Month: June 2019

Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsTransactional and Investment Banking

Nevion and Sony establish a strategic partnership to provide enhanced IP broadcast production solutions

Nevion, award-winning provider of virtualized media production solutions, today announced that it has agreed with Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. (“Sony”) to establish a strategic partnership in the area of IP-based solutions for broadcasters and other industries. To reinforce this partnership, Sony will also become a leading investor in Nevion by acquiring a minority stake in the company through a share purchase agreement.

In recent years, Nevion has established itself as a leading provider of IP media network solutions for the real-time transport, processing, monitoring and management of the video, audio and data signals that are used in production. This partnership with Sony will allow customers to benefit from more advanced, fully integrated and standards-based media production solutions that combine outstanding media network technology with world-leading equipment such as cameras and switchers. These solutions will make it easier for customers to move to IP in their facilities and in remote production, as well as improve their ability to create content – for example through better sharing of resources.

“This is an exciting alliance for Nevion, its customers and its partners,” said Geir Bryn-Jensen, Nevion CEO. “It is based on very complementary solutions, products and know-how, and will allow us to offer a lot more to our customers, both existing and potential, than we have been able to until now. It will also give us a much greater scalability and reach.”

“Through this strategic partnership, we will be able to expand our end-to-end IP solution offerings that allow customers to produce live content connecting multiple locations”, said Mikio Kita, Senior General Manager, Media Solution Business Division, Professional Products & Solutions Group, Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. “Working together with Nevion, we will deliver an integrated and optimal experience for our customers.”

Nevion’s CEO, Geir Bryn-Jensen concluded: “This strategic partnership with Sony is a real vote of confidence in Nevion, its vision, its strategy, its people and its IP-based media network solutions. We look forward to working closely with Sony to maximize the benefits for our customers.”

For more information about Nevion and its solutions, please visit the Nevion website.

FundsFunds of Funds

Showpad Secures $70 Million in Series D Funding

Investment will accelerate global expansion and drive continued platform innovation by the world’s largest sales enablement software provider

Showpad, the leading sales enablement solution, has secured $70 million in Series D funding, a combination of debt and equity, led by Dawn Capital and Insight Partners with participation from existing investor Hummingbird Ventures and new investor Korelya Capital. Silicon Valley Bank provided the debt financing for the deal. The investment will fuel Showpad’s continued global expansion and new product development as Showpad accelerates delivery on its mission to empower sales and marketing to sell the way modern buyers want to buy.

 

Showpad is the world’s largest sales enablement software provider, with more than 1,000 customers worldwide spanning a breadth of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, technology, and financial services. With more than 90 percent year-over-year growth, Showpad’s rapid expansion is indicative of the explosive growth of the sales enablement market segment. According to Gartner, 15 percent of all sales technology spending will be applied to sales enablement technology by 2021.

 

“The growth we’ve experienced in the past year is proof that sales enablement solutions are now a must-have for B2B businesses. We pride ourselves on empowering modern sales teams to increase win rates, deal size, and buyer engagement with a single, scalable platform and a consumer-like user experience,” said Pieterjan Bouten, CEO of Showpad. “The continued support of our investors is validation of our vision for the sales enablement market and our ability to deliver innovation that maximises sales productivity and optimises marketing impact.”

 

Showpad has experienced explosive growth in recent years. In the U.S., the company has experienced 150 percent year-over-year revenue growth and grew the headcount of its Chicago office to more than 150 employees in just 18 months. With this investment, Showpad will drive continued growth in the sales enablement market by adding more than 200 new jobs to its global workforce of 400 in 2019. This investment will also drive the next chapter of the company’s geographic and platform expansion, including deeper penetration into the European market, which Showpad has dominated since its founding in 2011. In addition to its headquarters in Belgium, Showpad has offices in London, Munich, Poland, Chicago, San Francisco, and Portland.

 

With organisations accelerating their investments in sales enablement, Showpad remains focused on extending its leadership position in the sales enablement industry. In 2018, Showpad acquired two technology companies to broaden its sales enablement capabilities, including the $50 million acquisition of sales training software, LearnCore, and the acquisition of meeting intelligence platform, Voicefox. As a result, Showpad now offers the most flexible and complete sales enablement platform and is recognised as a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Sales Enablement Automation Platforms, Q3 2018.

 

“To date there has been enormous innovation in automating the marketing and sales workflow. However, in the end, sales comes down to one person selling to another,” said Norman Fiore, General Partner at Dawn Capital and member of the Showpad Board. “Historically, this has been an offline process that has been wildly inconsistent and opaque. Showpad’s suite of products succeeds in bringing this process online for the first time with data-rich feedback loops on the effectiveness of teams, managers, salespeople and even individual pieces of sales content.”

“Its AI-driven recommendation engines work at all these levels recommending, for example, the most effective next piece of content for specific customers or the most appropriate training for an individual seller. Since we first invested in 2014, Showpad has consistently demonstrated its ability to define and lead the sales enablement category and we are thrilled to double down on this category, co-leading their Series D alongside Insight.”

 

To learn more about Showpad’s product, mission and vision, visit showpad.com

EquityFunds of FundsInfrastructurePrivate Client

Fairjungle raises €1.8m to accelerate is growth in the European business travel market

The Paris-based start-up, founded by former McKinsey mangers and Apple engineers, has recently raised close to €2m to accelerate the deployment of its modern business travel management solution in France, the rest of Europe, and beyond.

Fairjungle shifts into second gear. After making a name for itself in 2018 in the world of business travel, the start-up intends to accelerate its growth in 2019 with this raise of €1.8m. This round is highlighted by a complementary group of investors such as entrepreneurs Thibaud Elzière (Fotolia, eFounders; PayFit investor) and Eduardo Ronzano (Keldoc; Meero investor), business travel expert Bertrand Mabille (former Europe MD of Carlson Wagonlit Travel), and Whitestones Ventures, an investment fund led by Goldman Sachs alumnus Youssef Kabbaj.

Corporate travel in the technology age
Launched at the end of 2017 by former managers and engineers from McKinsey and Apple, the start-up has developed a solid reputation as an innovative challenger in the world of business travel.

Today, Fairjungle allows business travellers to book all their trips on a single platform in just a few simple clicks, while saving their companies 20-25% on their travel budgets.

Using proprietary algorithms based on the latest machine learning technologies, Fairjungle helps customers reduce the average booking time from 25 minutes to 60 seconds.

Voted 2018 Start-up of the Year at the IFTM Tourism Fair, Fairjungle’s platform today boasts more than 400 airlines and over a million accommodation options, all available at the best prices on the market.

