All posts by Mohammed Junaid

Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsForeign Direct InvestmentStock Markets

US and Asian brands dominate rankings of world’s most valuable technology brands

  • US tech giants take top 5 spots, Amazon is world’s most valuable technology brand with monumental US$187.9billion brand value
  • Apple, Google and Microsoft defend spots as brand values continue to surge
  • China’s WeChat breaks into top 10 as world’s strongest tech brand, more Chinese brands rising through ranks
  • New entrants from digital space: Twitter and Instagram gaining traction, as online shopping portal Taobao is most valuable new entrant
  • Baidu owned iQiyi fastest-growing, rising 326% to impressive brand value of US$4.3 billion
  • Facebook losing brand strength, recording Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 82.9 out of 100 and AAA rating
  • IT Services brands log growth: TCS, Accenture, Capgemini, Wipro and IBM all see growth in brand value

Amazon leads tech titans

Amazon strengthens and maintains its position as the world’s most valuable technology brand. Brand value surges 25% to a record US$187.9 billion, over US$30 billion more than 2nd place Apple. Notoriously strong for service, last year, Amazon recorded its most successful Prime Day to date, with consumers purchasing more than 100 million products. This was shortly followed by the brand crossing the US$1 trillion threshold on Wall Street for the first time in its history. And due to an ever-diversifying portfolio, it seems no industry is safe from the threat and power of Amazon.

The Amazon brand is well-positioned for further growth but the presence of Chinese brands this year is most impressive and certainly not to be ignored.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“Amazon is leaving no stone unturned as it relentlessly extends into new sectors, however its technological might still overshadows rivals to retain the status of the world’s most valuable tech brand.

The Amazon brand is well-positioned for further growth but the presence of Chinese brands this year is most impressive and certainly not to be ignored.”

Chinese brands flex muscle

While the top 5 most valuable tech brands are dominated by brands from the USA, the remaining 5 within the top 10 are from China and South Korea, asserting the dominance and competitiveness of the Asian players.

New entrant Taobao (brand value US$46.6 billion) is the most valuable, breaking into the top 10 for the first time. The Chinese online shopping website is headquartered in Hangzhou and owned by Alibaba. It is one of the world’s biggest e-commerce websites, offering its almost 620 million monthly active users a marketplace to facilitate consumer-to-consumer (C2C) retail by providing a platform for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to open online stores

At US$50.7 billion, China’s WeChat is a rising star, having lifted its brand value 126% over the previous year. Its influence is reflected in the impressive way in which the brand has successfully created a digital ecosystem for its 1 billion Chinese users who use the platform every day to instant message, read, shop, hire cabs, and more

WeChat has broken into the top 10 for the first time, making it worthy of its strongest brand accolade, improving on last year with an upgrade to the elite AAA+ brand strength rating and a corresponding 90.4 out of 100 Brand Strength Index (BSI) score. Whilst China’s burgeoning middle class makes it attractive to continue strengthening the brand domestically, the massive growth experienced by brands as they pursue international business is also appealing

Another tech brand relying on the domestic customer base has made the most of the immense growth in demand for streaming content within the country. iQiyi is not just China’s but the world’s fastest-growing brand this year, up 326% to US$4.3 billion. The Baidu-owned online video platform is China’s answer to Netflix and hosts over 500 million monthly active users.

More likes for digital and social media brands

Netflix is rising through the ranks, with its brand value growing by a whopping 105% over the past year to $21.2 billion, Netflix is set to play the lead role in home entertainment, building a disruptive business as a universally accessible narrowcaster and in this way effectively challenging traditional broadcasting brands.

YouTube (brand value up 46% to $37.8 billion), another rapidly growing digital media brand, retains its spot in 11th place. Like Netflix, YouTube is building a broad platform for video content, in an effort to leverage its brand from merely peer-to-peer video creation and sharing to also include a growing premium and professional video library.

Similarly, Twitter (brand value up 66% to $3.2 billion) jumps almost 100 ranks to become the 258th most valuable brand in America. Another successful social media platform, Instagram is the most valuable new entrant to the ranking this year, claiming 47th spot with a brand value of $16.7 billion.

New entrant Instagram, the photo and video sharing social networking platform owned by Facebook, recorded a brand value of US$16.8 billion. The service has over 1 billion active monthly users and with the rising popularity of Instagram influencers, is also becoming the most attractive portal for digital marketing spends and bringing in impressive advertising engagement revenue.

Although rising up from sixth to fifth place, social networking site Facebook (brand value up 8.7% to US$83.2 billion) has recorded a drop in its brand strength, its AAA+ status from last year slipping down to AAA in 2019. Facebook’s corresponding Brand Strength Index (BSI) score has decreased to 82.9 out of 100.

IT Services brands log growth

Not to be ignored are the notable performances in the technology rankings clocked in by IT Services brands TCS, Accenture, Capgemini, Wipro and IBM who have all seen growth in brand value since last year.

Valued at US$26.3 billion, Accenture has grown rapidly by 56.5% since last year, a testament to its continued innovation across AI, advanced analytics and growing cybersecurity practice. The professional services and IT Services brand has made waves in the industry for its pioneering work on how companies can best achieve a smooth blockchain transformation.

Growing in brand value by 23% to US$12.8billion is India’s largest IT services conglomerate, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), bolstered by a disciplined focus on the market’s increased demand for digital services. TCS has positioned itself as a leader in providing a superior all-round customer experience, leveraging artificial intelligence and robotic automation across its transformation programs. TCS is also to be commended as the first Indian IT services brand to achieve success in the Japanese market; the Mumbai-based brand has expanded its operations in Japan and overseen a merger of three brands to create Tata Consultancy Services Japan. 

Wipro (up 25% to US$4.0 billion) is to be commended for its significant investments in digital transformation capabilities, niche acquisitions, and a recent brand refresh, which have propelled it up the rankings to 81st most valuable technology brand this year.

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

Banking

Open banking: Threat or opportunity?

By Tiffany Carpenter, Head of Customer Intelligence at SAS UK & Ireland

Redefining banking in a financial services market where your biggest competitor may be Amazon or Google, not a traditional bank.

 

Open banking may not have made much of an impression on consumers yet. But it’s a topic that the industry cannot afford to ignore. Tier one UK banks are already bound to grant licensed startups access to transaction-level data, and smaller banks are likely to have to follow suit in the near future. The potential impact on the banking landscape is profound.

 

Today, the standard business model for retail banks is to build strong relationships with their customers by offering free current accounts and other incentives. These services are a net cost to the business, but they help the banks win trust and provide a channel for marketing more profitable products, such as mortgages, loans and wealth management services.

 

Open banking threatens to sweep this business model away like an avalanche. Agile fintech companies are already developing apps that aggregate all the financial services that a customer receives from any provider, creating a single point of control.

 

This will certainly improve the banking experience for most consumers. But it will also add a new layer between banks and their customers. All communication with the customer will happen via the app – and the app provider will control that communication channel, not the banks.

 

According to market analysts, this poses a real threat. If a bank can’t upsell high-value services to its customers, it may be left with a thin share of the market. Banks could be drowning in current accounts while app providers skim the cream of profitable loans and investment services off the top. Bain & Company point out that similar disruptions in industries, such as music and travel, have seen incumbents’ profits fall by 10% to 20%, often within fewer than five years.

