All posts by Mohammed Junaid

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.

Foreign Direct InvestmentHigh Net-worth Individuals

Puzzel receives growth investment from Marlin Equity Partners

Puzzel, a leading European omni-channel cloud contact centre software provider, today announced the completion of a majority recapitalisation and growth investment from Marlin Equity Partners (“Marlin”), a global investment firm with over $6.7 billion of capital under management. Puzzel’s best-in-class, multi-tenant cloud contact centre as a service (“CCaaS”) platform allows clients worldwide to manage and optimise their customer interactions across voice, email, chat and social media platforms.

“Puzzel’s leading position in the market, knowledgeable employees and pioneering technology platform positions us well to successfully scale our business,” said Børge Astrup, CEO of Puzzel. “Marlin has a proven track record of supporting and partnering with high-growth software businesses and we look forward to working with them to execute our strategic plan to accelerate growth, bring new and added functionality to our customers and expand into new markets.”

“In Puzzel, we saw a business with a comprehensive omni-channel CCaaS solution that is both scalable and flexible, and designed to support contact centres of all sizes,” said Mike Wilkinson, vice president at Marlin. 

“The company has experienced tremendous growth across Europe that is being further fuelled by feedback and advocacy from market-leading customers. We are excited to partner with an exceptional management team to seek new partnerships, invest in new opportunities to enhance the product suite and expand the company’s geographic presence.”

About Puzzel
Puzzel is a leading cloud-based contact centre software provider and one of the first pioneers to develop a cloud-based contact centre offering. Today, Puzzel combines its omni-channel technology with artificial intelligence capabilities to provide comprehensive, end-to-end customer interaction solutions in an age of digitisation. Puzzel was named a Challenger in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Centre as a Service, Western Europe, Report 2018 for the fourth consecutive year for its strong growth, functional capabilities, strengths in standards and compliance, customer service and support. The company is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, with offices in six European markets including the U.K. For more information, please visit Puzzel.

About Marlin Equity Partners
Marlin Equity Partners is a global investment firm with over $6.7 billion of capital under management. The firm is focused on providing corporate parents, shareholders and other stakeholders with tailored solutions that meet their business and liquidity needs. Marlin invests in businesses across multiple industries where its capital base, industry relationships and extensive network of operational resources significantly strengthen a company’s outlook and enhance value. Since its inception, Marlin, through its group of funds and related companies, has successfully completed over 140 acquisitions. The firm is headquartered in Los Angeles, California with an additional office in London. For more information, please visit Marlin Equity

Cash Management

Sphera Acquires Chemical Data Management Software Company SiteHawk

Sphera, the largest global provider of Integrated Risk Management software and information services with a focus on Environmental Health & Safety, Operational Risk and Product Stewardship, announces the acquisition of SiteHawk, a leading software and services provider for Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and chemical data management solutions.

 

Sphera acquired SiteHawk, a Smyrna, Tennessee-based software company, to advance usability and capabilities for chemical management and managed regulatory content. The SiteHawk product accelerates Sphera’s next phase of product integration for Product Stewardship into SpheraCloud, the Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that was launched in 2017. 

 

SiteHawk’s chemical management products are used in many of the industries that Sphera works with, including manufacturing, Oil & Gas and chemical manufacturing.

 

“The acquisition of SiteHawk not only expands Sphera’s cloud-based solutions, but also extends Sphera’s Product Stewardship content, services and markets while extending our leadership position in the Product Stewardship space,” said Paul Marushka, Sphera’s president and CEO. “As the industry leader, we believe it is critical to continue innovating and expanding our portfolio of cloud-based and content solutions while also enhancing our world-class, on-premise products. We also want to welcome SiteHawk’s current customers and colleagues into the Sphera family.”

 

These deals underscore Genstar Capital’s commitment to investing in Sphera to enhance their product breadth for their global customers. This marks Sphera’s fourth acquisition, following deals to acquire Rivo Software in 2017, sparesFinder in 2018 and Petrotechnics earlier this year. 

 

“Genstar is committed to growing the Sphera brand through strategic investments,” said Geoff Miller, principal at Genstar Capital. “The SiteHawk acquisition will serve to enhance Sphera’s industry-leading solutions in the Product Stewardship space as part of a comprehensive Integrated Risk Management strategy for chemical management.”

 

Sphera is a portfolio company of Genstar Capital, a leading middle-market private equity firm, which acquired the OERM business (now Sphera) from IHS Markit in June 2016. Vaquero Capital acted as financial adviser to SiteHawk during the transaction. SiteHawk is backed by Level Equity. Financial terms of this transaction were not disclosed.

Cash ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

Aryaka Raises $50M to Accelerate Global Managed SD-WAN Expansion

Series F, Led by Goldman Sachs, Enables Company to Quickly Grow Revenues, Headcount & Global Footprint

Aryaka®, the global leader in managed SD-WAN, today announced it has closed a $50 million Series F round of funding led by Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing. This brings Aryaka’s total funding to $184 million. Additionally, it was announced that Matthew Dorr of Goldman Sachs will join Aryaka’s Board of Directors as a Board Member, and Michael Kondoleon will join as an observer. Goldman Sachs will be joining existing investors including Trinity Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, InterWest Partners, Presidio Ventures, Third Point Ventures and DTCP.

The funding will be used to scale business operations, grow revenues and hire exceptional talent, as Aryaka continues to see larger deal sizes and global customer expansion.
“We’re constantly evaluating the market for high-growth companies that are leaders in their space. Our research shows that Aryaka offers a compelling solution for the SD-WAN market that continues to grow exponentially including increased adoption of SD-WAN managed services,” said Matthew Dorr, vice president at Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing. “We decided to invest in Aryaka because of their highly differentiated offering, strong customer base, global footprint and their experienced management team.”

“We are pleased to receive this investment from Goldman Sachs. This new investment allows us to further accelerate our business momentum and endorses our growth strategy,” said Matt Carter, CEO of Aryaka. “We are extremely well positioned to help our customers drive WAN transformation and their multi-cloud and application performance initiatives; all while being delivered ‘as-a-service’.”

In the last twelve months, Aryaka has continued to accelerate business growth, which has resulted in thousands of globally managed sites and significantly larger annual recurring revenue (ARR) streams. The Company has also brought in seasoned members to its leadership team, established new go-to-market partnerships and continued to build out a best-in-class global network of points-of-presence (POPs). These POPs have been supplemented with global Network Operations Centers (NOCs) and 24X7 support.

As multi-cloud requirements have grown, Aryaka has cemented partnerships with the leading public cloud providers including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google, Oracle and others. These partnerships allow Aryaka to offer the industry’s best managed cloud connectivity options and deliver a true, multi-cloud solution. In addition, through partnerships with Palo Alto Networks, Symantec and Zscaler, Aryaka brings a full-fledged security solution to the edge.
Aryaka’s continued innovation around its orchestration platform, connectivity solutions, edge devices, WAN optimization and security software all combine to form the most integrated solution in the industry. Aryaka is the only SD-WAN platform that has both the technology stack as well as a highly available global network that offers managed services at scale. This platform provides customers a seamless solution and delivers the best possible end-user application experience. Aryaka currently has more than 800 global customers, including JAS Worldwide, HMSHost International, Makinohttps://www.aryaka.com/press/sd-wan-revolutionizes-manufacturing-it/], [Pilot Freight, Element Solutions, Allegis, and City & Guilds Group.

For more on Aryaka, please visit: https://www.aryaka.com/
Visit the Aryaka blog: https://www.aryaka.com/blog/https://www.aryaka.com/blog/
Follow Aryaka on Twitter: @AryakaNetworks
Visit Aryaka on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/aryaka-networks/

OffshoreWealth Management

How to choose the right country for opening a company

How to choose the right country for opening a company 

The world we live in today has made it quite easy for most of us to start our own company. The Internet has created a lot of new business opportunities and ideas which can be successfully put to use and to the benefit of others. With so many options, choosing the country to set up a business in is one of the most important challenges.