For CEO Saad Berrada “everything started from our experience as consultants at McKinsey. We spent a fortune travelling but had to do so via a user experience dating back to the 1980s. With the technological tools we have today it was mindboggling that there was such a large gap between leisure and business travel. Thus, we set ourselves the goal of providing business travellers with an experience closer to that of Amazon than that of the La Redoute phone catalogue. We worked with a team of former Apple engineers and designers to rethink everything from the ground up; that’s how Fairjungle was born!”

For Youssef Kabbaj, managing partner of Whitestones Ventures (www.whitestones.vc) “FairJungle is a one stop shop solution for lean organizations who want more efficient business travel while improving massively the user experience and streamlining the booking process. The market is enormous and the team is amazing. We are very proud at Whitestones Ventures to be part of this adventure as investors and as (very satisfied) clients.”

Fairjungle redesigned the typical booking process of a business traveller to save time and money for all stakeholders involved. Thus, the platform now allows users to book and prepay their next trip (flight and hotel) in less than one minute (vs. an average 25 minutes with traditional tools). On the employer side, travel management is facilitated through automated travel policy functionality, a travel budget approval module, and an accounting reconciliation support tool.

The start-up has also innovated by offering a gamification module allowing businesses to save nearly 30% on their business travel expenses, while improving employee satisfaction. How? By directly influencing the purchasing behaviour of employees and rewarding them for choosing cheaper travel options. Think of it as an “inverted” loyalty program that promotes savings, realigning the financial interests of the company (the payer) and the travelling employee (the trip consumer).

A barely disrupted €260 billion market
With this raise of nearly €2 million, Fairjungle intends to shake up the European business travel market, estimated at more than €260 billion. Although the market is still largely in the hands of traditional, poorly-digitised agencies, new players are developing abroad. TripActions, a California start-up, is positioned in the same segment in the US and is now valued at more than €1 billion. Fairjungle’s formula for success is to focus on technology and the user experience for both the traveller and employer.

Fairjungle Co-Founder & CTO, Bertrand Guiheneuf, trained at Apple and was long-time right-hand man of Jean-Marie Hullot, CTO of Apple. For him “the opportunity is, above all else, a technological one. The journey, and especially the business trip, has been inadequately disrupted by digital technology: the technical culture dates back to the 1980s and 90s. Much of business travel today is still done manually. This limits the possibilities of existing solutions but also opens up a world of exciting possibilities for a team trained in the development of consumer applications, like Fairjungle.”

Fairjungle shifts into second gear
By leveraging the latest technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, NDC), Fairjungle is primarily targeting modern companies that are looking for a tool to help them manage their journeys easily and with better costs, whether or not they currently use a travel agency.

Having seen the power of Fairjungle’s platform, a large number of start-ups and SMEs, as well as some larger companies such as OVH, are onboard. With additional success abroad, especially in London and Dubai, the company sees big things ahead beyond France.

Articles

GBP 5 million awarded to small business startup, Swoop, by UK’s Banking Competition Remedies’ Capability and Innovation Fund

Swoop, a FinTech solution that supports SMEs to access funding, has been awarded GBP 5 million (Euro 5.6 million) by the UK’s Banking Competition Remedies (BCR) – an independent body working on behalf of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). BCR aims to ensure RBS is continually promoting competition within banking, and fair access for SMEs to the banking services market, with funds becoming available when an alternative body can better deliver this goal.

Founded by Andrea Reynolds and Ciaran Burke in 2018, Swoop harnesses the power of technology to champion itself as a ‘one-stop, money shop’, acting as a virtual CFO for SMEs and supporting them through the funding, saving and financial advice landscapes.

The award will support Swoop to continue its mission of increasing access and opportunity for SMEs across the UK, Ireland, and further afield. To be awarded the GBP 5 million fund, Swoop completed a bid, outlining how its product offering supports SMEs in a way that traditional banks do not. Swoop’s successful bid outlined its commitments to increased competition and to SMEs, with some of these commitments including:

• A commitment to supplement any award with its own capital investment. Swoop has closed over GBP 1.5m in funding from public organisations such as NESTA and Enterprise Ireland, as well as private investors from the UK, Ireland, and Asia, since its launch just over twelve months ago.

• Swoop also committed to further invest in its proprietary, cloud-based technology and API enabled platform to deliver a sophisticated all-in-one SME finance platform by Q2 of 2020, leading to increased demand and access to funding for SMEs. The new technology, which will be created collaboratively by Swoop and SME tech partners, will include, amongst other features, a fully integrated marketplace of lenders, grant agencies, equity investors and finance product providers, and a mobile, on-the-go product for users.

• At present, Swoop boasts over 1,000 funding providers on its active database. Swoop has committed to onboarding 540,000 SMEs, approximately 15% of the business current account market.

• Swoop will continue to work with all UK banks and CASS to deliver an end-to-end automated process for business current account opening to remove the hassle from switching. It also commits to helping SMEs reduce overdrafts, unsecured loan rates and bank fees. Swoop’s virtual CFO will be continuously scanning the market for better rates and service, and will automate switching for individual or all financial products.

• Swoop commits to reducing the funding disparity between London and the rest of the UK, particularly for equity finance.

• Internally, Swoop commits to building a culture of diversity and inclusion as it grows its workforce by 50 across the UK and Ireland. As is stands, Swoop has a 49:51 gender workforce, led by a female CEO.

CEO and co-founder of Swoop, Andrea Reynolds said: “Our successful bid for this GBP 5 million Capability and Innovation Fund from Banking Competitions Remedies will enable Swoop to fast forward the execution of its vision and strengthen our position to support more SMEs sooner.

“SMEs are a hugely important part of all economies. The effective provision of finance and banking services to these businesses is crucial for boosting economic performance. Over recent years, we have seen a significant growth in alternative finance, challenger banks, and a burgeoning investor base coupled with government grant and tax relief schemes, but this expanding supply of finance requires intelligent and timely delivery.

“Swoop serves as a virtual CFO connecting SMEs to the best solutions for their business needs. The future of SME banking is about more than one FinTech, one bank or one source of finance. It is about delivering independent curation of the right service and the right type and blend of finance, for every SME, at the right time.

Co-founder of Swoop, Ciaran Burke said: “We have found that the administrative burden of applications and the confusion that goes along with this are some of the most challenging barriers for SMEs to overcome when it comes to applying for funding, or when it comes to making changes to their businesses.

“Our unique matching algorithm seamlessly connects SMEs to suitable and viable options. The funding award will allow us to help those who we at Swoop care most about – those at the heart of business communities across economies such as sole traders, micro, small and medium businesses. We make it easy for them to understand their financial position, their spending habits and subsequently easily access loans, grants, investment, savings and services bespoke to their needs.”