 

Threat or opportunity?

 

While the stakes are high, the odds are still in the banks’ favour – at least for now. For decades, they have collected data on millions of customers and billions of transactions, across the whole spectrum of financial services. This data is a priceless source of insight that banks can use to create customer experiences that their data-poor fintech competitors simply can’t match.

 

For example, instead of just helping customers make payments or check their balance, a new generation of banking apps could provide users with much more relevant, personalised advice. By comparing individual spending patterns with the behaviour of a wider population of users, they could pinpoint topics that users really care about –reducing utility bills, for example, or paying off a mortgage – and suggest helpful strategies for meeting their financial goals.

 

Serious competition

 

Banks aren’t just worried about competition from fintech startups. There’s also a risk that other data-rich companies could make a beeline for the financial services market. Amazon, Apple, Google and other tech giants already have enormous quantities of information about consumer spending habits, as well as some of the world’s most talented data scientists, UI and UX developers. If they want to build the world’s best banking app, they seem to have all the right tools already. What’s to stop them from seeing financial services as their next market to dominate?

 

Again, the answer is that banks still have the advantage, at least in the short term. There is more to a user’s personal finances than just online shopping habits. And banks have a much more complete picture of how people borrow, spend and invest their money across mortgages, loans, credit cards, savings accounts, stocks and funds.

 

More importantly, customers trust their bank to manage both their information and their money. As a heavily regulated industry, banks simply cannot afford to play fast and loose with their customers. Meanwhile, barely a week goes by without another scandal about an internet company selling, losing or misusing customer data.

 

So while you probably trust online retailers to deliver your shopping, you might still have a few qualms about letting them manage your pension.

 

That said, customers’ trust and loyalty are finite commodities. If banks don’t act on their advantage now, they will lose it little by little. An outstanding user experience can easily seduce customers. And if you can’t provide one, your competitors certainly will.

 

On your marks

 

In short, the race to build the killer banking app is on – and banks, fintechs and other players are all in the running. Whoever gets there first will win it all, leaving the others scrambling to redefine their role in a banking industry that bears little relation to today’s world.

 

The difference between winning and losing, as we’ve already hinted, will be in the data. If banks can mobilise the treasure trove of data they already possess and harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to bring insights closer to the point of customer interaction, then they will be in a powerful position to lead the next stage in the evolution of financial services.

 

And that’s not just wishful thinking. Take a look at our case study with ICA Banken. SAS solutions are helping ICA Banken analyse customer behaviour online and combine it with historical banking data to create a fully personalised and customised user experience. While customers browse the ICA Banken site, intelligent algorithms automatically assess their needs and display helpful information and relevant offers in real time, resulting in a tenfold increase in conversion rates for the bank’s campaigns.

Funds

How to understand and learn to love your business accounts

By Jonathan Amponsah CTA FCCA, The Tax Guys

 

Business owners need to understand the language of numbers if their business is to succeed. 

 

Let’s looks at how to understand your year-end or management accounts, what you need to know and red flags to look for. The aim is to take away the fear of accounting and help you connect with your numbers.

 

  1. Profit

 

The first thing to check is whether you’re making profit and if that profit figure makes sense. Do this by looking at the profit and loss account and scrolling down to the bottom which will show a profit (positive figure) or a loss (negative figure).

 

Then look at the top figure (the sales) and glance through the list of expenses.

 

Take the bottom figure (let’s assume it’s £15,000 profit). Divide it by the top figure (assume £100,000 sales). This gives you 0.15, meaning for every £1 of income, you’re generating 15p in net profit.

 

Is this level of profit what you had in mind? Does the 15% net profit margin deliver the right return?  

 

 

  1. Is Your Business in a Good State?

 

Does the business have a positive balance sheet value? The balance sheet statement shows what your business has and what it owes. Note the number at the bottom. It’s normally called capital and reserves. A positive figure means your business has some value.

 

A negative figure is a red flag. It means if things carry on as they are, you won’t have a business for long.  Take action and start by improving profits.

 

Reviewing the balance sheet ask simple questions like; is this how much I owe my creditors? is this how much my customers owe me? If the amount your customers owe you is higher, it’s a red flag. Get the debtors list, review and start making calls.

 

  1. Cashflow

 

Your profit figure shows £15,000 as above but your bank balance is only £3,000. Where did the £12,000 go? A financial statement called the cashflow statement reconciles your cash to your profit. Even without a statement you can check:

 

Have your customers paid you late?

Have you drawn more money or dividends out?

Have you paid your suppliers early?

Have you purchased some equipment?

 

If you answer yes to any of these, then chances are that’s where the £12,000 is sitting.

 

  1. Using trends

 

Compare the current year or the current month’s figures to the previous year or month to make sure you are making progress towards your milestones and also to spot anomalies.

For example, if your phone costs or utility costs have gone down by, say 30%, compared to last year, ask yourself why. Is this because of the cost cutting decision you made a year ago? Or the change in tariff decision?

  1. Margins

 

It is very important to know your Gross profit margin. The next time you get your accounts, take the direct costs of sales or direct expenses (variable costs) from the revenue. Divide that number by the revenue. This is your gross profit margin.

 

Say your revenue is £100,000 and your materials or direct labour or direct expenses cost £70,000. The difference of £30,000 divided by £100,000 revenue gives you a margin of 30% i.e. every £1 of sale, you’re making 30p in gross profit. This tells you how profitable you are at the gross margin level and whether your business model works or not.

 

Two red flags: if you’re making £30,000 in gross profit but your fixed costs are say £35,000, something needs to change if you’re to remain in business. Also, if your margin is far below the industry average, you need to understand why and take corrective action.

 

  1. Breakeven

Breakeven is the point where your total income equals your total costs.

 

The reason you need an idea of your breakeven number is so that you know how much income to make to cover all your costs.

 

How do you get this number from your accounts? You will first need to know your total fixed costs; the costs that do not change regardless of the amount of sales you make e.g. rent, admin team costs, rates, fixed line contracts. In your profit and loss account, it should be most items listed under admin expenses – although do watch out for any variable costs that find their way under admin costs.

 

You then need the gross profit margin. You divide the total fixed costs by the gross profit margin and this tells you the amount of sales you need to make at any given period to cover all your costs.

 

Let’s assume you have calculated the margin as 30% and your fixed costs as £35,000 as per the example above.

 

£35,000 divided by 30% gives you a figure of £116,667. Remember the income is currently £100,000. This tells you that your business needs to grow its income or review its costs if you’re to stay in business. Armed with this number you’re in control rather than flying blind.

 

 

  1. What’s Your Business Worth?

 

You now know how to get and make sense of your profit figure. You also know what to look out for when you review your balance sheet and the meaning of the balance sheet value. And how to look out for the cash drain in your business. Did you know that these give you a starting point in measuring the value of your business?

 

Healthy profits, good cashflow and positive balance sheet values are signs of a valuable business. Of course, there are many other factors to consider when valuing your business and other key drivers of business value. However, understanding your accounts will help you make the right decisions for building the value of your business.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Numbers are the language of business. It’s important that you or someone skilled in accounting interprets them.  That way you’ll understand the story the numbers are telling you and can use this to inform your business decision-making. I hope the areas discussed here are helpful. Remember to keep talking to you accountant regularly as there are other key numbers to review.

