, and accepting internationally-recognised digital currencies was one way we could do that – but, as with many emerging technologies, there are still wrinkles to be ironed out within the cryptocurrency market.”

These forms of currency – which include the most well-known, Bitcoin, as well as other forms such as Ethereum and Litecoin – are not tied to a particular country’s economy as with standard, or fiat, currency. This means it has a tendency to be much more volatile than fiat currency; for example, in 2010, when the currency made its first real-world transaction, 1 Bitcoin (BTC) was worth less than £0.01. In December 2017, 1 BTC was worth over £15,000 – a fluctuation many times higher than a fiat currency would experience over a 7-year period.

This volatility has come to be considered an intrinsic hazard of a currency whose value works much like traditional stocks and shares – where market rumours and movement have potentially massive knock-on effects on its value. This could have potentially serious ramifications for businesses who accept crypto payments and then find themselves with a payment which has dropped significantly in value within a short period – such as in December 2017, when 1 BTC fell in value from £15,000 to £2,500 today in response a crackdown on improper practices in the market.

However, the popularity of cryptocurrencies has also led to unscrupulous users attempting to use ‘scam’ or fake coins to pay for goods and services. Cryptocurrencies rely on key information to verify that they are legitimate, such as the ‘white paper’ which details the origins of a coin, who made it, and how it works. These papers can be forged and simply just made up – which can cause businesses who end up with scam coins to be out of pocket, and as such firms such as BusinessWaste.co.uk have come to realise their fallibility and declined to accept them as payment.

Overall, the issue of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency’s effectiveness and continued acceptance rests on proving their legitimacy as a currency and creating systems where they can be safely traded. This will remain a challenge for the future and will provide many interesting developments for investors and users alike.

Cash Management

Gender And The Investment Industry: Why The Industry Needs To Focus On Women

The investment industry has been historically dominated by men, but in today’s society exclusivity is key, as Staff Writer Hannah Stevenson highlights.

The gender pay gap has long been a key focus across the corporate market, with many firms seeking to eradicate it and usher in a new era for female empowerment. However, the equally pressing gender investment gap remains less focused on despite the fact that it is as, if not more, important.

Recently, an investigation from price comparison experts Money Guru has uncovered the top six reasons why women need to invest more than men, most of which revolved around the amount of unpaid work women did, whether it be caring, childrearing or the hours they spent poorly paid as a result of the gender pay gap.

Deborah Vickers, channel director at moneyguru.com commented on the findings of the firm’s survey and what they mean for society.

“We have never seen a gender gap when it comes to applications for credit at moneyguru.com which is great to see. Just a generation ago women were viewed as a riskier investment by banks and stores and often had to get their father or husband to sign for most loans. It shows real progress that just as many women as men are taking the lead when it comes to finding the right deals for them.”

 “However, these stats show that there is a still long way to go to empower women when it comes to their finances, especially if it is leaving them worse off in later life. Aversion to risk is something that we need to address across the board and in particular when it comes to supporting women to be more confident when it comes to financial investments.”

The underserving of women in the financial industry has also become apparent to deVere Switzerland, part of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations, which recently held the ‘Women in Finance’ summit in Zurich.

deVere Switzerland Area Manager, Daniel O’Leary, stated: “There are an increasing number of women-focused networks, events and initiatives but very few really drilling into the solution and ‘how to’ aspect of women achieving their financial goals and independence.

“But with a strong presence of women consultants in our office – more than 25%, which is considerably ahead of industry average – we are uniquely placed to help address the issue of women being historically under served by the financial advisory sector. This is why we launched Women & Finance, an invite-only event which was fully-booked within days. The strong demand is evident.”

Indeed, it appears to be one of the fastest growing areas of the industry. Recent estimates suggest that a third of the world’s private wealth is now in the hands of women. Research from Boston Consulting suggests that this number could hit £54 trillion by 2020.

