Month: March 2019

FinanceSecurities

72% of Brits Have Fallen Victim to These Scamming Techniques

Did you know that every year, £190bn of Brits’ money is lost to fraud – a figure which is a little less than both the health and defence budgets combined? Unfortunately, it gets much worse – an investigation by price comparison experts, Money Guru, have revealed that almost three quarters (72%)of Brits have fallen victim to scamming techniques at some point.

In order to help raise awareness of this growing problem, they have created the ultimate guide to spotting and stopping scams.  

30% of Brits Duped into Authorising Access to Their Bank Account – With No Legal Protection

Although we live in an increasingly digital world, you may be surprised to discover that a lot of fraud actually happens face-to-face, over the phone or through postal services. Smart scammers have begun ticking people into handing over crucial details and access to accounts through this method otherwise known as Authorised Push Payments (APP). Out of the £500m lost in the first half of 2018, 30% (£145m) of that was lost through APP.

What’s worse is that currently, people subject to this kind of scam have no legal protection to cover. Under current regulations, if your bank has not taken enough action – such as not reimbursing you or by not responding – then you have no right to complain or escalate your complaints to any authority.

 

72% of Brits Were Scammed Over a Two-year Period

Scamming is something that can happen to any of us – and it does, on a regular basis. A report from Citizens Advice revealed that 3 out of 4 of us (72%) were scammed over a two-year period between 2015-2017. Even if you haven’t personally been scammed, chances are you’ll know someone who has 1 in 10 reported knowing someone who has been a victim of fraud.

Almost Half (44%) of Fraud Victims Do Not Receive a Full Reimbursement

Research from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that a little less than half of those who were a victim of fraud received no or a partial refund. As you can see from the graph below, the majority of reported losses are under £250 (62%) but almost a quarter of Brits (22%) have been scammed out of £500 or more.

39% of Brits are Targeted by Scammers for Oversharing on Social Media

There’s a certain stereotype that fraud is only something that happens to the older generation. Whilst this is partially true – 5 million people over the age of 65 believe they have been targeted by scammers – they are not the only target demographic.

Scammers have begun targeting those who are active on social media. In fact, 39% of Brits are targeted due to oversharing their highlights online. In addition, 51% of us store e-receipts on our phone which again are targeted by scammers due to holding sensitive information.

Top 10 Scams to Be Aware Of

  1. Rogue traders and bogus callers – getting you to set up an account for a catalogue.
  2. Scams by telephone, letter or email – a fraudster pretending to be your bank or telephone provider, and asking you to share your details.  
  3. Pensions – offering unsolicited advice, a pension review or an investment opportunity.
  4. Money mules – someone attempting to use your account to launder funds, whilst promising a fee in return.
  5. Copycat websites – charging a fee to review or process official documents, or selling items that aren’t really for sale.
  6. Tech support – being told your computer has a virus and that it can be fixed – for a fee.
  7. Employment scams – paying for training courses that don’t exist.
  8. Auction sites – buying goods that don’t exist, through auction sites or asking you to pay through a bank transfer.
  9. Ticket scams – selling a fake ticket on an illegitimate site, which unfortunately can’t be refunded.
  10. Phishing – receiving a text or email asking you to log into your account, which will then reveal your password to cybercriminals

 

How to Avoid a Scam

  • Never give away your personal details such as passwords and bank account numbers. Legitimate companies will never ask for these.
  • Never let a stranger into your home.
  • Never download attachments or files from an email pr click any links within an email.
  • Never directly transfer money to someone unless you trust them 100% and always keep track of your transactions.
Cash ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

Understanding and mitigating Bad Debt risks

Bad debt is a sum of owed money which has been outstanding over time and the prospect of it being repaid has diminished, making the debt unrecoverable. This is typically a result of the debtor going into liquidation or administration as they are out of money. As a business owner, you are at high risk of building up bad debt as you will trade with a number of different suppliers and customers, some of which may not have a dependable track record for borrowing, writes Keith Tully of RBR Advisory.

 

In order to protect yourself from bad debt, it’s vital to put measures into place and recognise the warning signs. An accumulation of bad debt can attack working capital, soon having detrimental effects on the financial health of your business. Late paying customers can create cash flow issues by causing a slowdown in income which limits the amount of cash available for the business.