For more on Swoop’s successes and its journey to date visit swoopfunding.com or @swoopfunding on social media.


Stock MarketsTransactional and Investment Banking

Duncan Kreeger launches prop tech business TAB APP

West One loans founder and CEO of TAB Duncan Kreeger has launched a fractional ownership proposition, TAB APP. Investors, once the app is fully launched, will be able to invest in commercial and residential property in three clicks.

Duncan has created a simple explainer video to make the complicated world of fractional ownership, rental yields and investing simple for potential users. Visit app.tabldn.com for more information

Watch the video below

Duncan Kreeger said: “Having worked within the property and financial services industry all my life I’ve long thought about how I can make a serious change to make people’s lives easier and allow the general public to have access to rental returns without the heavy investment of a BTL purchase. That’s why I bring you TAB APP, we’ll give users long term sustainable returns on commercial and residential property from investing from £1,000. I’m delighted with what we’re creating with my app developers Elemental Concept.”

The TAB APP is not yet ready for users to download and invest, this will be coming within the next month as the APP is currently going through the first batch of user testing. Users can register to test the app by emailing [email protected]

Funds

APSCo members share unused levy funds for benefit of wider recruitment profession

Umbrella members of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCohave donated unused Apprentice Levy funds to assist others in sending delegates on the Executive MBA in Human Capital.

The new programme, which is being delivered by Cranfield School of Management and was developed in conjunction with APSCo and Grant Thornton UK, is the first EMBA which is tailored specifically for the recruitment and talent management sectors.

Members which have shared parts of their own Apprenticeship Levy pots for the benefit of the wider recruitment profession include Orbital Payroll Group, Sterling Group and PayStream.

This has been made possible thanks to new rules introduced in April, whereby employers who can’t use their entire pot to upskill their own people are able to donate 25% of their funds to other companies rather than it being absorbed by the Treasury. Due to the large payrolls umbrella companies run, they typically have significant Levy pots.

When donated funds are coupled with APSCo bursaries, the cost of the EMBA for members is reduced from £27,000 to £7,000.

Jonathan Myatt, Director, Orbital Payroll Group said:

“As a payroll provider, we have a sizable Apprenticeship Levy pot that we cannot feasibly exhaust within our own organisation. However, through donating a portion of our unused funds to other APSCo members which are not Levy payers, we are providing recruitment professionals with an opportunity to upskill themselves to MBA level and putting money to good use that would otherwise simply be absorbed by the Treasury.”

Janene Rudge, Commercial Director, Sterling Group added:

“Sterling are delighted to be working with APSCo to assist with the funding for the Executive MBA. Encouraging and supporting employees with further qualifications and training is extremely beneficial for both the company and the employee and Sterling are pleased to be part of this.”

A spokesperson from PayStream said:

“PayStream is delighted to be supporting this exciting new initiative with APSCo. Investing in and training our future recruitment stars is something that PayStream strongly believes in and we are sure that this Executive MBA programme will prove to be a great success and highly sought after by many UK recruitment professionals.”

Ann Swain Global CEO at APSCo, commented:

“It’s fantastic that APSCo members have come together to donate their surplus levy funds to help the wider recruitment industry. I’m very thankful to everyone involved in supporting the Executive MBA programme and ensuring that our people continue to be able to learn the valuable skills that will strengthen the profession.”

If you would like further information on using or sharing Apprenticeship Levy funds to finance this programme, please contact Elaine Jacobs on +44 (0)20 7383 5100 or at [email protected]

Funds

Crypto Millions Lotto Launches the World’s Largest Bitcoin Lottery

Ofertas365 Limited is proud to announce the launch of its brand new lottery – Crypto Millions Lotto. Crypto Millions Lotto is the world’s largest online crypto lottery and provides a unique opportunity for players to play with Bitcoin – and to also win Bitcoin as prizes.

New customers will receive three free lines as an introductory offer and if that isn’t enough of an incentive, consider the jackpot which starts at a whopping US$30 million and rolls over on each draw until it is won!

All customers can be assured that the draws are completely trustworthy, transparent and fair as they are based on the outcome of the German National Lottery. Operational since 1955, the German National Lottery has an exemplary reputation in the industry and is televised twice weekly at times which are sure to quickly become the focus of Crypto Millions Lotto players around the world: at 6.25pm on Wednesdays and 7.25pm on Saturdays – Central European Time.

Bringing Bitcoin into the mainstream

In addition to offering exceptional prizes, Crypto Millions Lotto effectively bypasses the qualifying requirements of residency and any need to participate in local currency, which are common playing conditions of many existing lotteries around the world. Key to Bitcoin’s appeal is the payment freedom it provides, whereby it can be sent and received anywhere in the world, at any time, without the burden of national borders or the unnecessary bureaucracy of traditional currencies.

However, one of the most significant features of the launch of Crypto Millions Lotto is the major step it represents in bringing the world’s most widely used alternative currency further into the mainstream.

As Sulim Malook, CEO at Ofertas365, states: “We are delighted to launch Crypto Millions Lotto and believe that giving away three chances to win prizes worth tens of millions of dollars will encourage Bitcoin usage and adoption. Our affiliation with two top notch fiat-to-crypto exchanges – Coinbase and Wirex – will ensure new players get the best possible user experience, the cheapest fees and the most competitive fiat-to-Bitcoin conversion rates.”

Supported by market-leading technology

For Bitcoin holders, the process to start playing for the coveted US$30 million jackpot is very quick and easy. For those who need to buy Bitcoin, they are directed straight to market leading affiliate partners – Coinbase and Wirex.

The need for guaranteed peace of mind for players using Bitcoin with Crypto Millions Lotto is stressed by Pavel Matveev, CEO of Wirex: “In common with our partners Ofertas365, Wirex also know about delivering a unique service. As the world’s only licensed business account that allows payments in both crypto and traditional currency, we are pleased to provide our service to Crypto Millions Lotto. Our UK Financial Conduct Authority approval will undoubtedly provide the financial security that players require. Wirex delivers unbeatable value, flexibility and transaction speed by combining the efficiency of cryptocurrency payments with the universal acceptance of traditional fiat currency accounts, on a global scale.”

Licensed for everyone to enjoy

These capabilities make them a perfect match, as Ofertas365 is licensed to operate in more than 100 countries which includes anywhere online gambling is not prohibited. The company’s jackpots are comparable to the biggest State and National lotteries in the US and Europe, and for peace of mind are insured at Lloyd’s of London, the world’s leading insurance market.

Sulim Malook concludes: “We believe that our lotteries and games will provide a great deal of enjoyment because it’s much more fun to win Bitcoin than fiat

currency! We welcome further collaborations and partnerships that will expand and guarantee our offering.”

Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)Transactional and Investment Banking

London Tech Week: Blockchain for Business Summit launches today

Blockchain for Business Summit starts today as part of TechXLR8, London Tech Week’s flagship event. Now in its third year, the summit leaves hype, speculation and cryptocurrencies behind to focus on real-world use cases from industries and business leaders who are reaping the rewards of blockchain right now.

Daniele Mensi, CMO of NextHash, spoke at the Global Blockchain Congress in Dubai and gave the following commentary: 

Digital securities, Security tokens, tokenised securities or investment tokens are Financial securities that are compliant with SEC regulations and can provide investors with equity, dividends, revenue or profit share rights. With Digital Security offerings, the lack of complexity ensures that fundraising can be consolidated and the reduced need for middlemen means that investors experience a shorter lockup period. Often, these digital securities represent a right to an underlying asset such as proof of real-estate, cashflow or holdings in another fund. These benefits are all written into a smart contract and the digital securities are traded on a blockchain-powered exchange.

Because the blockchain market is decentralised and active 24/7 by nature, it is in a state of virtual liquidity when compared with the traditional financial markets. That is, one can trade 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and the market is never closed.

Ana Bencic, President of NextHash, has provided commentary on the potential of blockchain technology.

“Cryptocurrency trading spearheaded the rise of blockchain and these now provide a conduit between investors and businesses, utilising the technology to provide secure transactions for companies and institutions. As blockchain technology grows ever more popular with investors and traders everywhere, countries and companies that have adopted the technology at an early stage will be the front runners of this new technology. Others would be wise to use London Tech Week as an opportunity to see the true benefits of blockchain in financing businesses and get involved in tomorrow’s unicorns now.”

Articles

Venture capitalists who work together increase the success of ventures – up to a point

Venture capitalists who work together increase the success of ventures – up to a point

Venture capital firms with a track record of working together by investing in the same venture are more likely to produce a successful venture, but working together repeatedly will eventually have a negative impact, new research from the UCL School of Management finds.

The research, published in the Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, involved the analysis of 4,550 U.S. entrepreneurial ventures receiving investments from collaborating venture capitalists from 1980 to 2017.

Professor Joost Rietveld and co-authors from Europe and Australasia found that venture capital firms working together on syndicated investments can reduce risks like investors behaving selfishly or sitting back and letting a colleague do all the work, but continuing to collaborate again and again brings its own set of risks including relying too much on trust.

The benefits of reducing these risks outweighed the costs of other risks increasing, but only up to a point. After this peak, the costs outweighed the benefits and ventures were less likely to succeed.
Moreover, there are two factors involved in shaping the dynamics of this relationship: age of the venture and geographical spread.

“The positive and negative effects of investing together were both increased in younger ventures compared to older ventures. This means investing in older ventures may be a safer investment, but younger ventures can have increased benefits as well as greater potential risk,” says Rietveld.

“More geographically spread syndicates also increased the effects of having worked together before on venture success, both positive and negative. Despite this, syndicates that were closer in their location caused the success of working together repeatedly to peak sooner and decline faster. Being closer together showed benefits after less collaboration but also led to drawbacks sooner.”

There has been much discussion over whether venture capitalists working together on investments make ventures more or less likely to succeed. This research suggests that collaborating with the same partners over and over again can reduce certain risks. However, this leads to an increase in other risks. Therefore, these collaborations should not be repeated indefinitely as continuing to work together will increase the likelihood of negative outcomes. Including venture failure.

Transactional and Investment Banking

Ashfords LLP advises shareholders in Ocado’s £17 million investment into vertical farming

Earlier today, Ocado announced a £17 million investment into the vertical farming industry, including an investment into Jones Food, Europe’s largest vertical farm. The investment into Jones Food, represents one of the largest investments into a UK agritech company so far this year. Law firm, Ashfords LLP, advised Guinness Asset Management, the majority shareholder of Jones Food, in the transaction.

Vertical farming is an emerging industry in which crops are grown indoors in controlled environments, reducing waste, water and pesticides. Ocado has stated that it will use its know-how in automation and distribution to make Jones Food more efficient and potentially integrate it with other Ocado services to be able to deliver fresh products to customers within an hour.

Giles Hawkins, Corporate Technology Partner at Ashfords commented: “We’re delighted to have worked with Guinness Asset Management on this transaction. Vertical farming as in industry has attracted a lot of venture capital investment over the years, but is only now beginning to deliver as energy costs decline and the technology and know-how have developed. We are looking forward to seeing what the company will do with Ocado’s backing.”

The Ashfords team was led by Giles Hawkins and included Jonathan Groves and Nicola Manclark.

BankingCash Management

Cardiff Business Secures £2.5m Second Charge Bridging Loan Within Just 3 Working Days

Pure Commercial Finance Secures £2.5m Second Charge Bridging Loan Within Just 3 Working Days

Commercial brokerage breaks records with speedy funding when previous lender pulls out of multi-million-pound deal last minute.

Pure Commercial Finance, the Cardiff-based brokerage, recently saved a multimillion-pound development by sourcing £2.5m of funding in just three days.

The client, an experienced property developer who wishes to remain anonymous, had a large site with planning permission for multiple homes. An existing lender had taken a charge out on the land to fund the project up to that point, but further finance was needed to complete the job to the developer’s high-quality standards.

This finance was secured, but even though loan documents had already been issued, the lender pulled out at the last minute.

The developer was blindsided and needed £2.5m of funding in days to prevent the development collapsing. Ben Lloyd of Pure Commercial Finance was approached by the developer to save the project, despite its very short turnaround time and a valuation which only covered the first charge amount.

Pure needed a new lender that would take a second charge behind the existing debt and would look at the overall merit of the land value and the final project, rather than the previous valuation. With these complications there are very few lenders that Pure could turn to and rely upon to deliver, so they approached Bushell Investment Group (BIG) who had shown the Pure team a proven track record of delivery in these types of situations.

The average industry turnaround time is around three weeks for second charge loans, but Pure completed the deal within three working days.

Ben Lloyd, Managing Director of Pure Commercial Finance said:

“Bushell Investment Group is an absolutely outstanding lender for complex jobs, especially in a time sensitive situation. I can tell that the BIG team worked as fast as humanly possible and that they wanted to prove that they could get this deal done.

“I worked very closely on this deal with Lee Bushell, the founder and principal of BIG, to make the deal happen.

“Even though there wasn’t a second valuation, which would turn off many lenders, BIG were comfortable with their own research that the asset was worth significantly more and decided to progress with the loan without the need for a new valuation.”

