All posts by Patrick Doherty

Take care of what you share privacy and protection in a pandemic
LegalRegulation

Take care of what you share: privacy and protection in a pandemic

Take care of what you share: privacy and protection in a pandemic

Caroline Holley, Partner, Family & Divorce, and Oliver Lock, Associate, Reputation Management, Farrer & Co

A good reputation, hard won, can be ruined in moments. Never have those words been more true than in this strange new “normal”.

The coronavirus lockdown period has resulted in an exponential increase in the time that people are spending online, with greater use of video calls and social media platforms. This brings with it a number of security and confidentiality issues, some of which may not ordinarily be at the forefront of people’s minds.

Privacy has long been a concern of many, but recently we have seen a sharp rise in confidentiality provisions being included in a range of agreements, such as employment contracts, pre or post nuptial agreements, parenting plans used by separated parents, as well as non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

Those who have entered into such agreements would be wise to review them in light of their new online lives. Others may think now is the right time to revise agreements to include new, or tighten up existing, confidentiality provisions.

Social Media
Social media use has become more prevalent than ever. People often share huge amounts of personal information on various social platforms, not only in terms of what they say directly, but also information gleaned from photos or videos posted or articles shared or retweeted. The potential pitfalls are wide-ranging and extend beyond simple privacy concerns. Both online and physical security, as well as reputational issues, need to be given careful consideration.

Employment contracts

Contracts for household staff, particularly nannies, regularly include confidentiality provisions, such as clauses preventing disclosure of personal information obtained during employment. However, they can also extend to the employee’s own use of social media. An open Instagram account of a high-profile family’s nanny could disclose the whereabouts of the family, details of their home or private photographs of children. There have been notable incidents where well-known individuals have been burgled when away from home, as a result of information gleaned from social media posts.

Pre and post nuptial agreements

Couples in relationships can have very different approaches to social media. Whereas one half of a couple may enjoy a large following or generate an income from their profile, the other may eschew social media entirely, potentially creating considerable conflict.

Some couples are therefore choosing to agree their intended approach to social media in nuptial agreements, ensuring that the family privacy is protected even in the event of marital breakdown. Right at the outset of their relationship, couples can discuss their views of social media – what they are comfortable sharing and with whom – and having reached a consensus, can record that understanding either in a pre-nuptial agreement or NDA.  As can be imagined, it is much easier to come to a consensus early on in a relationship than it is after it has ended.

Agreements such as these are flexible and entirely bespoke, dealing with the couple’s private life, business affairs or financial information that may have been shared by either party. They may include clauses on whether photographs of future children or of the interior or exterior of their home be shared, a particularly important consideration for those in the public eye.

As the number of people earning an income from their social media presence and posts grows, it has become even more important to consider such agreements, and the potential financial impact of them, when agreeing provision in a pre-nuptial agreement.

Video Calls
The coronavirus epidemic and resulting lockdown has seen many of us have turn to video calls to facilitate many daily activities; from work, and social arrangements, to exercise classes or even church services.

Keeping in touch with the outside world in this way has been a lifeline to many. But some people are using this technology without due consideration of security concerns and, again, confidentiality and privacy issues arise. Users may be sharing far more information than intended – their location, security weaknesses, evidence of expensive artwork on the wall, or even family photos. This is particularly concerning when the call could be recorded, or if there are a number of unknown people on the call. The simplest way to guard against such issues is to add a blank background to all calls, a feature available on most platforms, to ensure privacy, security and reputation are all protected.

What if an agreement is breached?
Breaching an NDA or confidentiality clause may be very easy to do without realising.  For example, it may have been agreed that neither party will share pictures of their children, but one of them forgets to remove family photos from the wall behind them in a video call. For couples on good terms, this may not be such an issue. But should the relationship have broken down, this could have serious consequences. Actual liability will always depend on the exact terms of the agreement and the level of fault asserted. But, as a minimum, parties are usually expected to take reasonable steps to ensure information does not get into the public domain.  

International considerations
Restrictions arising from the pandemic vary between countries and for those who continue to travel, it is important to keep abreast of the differing rules in different locations. In Singapore, for example, it has been reported that permissions to work have been withdrawn from a number of expats as a result of social media images showing them out socialising in breach of lockdown rules there.

Coronavirus has changed the way that we live and work, quite possibly forever. Restrictions are now beginning to lift but even so, our reliance on the growing online world is most likely to remain. It is important to consider these issues as we go forward into the ‘new normal’, remaining alert to possible breaches of agreements and ensuring that in future, appropriate provisions are incorporated into personal agreements.

 

investgrowth
Cash ManagementFinance

Why financial planning tools should be at the forefront of every modern wealth management firm

There has been a radical shift in client’s behaviour towards portfolio construction. No longer is there a requirement for costly active portfolios and instead, many would rather opt for passive low-cost investment products. With a range of advisors providing this offering, the market has become fiercely competitive. Wealth & Finance International sits down with InvestCloud’s Chief Growth Officer (CGO) Mark Trousdale, who gives his views on why modern financial planning tools should be at the forefront of every wealth management firm.

What is behind the trend of moving away from active portfolios towards passive investment products?

Both active and passive investment products have had their days in the sun. If you look at large-cap blended funds from 1985 to 2019, active and passive are nearly neck and neck on the number of years in which those portfolios performed better. In bull markets, many passive portfolios are rising, so active portfolios risk missing the wave. In bear markets, contrarian active portfolios sometimes avoid the pitfalls of the broader market. The rising popularity of passive portfolios is not a judgment of performance in a vacuum – it’s a judgment of performance against fees. Active portfolios simply cost more to invest in than passive portfolios; and given that active portfolios have not consistently outperformed passive ones, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify those higher fees.

 

Why is financial planning now more important to financial advisors (and clients)?

Fund fees are not the only ones under the microscope. Transaction fees have fallen significantly, and in some cases to zero – such as Charles Schwab’s move to eliminate fees in October 2019. Advisory fees are also under threat. The market has been taking a critical look at value for money in all areas of financial services. The lower the value of a service – or the more commoditised it is – the harder it is to justify high fees. One area that cannot be commoditised is financial planning, and investors really rate it. After all, what is the point of wealth management if not to ensure financial wellness and help families achieve their goals? Advisers are increasingly emphasising their financial planning offerings to stay at the forefront of investor value creation.

 

How is fee compression affecting firms? Will it get better or worse? How does this affect competitive dynamics in the market?

As noted above, fee compression is having a big impact on several areas of financial services, and it’s only going to get more intense for traditional offerings. But as we’re seeing with financial planning, service innovation and value focus are keys to success. I’m a big believer that price is only an issue in the absence of value. The imperative must be to innovate, focusing on value as the north star. This will spur further competitive dynamics in our market.

 

What do wealth managers and financial advisers need to do with regards to their business models and operations to support this?

In order to innovate and focus on value, advisers should focus on enhanced client communication. This involves empowering clients to interact with their advisers, view account information, track their private assets and held-away accounts, store life’s important documents, consume curated content, build goals and make confident decisions alongside their advisers. At the same time, advisers and other wealth managers need to focus on building in automation to improve operational efficiency. Across the middle and back office, advisers can automate account opening, simplified account funding, scalable model creation and distribution, automated rebalancing, personal balance sheet aggregation, one-click proposal creation and other digital advice apps. This list goes on. The aim is to reduce the number of manual, repetitive and laborious tasks so advisers can instead focus entirely on value creation.


From a technology perspective, what do firms need to implement? Should they build or buy?

Many firms focus on answering the build versus buy question. For advisers and wealth managers, delivering technology effectively is rarely a core competency. That’s not to say that these firms don’t have great tech talent – many do. But their track records are atrocious when it comes to delivering technology solutions on time or on budget. Most in-house technology projects ultimately fail for this reason. Besides considering explicit (vendor) vs. sunk (internal team) costs, firms should also look at risk costs – ‘can do’ is not the same as ‘have done’, and failing clients in this market is not an option. The value proposition to build simply doesn’t exist.

At the same time, buying technology off the shelf can seem like it will save money, but most financial technology is monolithic and cannot be customised at scale.  Logo-swapping is not customisation and clients will notice the lack of flexibility or functionality open to them.

By themselves, build and buy both lead to unsatisfactory results. Advisers and wealth managers should not approach this as one or the other and instead focus on how to take control of technology in a cost-effective, fast-to-deliver way.

The answer to this is via subscriptions to digital platforms that are flexible and modular – build and buy. With a truly modular platform, you can add functionality as your business evolves, versus an all-or-nothing proposition. This also controls recurring costs, because you pay for only what you need. The best type of platform is one that also supports mass customisation – a framework to flexibly configure and customise the look and feel as well as the workflow, integration points and data scope. From a risk and cost perspective, this should be able to be delivered in no more than six months at a price that beats your internal measures. These are all the benefits of a build and buy – the best of both, with none of the downsides.


Should wealth managers/financial advisors look to patch process with different technologies, or should they be focused on digital transformation?

Whether it’s the right answer to complement or replace existing processes and technologies depends on the process and technology in question. A firm should not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead, they should leverage existing investments if they are of value. But equally, firms have loads of technical debt, and can spend a significant portion of their budgets servicing bad tech. So, it’s about reviewing the technical tapestry critically and being strategic about enhancements. This is where hyper-modular apps and functions come into their own, as it means firms use only what they need, complementing their valued investments.


What other considerations do wealth managers and financial advisers need to take into account, e.g. from a digital/engagement perspective?

Investors simply expect more for their money these days, and the norms of consumer digital offerings have crept into many of their psyches. Wealth managers and financial advisers need to be extremely forward-thinking about how they automate workflows, and how they communicate with and manage their clients. Not only is a website no longer anywhere near enough, but also a basic client portal is no longer enough. Advisers and wealth managers should focus on truly enhancing client communication through things like enabling multi-channel adviser interactions and dynamic, holistic digital advice financial planning. These are the things that will matter most to them.


What other trends will affect how wealth managers and financial advisers conduct their business in 2020?

Wealth managers and advisers can expect further fee compression as well as even greater investor emphasis on financial planning. Depending on the demographic, ESG is coming much more into the mainstream. So, expect investors to be demanding more intuitive and engaging tools to compare financial products at a glance in order to help them achieve their goals. It would also not be surprising to see firms outside the US start to offer Turnkey Asset Management Programs (TAMPs) or TAMP-like platforms, which may fundamentally alter how wealth managers and advisers deliver services.

Mark Trousdale, EVP, serves as InvestCloud's Chief Growth Officer (CGO)

Mark Trousdale, EVP, serves as InvestCloud’s Chief Growth Officer (CGO). In this role, Mark is responsible for growing InvestCloud’s adoption and revenue in a consistent fashion, currently focused on the UK and broader EMEA, and headquartered in London. Mark’s responsibilities include business development, regional P&L and executive committee participation. As part of InvestCloud’s founding team, Mark has served in a number of different roles at InvestCloud throughout the years, building upon nearly 20 years of experience in financial and professional services. Prior to joining InvestCloud, Mark led the western region Asset Management Advisory practice of Deloitte. Mark holds a BA with Honors and an MA with Distinction from Stanford University.

Customers out in the cold the removal of banking services under UK civil and criminal law
BankingFinance

Customers out in the cold: the removal of banking services under UK civil and criminal law

Customers out in the cold the removal of banking services under UK civil and criminal law

By Jonathan Tickner (Head of Commercial Litigation & Civil Fraud), Neil Swift (Partner), James Gardner (Barrister) and Amalia Neenan (Legal Researcher) at Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP

Financial crime is one of the biggest threats facing the global economy. The 2019 Crime Survey for England & Wales indicated that 3,863,000 fraud offences were committed last year alone, with a high number of cases also unreported. The sheer volume presents law enforcement authorities with an impossible burden were they to investigate and prosecute every offence. And it is unlikely the problem ends here. The National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned that Covid-19 may heighten the risks of fraud and money laundering, with organised crime capitalising on the pandemic.

The old adage is that a problem shared is a problem halved: enter stage left the private sector, in particular the banks, who provide the front line response with Anti-Money Laundering measures to prevent criminals from obtaining bank accounts and laundering the profits of their crimes. But what if criminals obtain access to this system?

To tackle accounts suspected of harbouring ill-gotten gains, there are two measures available. Firstly, civil law provisions that permit banks to close a customer’s account without justification. Secondly, for law enforcement, the criminal law mechanism of Account Freezing and Forfeiture Orders (AFFOs) under The Criminal Finances Act 2017. However, although different in their outworking, both carry the risk of an unreasonable and unexplained deprivation of banking services for those swept up by their heavy-handed use and further detrimental effects for individuals and corporate entities.   

No Rhyme or Reason?
In the same way that customers are not obliged to stay with one bank forever, banks also have the ability to end contractual relationships with customers by closing their accounts. Banks will normally only close an account if the customer has been put on notice within a reasonable timeframe (at least 30 days for personal accounts). In these circumstances, the courts have traditionally been hesitant to interfere with a bank’s decision to cut ties with the account holder – termination on notice has been treated as an absolute contractual right. However, it becomes more contentious when banks execute these functions without giving reasonable, or indeed any, notice or reasons. This can occur either when the bank suspects the account holder of fraudulent activity, or when it decides that the risks associated with operating the account (sometimes particular to the account holder, sometimes not) outweigh the benefit to the bank in maintaining the relationship. Here, the bank’s discretionary decision whether to terminate a customer’s account may be subject to contractual fetters.

An attempt to impose such limits on a bank’s determination was recently made by a customer in
N v Royal Bank of Scotland Plc [2019]. N held approximately 60 accounts with Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Of key importance was Clause 9.4 of RBS’ Account Terms, which governed the contractual right to terminate banking services. The clause stipulated that RBS “will give the Customer not less than 60 days’ written notice to close an account, unless [it] considers there are exceptional circumstances”. Exceptional circumstances usually concern suspected fraudulent activity, and in this case RBS froze a number of N’s accounts, ultimately terminating the relationship on a without notice basis due to these suspicions. N initially asserted that RBS’ determination that there were exceptional circumstances was unreasonable or irrational. However, the High Court found that RBS had been entitled to terminate the relationship without notice as RBS had investigated the issue of potential criminality and had in good faith, and rationally, assessed whether there had been exceptional circumstances that justified the closure of N’s accounts without notice. The appeal dismissal on 10 March 2020 reaffirmed the court’s position in favour of the bank.

However, can it ever truly be
‘reasonable’ to deprive a person of access to banking facilities without warning? Understandably, the provision exists to ensure that if accounts are being used perpetrate fraud – either by storing the proceeds of crime or as a vehicle for money laundering – that the wrongdoer is not alerted to the possibility that the account will be closed, allowing time to move funds. But what happens if there is no fault, fraud or justifiable reason? This commonly occurs where banks take steps to ‘de-risk’ by sector. 

 

Freezing Cold!
AFFOs have the potential to result in similar problems, if used haphazardly. These new powers allow for authorised law enforcement agencies to freeze and forfeit accounts suspected to contain the proceeds of crime, and have been viewed as a great success by law enforcement. For instance, in December 2019, the NCA secured nine orders against property tycoon, Malik Riaz Hussain, amounting to £190 million.

Yet, the heavy-handed use of AFFOs risks undermining their legitimacy. Similar to the contractual removal of banking facilities, these orders are obtained without notice to the account holder. All an officer needs are reasonable grounds to suspect that the property is recoverable. Once again, the key issue centres on this notion of
‘reasonableness’, and if left unchallenged, or not challenged properly, the ‘reasonable’ belief of one officer can lead to further consequences. An ill-advised response from the account holder may open up further investigations. Even if successfully defended, the mere fact that their account holder has been suspected of holding the proceeds of crime may cause the bank to rethink the desirability of the relationship. 

 

Domino Effect
Both the civil and criminal law systems have similar detrimental effects on respondents, and a ‘domino effect’ on other accounts can occur. When a banking relationship begins, the new institution will no doubt wish to know what happened with the old, particularly if their own risk assessment indicates issues.

Nonetheless, remedies are available. The difficulties created by a bank giving notice to terminate can be assuaged. Subject Access Requests (made against both banks and compliance databases that have been used by banks to assess customer risk profiles) pursuant to the GDPR can be an effective way of discovering information that has likely caused or contributed to the refusal of financial services. Individuals can then seek to have damaging information removed pursuant to the GDPR if it is (inter alia) inaccurate or misleading.

The effects of AFFOs can be moderated too. No matter how modest the balance at stake, it is vital that a robust challenge is put forward to protect the account holders’ other accounts and their ability to bank. If necessary, AFFOs can be varied to permit the release of funds for this purpose. 

Given the scale of the world’s ‘financial crime problem’ , the public and private sector will inevitably continue to embrace such measures to respond to suspicions of fraud and risk as they are quick and cheap. Whilst undoubtedly effective, the challenge is ensuring that they provide a fair and proportionate response in the fight against fraud, with an acceptable level of transparency and customer certainty.