 

A late invoice can easily turn into bad debt if it is left outstanding for a prolonged period of time. By tacking late payment early in the process and putting the correct protections into place, you may have a higher chance at recouping the money. By recognising the warning signs of bad debt, you can mitigate it and guard your business by following a few simple steps:

 

Due diligence

If you hold suspicions that a customer is unserious about making payment, carry out a credit check which is essentially a risk assessment exercise. This will highlight the consumer’s attitude to borrowing, their financial behaviour and whether any legal action has been taken against them. A quick search on Companies House will also show you whether the business is solvent, a basic indicator that the business has cash available.

 

In some cases, word of mouth can give you a true opinion of the business you are dealing with. Social media is an easily accessible platform which houses reviews directly from consumers. Carry out a quick search on social media to read what others are saying about them, both positive and negative. This will give you a taste of the character of the company through the click of a button.

 

Deposit, interest and penalties

In order to ensure that your time and labour proves worthwhile and profitable, ensure that you request for a deposit to be made which demonstrates financial commitment. If the payment falls into the bad debt category, this will only apply to a fraction of the overall funds as the remaining would have been paid as a deposit which protects your business to an extent.

 

In the event of missed payments, consequences should be made clear early in the process to prevent outstanding payments from maturing into bad debt. This could include adding interest or a penalty to penalise the business from missing payments. If the business is experiencing financial difficulties, this may prompt them to communicate their financial status.

 

Payment reminders

Scheduling a series of payment reminders is one of the first steps you can take to mitigate bad debt. By prompting for payment ahead of the due date, the business will be aware of the upcoming payment. Displaying clear payment information on each invoice will also make it easy to make payment as the information will be readily available. Scheduling frequent reminders after the payment date has passed can help flag up the outstanding invoice and it may just be as simple as a reminder that is required for payment to be made.

 

 

 

 

 

Debt distribution

Distributing the risk of bad debt by spreading your client base can prove beneficial in the long term. As a small business, winning a contract with a large enterprise is an achievement, both financially and in reputation. However, if your business takes the risk of becoming dependable on service solely from the large business, you fall into the trap of failing to spread your business proportionally. If the bigger business fails to make payment on time or becomes insolvent, you run the risk of cutting off your only stream of income, pushing your own business into decline.

 

Selected larger institutions are notorious for making late payments to smaller suppliers, a topic which was high on the agenda during the Spring Statement. Following a clamp down on late payments, the Chancellor proposed that auditors of listed companies should report on the performance of late payments in annual reports. The role of the Small Business Commissioner was also established in 2017 to ensure fair payment to Britain’s small businesses and resolving payment disputes for smaller businesses.

 

For example, in the event of Carillion, many small businesses were forced to liquidate as a result of late payments from Carillion. Following the demise of the construction firm, the business owed thousands of businesses and was known to breed a late payment culture in which smaller suppliers were a non-priority.

 

Statutory Demand

A statutory demand is a formal action which is taken to request for payment from a company, this is issued before a winding up petition. The statutory demand gives the debtor 21 days to make payment or reach an agreement. If the debtor fails to fulfil the statutory demand, you are able to request to wind up their company in an attempt to compensate for the bad debt.

 

Winding up petition

As a final and more pressing resort, taking legal action can speed up the process of retrieving owed money. If standard methods of recovery have failed, this may be an effective option which can help set your business back on track. A winding up petition is a court order taken out against the debtor. If granted by the court, they will call for the compulsory liquidation of the business unless the amount owed can be realistically repaid or terms renegotiated. This is a costly and lengthy process so if you are able to settle the manner out of court, it could protect your business from incurring court fees.

 

Understanding and mitigating bad debt can protect your business from having to write off debt when in reality it can be recovered. Bad debt can bite a large chunk out of your working capital, restricting investment activity and posing financial hurdles which could hinder the business from prospering.