Transactional and Investment Banking

Symphony Communications Doubles Down on Automation and Global Community Growth at Annual Innovate Asia Conference

Launches Symphony Market Solutions to Address Growing Industry Need for Automation

Appoints Mrs. Queenie Chan as New Head of APAC

Symphony Communication Services, LLC, the leading secure team collaboration platform, is doubling down on investment in workflow automation and global growth. Ahead of its annual Innovate Asia Conference, and alongside the concurrent announcement of its latest Series E fundraise of $165 million, the company today revealed:

  • The launch of Symphony Market Solutions to address the growing need in financial services for system integration, digital transformation and workflow automation
  • Reaching a milestone 1,000 unique bots created and running on the Symphony platform
  • Appointing Mrs. Queenie Chan as the new Head of APAC to lead growth in the region

“Symphony, trusted by over 405 companies and 450,000 users, has already proven that its unique security and compliance model is indispensable to companies who care about data security and sovereignty. With the foundation of our business solidly anchored we are now focusing on how we can deliver the deepest benefits of our platform to our global community, who rely on the Symphony to perform mission critical work every day,” said David Gurle, founder and CEO at Symphony. “Deep value, for us, means providing users better and faster ways to work. Doubling down on workflow automation with Market Solutions is the first step in achieving this vision.”

Further information and demonstrations regarding today’s news will be shared live at Symphony’s annual Innovate Asia Conference, held in Singapore on June 13, 2019. 

 

Symphony Solves Complicated Workflows With Launch of New Market Solutions

Symphony today launched Symphony Market Solutions to address the growing need for workflow automation in financial services and other sectors.

Symphony Market Solutions is a suite of standardized, licensable software solutions purpose-built to simplify and automate complex and time-consuming workflows. Market Solutions will include: financial services workflow tools purpose-built for automation of trade life-cycle, enhancing client services across banking and wealth management and more; and enterprise integrations and workflows for IT, operations, sales, HR, developers and more. Symphony customers are already using these Solutions to achieve business outcomes including improved client experiences and employee productivity.

Specific Market Solutions available for customers today include a new workflow tool called SPARC, which lets Buy-side and Sell-side traders seamlessly shift from real-time conversation to RFQ negotiation, all in the same chat room; and other solutions such as integrations for Salesforce, ServiceNow, Confluence, Jira and GitLab. 

Since introducing its Software Developer Kit (SDK) in 2018, Symphony clients have developed more than 1,000 unique bots operating on the platform today. This number indicates the growing interest within the financial services community to leverage Symphony for key workflow automation initiatives. With Market Solutions, Symphony is now taking this to the next level by offering customers packaged and licensable solutions for the most requested workflows and automations.

“When we looked at the sheer number of bots that customers were developing, and we began to see patterns emerge when customers talked about the use cases they were looking to solve with them. This led us to identify the need for a standardized set of workflow automations that could be deployed across the Symphony community – as opposed to bespoke development of proprietary bots,” said Goutam Nadella, EVP of  Symphony Market Solutions. “Our Market Solutions can help alleviate the pain of the most complex, time consuming activities for our customers, while also helping them enhance the services they provide to their own end customers. Symphony customers will be able to install turnkey workflows to automate the completion of RFQs or even resolve a trade break, so that our users can better focus on what they do best: making the strategic decisions that their client depends on.”

All Market Solutions are built, licensed and supported by Symphony. Additionally, as part of the Market Solutions offering, Symphony also provides a wide range of licensable third party applications to enhance and facilitate customer’s digital transformation and workflow automation initiatives.

Symphony Names Mrs. Queenie Chan as Head of APAC to Lead Regional Growth and Development

In her new role as Head of APAC, Queenie Chan, formerly Head of North Asia, will lead Symphony’s expansion in this key region. Symphony is already well-established in the region: it hosts offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo and 32% of its users are located across eight key APAC countries including China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, India and Hong Kong. 

“After having spent 15 years in Capital Markets in Asia with banks including CSLA, Barclays and Goldman Sachs, I wanted to join a high growth technology firm. Symphony was definitely the right choice as it has offered me an incredible opportunity to grow myself and the business,” said Chan. “I am very proud and grateful to the global Symphony team, and of our accomplishments to date in Asia.  I can’t wait to embrace wholeheartedly the next opportunities as we introduce Symphony Market Solutions to the market.”

Banking

Those living ‘unbanked’ and what that means for financial inequality

Those living ‘unbanked’ and what that means for financial inequality

Inequality is a major issue around the world. However, it is even worse amongst those who have no access to banking. The World Bank estimates that about three-quarters of the world’s poorest are unbanked. If the world is to solve the problem of financial inequality on a global scale, there is a need to ensure that there is basic access to banking services.

 

What does it mean to be unbanked?

 

An unbanked person is one who does not hold an account at a formal financial institution. As a result, such a person cannot access basic global financial services such as a savings account, credit, money transfers, and much more. To access these services they use informal means.

 

Who are those that live unbanked?

 

FairPlanet’s researched further. The unbanked are mainly:

  • Those in households with unstable or low incomes
  • Those in less – educated households
  • Younger households
  • More female than male
  • Disabled households of working age

Some of the reasons why these groups are unbanked are:

  • There is not enough money to open or maintain an account
  • Avoiding financial institutions gives them more privacy
  • They do not trust banks
  • Accounts fees are unpredictable or too high
  • Problems with credit, ID, or former accounts
  • Banks do not meet them at their point of need
  • Inconvenient hours and locations

 

What does this mean for financial inequality?

 

There is a high correlation between global statistics on the unbanked and poverty. For one, 75% of all unbanked people are poor. Besides that, they are unable to access basic social support services. In the developing world, it means things are much worse for women. There is a majority of ubanked women – 55% women compared to 46% of men.

 

For the unbanked, access to any financial services comes at an extra cost. For instance, they have to account for the cost of travel when they need financial services. This takes away crucial hours that could be used to earn. Besides that, they are left at the mercy of loan sharks who charge exorbitant prices for loans; this only serves to drive them further into poverty.

 

The technology advances that might help

While the unbanked don’t have bank accounts, credit cards or loans – they do have smartphones. Globally, six billion people around the world have access to a mobile phone – which includes at least half of the world’s unbanked population. The mobile money market is making great headway in developing countries.

The hyper connected digital world of today’s commercial environment is one where participants are required to have a bank account to send and receive payments both at home and abroad. Services like Venmo, Paypal, and Payoneer aren’t compatible with the unbanked population, and services that are, such as Western Union and Ria, are exploitatively expensive.

With the advent of blockchain technology, the unbanked will have access to digital payments and remittances. One promising technology that could help to provide banking services to those with no or limited access to the banking industry is the blockchain. Blockchain technology is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved record cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks.