UK reduces its oil imports by over 75 million barrels in five years
Foreign Direct InvestmentMarkets

UK reduces its oil imports by over 75 million barrels in five years

UK reduces its oil imports by over 75 million barrels in five years
  • New tool charts global commodity trading over the last decade
  • China has overtaken the USA as the world’s biggest importer of oil
  • The UK is the 8th best European country at reducing its oil imports

The UK has reduced its oil imports by more than a fifth (21%) in five years, a new online tool from Daily FX has revealed.

While the country remains the 12th biggest global importer of oil, including petroleum oils, it has taken great strides towards reducing its reliance on such environmentally-harmful fuels.

Between 2013 and 2018, the UK had the eighth-best rate in Europe for reducing such imports, with its intake dropping by 76.9 million barrels (from 359 million to just over 280 million).

Malta (93%) and the Republic of Moldova (92%) experienced the most significant decreases across the continent.

The data has been visualised on a
new interactive tool built by Daily FX, the leading portal for forex trading news, which displays global commodity imports and exports over the last decade.

The tool shows that China has recently overtaken the USA as the world’s biggest importer of oil. The Asian giant imported nearly 3.4 billion barrels in 2018, which was over 240 million more than the USA. China tops the list having increased its oil imports by 64% since 2013 – nearly six times the rate of its rival (11%).

The top 10 global importers of oil (2018) are:

  1. China – 3.38 billion barrels
  2. USA – 3.14 billion barrels
  3. India – 1.65 billion barrels
  4. Japan – 1.09 billion barrels
  5. The Republic of Korea – 1.09 billion barrels
  6. Germany – 622 million barrels
  7. Netherlands – 506 million barrels
  8. Italy – 460 million barrels
  9. France – 397 million barrels
  10. Singapore – 376 million barrels

Daily FX’s unique tool allows traders to spot developments in the flow of commodities and the growth of both supply and demand while comparing the changes to critical economic indicators.

One trend highlighted by the tool is the decreasing reliance on oil among African countries. Five of the world’s ten best nations at reducing oil imports are found on the continent, including the top four. Morocco, Kenya, Burundi and Gambia all decreased such imports by over 99%.

John Kicklighter, Chief Currency Strategist at Daily FX, said: “The world is changing and so is the way that it uses energy. Renewable and environmentally-friendly fuel options are the future, and while the end of crude oil is still far off, there will be considerable changes in the world’s top importers and exporters. Our new tool helps track those changes.

“While some of the larger countries have increased their appetite, it is interesting from an investor’s perspective to see the UK exploring alternative energy sources and reducing its dependence on oil.”

Global Commodities’ takes the form of a re-imagined 3D globe where the heights of countries rise and fall to show the import and export levels of a range of commodities over the last decade. The data visualisation allows users to switch views from a single commodity or market and show information relevant to that commodity or market’s performance.

To learn more about Global Commodities and view the tool, visit:
https://www.dailyfx.com/research/global-commodities

THE FUTURE OF TAX HAVENS
Finance

The Future of Tax Havens

THE FUTURE OF TAX HAVENS

 

The EU recently added four countries and jurisdictions to its blacklist of tax havens, including British overseas territory the Cayman Islands.

“The EU set up the system in 2017, to put pressure on countries to crack down on tax havens and unfair competition, sanctioning those it considered unfair in offering tax avoidance schemes. However, with this news coming in just weeks after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, many are concerned it’s a sign of things to come,” says Granville Turner, Director at Offshore Company Formation Specialists, Turner Little.

“The Cayman Islands have become well known for being a tax haven, offering foreign individuals and businesses a minimum tax liability, making it a prospering environment for offshore banking. The significant tax benefits aren’t the only offering making the Cayman Islands advantageous, they also have confidentiality clauses in place to protect the privacy of assets, as well as the individuals or business’s reputation. In September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) listed the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Ireland, as world-leading tax havens, together with Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland. Some of these countries offer similar benefits to the Cayman Islands and none of them are on the EU blacklist,” adds Granville.

At the same time, the EU has removed the Bahamas from its watch list, after deeming the island fully compliant with tax standards, a decision that acknowledges that the Bahamas has implemented all the necessary reform to address concerns regarding economic substance, removal of preferential exemptions and automatic exchange of tax information.

“For those with assets in the Cayman Islands, it’s important to realise the blacklisting may be short-lived, and the fundamental change to existing structures should be considered in this light. There may however in the interim be increased reputational concerns surrounding the Cayman Islands, and new funds or structures may wish to consider an alternative jurisdiction,” says Granville.

At Turner Little, we specialise in creating bespoke solutions for both individuals and businesses of all sizes. The knowledge and expertise of our specialists, ensures we are able to assist with any enquiries, no matter how complex. To find out more about how we can help you,
get in touch with us today.

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market
MarketsReal Estate

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market

TurboTenant, an
all-in-one, free property management tool, releases its latest industry report
– “How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market.” This report
highlights key rental market indicators from March 2020 in cities throughout
the U.S. who have and are currently following social distancing and
stay-at-home orders.

You can read the report and how COVID-19 is Impacting the
Rental Market here.

TurboTenant’s new trend report analyzed 18 cities and four
key rental market indicators: total active listings, change in number of active
listings, total renter leads and the average number of renter leads per
property. While the full effects of the coronavirus on the housing market are
still unknown, delisting and new home listings steeply declined in March.
TurboTenant’s report found while some markets reflected those trends, others
had strong markets.

TurboTenant Highlights that New York, Denver and Houston all
experienced large net losses for new listings with New York holding the biggest
decrease at -65.17% while San Diego, Atlanta and Cleveland all experienced net
gains in listings. Lead growth in 14 of our cities, including Jersey City and
Denver, fluctuated throughout the month, but ended lower than they started. In
cities such as Boston, Houston and Milwaukee, leads were higher at the start of
April than at the beginning of March.

The reasoning for the report to be created is to give “insights
on how the rental market is starting to react to the COVID-19 pandemic,”
said Sarnen Steinbarth, TurboTenant Founder and Chief Executive Officer.
“With the peak rental season approaching, we want landlords to be prepared
and informed about the trends nationwide and in their own cities.”

“It is imperative to monitor rental trends during the
coronavirus pandemic,” Steinbarth said. “This report along with our
past and future trend reports, will help educate not only landlords, but also
property investors, businesses and the public.”

Issues

Q1 2020

Welcome to the Q1 edition of Wealth & Finance International Magazine. As always, every issue we endeavour to provide fund managers, institutional and private investors with the very latest industry news in the traditional and alternative investment spheres.

It’s been an odd couple of weeks. Following a terrible (to put it lightly) few days for global stock markets, the last 24 hours has seen a dramatic rallying turnaround. While we’re probably not at all out of hot water when it comes to the economic impact of COVID-19, recovery in any form is certainly a pleasant sight. But, as always, we step gingerly onward, wary of further disruption. Ultimately, uncertainty and risk are just a natural part of the wealth and finance landscape.

Saying that, this quarter’s edition features companies who combat uncertainty through next-level preparedness, employing technology in new ways to cover all basis. From the development of true AI, to funds that beat all expectations, this issue focuses on excellence that thrives despite greater difficulty.

Here at Wealth & Finance we sincerely hope that you enjoy reading this issue and, as always, we look forward to hearing from you.

How to Deal with Malpractice Claims
Due DiligenceInsuranceRisk Management

How to Deal with Malpractice Claims

We all make mistakes. However, as a doctor or other medical technician, a mistake from one of these professionals can be incredibly damaging. Sometimes we do not even make mistakes, but patients will still file potentially damaging malpractice claims. Here are some of the best paths to follow if you do receive a malpractice claim from a former patient.

Keep Calm

Your first instinct will no doubt be to panic about the situation. However, this is unlikely to help you. You instead need to focus on making things right. It can be difficult to put your feelings aside so you can try to improve things. Make sure you explain to your friends and family what has happened so they can support you through the process.

If you a private medical professional, you should have insurance to help you out in such a scenario. An indemnity insurance policy is designed to protect you from negligence suits like these. Protect yourself and get the right insurance for your career here: https://incisionindemnity.com/

Gather Your Own Evidence

If you think the claim might have been filed falsely, you should do everything in your power to fight it. Make sure you consult a lawyer who specialises in these types of malpractice suits. The more knowledgeable you are, the better position you will be in to fight this claim.

The evidence is going to be a key part of this. Try to gather information about what you recommended as treatment and the path they should have followed. Make sure you include any notes you made during the appointments the patient they had. Even something that might seem inconsequential might be what you need to get the claim thrown out.

Be Sincere and Understanding

Even if the case comes out in your favour, the claimant might have had their life seriously affected by what has happened to them. Likewise, your reputation might become quite damaged by the claim, especially if the claimant decides to take it to the press.

However, you should instead try to stay as gracious as possible throughout the whole process. If you are seen to be sympathetic and genuinely sincere in your actions, it will serve you much better than if you are cold and withdrawn. Acknowledging that you have had an effect on this person’s life, even if they are later proven to be lying, will always be the better path to take.

Keep Business Running as Usual

You will still have a business to run even when fighting a malpractice suit. It cannot become neglected as that might result in many more suits. Though it can be very difficult to do, you need to make sure you are as focused on your business as ever.

Try to complete each new patient to the same standard and level of care as you always have. Just by delivering a stellar experience at your surgery, you might be able to dispel some of the rumours swirling around you. Sometimes, it is just simple changes like this that can really help you as you try to keep things going as normal.

A malpractice suit can be incredibly difficult to fight but there are ways to do so. As difficult as it might be, you need to make sure that you keep your head above water and continue as usual. Gather evidence, make sure your insurance is valid, and get some good legal advice. It is entirely possible to defend yourself through a medical malpractice suit if you make the right choices. Before you know it, you could be back to serving patients happily once more.

Press releases

Wealth & Finance International 2019 Artificial Intelligence Awards

2019 Artificial Intel Awards Logo Long-01

United Kingdom, 2019- Wealth & Finance magazine has announced the winners of the 2019 Artificial Intelligence Awards.

Technology is the great driver of change across the breadth of the corporate landscape. Of course, the wealth management industry is no different, as artificial intelligence and machine learning have helped revolutionise a new era in the financial sphere.

As such, the 2019 Artificial Intelligence Awards have been launched to recognise and honour those firms and individuals who are at the very cutting edge of this technological development. From best in class software developers, to academics and experts of all varieties, this programme has sought to distinguish those who are working hard to define the very future of wealth.

Discussing the outcome of the programme, Steve Simpson, Awards Coordinator commented: “Artificial Intelligence remains a powerful and potent tool for wealth managers and professionals working in the financial industries. The Artificial Intelligence Awards were created to showcase the firms that are making extraordinary strides in the arena, and look set to redefine and hone best practices. Congratulations to everyone, and I wish you all the best for the future.”

To learn more about our deserving award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best” in AI, please visit the Wealth & Finance website https://www.wealthandfinance-news.com/awards/artificial-intelligence-awards-2019/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

Notes to editors.

About Wealth & Finance International

Wealth & Finance International is a quarterly publication dedicated to delivering high quality informative and up-to-the-minute global business content. It is published by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting.

Developed by a highly skilled team of writers, editors, business insiders and regional industry experts, Wealth & Finance International reports from every corner of the globe to give readers the inside track on the need-to-know news and issues affecting banking, finance, regulation, risk and wealth management in their region.

Civil partnerships Exploring the financial benefits
ArticlesFinanceWealth Management

Civil partnerships: Exploring the financial benefits

Civil partnerships: Exploring the financial benefits

In October 2018, former Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the law would be changed to allow mixed-sex couples in England and Wales to enter civil partnerships. As of 2 December 2019, mixed-sex couples are now able to register their intent to enter a civil partnership, with the first ceremonies due to take place on 31 December 2019.

In recent years there has been a noticeable shift towards couples choosing to cohabit as opposed to entering into marriage. In fact, cohabiting couples continue to be the fastest-growing family type, with data from the
Office for National Statistics indicating that marriages between men and women recently hit the lowest rate on record. It remains to be seen whether the option to enter a civil partnership will influence the cohabiting trend. 

Those in mixed-sex civil partnerships will benefit from the same rights as married couples. The key difference is that a civil partnership is often free of any religious connotations and ideas of ownership and control – making it an attractive alternative for those who wish to legally recognise their relationship without aligning to a specific religion or tradition. 

Contrary to common belief, couples who live together are not entitled to the same protection or tax breaks as married couples and until now, couples who were opposed to marriage had no other option than to cohabit. Undoubtedly, the ability to legally recognise a loving and committed relationship between two people will always be the main motive for entering into a civil partnership.  Yet, there are several other reasons why couples may decide to legally formalise their union, one of which being the often-substantial financial perks which arise on the death of one of the civil partners.

From an income tax perspective, civil partners are entitled to the same income tax allowance as married couples. Often known as marriage tax allowance, if one lower earning partner is not utilising their entire personal allowance (£12,500 for 2019/20) they can transfer up to £1,250 of it to the higher earning partner, making a saving of £250 a year.

Similarly, from an inheritance tax perspective, civil partners will benefit from a complete exemption and the surviving partner will not need to pay any inheritance tax should they inherit the first to die’s estate. The surviving civil partner can also effectively double the amount that they can leave to family and friends on their death without having to pay inheritance tax, by transferring the first to die’s unused nil rate band. Should the first partner leave their entire estate to their surviving partner, it is possible to combine the nil rate bands – meaning that when the second partner dies an amount of £650,000 can be passed on tax-free. The same rules apply to the newer residence nil rate band and consequently, civil partners could ultimately benefit from a combined inheritance tax free allowance of up to £1million as of 6 April 2020 (subject to certain restrictions).

Civil partners can also inherit their partner’s tax-free ISA allowance, equal to the value or balance of any ISAs held by the first to die, by making use of the Additional Permitted Subscription (APS). This approach ensures that the tax-efficiency of the deceased’s ISA, which may well have been saved together by the couple, is not lost when transferred to the surviving partner.

Correspondingly, while the transfer of capital assets between cohabitees remains subject to capital gains tax on any gain in value they may have accrued, civil partners and spouses benefit from the fact that these transactions become tax neutral. This can present many benefits for civil partners, enabling them to manoeuvre funds and assets between them without the danger of generating an immediate charge to capital gains tax.

From a pension perspective, there are also tangible benefits to being in a civil partnership as both private and occupational pension schemes must offer the same rights to civil and married partners. Additionally, it may also be possible for a surviving partner to claim a higher state retirement pension, based on the deceased partner’s national insurance contributions. 

It is however important to remember that, just like marriage, there will be several administrative tasks to take care of when entering into a civil partnership. Any existing wills that may have been prepared before the partnership was recognised will be voided by the partnership itself and new wills should be drafted as soon as possible.

Equally, it is important to think about the assets that both parties will be bringing to the partnership and how they would be split in the event of the relationship breaking down. Those considering entering into a civil partnership should seek advice as to the suitability of preparing a prenuptial agreement to ensure that the intentions of both partners are recorded.

All couples, regardless of the legal status of their relationship, should consider their estate planning opportunities and how they can take advantage of sensible financial planning strategies to safeguard their estates for each other and their wider families. Ultimately, the extension of the law to allow mixed-sex couples to enter civil partnerships presents cohabiting couples with far greater flexibility and autonomy, while equally offering an opportunity to secure financial protection.

 

Matt Parr is an associate in the private client team at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau

 

What is General Liability Insurance
Insurance

What is General Liability Insurance?

What is General Liability Insurance?

In business, as well as in life, accidents happen. The problem is, when you’re running a business, accidents can open you up to liability, and if you’re not adequately covered, it can really cost you.

This means that general liability insurance is an essential part of running a business because it protects you in many important situations. If you don’t have general liability insurance, you open yourself up to being sued by members of the public in the case of an accident and you will be responsible for the costs.

So, what exactly does general liability insurance protect you against?


Damages Towards Third Parties

General liability insurance for small business is there to protect you from the basic risks your business faces. It covers you against damages to third parties, but not damages incurred by yourself, your employees, or to your equipment or tools.

Say you’re working on a ladder and you drop a tool which hits a passer-by on the head and injures them. The injured person is entitled to sue you for their medical costs. If you weren’t covered, then you would have to pay them out of your own pocket, but if you’ve got general liability insurance, the insurance company will take care of it.


A Legal Obligation

In some states, it is a legal obligation to have general liability insurance. Authorities want to see that members of the public are protected when they interact with your business, and insurance is one way of guaranteeing that.

If a business is not insured and gets sued, there’s no guarantee they have enough money to pay, this is why many authorities make general liability insurance a requirement for getting a business permit. It means they know that members of the public will get the money they are owed because your company is covered.


Required for Some Contracts

Even if general liability insurance isn’t required by law, many companies will only do business with you if you have the right insurance. Many contracts will stipulate your need for basic insurance, and you won’t be able to win those contracts unless you’re properly covered.

