All posts by Patrick Doherty

Articles

Personal Finance: Workforce Faces Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Predictions which 2019 will bring for the future of fuel
Articles

Predictions which 2019 will bring for the future of fuel

Predictions which 2019 will bring for the future of fuel

Predictions which 2019 will bring for the future of fuel

Here, with car dealers, Lookers, who have a variety of car servicing plans, we take a look. The average price of a litre of petrol at the end of 2018 was £1.21 in the UK, whereas a decade ago the figure was closer to £0.89 per litre. Price surges are reflective of steep inflation at various historical points, but what does 2019 hold for our empty tanks?

Current predictions suggest that the number of cars globally will double by the year 2040, which leads to questions over how this will affect the prices on forecourts around the world. Petrol is an expense which many people must factor in to their weekly budgets, and the fuel industry has maintained a constant upward gradient as the car market continues to grow.


The rise of petrol prices

The price of petrol has sparked many protests in countries across the world, and 2019 has begun on a gloomy precedent with the continued uproar by the yellow vest protesters in France. The grievances were sparked by the current French president Emmanuel Macron, as his government introduced a series of taxes which hit petrol with a stark price increase. Paris was engulfed by the initial outcry of dismay, with public areas being set alight by demonstrators. The protestors eventually weighed in on the government, as the carbon taxes have been scrapped because of the ‘gilets jaunes’ activism (yellow vests), with blockades, violence and even fatalities symbolising the dismay over rising fuel costs.

The average rate stands at £1.26 per litre in France, and the proposed taxes would have increased this by 0.091 per litre. The taxes were designed to support Macron’s environmental reforms, and to bring about a reduction of carbon emissions produced by French motorists. The eco-friendly stance aligns with attitudes reflected in laws established by the European Union to target carbon dioxide emissions in the automotive industry. As of 2020, fines will be enforced for manufacturers who fail to meet emission standards, and this could provoke more leaders to follow in the footsteps of Macron by enforcing taxes on petrol to curb consumption.

The Operations Director at PSA Group Maxime Picat has outlined plans for the multinational manufacturer to unveil a whole host of new electric and plug-in hybrid models for 2019, to meet the new emission requirements. As the car market evolves and environmental concerns continue to spread, the actions of Macron could be reflected by leaders across the world in years to come, and 2019 could be a pivotal turning point in this.


Will this have a global impact?

If you are looking to get the best value for money on a road trip this summer, destinations such as Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Amirates are all known for having below average fuel prices. However, the United States remains an outlier, as the largest economy in the world pays an average of £0.54 per litre. In fact, under current 2019 rates, you could drive the infamous 2,448-mile ‘Route 66’ in a vehicle with an average of 20mpg and it would cost an equivalent of £353 under the American rate. The journey would, however, set you back £792 at the British fuel price.

Petrol prices in the western hemisphere have experienced a different kind of crisis, and the forecast for 2019 remains uncertain. As one of the largest exporters of oil, Venezuelan motorists pay an inconceivable average £0.01 for a litre of fuel, and the country is paralysed by an inflation rate of one million per cent. The rule of thumb for petrol prices in poorer and export countries was maintained for the most part last year, as exporter countries pay notably less for fuel than those who receive it.

Overall, recent increases in petrol prices continue to suggest that rates will climb consistently as 2019 progresses. In Australia, prices at the pump have reached their highest level in four months, after creeping upwards in the final quarter last year. Similar trends are evident as prices have already rocketed in Greece, Iceland, Denmark, and Hong Kong. In Zimbabwe, protests were sparked earlier this year as prices reached an equivalent of £2.55 per litre, an increase which the countries President Emmerson Mnangagwa put down to illegal trading and increased demand.


The home stretch

The tone of 2019 has already been set across Europe where petrol prices are concerned, with protests and fluctuation as well as cultural arguments of conservation arising. In the UK, fuel prices have been the subject of sporadic protests over the past two decades, perhaps most notable in the 2012 fuel crisis. As Brexit unfolds, there is an overarching sense of uncertainty towards the country’s finances, and a potential for repercussions to be felt throughout European markets, all of which could impact the price paid at the pump as 2019 progresses.

 

 

Sources

https://www.petrolprices.com/the-price-of-fuel/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-europe-46405583/france-fuel-protests-who-are-the-people-in-the-yellow-vests

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-46862194

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/05/france-wealth-tax-changes-gilets-jaunes-protests-president-macron

http://fuel-economy.co.uk/calc.html

http://www.mytravelcost.com/petrol-prices/1/8/

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/gas-prices/#20184:United-States:GBP:l

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/petrol-prices-australia-rba-gdp-2019-3

https://www.petrolprices.com/news/reviewing-petrol-prices-year-looking-forward-2019/

https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-news/consumer-news/93906/diesel-pump-prices-go-up-despite-reduced-wholesale-costs

Articles

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

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

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

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

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

Cash ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

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

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

Conrad Poulson of Huq Industries said:

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

Alex Warren of 24 Haymarket commented:

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

About Huq Industries

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

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

About 24 Haymarket

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

Wealth Management

Which liquidation option is best for my business?