 

This way, they will have the information needed for them to set up bank accounts and go on with their lives using this technology. The digital and verifiable profile, which is secured by the blockchain, will allow former refugees to access loans and build business wherever they go. In the process, it will be a step towards helping to solve the issue of global poverty. While most poor people do not have access to financial services, they do have smartphones and these can be used to capture their details digitally.

 

FairPlanet, a non profit platform concerned with human rights issues, is launching SatoshiPay on their site, an innovative micropayment solution. With a free $10 to donate, they are a perfect example of a company taking the right steps to a financially inclusive world.

Derivatives and Structured Products

How switching to online purchasing can save your business hundreds of pounds… per item!

Dave Brittain, Senior Manager from Amazon Business UK

A huge expense to all businesses that is often overlooked is the cost of those essential day to day items. While many purchasing departments simply contact suppliers in order to replenish items such as pens, paper or ink, they often use multiple providers for these types of basic products, making the process more disjointed and far less cost-effective than it ought to be.

So how can businesses streamline the process and save money at the same time?  The answer lies in digital procurement.

Online marketplaces help businesses to locate and purchase multiple items in one place and can tailor themselves based on previous purchasing behaviours in order to improve and simplify the process. Having access to hundreds of millions of products from various suppliers drives transparency and at Amazon Business we’ve noticed that this can lower the cost of procurement by up to 70%.

Product search and offer comparison

Business customers that use an online marketplace have access to an extensive range of products from office supplies, laptops and keyboards, to industrial goods and janitorial items. Having different variations of similar products allows consumers to compare and review options from different brands and suppliers to evaluate what products are the best value for money, all within one marketplace. Buyers can compare products from different sellers in seconds, and the website algorithms will recommend items with the best delivery times, features and price to make the selection process more streamlined.

Supplier selection and qualification

Most businesses build strong relationships with their suppliers which are based on knowlegde of the services they provide and trust that has been built over the years. For this reason, many companies stick with the same suppliers and do not explore alternative options, which could generate huge savings in the long run. For those looking into these types of savings, online marketplaces reduce the time spent on supplier selection by pooling multiple suppliers together and recommending them based on reputation, services offered and customer reviews. This reduces the costs of qualifying suppliers and creating individual supplier records. The service is also particularly beneficial for start-ups which may not have the budget to select suppliers through trial and error.

Approval workflows

Procurement time can also be significantly reduced, as employees can make product purchases themselves. Some online marketplaces offer approval workflows which allow employees to trigger an automatic approval process with a single click. This allows for a quicker turnaround for purchasing without losing control and visibility of outgoings. Detailed business analytics are also available post-purchase, allowing business owners to identify which departments are incurring the highest expenses.

Reconciliation and invoicing

A huge benefit of using an online marketplace for orders is that all purchases, and therefore invoices, are obtained from a single source. Business customers can easily access detailed delivery times, product and supplier information for each order, and reviewing previous purchases is made simpler. This means that there is a reduced number of invoices sent to finance teams making it easier for them to reconcile payments.

Overall, although there will always be a place for traditional procurement, making the switch to an online marketplace can significantly reduce business expenditure, while simultaneously reducing time spent on product acquisition and providing a more detailed review of the business’s outgoings.

Stock Markets

How digital is disrupting the world of early stage investing

 By Oliver Woolley, CEO, Envestors

 

The landscape we have today is the same landscape we had fifty years ago. We’ve got investment networks, clubs, incubators and accelerators, all of whom actively help investors to find opportunities and scale-ups to secure funding – but they are all closed and separate. Our vision for the future is one in which all these groups connect to one another, without sacrificing control or independence. We’ve built a software platform to do just that. Using an aggregated approach, we can bring the world of early-stage investing together in a way that benefits all of those involved.

 

For scale ups, it means working with one party and gaining wide exposure rather than promoting a deal through a number of disparate networks. For investors, it means having access to a near unlimited number of deals, all filtered according to interest and managed in a single location – regardless of network of origin. For investment facilitators, it means a greatly improved experience for their investors and decreased operational overheads.

 

 

Results – immediately!

 

We live in an age of instant gratification. This spans across all areas of our lives – from instantaneous validation on Twitter and one-hour Amazon delivery, to 24-hour news at our fingertips. So why should the investment experience be any different? If I can find out about anything in the world from wherever I happen to be, why should I – as an investor – wait for a pitch session to find out about investment opportunities?

 

ROBO: a behavioural change

 

Borrowing a term from the retail industry, ROBO (Research Online, Buy Offline) reflects a broad behavioural change. People no longer head to a shopping centre to browse for an item, they go online and find what they want and then go down to the store to get it. In many cases, they opt not to go to the store, satisfied with the information they have found online, and make an immediate purchase. This behaviour isn’t particular to consumers: a study, by Forrester Research, found that 68% of business to business buyers researched online independently and a further 62% say they go as far as developing a selection criteria and vendor list based on digital content.

 

So, why is it different with investing? When people prefer to get information instantaneously and independently, why do we ask them to wait for a pitch event? Using digital, information on potential investment opportunities and any relevant details can be ready for investors to read at their leisure. Further to that, information can be interactive. Potential investors can ask management teams questions – using online channels – and get answers in real time.

 

Achieving diversity

Digitisation has fuelled the unprecedented growth of start-ups in the UK.  This has produced a vast – and occasionally overwhelming – array of opportunities, resulting in a trend showing networks are becoming more niche and sector specific. While regional investment networks have long been part of the landscape, they are joined by networks specialising in – for example – Greentech, MedTech or women-owned businesses.  This is not a bad thing, but it has caused further fragmentation.

 

Experienced investors know, that if they are to get the best chance of a return on their investments, a diverse portfolio is a must. However, such specificity throws diversity out the window, leaving investors only one option – joining multiple networks and doing a lot of leg work to build and manage their portfolios.

 

Digital to the rescue. With an aggregated platform, regional and niche networks can connect to one another and share deals at the click of a button. This allows networks to protect their greatest asset – their investors – while offering them a broader array of investment opportunities without doing all of the vetting and admin.

 

Responding to uncertainty

 

By mid-2018, the impact of a looming Brexit was already starting to be felt across the industry.  With predictions of economic troubles in the UK in the short term, many investors tightened their purse strings, becoming increasingly selective over which investments to make. Yet, at the same time, reports show that foreign investment is at an all-time high: in 2017, a whopping £6bn was invested over the course of the year, with 396 of these deals involving at least one investor from abroad.

 

This is another opportunity that could be capitalised by digital. With a digital platform, deals can flow across borders – giving investors the ability to further diversify their portfolios, while giving businesses a better opportunity to find investment.