Selecting the country to open a company depends on the money one is willing to invest, the industry or the profession of the business person and, of course, the legislation in that particular country. Plus, one also needs to consider the many frauds which have developed along with the appearance of the Internet. One must always consider asking for legal advice from a criminal defence lawyer, if confronted with a possible fraud.

Let’s see what one should consider in terms of country of choice when deciding to start a business.

Taxation is essential when opening a business

Most business persons consider taxation as one of the most important aspects when choosing a country to start a business in. There are onshore and offshore destinations, if we are to categorize countries from a taxation point of view; however, there are also countries which provide for low taxes just as offshore states. For example, large companies can decide to set up subsidiaries in Labuan, one of the most important offshore jurisdictions in Malaysia, while benefiting from a very good taxation system.

Offshore jurisdictions are still preferred by many investors

Offshore countries remain among the preferences of many foreign entrepreneurs who consider they can reduce their taxes and ensure a higher degree of confidentiality if they decide for such a jurisdiction. Let’s take Seychelles, for instance: setting up an offshore company in Seychelles will definitely offer a good protection when it comes to the assets of the owner, if one chooses this business form. Investors can also decide to open onshore companies and complete activities just like in any other onshore jurisdiction.

Going for traditional country

There are also entrepreneurs who decide to go the old-fashioned way and settle their companies in traditional countries with well-established regulations. These are usually European countries, such as Germany, France, Spain and Italy which have evolved a lot in the last few years, especially in accommodating the needs of the new generation of investors which rely on new technologies. Those who decide to operate in Italy, for example, are advised to use the services of a local law firm in order to integrate their businesses under the legal requirements of the authorities here.

No matter the country one decides for setting up a business, what matters in the end is for that country to answer the needs of entrepreneur, while his or her products or services answer the needs of the clients in that country.

Corporate Finance and M&A/Deals

APSCo Announces Trade Delegation to US and Canada

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has announced it’s much anticipated five day Trade Delegation to New York and Toronto beginning on the 11th November 2019, following successful visits to Singapore, Brazil, Japan and China in previous years.

The event, which is kindly sponsored by Saffery Champness and Squire Patton Boggs, marks the second time the trade association has travelled with members to North America, after a delegation of 28 visited New York and San Francisco in 2017. Feedback from the previous cohort was extremely positive, with Chris Jackson, Founder Director of Understanding Recruitment commenting, “I collected a huge amount of information to take away and am now in a position to make a good and educated decision on whether we’re going to hit the States over the next 12 months”.

During the trip, delegates will receive privileged access to key contacts across the sector, briefings from specialists about business opportunities and market trends and practical advice from experienced recruitment leaders operating in the region.

The delegation will be led by Ann Swain, Chief Executive of APSCo, who commented:

“With a $133bn turnover, the US staffing market is the largest in the world, while Staffing Industry Analysts forecasts that the Canadian staffing market will be worth CAD 9.7bn in 2019. This strength, together with low barriers to entry has made the United States and Canada target destinations for ambitious firms looking to expand their global footprint and diversify their growth strategies.

“If you are looking to develop your business across the pond, or simply want to ‘dip your toe in the water’ this trip is an ideal way to make a cost-effective assessment of the opportunities available.”

Delegates will visit New York on the 11th and 12th of November and Toronto on the 14th and 15th of November, with a day travelling in between.
For further information and to book your place, please email [email protected].

ArticlesCorporate Governance

How important is online branding and marketing for your business?

Branding and marketing and the effects on a business

 

Can we bring short-term sales goals and long term value together through brand-building and marketing?

 

Known as Thomson Holidays, the holiday company decided to undertake a total rebrand, becoming TUI, in 2017. CMO Kate McAlister explained that upon rebranding, their brand awareness increased by 36% in under one year. 

 

As indicated in the graph, 2017 saw a boom in stock prices and google searches. Furthermore, this is a perfect example of the positive effect branding can have on a business’ stock price and google search.

Branding and marketing is a consistent combination of several factors that come together to create a company’s image. The cold Coca Cola you’ve been craving, or the newest Apple iPhone upgrade. Brands, brands, brands. We recognise these immediately – we trust them.

“Strong brands performed 20% better than weaker brands.”

 Digital marketing is also an essential part to build whether it be B2C or B2B.

 

Statistics show that 32% of businesses plan one year ahead, with consideration for the ways in which the marketing industry will change through digital technologies.

 

Text Local researched the ways in which customer satisfaction was affected by mobile marketing and general mobile readiness.

 

Bringing together real-life data and hidden data, Text Local have been gathering information about the levels of mobile website speed of various businesses and the positive effects it had on customer happiness.

When it comes to customer satisfaction there are many platforms for online reviews. Online reviews not only give potential customers a snapshot of the quality of your product or service, they are also very beneficial to your search rankings and search page visibility.

Comparing business success metrics, we can conclude that online branding and digital marketing is something to consider for 2019 – improving customer satisfaction, business efficiency, Google rank and a boom in revenue.

 Sources: Google, Text Local

Banking

UK banks must collaborate with fintechs to transform payments industry

New Research Reveals Disruptive impact of technology needed to harness new payment opportunities

https://irishadvantage.com/white-paper/paytech-reinventing-transactions/ 

The UK payments industry is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, driven by the twin engines of growing adoption of technology and changing consumer expectations. This has led to a race to launch innovative new payment products, services and business models to meet growing customer demand.

This is according to new research, Paytech: Reinventing Transactions. Commissioned by Enterprise Ireland, the second largest investor in fintech companies in the world by deal count. The research demonstrates traditional banks are being increasingly disrupted, as technology-enabled businesses carve out a completely different payments ecosystem. The result is a proliferation of new opportunities, as banks, long the cornerstone of the payments sector, are both challenged by – and themselves embrace – new digital payment options.

The customer demand and business case for an improved payment experience is clear. The UK market, in the past 10 years, has seen a 33% decline in the number of cash payments.[1] 2018 alone representing a 15% drop.[2] The changing consumer preference in the UK is further exemplified as the UK ranks higher than every other EU market for cashless payments. In addition, a consumer survey[3] showed 82% of respondents were dissatisfied with the service received from incumbent money transfer operators and banks, citing slow, complex, non-transparent and inflexible traditional payment options.

Due to the slow pace of innovation over the years, incumbents are seen to lack the agility and capabilities needed to enable a seamless transition to more open, intuitive and secure methods for card-based payments, cross border payments and account-to-account payments. However, according to J.F. Clarke, Fintech Market Advisor at Enterprise Ireland, collaboration between the traditional banks and fintech companies is essential.

“In an environment where smart phones are ubiquitous, consumers have come to expect payment solutions that are seamless and available 24/7 across different channels. The UK market is no different. The pace of life in the UK has changed, consumers are more cash-rich and time-poor than ever before and businesses must adapt effectively to maintain their customer base. Traditional forms of banking have become almost obsolete, particularly across the younger generations who are far more familiar with digital software like Apps than cheques. UK banks must employ fintechs to modernise their systems and ensure the Paytech industry is striving for greater stakeholder collaboration and creating a more unique, innovative and competitive solution for customers.”

Enterprise Ireland client, Webio, The Conversational Middleware Company, recently launched WebioPay which enables enterprises to take payments directly within conversational messaging streams such as SMS, Messenger and Whatsapp; across 120 Payment Service Providers. “It makes perfect sense to combine the explosion in messaging apps with the revolution that’s now taking place in the payments industry.” Said Cormac O’Neill, CEO of Webio. “British consumers are more comfortable conversing with brands via messaging so why not empower them to make payments within the same conversation? That’s what WebioPay does, it’s an exciting opportunity for businesses and consumers alike”. Webio are currently deploying WebioPay in some of the UKs leading brands in Retail, Utilities and Financial services.

The research also outlines how recent mandatory regulations such as PSD2 and GDPR and their impact on the payments industry, will encourage the use of technology, such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics and Blockchain.

“As the global payments industry undergoes unprecedented transformation, Irish innovation is helping to reinvent payments around the world. This is due to the expertise that has emerged in Ireland, as an internationally acknowledged global fintech hub” added J.F. Clarke.