For other companies, employing the services of another company that isn’t insured opens them up to greater risk, and naturally, they want to avoid this. Your insurance might be a small detail, but it can make all the difference when you’re competing for certain jobs.

Allows You to Focus on the Things You’re Good At

You want your business to focus on doing the things it’s good at without having to worry about what happens if something goes wrong. Having the right general liability insurance means you can get on with the job, knowing you’re protected if something should happen.

With the right provider, arranging your general liability insurance is quick and simple, and you can get a quote that’s tailored to your business needs. Finding the right insurance isn’t difficult, but the benefits are clear to see.

Focus on growing your business, without having to worry about whether you’re properly protected by your insurance.

Press releases

Wealth & Finance International 2019 Investment Fund Awards

Investment Fund Awards Logo Long

United Kingdom, 2019- Wealth & Finance magazine have announced the winners of the 2019 Investment Fund Awards.

Knowing the routine struggles of contending with issues arising from regulations, market fluctuations, geopolitical upheavals and new government strategies can provide significant challenges to the fund industry, Wealth and Finance Magazine is proud to announce the commencement of the 2019 Investment Fund Awards, where the tireless efforts of fund professionals from across the globe are recognised and rewarded.

We are proud to showcase some of the greatest funds from across this diverse space and share an overview of how far they have come over the past twelve months.

Discussing the success of these winners, Awards Coordinator Edward Faulkner commented: “Congratulations to each and every one of this year’s Investment Fund Awards winners, I am incredibly proud of how far you’ve come and look forward to hearing of your future successes.”

To learn more about our deserving award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the Wealth & Finance website (https://www.wealthandfinance-news.com/awards/fund-awards/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

Notes to editors.

About Wealth & Finance International

Wealth & Finance International is a monthly publication dedicated to delivering high quality informative and up-to-the-minute global business content. It is published by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting.

Developed by a highly skilled team of writers, editors, business insiders and regional industry experts, Wealth & Finance International reports from every corner of the globe to give readers the inside track on the need-to-know news and issues affecting banking, finance, regulation, risk and wealth management in their region.

Issues

Q4 2019

Welcome to the Q4 edition of Wealth & Finance International Magazine. As always, every issue we endeavour to provide fund managers, institutional and private investors with the very latest industry news in the traditional and alternative investment spheres.

It wasn’t too long ago that the world seemed on the edge of an ‘imminent’ recession, escalated on the back of trade wars, Brexit uncertainty and unrest. While all of these are very much still a part of the daily news cycle, markets have remained resilient. Indeed, as of writing, we’ve just had one of the largest ‘Merger Mondays’ for some time. A good sign, even if the idea of a recession hasn’t exactly receded from view. The world ticks on. Deals are still secured. Business carries on regardless.

Within this issue we’ve spotlighted just a few of the last quarter’s deals, recruitment news, and the latest research from State Street Global Advisors.

Meanwhile, Aspen Consulting Team are our cover story for this edition of the magazine. In their own words, Thomas and Edgell Pules explain their exceptional work helping successful families flourish by addressing major financial and emotional concerns. Read inside to find out more.

Whatever the next decade brings, the world of wealth and finance will surely tick on, new deals with be created, new talent will emerge, and innovation will serve as the key to overcoming whatever challenges lie in wait.

Here at Wealth & Finance we sincerely hope that you enjoy reading this issue and, as always, we look forward to hearing from you.

Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking - TSB Bank
BankingSecurities

The Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking

Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking - TSB Bank

The Lasting Legacy IT Disruption Can Have In Consumer Banking

Recent statistics show that TSB, whose catastrophic IT transfer meltdown last year is still having lasting repercussions for clients, has come last in a consumer poll on the effectiveness of its online banking solutions. Staff Writer Hannah Stevenson explores how this is the direct result of the bank’s meltdown last year.

Last year, TSB lost thousands of customers when its IT systems switchover caused widespread outages and led to consumers and businesses being unable to access their accounts.

At the time, Paul Pester, TSB Chief Executive Officer, commented on the issues by saying:

“We’re making progress in resolving the service problems customers experienced following our IT migration, and we will continue to work tirelessly until we have put things right.  I know how frustrated many customers have been by what’s happened.  It was not acceptable, and was not the level of service that we pride ourselves on – nor was it what our customers have come to expect from TSB.

“It has been a difficult time for customers and I am grateful to them for their patience. I would also like to say thank you to our Partners for their enormous efforts.  They have done everything in their power to continue serving our customers, and I am proud to see that the values on which the Bank has been built have shone through during this time.

“Our priority in the second half of the year continues to be putting things right for our customers.  Looking further ahead we are determined to get back to bringing more competition to UK banking and ultimately making banking better for consumers and small businesses.”

Shortly afterwards, Paul stepped down from his position, showing how detrimental the issues had been to his career. Commenting on the changes, Richard Meddings made it clear that the IT problems were a key driving force in this decision.

“Paul has made an enormous contribution to TSB. Thanks to his passion and commitment, TSB is today one of the UK’s strongest challenger banks, serving over 5 million customers across the UK. On behalf of the TSB Board, I want to thank Paul for everything he has achieved as CEO and pay tribute to the contribution he has made in bringing greater competition to the UK retail banking market.

“Although there is more to do to achieve full stability for customers, the bank’s IT systems and services are much improved since the IT migration. Paul and the Board have therefore agreed that this is the right time to appoint a new CEO for TSB. Our goal is therefore to allow a full search to commence, without any distractions, enabling TSB to build for the future.

“Meanwhile I have been asked by the Board to take on the role of Executive Chairman on an interim basis. Together with the Executive Committee, we have three immediate priorities: to complete the work of putting things right for customers; to enable the bank to achieve full functionality – including the availability of all product services and launch of a leading Business Banking offer; and appointing a CEO for the next chapter of TSB.”

Later, TSB had a further issue, with smaller problems causing the bank further problems throughout 2018.

Andy Cory, identity management services lead at KCOM commented shortly after TSB’s second issue with authentication, which saw clients locked out of their accounts.

“A broken authentication system has an instant impact on customer loyalty. If a business cannot provide easy access to its services without sacrificing security, it only has itself to blame when its users desert.

“The problem is balancing access with security. Too easy to get in and you risk leaving customers unguarded; too many security measures and it becomes offputting for users.

“Fortunately, there is a way to achieve the best of both worlds. Frictionless customer authentication – where users can access online services with zero input into the identification process – is becoming a reality.

“For example, geo-location and geo-velocity checking allow companies to trace a user’s physical location and how far they have travelled since their last login. Taken together, they verify if the user is who they claim to be and make any manual input from the customer unnecessary.”

The latest results from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) showcase the long-term detrimental effect that the IT issues have caused. In the personal banking space the firm was last for its online services, but within the business banking space TSB was last in almost every category including online banking services, highlighting how much more important IT stability is for businesses. 

There may also be other factors at play, including poor interest rates, lack of availability for certain financial products and poor customer service as a whole, but there is clearly a link between the lack of faith consumers and businesses now have in TSB’s IT infrastructure and its poor ratings in this latest poll.

Looking ahead, TSB needs to restore faith through new initiatives and by showing its clients that it has truly put its IT failings behind it. For more of the latest news, insight and banking knowledge, subscribe to Wealth & Finance International Magazine HERE.

Hyper short-term investments what are millennials investing in
FinanceTransactional and Investment Banking

Hyper-short-term investments: what are millennials investing in?

Hyper short-term investments what are millennials investing in

Hyper-short-term investments: what are millennials investing in?

Despite the stereotype of the younger generation being frivolous with their money, it seems they are actually one of the savviest generations when it comes to turning a profit on their own. While they are hesitant to invest in stocks, millennials and generation Z are tapping into the hyper-short-term investment of fashion and beauty. For example, there’s a huge market for buying and selling trainers at the moment, or in vintage fashion.

In particular, limited-edition trainers have a huge appeal across the world, with people willing to camp outside of stores to pick up a particularly lucrative pair.


Art flipping

According to Business Insider, rich millennials are snapping up art as financial assets rather than as part of a potential collection — 85 per cent of millennials purchasing artworks say they are aiming to sell in the next year. Buying art with the intention of selling it on quickly is known as art flipping, and it’s something of a controversial subject in the art world. There are some who consider the process of art flipping as a potentially devaluing practice that harms the artist and their work.

The process can also seem more logical than artistic too, as many such purchases are made purely on the work’s monetary value. However, the piece’s social media hype can also spur rich millennials to part with their cash in a hopes of a quick resale profit — Instagram has been highlighted by Adweek as a viable platform for creating social media adoration for artists.


Clothes

One of the reasons why the younger generations are turning more to side-hustles and reselling as forms of investment is that the turnover is incredibly fast thanks to apps like Depop. There are so many stories about how entrepreneurial millennials are sniffing out limited edition items from the most popular brands, such as Supreme, during their famous limited edition ‘drops’, then rapidly reselling them.

Of course, the initial purchase is an investment, with many resellers spending hundreds of pounds or more on such a venture, but the resale of these goods can certainly turn a profit. It also taps effectively into the Instagram world we’re living in too. Sellers often combine their shop platforms with their social media accounts to merge both modelling and selling the items.


Shoes

The most sought-after trainers tend to be either limited edition or classic trainers for that much-loved vintage style. People are willing to set up camp outside a store before a particularly hyped drop of limited-edition trainers, in order to grab them at retail price, then sell it on for much higher prices. Some might seek to resell the items quickly, but there’s certainly a case to be made for popping a brand new pair of limited edition trainers away for a few years before reselling in hopes that their much-hyped status will only increase that price tag as the years roll on.

Arguably the biggest market in reselling is that of sneakers and trainers. Much like clothing, the main draw here is in limited edition shoes — but the sneakerhead culture is not anything new. In fact, it began nearly 30 years ago, though it’s enjoyed a huge resurgence in the last few years.

 
Sources:

https://www.sofi.com/blog/millennial-investing-trends/

https://www.adweek.com/digital/influencing-the-art-market-millennial-collectors-social-media-and-ecommerce/

https://www.businessinsider.com/rich-millennials-investing-art-flipping-build-wealth-2019-4?r=US&IR=T

https://www.standard.co.uk/fashion/should-you-be-investing-in-sneakers-a4014486.html

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2017/oct/23/teens-selling-online-depop-ebay

4Stop - Most Innovative Risk Management Platform (Western Europe)
Risk Management

Most Innovative Risk Management Platform (Western Europe)

Most Innovative Risk Management Platform (Western Europe)

Thanks to its impressive industry expertise, 4Stop, a leading fraud prevention provider, solves businesses riskbased approach through a modern, all-in-one KYB, KYC, compliance and anti-fraud solution at an international level. To celebrate the firm’s win in this year’s competitive FinTech Awards we profile it and share an insight into the innovative solutions it has to offer, speaking with members of the senior team to understand the true value of this exceptional solution.

Since its inception in 2016, 4Stop has onboarded various clients within its target markets of Payment Service Providers, Payment Gateways, eMobile payments, eCommerce, eWallets, and Cryptocurrency.

As all the founders of the company have collectively over 60 years of experience within the risk management realm, they understand the need for a simple, fail-safe, future-proof solution that businesses can effortlessly manage their risk requirements and more importantly with absolute confidence. When they first started their firm, their focus and challenges were to establish a product to resolve the cumbersome processes surrounding KYB, KYC, compliance and fraud prevention globally.

This drive led 4Stop to develop an all-in-one solution encompassing global data aggregation that resulted in a full suite of KYB and KYC data sources, and their proprietary risk management tools paired with automation and integrated analytics, all from a single AP. Removing the market pain point of multiple integrations and patchworked solutions to fully address risk management requirements.

Thanks to this unique technology, the firm now allows its diverse range of clients to easily perform required validation, verification and authentication at the point of onboarding through to transactional processing, both at the merchant and merchant consumer level.

Over the past three years the adoption and usability of the 4Stop solution have been well received. By encompassing a complete end-to-end solution for KYB, KYC, compliance and fraud prevention, 4Stop allows businesses to enjoy a single-view-ofrisk and it has already been proven to dramatically improve their overall performance and bottom line.

Today, the firm has achieved proven results for its clients and have cemented its place as a true revolutionary within the risk management and technology space. Businesses that have utilised 4Stop’s anti-fraud technology experience a 66.6% reduction in chargebacks in the first 2 months with an average of 81.5% approval authorisation rate. Additionally, businesses that have implemented the cascading KYC verification technology, have seen a growth of 10.9% in savings within the first two months.

4Stop’s revolutionary KYB solution is now leading the industry by performing granular business underwriting in near real-time with comprehensive data analysis surrounding business’ online presence, operational performance, structure. Comprehensive data analysis surrounding the business’ online presence, operational performance, structure, and compliance adherence. Enhanced by additional KYC due-diligence performed on directors/ UBO’s and required document retreival, businesses obtain all the data and documentation they require to confidently onboard businesses.

It is this unique solution that has driven 4Stop to win one of the 2019 FinTech Awards from Wealth & Finance International Magazine. Ingo Ernst, CEO of 4Stop, comments on the firm’s success in this award’s programme and how it is the direct result of the firm’s expert team’s hard work and dedication to excellence.

“This award is another great milestone for 4Stop. Our ever-changing online landscape demands innovation and for everyone at 4Stop, our focus is driving our technology advancements as an equalized force across all aspects of our product offering. Our teams’ hard work, diligence and passion have been the pathway for our success and we greatly look forward to continue bolstering our products to support online risk management.”

Seeking to change the face of risk management for the better, 4Stop’s KYC data hub solution encompasses one of the largest KYC data aggregations in the industry to provide true worldwide KYC data coverage. As a result, clients have access to thousands of global data points and hundreds of KYC data sources with real-time and on-demand activation. Additionally, this data creates full market profile data simulations in a seamless manner and allows businesses to make quantifiable decisions based on data science. Through 4Stop’s cascading verification logic costsavings on KYC data performance is maximised and the best data experience output is obtained. 4Stop continuously aggregates global data and KYC data sources so businesses can continue to enjoy all the data they require from their initial integration with zero touch on their IT and internal development resources.

Dedicated to safety as well as efficiency, 4Stop’s cutting-edge anti-fraud technology provides an automated and multi-faceted rules engine that performs real-time analysis with automated system actions through to providing granular risk monitoring and integrated intelligence. Businesses can apply risk thresholds and anti-fraud parameters per merchant, sub-merchant, region, type, market/ industry, date/time, etc. Clients have full control of their risk management in a fully automated manner. Through the single-view-of-risk, overall monitoring and risk analysis processes are efficient with minimal requirement for manual intervention.

Improving businesses authorisation rates, dramatically reducing chargebacks and accelerating their performance, the Businesses all-in-one solution provides everything required to manage risk from a single API.

Whilst its fully integrated solution is revolutionary in the FinTech market it enables 4Stop to overcome the KYC industry issue of managing so much data safely and effectively. The firm is constantly seeking to enhance this product for the benefit of its clients across the financial and business markets. 4Stops’s continued technological investment is based on a few variables within the market landscape.

By closely engaging within the industry through networking globally with key market leaders, events and conferences, close client engagement and staying abreast of global payment and risk management centric reports and trends.

Through this process, 4Stop develops vigorous assessments of the market landscape, emerging trends and evolving regulatory requirements, all of which are funnelled to their executive and product innovation teams to drive product expansion and ensure 4Stop’s all-in-one risk management solution remains leading-edge across the various industries in the market they services.

“4Stop has been designed to be future-proofed from a single API for our clients to manage KYB, KYC, compliance and anti-fraud technology on a global scale. It is our continued responsibility that the product does just that. Expanding our fraud technology and data aggregation accordingly to stay relevant to the rapid evolution of online payments and engagement.” States Brian Daly, Head of Product Implementation and Innovation, 4Stop.

At the point of inception 4Stop launched with a full suite of KYC data sources and their proprietary anti-fraud technology that encompasses a multi-faceted automated risk rules engine with cascading rule performance and automated system actions, alongside a dashboard with realtime intelligence and multiple reporting widgets. In early 2019 4Stop launched its global end-to-end KYB solution. Seeking to build upon its current success, moving forward 4Stop will continue to aggregate data and expand its KYB and KYC solution, in conjunction with furthering its features available such as machine learning to support the anti-fraud and risk monitoring technology. The firm has also recently completed a German-based €2.5 €Million Series A Round Investment from Ventech, the leading pan-European VC fund investing in early-stage tech-driven start-ups. This financing will help the company to expand its solution and drive real change in the market.

Ultimately, 4Stop is a global product with clients worldwide. In the coming years, the business has established a focused acquisition plan specific to regions and markets within Europe, Asia and the United States. These developments will drive the company to even greater global recognition and truly prove it as a pioneer in the risk management technology space. As many companies seek a single provider to manage all parts of their risk management cycle, 4Stop will become a key part of the payment’s ecosystem and the central aggregation hub in the eco-system.