 

RBR Advisory

https://www.realbusinessrescue.co.uk/advisory

 

Transactional and Investment Banking

SUN GLOBAL INVESTMENTS ACTS AS SOLE ARRANGER FOR RUPEES 10 BILLION MASALA BOND LISTING FOR INDIA’S HDFC LIMITED

Sun Global Investments, an international financial services firm based in London with specialism in the emerging markets, acted as the Sole Arranger for a new Rupees 10 Billion (around USD 150 Million) 3 year Masala Bond for India’s Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (“HDFC”).

The bonds were priced at a yield of 8.22% annually.

The issuance is part of HDFC’s US$ 2.8bn Medium Term Notes Programme listed on the International Securities Market of the London Stock Exchange.

A masala bond is a rupee-denominated bond issued to overseas investors. The bonds are settled in US Dollars.

Speaking about the Masala Bond issuance, Mihir Kapadia, the CEO of Sun Global Investments said, “This is another benchmark Masala Bond placing, continuing our association with India’s financial institutions to allow global investors the ability to access high quality Indian credit.”

Commenting on the transaction, Ajay Marwaha and Arjun Kapur, responsible for providing Capital Markets and Corporate Finance advice said, “There is an increasing awareness and interest amongst international institutional investors in issuances from Indian corporates.

The London Stock Exchange has become a global home for Masala Bonds with a strong track record of supporting rupee denominated bonds to fund India’s rapidly growing economy.

Sun Global Investments focuses on providing investment banking and capital markets solutions to corporates from Emerging Markets, as well as helping international investors access opportunities in those markets.

HDFC is one of the largest providers of mortgages in India. It was established in 1977 and was the first specialised Mortgage Company in India. It is a financial conglomerate with interests beyond the mortgage market.

ArticlesCash ManagementInfrastructureRisk Management

Samuel Knight’s aggressive five-year growth plan leads to new office opening in Baghdad

Newcastle-based Samuel Knight International has announced plans to open a new office in Baghdad as part of its extensive international growth plans. This move will support clients of the specialist global energy and rail recruitment firm and further ensure the company abides by compliance laws in Iraq.

Haider Kadhim, Samuel Knight’s Iraq Country Manager will be the point of contact for clients and candidates in the city. The firm will officially launch the office opening in an event next month that is expected to see representatives from the Department of Trade Industry along with other several reputable organisations attend.

Commenting on the firm’s success, Steve Rawlingson, CEO at Samuel Knight said:

“Our aggressive five-year growth plan is manifesting at such an impressive rate, taking the company to exciting new territories. The team is working diligently to surpass expectations set out in the plan and ensure Samuel Knight is cemented as the leading global energy and rail recruitment specialist. Our Baghdad office will give us a distinctive edge over our competition and allow for more exciting business opportunities. Once the office becomes more established and client acquisition develops, we will certainly be adding more consultants and manpower in the city.”

Cash Management

Is The UK Making The Most Of Its Money?

With Brexit uncertainties causing loss of income for both companies and individuals, Wealth & Finance Magazine argues that not enough is being done to make the most out of investment opportunities.

The UK’s uncertain ongoing membership of the EU means that investors needs to be making the most out of their money and assets to ensure their long-term financial stability.

After all, professional salaries in the UK are set to remain relatively flat throughout 2019, as Britain’s pending departure from the EU impacts employee confidence and business willingness to spend.

The findings come from the annual Salary Survey produced by global recruitment consultancy Robert Walters.

“Uncertainty around Brexit has created a fear of ‘last in first out,’ which in turn has meant that employees are less willing to move roles as swiftly as they would have in previous years,” states Chris Hickey, CEO of the UK, Middle East & Africa at Robert Walters. 

“As a result, despite there being high demand for specialist and highly skilled professionals, companies are finding themselves contending with a UK-wide candidate shortage across most disciplines.”

Despite this, according to research by The Big Window for Quilter, the majority of UK adults do not seek financial advice on how they transfer wealth to the next generation, at a time when HMRC figures are showing the government’s tax take on inheritance is at £5.2 billion. The survey shows that nearly two-thirds (63%) of UK adults have not sought any information or professional advice on the transfer of wealth to their next of kin, and only 15% said they had sought information or professional advice on both transferring their wealth whilst still living and also at death.