“Implementation of advanced technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data analytics facilitate automation and predictive analytics; applications based on these capabilities add value across multiple functions. Innovative products, services and business models create new growth opportunities and increase agility of enterprises,” said Adrian Drozd, ICT Research Director at Frost & Sullivan and author of the new research.

[1] Telegraph, 2018

[2] UKTN, 2018

[3] Amdocs Consumer Survey, 2016

 

Cash Management

Protecting your family legacy in a digital age

By Alex McCready, Head of Reputation and Privacy at Vardags

 

“It’s the family name that lives on. It’s all that lives on...” (Tywin Lannister, Games of Thrones)

 

We all care deeply about our family and want to ensure that whatever we pass onto younger generations stands the test of time. This concern is particularly acute for prominent families. When the older generation passes on a corporate dynasty to the younger generation – it is not only business assets and wealth they are passing on, but the family’s reputation and legacy.

 

The reputation of a family can be one of its greatest assets, but it is something that needs to be protected and cultivated. The line between business and personal is often blurred. For example, a business closely linked to a prominent family is particularly vulnerable, as any damaging allegations / controversy about a particular family member will have ramifications for the business as well.

 

Family legacy and succession planning is a hot topic and one that any family office or wealth manager will be well versed in. At Vardags, we think safeguarding reputation is an essential part of succession planning.

 

So what steps should prominent families be thinking about in this situation?

 

Knowing what’s out there

 

Despite the rise in technology, many of us don’t actually know what information is out there about us online.

 

One of the most empowering things a family can do is to establish precisely what information is out there about family members and those closely associated with the family. The results are almost always surprising. It will often uncover:

 

  • Private information that they didn’t know was available, such as homes addresses, family photographs and details of planning applications – see ‘Protecting the Private’ below
  • Some of the information might be disparaging – perhaps on blog sites or social media
  • You might realise that the family’s online reputation doesn’t match the family’s values. For example, there is huge amounts of information about a controversial investment or business deal, but very little about the family’s philanthropic work

This information is critical to understanding your family’s current reputation and, importantly, what you want it to be for generations to come.

 

Protecting the private

 

Without being alarmist, prominent families are at a greater risk of being targeted by cyber criminals and identity thieves, as well as kidnap and blackmail attempts.

 

One of the easiest steps a family can take is to minimise the amount of private information available online; for example, residential addresses and other personal biographical data, such as photos or images of homes of your children’s school. Information available on social media also provides a rich source of intel for the unscrupulous. For example, if a family member checks into locations or venues via social media, they can quite literally be creating a map of their movements for members of the press, or worse, criminals. Some basic changes to social media privacy settings can disable these location services.

 

Next Gen’s online legacy

 

It only takes one careless tweet, indiscrete Instagram snap or careless remark to tarnish a family’s reputation.

 

What the older generation did as teenagers is, thankfully, less likely to come back to haunt them and is generally limited to some embarrassing photographs in a friend’s photo album. The risk for today’s Next Gen are far greater, as many are living their lives through social media. The toddlers of today will have a significant online legacy by the time they turn 21 and are looking for a job. It’s already become part of the recruitment process for employers to take a look at a prospective employees Facebook page, and this is only going to continue.

 

A blanket ban on social media is both unrealistic and unnecessary. But education on the risks associated with social media is essential. Basic guidance on privacy settings on sites like Facebook and Snapchat is key.

 

I’m seeing some families even drawing up a family social media policy. This can be as simple as an agreed set of guidelines on what the family’s approach to social media will be. The policy should reflect the family’s values, such as agreeing that overt demonstrations of wealth don’t fit with those values. For example, the family might want to draw a very distinct line between individual family’s members and the family business. Alternatively, the family members might be an intrinsic part of the business and part of the family “brand” – in which case making sure there are clear parameters on what is and isn’t acceptable is absolutely critical. 

 

The aim is to both protect the family and encourage family members to live by its values, whatever those may be.

 

Dealing with disputes

 

Families argue. That’s an inevitable fact of life. But families should do all they can to ensure that those dispute aren’t conducted in the full public gaze and don’t irrevocably harm the family’s reputation and business.

 

We’ve seen one family break-down hitting the headlines in the US recently. The Dorrance family, who have a controlling interest in the Campbell Soup Company, have come under the spotlight following the death of their patriarch and the long-time Campbell chairman, John T. Dorrance Jr. Some family members announced their intention of selling their shares, which led to turmoil at the company and attracted the interest of an activist hedge fund.

 

Having a plan which sets out how family disputes are dealt with is vital. It’s also crucial to give the media as little ammunition as possible should the family end up in the headlines. That is why the steps outlined above are so valuable for minimising the risk of a small story mushrooming into a big one.

Alex McCready, Head of Reputation and Privacy at Vardags
Transactional and Investment Banking

GODWIN OPENS LONDON OFFICE IN LINE WITH UK EXPANSION

GODWIN Group, the UK-based property development and investment company, has continued its growth, recently opening a London office to add to its existing bases in Nottingham and Birmingham.

The new London outpost, based in the heart of the capital in prestigious Mayfair, provides a new base of operations for both arms of the business, Godwin Developments and Godwin Capital.

Godwin is already creating links to Greater London, the South East and South West of the UK and further expanding the geographical scope of Godwin Developments’ commercial and residential portfolios.

The new location will also provide important access to London’s financial network and wealth-raising opportunities for Godwin Capital, the investment arm of the business.

Andrew Mitchell, group investment director of Godwin Group, said: “As a leading international financial centre, London is a key location for Godwin Capital to enhance its corporate profile, provide expansion opportunities and access to one of the world’s deepest pools of capital.

 “The build-to-rent (BTR) sector continues to grow apace; operators are looking to take advantage of improved yields and a wider selection of sites across the UK as infrastructures improve and lower land prices make development lucrative.

“Many of the key players in this market are based out of head offices in London. Godwin Group’s new London office is strategically located to provide this vital link, local contact and expertise for its regional businesses.”

The London office launch comes after a number of high-profile new hires at Godwin Group. Staff numbers have increased by 60% as the firm’s growing number of regional projects has expanded.

Recent successes include planning approval for Godwin’s proposed new BTR scheme of 201 apartments at The Landmark development in Derby, Godwin Capital’s launch of innovative new investment products and the launch of the group’s BTR brand called Core Living – which plans to build up to 2,500 new homes over the next four years.

Stephen Pratt, group land director of Godwin Group, said: “Godwin Group has seen huge growth over the past months. Our new London office will allow us to accommodate further expansion plans and look to reach new markets in our key sectors.

“These are exciting times for Godwin Group and we are looking forward to expanding our network even further with the opening of our London office.”

Visit Godwin Group on https://www.godwingroup.co.uk/

FX and Payment

The 7 benefits of using an mPOS (mobile point of sale) system

Calling all businesses- 5G network is almost here! With over two thirds of payments being by card, it is no surprise that a faster, more efficient network could translate into faster, more efficient sales. If you are a business that has been accepting card payments for a while, you have probably familiarised yourself with a traditional POS system.

 

A traditional POS system is a fixed monitor with a touch screen that often links to your cash register, telephone line and central processing unit. MPOS (mobile point of sale) is the latest trend using a portable smartphone or tablet that functions as a register for taking payments. With contactless payment methods like Apple Pay increasing in popularity, mPOS is for the customers who simply want to tap their phone and go.

 

Want to learn more about the benefits of using mPOS as opposed to traditional POS systems? The business communications specialists at A1 Comms have compiled a list of 7 benefits using a mPOS system. Having worked with leading networks such as EE, 3, 02 and Vodafone, they understand that businesses need a fast, reliable network to secure continuous sales via mPOS systems. That’s why they have been providing business to business communications since 1997.

 

1) It’s more cost effective

 

Traditional POS systems usually have a high upfront cost. Typically, this is around the £1000 mark, plus another £800 a year to continue using updated POS software. For smaller business’s, the idea of a traditional POS system can seem daunting and unnecessary, due to the initial and continuous high cost. The biggest benefit to using an mPOS is that it is much more cost effective. Instead of investing in a fixed, electronic register and baring a big cost, mPOS breaks it down into smaller monthly maintenance payments and relies on a cloud-based subscription. This means that for a small upfront cost, vendors can easily access their customer data from virtually anywhere where there’s WiFi connection.