When it comes to gaining investment in their business, women are equally unsupported, as Jenny Tooth OBE, CEO of UKBAA comments.

“UK Business Angels Association research has shown the disparity between the potential investment available for men and women. It found that over half (54%) of female angel investors had backed at least one female-founded business whilst only a small minority of male investors had done the same.

“It’s an old trope: men are cavalier with money, women are cautious. I’m usually reluctant to go along with generalisations, but when it comes to the pitching room I find that female entrepreneurs do undersell themselves; asking for just enough, or even less investment than they need. I hear myself saying: “Are you sure that’s all?” Whereas with men, I’m met with outrageous requests. The truth is that neither approach inspires confidence in investors.

“But the trouble women face is that they are walking into rooms filled predominantly with men, for whom a cautious approach may be a red flag. Have a growth plan, work out how to execute it, and remember that investors are not the enemy. This will help to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders to promote women in business and good equal practices.”

These latest initiatives and studies show that the financial industry is, albeit slowly, turning towards a focus on female investments, and looking ahead the market will need to continue to drive funds and resources towards empowering women to invest to drive global growth.

Articles

British insurance industry learns more about investment opportunities in NRW, Germany

NRW.INVEST, the economic development agency of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) in Cologne, hosted an investor roundtable entitled “Investment landscape: Germany and the UK”. Around 40 British insurance companies and asset management companies took up the invitation to learn more about Cologne as an insurance location and investment opportunities in Germany’s most economically important federal state. The event took place in cooperation with the British Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), an independent think tank for dialogue on global financial and economic policy.

The focus of the seminar for the insurance and financial services sector was on opportunities to enter the German market, the trending topic InsurTech and how to deal with current political developments in the United Kingdom. London is one of the most important hubs in the global insurance market. For the British sector, North Rhine-Westphalia and in particular the city of Cologne can offer numerous points of contact. “With an abundance of primary insurers, reinsurers, insurance sales companies and brokers, Cologne boasts a cumulative wealth of know-how. In addition, we have a unique university landscape in this segment: Nowhere else is there a greater choice of highly qualified graduates than here,” says Dr. Werner Görg, President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Cologne, emphasizing the benefits for companies interested in settling in Cologne.

“NRW is a diverse business location that has been offering British investors optimum opportunities for success in both the industrial sector and the service sector for decades,” says Petra Wassner, CEO of NRW.INVEST. “Our federal state is Germany’s No. 1 investment location for UK companies. Around 1,500 British companies have already settled here – that is 22.1 percent of all British companies in Germany.”

Background: Insurance industry in NRW

The insurance sector is one of the key industries in NRW. In terms of the number of companies based here and the number of employees, NRW is the largest insurance location in Germany. In Cologne alone, more than 28,000 people work in this sector. More than 150 national and international insurance companies, including industry giants such as Axa, DEVK, Gothaer and Zurich, have their headquarters or a branch on the Rhine. In addition, the active Insurtech scene offers cooperation potential for the development of new digital business models in the industry. InsurLab Germany in Cologne, an initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs, advances innovation and digitalization in the insurance industry and promotes cooperation between start-ups and established companies. Besides the Rhine metropolis, Düsseldorf and Dortmund have also established themselves as leading insurance locations in NRW. Düsseldorf is home to 26 insurance institutes, including Ergo and Provinzial, as well as international insurers such as Mitsui Sumitomo and Interlloyd. In Dortmund, groups such as Continentale and Signal Iduna value the city’s service-oriented environment and the great potential of qualified specialists in Dortmund as a research and innovation location.

Press releases

Innovation Leadership Forum

The Innovation Leadership Forum (ILF) is a visionary and original Think & Do Tank dedicated to helping organisations understand and improve their innovation performance. It does so through a number of different avenues such as a series of MasterClasses, Advisory & Coaching Services, Workshops, Presentations, Public Speaking, and the Innovation Wave®, a tool for the facilitated assessment of innovation capabilities. 

