All posts by Mohammed Junaid

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

 

Transactional and Investment Banking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ArticlesCash ManagementInfrastructureRisk Management

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

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

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

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

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

Cash Management

Is The UK Making The Most Of Its Money?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Articles

Mark Cushway Challenges the Place of Duty in Leadership

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

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

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



THE ART OF DECISION MAKING

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

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

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

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

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



LISTENING AND INSPIRING

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

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

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

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

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

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

Securities

Contact Centre Payments – Going Mobile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transactional and Investment Banking

Why Are Investor Relations So Important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign Direct InvestmentFunds of Funds

Bitcoin: Stability Not Likely For Burgeoning Investment Product

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cash Management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles

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

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

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

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

Background: Insurance industry in NRW

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

FX and PaymentTransactional and Investment Banking

Cryptocurrency: What it means for divorcing couples.

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

 

So, what is Cryptocurrency? 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Tracing cryptocurrency. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

What is cryptocurrency worth?

 

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

 

 

 Dr Stephen Castell, commented:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Karen Holden is the Founder of A City Law Firm

Cash Management

POS goes Mobile – Is this the death of CASH

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Securities

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

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

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

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

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

Ashfords’ Paul commented:

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

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