Contact Information:
Name: Ingo Ernst
Address: Neusser Str. 85, Köln, Germany, 50670
Telephone Number: +49.151.1101.7175
Web Address: https://4stop.com/

Issues

Q3 2019

Welcome to the Q3 edition of Wealth & Finance International Magazine for 2019. Every issue we endeavour to provide fund managers, institutional and private investors with the very latest industry news in the traditional and alternative investment landscapes. Putting aside, at least for the time being, the tumultuous stock markets and dire warnings from financial experts on the topic of an ‘imminent’ global recession, we are focusing – as ever- on more optimistic shores.

Take, for instance, Inbound FinTech, a multi-award-winning growth agency that specialises in the financial sector. In the years since its establishment it has proven a crucial tool for the sector’s shining stars as they look to capitalise on a wealth of opportunities. Group CEO Sheila Mitham took a moment out of her busy schedule to tell us more.

In a very different vein, we profiled MPA Financial Management to see how they have thrived in their role as Independent Financial Advisers. The key to the firm’s success has always been their ability to serve their client’s best interests, helping them to achieve a secure financial future.

Here at Wealth & Finance we sincerely hope that you enjoy reading this issue and, as always, we look forward to hearing from you.

banking online
Banking

A machine learning balancing act: Payments, customer experience, fraud detection

By Manuel Rodriguez, Fraud Solutions Manager at SAS

The range of potential payment services has expanded rapidly over the last few years. Increasingly, we all want the flexibility of being able to pay with new payment methods, from contactless through to Apple Pay, mobile wallets and beyond. Digital natives, such as millennials, don’t just want this – they expect it. For banks, however, this demand for flexibility is a headache.

 

Banks and other financial institutions know that they have to adopt new payment methods to meet customer demand for convenience and flexibility. However, they also know that these new payment systems leave them open to new forms of fraud. The big question is how can they adapt to these new fraud types – to protect both themselves and customers – without creating poor customer experiences through large numbers of false positives?

 

Understanding payment fraud

There is no question that payment fraud has changed over the last few years. A few years ago, card fraud, from cloning cards, was a leading form of fraud. However, the use of card processing terminals that use Europay-Visa-Mastercard (EMV) technology has reduced this considerably. This technology – the gold standard for credit cards, using computer chips to authenticate and secure transactions – has been the norm in Europe for a while. Its use is now spreading to the US.

 

Card fraud has therefore migrated to “card not present” transactions, such as online purchases. Payment fraud is driven and supported by several risks, including data breaches at retailers, credit agencies and banks, and use of malware to obtain access to accounts. It is also, however, helped by moves towards faster payments, driven by both regulators and the industry. These are good for customers, but they also good for fraudsters. The faster it is to get funds or goods through fraudulent transactions, the less time banks have to detect the fraud.

 

Fraudsters always ahead

 

Fraudsters are faster and more adept than ever before. The issue for banks and other financial institutions is to recognise that fraudsters will always be ahead but to take action to address that. Fraud detection systems need to keep up, and there is little time for long-drawn-out checks. However, there is a catch. Fraud-prevention systems need to avoid too many false positives. Up to 10% of rejected orders are actually believed to be valid. In total, in one survey, 37% of merchants said that turning away good customers was a top concern.

 

New regulations are adding challenges. Instant Payments or Payments Services Directive 2 (PSD2) are enforcing new rules, needs and requirements. We need to fit into payment processes thresholds and other aspects to make payments faster, more available and smoother. On the other side, we need to apply proper security, customer authentication and risk-based approaches to monitor payments in a more complex environment involving banks and third-party providers.

 

Systems to catch fraud

 

There are many actions that banks can take to protect themselves and their customers from fraud. First, they must look at their systems, ensure they are connected and remove any silos. Disconnected systems are vulnerable to compromise.

 

Banks also have to move from rules-based to machine learning analytics systems for fraud detection. This approach gives them the chance to identify suspicious patterns and anomalies much faster, which is essential as more and more real-time payments systems come online. Real-time scoring and decision making should drive new systems, which should also take into account new forms of data, such as device fingerprints and information phone call routing.

 

Machine learning techniques include neural networks, regression techniques, decision trees, naïve Bayesian methods, clustering and network analysis. These approaches are particularly useful to detect rare payments fraud events hidden in big data sets. Machine learning tools can understand and learn from this type of data, and they can adapt to the changing behaviours associated with fraud through automated behavioural profiling and signatures.

 

They can automate models to find hidden insights without having to be programmed directly. This means that banks have some chance of keeping up with fraudsters. Machine learning techniques can also reduce the false positive rate by learning the behaviour of individual customers over time so that normal behaviour for an individual does not raise alerts.

 

With multiple analytics techniques available, banks can better detect fraud behaviours. But they can also monitor legitimate behaviour to provide enriched answers to business needs, different requirements and new regulations.

 

End-to-end and across channels

Ultimately, payment fraud detection systems have to be able to look at payment processes from end to end and also across channels. Gartner identifies five layers: entity link, cross-channel-centric, channel-centric, navigation-centric and end-point-centric. By looking across all five of these layers and drawing data from all points, machine learning systems can draw a complete picture of the transaction in the context of the customer.

 

This combination of rules-based and analytical techniques can monitor user behaviour with considerable accuracy and speed. It can, therefore, identify normal and unusual patterns very fast, even in real time. This makes it much harder for fraudsters to find gaps and loopholes, and easier to identify potential fraud accurately. It is essential for banks to move in this direction to protect themselves and their customers from payment fraud.

mobile bank fraud
BankingFinance

Mobile financial attacks rise by 107%

According to a recent report by Kaspersky, the number of mobile financial attacks it detected in the first half of the year rose by 107%, rising to 3,730,378. Analysts at the company said they discovered 3.7 million mobile financial attacks from January to June this year and found 438,709 unique users attacked by mobile Trojan bankers.

In the first half of 2019, attackers actively used the names of the largest financial services and banking organisations to attack mobile platform users. Researchers found 438,709 unique users attacked by mobile Trojan bankers. For comparison, in the first half of 2018, the number of attacked users was 569,057, a decrease of 23 per cent

Findings by Kaspersky showed the activity of a bank Trojan called Asacub banker, which attacked an average of 40,000 people per day, peaked rapidly in the second half of 2018 and reduced in half year 2019. The number of attacked users and detected attacks peaked rapidly in the second half of 2018; 1,333,410 users were attacked and there were 10,256,935 attacks.

The cybersecurity firm identified another malware, Anubis Trojan, which intercept data for access to services of large financial organisations and two-factor authentication data in order to extort money from users. The firm described the banking Trojan as one that spreads via instant e-messaging apps such as WhatsApp and sends a link to the victim’s contact list.

Lisa Baergen, director at NuData Security, a Mastercard company comments:

“Mobile banking fraud is easy to miss for consumers as Trojans are well hidden inside other legitimate-seeming applications or attachments. Once inside the customer’s phone, they can roam free to steal banking information or account assets.

With this increase on attacks through banking Trojans, it is hard for financial institutions to know if a legitimate user is making a transaction or someone else is hijacking the account. To avoid this growing type fraud many companies are including security layers that can see beyond credentials and passwords: passive biometrics.

Adding passive biometrics technology, banks are able to detect unusual behavior within an account, even if the right device is used. By having this visibility into the user’s behavior, banks can block or authenticate a user further when they detect unusual activity, thwarting account hijacking.

Building a holistic risk-based authentication infrastructure for user verification is proving effective in thwarting bad actors armed with stolen credentials or executing account hijacking. Many companies are now combining different layers of identification such as device, connection, and passive biometrics to power a dynamic and intelligent authentication system. This multi-layered security ensures a frictionless experience for customers while seamlessly eliminating fraudulent transactions.”

Bank tech
Banking

Over 50% of banks and telcos flying blind into cloud migration

CAST, a leader in Software Intelligence, today released its annual global cloud migration report. The report analyzes application modernization priorities in financial and telecommunications firms.

Findings show critical missteps mean cloud migrations are falling short of expectations in mature institutions, just 40% meeting targets for cost, resiliency and planned user benefits. Lack of pre-migration intelligence and fear of modernizing legacy mainframe applications are the main drivers for these shortcomings. Adoption of microservices as a modernization technique is also faltering from lack of financing.

While these legacy process institutions realise only third of their target benefits for cloud migration, cloud-native approaches are enabling FinTech firms to outperform traditional banks, achieving more than half their target benefits.

Fewer than 35% of technology leaders use freely-available analysis tools. There is a systematic failure to assess the underlying application readiness for cloud migration with Software Intelligence, a deep analysis of software architecture. IT leaders must ensure the right architectural model and compliance is in place to avoid increasing technical debt. Unchecked, this leads to more IT meltdowns such as TSB’s £330m re-platforming crisis in 2018, with customers paying the expensive price for these mistakes.

More than 50% of banks and telcos are effectively taking leaps of faith, not undertaking essential analysis-led evaluations to support and facilitate cloud migrations. Instead, half the CTOs surveyed use gut instinct and ad-hoc surveys with application owners as the primary basis of their decision to move applications to the cloud. IT leaders need to adopt an analysis-led approach over gut instinct to implement the right cloud migration strategy and realise all potential benefits of migrating to the cloud.

Greg Rivera, VP CAST Highlight at CAST, commented on the findings, “Pilots going into storms turn to their instruments. If you run headfirst into a cloud migration without objectively assessing your applications, you’re flying in the dark.

Even one small change to an application has a ‘butterfly effect’ on the rest of the code set, so a disruption as big as cloud migration has detrimental effects including IT outages and loss of business. Migration to the cloud is vital when digitally transforming a business. But, it needs to be done right if organizations want success instead of suffering.”

More than 40% of software leaders are yet to define a class based approach to application modernization. Heavily legacy process firms tend to rehost apps, while rehosting, or so-called ‘lift-and-shift’, benefits apps with up to three years before end of life. However, existing and continuously evolving apps should be re-platformed and restructured during cloud migration. To successfully complete migration first gather intelligence and actively assess applications objectively.

Armed with battle scars software leaders at banks and insurance firms are revisiting their initial ‘lift-and-shift’ approach to cloud migration plans. While FinTech firms outperform mature institutions on cloud-native apps, banks lead the way on cloud-ready applications with just fewer than 50% rewriting applications. A European Chief Digital Architect said, “Cloud migration is only really a problem if you’re moving workloads without changing the way they are shaped.”

Press releases

The 2019 Wealth and Money Management Awards Press Release

Wealth & Finance Magazine Announces the 2019 Wealth and Money Management Awards Winners

United Kingdom, 2019- Wealth & Finance magazine have announced the winners of the 2019 Wealth and Money Management Awards.

Wealth management is a vital part of the financial market, and with consumers increasingly focused on wealth creation and retention the sector is only getting more competitive.

As such, the 2019 Wealth and Money Management Awards return to honour those who remain committed to guiding individuals through one of the most daunting tasks presented in society today and offer the best financial services available for their clients.

Discussing the outcome of the programme, Katherine Benton, Awards Coordinator commented: “It is with great pride that I showcase a selection of the firms working with their clients to create, preserve and increase their wealth. Ethics, client service and professionalism are what links all of my winners, and I am honoured to be able to say congratulations to them and wish them the best of luck with their future endeavours.”  

To learn more about our deserving award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the Wealth & Finance website (http://www.wealthandfinance-news.com/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

Notes to editors.

About Wealth & Finance International

Wealth & Finance International is a monthly publication dedicated to delivering high quality informative and up-to-the-minute global business content. It is published by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting.

Developed by a highly skilled team of writers, editors, business insiders and regional industry experts, Wealth & Finance International reports from every corner of the globe to give readers the inside track on the need-to-know news and issues affecting banking, finance, regulation, risk and wealth management in their region.

Finance Business
Finance

FINANCE BUSINESSES MISSING THE MARK WITH GAMIFIED REWARDS

FINANCE BUSINESSES MISSING THE MARK WITH GAMIFIED REWARDS

75% of finances businesses currently offer a gamified rewards system

But only a minority of these are utilising the most effective kind of gamified reward

Research reveals which types of gamified rewards have the biggest impact on motivation and productivity of financial industry workers.

A survey of 1,219 UK workers, carried out by workplace incentives and rewards provider, One4all Rewards, and published in The Gamification Report surveyed employees from different age groups, genders and industries revealing which type of gamified rewards systems would motivate them the most or for the longest period of time. The research found that 35% of finance workers were most likely to cite fixed action rewards as being the biggest motivator.

But the research shows just a third (33%) of finance businesses are utilising this type of gamified reward.

30% of finance industry workers stated that they would work harder or for longer to unlock social treasure style rewards, which are awarded by peers.

Surprise or unexpected rewards came in third place (27%), with finance workers stating they would be motivated to work harder if their employer offered them.

Meanwhile, rolling or lottery style rewards where workers hit their targets are then entered into a lottery or raffle to win a reward or bonus, would work for almost 1 in 4 (24%) finance industry workers.

Random rewards in return for completing a certain task or action would work for 19% of finance workers.

The research found that a large number (75%) of finance businesses currently offer a gamified rewards and bonus system.

But the study shows that they could be utilising this type of system in a slightly different way, to have a bigger impact.

The research found that majority (43%) of finance businesses offering gamified rewards systems are relying on surprise or unexpected rewards – which award workers for a job well done – but in fact, it is actually fixed action rewards which workers say would motivate them the most.

Michael Dawson managing director of One4all said: “It’s fantastic that such a large number of finance businesses have already adopted a gamified reward and bonus system for their staff – but the research shows that some could be using them to greater impact employee productivity.

“It’s definitely worth bosses considering which style of rewards and bonuses will have the biggest impact on productivity and effort amongst their workforce.

“Given that these types of rewards truly embody the spirit of gamified rewards – which recognise and praise good behaviour, to encourage workers to repeat this in the hope of receiving another reward – this makes sense.”

One4all Rewards are industry experts in benefits and rewards. Working with over 6,000 businesses of all sizes nationwide, One4all Rewards helps to transform customer and employee relationships through successful rewards and incentive schemes.

For more information and to read The Gamification Report, visit https://www.one4allrewards.co.uk/blog/blog/research-reports/gamification-report-2019

The most popular types of gamified rewards most likely to improve productivity and motivation levels for finance workers:

  1. Fixed Action Rewards – 35%
  2. Social Treasures – 33%
  3. Surprise Rewards – 27%
  4. Rolling/ Lottery Rewards – 24%
  5. Random Rewards – 19%
Bitcoin $150000
FinanceFunds

Bitcoin to hit $15,000 as consensus grows on safe-haven status

The devaluation of China’s currency that is rattling global financial markets has revealed that Bitcoin is now becoming a safe haven asset.

The analysis from the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations comes as investors piled into the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies this week amid growing trade tensions between the U.S. and China. 

The Chinese renminbi fell to under 7 to the U.S. dollar on Monday – the lowest in more than a decade – igniting drops in stocks and emerging market currencies and driving a rally in government bonds.

Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, notes: “The world’s largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, jumped 10 per cent as global stocks were rocked by the devaluation of China’s yuan as the trade war with the U.S. intensifies.

“This is not a coincidence. It reveals that consensus is growing that Bitcoin is becoming a flight-to-safety asset during times of market uncertainty. 

“Bitcoin is currently realising its reputation as a form of digital gold. Up to now, gold has been known as the ultimate safe-haven asset, but Bitcoin  – which shares its key characteristics of being a store of value and scarcity – could potentially dethrone gold in the future as the world becomes increasingly digitalised.”

He continues: “With the Trump administration now officially labelling China a currency manipulator, escalating the tensions between the world’s two largest currencies economies, investors are set to continue to pile in to decentralized, non-sovereign, secure currencies, such as Bitcoin to protect them from the turmoil taking place in traditional markets.

“The legitimate risks posed by the continuing trade dispute, China’s currency devaluation and other geopolitical issues, such as Brexit and its far-reaching associated challenges, will lead an increasing number of institutional and retail investors to diversify their portfolios and hedge against those risks by investing in crypto assets.

“This will drive the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies higher.  Under the current circumstances, I believe the Bitcoin price could hit $15,000 within weeks.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “Cryptocurrencies are now almost universally regarded as the future of money – but what has become clear this week is that they are increasingly regarded a safe haven in the present.”

IMMOATIVE
FinanceFunds

Proposed Placing of new ordinary shares to raise approximately £2.0 million Proposed broker option to raise up to £0.5 million

Immotion Group, the UK-based immersive virtual reality (“VR”) out-of-home entertainment group, announces, following the success of its recent VR installations into a range of high quality partners (“Partners”), that it has decided to focus its strategy predominantly on the roll out of its Partnership Model into high footfall locations. The visibility of higher margins and recurring revenues delivered from this model is, the Directors believe, the best strategy for the Group and its shareholders. To support this strategy, the Company is carrying out a fundraising to raise approximately £2.0 million, before expenses, via the issue of an aggregate of approximately 29.6 million new Ordinary Shares (“Placing Shares”) at a price of 6.75 pence per share (“the Placing Price”) (the “Placing”).