The ILF was set up by Dr Bettina von Stamm in 2004, allowing her to pursue her longstanding passion for understanding and enabling innovation, a field in which she has worked independently since 1992. In addition to the ILF activities she enjoys teaching and writing. Her three books to date are, ‘The Innovation Wave’ which is an introduction to a holistic approach to innovation (Wiley, 2002), her textbook ‘Managing Innovation Design & Creativity’ (2nd edition 2008), and, most recently, ‘The Future of Innovation’, an inspirational compendium of over 220 views from 57 countries, knitted together through commentaries by Bettina and her friend and colleague Dr Anna Trifilova (Gower 2009).

 

For more information visit: http://www.innovationleadershipforum.org/

FX and PaymentTransactional and Investment Banking

Cryptocurrency: What it means for divorcing couples.

Bitcoin is known as the “gold standard” of cryptocurrency. Chances are you’ve heard of it but may not really understand its importance and growing relevance. In recent years, however, banks, governments and crucially divorce lawyers are beginning to take a much more forensic interest. And if you own bitcoin or have a spouse that does and you’re heading to the divorce courts, it’s essential that your lawyers not only understand this very new type of asset but are familiar with tracing it and valuing it.

 

So, what is Cryptocurrency? 

 

Essentially cryptocurrency is a virtual currency which has no physical form as it exists only in the online network, that network is completely decentralised so there is no third party bank or government that the currency has to go through, instead, the technology allows users to send bitcoin directly to another person (this allows users to be pseudo-anonymous as details that a bank would usually want to verify identity are not required).  The details of the transaction are encrypted, and the transactions are then bundled into and recorded on a “blockchain” the details of which cannot then be changed by anything or anyone and are based purely on a mathematical algorithm.   

 

Why do divorcing couples and lawyers need to know about it?

 

Just as with cash in the bank or property, cryptocurrency is an asset which the court will have the power to distribute within the divorce case. It follows, therefore, that a holding must be disclosed within the proceedings as both parties are under a duty to provide full and frank disclosure of all their assets at the outset of the case and ongoing. However, for as long as there have been divorces, there have been parties who try to hide assets. 

 

The courts are certainly used to this kind of bad behaviour and have a number of powers at its disposal to deal with offenders. However, bitcoin is a very new type of technology, established only in 2009 and, therefore, is only recently starting to appear in divorce proceedings. Divorce lawyers and the courts are having to learn a whole new language for dealing with this new technology. 

 

Tracing cryptocurrency. 

 

The first most important step is to establish that cryptocurrency exists. If it is disclosed by the owner, then all well and good. However, cryptocurrency, by its very nature, is pseudo-anonymous and, because it is unregulated, it is much harder to trace. It is, therefore, much easier for a spouse to either hide the existence of cryptocurrency or the value of their holding than with other kinds of asset.

 

In order to establish the existence or ownership of cryptocurrency, a search needs to be made of money entering the digital arena. It is much easier to trace cryptocurrencies that are traded via an online exchange and bought with funds from a bank account as that initial transaction can be relatively easily identified. If found that would give a party a strong basis to argue that their spouse owns cryptocurrency and that further investigations should be ordered by the court. 

 

However, once within the digital arena it is much more difficult to trace where the money goes next, or if the initial purchase was made directly. If then moved offline, for example if a person transfers their digital wallet containing their holding onto a USB stick, tracing becomes virtually impossible. 

 

A digital forensics expert will almost certainly be necessary. They can be instructed to search the alleged holder’s computer and email to try and find the relevant purchase transactions and trace the wallet where the cryptocurrency is held. A court order giving permission for this will be necessary and would likely be ordered if there is sufficient evidence (in the form of the initial transaction) or perhaps reasonable suspicion that cryptocurrency exists. 

 

A word of warning however. Care should be taken not to spend more money on hiring professionals to search for the cryptocurrency than what it is worth. Of course, one will not necessarily know how much a holding might be worth until they find it, a very difficult catch 22 situation but one that needs to be considered regularly. A good divorce lawyer will be able to guide a client on this. 