Cash Management

Financial tools for budget-conscious freelancers & small businesses By Inna Kaushan, Solna

Running your own business can be high-pressure and expensive. With inevitable juggling of tasks, it is easy to leave financial management on the back burner. However, getting your finances organised and under control doesn’t have to be difficult, time consuming, or dull. You just need the right tools with the right automation!

 

Fortunately, there are plenty of free (or low cost) tools to give you a helping hand.

 

  1. Expensify: Expense management

 

Anyone working for themselves knows the pain of sorting through a pile of receipts: you promise yourself you’ll keep your receipts organised, but it can be boring, time-consuming, and even difficult to manage. A train ticket, a coffee, expenses soon mount up and find you have six months’ worth of expenses to go through.

 

Expensify is great for people who pile up receipts. It offers receipt scanning, next-day reimbursement, GPS mileage tracking, and tax tracking. You can allocate costs to specific jobs, set up unlimited categories, and import your credit or debit cards so that everything sits under one account. It consolidates all your expenses and makes them easier to manage.

 

It even comes with a virtual assistant driven by AI: Concierge. This reminds you to submit receipts, review reports, and automates things for you.

 

How much does it cost? Individual plans are £3.99 a month and group plans start from just £4 per user/month.

 

  1. Monese: Personal and business banking

 

‘Next-gen’ banks using smartphone technology have gone above and beyond to improve our banking experience. Their apps allow you to manage everything remotely, online, and in the cloud.

 

Monese provides freelancers and small businesses with a UK-based bank account that can be set up within hours. It is completely mobile, so you can manage all your banking needs using the smart mobile app that has been especially designed to provide flexibility and easy transfers.

 

If you pay for your Monese account, you can use your card anywhere in the world with no fees! You can also manage your account in 10 different languages.

 

How much does it cost? If you’re a freelancer, you can use Monese’s free account that will give you access to all the features, but will charge you for cash machine withdrawals and payments abroad. You’ll even have to pay a fiver to get your card delivered. The two paid accounts cost £4.95 and £14.95, where you’ll get a free card and will be able to access some or all those features for free. There’s also a business account (£9.95 a month) where you get a two-in-one Monese Business and Monese Plus personal account. You’ll be able to separate your business and personal spend with free dedicated debit cards and manage both seamlessly from one place!

 

  1. Emma: Budgeting and savings

 

If you want to be good with your money, Emma is a handy little tool that lets you effortlessly manage your cash flow and gives you the control you need over your finances. Thought to be the UK’s answer to Mint, Emma’s main goal is to improve the financial situation of its users. It works by aggregating your bank accounts and credit cards to give you a full picture of your finances.

 

Emma acts as your personal finance adviser by keeping track of all your spending, subscriptions, and even alerting you on any overdrafts. Emma can also help you keep track of debt repayments and it even prompts you to save money by suggesting what you can afford to save at the end of each month. Yes, it’ll spot if you’ve been buying too many flat whites!

 

How much does it cost? Emma is free to use but users also have the option to upgrade to Emma Pro for premium features including custom categories, unlimited budgeting, and data exports

 

 

  1. Solna: Invoicing

 

For some freelancers and small businesses, getting paid means sending email attachments, mailing pieces of paper, sending chaser emails etc. While it might sound simple, it can often all end up being a massive admin job without the right help.

 

If you want to get paid on time, smart invoicing is the way to go — Solna is packed with smart features to protect freelancers and small businesses whether they’re new to the game or not, and it makes invoicing quick and easy. 

 

With Solna, users can create, customise and send invoices in seconds. It also sends automatic payment reminders to those annoying late payers and lets you track every invoice until it’s in your account. Invoices also come with read receipts, so no more chasing random accounting people either. It will help you get paid faster.

 

You can also get a better view of who you’re doing business with and make the best decisions when setting payment terms using Solna’s credit check facility. It’s an invoicing tool with brains.

 

How much does it cost? You can sign up to Solna’s free version that provides access to invoice templates and customers’ credit scores for a limited number of customers. The paid packages give you invoice tracking, recurring invoices, advanced reporting in addition to more customers and templates.

 

  1. Stripe: Payments

 

As a freelancer or small business, maintaining your cash flow is crucial, so it’s in your best interest to avoid long delays between the time of sale and getting paid. Offering your customers multiple payment options is one way to avoid this — the more payment options you offer, the fewer excuses your clients will have to delay payment: online, mobile or contactless.

 

Stripe is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to get paid. Used by millions of businesses, Stripe is secure and easy for your customers to use and allows you to accept online and in-person payments from anyone in any country.

 

 

How much does it cost? Stripe charges a standard 1.4% transaction charge plus a 20p per transaction fee for European cards and 2.9% plus a 20p fee for non-European cards. There are no setup, monthly or hidden fees and you only have to pay for what you use.

 

Equity

eFounders and Yousign join forces to build the European leader on the eSignature market

Yousign, a major player on the French eSignature market, and eFounders, the startup studio at the inception of successes like Aircall, Front, and Spendesk, have joined forces to build a leader on the European eSignature market. eFounders has taken a substantial stake in Yousign by bringing its expertise and its international experience in order to build a European leader alongside American competitors.

The market for eSignatures has grown beyond $1 billion in 2018, and is expected to grow by 30% each year for the next 10 years. Europe, via the eIDAS regulation, and the USA, via the ESIGN Act, have adapted their legislation to make eSignatures legal and recognised. The obvious advantages have firmly established electronic signatures in the day-to-day processes of businesses across the world and across industries. Yousign’s customers include Cisco, Admiral Group, and Chrysler reflecting this diversity.

Launched in 2013 and certified at EU level, Yousign has thousands of clients in France using their app and API services. Yousign raised $3.3 million in early 2018 to fund its triple digit growth.
Founded in 2011, eFounders is a startup studio. Together with entrepreneurs, eFounders has launched 20 SaaS startups and is now taking on a new challenge by partnering up with an already established team.

“We’re used to building companies from scratch. Entering an existing company is new for us. We’re thrilled to be able to join the Yousign adventure and work with them towards a shared objective. We met Luc and Antoine 4 years ago when we were considered working in that space. We followed their progress and kept in touch until this summer when the opportunity to work together presented itself. “

— Thibaud Elzière, founder @eFounders

Both companies bring complementary assets to the table. Yousign has assembled a great team, deep understanding of the market, a large customer base, as well as a solid technical infrastructure. eFounders brings product and marketing expertise as well as international experience in SaaS.

“We immediately hit it off and knew from the get-go that we both had plenty to gain from relying on our complementary expertise.”

— Antoine Louiset, founder @Yousign

“The market is huge, and hugely competitive. We decided to partner up with eFounders to aim for the next level. We’re hoping that with their experience and expertise we can turn Yousign into the European eSignature leader. “

— Luc Pallavidino, founder @Yousign

After launching in France, Yousign is now entering Germany, the UK, and Spain. European countries are all subject to the same legislation, but Yousign will adapt to local cultures and markets in a way that it’s US-based competitors have not been able to.