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

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

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

What happens in a Creditors’ Voluntary Liquidation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High Net-worth Individuals

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

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

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

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

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

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

High Net-worth Individuals

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Foundation member news includes:

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Find the full schedule here.

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

 

Articles

Sparta Global announces opening of new London digital skills hub

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

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

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

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

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

Finance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finance

Balancing the Books on delivery – the right approach for retailers

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

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

Are retailers looking at customer experience incorrectly?

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

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

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

The Brexit effect

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

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

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

  • Longer cross-border delivery lead times

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delivering for the right price

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

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

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

  • Delivery to a designated address

    • A standard ‘free’ or at low cost option

    • An express option at a small premium

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

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

    • Free in-store collection

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

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

What’s holding retailers back from delivering?

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

An affordable delivery strategy

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

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

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

FinanceSecurities

72% of Brits Have Fallen Victim to These Scamming Techniques

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Scams to Be Aware Of

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

 

How to Avoid a Scam

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

Understanding and mitigating Bad Debt risks

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

 

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

 

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

 

Due diligence

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

 

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

 

Deposit, interest and penalties

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

 

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

 

Payment reminders

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

 

 

 

 

 

Debt distribution

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

 

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

 

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

 

Statutory Demand

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

 

Winding up petition

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

 

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

 

RBR Advisory

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

 

Transactional and Investment Banking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ArticlesCash ManagementInfrastructureRisk Management

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

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

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

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

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

Cash Management

Is The UK Making The Most Of Its Money?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Articles

Mark Cushway Challenges the Place of Duty in Leadership

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

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

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



THE ART OF DECISION MAKING

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

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

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

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

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



LISTENING AND INSPIRING

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

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

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

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

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

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

Securities

Contact Centre Payments – Going Mobile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blockchain
BankingFinance

Swiss President Ueli Maurer to Attend 4th International Blockchain Conference

blockchain

Swiss President Ueli Maurer to Attend 4th International Blockchain Conference CV Summit in Zug

The CV Summit, held in the heart of the Crypto Valley, in Zug, Switzerland, has become one of the most important blockchain events in Switzerland. The summit’s 4th edition on March 27th will revolve around #BUIDL, focusing on the development of the technology instead of crypto speculations. The welcome address will be held by the President of the Swiss Confederation and Finance Minister Ueli Maurer, who is a strong advocate of the blockchain technology and the Blockchain Nation Switzerland.

The 4th edition of the CV Summit starts on March 26th with an Open House networking afternoon and the CV Competition Top 10 pitches at the CV Lab’s newly inaugurated Liquid Lounge. The Top 3 projects will then present their blockchain solutions the next day at the official CV Summit. The CV Competition is a startup contest for blockchain projects. Each competition targets a specific industry: this year everything revolves around the real estate industry. The winner receives $100,000 in funding, expert coaching and complementary working space at CV Labs.

On March 27th, the official CV Summit at the Theater Casino in Zug starts with opening remarks by the newly instated Mayor of the City of Zug, Karl Kobelt. The Mayor won’t be the only political representative at the summit: later in the day, the Swiss President Ueli Maurer will provide some updates on “Blockchain Nation Switzerland”. As the head of the Federal Department of Finance, Ueli Maurer is responsible for the new blockchain regulations expected in the next weeks.
Throughout the day, experienced industry leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs will be sharing their insights and views on how to #BUIDL towards the crypto spring. Notable speakers include Jorge Sebastiao (CTO Ecosystem, Huawei Technologies), Nathan Kaiser (Chairperson, Cardano Foundation) and Niklas Nikolajsen (Co-CEO and Chairman, Bitcoin Suisse), with more to be announced soon. Companies represented at the summit include Alethena, Bitcoin Suisse, Cardano, Coreledger, Forctis.io, Bank Frick, Generali, IOHK, inacta, Kucoin, Lamassu, Lykke, Mt. Pelerin, PwC & strategy&, Swiss Economics, SwissRe Sygnum, ZBX and others.

“Over the last two years, the CV Summit has become an integral part of the Crypto Valley community and the international blockchain scene. Themed #BUIDL towards Crypto Spring, this year’s edition shows how the industry is focusing on the further development of blockchain technology after the market correction in the so-called ‘Crypto Winter’”, says Mathias Ruch, Founder & CEO of CV VC and the CV Summit.