 

2) Shorter checkout and return lines

 

Say goodbye to boring, time consuming queues and say hello to customer satisfaction and quick service. According to Verifone, approximately 75% of customers wouldn’t wait longer than 5 minutes in a queue, meaning slow service equals slow sales. MPOS is designed to make business’s more efficient with card and mobile payments, therefore increasing profitability and creating shorter checkout and return lines. Customers can simply tap their phone and pay for an item knowing their information is safe and secure.

 

3) Limits a business’s liability

 

Protecting data in POS environments is pivotal for customer trust in your business. Traditional POS systems risk unauthorised access to electronic payment systems by fraudulent individuals wishing to steal debit and credit card information. With mPOS, the main difference is that credit and debit card data is not stored, which significantly reduces the risk of any breaches of security happening. Whilst no system or device is

totally safe from an attack or breach, mPOS minimises the risk and a business’s liability through encrypted transactions and no card data being stored.

 

4) Easier to confirm identities during payments

 

Biometrics such as fingerprint and facial recognition can also be used with mPOS to confirm the identities of customers during payments, adding another layer of security. This new way of authenticating a customer’s payment shows that security and convenient, fast technology can go hand in hand.

 

5) View customers checkout history

 

With mPOS, staff can view past transactions, loyalty rewards, online browsing history, and anything else that could help teach staff about the needs of the customer in front of them. Not only does this feature increase customer satisfaction but it also improves staff performance as they are able to easily access data of what the customer expects and already loves. Ultimately, mPOS uses customer information to allow staff to make more effective, relevant sales.

 

6) Minimal setup

 

Not only are mPOS systems much more cost efficient and secure, but they are generally easier to set up too. The setup required is often downloading and launching an app and making sure the card reader accessory is compatible with all types of card types and mobile software. Whilst mPOS is usually easier, more complex systems may require technical expertise and setting up a local server. Still, in comparison to what can be expensive, fixed and technically challenging POS systems, the portable and efficient mPOS seems extremely appealing.

 

7) Easy to integrate with existing systems

 

When choosing your mPOS system, a factor to consider is whether it will compliment your existing POS system. There are some mPOS systems specifically designed to work with old, traditional POS software and others which can work independently beside or instead of it. As aforementioned, setup with mPOS is easy and usually consists of downloading an app, creating an account and then connecting your card reader, receipt reader and printer via Bluetooth. A good tip to migrate your data by

Business News Daily is to simply look for a downloadable spreadsheet template that you can copy and paste product data into. Then, upload this new spreadsheet to your new mPOS system. It’s as simple as that!

Funds of Funds

Credit Kudos Raises £2.2m in Latest Round of Funding

Credit Kudos, challenger credit bureau and leader in commercial applications of Open Banking, announced today they have raised £2.2m in their latest round of funding. Funding is led by Ascension Ventures, through its social impact fund Fair by Design, with additional investment from existing investors NFT Ventures and Entrepreneur First’s Next Stage Fund. New backers include Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham; prolific angel investor Charlie Songhurst (investor in Affirm, ClassPass, and Coindesk); and key figures from the credit industry, including both the former CEO and MD of Callcredit, now TransUnion, John McAndrew and Graham Lund. The investment will be used to drive further growth within the UK and support expansion into Europe, alongside further investment into Credit Kudos’ platform.

Credit Kudos, which launched its Open Banking platform in January 2018, was co-founded by software engineers Freddy Kelly and Matt Schofield. Upon returning to the UK after working in Silicon Valley, Freddy faced a myriad of challenges accessing credit due to his ‘thin’ credit file. With little to no recent financial activity in the UK, Freddy was offered only limited credit product options, with higher interest rates and restrictions. This experience led Freddy to co-found Credit Kudos to help all people access affordable credit.

In the UK alone, it is estimated that 1 in 4 UK families have less than £100 in savings, demonstrating a pervasive need for access to affordable credit. However, due to insufficient data, many individuals with the most need for credit are at risk of being pushed into high-cost credit options, and have the hardest time accessing affordable loans. It was also revealed that financially excluded individuals pay on average a “poverty premium” of £490 per annum.

Credit Kudos’ mission is to advance financial inclusion through new applications of technology. Credit Kudos provides lenders, brokers and financial institutions with a highly accurate and transparent scoring system based on consumer consented data, providing a fairer representation of an individual’s creditworthiness. Credit Kudos’ solution enables lenders to make better decisions, whilst simultaneously helping previously overlooked individuals access credit.

Investment in this round by Ascension Ventures’ social impact fund Fair by Design (FBD), is a testament to Credit Kudos’ work towards the advancement of financial inclusion and reducing the poverty premium, to enable previously overlooked individuals access to mainstream credit through alternative measures of creditworthiness. “Credit Kudos is very much at the centre of the FBD investment thesis,” said Emma Steele, Investment Manager for Ascension Ventures “They are a core solution to tackling the lack of fair and affordable access to credit for customers, with thin files or no credit history. We very much back Freddy’s ambition to change the way the risk profile of a potential borrower is assessed. By doing that, Credit Kudos has the potential to 1) advance financial inclusion by improving approval rates for people previously excluded by the system 2) help prevent borrowers from being forced into higher priced products and 3) make it easy for lenders to check affordability. We are excited to back the team on this journey.”

Also providing further investment is the world’s leading talent investor, Entrepreneur First. Entrepreneur First have been a part of the Credit Kudos story since inception. Matt Clifford, Entrepreneur First CEO said, “Credit Kudos is tackling a highly complex and challenging problem, taking a new approach that leverages machine learning to power smarter decisions. We are thrilled to be doubling down on our commitment to the team and their vision.”

This funding round has brought a number of new backers including BBC Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham, “I’m thrilled to be backing the Credit Kudos team and their mission to make credit scoring fairer and easier for both businesses and consumers. Sadly the traditional methods are still opaque and confusing and all too often consumers are penalised despite being very creditworthy. Applying new data and technology to the problem gives Credit Kudos the ability to make smarter decisions, empowering consumers and giving them greater choice. I look forward to seeing Credit Kudos make a lot of lives easier.”

Securing further investment from both original investors and further industry leaders is evidence of Credit Kudos’ success and growth since Open Banking became a reality in early 2018. “This investment allows us to scale up our business to meet the demands of a post-Open Banking and PSD2 world,” said Freddy Kelly, Credit Kudos CEO. “This funding will be used to expand our engineering and development team to continue to deliver first to market technology across our platform, as well as supporting expansion into wider Europe.”


Articles

Personal Finance: Workforce Faces Challenges

With global issues such as Brexit and Trump’s excessive spending affecting global economies, international workers are facing many personal financial crises, as Staff Writer Hannah Stevenson discusses.

As loans and contracts for cars, phones and electrical items become increasingly popular and obtainable global individuals face personal finance issues as they battle spiralling costs with mounting debts.

This is highlighted by recent survey of 2,000 UK adults by KnowYourMoney.co.uk, which revealed that 62% of UK adults are in some form of debt, with credit cards (35%), mortgages (24%) and student loans (11%) the most common. The research also found that a quarter of Brits lose sleep when thinking about the amount of money they owe.

The comparison website commissioned an independent, nationally-representative survey among more than 2,000 UK adults. It found that 62% of people across the country have some form of debt, with credit cards (35%), mortgages (24%) and student loans (11%) the most common.

Nearly three in ten (29%) people with debt said they do not feel in control of it and have no plan of how they will pay it off. A third (33%) also said they buy items on their credit card without first thinking about how they will pay it off later.

Two thirds (67%) of those in debt have no money in savings to pay off debt if required, with men (73%) more likely than women (62%) to lack a financial safety net.

Without clear plans or savings, people’s debts are evidently a cause for anguish – 24% of people in debt said they lose sleep because of it, while 41% do not feel comfortable speaking to friends or family about the subject. To make matters worse, almost half of UK adults (48%) are worried about the impact of Brexit on their personal finances.