 

WH Ireland Limited and Alvarium Capital Partners are acting as joint brokers in relation to the Placing (the “Brokers”) and furthermore, the Company has authorised the Brokers to raise up to a further £0.5 million through a broker option (the “Broker Option”), (together with the Placing, the “Fundraising”) in order to allow existing and other investors to participate in the Fundraising.  Ordinary Shares issued under the Broker Option will also be issued at the Placing Price and will therefore be limited to approximately 7.4 million new Ordinary Shares (the “Broker Option Shares”), expected to close by 5.00 p.m. on 30 July 2019. It is intended that the net proceeds of the Fundraising will be used to accelerate the Company’s growth plans under the revised strategy. A placing agreement has been entered into today between the Company and the Brokers in connection with the Fundraising (the “Placing Agreement”).

 

The Placing is being conducted, subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions set out in the Appendix to this Announcement, through an accelerated book-build process (the “Bookbuild”), which will be launched immediately following this Announcement.

 

Operational and Trading Highlights

 

  • Currently the Group has a total installed base of 237 headsets;
  • 34 new headset installs agreed across Madame Tussauds, Washington DC; two Legoland Discovery Centres; and two Al Hokair sites in the Middle East;
  • A further 118 headsets installs agreed subject to contract, expected to be installed through the remainder of 2019;
  • Based on current headset yields, the Directors expect overall monthly EBITDA breakeven at c.410 installed  headsets (expected Q1 2020);
  • Strong revenue per headset performance in the Partner venues being driven by sector focus;
  • Launch of ‘Underwater Explorer’, ‘Thrill Coasters’ and ‘Raw Data’ themed VR stands;
  • Strong demand and enquiries from both existing and new high footfall leisure destination Partners;
  • Roll-out of the Company’s VR Cinematic Platforms with Merlin Entertainments plc (“Merlin”), now encompassing the Legoland Discovery Centre, LEGOLAND®, Sea Life, and Madame Tussauds locations with 70 headsets now installed; and
  • ImmotionVR, the Company’s own VR operations, now also includes a partnership-based model focusing on high footfall leisure destinations, such as The O2, Soar Centre in Glasgow, and Star City in Birmingham.

Fundraising Highlights

  • Proposed Fundraising of up to approximately £2.5 million before expenses at a price of 6.75 pence per share by way of a Placing and Broker Option.
  • Placing being conducted through an accelerated book-build process which will open with immediate effect following this Announcement.
  • The Placing Shares and Broker Option Shares (“New Ordinary Shares”), assuming full take-up of the Placing and Broker Option, will represent approximately 13 per cent. of the Company’s enlarged issued share capital.
  • The final number of Placing Shares will be agreed by the Brokers and the Company at the close of the Bookbuild, and the result will be announced as soon as practicable thereafter.
  • The timing for the close of the Bookbuild and allocation of the Placing Shares shall be at the discretion of the Brokers, in consultation with the Company. The Fundraising is not underwritten.
  • The Broker Option is expected to close by 5.00 p.m. on 30 July 2019.
  • The Appendix to this Announcement (which forms part of this Announcement) contains the detailed terms and conditions of the Fundraising.

Background and Current Strategy

 

Immotion Group was established to exploit the ‘Out-of-Home’ VR immersive entertainment market. Since inception, it has developed an extensive range of both CGI and live-action experiences, all of which operate on the Company’s proprietary Content Management and Reporting System. Immotion’s core offering provides virtual reality experiences to be enjoyed on sophisticated motion platforms delivering a truly engaging and immersive experience.

 

In addition to the Company’s own consumer-facing VR operation, ImmotionVR, the Company has thus far offered its solutions to third parties via both a straight sales model, as well as a revenue share model with Partners (“Partnership Solution” or “Partnership Model”). In addition, the Company has also used its CGI studio to offer the development of VR experiences for major brands, as well as licensing its own experiences into countries where it doesn’t operate.

 

Over the past year the Company has experienced positive feedback from its existing Partners as well as new potential Partners. Its innovative Partnership Model has been well received in what is a fast growing, but still nascent market.

 

The Partnership Model developed by the Company allows high footfall leisure destinations to embrace VR, adding both consumer value as well as ancillary revenue to these locations. The decision process for the Partner moves from a prolonged capital investment decision to a simple operating decision, thus speeding up the decision process considerably.

 

Feedback from Partners in regard to the Partnership Model has been very positive, with demand demonstrating a strong appeal of this model as opposed to the straight sales model. Consequently, the Company has taken the decision to focus on its Partnership Solution.

 

The Directors believe the Partnership Model, in terms of both experiences and hardware, allow Partners to enter the early stage VR market with confidence. This underpinned with the Company’s proprietary Content Management and Reporting System allows Partners, big and small, the ability to upload remotely new experiences, as well as see ‘real-time’ data on usage and revenues and to receive remote support from Immotion Group.

 

The Company has seen very encouraging results in the Partner sites generally with the aquaria sites outperforming all others.  This has led the Company to conclude that it should develop solutions for a number of high footfall “edutainment” destinations such as aquaria, zoos, science centres and museums. Initial efforts have focused on aquaria and this has now begun to gain significant traction with experiences now in 7 major aquaria locations and many further discussions ongoing. The year to date average total gross revenue per headset per month of c.£2,100 in the aquaria sector is performing 1.6x that of the historic headset averages across the Partner estate and delivers an annual margin per headset of £12,000.

 

The average annual gross revenue and average annual blended contribution margin to Immotion Group, including the ImmotionVR estate is per headset, across the continuing estate, running currently at c.£16,300 (or £1,356 per month) and c.£7,000 per annum (or £583 per month) respectively. On a Partner only basis, excluding the ImmotionVR own retail sites, based on year to date performance, this gross average revenue per headset increases to circa £18,200 per annum (£1,517 per month). At the current level of fixed operating costs (net of commercial contract work) of £240,000 per month this implies a monthly breakeven level of c.410 headsets assuming the margin contribution of £583 per month. 

 

The Directors believe that there is scope for the overall average revenue per headset to grow significantly, driven by a number of factors. The mix of sites is expected to grow in favour of Partner sites and stronger performing vertical channels within that (such as aquaria) as noted above. Furthermore, the Company is developing new marketing and selling tools to support Partners in growing revenue.  Additionally, H2 19 should yield better performance as there are a greater number of school and other holidays in H2 in USA and Europe.

 

The Directors believe the focus on the Company’s growing Partnership Model will deliver greater shareholder value as it builds these recurring revenue streams. The number of quality Partners such as The O2, Al Hokair, Merlin Entertainments, Shedd Aquarium and Santa Barbara Zoo to name but a few, all of whom are already enjoying the benefits of this model, continues to grow rapidly. With over 34 new headsets contracted, and due to be installed in the coming weeks, along with a further 118 agreed, subject to contract, this gives the Company visibility to c.389 installed headsets.

 

As noted in the final results announcement on 3 April 2019, whilst there is demand for direct hardware sales in the VR market and the Directors recognise the positive impact in the financial year in which these sales are recognised, and that they do aide cashflow, this does not in the Directors’ view outweigh the benefits of building Partner relationships with longevity and recurring revenue.

 

On balance, the Company believes due to the “one-off” transaction revenue nature of direct sales, the competitive landscape in a nascent market, the lead-times to gain decisions from prospective customers as well as the margins achievable of c.£2,500 per headset for a direct sale of hardware, makes the Partnership Solution considerably more appealing for the Group and its shareholders as a whole in the long-term.

 

The innovative Partnership Model provides a collaborative business relationship for both the Partner and the Group. The decision process for the partner is much easier, and with on-going segmental focus the Directors believe the Company can continue to drive revenue per headset up delivering added benefits for both parties. 

 

The revenue share Partner Model drives recurring revenues for both parties and with a contribution to the Group of c.£21,000 over the 3-year expected life of a VR Cinematic Platforms, the Directors believe it is a better route for the Company and its shareholders. Furthermore, the potential to grow these margins with better utilisation will further improve margins for the Company, as well as delivering a greater revenue share for Partners.

 

The Group currently has an installed base of 237 headsets, 118 of these headsets are operated by the Company’s own staff, with the balance operated by our Partners’ staff. The Group’s contracted and subject to contract pipeline is currently for a further 34 and 118 headsets respectively, which are expected to be installed throughout the remainder of 2019. The Directors are targeting an installed base of 1,000 headsets by the end of 2020.

 

Based on current contribution per headset and the current costs of operation, the Directors believe the Group will reach EBITDA breakeven when approximately 410 headsets are installed, and the Directors expect this to be achieved in Q1 2020.

 

The move to a Partnership Model will help the Company build a recurring revenue stream which the Directors believe will benefit the Group in future years as well as drive the Group to EBITDA breakeven. The short-term impact of the focus on the Partnership Model will be lower expected revenue for the 2019 financial year, as the forecast “one-off” revenue from direct sales are exchanged for recurring revenues with Partners. As the number of Partners increases, and the volume of recurring revenues increases, the revenue and profit potential for future years will not only increase substantially but will also be much more predictable.

 

As a direct result in the decision to focus on the ‘Partnership Model’ strategy the Directors have reviewed its forecasts for the year and the timing of pipeline of orders that support those forecasts. The immediate consequence of this strategy is the reduction in both top-line revenue and profit from the sale of machines, this combined with an increased overhead cost as the Company focuses its efforts on engaging quality Partners will result in lower revenue and EBITDA for 2019. As a result of this the Directors now expect the Group’s EBITDA loss (excluding one off and exceptional items) for the current financial year to remain broadly in line with the year ended 31 December 2018.

 

Once the breakeven level of installations has been achieved, the contribution from each new installation flows predominantly to the bottom line. The Directors believe, assuming continued interest from partners, this model will be highly profitable in the medium to long term and is very scalable.

 

The Company has invested heavily in building a range of experiences, along with its proprietary Content Management and Reporting System and a range of themed motion platform VR offerings. This combination, along with its unique business model has enabled it to secure a range of quality leisure partners operating in high footfall locations. As the business continues its roll-out and approaches the ‘tipping point’, the Directors believe the impact in the medium to long term will be beneficial to shareholders and that the Group is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities ahead, to become a leading out-of-home immersive VR operator.

 

Martin Higginson, CEO of Immotion Group, said:

“Since inception we have invested heavily in building a range of VR experiences, the quality of which has not been seen before at affordable price points in the ‘out-of-home’ VR market. This fact, combined with our proprietary reporting software, themed stands and on-going investment in VR motion platforms has positioned us well in this nascent market.”

 

“However, it has been our determination to create a new and exciting business model that has and will define us. Creating a Partnership Solution where we work together with high footfall leisure locations to provide them with not only a new and interesting attraction, but also a valuable ancillary revenue stream has transformed our business. Demand from high quality aquaria partners is very strong and we are beginning to see demand from other verticals.”

 

“Our continued focus in creating not only the right environment as well as VR experience for our partner, is starting to show encouraging signs with revenues in our Partner estate growing strongly. The performance of our aquaria partners is particularly strong and the Directors see this as a highly scalable, potentially global opportunity.”

 

“As we move closer to EBITDA breakeven, this tipping-point business is poised for substantial growth. Our offering is unique, our experiences are the best in class, and our list of quality partners just gets better every day. With an offering that benefits our partners as much as us, we believe this model will allow us to lead this new and exciting market.”

car management
Finance

What finance options are there to know about when buying a car?

Unlike other purchases, you don’t need to worry about saving loads of money to buy a car outright. In fact, Vindis, who are also VW service providers, have detailed various finance options available to you when getting your hands on your next set of wheels when it’s new — other than buying the car outright obviously.

Keep reading as they offer insight into how many finance options are open to you when in the market for a used car too…

 

What do you need to know when buying new?

Personal loan

A personal loan is often the cheapest method to borrow money over a long-term period and also means that you will own the car from the moment you take out the loan. Competitive fixed interest rates can be gained if you shop around for your personal loan too, while you often won’t even need to worry about paying a deposit to get the loan.

But how do they work? Well, personal loans are taken out at a bank or building society and enable you to spread the cost of purchasing a new car over a period of time that can last anywhere from one year to seven years.

In fact, according to a survey by WhatCar? a personal loan is the most popular way to finance a new vehicle, with a third of those who were involved in the motoring publication’s poll saying they favoured this finance option over all others.

Other benefits of choosing a personal loan to pay for your new set of wheels include the fact that you won’t need to worry about any annual mileage restrictions, as well as that you won’t need to hand the car back to the dealership once the loan is paid — thus no need to be concerned about reconditioning costs either. Make sure however that you can keep up with your payments, as any of your assets can be seized should you be unable to pay one of your installments — only your vehicle will be vulnerable to being reprocessed should the same thing happen with dealer finance.

It’s important to note that a clean credit rating will likely be required if you want to take out a personal loan too, while you’ll also beat the brunt of your car’s depreciation due to you owning the vehicle from the moment you take out the loan. Ensure the vehicle that you have your eyes on will be something that you can imagine driving for years to come, as the lender will still require you to repay the full loan even if you sell it or it gets written-off.

 

Hire purchase (HP)

Hire purchase — or HP — is the next simplest method of purchasing a car. Sixteen per cent of those involved in the earlier mentioned WhatCar? survey admitted they favoured this type of car finance.

After typically paying a deposit — usually 10 per cent of the car’s total value at the time of purchase — you then repay the remaining balance in monthly installments, plus interest, throughout the rest of the loan period. Once the loan is paid in its entirety, you will own the vehicle outright. Up until then, you won’t need to be concerned about any excess mileage charges and there’s no reconditioning costs to worry about either.

There are a couple of consumer rights associated with HP agreements too. You may be able to return the vehicle once you’ve paid half the cost of the vehicle and not be required to make any more payments, for instance, while your lender will not be in a position to repossess your car without a court order after you’ve paid a third of the entire amount that you owe.

You must be aware however that the vehicle is not yours until the final payment has been made. Miss a payment or a collection of them and you could well be at risk of losing the car. Likewise, you won’t have a legal right to sell the car until all payments have been made.

 

Personal Contract Hire (PCH)

Personal contract hire — otherwise referred to by its acronym PCH — is the leasing option of the types of car finance which are available to you. This is because you will never own the car in question when taking out a PCH plan; it must be returned at the end of the contract term.

Instead this works by paying a dealer a fixed monthly amount to use one of their vehicles. Fortunately, the costs of servicing and maintenance are both factored into this amount. Once a PCH agreement ends, you simply hand the car back to the dealer and needn’t worry about the vehicle depreciating in value.

A PCH plan is therefore a wise option for drivers you like to change their cars frequently. However, take note that you must ensure the vehicle remains in good condition during the entire time it’s in your possession and that you don’t exceed the annual mileage limit agreed at the start of the agreement — extra costs could come your way otherwise. 

 

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP)

Ranked as the second most popular finance option when buying a new car according to the aforementioned WhatCar? poll, with 25 per cent of those involved in the poll saying they favour this technique, personal contract purchase — otherwise known as PCP — has a few similarities to hire purchase agreements. You again pay a deposit, which is often ten per cent of the vehicle’s overall value too, before paying a series of monthly installments.

However, the monthly installments will this time be actually paying for the deprecation in the car’s value during the contract period — as opposed to going towards the whole value like with HP. Once you reach the end of the contract term, you’ll be presented with three options with what you want to do next:

  1. Trade the vehicle in and use any GFV equity as a deposit towards getting your hands on a new set of wheels.
  2. Return the vehicle to its supplier — this won’t cost you anything unless you’ve exceeded your agreed mileage or fail to return the car in a good condition.
  3. Take full ownership of the vehicle — though for this option, you will be required to make a final ‘balloon’ payment. This amount will be the car’s guaranteed future value, or GFV for short.

In effect, with PCP the GFV is where you will be repaying the difference between what your vehicle is currently worth at the time of getting it from the dealership and the amount that it will be worth at the end of your contract, plus the cost of interest.

Take note too that the GFV will be agreed before a PCP contract begins, though so too will a mileage allowance — and any excess mileage charges will apply if you go over this limit.

There’s a few additional points to consider when it comes to PCP finance options too. You will be unable to sell the vehicle during the contract period of the PCP agreement, as you won’t own the car during this term, while some PCP contract providers will have a limit on the number of days that a vehicle can be out of the country — something that’s certainly worth thinking about if you drive abroad at least from time to time.

You’ll also be required to pay the difference between the vehicle’s current value and the payments which are outstanding if you choose to settle at an earlier date. Early settlement charges sometimes apply here too, so bear that additional cost in mind too when thinking about doing this.

 

What do you need to know when buying used?