Glossary: #BUIDL
Crypto slang for “to build” – meaning do develop the technology and the ecosystems. Derived from the term “to HODL”, which is slang in the cryptocurrency community for holding a cryptocurrency rather than selling it. It originated in 2013 in a post on a Bitcoin forum message board, when an apparently inebriated user wrote “I am hodling” (sic) instead of “holding”.

Transactional and Investment Banking

Why Are Investor Relations So Important?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign Direct InvestmentFunds of Funds

Bitcoin: Stability Not Likely For Burgeoning Investment Product

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cash Management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles

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

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

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

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

Background: Insurance industry in NRW

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

Press releases

Innovation Leadership Forum

The Innovation Leadership Forum (ILF) is a visionary and original Think & Do Tank dedicated to helping organisations understand and improve their innovation performance. It does so through a number of different avenues such as a series of MasterClasses, Advisory & Coaching Services, Workshops, Presentations, Public Speaking, and the Innovation Wave®, a tool for the facilitated assessment of innovation capabilities. 

The ILF was set up by Dr Bettina von Stamm in 2004, allowing her to pursue her longstanding passion for understanding and enabling innovation, a field in which she has worked independently since 1992. In addition to the ILF activities she enjoys teaching and writing. Her three books to date are, ‘The Innovation Wave’ which is an introduction to a holistic approach to innovation (Wiley, 2002), her textbook ‘Managing Innovation Design & Creativity’ (2nd edition 2008), and, most recently, ‘The Future of Innovation’, an inspirational compendium of over 220 views from 57 countries, knitted together through commentaries by Bettina and her friend and colleague Dr Anna Trifilova (Gower 2009).

 

For more information visit: http://www.innovationleadershipforum.org/

FX and PaymentTransactional and Investment Banking

Cryptocurrency: What it means for divorcing couples.

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

 

So, what is Cryptocurrency? 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Tracing cryptocurrency. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

What is cryptocurrency worth?

 

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

 

 

 Dr Stephen Castell, commented:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Karen Holden is the Founder of A City Law Firm

Cash Management

POS goes Mobile – Is this the death of CASH

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Securities

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

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

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

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

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

Ashfords’ Paul commented:

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

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

Corporate Finance and M&A/Deals

Guidant Global appoints Director to drive strategic growth in Australian market

Guidant Global, part of Impellam Group is delighted to announce that it has appointed Doug Edmonds as Director, APAC with a responsibility to drive future growth in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. The move comes as the global leader in talent acquisition and managed workforce solutions continues to make rapid progress in expanding and transforming its portfolio across international markets.

The announcement follows PwC’s latest CEO Survey – which found that 71% of Australian business leaders feel that a lack of key skills is a threat to growth – with many facing barriers to building the required workforce because of limited insights into current workforce capability and future requirements.

Guidant Global champions a better, more forward-thinking way of working and has a core philosophy of shifting the focus to people – the vibrant force that drives thriving businesses and creates energy and opportunity. With extensive experience in resourcing and managed service recruitment in Australia and Asia, Edmonds is well placed to lead the company’s strategic plans to deliver its global expertise in a way which is tailored to the local geographies. In fact, Impellam is no stranger to the region. As well as Guidant Global, group companies Comensura, Medacs Global Group and Carbon60 all have significant operations within Australasia and Guidant Global already operates in India, China, and Malaysia.

Commenting on his appointment, Doug Edmonds, Director at Guidant Global, said: “Here in Australia, and indeed in wider Asia markets, there is a real need for Guidant’s collaborative, creative and agile approach to managed service recruitment. I look forward to reconnecting with the APAC market at a time when employers are seeking solutions around talent management – and in a capacity where I can deliver Guidant Global’s commitment to finding better ways of working.”

Simon Blockley, CEO of Guidant Global, added: “This is a significant appointment for Guidant Global at a time when we are increasingly extending existing programmes into Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. Opportunities in this region are vast, and I have no doubt that Doug’s extensive experience and passion makes him the best person to drive growth strategy across APAC markets.”

Articles

Tax Preparation Specialist Issues Tax Relief Guidance for Employees Who Incur Work-related Expenses

Employees in the UK are being encouraged to explore their tax relief options to ensure they are not left footing the bill for their work-related expenses. Tax preparation specialist David Redfern, managing director of DSR Tax Claims Ltd, added his support to a HMRC Twitter campaign to ensure that employees are made aware of their entitlement to various tax reliefs which are open to them.