Elsewhere, the study uncovered that 44% of UK adults do not know what their debt-to-income ratio is, with 39% admitting to not understanding the term.

An important means of understanding an individual’s financial health, a person’s debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is their monthly debt payments divided by their gross monthly income. Lenders commonly use the calculation to assess someone’s viability for credit.

John Ellmore, Director of KnowYourMoney.co.uk, commented: “Despite the negative connotations that sometimes surround it, debt should not be frowned upon. If handled responsibly, debt is a valuable financial instrument that can help enable life’s purchases.

“However, KnowYourMoney.co.uk’s research demonstrates that there are millions of people across the UK who are taking on debt without a plan of how to repay it, which is unadvisable. It’s vital consumers understand what their debt-to-income ratio is and manage their finances accordingly – this will help them sleep easier at night and avoid serious financial repercussions further down the line.”

Another piece of research from MetLife UK found that employers need to understand more about the impact of personal financial worries on workplace mental health, but are struggling to agree best practice standards to address the issue.

More than six out of 10 (61%) senior HR executives have seen a rise in financial wellbeing issues affecting employee mental health and work performance, the nationwide study from MetLife UK shows.

Senior managers agree that addressing financial wellbeing will have business benefits – nearly two out of three (64%) say that tackling financial stress will help boost productivity and engagement in their organisation and 58% say there is growing momentum to provide support.

However, businesses are concerned they do not understand enough about financial wellbeing – 67% say they need to know more about the link between financial wellbeing and mental health issues, while 66% say there needs to be more clarity on best practice on tackling financial wellbeing at work.

MetLife UK defines financial wellbeing by a combination of key factors: being in control of your finances; having the capacity to withstand financial shocks; having confidence in the future; and having choices on how to spend and save.

Employee benefits such as Group Life and Group Income Protection support financial wellbeing by helping families and supporting staff who are unable to work due to illness. In addition, they offer support to family members via an Employee Assistance Plan, if their loved ones are struggling.  Wider financial wellbeing programmes also increase general financial literacy and improve financial behaviour.

Adrian Matthews, Employee Benefits Director, MetLife UK said: “Financial wellbeing in the workplace is a growing issue for businesses, with organisations reporting a rise in concerns about the impact on mental health and company performance.

“Companies appreciate they need to understand more about the issue, so they can provide support for employees, but at the same time there is concern that there are no agreed best practice standards on how to implement financial wellbeing programmes.

“There is no magic solution to improving financial wellbeing in the workplace, but a well-designed employee benefits programme is a good place to start. The potential business benefits in terms of more productive employees are clear.”

In the study MetLife’s research found 61% of HR managers believe financial wellbeing advice should be a part of Employee Assistance Programmes, aimed at helping address mental health issues.

With this challenge looming on the horizon and becoming increasingly worrying, individuals and companies alike need to work hard to keep themselves informed on the latest developments in the financial markets so they can explore options such as debt consolidation and spending monitoring. Wealth & Finance International offers up-to-the-minute insight and news, so Subscribe today.

Articles

6CATS International shortlisted for Global Payroll Supplier of the Year Award

6CATS – the international contractor management specialist – is celebrating after it was shortlisted in the Global Payroll Awards 2019. The firm will go up against other entries in the Global Payroll Supplier of the Year Award category in interviews with the judging panel later this month.

Winners of the awards – which recognise those businesses driving the payroll industry forward, setting the standard and an example that others can aspire to follow – will be announced at an event in Budapest in May.

Michelle Reilly, CEO of 6CATS and Founder of 6CATSPRO – the firm’s consulting business – commented on this latest news:

“Being shortlisted for this prestigious award is not only great news for the company and our hard-working team, but also testament to the strategic approach we take in our work with recruiters, employers and contractors. By working in partnership with our clients and having a highly trained group of experts on hand with experience in global compliance across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and further afield, we’re able to provide fully compliant, transparent and streamlined contractor workforce solutions. Having the flexibility and experience to quickly develop solutions in ‘new’ countries also enables our clients to increase their global footprint without the need to invest or incorporate locally.”

Cash ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

Huq Industries in £1.4m Raise with Equity Investors 24 Haymarket

Huq Industries, the leading geo-behavioural consumer research platform, today announces £1.4M in new funding led by 24 Haymarket. Huq’s real-world consumer research datasets and cloud-based market analysis tools help customers across media, finance, real-estate and retail make informed and effective business decisions. This investment will be used by Huq Industries to support the acquisition of research data for use both in existing markets, and meet to demand for its products internationally.

Conrad Poulson of Huq Industries said:

“This investment enables Huq to accelerate the commercialisation of our platform across our key verticals and geographies. 24 Haymarket together with our existing shareholders provide us with both the funds and the network to support Huq through a very exciting phase of its growth.”

Alex Warren of 24 Haymarket commented:

“In 2018, Huq commercially validated its unique geo-behavioural data with major players in the out-of-home sector. This capital raise will allow Huq to grow its proprietary international data, capitalise on the global out-of-home opportunity, and expand into other large target markets like finance and property. A Chief Commercial Officer has been recruited and the board strengthened to support this growth. Huq is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the growing appreciation of the value of such data amongst a broad and diverse enterprise customer base.”

About Huq Industries

Huq Industries was founded in 2014 by Conrad and Isambard Poulson together with Alexander Fairfax to accurately measure and predict offline consumer trends. Over 90% of retail spend still takes place in the real world. Measuring this behaviour reliably and at scale leads to sought-after insight, but is hard to achieve using conventional methods.

Huq Industries partners with mobile app publishers to collect first-party geo-spatial data from across the globe. This data is then abstracted to identify real-world consumer insight and trends. Huq’s customers and partners include professional investors, leading market research and media agencies alongside some of the world’s largest real-estate owners.

About 24 Haymarket

24 Haymarket is a premium deal-by-deal investment platform focused on high-growth businesses, investing up to £5 million in any particular company. 24 Haymarket’s Investor Network includes several highly-experienced private equity and venture capital investors, seasoned entrepreneurs and senior operators. We invest our own capital in direct alignment with entrepreneurs and typically seek board representation to actively support their growth agenda. Since inception in 2011, 24Haymarket has invested in more than 50 high-growth businesses.

Wealth Management

Which liquidation option is best for my business?

If you reach the crossroads of having to close down your insolvent business or solvent business, you may explore liquidation to settle your financial affairs and repay creditors. Depending on the financial state of your business, including the strength of your cash flow and balance sheet, this will determine your next step which will either be a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation (CVL) or Members’ Voluntary Liquidation (MVL).

If you are deep in the process and you are unable to respond to creditor demands or come to an agreement, the creditor may apply for a petition to wind up your company. If granted by the court, your business could be forced into liquidation, writes Keith Tully of Real Business Rescue. Following the appointment of a licensed insolvency practitioner, here are the two liquidation options you can explore.

Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation: As indicated in the name, a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation is voluntary action against an insolvent business as it can no longer keep up with payments. In order to safeguard the business from legal action and to protect the best interests of creditors, a CVL may be the most financially suitable option for your struggling business.

What happens in a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation?

In order to successfully initiate a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation, you will be required to appoint a licensed insolvency practitioner. As the action is voluntary and not forced upon, the shareholders will be in control of appointing an insolvency practitioner.

A Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation will result in assets to be realised in order to repay outstanding debts to creditors. Before doing so, all shareholders will have to be in mutual agreement that the business is insolvent and that a CVL is the most appropriate form of action. You will be required to contact creditors to inform them of the company’s financial position and share an estimation of the assets held by the business. Each asset will require an individual valuation and should not be undervalued. If a director is interested in purchasing assets belonging to the business, this can only be conducted through an insolvency practitioner and should be sold at market value.

As the insolvency practitioner will be in control of the business, they will also be responsible for handling employee claims. An investigation will take place to ensure that the company director acted fairly and dutifully. If the director neglected directorial responsibilities, they could face disqualification and even be held personally liable for the debts of the business.  