HMRC figures show that inheritance tax bills rose by 8% last year, however, over a third of respondents (35%) who have not sought this type of information or advice said this was something they hadn’t even considered before. A further 22% said they did not feel they needed the information and advice, whilst 20% said they did not have enough assets to justify paying for the advice.

The research also revealed that nearly three quarters (73%) of respondents do not have a wealth transfer or inheritance plan in place, while 40% have not discussed plans to pass on wealth to family members who will benefit. A similar proportion of respondents (41%) said they had discussed their plans, but not in great detail.

Pamela Reid, Client Services Director at Quilter Cheviot, commented on the findings.

 “Inheriting is assumed to be completely normal, yet this research shows it is still something that isn’t openly discussed and in many cases isn’t being planned. It is never too early to start planning, and these findings should encourage financial advisers to open the discussions with their clients wherever possible; addressing common misconceptions and concerns and encouraging them to be as transparent with their next of kin earlier.” 

 

Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter, added: “The inheritance tax system has layers and layers of complication, which have created a Jenga tower on the verge of toppling over. The technical nuances mean you have to be heavily versed in rules of inheritance tax to know the best way to pass wealth on to the next generations. Currently, the Office of Tax Simplification are reviewing inheritance tax, which will hopefully recommend some ways to remove these complications. However, they’ve said that it won’t be an overhaul and so financial advice is and will continue to be, crucial to gain comfort and security in your financial plan. One simple change could be bringing allowances up to date. For instance, the annual IHT gifting allowance has remained at £3,000 since 1981. Had the annual allowance tracked inflation, it would’ve been permissible to gift £11,296 per tax year in 2018, according to the Bank of England inflation tracker.”

Inheritance taxes and ongoing wealth protection are not the only issues facing British adults. There are many pitfalls still to come, and with many not paying proper attention to their investment products and how their money works for them, more needs to be done to educate the population to ensure its ongoing financial health.

Articles

Mark Cushway Challenges the Place of Duty in Leadership

Does doing your duty mean doggedly pursuing an aim even if the evidence around you, and the opinions of others are telling you otherwise?

Current affairs often centre on the issue of whether someone in a prominent position is doing their duty, or whether their interpretation of this duty is correct when it comes to making important decisions.

Mark Cushway, leadership expert, entrepreneur and motivational speaker, explains, ““The thing about duty is that it is not simply a noble cause to be pursued at any cost. If a leader fails to adapt, then they are failing in their duty.”



THE ART OF DECISION MAKING

“Leaders find themselves at the sharp end when it comes to making tough decisions. This can be emotionally and mentally demanding.”

These can be decisions involving firing staff or setting out bold, new strategic directions, which come with risks attached.

“Taking a measured approach to decision making means weighing up the options, but not getting distracted by considering too many of them. It also means quantifying them.”

Leadership also means looking not just at short-term repercussions but also long-term implications and impacts.

“Leaders have to be willing to adapt. Some of the confusion around duty comes from seeing it as something rigid and fixed where, in business, as a CEO it is your duty to be adaptable.”



LISTENING AND INSPIRING

Adaptability in leadership requires an ability to listen well and to understand the perspective of other people.

“You can only truly inspire others if you can demonstrate a degree of empathy towards them.”

Where a leader’s duty is to establish and maintain a business’s values and to inspire others to follow them, they need to show some transparency in how they relate to people and be open to suggestions and opinions from other quarters.

“Don’t mistake listening and adapting your approach as a weakness. Duty does not require that you wear blinkers. It does, however, require that you act in the best interests of your business, its employees, shareholders and stakeholders.”

“You cannot simply follow a pre-prepared script doggedly and be unprepared to deviate from it when real world circumstances are telling you to adapt in order to survive.”

Mark Cushway is an experienced specialist in leadership coaching. He is also an entrepreneur and motivational speaker. Discover more about him by visiting markcushway.com

Securities

Contact Centre Payments – Going Mobile

Rob Crutchington at Encoded looks at how the mobile market is changing the way customers choose to make payments

Over recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of smartphone users, apps downloaded and mobile transactions, presenting new challenges for contact centres. In fact, according to this year’s UK Contact Centre Decision Makers’ Guide (DMG) by industry analyst ContactBabel(i) “Statistics that show the number of smartphone users, volume of apps downloaded and the value of mobile transactions are rising so quickly that they would be out-of-date before the report was published”. An astonishing thought.