“eFounders has focused on creating tools to help SMBs in their digital transformation and we consider eSignatures to be a key part of that transition. Our desire to position ourselves on this market and Luc and Antoine’s vision on how to address it compelled us to join forces with Yousign and to deliver our know-how and our resources. We’re excited by the challenge ahead and for the journey we will be taking together with Yousign’s founding team.”

— Quentin Nickmans, founder @eFounders

Articles

50 years of GDPR

José A. Rodríguez Ruiz, Global DPO at Cornerstone OnDemand

The one-year anniversary of GDPR is here and there is currently a lot of talk about GDPR’s first ‘birthday’. Although the legislation only came into effect last year, data protection laws have been around since 1970 — that’s almost 50 years.

The first ever national law dealing with privacy and data protection was the German Bundesdatenschutzgesetz in Germany, passed by the federal state of Hessen in 1970, and was the first data protection act that governed the exposure of personal data. The first German federal data act came into force in January 1978. The UK followed shortly after with the Data Protection Act 1984. This was then taken further with the Data Protection Act 1998 which implemented the EU Data Protection Directive of 1995.

One year on

Since then the GDPR, drafted to ensure EU citizens had more control over their personal data in an increasingly digital world, has been implemented across Europe. But the GDPR is not something new.  For example, within the six data processing principles of GDPR, transparency is the only new principle. Though there is a new obligation, accountability, which outlines that the data controller is responsible for, and must be able to demonstrate, compliance with the other data protection principles. Businesses now need to provide full transparency on where employee data is stored, how it is protected and how it is processed.

The primary changes that we see with GDPR are the amount fines. While in the UK there haven’t been any fines to date (is still too early), several enforcement letters have been delivered to companies under the ‘new’ Data Protection Act, and the industry is holding its breath waiting for the first fines to arrive.

The impact of GDPR

Although we haven’t seen any fines in the UK yet, the GDPR has made everyone more aware of data protection and its importance, and it has certainly sparked a need for clear data regulations and transparency. It’s raised awareness of the importance of protecting people’s data and companies are now considering how employee data flows around the organisation.

Employee data protection is not new, however GDPR takes it one step further and pushes hard for compliance, threatening high penalties if companies don’t observe the new regulation. This brings balance, giving employees and organisations, like trade unions, a strong leverage in case organisations do not respect these rights.

Scandals such as the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica crisis or the Marriott hotel data leak have also made us reflect on the need to protect data adequately because, ultimately, data protection is not about protecting the data, but about protecting the people, the primary goal of the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.

The challenges

Even a year after GDPR, businesses are still facing challenges implementing the regulation. Many organisations, particularly in advertising and publishing, are still struggling with the ‘opt-in’, ‘opt-out’ process. Often, the options are confusing and end up catching people out. Furthermore, some websites are still facing challenges with GDPR compliance. For example, the US’ eighth-largest newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, is still inaccessible to people in the EU. It is clear that we are all still learning how to apply GDPR for specific cases.

Looking ahead

GDPR has already become a benchmark for many regions and organisations. Japan, Brazil, India and California in the US have all passed new privacy laws, demonstrating the significance of the ‘fundamental right to privacy’ and the need for companies to be transparent in how they use personal information. Similarly, organisations around the world are implementing GDPR-like principles and processes even if not required by law.

And even if most organisations have already made the basic changes needed to comply with GDPR, data privacy will continue to be a huge focus for organisations across Europe – and beyond! Data Protection is a process and a mindset, not a point-in-time activity.

As we move forward we will see a stronger focus on compliance and a natural selection process between providers based on their levels of GDPR compliance: in this modern, cloud-based world, the compliance of vendors is equally as important as a company’s own organisational compliance procedures.

GDPR is not a brand-new legislation, in fact its premise is over 50 years old, but it is complex and organisations, even one year on, are still trying to wrap their heads around how to fully comply. Fortunately, by focusing on creating more efficient data handling processes and being transparent about the use of people’s personal data, there will be less risks of fines and penalties plus, employees will be safe in the knowledge that their data is protected and secure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Compliance

Samuel Knight expands its US presence with new hire and plans for Chicago

Leading energy and rail recruitment firm, Samuel Knight International, has announced plans to extend its US operations with a new head office in Chicago as the need for rail infrastructure talent in the city looks set to grow.

With a strong track record in supporting some of the world’s most exciting engineering projects in over 30 countries, the £16 million pound turnover business plans to extend this expansion across Boston, California and Atlanta to support employment as demand for niche energy and rail professionals increases in the States.

The firm has also welcomed a new Chairman to help drive this growth. James Barbour-Smith joins the agency, bringing with him a wealth of experience in working with numerous fast growing businesses to develop and implement their growth strategies. Drawing on almost twenty years in private equity investment and portfolio management involving over 50 companies in a broad range of sectors, James also has an extensive background across the US and European markets.

Commenting on this latest news, Steve Rawlingson, CEO of Samuel Knight and President of Samuel Knight Corp, said:

“We know from experience that the States offers a wealth of opportunity for rail, energy and infrastructure recruitment and as we’ve seen demand for our services increase in the US, expanding our physical presence across the States made complete sense. Now really is the time for excelled growth for us which is why we’re investing in these four new offices – with the potential for more to be opened further down the line.”

James Barbour-Smith added:

“There’s huge investment in offshore and onshore energy in the US at the moment. Given the firm’s global experience in attracting niche talent in these fields, Samuel Knight is undoubtedly well placed to support business across the States and deliver the results that reflect this investment. I look forward to working with the team as Chairman in this exciting period of growth.”

Private BankingPrivate ClientStock MarketsWealth Management

Ashfords LLP Launch Digital Legacy Service

The death of a loved one is a traumatic and difficult time. Dealing with an estate can often result in unnecessary cost, time and upset when trying to trace assets and meet the wishes of the deceased. Assets can be misplaced, forgotten about or even diminished in value before you get the chance to deal with them. Law firm, Ashfords LLP, has developed and launched a new and innovative digital legacy platform for private individuals to make executor’s lives easier.

Digital legacy enables users to keep a secure record of their accounts and assets (whether it is a bank account, shares or even the existence of social media accounts), leave messages for loved ones, set out funeral plans and wishes and help ensure that the process of dealing with their estate following their death is as easy and as cost effective as possible.

On the death of the individual the system is unlocked for executors in a read-only format to ensure that a clear audit trail between the wishes of an individual and the administration of the estate is maintained. The primary purpose of the system is to facilitate executors to know what exists so they can ensure all assets are accounted for and all accounts are closed.

Executors also have the option to open up a memorial book where friends and family can send in memories of the individual which can then be used at the funeral, executors can also send details of funeral plans through the Digital Legacy system if they wish to.

Michael Alden, Head of Private Wealth at Ashfords said: “We want to help individuals keep track of their estate and in turn help ensure that following a bereavement, families are able to close down any online accounts quickly and efficiently making the process less stressful, and potentially reducing the cost of administering estates. We are excited to launch our Digital Legacy service and hope this will be a real benefit to its users and their families.”

Garry Mackay, CEO of Ashfords commented: “Digital legacy is a further example of the firm adapting to the ever-changing needs of our clients. As lawyers, we have a responsibility to constantly look at innovative ways in which we can make things easier and more cost effective for our clients whilst continuing to provide the highest level of advice. Digital legacy is just one of a number of products we have in development for our private and business clients.”