 

What is cryptocurrency worth?

 

This is perhaps the most difficult question to answer. As with stocks and shares, the valuation can change throughout the divorce process, but with cryptocurrency the market is much more volatile. The value of cryptocurrency is liable to change drastically throughout the divorce proceedings; a spouse with a substantial bitcoin holding at the start of the divorce process might have diminished considerably by the time of final hearing or settlement. It will be imperative, therefore, to obtain a valuation at every stage of the process and prior to any settlement negotiations so that the parties know what they are dealing with

 

 

 Dr Stephen Castell, commented:

‘Given the high volatility of cryptocurrency prices, and the possibility of compromise, and even theft, if the holding in question is retained only within a centralized exchange (there have been several high-profile instances of compromised cryptocurrency exchanges, and/or such exchanges going bust), the divorce lawyer may decide to seek from the court an order to sell the cryptocurrency at an early point in the proceedings, or, alternatively, to do this, as a matter of prudent protection of asset value, by mutual agreement between the parties.  This could remove uncertainty and volatility and fix and secure the value of a cryptocurrency holding in more reliable, more liquid, currencies, such as USD or GBP, to be placed in an escrow bank account pending resolution of the divorce proceedings.’

 

However, whilst the courts retain their discretionary powers to redistribute assets on divorce in accordance with the section 25 factors it is unclear what powers the court will have to actually redistribute cryptocurrency holdings themselves if they exist only in the network and if there are difficulties with realising their value. As this is new technology and as yet there are no reported cases dealing with these assets giving practitioners guidance on how to advise clients, it is clear we are entering a brave new world. Added to that the fact that there is no regulation it raises questions as to how any Order for Transfer or Sale could be enforced. 

 

Nonetheless, cryptocurrency is here to stay, and the author predicts that this type of asset will become more prevalent as time moves on and the language that lawyers use, and the powers of the courts, will evolve with it. 

 

A City Law Firm recognise digital assets are a valuable commodity that needs addressing in Wills; business transfers and as discussed during divorces. We understand not every divorce financial arrangement is clear cut, so we do get to understand the issues in detail as the landscape changes we are there to move with it 

Karen Holden is the Founder of A City Law Firm

Cash Management

POS goes Mobile – Is this the death of CASH

 

  • Mobile POS Systems forecasted to reach $660 million USD by 2025
  • Bank and ATM closures mean limited access to cash
  • Opens opportunities for small businesses and hospitality trade

 

The future of payment is going mobile.  Over the past few years we are seeing a steady decline in cash transactions with two thirds of payments made by card.  With the introduction of contactless it is much easier to tap and go rather than take cash out of the bank.  

 

Mobile POS or the abbreviated term mPOS is a payment system that allows customers to pay on a business mobile.  Many businesses are using this method of POS as it allows them to take payment in a far more efficient way as opposed to having a POS fixated in some part of the building. Presently, the market size of Global Mobile POS Systems is valued at 170 million USD.  According to recent published report Global Mobile POS Market 2019 forecasts that this figure will accelerate to 660 million USD by 2025.

 

As we are heading to a cashless society, businesses that operate on a cash only basis are losing out on customers, such as small businesses like nail salons and the take away shops down the high street.  This type of businesses cannot afford to lease or sign up to a fully integrated EPOS system as it is associated with an exorbitant cost that most cannot afford.  

 

Increasingly small and independent companies are catching on to mPOS.  The benefits for a retailer from going to cash only to cashless only are many.  There are considerations to take on board when handling cash on a business premise.  For one there is the cost of insurance. It eliminates time and manpower spent cashing up at the end of the day.  More importantly bank branches are closing at a rapid rate since a lot of customers are choosing to do their banking online. As a result, businesses are struggling to bank cash and are having to use the services of a cash courier which is another cost to manage.  ATM’s are fast disappearing which means limited access to cash has propelled card payments and businesses need to accommodate if it wants to survive in what is fast becoming a cashless society.