The rise of the smartphone
This rise of the smartphone has changed the way customers choose to interact with companies. Not just browsing for goods or services, they are now actively using their mobile devices to check balances, pay bills, order items online or post reviews. This means whether banking, checking utility bills or shopping, customers expect quick, easy access to their favourite transactional websites.

This change has meant that companies have had to make changes to the mechanics of their websites, updating them to make them truly ‘mobile friendly’. According to the ContactBabel report, of the contact centres providing mobile customer service, over 80% now have a mobile version and around 50% offer a smartphone app.

Omni-channel is now all-knowing
The key difference is that customers want to act (such as pay a bill) or make a decision (sign up for a service or buy online), rather than just browse websites. As a result, the contact centre is no longer just managing calls and emails, they must be able to handle customer enquiries and payments via text and social media, such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter and other apps to provide a superior service.

This increase in the use of mobile raises some interesting issues and challenges, highlighted in the DMG report. The nature of a mobile phone is that is can provide a lot of information about the caller including the person’s ID, their location and other stored data such as account and payment details. As ContactBabel states, “Businesses can now know more about their customers and their specific requirements and preferences than ever before”.

The obvious benefits are that the company immediately has customer information during a call, which aside from the necessary security questions, facilitates a smoother customer journey. Background data can also provide opportunities to check a customer’s browsing and purchase history, to enable agents to offer promotions and up/cross sell during the interaction.

Maximising mobile service functionality
A rise in the use of Instant Messaging (IM) where customers can choose to make payments automatically by simply replying to an IM message has also changed the role of customer services. It allows customers to make payments ‘in their time’ and reduces the number of voice calls needed to chase payments. It is also a useful tool for companies to promote products or services or for customer service surveys. ContactBabel claims that; “large operations are more likely to be using SMS to communicate with customers, with 82% of respondents from this size band doing so.” However, where larger companies go now, smaller ones are sure to follow.

Making customer data security a priority
So far so good. However, with these great opportunities also come responsibility and that means ensuring that both the customer’s ID and payment details are protected. Any payments must comply with PCI DSS regulations and the new GDPR mandate to ensure mobile and online security of data (ways to tackle these are discussed in the PCI Compliance and Card Security chapter of the ContactBabel report).

As a PCI-DSS Level One Accredited Supplier, Encoded has for some time provided contact centres and their customers with a secure payment platform to ensure that transactions are fully automated and that confidential data is stored centrally and securely. Our new customer engagement platform now expands the offering to accommodate this mobile world.

The Encoded customer engagement platform works with SMS and other forms of IM including Facebook messenger and Whats App to support outbound dialling and integrates with many other services such as email and voice to enable multi-channel transactions. Designed with PCI DSS and GDPR in mind, it ensures complete security of mobile and online customer data. It also incorporates Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology that simulates human conversations to handle routine parts of customer interactions, which means a smaller number of contact centre staff can handle a larger number of transactions.

True customer engagement reaps benefits
There are many benefits to be gained from embracing this new mobile world – from facilitating faster payments, reducing debt levels with faster resolution of accounts (and less agent time spent chasing), to keeping customers updated via broadcasts of product offers and promotions. If your contact centre hasn’t yet gone mobile, then now is the time to act. Customers will vote with their smartphone, not their feet, and choose the companies that offer true mobile omni-channel customer service.

For more information or to arrange a demonstration of the Encoded Customer Engagement Platform please visit Encoded
(i) The UK Contact Centre Decision-Makers’ Guide (15th edition – 2017-18)

Articles

From Finance to Footcare – Founder of the UK’s First and Only Gentleman’s Pedicure Room

Founder of the UK’s first and only Gentleman’s pedicure room discusses the change from cutting deals in finance to clipping toenails in his first venture

Aldwyn Boscawen founded his eponymous brand at the age of 28 after becoming one the country’s few male pedicurists and following a career in the financial sector.