Articles

Director Redundancy – What does this mean for you?

It is a common misconception that limited company directors are unable to claim redundancy pay as a result of liquidation, along with other statutory payments such as holiday pay and notice pay. In the run-up to liquidation, your business may be experiencing a rocky patch due to creditor pressure, HMRC debts, and poor cash flow. It is only natural for income and business expenditure to fluctuate as customer behaviour changes as a result of mitigating factors. This can include the likes of climate change, sector trends, festive holidays and political events. As a result, your balance sheet may take a nosedive, causing reasons for concern.

If your limited company is edging closer to liquidation, the early signs should be enough to warrant an enquiry into director redundancy pay. There are strict rules in place which govern what constitutes as an eligible claim for director redundancy pay, so it’s important to act fast, writes Gary Addison of Redundancy Claims UK.

Am I eligible for director redundancy?

It is possible for a limited company director to claim redundancy pay if the business has entered into liquidation or administration.  If you voluntarily liquidate the company, this nullifies you from being eligible for director redundancy as this has been strictly designed for directors which have been forcibly put out of work – not voluntarily. The average claim in the UK is £9000 and the maximum cap is £14,670 if you were made redundant on or after 6 April 2017.

In order to qualify for director redundancy, you must be able to prove your employment with the company, such as through your record on the payroll register.

Alternatively, if you resort to dissolution, also known as striking off from the Companies House register; you will not be eligible for redundancy pay.

When is the best time to claim redundancy pay?

The best time to claim redundancy pay is as soon as you become aware that the business is set to enter liquidation. The earlier you prepare, the better your chances of claiming successfully. Although you are able to claim for redundancy pay prior to the actual liquidation and post-liquidation, the rules are strict, as leaving it too late could hinder your full entitlement. You should seek redundancy pay within 12 months from the date the company entered into liquidation, but in order to maximise your chances, the six-month mark is recommended.

What is the timescale of the process?

The director will typically receive payment four to six weeks after the creditors meeting has taken place. This is subject to receiving the necessary paperwork and evidence to back up your claim.

What proof is required to back up my claim?

The following proof will be required in order to back up your claim for redundancy pay:

  • Proof of employment, such as a contract. In some cases, this is not necessarily written, it can be verbal. If your role consisted of the same responsibilities as an employee and you were paid through PAYE, you will typically be classed as an employee
  • The director is required to have worked a minimum of 16 hours per week
  • The company should have been incorporated for a minimum of two years
  • The director should have played an active and ongoing role in the day-to-day running of the company

 

Where will the money come from?

Director redundancy payments are issued from the National Insurance Fund which is the pot in which all National Insurance Contributions are put into. Redundancy pay is claimable from the government’s redundancy payments service (RPS).

Dissolution Vs Liquidation

Dissolution – When a limited company is facing inevitable closure, there are many routes it can take, including dissolution and liquidation. Dissolution is the act of dissolving a company, resulting in strike off at Companies House, ceasing in legal existence.

A business can only be dissolved after creditor affairs and outstanding debts have been settled. If you knowingly fail to do so, creditors will have the right to petition for the reinstatement of the business at Companies House, making it visible once again on the public register. If you resort to dissolution, it invalidates your right to claim for director redundancy.

Liquidation – During a compulsory liquidation, the assets of the business are valued and sold in order to raise money for creditors. The company is then struck off the Companies House register. As part of the liquidation process, the insolvency practitioner will settle affairs with creditors, removing any chance of the business being reinstated. Although the cost of liquidation is greater than the cost of dissolution, you are protected from creditor appeals and you will be eligible for redundancy pay.

Put simply, dissolution can leave you in debit, whereas liquidation can leave you in credit as you could be eligible for director redundancy.

Common reasons for rejection

Claims for redundancy pay are often rejected due to the following reasons:

  • Company was incorporated for under two years
  • You left the business before the liquidation process commenced
  • Employment was transferred using TUPE regulation

 

If you are successful in your claim for redundancy pay, this is extra capital which can help put you on the road to financial recovery. The funds can be put forward to boost your career and to pay off any remaining debts you may have accumulated over the years.

 

Redundancy pay is essentially compensation for the loss of a job position in a situation which is typically out of your control. Along with this, limited company directors may also be able to claim notice pay, holiday pay and unpaid wages. By debunking the common misconception of limited company directors being unable to claim the above, you open the doors to further compensation which you may be entitled to.

MarketsStock Markets

Navigating challenging markets in the investment industry

By Wael Al-Nahedh, CEO at Spearvest

The global economy has been experiencing unprecedented uncertainty in recent years. Political, economic and social challenges have meant that businesses and individuals are incredibly cautious about where they place their money, particularly for long-term investments.

The overall concerns in the US market topped with the UK’s difficult political situation around its planned departure from the European Union is making investors sit tight and hold back on plans until the future is clearer. With market uncertainty, it is crucial that investors realise it can bring with it great opportunities that only those who are forward thinking will be able to capitalise upon and improve their returns.

The US is a very complicated market for investors. For a fourth straight quarter, CEOs say they are less optimistic about the market which is highlighting a broader trend of concern around corporations at their peak time of profitability. As well as this, the inverted yield curve is producing warning signs of a recession and recent data shows a clear weakness from housing and retail sales and customer sentiment.

The UK market is producing quite negative predictions for business investment. A recent poll from the British Chambers of Commerce has predicted that UK business investment is set to decline in 2019 by 1 per cent – making it the worst year since the financial crash of 2008. Economic growth reports have also predicted that 2019 will be at 1.2 per cent, the lowest in a decade. This is a concerning position for the UK to be in and its certainly clear that the estimations are corresponding together with the uncertainty around Brexit. However, we must make it clear that these are only forecasts for now and they are likely to change, either negatively or positively to reflect the developments. Once the final outcome of Britain leaving the European Union is made, the market should steady itself and these predictions may be updated.

Interestingly, China’s growth has set to be lower this year too due to trade tensions. It is also set to have slower growth in consumer spending and a tighter hold on global liquidity. Despite this prediction, China’s government are attempting to stimulate the economy through fiscal, monetary and regulatory measures to help growth levels match targets.

Thanks to the challenging markets, it has never been more vital for an investor to monitor their current portfolio and look at where investment is needed. For businesses, they must insist on having a clear view of the market before committing to long-term and costly investments. Despite the need for clarity, it should be noted that with uncertainty, brings fantastic opportunity for investors to get ahead when many are being overly cautious. There is often an opportunity to strike a better deal, provided it is the right investment for the individual or business that will give long-term success.

Although volatile markets can be incredibly successful for some, one must be able to withstand the rapid change in market values and the associated possibility of loss. This means advice given to investors is extremely important to get right, particularly on the topic of what they should be holding onto throughout a dip in the market versus what should be simply let go of.

To stay ahead of the curve, investors should look at diversifying their wealth on a global scale and turn their heads towards value-focussed funds which is ultimately investing in unpopular stocks that have seen some significant growth in the past but not as popular as the higher growing stocks.

It is apparent that economic uncertainty, driven by current political circumstances in the US and UK, is a real concern for investors. When political uncertainty is prominent, we often see emerging markets profit from the situation and I think this is what we will end up seeing here. Investors should look at markets that would not usually have their attention and look at potential commodities that have previously taken a backseat.