 

The incentives of mPOS are attractive. Most mPOS providers are offering no contracts, no set up fee and instant activation.  Here are the top five mPOS providers: 

 

  1. iZettle
  2. Square POS
  3. Shopify POS
  4. Pay Pocket Mobile
  5. Charge Anywhere

 

A1 Comms, a specialist in business communications have seen an increase in the purchase of business mobile phones especially amongst independent cafes, restaurants and market/stall holders.  A1 Comms understands small businesses  are independent in nature, and so they want to minimise overhead costs. Due to the agile nature of the business in which they operate, they are looking for cloud-based solutions to help support with the continuous changing dynamics. 

For more information please get in touch with [email protected]

Securities

Ashfords LLP, Apex Airspace and MHA MacIntyre Hudson hosting seminar on Airspace Development

Law firm Ashfords LLPs’ Paul Olliff, a Legal Director in the firm’s Real Estate Team, is collaborating with property firm, Apex Airspace, and Chartered Accountants, MHA MacIntyre Hudson, to host an informative presentation – ‘The only way is up’ – on airspace development.

Ashfords’ Paul who advises both national and international clients on a range of commercial real estate matters is a key speaker at the educational event. Topics will cover why airspace development can make existing assets deliver more, generate new value and save substantial costs.

The event is being held on Friday 1 March at St Paul’s Cathedral in London and is set to attract a wealth of property developers, landlords and investors all looking to enhance their value or collaborate to realise value in airspace across the City.

Pioneers in airspace development, Apex Airspace, convert unused airspace above residential, commercial and public buildings into new homes. The company is passionate about how airspace development can help to solve the capital’s housing shortage and are thrilled that the Mayor of London has approved a £10 million deal with Apex Airspace which will see 500 new homes built, of which 50% will be affordable. It is the first time the Mayor has supported an “airspace developer”. Apex will use the funding to create homes above existing ones or over stations, offices, shops and car parks.

Ashfords’ Paul commented:

“It’s not surprising that developing airspace is becoming so popular, particularly in London, given the lack of space on the ground and the lack of residential housing, coupled with the advances in construction techniques. The funding authorised by the Mayor of London for such a development shows its rise to prominence on a national and political scale. I’m looking forward to speaking at the seminar alongside Apex, who have just secured £10 million from Sadiq Khan and are one of (if not the) leader in this sector.”

For more information please contact Paul Olliff, Legal Director in Real Estate at Ashfords LLP, on [email protected] or call 020 7544 2455.

Corporate Finance and M&A/Deals

Guidant Global appoints Director to drive strategic growth in Australian market

Guidant Global, part of Impellam Group is delighted to announce that it has appointed Doug Edmonds as Director, APAC with a responsibility to drive future growth in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The move comes as the global leader in talent acquisition and managed workforce solutions continues to make rapid progress in expanding and transforming its portfolio across international markets.

The announcement follows PwC’s latest CEO Survey – which found that 71% of Australian business leaders feel that a lack of key skills is a threat to growth – with many facing barriers to building the required workforce because of limited insights into current workforce capability and future requirements.

Guidant Global champions a better, more forward-thinking way of working and has a core philosophy of shifting the focus to people – the vibrant force that drives thriving businesses and creates energy and opportunity. With extensive experience in resourcing and managed service recruitment in Australia and Asia, Edmonds is well placed to lead the company’s strategic plans to deliver its global expertise in a way which is tailored to the local geographies. In fact, Impellam is no stranger to the region. As well as Guidant Global, group companies Comensura, Medacs Global Group and Carbon60 all have significant operations within Australasia and Guidant Global already operates in India, China, and Malaysia.