While you may associate the above finance options when you’re only in the market for a new car, both HP finance and PCP finance can be used to afford a used vehicle as well — both using the same principles as discussed too. Of course, you can also take out a personal loan when looking for a way to finance a used car.

Leasing is a bit more complicated in the used car market. Some dealers will allow their second-hand vehicles to be leased, but not all of them. Many dealers will determine the amount that you have to pay on a monthly basis based on how much they expect the vehicle that’s being leased will depreciate over the finance term you have in mind. This may result in you witnessing more expensive leasing deals that you’d have expected though, as the residual values of used cars are usually more difficult to forecast and so dealers will be aiming to always cover the cost of any unexpectedly severe depreciation periods.

We hope this guide has helped you take a lot of stress out of buying your next set of wheels — all that’s left to do is to wish you a happy new (or used) car day!

Santander
Banking

SANTANDER CONSUMER FINANCE LAUNCHES ONLINE APPLICATIONS

  • Online loan application launch expands digital support for dealers

Santander Consumer Finance (SCF) is set to launch its online loan application platform with e-sign capability in a significant expansion of its support for dealers.

 

Selected dealers have started testing the system which will be rolled out across the country within the next month for partners already using Santander Consumer Finance’s free online finance calculator.

 

The new system is integrated into the dealer’s website and customers will be able to source a finance quote on the calculator before applying in Santander Consumer Finance’s secure online platform. Installation takes minutes for dealers who already have the calculator and Santander Consumer Finance will support dealers to help them make the most effective use of the digital proposition.

 

Customers receive a real-time decision on their selected product and accepted customers can then choose to sign their documentation at home or at the dealership. The system is designed to provide a simple, fair and personal experience for car buyers.

 

It builds on the success of Santander Consumer Finance’s partnership with Volvo Car UK launched in April enabling customers to configure and order their car and sign a finance agreement online.

 

Stewart Grant, Santander Consumer Finance Commercial Director said: “This is a significant step in our digital marketing strategy and underlines our commitment to supporting our dealer network in maximising sales and profitability within the growing digital market.

 

“It is a huge achievement for the teams involved at Santander Consumer Finance to be able to launch two Online Application systems in less than four months and within a year since the project was first planned.”

 

Dealers interested in using the calculator or wishing to register interest in the Online Application platform should contact their Business Development Manager or visit www.santanderconsumer.co.uk/dealer

 

Santander Consumer Finance, headquartered in Redhill, Surrey, employs 600 staff and is the UK’s leading independent finance company with over 500,000 live customer agreements in place.

liquidation 2
Finance

What Is The Difference Between Solvent And Insolvent Liquidation?

Occasionally, some companies may find themselves not being able to make ends meet when it comes to their bills and creditors.

When long-term financial obligations become impossible to meet, it may be time to register your business as insolvent.

Doing so will force your company into insolvent liquidation; striking it from the Companies House register.

But what about solvent liquidation?

Solvency vs insolvency

There are many reasons why a company may enter into liquidation – whether it be voluntary or not – but it all depends on its debts.

If a company remains able to meet its long-term financial obligations, but serves no further useful purpose as a business, it can be classed as solvent.

This also applies for closure processes caused by something other than finances, for example the company director’s retirement.

If you’re unsure whether your business would be classified as solvent or insolvent, there are three different ways of finding out:

● The Cash Flow Test – Under the Insolvency Act 1986 a business is rendered insolvent if it is ‘unable to pay its debts as they fall due’. This cashflow test highlights that if you are unable to meet your PAYE and VAT requirements, you may well be insolvent.

● The Balance Sheet Test – if the outstanding debts of your company outweigh your assets (e.g. property, cash, stocks, equipment), the company will be considered insolvent. This will prove problematic when the company’s assets are liquidised as this deficit will make it impossible to repay all creditors.

● The Legal Action Test – if a creditor is owed over £750 they are entitled to put forward a formal demand for the sum, or a County Court Judgement (CCJ), which must be paid within three weeks. If it is not paid the law will deem the company insolvent.

The ‘winding up’ procedure

Whether your business is solvent or insolvent, the process for winding up is quite similar.

A company winds up when it decides to close down, by ending all business affairs.

This covers every aspect of the business, including everything from customer/client relationships to obligations with employees.

If these business affairs are settled by the company director, this is classed as a voluntary winding up.

However, it doesn’t always go this smoothly.

Creditors who are owed more than £750 from a business are entitled to submit a winding up petition (WUP) to the court, which forces the company to be investigated and liquidated by the Official Receiver.

This involves an intrusive investigation into the company’s debts and trading history, and is not to be confused with the conventional winding-up procedure.

What is liquidation?

Liquidation is the process of bringing a business to a close by distributing its assets to pay off its debts, once all relationships have been severed.

The cause of liquidation often lies in the hands of the director(s), but other factors may also affect cash flow, such as:

● Late customer payments

● Customers/suppliers entering insolvency

● Market fluctuations

● Increased competition

● Mistakes in pricing of goods/services

Due to the complex nature of the process, the only person qualified to liquidate a company’s assets is a professional Insolvency Practitioner (IP).

This can be done in different ways depending on the company’s position:

● Members’ voluntary liquidation (MVL)

A members’ voluntary liquidation is the formal process whereby a solvent company is closed down.

This method divides the company’s assets in the most tax efficient way between creditors and directors.

As this is a solvent liquidation process, all creditors are repaid in full and the directors must each sign a declaration of solvency.

This declaration provides evidence that the company is able to settle its outstanding debts within 12 months of beginning the liquidation process.

● Creditors’ voluntary liquidation (CVL)

When a creditor is threatening to take legal action against an insolvent company (e.g. through a WUP) the safest and most harmonious option is to enter a creditors’ voluntary liquidation (CVL).

This means the appointed IP works on behalf of the creditors as opposed to the company directors, with a main priority of ensuring all debts are settled.

This option provides the best chance for creditors to receive a return, as well as helping directors to avoid being investigated for wrongful trading.

CVL and MVL procedures are very similar but because CVL companies are insolvent and unable to settle their debts, a meeting with the creditors is a fundamental step in the process.

As this procedure is voluntary as opposed to court led, the company directors can decide who their IP will be.

The directors will also have the option to purchase any assets as part of the company rescue process.

● Compulsory liquidation

Compulsory liquidation may be considered the final resort for an insolvent company to be forcefully liquidated.

Although compulsory liquidation can be proposed by its directors, it is more often a forceful procedure brought forward to a court by a company creditor owed over £750.

This can be done so by submitting a WUP.

If the courts grant this, business assets are settled using an IP and directors face a rigorous investigation – much more severe than those following a CVL.

The investigation aims to uncover the cause of insolvency and reveal any evidence of misconduct or illegal, wrongful trading.

Any evidence found could result in directors facing disqualification for 2-15 years, and criminal charges if necessary.

 

Company dissolution

Dissolution takes place at the final stage of closing a business, whereby the company’s existence is officially withdrawn by the law.

This is recorded and registered by the Registrar of Companies.

Dissolution may seem like an easy and cheap way to strike off a company, with just a £10 admin fee to submit an application.

But be sure to seek advice from a professional before proceeding.

 

Why you should act quickly

If you are headed towards insolvency, it is your legal responsibility to act fast in order to protect the interests of your creditors.

To avoid personal consequences for continuing to trade while insolvent, seek advice from an IP and register your company as insolvent when the time is right.

Hudson Weir are licensed insolvency practitioners with vast experience in all industries, and are available for liquidation services.

accountancy hack
BankingFinanceFunds

Hackers set their sights on accountancy firms – 7 steps to minimize risk

Accountancy practices are facing an increase in cyber risks as criminals switch their focus to ‘softer target’ smaller firms. Joe Collinwood, CEO at CySure explains why accountancy firms are targets for hackers and what steps they can take to minimize their exposure.

When it comes to cyber crime, small accountancy practices are not exempt from the disruption that affects large organizations. If anything, their size makes them more vulnerable as they are perceived as a softer target. In the USA for example there has been an explosion in fraudulent W-2 filings and in the UK with more filings now on-line risk is increasing. So why are accountants being targeted?

• They hold large amounts of private data
• They have the information cyber criminals want – corporate financial data, social security numbers, Tax IDs, bank accounts, payroll data, identification data for validation and reporting purposes
• Accounting firms use similar software so if a criminal finds a vulnerability that can be exploited they have lots of potential victims
• Typically there is inadequate technical protection, policies and procedures that leave firms wide open to a cyber attack
• A lack of incident response and business continuity procedures means accountants are more likely to pay a cyber criminal money because they fear they may not be able to recover from an attack and the firm’s reputation will be tarnished.

Many accountancy firms are making it easier for hackers by underestimating the threat they face from cyber attacks. There were 438 (i) separate data security incidents reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in Q2 2018/2019 alone in the finance, insurance and credit sector. The cost to launch cyber attacks is negligible and the most likely method of breach is phishing i.e. human error. It’s time to think again.

Gateway to Information
Self-employed accountants and accountancy practices are on the radar of cyber criminals because of the amount of valuable data they hold. Firms collect and store highly desirable data and information on clients. This information enables hackers to pull off complex frauds at a later date. The more information they have, the better a picture they can build of the small business or person whose bank account they intend to target.
Cyber criminals view accountancy firms as a “gateway” to client information and are perceived as a soft target with few security barriers, limited cyber security tools and little or no in-house expertise. Additionally, as many firms use the same software systems, hackers are motivated to seek vulnerabilities in the software knowing there will be a substantial pay day by exploiting the weakness to attack multiple businesses.

Small but not safe
According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2018 (ii), 42% of small businesses identified at least one breach or attack in the last 12 months. Depending on the severity of the attack, SMEs can suffer more disruption than their larger counterparts as they lack the processes and cyber expertise to deal with the ramifications of an attack. The impact to business operations and the inability for staff to carry out their day to day work can have longer term consequences, not only for an accountancy practice itself but also for its clients.

Minimize Risk – 7 simple steps to cyber resilience
No business is too small to be attacked, however with the right approach to security, no business is too small to protect itself. Accountancy firms can pave the way to cyber resilience by following these top cyber-security tips:
• Invest in effective firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware solutions and ensure any updates and patches are applied regularly, ensuring that criminals cannot exploit old faults or systems
• Ensure business critical data, such as customer data and financial information, on all company assets is securely backed up and can be restored at speed
• Have simple, clear policies in place to create a cyber-conscious culture in the workplace and ensure it is communicated to all personnel so they are familiar with it
• Have regular awareness training so that employees are constantly reminded of potential scams or tactics that can be used to trick them
• Review contracts and policies with suppliers to ensure they have an accredited standard for cyber-security for themselves and their partners to protect the supply chain
• Have an up-to-date incident response plan that is practiced regularly so that employees know what to do when they suspect there is an attempted breach or if an actual incident occurs
• Consider investing in cyber insurance to cover the exposure of data privacy and security. Accountancy firms should research insurance policies carefully to understand the level of coverage offered and their responsibilities to stay within the conditions of the policy.

Where to start and what to do now
Cyber security need not be complex or prohibitively expensive, in the UK Cyber Essentials (CE) is a government and industry backed scheme specifically designed to help organisations protect themselves against common cyber-attacks. In collaboration with Information Assurance for Small and Medium Enterprises (IAMSE) they have set out basic technical controls for organisations to use which is annually assessed. In the US the National Institute Standards and Technology (NIST) framework guides organizations through complex, emerging safety producers and protocols.

By utilising an online information security management system (ISMS) that incorporates Cyber Essentials and NIST, accountancy firms can undertake a certification route guided by a virtual online security officer (VOSO) as part of their wider cyber security measures. This will help the organization to coordinate all security practices in one place, consistently and cost-effectively. Additionally, firms can take advantage of the expertise of online cyber security consultants at a fraction of the cost of a full-time in-house security specialist.

Demonstrating confidence to the client base
Cyber security certification has many benefits; it ensures standardization and is a good differentiator for accountancy firms as it shows a diligence to information security. By giving cyber security the same priority as other business goals, accountancy firms can proudly display their security credentials and demonstrate trust and confidence to their client base.

Joe Collinwood is CEO of CySure

dubai
FinanceFundsMarkets

Dubai International Financial Centre boosts UAE financial sector development and reports significant growth during first half of 2019

Maktoum bin Mohammed: “Strong performance by DIFC highlights the international financial institutions’ confidence in Dubai”

 

  • Total number of companies currently operating in the DIFC stands at 2,289 – a 14 percent increase year-on-year and a 7 percent increase since end of 2018
  • Over 250 new companies, a 10 percent increase from the same period in 2018
  • More than 660 jobs created, boosting combined workforce to more than 24,000 professionals
  • DIFC’s financial technology ecosystem doubles in size in first half of 2019 – now includes over 200 companies, of which more than 80 are fully-licensed FinTech firms
  • 425 applications received for third cohort of FinTech Hive accelerator programme – three-fold growth since 2017 and 42 percent increase from 2018

 

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading international financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, reinforced its contribution to the UAE’s economy and its commitment to driving the future of finance, following strong performance during the first half of 2019.

The Centre saw sustained growth in the first half of 2019, welcoming more than 250 new companies, and bringing the total number of active registered firms to 2,289, demonstrating a 14 percent increase year-on-year. This has fuelled the creation of over 660 jobs, boosting the Centre’s combined workforce to more than 24,000 individuals, and has resulted in the occupancy of 99 percent of DIFC-owned buildings.

The DIFC now boasts more than 671 financial related firms, an 11 percent increase from the same period last year.  The financial services firms that joined in 2019 include Maybank Islamic Berhad from Malaysia, Cantor Fitzgerald from the United States of America, Atlas Wealth Management from Australia and Mauritius Commercial Bank. In addition, leading non-financial firms including Guidepoint MEA, Medtronic Finance Hungary Kft. and Network International, have also joined the Centre in the first six months of 2019.

His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of the DIFC, said: “Dubai continues to gain recognition on the global stage as the destination where business meets innovation, and the DIFC has been a significant driver of this.  The strong performance that the Centre has delivered during the first half of 2019 highlights the confidence and trust that international financial institutions have in Dubai.  Aligning with the 50-year charter announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the planned expansion of the DIFC will solidify Dubai’s role as a pivotal hub for companies from around the world to access regional opportunities.”

His Excellency Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, commented: “The DIFC has been a pioneer in the financial services sector since its inception in 2004, as the first purpose-built financial centre in the MEASA region. 15 years on, we continue to demonstrate our forward-thinking approach with the enhancement of our legal and regulatory framework, as well as the development of a comprehensive ecosystem. The Centre remains a fundamental driver in leading financial sector transformation, supporting the advancement of the UAE economy, and developing the next generation of financial professionals.”

Driving the Future of Financial Services in MEASA

In response to the strong demand the DIFC continues to witness from financial institutions across the globe, the Centre embarked upon 2019 with the announcement of new expansion plans, supporting the economic future of Dubai and the UAE. The phased growth plan will triple the scale of the leading financial hub and enable the DIFC to help deliver on Dubai’s ambitious growth agenda, whilst diversifying and transforming the financial services sector within the wider region.

The new development will provide an international focal point for FinTech and innovation, enhancing the Centre’s reputation as one of the world’s most advanced financial centres and reinforcing Dubai’s position as one of the world’s top ten FinTech hubs, as listed by FT’s The Banker.

The Centre has already seen a marked increase in the number of firms that make up its dynamic FinTech ecosystem, which more than doubled in size from over 80 to 200 companies in the last six months.  Similarly, the number of licensed FinTech firms operating in the DIFC increased from 35 to more than 80 in the first half of 2019. Key international FinTech firms that have made the Centre their MEASA base include Dublin-based software company Fenergo, InsurTech leaders Charles Taylor and Swedish crowdfunding platform, FundedByMe.

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority, commented: ‘We are continuing to cement our global position as a pivotal business and finance hub, while making significant headway towards meeting our 2024 targets.  Our focus on innovation and technology is delivering a blueprint for sustainable growth as we continue our journey towards driving the future of finance. DIFC’s emphasis on transforming its lifestyle offering, alongside strategic investments within technology and FinTech means we are confident about reinforcing our position as a leading global financial centre – a great place to live, work, play and do business.”  

The Centre received 425 applications from start-ups operating in the RegTech, Islamic FinTech, InsurTech and broader FinTech sectors, for the third cohort of its DIFC FinTech Hive accelerator programme, a 42 percent increase from the 2018 programme. This also marked a three-fold increase from its inaugural cycle in 2017, exemplifying the pace of evolution of this fast-growing industry, as well as the preference of Dubai and the DIFC as the home for FinTech firms looking to scale their business across the region.  Approximately half of the applications received for the 2019 programme originated from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. 

33 start-ups have been selected following a series of interviews, conducted in consultation with DIFC FinTech Hive’s network of 21 participating partners, including Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), Emirates Islamic, Emirates NBD, Finablr, HSBC, National Bank of Fujairah, Noor Bank, Riyad Bank, Standard Chartered, and Visa, as well as the associate financial institution partners Arab Bank and First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB).