To have a better view of how a portfolio is performing, technology can be implemented. It is becoming increasingly important for each custodian of wealth to be digitally connected, and to feed live data into a secure platform. This helps to provide investors with a full view of their whole portfolio in real-time – an important insight for uncertain markets. This type of technology will rely on independent market pricing and the reporting process must be objective and accurate in order to give the necessary and correct data. By having this, an investor can properly assess their portfolio performance and make smarter and better-informed decisions. Although, it’s not all about performance. Obtaining a fully consolidated view of wealth means it is easier to mitigate risk, allowing an investor to recognise potential issues and take action before they become a bigger problem.

Whilst political uncertainty remains a concern for all investors, it should not equate to an end of an investment portfolio. When looking to invest in difficult times, it is important that those looking to distribute their wealth are given advice that is well-informed, unbiased and profound from those who are closely watching the markets and can provide strategic and tactical guidance. As we see more individuals shying away from making investments, this is when fantastic opportunities open up for those looking to take more of a risk for a higher return down the line.

ArticlesCorporate Tax

Why Brand Image Is More Important Than Ever

If you want to be a leading business in your market, you must have a reputable brand. Brand awareness is one of the most significant factors that contribute to the successful running of a business. You want to make a great first impression that will last if you have aims to increase your consumer base and become a thought-leader in your sector.

Within this piece, you’ll learn more about what your customers think and what you should be doing in the future. 

Implementing change

For many businesses, uniforms are a main element. You need to ensure that your employees are identifiable to customers and this can only be achieved by designing a uniform that stands out; while catering to each type of individual that works for you (considering religions etc).

Corporate wear represent your business – so you must design them in the correct way and prioritise employee comfort to ensure you receive the best delivery from them.

Above all that, skill development is core to any future success. This should cover ways that they interact with consumers of all kind (race, religion, disability) and offer the most efficient service possible to show that you’re a reputable brand. On top of this training, you should also make your staff aware of any new products or services that you begin to offer so that they can give customers all of the information that they require.

You must consider other areas internally too. Research has suggested that customers will spend up to 13 minutes in a store — so it’s important that you deliver an exceptional service. Queues are notoriously long here in the UK and can be the biggest contributing factor to a customer’s walk-out. To combat this, why not look at queue management software and point of sales service?

What your customers think

More people believe that the in-store experience is more valuable than the product. Although you should also be prioritising the quality of your products (to reduce returns and negative reviews), you should be constantly reviewing your current customer service methods and continually think of ways that you can improve the overall service.

Although you should always be confident with your service delivery, know that there’s always room to improve internal strategies. According to one study, 80% of businesses already believe that they deliver a superior service to their consumers – but only 8% of shoppers actually agree with this statement.

Loyalty is key for retail businesses, and if you offer a quality service from the start, customers will appreciate that.  Not only that, but if you’re looking to increase your consumer acquisition rates – this is a good avenue to go down. 84% of people make a purchase because of a referral; so if your first impression is worthwhile, it could lead to additional business.

Are you prepared to make the changes necessary to ensure success?

 

Sources:

https://www.lucidpress.com/blog/25-branding-stats-facts

https://www.crowdspring.com/blog/successful-branding-for-entrepreneurs-statistics/

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/retail-uniforms-good-or-bad-2889981

 

 

Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)MarketsStock Markets

What Game of Thrones stocks and shares do you hold?

By Alister Sneddon, Genuine Impact

 

 

It is hard to believe that the Game of Thrones (GoT) saga is coming to a close and we’ll soon find out who’ll win and take the Iron Throne.

 

Finding a winner relates to the quest to pick stocks and shares too.  Just as we’ve analysed the characters in GoT, and made our assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, we can assess a stock by looking at its Quality, Value, and Momentum.

 

Based on these three criteria, here are some stock picks for three favourite GoT characters:

 

Jon Snow

Jon has a lot of backing and support from the public. He has also proven he can withstand even the most unexpected of events. There is a spark of innovation to be found: joining forces with the enemy of my enemy turned out to be an excellent move against the Night King’s army, but is it a cursed alliance joining forces with Daenerys?

 

Paddy Power Betfair PLC

Paddy Power and Betfair now operate as a single company having joined forces in 2015. Coming together brought them back from infighting to concentrate on ruling.

 

Paddy Power Betfair is an excellent Quality stock. The company has a strong balance sheet and plenty of cash. Jon isn’t cash rich, but he has resources: endless people to call upon when required. Paddy Power Betfair’s cash reserves, make them resilient to any new gambling regulations or other changes.

 

A company’s value is based on today’s price per share, versus how much money the company generates. The higher the value the cheaper it is to buy this company now compared to how much money it’s bringing in i.e. the money being generated will grow into bigger profits (and returns) in the future. Paddy Power Betfair scores highly for Value. They bring in a lot of revenue compared to the stock price today. If they can convert this money into bigger profits there’ll be higher returns for investors. If you’d invested in Jon before you knew about his true heritage, you’d be collecting rewards now!  Investing in Paddy Power Betfair has potential for more to come.

 

Finally, a company’s Momentum. Momentum takes views from industry experts, e.g. big banks and financial institutions, and aggregates them. Do the experts believe this company will barely beat expectations or perhaps completely exceed everyone’s wildest dreams? Paddy Power Betfair is very average in terms of future Momentum. They’re hitting or beating their targets. The industry feels positive, without expecting anything amazing soon.

 

Assessment

Quality Score: High

Value Score: High

Momentum Score: Low

 

 

Arya Stark

Arya is a force to reckoned with, she is still human and makes mistakes, but there is no doubt she will keep on going.  While Arya might not want the Iron Throne, she is capable of taking it. Thankfully she is happy with her own path and continues to influence the world around her.

 

Taylor Wimpey PLC

One of the largest house building companies in the UK, Taylor Wimpey is often used as a barometer for the Brexit impact. Like Arya, Taylor Wimpey is a force unlike anything else.

 

Taylor Wimpey is no stranger to scandals or scraps. Unlike Arya however, Taylor Wimpey has the cashflow to make its problems and challenges negligible. Regarding the Quality score Taylor Wimpey has a lot of purchasing power, but housing market regulation is prone to change and Brexit has shaken us, so they are keeping an eye on their war chest.

 

What about Value – the future potential based on what you pay today? Taylor Wimpey scores extremely well for Value; the company generates a lot of income compared to its current share price. If it can convert the incoming revenue into higher margins the results will be impressive.

 

For Momentum, the industry experts seem to agree. There is plenty of potential upside in the future. Once the Brexit air clears it will be business as usual, and like Arya, Taylor Wimpey will show up ready to fight.

 

It’s a promising outlook across the board, however starting from such a strong position means it’s tough to exceed expectations.

 

Assessment

Quality Score: High

Value Score: High

Momentum Score: High

 

Night King

Terrifying, unyielding, and never-ending. There has never been a threat as serious and all-consuming as the Night King and his army of the undead. It doesn’t matter how many you kill or how far you run, he will always be there.

 

Sports Direct International PLC

Very much like the Night King, Sports Direct picks up dying companies and recruits them into the Sports Direct family, giving them new life

Buying up assets and companies on the cheap is still expensive. So, Sports Direct doesn’t have the happiest of balance sheets. The Quality score is very low, cash in the bank is not the strategy here. It’s spending money to make money.