Commenting on his appointment, Doug Edmonds, Director at Guidant Global, said: “Here in Australia, and indeed in wider Asia markets, there is a real need for Guidant’s collaborative, creative and agile approach to managed service recruitment. I look forward to reconnecting with the APAC market at a time when employers are seeking solutions around talent management – and in a capacity where I can deliver Guidant Global’s commitment to finding better ways of working.”

Simon Blockley, CEO of Guidant Global, added: “This is a significant appointment for Guidant Global at a time when we are increasingly extending existing programmes into Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. Opportunities in this region are vast, and I have no doubt that Doug’s extensive experience and passion makes him the best person to drive growth strategy across APAC markets.”

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Tax Preparation Specialist Issues Tax Relief Guidance for Employees Who Incur Work-related Expenses

Employees in the UK are being encouraged to explore their tax relief options to ensure they are not left footing the bill for their work-related expenses. Tax preparation specialist David Redfern, managing director of DSR Tax Claims Ltd, added his support to a HMRC Twitter campaign to ensure that employees are made aware of their entitlement to various tax reliefs which are open to them.

 

While taxpayers who are required to submit a Self Assessment tax return tend to have a good awareness of the various business expenses they are entitled to claim tax relief for, employees who are taxed via the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system frequently have less knowledge of tax relief options. Redfern commented “Taxpayers who pay their tax through the PAYE system often have the mistaken belief that they aren’t entitled to tax relief, yet many employees would be surprised to know that there are a number of areas of tax relief for their day to day working expenses that they could be entitled to. Perhaps they work from home or wear a uniform to work that they are responsible for laundering – these are all hidden areas of tax relief that employees should be aware of to make sure they aren’t missing out”.

 

Redfern has discovered that travel expenses regularly form the greatest proportion of potential employee tax relief, with employees able to claim mileage for any work-related journeys they make in their own vehicle, excluding their journeys to and from their usual place of work. HMRC have approved mileage rates which can be used to calculate the tax relief that can be claimed, with car journeys up to the first 10,000 miles being worth 45p per mile. In addition to mileage rates, employees can claim travel expenses such as public transport costs, parking fees as well as overnight accommodation and food and drink costs for business travel outside of the employee’s normal journey to work. Redfern stated “HMRC allows these expenses to be claimed as tax relief because they recognise that employees shouldn’t be left out of pocket just for doing their job – however, the expenses do need to be incurred for business purposes and there needs to be some evidence that they were actually incurred so keeping accurate records of mileage and expenses is vitally important”.

 

Other work expenses that can form tax relief entitlement include the costs of laundering and maintaining any work uniform they are expected to wear, or repairing and replacing tools and equipment required to undertake the employee’s job. Redfern commented that this can include professional subscriptions and union fees which are required as part of the employee’s job role, stating that “These hidden expenses can soon mount up but if these costs are essential to your job, they can often be claimed as tax relief. Laundry costs can be claimed as a flat expense if you haven’t the patience for calculating exactly how much you spend cleaning your work uniform – HMRC issues a list of flat rate expenses per profession, which can make claiming much easier, and there is a standard £60 flat rate for those professions which aren’t listed”. Initial purchase costs cannot be claimed as tax relief.

 

Flat rate expenses can also be used to calculate costs associated with working from home, dependent on the hours per month spent working from home. Redfern added “HMRC’s flat rate expenses are an ideal way of ensuring that claiming tax relief is a simple process. People can be put off by the notion that it will be a complicated process so the flat rate system is great for those taxpayers who don’t want the hassle of keeping receipts and calculating exact costs”. However, for those taxpayers who believe that their expenses are greater than the flat rate deduction rate, there is the option of claiming exact expenditure providing they provide evidence that the expense was incurred.

 

Redfern emphasised that these tax reliefs cannot be claimed if the employee has already been reimbursed for their expenses and any expenses must have been incurred for work purposes only. He added “In most cases, claiming these tax reliefs is a simple online process – however, if your expenses are greater than £2,500 in any tax year, you will need to register for Self Assessment to claim them”.