InsurTech start-ups will work closely with leading insurance players, AXA Gulf, Noor Takaful (Ethical Insurance), Zurich Insurance Company Ltd (DIFC), AIG, Insurance House, Cigna Insurance Middle East S.A.L. and MetLife, to help them develop game-changing solutions that address the growing requirements of the industry. In addition, this year’s finalists will be supported by strategic partner Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (DIEDC) and digital transformation partner Etisalat.

Furthering the Centre’s commitment to supporting FinTech in the region, DIFC hosted the first Demo Day for the inaugural cycle of the Startupbootcamp programme in April 2019, alongside HSBC and Mashreq.  The event showcased innovative concepts from ten graduates of the programme, consisting of entrepreneurs from the UAE, Singapore, United Kingdom, Greece, France, Thailand, Ghana, Morocco, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic.

The Centre’s thriving FinTech community benefits from the strong relationships the DIFC has continued to build with key international accelerators through ongoing delegations and partnership agreements. The DIFC signed four MoUs during the first half of 2019, one with Dubai SME to help foster entrepreneurship in the UAE and further the National Innovation Agenda, as well as three additional agreements with FinTech Saudi, Milan’s FinTech District and FinTech Istanbul, expanding the Centre’s network of international FinTech hubs to 14.

Furthermore, DIFC has worked to increase access to funding by engaging and building its Venture Capital ecosystem, as well as investing directly into promising FinTech start-ups.  In March 2019, the Centre announced the appointment of Middle East Venture Partners and Wamda Capital to manage USD 10 million of its dedicated USD 100 million FinTech fund.  To date, DIFC has received more than 50 applications from a variety of financial technologies, including payments, roboadvisory, blockchain and KYC platforms.  The applications received have been in equal parts from early and growth stage firms, signifying interest from firms across the start-up business cycle.

Supporting Human Capital Development and Delivering Sustainable Impact

As part of the DIFC’s efforts to support continued professional development and strengthen the regional talent pool, the DIFC Academy offers world class financial and legal education through strategic partnerships with 26 leading educational institutions and government entities. To date, the DIFC has seen more than 5,500 graduates successfully undertake executive education courses and programmes in finance, business and law, as well as two dedicated Masters of Laws (LLM) programmes.

Knowledge sharing and thought leadership remained a core focus for the financial centre in 2019. The third edition of the Dubai World Insurance Congress (DWIC) and the second edition of the Global Financial Forum (GFF) welcomed more than 700 industry leaders to each flagship event. Key speakers at DWIC included James Vickers, Chairman of Willis Re International and David Watson, Chief Executive Officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa and International Casualty at AXA XL, who shared global perspectives on reinsurance growth strategies. Meanwhile, the GFF, which brought together more than double the number of business leaders compared to the inaugural event in 2018, attracted the likes of Sir Gerry Grimstone, Former Chairman of Barclays Bank PLC and emerging markets guru, Mark Mobius.

In recognition of DIFC’s efforts towards building one of the world’s leading financial centres over the last 15 years, the Centre was the only free zone in the UAE to receive the Dubai Quality Award in April 2019. The award is a reflection of the DIFC’s hard work and dedication in building a sustainable and progressive business environment. 

In May 2019, another milestone for sustainable business growth was achieved as Majid Al Futtaim launched the world’s first benchmark corporate Green Sukuk at Nasdaq Dubai, supporting Dubai’s growth as the global capital of Islamic economy. The Green Sukuk investment will be used to finance and refinance Majid Al Futtaim’s existing and future green projects, including green buildings, renewable energy, sustainable water management, and energy efficiency. 

Enhancing the Legal & Regulatory Framework to Fuel Growth

The Centre has been at the forefront of enhancing its legislative infrastructure to provide the DIFC community with access to opportunities within the MEASA region, whilst providing greater stability and certainty when doing business in the DIFC. The Centre’s robust legal and regulatory framework remains the most sophisticated and business-friendly Common Law jurisdiction in the region, aligned with international best practice.

DIFC continues to support the development of the financial services sector and foster the UAE’s economic growth by encouraging the development of the domestic funds market. In May 2019, the DIFC’s independent regulator, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), announced the a new regime to facilitate the passporting of funds, in collaboration with the UAE’s other financial regulators. The UAE passporting regime is a regulatory mechanism for the promotion and supervision of investment funds that encourages foreign licensed firms in financial free zones based in other countries to enter the local market.  

With the aim of ensuring businesses and investors can operate across the region with confidence, the DIFC also unveiled the new Insolvency Law in June 2019, enacted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The new law facilitates a more efficient and effective bankruptcy restructuring regime for stakeholders operating in the DIFC.

In addition, the DIFC has continued to create an attractive environment for the 24,000 strong workforce based in the Centre to thrive, whilst protecting and balancing the needs and interests of both employers and employees. To support its vision, the DIFC unveiled its new Employment Law in June 2019 to address key issues such as paternity leave, sick pay, end-of-service settlements and more.

As part of the Centre’s blueprint for the transformation of the financial centre and in line with global retirement savings trends the DIFC launched the Employee Workplace Savings (DEWS) scheme, which will see the evolution of end-of-service benefits from a defined benefit scheme to a defined contribution scheme, while offering a voluntary savings component for employees.

The Centre also unveiled a new unified, simplified and more expansive Prescribed Companies regime that makes structuring and financing in the DIFC faster, flexible and more cost-effective. The new regime encompasses structures previously offered by the Centre, including Intermediate Special Purpose Vehicles (ISPVs) and Special Purpose Companies (SPCs).  This has contributed significantly to a robust pipeline of prospective business from the aviation financing sector, as well as generating substantial interest from family offices looking to utilise these structures in their succession planning.

Creating a Vibrant Retail & Lifestyle Experience

Today, 91 percent of DIFC’s prime retail space is occupied by 432 leading lifestyle, art, fashion and food & beverage brands, an offering that will be significantly boosted once Gate Avenue is fully open.  Upon officially opening its doors to the public, the new development will provide seamless connectivity to the Centre’s comprehensive lifestyle offering, from The Gate building through to Central Park Towers.  The new retail experience will feature over 100 days of unique arts, culture and wellness activations, making DIFC the destination where business meets lifestyle.

During the first half of 2019, Hilton Hotels & Resorts announced the opening of Waldorf Astoria, Dubai International Financial Centre. The 275-key hotel occupies the 18th to 55th floors of the Burj Daman complex, including 46 suites and 28 residential suites offering unobstructed views of the Downtown Dubai skyline.  Combined with the two other world-class hotels based in the Centre, Four Seasons and the Ritz-Carlton DIFC, this brings the total number of hotel rooms available to those visiting the DIFC to 722.

In addition, the Centre welcomed a number of new culinary concepts to the DIFC’s gourmet scene including ‘Marea’, the New York fine dining experience led by multi-Michelin starred chef, Michael White as well as Grecian inspired ‘Avli by Tasha’. In March 2019, it was announced that renowned chef Nusret Gökçe is set to launch casual dining concept ‘Saltbae’ at the Centre this year.

DIFC is also home to one of the UAE’s largest collections of public art with sculptures from internationally renowned artists including Manolo Valdés and is the foundation for initiatives such as the One Mile Gallery in partnership with Brand Dubai which showcases the best of local, regional and international design and promotes art, innovation and entrepreneurship. 

The Centre also welcomed its seventh elite art gallery, Sconci Gallery to the DIFC in the first half of 2019. Established in Rome during 1977, the gallery has collaborated with leading artists and international auction houses to showcase collections from masters of modern and contemporary art, as well as emerging artists. 

During March 2019, the DIFC hosted the most successful edition of the hugely popular Art Nights in the last five years. The event, which marks the beginning of Dubai’s coveted art season, Art Dubai 2019, saw participation from international and local art galleries and artists, as well as installations accompanied by electric musical performances and light installations from interdisciplinary artists.

Finance

Thinking about starting a new business? Female entrepreneurs will face more obstacles than their male counterparts

Thinking about starting a new business? Female entrepreneurs will face more obstacles than their male counterparts

Women face more obstacles when starting a business, meaning they need more support in order to succeed, reveals new research from ESCP Europe.

Females and males experience the support provided by the ecosystem for their start-up activities very differently. Women in contrast to men tend to majorly rely more on social support, which interestingly applies to start-ups in both highly supportive as well as non-supportive environments.

Professor of Management Christian Linder and his co-author Sonja Sperber from the ISM International School of Management in Frankfurt (Germany) explain

“We found that when starting up a new business, women face problems with confidence and obtaining finance, and are more critical about their own capabilities and skills. In order to still be successful, this lack of confidence is compensated by mobilising their network for support. However, in contrast, males are more confident of their capabilities to overcome support constraints on their own.”

In addition, it was found that women face a work-family conflict, and struggle more to counterbalance their different roles when committing to new business ventures.

Professor Linder adds,

“starting a business is always linked to emotional or psychological stress. When facing a lack of resources, social support can serve as a source of information as well as provide assistance.”

As a result, the start-up strategies chosen are a reflection of the individually perceived support from the ecosystem, the current life situation as well as the intended goals (as for example, high level of autonomy, financial success, status). This research shows the highly complex situation of female entrepreneurs, and concludes that there certainly is a need for stronger, sustainable foundations so that females can catch up with their male counterparts.

This research was published in ‘Small Business Economics: An Entrepreneurship Journal’.

Banking

Capital on Tap Announces New Partnership With Marqeta, Pairing Industry-Leading Business Credit Card With Best-In-Class Card Issuing Platform

Capital on Tap will turn to Marqeta’s modern card issuing platform to power its card offering, used by UK small businesses to better access capital.

Capital on Tap, one of the UK’s fastest growing companies, announced today that it is partnering with Marqeta, the leading global modern card issuing platform, to power payment processing for its small business credit card, relied on by over 60,000 UK enterprises.

As part of this new agreement, all of Capital on Tap’s users will be provided with a new, Marqeta-powered card. Since its launch in 2012, Capital on Tap has competed with the offering of major banks, by offering small businesses a faster and more transparent way to fund their business. Capital on Tap has already provided close to £1 billion in funding to more than 60,000 small businesses across the UK.

“Capital on Tap have shown themselves to be true innovators in the UK fintech space, taking an underserved market like credit for small businesses and building a product that can make a real difference for their customers,” said Ian Johnson, Head of European Growth at Marqeta. “They’re the very example of a European fintech innovator that the Marqeta platform was designed to empower, providing an agile and scalable platform that allows them to focus on what they do best, creating a top shelf product with a memorable user experience.”  

Founded in Oakland, California in 2010, the Marqeta platform is used by the world’s leading innovators to drive new modes of commerce through modern card issuing. Marqeta’s European Digital Banking solution supports instantly issued virtual cards and offers advanced spend controls to engage users and grow card use. Marqeta’s platform and its feature-rich APIs are highly configurable and scalable, and allow Marqeta partners to access actionable, real-time transaction data to drive program improvements.

“We’re excited to partner with Marqeta. We loved the transparency and simplicity of their technology and how future focused and innovative their open-API platform is,” said David Luck, co-founder and CEO of Capital on Tap. “We felt a really close DNA fit with them and how they’re looking to constantly evolve and build on their tech. They showed an intuitive understanding in how they could support our mission to help small businesses thrive through better access to working capital.”

Articles

Utilizing Cutting Edge Technology to Achieve Outstanding Results in Asset Management

Founded in August 2015, Catana Capital is a quantitative asset manager based in Frankfurt that offers innovative asset management based on a unique combination of data, experience and modern technology. The company runs a revolutionary new type of strategy which invests according to independent trading signals generated from big data analysis, combined with artificial intelligence algorithms. The company is completely licensed and capitalized according to the German Banking Act. Here the firm’s Founder and CEO, Bastian Lechner, reveals more about Catana’s extraordinary approach to diligent asset management.

Catana Capital is an innovative FinTech company that has already received numerous awards. In 2017 Catana was awarded, inter alia, as best early stage German FinTech company and as best quantitative asset manager in Germany. Since 2013 the Catana’s team has been developing trading strategies that are based on big data and artificial intelligence. Catana is also focused on the automatization of internal processes to accelerate the decision-making process and order execution.
November 8th, Catana has launched the Data Intelligence Fund (DE000A2H9A76) to provide its clients a contemporary investment opportunity that keeps pace with the times by using digital and quantitative methods up to the current state of research. In order to guarantee high investment standards and reach a broad set of potential clients, the fund is packaged as UCITS. 


The basis of the investment decision in the Data Intelligence Fund is a unique database containing millions of individual opinions about single stocks and the stock market in general. Every day an algorithm collects more than 2 million securitiesrelated news, articles, research as well as blogs, tweets and forum entries in the world wide web. The algorithm automatically crawls through more than 22 messages per second around the clock. In order to get a broad variety of opinions the algorithm covers content about more than 45,000 securities from seven different countries written in German, English and Chinese. Currently, more than 90% of the data comes from social media.

Catana Capital is an innovative FinTech company that has already received numerous awards. In 2017 Catana was awarded, inter alia, as best early stage German FinTech company and as best quantitative asset manager in Germany.

In two steps the algorithm creates buy and sell signals just by using the continuously updated database. Firstly, all of the collected data is analyzed using Natural Language Processing (NLP). Through the application of NLP, the machine learns to understand the collected content, and constantly improves on this ability day by day. Continuously, NLP is reflecting on the central question of the Data Intelligence Fund investment idea, namely: “Who says what to which security?” The answer to this question is represented by an aggregated sentiment score of each security which builds the basis of generated trading signals.

Secondly, machine learning methods quantify the relevance of the calculated sentiment scores with respect to future stock price movements. As well as the NLP method, the ‘prediction power’ of the used methods is increasing on average over time, since they learn from historical forecast errors. Finally, the algorithm derives trading signals based on the forecasts of the underlying machine learning approaches and adjusts the trading strategy automatically.

The Data Intelligence Fund consists of multiple sub-trading strategies that can be divided into two components: the first component is the stock selection component which is a long only equity strategy that enters long positions in highly liquid European equities according to the outputs of the machine learning methods. The average holding period in the stock selection component is four weeks, while the investment universe consists of stocks that are listed in DAX, MDAX, TecDAX or EuroStoxx50. The second component exposure management, which is a long and short strategy mix entering long and short positions in highly liquid equity indices such as DAX Future. The exposure in this strategy varies from -100% to +100% and the average holding period is one week, while multiple trades per week are possible. 

The weighting of each component also varies over time. While the stock selection component accounts for 30-50% of the Data Intelligence Fund strategy, the exposure management component is most of the time a bit weightier as it accounts for 50-70% of the Data Intelligence Funds performance.
In conclusion, the Data Intelligence Fund provides professional investors as well as retail investors the opportunity to invest in an UCITS funds that has hedge funds-like strategies. The underlying data draws a broad picture of the sentiment of individual investors providing useful information about future trends and upcoming risks in the markets. 

Accessing a powerful database leads to a competitive advantage compared to traditional investment forms, since traditional investment decisions are based on significantly less information. Furthermore, the investment decisions in the Data Intelligence Fund are only based on the independent buy and sell signals that are generated by the machine learning methods fed with the sentiment scores. As a result, the Data Intelligence Fund is weakly correlated to large indices as well as to large mutual investment funds and is suitable for diversification purposes. 

Based on extraordinary back test and out of sample trading results the Data Intelligence Fund targets a significantly higher risk adjusted return than the DAX on a long-term average, without having negative years and keeping volatility below 10%. Catana Capital was recognized as Quantitative Asset Manager of the Year in Germany, and Most Innovative Equity Fund of 2019 (for the Data Intelligence Fund) in Wealth & Finance International’s 2018 Investment Fund Awards.

Address: Frankfurt, 60311, Germany 

Website: http://www.catanacapital.de/ 

Telephone: +49 69 2561 7004

 

Banking

A Paragon in Commercial Banking in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Azizi Bank has swiftly become one of Afghanistan’s largest commercial banks with a presence across 31 of the country’s 34 provinces. From the outset, the bank has sought to become a stalwart on the global financial market, driving technological innovation in the sphere. On the back of this approach, Azizi Bank was named the ‘Best Commercial Bank’ in Wealth & Finance International’s 2019 Global Business Excellence programme. Following this deserved success, Dr. (Prof) Mohammad Salem Omaid, CEO of Azizi Bank, was interviewed to find out more about the bank’s mission, vision and how it aligned itself with the highest international standards of corporate governance, social responsibility and customer relations.

The global financial landscape is changing dramatically, evolving on the back of technological development, and expansive regulation. On a similar front, working in tandem with this churning paradigm shift, is the effect that changing consumer behaviours are having on an industry that was- for the most part at least – in charge of its own course. As banking turns to more digital fronts, it is having to adapt to the needs of the people that utilise its services. Many long-standing establishments have become defined, as a result, by resistance, as they cling to the practices of yesteryear.