In terms of Value there is potential. Sports Direct’s current share price is lower than expected when compared to the amount of revenue and income they generate. The Value is lower than expected, but not enough for this company to be labelled a deep value long term buy and hold.

With worse than expected accounts, even with the company being offered “at a discount” (medium Value) experts don’t have high hopes for the future.

However, Sports Direct has proven they’re experts at navigating the unknown. The ratings are more a reflection of the feeling that there will be hardships for the time being.

Like the Night King, Sports Direct hasn’t given us an incredible show yet but hopefully, unlike the Night King, it’ll be part of our lives for many years to come.

Assessment

Quality Score: Low

Value Score: Medium

Momentum Score: Low

 

Disclosure, Alister does not hold positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

Corporate GovernanceMarketsStock Markets

Sectigo Delivers Record Quarter of Growth Underpinned by More Than 35% YoY Enterprise Sales Increase in Q1 2019

Addition of Top Brands, Along with New Email Encryption and Digital Signing Product, Drive Sales for World’s Largest Commercial SSL Provider

Sectigo (formerly Comodo CA), the world’s largest commercial Certificate Authority and a leader in web security solutions, today announced a larger than 35% year-over-year (YoY) increase in enterprise sales during the first quarter of 2019, fueled by the adoption of the company’s Certificate Manager, Private CA, S/MIME, and IoT Manager enterprise solutions. Sectigo also kicked off 2019 with an expanded partner program, the release of its Zero-Touch Deployment S/MIME product, a new strategic IoT alliance, and receipt of numerous awards.

Sectigo’s record quarter follows a breakthrough year and a complete corporate rebrand in November of 2018. The company has experienced rapid growth since expanding beyond TLS/SSL certificates to offer solutions that protect enterprises of all sizes from increasingly sophisticated web-based threats across websites, IoT devices, internal infrastructure, and cloud services.

“After delivering a strong 2018 where Sectigo’s growth was more than twice as fast as the overall market, we have accelerated our efforts by doubling down on addressing the enterprise’s most pressing needs through product innovation,” said Bill Holtz, CEO, Sectigo.

“Enterprises are embracing automated certificate management to facilitate discovery, installation, and renewal for their vast inventories of private and public certificates across diverse use cases and operating systems. These capabilities are essential to securing our complex enterprise environments and their increasing use of virtualization, containerization, mobile devices, IoT, and DevOps. Certificate automation enables strong identity in these complex environments and protects against costly outages caused by unexpected certificate expirations,” Holtz added.

Sectigo highlights in Q1 2019 include:

Enterprise growth – Dozens of marquee brands, spanning retail to technology sectors, enlisted Sectigo as their trusted partner for certificate management. Sectigo Certificate Manager provides enterprises with complete visibility and lifecycle control over any public and private certificate in its environment all from a single portal.

Product innovation – In February, Sectigo introduced the industry’s first Zero-Touch S/MIME solution to combat business email compromise (BEC) and other spear phishing attacks and increase compliance with regulations like HIPAA/HITECH, GDPR, and the U.S. Department of Defense’s DFARS. The innovation modernizes email security and encryption by using automation to deploy digital certificates across every desktop, tablet, and mobile device in an enterprise.

Expanded IoT ecosystem – Sectigo and Kyrio, a subsidiary of CableLabs, formed a strategic alliance to provide the expertise needed for IoT projects to be designed, architected, built, and deployed with security in mind from day one. Multi-vendor ecosystems, including the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), CBRS WInnForum, and SunSpec Alliance, have already chosen Kyrio and Sectigo to manage their global PKI deployments.

Industry awards – Sectigo won five company awards and received three executive honors in Q1.
Cyber Defense Magazine’s InfoSec Awards – CEO Bill Holtz was named the Most Innovative Chief Executive of the Year, Sectigo Certificate Manager earned the Hot Company Identity Management Award, IoT Manager was selected for Publisher’s Choice IoT Security, and Zero-Touch S/MIME won the Next-Gen Deep Sea Phishing Award.
2019 Info Security PG’s Global Excellence Awards® – Sectigo IoT Manager was awarded bronze in the New Product or Service of the Year category, and CMO Jonathan Skinner won gold for Marketing Professional of the Year.
2019 Cybersecurity Excellence Awards – Sectigo won silver for Most Innovative Cybersecurity Company, and gold for Cybersecurity Marketer of the Year (for CMO, Skinner).

Channel expansion – Sectigo unveiled a revamped Channel Partner Program, enabling partners to grow into new cybersecurity market segments. By teaming up with Sectigo, resellers develop their product portfolios and learn best practices for optimizing the customer experience. After collaborating with Sectigo, ICANN-accredited registrar Uniregistry, saw 53% of users who expressed interest in their UniSSL products complete purchases.

Thought leadership – Sectigo launched Root Causes: A PKI and Security Podcast to frame public conversations and discuss key issues, breaking news, and major trends in digital certificates and PKI. Co-hosted by Sectigo industry veterans Jason Soroko and Tim Callan, Root Causes is now live on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, SoundCloud, Blubrry, and Stitcher.

Global ComplianceWealth Management

Sparta Global announces appointment of Andy King as Managing Director

Sparta Global, a leading provider of technology and business services, today announces the appointment of Andy King as its new Managing Director. Andy joins Sparta Global following the opening of its new Head Office at 125 London Wall and £4m equity investment from Private equity house Key Capital Partners (KCP) to support its continued growth and expansion.

With his new position as Managing Director at Sparta Global taking full effect from 10th April 2019, Andy will assist with the attraction, training and deployment of highly skilled graduates in blue chip organisations – reporting to David Rai, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sparta Global.

As former UK & Ireland Managing Director of FDM Group PLC, Andy and his team were responsible for a total revenue of £106.7m (circa 52% of total group revenue) and more than 1800 consultants deployed with clients across the UK. Additionally, he was responsible for overseeing and implementing new academies across the UK. Before his 10-year tenure at FDM Group PLC, Andy was the Global Head of Testing at Barclays Wealth for 5 years.

David Rai, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Sparta Global, says; “Attracting someone of Andy’s calibre, track record and growth potential to Sparta Global is incredibly exciting. Andy is a highly motivated individual with extensive experience managing and leading global teams across sectors such as investment banking and the public sector. His proven track record in sales, graduate recruitment, training, mentoring and programme delivery – combined with a positive attitude and passion to drive a successful team – makes him an ideal fit for Sparta Global.”

Of his appointment, Andy King says; “I am hugely excited to be joining Sparta Global at such a key stage in its growth and development. Sparta Global has built a strong platform in the UK with Academies in London, the Midlands and North of England, fulfilling the growing UK-wide demand for diverse, highly skilled and dynamic technology professionals. I look forward to working with the exceptional team at Sparta Global and giving our clients the tools to power technology projects across a diverse range of industries”.

Markets

Atradius Announces Top Five Promising Emerging Markets

Leading trade credit insurer Atradius has revealed its most promising emerging markets for businesses.