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With Great Speed Comes Great Responsibility: Securing the Future of Banking

Driven by new technological capabilities and ever-increasing customer expectations, the pace of change in financial services is increasing exponentially. Consumers of financial services want everything to happen more quickly, from real-time payments to immediate access to deposited checks. In the midst of this push for speed, it is essential not to sacrifice security. And it needn’t be an “either or” proposition. With the right approach, financial institutions can balance speed and security, and use both to enhance their customers’ experience.

 

Developing such an approach requires an awareness and acknowledgement of potential risks in the current financial services landscape. Along with greater speed come new fronts in the fight against financial crime. Here are three areas to prioritise.

 

Detecting Financial Crime in Real-Time

A decade ago, transactions typically moved in batches and high value payments took hours – if not days – to process. Real-time offers a wealth of opportunities to the industry, businesses and consumers, but there are inherent risks to any evolution in financial services.  As money moves more quickly and the window for detecting and stopping bad transactions narrows, fraud prevention takes on increased urgency. When all the processing and network steps are considered, each must be completed within a second at most, including validation, compliance checking, accounting and fraud detection.

 

Arising as a result of European regulations, payment-hub technology enables the management of all payment types on a single platform and promises better risk analysis, faster settlement, lower routing costs and a real-time view of transactions. Still, as all of those payments are flowing quickly through a central hub, financial institutions have to monitor for fraud at the same speed.

 

Managing Third-Party Risk

Consumer-focused technology companies are resetting expectations for financial services. This is driving financial institutions to adapt and embrace innovative technologies at every step of the customer experience, whether through in-branch teller kiosks, artificial intelligence (AI) based consumer assistance or integration with third-party fintechs.

 

Open banking regulations in Europe and other parts of the world are making it a priority to integrate with fintechs and other third-party companies with which customers have existing relationships. Under the regulations, financial institutions must provide trusted third parties access to customer information when consumers allow it. Even in parts of the world where open banking is not a regulatory requirement, financial institutions are moving toward similar integration capabilities to hasten innovation and meet consumer demand.

 

Once again, the technology presents many opportunities for consumers and financial institutions, but it also raises the stakes on security. If financial institutions begin engaging consumers more often through fintechs, identification and validation will become even more crucial.

 

In the new interconnected financial services landscape, it’s not enough for a financial institution to ensure their own systems are secure, they also have to consider the security of the companies accessing information through their systems. This consideration takes on multiple layers when considering the different channels and services fintechs and other third-party companies represent. Financial institutions’ security strategies will need to account for payments, lending and card issuance, just to name a few.

 

Financial institutions are responding by adjusting their strategies in terms of due diligence, updating processes, and monitoring and evaluation.

 

Leveraging Data

Financial institutions’ success in managing risk in the future will be largely dependent on how well they assess, leverage and control their data. The sheer volume of information flowing through financial institutions poses what can appear to be an overwhelming challenge, particularly when there is a need to make sure this data is also accurate, current and useful.

 

Deploying technologies, such as advanced analytics, machine learning and AI, will enable financial institutions to manage data quickly, accurately and efficiently. Data can then be used as a powerful tool to better understand customers and get a clearer picture of typical (or atypical) behaviour. While data on its own is useful, analysis against broader sets of information can reveal patterns that improve the ability to differentiate between normal activity and fraudulent transactions.

 

Financial institutions can draw on a wide range of information sources to inform internal data sets, validate models and take a more agile approach to risk management. Monitoring card usage trends and capabilities, such as geolocation, allows more risk monitoring to take place behind the scenes, while biometric authentication enables more streamlined customer interactions that are simultaneously more secure. Financial institutions can also benefit from coming together as an industry to share intelligence and build shared databases of ‘bad’ devices and suspicious activity.

 

Securing the Future of Financial Services

Speed is a key factor for the future of financial services, and with the right strategy financial institutions can balance the need for speed with the imperative for security. As the introduction of faster financial services accelerates, security will become a differentiator for financial institutions that deliver it well.