 

The benefits of using digital are clear so it is time for the investment sector to make changes. Some key players are already on board (for example, The SetSquared Partnership and Britbots).  I’m sure that more will be following and gaining the benefits.

Cash Management

What can cryptocurrencies offer during political upheaval?

Commentary by Ana Bencic, founder & CEO of Nexthash

The political and economic climate within the UK has been uncertain in recent months. The value of the pound has been turbulent and it has been rising and falling in response to political events, such as the Brexit vote and the recent departure of the prime minister. Investors who have been taking notice of the unpredictable nature of fiat currency’s’ value in relation to political events, as well as the near-constant rise in the value of several cryptocurrencies, will be looking at what makes cryptocurrency a viable alternative to traditional currency.

 

After experiencing a 4-month slump due to Brexit insecurity, the pound rose back up to $1.2710 shortly after the Theresa May’s announcement of resignation. Unfortunately, the recovery was short-lived and the pound almost immediately lost 3% of its value in the following days. Now, traders are showing concern that the next prime minister may seek a tough Brexit deal, which may hurt the value of the pound more than before. With more uncertainty than ever in the market, including the inability to hold above 1.27, the pound, it is clear that the value of pound sterling is predicated on political factors.


In stark contrast, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin appear to be unaffected by political upheaval. The value of Bitcoin recently exceeded $8000, after a period of sustained growth over several months. Investors who are wary of traditional currencies will be attracted to the fact Bitcoin does not rely on any financial institutions or third-party entities. Bitcoin is a decentralized currency that uses peer-to-peer technology, which enables all functions such as currency issuance, transaction processing and verification to be carried out collectively by the network. While this decentralization renders Bitcoin free from government manipulation or interference, the flipside is that there is no central authority to ensure that things run smoothly or to back the value of a Bitcoin. Bitcoins are created digitally through a “mining” process that requires powerful computers to solve complex algorithms and crunch numbers. They are currently created at the rate of 25 Bitcoins every 10 minutes and will be capped at 21 million, a level that is expected to be reached in 2140.

Additionally, Bitcoin effectively increases efficiencies, adds security to transactions and eliminates traditional methods of fraud. Some economic analysts predict a big change in crypto is forthcoming as institutional money enters the market. Moreover, there is the possibility that crypto will be floated on the Nasdaq, which would further add credibility to blockchain and its uses as an alternative to conventional currencies. Some predict that all that crypto needs is a verified exchange traded fund (ETF). An ETF would definitely make it easier for people to invest in Bitcoin, but there still needs to be the demand to want to invest in crypto, which some say may not automatically be generated with a fund.

 


Cryptocurrencies are increasing in popularity with each passing day, as traditional investors & traders start to use it more often and several major first-world nations pass legislation in support of cryptocurrency trade and investment. At this point in time, there are 14 million Bitcoins in circulation. Countries with underdeveloped infrastructure and nations experiencing devaluation of their national currency can seize the advantages of cryptocurrencies- for the simple reason they are able to move money across their country’s borders with far greater ease than traditional currency. Cryptocurrencies exist outside of the control of central banks, where traditional accounts can be garnished or frozen. In fact, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin exist outside the regulations and laws that allow this to happen, it’s very rare to be unable to access your coins.





 

 

Funds of Funds

Rural communities receive a significant boost from The Prince’s Countryside Fund

In June, The Prince’s Countryside Fund has awarded half a million pounds of grant funding to 26 grassroots, community-led projects across the UK, which will benefit people living and working in rural areas.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund awards grants to local organisations, and since 2010 has distributed over £10 million. The Fund’s mission is to help ensure a vibrant rural economy with a thriving and resilient farming sector at its heart, and its grant programme is a major focus of activity to achieve this.

The broad range of successful projects will create locally-delivered solutions to the ever-pressing challenges facing rural communities – from farmer mental health support in Wales, to rural skills training in the north east, and the creation of rural hubs in Northern Ireland.

The Rural Four programme supported 13 of these projects with thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Rural Four aims to tackle isolation in rural areas and is funding projects including social hubs in Norfolk and rural transport schemes in Northamptonshire. It is helping rural communities in Norfolk and Cheshire to improve their digital connectivity by installing high speed broadband in a central hub, which is open to all, and to provide digital skills training in Lincolnshire.

Announcing the grant recipients, Claire Saunders, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “It is great to see so many organisations coming up with unique ways to combat the challenges that are facing rural communities and to know these projects are key to making a difference. From funding a community brewery in East Anglia, to a mentoring and land access programme for young entrants to agriculture in Northern Ireland – The Prince’s Countryside Fund is committed to improving the quality of life, in all aspects, for all people living and working in our great British countryside.

“This has been our most competitive round of grant applications in Fund history, with nearly 300 applications requesting £10 million of funding. The applications were all of a very high standard and we are delighted to be working with the 26 successful beneficiaries.”

The Fund will be open again for grant applications in January 2020. More details can be found at www.princescountryside.fund.org.uk/grants.

Cash ManagementFinanceSecuritiesTransactional and Investment Banking

What is next for cryptocurrency?

The rise of cryptocurrency is to be seen as a democratising force within the global economy. For example, secured token offering, has emerged as a true competitor to the traditional Initial Public Offering (IPO) for growing businesses. Judging from the growing acceptance of cryptocurrency by countries and companies, it is predicted that institutional investors will move towards secure cryptocurrency investments over the next decade, if not earlier. Ana Bencic, President and Founder of NextHash explores this phenomenon in more detail.

 

Uber Technologies Inc.’s large initial public offering launched in May and the ride-hailing app has run into some trouble. Uber proposed to go public with a $120 billion valuation, to be pitched by financiers at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs ahead of its IPO. Nonetheless, the company eventually listed with a $75.5 billion market cap. The New York Times elucidated that institutional investors, many who privately owned Uber stock, would not purchase additional shares at a higher price. Uber had received in excesses of $10 billion from institutional investors and private equity firms, among other investors, according to the report and many bought their Uber shares at valuations below $61 billion.

 

The ride-hailing giant priced its IPO on Thursday 9th May at $45 a share, raising a minimum of $8.1 billion and putting Uber’s IPO well behind some of the other, large offerings on the U.S. market in recent years. Facebook Inc raised $16 billion its offering in 2012, while Visa Inc. raised close to $18 billion in 2008 and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. brought in around $25 billion in 2014.

 

Initial Public Offerings can offer companies the prospect to raise new equity capital; to monetise the investments of private shareholders such as corporation founders or private equity investors and to enable simple trading of existing holdings or future capital raising by becoming publicly traded enterprises. 