Bulgaria, Indonesia, Vietnam, Peru and Morocco have been shortlisted within the Promising Emerging Markets Economic Research Report as having the most potential for new trade opportunities this year. The top five are predicted to shine in 2019 thanks to their strong growth prospects and limited vulnerability to global headwinds. They boast a mix of trade diversification, strong investment growth and dynamic domestic markets and offer opportunities in consumer orientated sectors as well as within manufacturing and infrastructure.

Luke Giddings of Atradius, said: “As the global economy loses steam in 2019, the risks in the traditional emerging markets are coming to the forefront. Economic policy uncertainty, a greater-than-expected slowdown in the Chinese economy and more volatile commodity prices are bringing pressure to bear. However, despite increasing global pessimism and uncertainty, there are still bright spots for global trade.

“We have identified a number of promising markets that show a favourable combination of attributes to make them appealing destinations for international trade. Stable or accelerating growth, favourable business conditions, robust payment behaviour are critical factors and what’s more, the markets identified can offer growth opportunities across several sectors.”

♣ Bulgaria: The Eastern European market has a positive economic outlook, fuelled by domestic demand and fixed investment. Household incomes are increasing, supported by higher wages and low domestic interest rates which is leading to a rise in demand for exports. Opportunities for exporters are ample in the consumer durables and the food and beverage sectors. Imports have also sharply increased in the machinery sector while the chemicals sector is also well supported. In agriculture, an increased output will create higher demand for fertiliser imports.

♣ Indonesia: This ASEAN member has high and stable growth rates, underpinned by a stable political situation and strong fundamentals. Rising incomes, coupled with job growth and higher public spending should continue to underpin private consumption growth. Promising sectors include consumer durables and food and beverage. Growth in e-commerce is contributing to rapidly increasing demand in the chemicals and plastics sectors. Alongside expansion of the petrochemical and fertiliser industries, there is also significant demand for infrastructure. High construction activity for electricity and transport development will also continue to drive import growth in the machinery sector.

♣ Vietnam: With 6.7% GDP growth forecast, Vietnam has a population of more than 95 million and is home to Southeast Asia’s fastest growing middle class – representing an important market for foreign goods While it is heavily exposed to US-China trade tensions, it stands to gain from rising tariffs. Diversification of trade away from China could offer opportunities for Vietnam’s textiles sector, forecast to grow 15% this year. Vietnam’s young population with a tendency for eating out make an attractive potential market for food and beverage businesses. With robust economic growth, an upsurge in infrastructure and construction activities and strong demand for fuels across transportation, aviation, and residential sectors, Atradius also expects continued high growth in the chemicals sector, especially fuels.

♣ Peru: A stable market with a regionally high growth rate of around 4% with a government track record of prudent, business-friendly policymaking. Notable growth prospects can be found in Peru’s primary industry sector with enlarged anchovy fishing and higher hydrocarbon production expected to drive growth. The development of new mines and major infrastructure projects are boosting the construction sector. A large domestic market characterised by more than 30 million people with rising incomes and high consumer confidence gives attractive growth potential to the food and beverage and consumer durables sectors.

♣ Morocco: While the Middle East and North Africa is experiencing subdued growth, Morocco is bucking the trend with GDP growth forecast at 3.3% thanks to a cyclical upturn in agricultural production, as well as stronger non-agricultural growth, especially in the manufacturing sector. With close proximity to European markets and heavy investment, the export-oriented manufacturing industry – especially automotive – has high growth potential. There is also strong potential in the growing tourism industry; supporting travel and supportive industries such as food and beverage and services. With good infrastructure, Morocco’s energy sector is also seeing strong growth, with potential opportunities for imports – with targets to significantly increase its reliance on renewables.

Luke Giddings continued: “With intelligent insights and experts on the ground around the world, Atradius is well equipped to help businesses spot the opportunities for international trade as well as mitigating the associated risks. We act as a trade partner for businesses, facilitating trade and supporting sustainable and robust business growth.”

For more information on Atradius, visit www.atradius.co.uk or follow @AtradiusUK on Twitter and AtradiusUK on LinkedIn


AccountancyValue Chain Management

Guidant Global announces new leadership line-up to drive further international expansion

Guidant Global, part of Impellam Group, is delighted to announce changes to its executive team 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.

Former Senior Vice President of Global Solutions, Karen Gonzalez, is stepping into the newly created role of Chief Sales Officer where she will become immediately responsible for overseeing global sales across North America and in the UK.

For over 25 years, Gonzalez has dedicated her career to helping clients find better ways to manage their workforces. She was appointed to her former role, overseeing the company’s sales organization, in 2015. In her first year she led the sales team to achieve more than $650 million in spend under management, a figure which has now risen to more than $1.5 billion.

Commenting on her expanded remit, Karen Gonzales, Chief Sales Officer at Guidant Global, said:

“I am delighted to be stepping into this new role which is firmly aligned with Guidant Global’s long term objectives through enabling a more holistic approach to international sales strategy. I’m incredibly excited by what can be achieved, both in the short to medium term and as we continue to expand into new geographies.”

Former President of the Americas, Brian Salkowski, meanwhile, has been elevated to Chief Operating Officer where he will lead the implementation of the brand’s strategic vision and its operational delivery.

Dedicated to changing the dynamic of MSP services by championing a better, more forward-thinking approach, Salkowski has 20 years’ experience in the workforce management industry and was a key figure behind the coming together of Bartech and Guidant Group, which marked the inception of Guidant Global in 2018.


Commenting on his new role, Brian Salkowski, Chief Operating Officer at Guidant Global, said:

“I am honored to step into this role at a time when the organization continues to grow its portfolio across international markets. The creation of Guidant Global enabled greater sharing of best practice, best people and operational accountability for the workforce solutions business and through the creation of a Chief Operating Officer role we are able to bring greater synergy across implementation, operations and account management.”

Simon Blockley, CEO of Guidant Global, added:

“I’d like to congratulate both Karen and Brian on their new positions and I have no doubt that both will excel in their new roles. The alignment of our key teams is integral to success in expanding our global reach and this new leadership structure is indicative of our commitment to finding better ways of working in order to meet our organizational objectives.”

Articles

Excel’s International Team Continues To Grow

Excel Networking Solutions – the copper and optical fibre cabling infrastructure provider – has appointed a new Sales Manager in France. Hinda Mourali joined the business on 1st April 2019, beginning with a two week induction programme to familiarise herself with the Excel Networking team.

Hinda joins the team with over ten years’ experience in working with distribution and installation sales. For the past eight years, she has been working with one of our Excel Distribution Partners in France. Her appointment with Excel is key to support the business growth and development in the French region, with particular focus on working with existing partners and developing new business opportunities throughout the country.

Aurelie Pernin, Excel Country Manager – France, commented, “I am delighted to welcome Hinda on board. She has a wealth of experience in the industry, and her knowledge and confidence will be pivotal in helping Excel to secure more market share in the French region.”

She continued, “Hinda will be working closely with our existing international team. She will be the driving force behind enhancing our communication and activities throughout France to help promote the Excel System Offering to new contacts.”

Speaking of the role, Hinda commented, “I am looking forward to facing the challenges of this role with Excel Networking. I am confident that I can use my experience in the industry to promote the Excel product range throughout France to support the existing international team.”

Hinda continued, “I am looking forward to working closer with Excel Networking to identify new opportunities to support the business’s future growth.”

For further information about Excel Networking, please visit the website at www.excel-networking.com.