Members’ Voluntary Liquidation: A Members’ Voluntary Liquidation (MVL) is a suitable closure option for a solvent business which will allow you to shut the business down in a cost-efficient manner. This is an effective exit planning tool for a profitable company which has reached the end of its lifetime, such as in the event of director retirement.

This option is only suitable for a solvent business which is able to settle liabilities within 12 months. An MVL is appropriate for businesses with retained profits of £25,000 pounds or more. If the business holds less, it may not be financially viable to opt for a Members’ Voluntary Liquidation as there are costs involved which may set your business back. This includes payment for an insolvency practitioner, costs for legal notices such as a Gazette notice and financial protection for company funds typically determined by asset value.

Prior to an MVL, all financial obligations should be settled, including debtors chased and funds collected. All HMRC liabilities should be paid, including the submission of HMRC accounts and documents. After carrying out due diligence, your intention to close the company will be advertised on the Gazette, making it public knowledge which is when outstanding creditors will be invited to submit any claims. After clearance from HMRC, company funds will be distributed amongst shareholders and the company will be dissolved which refers to the removal of the company record from Companies House.

Compulsory Liquidation: This process will begin after a creditor brings forward a winding up petition for your business if standard methods of recovering money have failed. Compulsory liquidation essentially forces the company to liquidate assets so they can be sold and proceeds distributed to creditors. If you are in debt of £750 or over, the court will be able to force your business into liquidation.

  • Statutory Demand: A statutory demand is a formal request for outstanding payments to be made. If you have been issued with a statutory demand and the 12 day repayment period has passed, your business could be forced into liquidation
  • County Court Judgment: An unpaid County Court Judgment (CCJ) can also result in compulsory liquidation. A CCJ is a court order granted against you if you fail to respond to court action. This is a serious form of action as if a CCJ is issued; this will remain on your record for six years, hindering your chances of qualifying for finance, including a mortgage

Following the liquidation of the business, the company will be struck off the Companies House register, resulting in the dissolution of the business. This option is not voluntary as it will be forced upon by the court following a formal request from creditors.

The key difference between a CVL and MVL is that a CVL is a tool for an insolvent business and an MVL is a tool for a solvent business. If you are in the process of making this decision, it is important to move forward in a fast and efficient manner as you may be prone to being hit with legal action from creditors during this time period. As such, liquidation can give you sufficient breathing time to get your affairs into order. If you are in the position where you are considering the liquidation of your business, it is best to seek advice from a licensed insolvency practitioner to ensure you close your business in a tax efficient and legal manner.

This advice column was written by Keith Tully, a specialist in business turnaround and recovery at Real Business Rescue.

High Net-worth Individuals

Netflix expands global customer care with Teleopti’s flexible, cloud-based Workforce Management solution

Teleopti today announced that Netflix, the world’s leading provider of online entertainment and streaming services, has selected the company’s strategic, cloud Workforce Management (WFM) suite to increase the flexibility of staff planning and support complex, global customer service operations.

With 139 million memberships in over 190 countries, California-based internet entertainment service Netflix has embarked on a new journey toward customer service planning in the cloud. Netflix will use Teleopti’s dynamic WFM solution to support, schedule and empower more than 5,700 customer representatives at contact centers across the globe. As Netflix continues to expand its worldwide footprint, with customer support spanning multiple time zones and numerous languages, the need arose to revolutionize its workforce scheduling and management processes.

Fred Senerchia, Global Head of Workforce Management at Netflix remarked, “Teleopti provides a cloud solution that closely aligns with our business vision and goals for the future. As we continue to expand our CS footprint worldwide and grow our team of multi-skilled frontline representatives, it’s imperative that we have a workforce management software that solves for the increasing complexity of forecasting and scheduling agents across several different regions, time zones and languages. We believe Teleopti will meet those needs as we partner together on a global implementation of the software.”

Netflix has selected Teleopti’s cloud-based Advanced WFM package providing features to meet key areas of need, including real-time monitoring and adaptivity, intuitive employee engagement tools and the ability to quickly scale up operations to meet business growth. Alongside a fully-supported deployment and post-implementation training to ensure WFM success, Netflix will have access to a test environment to continue optimization within their own realm of data.

David Pahlman, President of Teleopti North America concluded, “Our WFM technology enables strong enterprises like Netflix to handle large-scale, complex operations while maintaining ease of use and adaptability. The goal of our cloud-based technology is to simplify business operations at a global level. We’re excited to welcome Netflix to our community of great customers.”

High Net-worth Individuals

Cloud Foundry 2019 North American Summit Begins in Philadelphia, Announces Project Eirini Ready for Early Adopters

 

Cloud Foundry Foundation, home to a family of interoperable open source projects for the enterprise, opened its North American Cloud Foundry Summit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania today, with news from organizations including Engineer Better, IBM, Pivotal, Resilient Scale, SUSE, Stark & Wayne, Swisscom and many others. The 2019 North American Summit is taking place today through April 4 and is supported by Diamond sponsors Comcast and Pivotal, and Platinum sponsor IBM Cloud.

“We are excited to host Summit on the east coast again this year,” said Abby Kearns, Executive Director, Cloud Foundry Foundation. “This Summit will be focused on celebrating the momentum of our community, highlighting stories from open source contributors and Cloud Foundry users, as well as providers, integrators and service providers. This year’s Summit theme is ‘building the future’ which is exactly what our community is committed to doing.”

The Foundation announced findings from its most recent Global Perception Study in a report titled “Adaptation, Not Adoption, is the Key to Digital Transformation: Why IT Strategy Requires a Perpetual State of Change.” With more than half of companies surveyed putting mission-critical apps in the cloud, it’s clear that digital transformation is the new reality, and that companies must adapt to constant change to keep up.

The Foundation is pleased to announce Project Eirini is now passing the core functional tests that validate Cloud Foundry Application Runtime releases, with future work focused on production readiness and testing against hosted managed Kubernetes environments from various public cloud providers. Initially proposed by IBM, Eirini has full-time engineers from Google and Pivotal working on the project, in addition to continued contributions from IBM, SAP and SUSE. The software is now mature enough that early adopters have begun to deploy it into production environments. At the EU Summit in 2018, Cloud Foundry Foundation announced Project Eirini’s acceptance as an incubating project by the Application Runtime Project Management Committee, which oversees projects associated with the Cloud Foundry Application Runtime and their coordinated roadmaps. Eirini works to provide developers with the “cf push” experience that makes it easy to push an app to production on top of Kubernetes.

The Foundation is also pleased to announce its first two Certified Systems Integrators, following on the program’s launch in October at the European Summit. Each with at least ten Cloud Foundry Certified Developers on their teams, Accenture and HCL have demonstrated contributions to the Cloud Foundry community through contributing code, hosting meetups, Foundation membership and more. The Certification program is designed to help SIs, consultancies and professional services organizations highlight their expertise working with the Cloud Foundry family of technologies.

Foundation member news includes:

A collection of Foundation members, including Resilient Scale, Stark & Wayne and SuperOrbital, in addition to TechFlow, have joined together to form the Continuous Delivery Alliance. The Continuous Delivery Alliance aims to fix the DevSecOps challenges in government from contracting through implementation by bringing together a collective of professionals with deep expertise in technology and government contracting. The Alliance offers unparalleled expertise in technologies including Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes, AWS, Azure, GCP and practices like continuous integration/ delivery and DevSecOps.


Altoros has released new versions of the Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) tiles for Jenkins, Elasticsearch, and Cassandra, upgrading BOSH stemcells and existing integrations. The updated Xenial stemcells help avoid exposure to security vulnerabilities, while integrations with new versions of products will enable enterprise users to enjoy the features of the latest stable releases. In April, migration to Xenial stemcells for the six PCF tiles created and maintained by Altoros, including an upcoming new release of the Heartbeat Cloud Foundry monitoring, will take place. PCF tiles are packaged tools that can be integrated into Pivotal Cloud Foundry, enabling developers to use third-party services.