 

Nevertheless, for companies looking to list, there are potential drawbacks. Foremost, there is the risk that the required funding will not be raised. Additionally, the cost for accounting, marketing and legal professionals to get to the point of an IPO can be sizeable. It might also necessitate a significant amount of time and effort from the management team, potentially disrupting them from their primary task of running the business. Furthermore, as in Uber’s case, there is a. While no promises can be made in these circumstances, many may be looking at the recent state of these tech unicorns (privately held start-up enterprises valued at over $1 billion) such as Uber and even Facebook may have people pondering if the next big thing will follow the same path. 

 

Aside from financial sacrifice, the time and effort to get to the IPO stage and the administration required once a company has gone public or floated, is considerable. For companies at the front-line of technological advancements, time is of the essence. According to Street Directory, an IPO typically takes between six and nine months. In some cases, this procedure can take up to 18 months. For high-growth businesses, this kind of interval may well bump potential unicorns off their path to a £1 billion valuation and present their rivals with a huge advantage. So what other prospects do highly scalable businesses have? 

 

The cryptocurrency market provides distinctive opportunities for businesses in need of access to vital growth finance and for investors desiring access to potential unicorn businesses at an early stage. This is made likely by cryptocurrency platforms’ capacity to operate across borders, an advantage that isn’t possessed by conventional markets.

 

In April, the French parliament permitted a ground-breaking financial sector bill which aims to encourage both cryptocurrency traders and issuers to set up in France. Organisations looking to issue or trade both existing and novel cryptocurrencies will soon have the option to apply for official accreditation.  The scheduled certification process exhibits a degree of official acknowledgement of the cryptocurrency marketplace. Bills like this enable French investors to trade and invest cryptocurrencies, as well as facilitating businesses to be traded as a Secured Token Offering which would give investors, traders, and entrepreneurs a way to trade and exchange tokens for cryptocurrencies, bringing the ecosystem into the cryptocurrency world. In exchange for charging tax, France is laying the foundations for the Europe-wide adoption of cryptocurrency trading.

France is pushing for the European Union to adopt a regulatory framework on cryptocurrencies.

 

There has been a largely positive attitude towards cryptocurrency by several countries. Malta, Slovenia and France are strong examples of those who are encouraging the implementation and use of cryptocurrency for trading and investment. The ability to invest or trade freely and across borders is an attractive prospect for businesses, who are able to receive financial investment from foreign parties.

 

New technologies are allowing businesses that are not in a jurisdiction that has cryptocurrency regulation in place yet to be included in the new, second generation of scaling business investment. 

 

With Brexit on the horizon for the UK, economists are making their forecasts about how the worth of the pound will be affected. Due to the interdependence of the pound and euro, some have claimed that in either of the potential outcomes- there will likely be some loss in value to these traditional forms of currency.  Cryptocurrencies offer an alternative to traditional, fiat currencies for both consumers and companies, due to their unique advantages of being decentralised, transparent and wholly unaffected by the Brexit situation

 

With incongruent regulation and legal frameworks throughout the globe, platforms that empower a corporation or investor in one jurisdiction to trade or exchange tokens or currency with another trader in another country with a different statute could open the doors to potential unicorn companies to thousands of family offices, hedge funds and institutional investors in a matter of years. In the medium term, platforms that give businesses access to global growth finance could help developing countries and the wider global economy grow at a truly competitive rate to their Western counterparts. 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Cryptocurrencies have spent the last few years in a stage of growth and maturation. The emergent importance of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies is easy to grasp today. From the snowballing rate of adoption of Ethereum and Bitcoin by conventional institutions, the instituting of digital-assets trading platforms and the implementation of cryptocurrency-specific legislation by numerous countries both inside and outside of the EU- cryptocurrency is seeing far greater adoption by both institutional and private traders/investors. With the ability to invest in a corporation from anyplace in the world, quicker than by traditional means and with a far greater potential for a swift return on investment, cryptocurrency offers manifold unique and substantial advantages that have fortified it a lasting place in society.

 

 

Infrastructure

The skills needed to become an independent non-executive director

By David Selves, Broadcaster and Business Advisor at The Selves Group

Authorised Fund Managers (AFMs) across the UK are scrambling to fill up to 480 independent non-executive director vacancies to comply with new legislation released by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

 

As part of the legislation, the FCA requires that all AFMs must have a minimum of two independent directors on their board by Monday 30th September 2019. So, with just three months until the deadline, AFMs are actively looking for suitable professionals to fill this gap, but who are the desired candidates and what skills do they need to possess?

 

Essentially, the primary role of a non-executive director (NED) is to impart a creative contribution to the board by providing independent oversight and constructive challenge to the executive directors. Assigned to question the status quo of an organisation, NEDs typically do not engage in the day-to-day management, but are involved in policymaking and planning exercises.

 

Ideally, NEDs should not be from the industry in question, thereby enforcing impartiality in the best interests of the company stakeholders. In addition, they should either be worldly – which may mean simply having a vast experience of life in general across numerous disciplines, rather than senior roles in another industry – or be what is referred to as an ‘expert customer’; a person who potentially might use the product or service offered.

 

Regardless of industry experience, NEDs must be independent thinkers and question strategy, management techniques, performance and standards of ethics and conduct. Predominantly, they should always take an independent view on the promotion and external appointments of senior executives.

 

NEDs also need to understand the workings of the company before they accept a position because they will have exactly the same responsibilities in law as executive directors. Whilst they should be given sufficient industry training to be able to effectively challenge the executive directors, they must also ensure that they have the time to keep up to date with ever-changing industry standards.

 

For progressive businesses, the value of a NED is that they bring a broader perspective. Companies often appoint NEDs for their contacts, particularly in the bigger cities, but that can be a dangerous route. The idea of a NED is not to facilitate wheels within wheels, but in fact quite the opposite. A NED should act as a centre of influence to ensure the company contacts the right external groups. Moreover, smaller companies are increasingly finding that the relatively low cost of NEDs is a very worthwhile investment.

 

In short, NEDs need to bring a host of skills to the table. AFMs want someone who has a wide experience of life, is independent of thought and deed, acts impartially, and is a well-rounded and respected individual. While on the job, the ideal NED should provide constructive challenge both strategically and operationally, offer specialist advice where qualified to do so, and never be afraid to hold management to account.

David Selves is a business advisor at The Selves Group. He has enjoyed an eventful 50-year career as a seasoned broadcaster, entrepreneur, publican and hotelier. Making his name in business hospitality by purchasing struggling hotels and turning them into award-winning venues, David has built a reputation as a respected and highly regarded businessman. He was also the former Regional Chairman and National Board Member of the Small Business