This has led to a rise in so-called ‘Challenger Banks’ who have adopted an innovative outlook to capitalise on the market’s new customer-centric ethos. But what happens when a more traditional brick and mortar bank follows this path? And, more appropriately, how has Azizi Bank in particular become a paragon on the field, reaping the rewards where their peers and competitors have floundered? Dr Omaid explains more. 

“This institution is the outcome of the professional and entrepreneurial commitment of its founder, Mr. Merwais Azizi, and its top management team to establish a high-quality, customer-centric, servicedriven, private Afghan Bank catering entirely to the future businesses of the country. Having formed in 2006, the bank today has more than eighty branches and more than 100 ATMs and, along with its 100% subsidiary bank The Islamic Bank of Afghanistan, has the highest network of branches and ATMs in the country.

“The vision of the bank is to evolve into a professionally managed technologically advanced bank with world-class cost-effective products and services, following the best international practices and contributing to the national economy and adding value to its stakeholders. Its mission is to provide excellent professional services with the usage of the latest technology with an eye on a sustained corporate social responsibility and maintain its commitment towards all its customers, staff, shareholders and stakeholders.”

Ultimately, Azizi Bank has thrived through a dedication to its five founding values: Operational Excellence, Customer Focus, Product Leadership, People and Sustainability. More impressively, the bank has secured sustained growth year on year despite substantial challenges in the country, acting as testament to the strength of their offerings and ethos. “Azizi Bank’s key clients includes retail and corporate bodies, trade finance and remittance businesses. Afghanistan is an import-driven economy with more than 90% of the goods imported into the country. It is also an USD driven economy. Afghanistan is also a challenging economy, with its own political challenges over the last two decades and beyond. 

The country was under the FATF sanctions until June 2017 where it was barred from having any USD inter-bank cooperation with banks around the world. This issue of USD Nostro is still a big challenge in the country with most of the banks.” Dr Omaid continues, moving on to discuss the importance of client service to the bank’s ongoing development and operations. “Azizi Bank ensures prima facie importance on customer service. It believes this important aspect as the most important factor of its sustained growth. The bank ensures regular training of its employees to guarantee exceptional customer service. Classes and training programs on the various aspects of customer service are held regularly in the training room of the bank. Employees are also sent to attend international training programs on customer relations and effective service. Regular monitoring of the same is done by the head office official and specially incorporated customer service cell in the bank.”

To make sure that the bank remains in-line with the needs of their customers, Azizi Bank regularly conducts market research, as Dr Omaid sheds more light on their efforts. “Azizi Bank is dedicated to conducting comprehensive market research to understand customer requirements. Afghanistan is a niche country in terms of new banking indicatives as only 10-11% of the people are banking, as per the Central Bank’s report, and Afghanistan is an Islamic nation. This opens up the opportunity to create products as per the requirement. This is the reason why Azizi Bank converted its 100% subsidiary bank into a full-fledged Islamic bank. Additionally, more than 70% of the population in the country are mobile savvy, and this is the reason why Azizi Bank have developed mobilebased technologies to bring more and more customers into the banking fray.” 

The conversation soon turns to things of a more corporate nature: namely, governance policies and the crucial role that they play in outlining the bank’s goals and future. “Azizi Bank ensures responsible and value-driven management practices are adhered to throughout its system of corporate governance, which is built on key elements of discipline, transparency, independence and fairness. As it strengthens its presence, Azizi Bank continues to review compliance, risk management skills, systems & processes and – where appropriate- it aims to enhance these further. The commitment applies to Azizi Bank’s relationship with its shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, regulators and the community in which it operates.”

Here Dr Omaid takes a moment to discuss each of Azizi Bank’s core characteristics in more detail. “In relation to discipline, we ensure that all employees and senior management members are committed to adhering to procedures, processes and hierarchies established by the bank. These are recognised and deemed to be correct and proper. Transparency remains critically important and mentioned in almost every policy. All actions implemented and the procedures that led to them are always available for inspection by authorised entities and stakeholders. 

“Similarly, mechanisms and regulations have been put in place to minimise or entirely avoid potential conflicts of interests such as undue dominance by the Chairman, Chief Executive or other shareholders. This mechanism ranges from the composition of the board to committee appointments and involve external parties such as auditors. Azizi Bank remains committed to independence. Moreover, Azizi Bank believes that responsible management would, whenever necessary, take appropriate actions to set and keep the bank on the right path. Whilst the board is accountable to the bank, it must act responsively to and with the responsibility towards all stakeholders. The individuals and committees who make decisions and take actions are truly help accountable for those decision and actions. Lastly, Azizi Bank believes in ‘fairness’, and each of the bank’s systems are balanced and take into account all those who have an interest in the bank and its future. The rights of the various groups involved have to be acknowledge and respected.” 

Dr. Omaid also spoke about their strategic plan, which details the banks goals through 2022. He reiterated that strategic planning is the process of determining the organization’s long term objectives and establishing the goals necessary to achieve them. The process involves in-depth analysis of current and anticipated conditions that may affect the organization’s ability to achieve the mission. 

Finally, it would be remiss to not mention Azizi Bank’s considerable efforts in the area of corporate social responsibility over the last few years. In his closing comments, Dr Omaid details some of the bank’s more recent and significant ventures. “Azizi Bank has taken a strong lead in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives by providing aid and financial assistance to local educational institutions which include schools, colleges, universities and NGOs. The bank has also engaged itself with relevant ministries in supporting female empowerment, cultural enhancement and environmental sustainability initiatives. Recently the bank involved itself with the municipality to see a Greener Afghanistan and planted trees across the country. 


“Azizi Bank planted more than 10,000 trees in Kabul and other provincial locations as part of this campaign. We provided financial assistance to the Ministry of Women Affairs for the treatment of breast cancer on International Women’s Day. Furthermore, the bank is working in association with the Ministry to sponsor the event, “Empowering Afghan Through Access to Financial Services, alongside financing for the creation of job opportunities for women. In coordination with the National Blood Bank, Kabul organised blood donation campaigns at the head office. More than 100,000 ccs of blood were collected during the campaign. Lastly, Azizi Bank is promoting child education in the country, and encouraging initiatives to stop food wastes and other environmental sustainability initiatives like Save Water, Clean Air, Avoid Pollution etc.”

 

“Azizi Bank continues to review compliance, risk management skills, systems & processes and – where appropriate- it aims to enhance these further. The commitment applies to Azizi Bank’s relationship with its shareholders, customers, employees, suppliers, regulators and the community in which it operates.”
azizi bank design-01
“Empowering Afghan Through Access to Financial Services, alongside financing for the creation of job opportunities for women. In coordination with the National Blood Bank, Kabul organised blood donation campaigns at the head office.”

Company: Azizi Bank

Name: Dr. (Prof) Mohammad Salem Omaid

Designation: President and Chief Executive Officer

Addl. Titles:

(a) Chairman – The Afghanistan Banking Association

(b) Chairman – The International Chamber of Commerce, Banking Commission, Afghanistan

(c) Member- Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, United Kingdom, Europe Business Assembly

(d) Member – The World Confederation of Businesses (World COB), United States of America

(e) Honorary Professor of the Academic Union, Oxford, United Kingdom

Finance

Best European P2P Loan Platform 2019

Swaper is a P2P loan marketplace offering an easy investing in pre-funded consumer loans from Poland, Spain, and Denmark in cooperation with Wandoo Finance Group.

Launched in 2016, Swaper began life from the idea to build better financial products and to offer many different financial products. When the platform was initially under construction, the firm’s main goal was to make it according to the needs of investors. As part of this focus, the Swaper team collected opinions and feedback of experienced investors. Investors expressed a need for easily accessible mobile platform with clear and understandable overview of their investments, and a possibility to have configurable push notifications, to decide what kind of information they needs and how often. 

As a result of this newfound knowledge, the Swaper team realized that in addition to focusing on the web platform, they should be also building the mobile application. Therefore, they launched the website version of the platform and after a short while Swaper was the first P2P marketplace that was also launched as a mobile application. Today, this innovative company offers investment options into loans driven by a dedicated team who are highly experience in the financial sector, and as such are able to offer clients the benefit of their extensive market knowledge and industry understanding. All investments offered on Swaper’s marketplace start from 12% annual interest with unique loyalty bonus to earn an additional +2%.

The firm makes investment convenient through the Auto-Invest Portfolio, which investors can easily set up with just one click. This innovative approach grants investors the maximum interest income based on their chosen investment amount and period. Seeking to remain ahead of emerging market trends, Swaper has developed a Mobile Application for both Android and iOS, which provides investors with the opportunity to manage their investments easily and conveniently, and have full control over investment thanks to the push notifications.

As part of the Wandoo Finance Group, a professional IT systems developer based in Latvia, Swaper is able to leverage its parent group’s vast technological expertise and infrastructure to ensure it offers clients the most innovative and reliable solutions. In today’s modern financial market where technology is key, Swaper is making waves thanks to its revolutionary online platform. 


Alongside offering cutting-edge support and innovative financial services, Swaper is also deeply committed to providing its users with exceptional client service and support they can rely on. For the Swaper team, the key to good customer service is building good relationships with customers. They believe in thanking the customer and promoting a positive, helpful and friendly environment, which will ensure they leave with a great impression. They also feel that good customer service means helping customers efficiently, in a friendly mannerand that it is essential for the firm to be able to handle issues for customers and to do its best to ensure they are satisfied. 


It is the provision of exceptional customer service and the constant collaboration with the investors, that sets Swaper apart from its competitors. By constantly working with investors to understand their needs and update its offering and processes, the firm is able to drive customer loyalty and ensure that customer expectations are met in all cases. 


“Looking to the future, Swaper will launch a range of exciting new products and features to enhance its already impressive platform. In 2019, the firm’s focus will be on growing both sides of the marketplace by satisfying increasing investor demand, as well as loan supply from current and possibly new locations by expanding the investment opportunities on the marketplace. These developments will drive Swaper to even greater global renown and establish it as the ideal platform for anyone seeking financial services,” said Danija Misus, the Product Owner at Swaper (pictured right).


Ultimately, with the FinTech market showing no signs of slowing down and investment in this growing industry higher than ever before, Swaper has a bright future ahead of it. The firm will continue to collaborate with clients to understand their needs and remain ahead of emerging market developments.


Web Address: www.swaper.com 

 

“Swaper will launch a range of exciting new products and features to enhance its already impressive platform. In 2019, the firm’s focus will be on growing both sides of the marketplace by satisfying increasing investor demand, as well as loan supply from current and possibly new locations by expanding the investment opportunities on the marketplace.”

Swaper picture

“Investors expressed a need for easily accessible mobile platform with clear and understandable overview of their investments, and a possibility to have configurable push notifications, to decide what kind of information they needs and how often.”

Banking

Belize : The ‘Next Big Thing’ in Offshore Banking

When it comes to offshore banking solutions, would-be clients can certainly feel overwhelmed with the plethora of choices available. Yet, over the last couple of years, Belize has become a go-to for many investors looking for security, stability and new investment opportunities. Here, Luigi Wewege, Senior Vice President of Caye International Bank, writes on the unique benefits that Belize has to offer, and how it has become the region of choice for savvy investors from all over the world. Caye International Bank was recently recognised by Wealth & Finance INTL as the ‘Best Offshore Private Bank in Latin America’ in the 2019 Banking Excellence Awards.

Offshore banking has long been a popular option for those that want to secure their financial future, whether that be for the dream retirement or, more simply, to ensure that their liquid savings are safe and secure in the hands of expert financial establishments. 

When you bring up the idea of offshore banking, it’s not unusual to get a dozen different opinions about where the best tax haven is or where banks are most eager to get foreign investors. Look beyond all the noise and you’ll find that Belize is consistently chosen by savvy investors for offshore banking. Clearly, Belize has a lot to offer those interested in the financial side of the equation. 

Ease of Banking in Belize 

Something that can’t be ignored is the ease of managing an offshore bank account in Belize. Some people are worried about offshore banking because they don’t know what to expect, or they are worried about it being difficult or inconvenient. In reality, that misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. 

To start, the official language of Belize is English. Although you might hear Spanish or even Creole spoken on the beach, financial professionals all have a complete and fluent command of English. Whether you’re signing a contract or reading the terms of a new account, it will be in English. You won’t need a translator, nor will you have to pay to have English documents translated. In short, there is no need to be concerned about a language barrier at any point.
Another reason that banking in Belize is so convenient is the time zone. Belize is located in the Central Standard Time Zone (CST). That means it is the same time on Ambergris Caye, Belize, as it is in Chicago. Some people are concerned that offshore banking means getting on the phone in the middle of the night with banking staff, but that’s not the case in Belize. Banks operate during normal office hours, which just so happen to coincide perfectly with most North American hours of business. 

Of course, you may not want to communicate over the phone about your offshore banking needs at all. Fortunately, the convenience of banking in Belize also extends to online banking services. As long as you have access to an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can transfer money or check your account balances with the click of a button.

CIB staff in from of bank headquarters - San Pedro, Belize (2)

Diversification is Key

People delve into offshore banking for varied reasons. However, one of the most common is to diversify financial holdings. A basic tenet of Economics 101 is that in order to reduce risk, you need to diversify. Many people diversify but continue to maintain their holdings within a single country’s jurisdiction. Ultimately, true diversification also includes geographic diversification. Although Belize offers a chance to invest in a new geographic location, it also offers all the things you expect in a secure financial environment. This allows for diversification without the stress of learning a new banking system or even a new legal system. Belize operates according to common-law systems similar to those you find in Britain, the United States, or Canada. 

Unparalleled Asset Protection and Privacy In decades past, certain nations held a monopoly on banking privacy and anonymity. As those destinations received more and more publicity, however, banking clients actually received more scrutiny, not less. In Belize, banks still operate in a way that grants account holders and businesses financial privacy as well as asset protection. This doesn’t mean that you can open a bank account anonymously or avoid taxation in your home country. What it does mean is that once your assets are placed in a bank account in Belize, those assets are far more secure than they would be elsewhere. If you face lawsuits or the freezing of your assets in the future, your accounts in Belize will remain secure. Plus, those who operate businesses within Belize can protect the identities of board members or shareholders if desired. 

Reputable Banking Systems 

If you choose to bank offshore in Belize, then it makes sense to bank with an institution that is established, financially solvent, and is recognized for its banking excellence. When selecting a bank, ensure it is compliant with necessary regulations and is licensed to provide international banking services to both corporations and individuals. Caye International Bank certainly fits this criteria. 

Discover Banking in Belize 

Clearly, plenty of investors around the world appreciate what Belize has to offer and choose this location to assist in asset diversification. When looking for the best locations for offshore banking and investing, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any more favourable than Belize.

Company: Caye International Bank 

Address: San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize, Central America 

Website: www.cayebank.bz 

Telephone: +501-226-2388 or +501-226-3083

Unexpected Tax
Tax

Businesses not ready for contractor tax upheaval

Employers are largely unprepared for changes to off-payroll working in the private sector, which are due to come into effect in April 2020. That is according to new research from recruitment trade body, the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

The new rules mean that changes to IR35 legislation, which were introduced in the public sector in April 2017, will be extended to medium and large private sector companies. From next year, businesses engaging independent workers will become responsible for setting the tax status of these individuals. As part of this reform, the tax liability will also transfer from the contractor to the fee-paying party in the supply chain, which is typically the recruiter or the company that directly engages the individual.

A survey of the trade association’s membership revealed that fewer than half (39%) of the professional recruitment firms polled believe that most of the businesses they work with are aware of the incoming changes. In addition, just 12% said the majority of their clients are actively preparing for the updated legislation.

When asked if the organisations they recruit into are expecting to pay more for contractors after the changes are implemented, just 10% said ‘yes’, 21% said ‘no’ with the remaining 69% ‘not sure’. This suggests that many are unaware of the wider potential consequences of the reform.

Previous research from APSCo following changes to off-payroll working in the public sector found that 45% of professional recruitment companies witnessed the costs of resourcing contractors increasing after the new rules were introduced. Of these, 46% reported that rate rises were in excess of 15%.

On the findings, Samantha Hurley, Operations Director at (APSCo) and Co-Chair of HMRC’s IR35 Forum, commented:

“Businesses now have just months to get ready for incoming changes to IR35 legislation but, as this research suggests, it seems that many may be ill-prepared. Companies which haven’t already must urgently review their existing contingent workforces to determine what employment models individuals are working through to understand the extent of PSC contractor usage. They should then work with trusted recruitment partners to discuss which roles are likely to be in scope across different levels, and if individuals with these skills are thin on the ground or easily replaced, so that plans can be put in place to enable them to sustain and grow future workforces effectively. If we’ve learnt anything from the public sector roll out, it is that we are now entering a period of significant and arduous change. However, by working with expert recruitment partners, private sector organisations can ensure that they navigate the new landscape with ease.”