Anynines announced the release of release of a9s Platform, a fully automated platform distribution comprising open source Cloud Foundry and the a9s Data Services, as well as on-demand Kubernetes. The platform allows users to leverage open source technologies to bootstrap fully automated production grade platform environments. Technical support and remote operation options are available. EngineerBetter announced that “Control Tower” is the new name for “Concourse-Up,” the company’s enterprise tool for deploying and operating Concourse CI in a single command. Concourse CI is used heavily throughout the Cloud Foundry ecosystem. With its new name, Control Tower will be available through new distribution channels and brings with it new features including Google Cloud Platform support and full support for Concourse 5.


Evoila announced new service brokers, which provide software systems such as databases, message queues or log aggregators with standardization to speed up software development. The service brokers make it possible to run two environments, such as Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes, next to each other and share their service instances. The Open Service Broker API 2.15 will soon provide a higher independence of special platforms and improve asynchronous ordering processes. By developing these new service brokers, evoila is further expanding its commitment to the standardization of complex processes. Grape Up announced its flagship product Cloudboostr can now be deployed on OpenStack. Integration with the new cloud infrastructure unlocks a broad range of opportunities for companies using on-prem OpenStack. Cloudboostr provides a complete enterprise-grade cloud stack ready in days, gives the freedom to choose the best suitable runtime for any needs, and reduces the risk of upgrade compatibility issues and the complexity of applying patches.


IBM announced the launch of an Eirini-based technology preview of its Cloud Foundry Enterprise Environment, available for self provisioning. IBM Cloud is working to simplify development and operations by bringing together Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes, and Functions under one management umbrella to enable development teams to spend their valuable time coding to solve business problems. A major step towards that goal is Project Eirini, where IBM is leading the effort alongside other Foundation members SUSE, SAP, Pivotal and Google, to bring native, pluggable Kubernetes application container scheduling to Cloud Foundry. IBM is supporting Project Eirini to bring coordinated operations of Cloud Foundry application containers and those created by other means to the same Kubernetes cluster. This allows for easy and more secure communications between Cloud Foundry and Kubernetes applications, and unlocks the vast ecosystem of Kubernetes tooling and capabilities to both the Cloud Foundry developer and administrator. 


Packet announced an Edge Access Program, providing commercial and open source users with free access to edge computing building blocks at a diverse range of venues and locations. Resources include API-driven x86 and Arm bare metal compute infrastructure; automated cloud interconnect to Azure, GCP and other public cloud ecosystems; and CBRS wireless through Federated Wireless. 


Pivotal announced the release of Pivotal Cloud Foundry 2.5, a collection of enhancements to its flagship application platform, including weighted routing, a new feature enabled by Istio and Envoy. 


Stark & Wayne announced the launch of their managed service cloud solution for Pivotal Cloud Foundry and other cloud native technologies. Benefits to managed service subscribers include lower operational costs, a greater focus on app development, faster time to market, and accelerated feedback loops, which leads to faster problem resolution and higher quality end products. Stark & Wayne also announced SHIELD v8.1, now in Tile form, for PCF Operations Manager customers. SHIELD is a flexible and secure data protection solution for cloud data systems. Built on AES-256 encryption with randomized keys, and leveraging native backup / restore mechanisms like Percona Xtrabackup and BBR, it allows operators to sleep well knowing their critical data is protected.


SUSE announced SUSE Cloud Application Platform 1.4, the first software distribution to introduce Cloud Foundry Application Runtime in an entirely Kubernetes-native architecture, will be available in April. SUSE Cloud Application Platform 1.4 includes a technology preview of Project Eirini that allows operators to take greater advantage of the widely adopted Kubernetes container scheduler. The new Kubernetes-native Eirini implementation deepens integration of Kubernetes and Cloud Foundry, further bringing the advanced Cloud Foundry developer experience to Kubernetes environments and giving users the ability to choose either Kubernetes or Diego as their container schedule. Whether customers choose Kubernetes or Diego, the developer experience is the same. SUSE Cloud Application Platform 1.4 furthers SUSE’s commitment to supporting customers’ multi-cloud environments by adding support for Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Google’s managed Kubernetes service, in addition to existing cloud support for Amazon EKS and Azure AKS, on-premises support with SUSE CaaS Platform, and multi-cloud support bridged by the Stratos UI.


Swisscom announced new features of the Swisscom Application Cloud: true security with encryption plan for S3 dynamic storage and auto-scaling of applications based on the Cloud Foundry Platform Application Cloud from Swisscom. Swisscom continues to enhance its cloud with upcoming new features are waiting to be announced, which will be developed and made available by the strong commitment of the community.
TIBCO its market-leading API management platform, TIBCO Cloud(TM) Mashery, is now cloud native. The platform can now be deployed anywhere, including certified support for PKS to make Kubernetes deployments easy, and integration with DevOps tooling even easier. TIBCO also released new capabilities to create cloud native integration apps via its API-led integration offering TIBCO Cloud(TM) Integration and BusinessWorks(TM) Container Edition for Cloud Foundry Container Runtime and Pivotal Cloud Foundry 2.x.

Enterprise developers, architects, engineers and executives from around the world are expected to attend the Philadelphia Summit. Attendees will learn about Cloud Foundry from those who build and use it every day. They will join other developers, end users and CIOs to gain first-hand access to Cloud Foundry roadmaps, training and tutorials, and to see how others are using Cloud Foundry to support continuous innovation and application portability.

Today the first-ever Contributors Summit takes place to foster community among open source project contributors and enable technical roadmap discussions. Tuesday’s Hackathon winners will be announced on-stage during Thursday morning keynotes.

On Thursday, Cloud Foundry Foundation will host its annual diversity luncheon at Summit, which will feature a diverse line-up of speakers and panelists discussing digital accessibility, advocacy and mentorship, gender equity and more. This event is co-sponsored by IBM Cloud and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

Find the full schedule here.

Cloud Foundry is an open source technology backed by the largest technology companies in the world, including Dell EMC, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Pivotal, SAP and SUSE, and is being used by leaders in manufacturing, telecommunications and financial services. Only Cloud Foundry delivers the velocity needed to continuously deliver apps at the speed of business. Cloud Foundry’s container-based architecture runs apps in any language on your choice of cloud — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure, OpenStack, VMware vSphere, and more. With a robust services ecosystem and simple integration with existing technologies, Cloud Foundry is the modern standard for mission critical apps for global organizations.

 

Articles

Sparta Global announces opening of new London digital skills hub

Sparta Global, a leading provider of technology and business consulting services today announces the opening of a new Head Office at 125 London Wall in the heart of the City of London. The new location will strengthen Sparta Global’s position as a provider of UK digital talent and will offer a single location for the sale, support and development of Sparta Global’s consultancy offering.

In August 2017 Sparta Global raised more than £4m from private equity house, Key Capital Partners (KCP), to support the company’s continued growth and expansion. The opening of Sparta Global’s Head Office at 125 London Wall marks the latest step towards delivering a steady and reliable supply of trained technologists to UK companies.

A provider of technology and business consulting services to public and private sector organisations, Sparta Global works with innovative organisations in finance, insurance, media, retail, legal and telecoms industries. With customers ranging from Channel 4 to Canada Life, Three Mobile, the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, Sparta Global has been based in Moorgate for four years.

“We are delighted to announce the opening of our new London office,” comments Sparta Global CEO, David Rai. “This new facility gives us access to the extra space we need to not only accommodate our growing management and services team, but to open another training facility to support our Richmond and Birmingham academies.”

“Unlike in our Moorgate office, our new facility will include eight training rooms. This exciting expansion will enable us to train more than 650 Spartan technology consultants across our academies each year – with the aim to train 500 by the end of 2019,” adds David. “We are dedicated to supporting UK technology talent and we look forward to giving more graduates the opportunity to work in our thriving tech industry.

Finance

Solar power company says commercial-scale solar power will offer businesses financial rewards without feed-in tariffs

Contrary to the opinion of much of the renewable energy sector, the abolition of the Government’s feed-in tariff scheme (FiTS) today is not necessarily bad news. Commercial-scale roof-top solar power is booming and will continue to flourish even when the FiTS ends, says solar power company, Mypower, which was responsible for introducing solar power to Gloucester Cathedral as well as to industry, commerce and farms. The FiTS has supported the development of renewable energy since 2010, but Mypower believes its removal will boost the commercial sector’s adoption of solar power and help companies to significantly reduce their operational costs. Government should now focus upon energy storage technology as this is the next barrier to clean energy growth.