As an Old Etonian, it is not what you may say is a stereotypical path. Aldwyn went on to study Surveying at the Royal Agricultural College and during this time, Aldwyn had his first introduction to dancing feet with a role building dancefloors and staging. Despite a steady income, Aldwyn had his sights set on a career in the finance sector and after graduating, landed a role in currency broking and later, futures trading. Aldwyn’s end goal was to enter the world of wealth management, and after finishing his CISI exams, the only job he was offered was in a regional office in Truro!

By chance, Aldwyn was introduced to Andrew Turnbull, co-founder of Wellesley & Co, who was on the cusp of launching of his own peer-to-peer lending platform. A case of right time, right place, Aldwyn snapped up the chance to be at the forefront of this pioneering venture and grasped with both hands the opportunity to work alongside an inspiring entrepreneur, who fast became a great mentor.

Aldwyn quickly progressed through the ranks from starting as an associate in November 2013 to his final appointment as Head of Marketing, a pivotal role that saw Aldwyn build a team that raised over £500 million of investment.

Just over 4 years later in September 2017, feeling disillusioned with the financial sector and having recently become a father to his first child, a son, Aldwyn bravely handed in his notice in pursuit of his ambitions to be at the forefront of a step change in men’s grooming.

Aldwyn said: “The idea for Aldwyn & Sons came from a typical moment of uncertainty. I was driving down Battersea Park Road with my Mother, noticing how my feet needed some attention. Passing the nail bars and beauty salons, I knew there was an answer in there, but in no way would I step across the threshold – I felt I would be laughed out of the door!

“My next thought was where could I go and feel comfortable? I knew I could not be alone in this – I am active, I play a fair amount of sport, and am tall enough that extensive footcare at home is hazardous and therefore my feet go ignored and unloved. A nail salon really wasn’t for me and there was little else on the market to address my unsightly, coarse and at times uncomfortable feet.”

It was through further market research that Aldwyn gained valuable insight and an understanding of the benefits of pedicures – “I realised that pedicures were more than the functionality of cleaning feet. They gave me ‘me time’, self-gratification and a spring in my step that very few other things could.”

Aldwyn quickly realised he was onto something and went in search of a course to learn the skills, during which time he gathered some humorous tales, being a male in a largely female dominated world – “Painting I think would have been easier if I had done many year’s painting my own nails, which I imagine many trainees may have!”

12 months later and following a lot of rejection and refinement, Aldwyn was armed with qualification and brand in hand: “I became a pedicurist with a vision, rather than a businessman with big pedicurist brand in mind.”

Aldwyn & Sons was born and threw open its doors for the very first time in November 2018 in London’s fine Fitzrovia, finding home in a ‘speakeasy’ style room at the back of a barbershop, with décor inspired by an English Gentleman’s library. The unique space can be found at the back of the acclaimed Sharps Barber & Shop on 9 Windmill Street and offers a menu of manicure and pedicure treatments, totally tailored for the modern man.

Aldwyn & Sons is an environment for the quintessentially British Gentleman and seeks to change men’s attitudes towards footcare and the way it is provided. Aldwyn & Sons encourages men to come and put their feet up, in a relaxing setting, with the core belief that all men should look after their feet, as the results affect overall health from head to toe.

Aldwyn adds: “My favourite part of the job is being the ‘footman’. I like to think that there is nothing uncool about being a male ‘Nail Technician’. I get to meet very interesting people and for a brief period in their day, offer a safe sanctuary for them to escape the trials and tribulations of the outside world.”

Taking inspiration from the role of the footman from yesteryear, Aldwyn & Sons seeks to modernise this role within today’s society. With the tradition appearing so scarcely in modern society, today ‘The Modern Footman’ has a new meaning, it is the pivotal step forward for footcare of today’s gentleman, as provided by Aldwyn & Sons.

In just over two months, Aldwyn & Sons has received critical acclaim and quickly become a go-to grooming destination for city slickers, happening hipsters and notable names alike. Today Aldwyn’s days are spent finessing the feet of London’s very best movers and shakers with a rafter of models, influencers and VIP names bustling for an appointment.

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”.

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.”

Articles

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”.

Articles

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.