Roof-top commercial-scale solar energy has been successfully competing with ‘conventional’ energy generation in the mainstream market for some time. It is a financially viable source of energy being at least 60% cheaper than National Grid supplied electricity, costing 4-6p/kilowatt hour (kWh) compared to a minimum of 14p/kWh respectively. Solar PV systems are 50% more efficient and two-thirds cheaper than ten years ago: a 50kW system costing £130,000 in 2009 now costs under £40,000. Solar power now offers companies a return on investment of over 14%.

Mypower has been designing and installing solar PV systems to SME’s, corporates and farmers for ten years, and believes that removing the FiTS will create a stable and market driven demand for solar PV systems within the corporate sector: “Ending Feed-In Tariffs removes reliance on Government policy which is a positive move for companies. Plus they can already receive greater payment for the spare power they sell to the National Grid than was being offered by the Government scheme.” explained Ben Harrison, Managing Partner at Mypower.

He continued “Previously, there was uncertainty about how Government policy would change the FiTS along with widespread negativity in the marketplace reacting to announcements over the years, dissuading many from considering solar power at all. Plus some companies’ perceived the FiTS as complex and others wouldn’t consider taking subsidies as a matter of principle.”

Mypower believes the feed-in tariff scheme has been the incentive that stimulated end users’ interest and purchasing. However, it has now done its job and is no longer required. The next impairment to advancing renewable energy, thinks Ben, is the current limitation in energy storage capacity. The Government needs to concentrate attention upon supporting this area. Dedicated investment and volume sales are required to make the same dramatic leaps forward in energy and batter storage technology as happened in the past decade for solar-generated electricity.

Last year, the UK Government launched the Faraday Challenge to invest £248 million into battery development companies and initiatives between 2018-2022. In comparison, President Macron has just announced the French Government’s investing £597 million (700 million Euros) into battery cell manufacturing, whilst the German government has committed over £1,750 million (2 billion Euros) for building battery cell factories. The German Government offers subsidies to homeowners to install battery storage, with Italy and Ireland planning to introduce their own schemes.

“We’d urge the UK Government to consider an on-going subsidy system aimed at accelerating the development of the next generation of this technology. Whoever discovers the holy grail of energy storage will have discovered the goose that lays the golden egg and it would be a significant boost to the UK economy if it could be a British company.” said Ben.

Finance

Balancing the Books on delivery – the right approach for retailers

A clear and well-prepared delivery strategy can be the stepping stone for retail growth; gaining and retaining customers to help drive revenue. Every facet of delivery, from checkout to doorstep influences the likelihood of that customer purchasing from that retailer again. Poorly executed delivery costs UK retailers up to £1.2 billion in avoidable costs each year, according to IMRG’s latest estimates, which emphasises the importance of choosing the right delivery approach.

So, what aspects of delivery should retailers be investing in as a priority? Where should they be focussing their efforts in order to maximise their return?

Are retailers looking at customer experience incorrectly?

There has been a trend in recent years for retailers to flock towards ‘next day or no cost’ delivery but operational and commercial common sense tells us that there is no such thing as ‘free delivery’ for retailers. The online supply chain has a finite capacity for an ‘everything tomorrow’ approach and retailers need to consider this before jumping to ‘free delivery’ as a first port of call.

There is a real danger of retailers over-promising and under-delivering when the average shopper doesn’t necessarily want a premium delivery option all the time. Every shopper is different, and every delivery may have different requirements depending on what it contains, and why and when it has been ordered. All of this should be taken into account as part of a robust delivery strategy.

Your last-minute shoppers will always want ‘fast and free’ but what most shoppers really want is a clearly communicated delivery offer that follows through on what is promised. Perhaps retailers should instead be looking at offering a broader range of delivery options and the chance to specify when or where the delivery will arrive. Customers wants convenience, so retailers need to offer the widest range of delivery options they can to appease them. This is emphasised by the latest research into consumer delivery from IMRG and Global Freight Solutions, which outlines that in 2018, 41 percent of consumers indicated they had abandoned their cart due to insufficient delivery options.

The Brexit effect

As the deadline for Brexit gets ever closer and remains uncertain, its impact on delivery looms larger.

Up until now, it has provided opportunities for online selling into Europe with a weaker pound making UK retailers a more attractive proposition to EU shoppers. Since the referendum decision at the end of June 2016, we have seen the proportion of UK cross-border volume going to Euro destinations, increase.

However, this may all be about to change. With so much uncertainty surrounding Brexit, there will be a lot to learn about dealing with the EU in the coming months and years, so common sense suggests contingency plans must be made, which should legislate for:

  • Longer cross-border delivery lead times

  • Reviewing all HS code classification to ensure products attract the correct duties and taxes

  • Making changes to customer messaging, in order to manage expectations

  • Implementing growth strategies in non-EU markets (eBay, Etsy, Alibaba)

  • Enabling transparent delivery and duty cost information at point of checkout

  • Implement paperless trading (PLT) services for non-UK destinations to speed customs clearance and reduce transit times

The retail industry is anticipating longer and more complex duty and tax processes, and higher delivery costs with longer delivery lead times into EU markets. Retailers will need to reach out to carrier management experts to navigate this new territory and ensure it doesn’t hamper their business.

Delivering for the right price

The dilemma for retailers is working out how to provide a delivery offering that gives a more specific and sustainable customer experience with better control of costs in both the UK and cross-border environments. That isn’t easy without support.

To make this possible, a multi-carrier approach is required, enabling access to a range of delivery services, using order characteristics and specific customer requirements to offer the right solution from a sensible set of options relevant to the destination country.

So, for ecommerce brands, what are the fundamentals their delivery strategy needs to offer? What is essential in order for their business to be successful?

  • Delivery to a designated address

    • A standard ‘free’ or at low cost option

    • An express option at a small premium

    • A timed/specified day option at a higher premium (weekend or evening delivery)

  • At least one click & collect option (if available):

    • Free in-store collection

    • Third-party (pick-up point/locker) at a lower cost than the standard designated address delivery

These solutions are all readily available to retailers, it’s often just a case of pulling them together. But when you are busy running a business, it can be difficult to make the time.

What’s holding retailers back from delivering?

Even if businesses want to offer that ‘Amazon-style’ delivery of both choice and convenience, in order to compete with the likes of Amazon Prime, they are often being hampered by their own internal constraints. For example, the cost and complexity of integrating more delivery options and carriers into their systems may prove a stumbling block. Moreover, the effort in managing multiple carriers at once, particularly for an SME, may be far too big a task. That’s before considering the expertise needed on knowing which services to offer or how to access them.

An affordable delivery strategy

The concept of ‘free delivery’ seems to have deeply engrained itself into the minds of consumers and retailers alike, but many retailers seem so desperate to offer it, they don’t stop to think about whether or not they should first. Provided delivery is well-communicated and well-executed, retailers can remain competitive.

The reality is, not every retailer is going to have the same resources and scope to carry out the delivery approach of the big brands, so it doesn’t make sense to blindly follow them. Retailers need to be devising delivery strategies within the context of their customers, capabilities, and commercial plan. A great delivery offering does not have to break the bank.

Retailers need not be restricted by what they can do in-house either. Enterprise carrier management experts can be of great assistance in these situations when taking it all on alone seems overwhelming or unachievable. These managed service experts can help retailers scale their business cost-effectively through delivery, so that they’re not being wasteful. Convenient delivery options that are supported by clear communication is the way forward for retailers.

FinanceSecurities

72% of Brits Have Fallen Victim to These Scamming Techniques

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Scams to Be Aware Of

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

 

How to Avoid a Scam

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

Understanding and mitigating Bad Debt risks

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

 

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

 

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

 

Due diligence

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

 

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

 

Deposit, interest and penalties

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

 

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

 

Payment reminders

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

 

 

 

 

 

Debt distribution

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

 

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

 

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

 

Statutory Demand

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

 

Winding up petition

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

 

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

 

RBR Advisory

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