 

While taxpayers who are required to submit a Self Assessment tax return tend to have a good awareness of the various business expenses they are entitled to claim tax relief for, employees who are taxed via the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system frequently have less knowledge of tax relief options. Redfern commented “Taxpayers who pay their tax through the PAYE system often have the mistaken belief that they aren’t entitled to tax relief, yet many employees would be surprised to know that there are a number of areas of tax relief for their day to day working expenses that they could be entitled to. Perhaps they work from home or wear a uniform to work that they are responsible for laundering – these are all hidden areas of tax relief that employees should be aware of to make sure they aren’t missing out”.

 

Redfern has discovered that travel expenses regularly form the greatest proportion of potential employee tax relief, with employees able to claim mileage for any work-related journeys they make in their own vehicle, excluding their journeys to and from their usual place of work. HMRC have approved mileage rates which can be used to calculate the tax relief that can be claimed, with car journeys up to the first 10,000 miles being worth 45p per mile. In addition to mileage rates, employees can claim travel expenses such as public transport costs, parking fees as well as overnight accommodation and food and drink costs for business travel outside of the employee’s normal journey to work. Redfern stated “HMRC allows these expenses to be claimed as tax relief because they recognise that employees shouldn’t be left out of pocket just for doing their job – however, the expenses do need to be incurred for business purposes and there needs to be some evidence that they were actually incurred so keeping accurate records of mileage and expenses is vitally important”.

 

Other work expenses that can form tax relief entitlement include the costs of laundering and maintaining any work uniform they are expected to wear, or repairing and replacing tools and equipment required to undertake the employee’s job. Redfern commented that this can include professional subscriptions and union fees which are required as part of the employee’s job role, stating that “These hidden expenses can soon mount up but if these costs are essential to your job, they can often be claimed as tax relief. Laundry costs can be claimed as a flat expense if you haven’t the patience for calculating exactly how much you spend cleaning your work uniform – HMRC issues a list of flat rate expenses per profession, which can make claiming much easier, and there is a standard £60 flat rate for those professions which aren’t listed”. Initial purchase costs cannot be claimed as tax relief.

 

Flat rate expenses can also be used to calculate costs associated with working from home, dependent on the hours per month spent working from home. Redfern added “HMRC’s flat rate expenses are an ideal way of ensuring that claiming tax relief is a simple process. People can be put off by the notion that it will be a complicated process so the flat rate system is great for those taxpayers who don’t want the hassle of keeping receipts and calculating exact costs”. However, for those taxpayers who believe that their expenses are greater than the flat rate deduction rate, there is the option of claiming exact expenditure providing they provide evidence that the expense was incurred.

 

Redfern emphasised that these tax reliefs cannot be claimed if the employee has already been reimbursed for their expenses and any expenses must have been incurred for work purposes only. He added “In most cases, claiming these tax reliefs is a simple online process – however, if your expenses are greater than £2,500 in any tax year, you will need to register for Self Assessment to claim them”.

Articles

With Great Speed Comes Great Responsibility: Securing the Future of Banking

Driven by new technological capabilities and ever-increasing customer expectations, the pace of change in financial services is increasing exponentially. Consumers of financial services want everything to happen more quickly, from real-time payments to immediate access to deposited checks. In the midst of this push for speed, it is essential not to sacrifice security. And it needn’t be an “either or” proposition. With the right approach, financial institutions can balance speed and security, and use both to enhance their customers’ experience.

 

Developing such an approach requires an awareness and acknowledgement of potential risks in the current financial services landscape. Along with greater speed come new fronts in the fight against financial crime. Here are three areas to prioritise.

 

Detecting Financial Crime in Real-Time

A decade ago, transactions typically moved in batches and high value payments took hours – if not days – to process. Real-time offers a wealth of opportunities to the industry, businesses and consumers, but there are inherent risks to any evolution in financial services.  As money moves more quickly and the window for detecting and stopping bad transactions narrows, fraud prevention takes on increased urgency. When all the processing and network steps are considered, each must be completed within a second at most, including validation, compliance checking, accounting and fraud detection.

 

Arising as a result of European regulations, payment-hub technology enables the management of all payment types on a single platform and promises better risk analysis, faster settlement, lower routing costs and a real-time view of transactions. Still, as all of those payments are flowing quickly through a central hub, financial institutions have to monitor for fraud at the same speed.

 

Managing Third-Party Risk

Consumer-focused technology companies are resetting expectations for financial services. This is driving financial institutions to adapt and embrace innovative technologies at every step of the customer experience, whether through in-branch teller kiosks, artificial intelligence (AI) based consumer assistance or integration with third-party fintechs.

 

Open banking regulations in Europe and other parts of the world are making it a priority to integrate with fintechs and other third-party companies with which customers have existing relationships. Under the regulations, financial institutions must provide trusted third parties access to customer information when consumers allow it. Even in parts of the world where open banking is not a regulatory requirement, financial institutions are moving toward similar integration capabilities to hasten innovation and meet consumer demand.

 

Once again, the technology presents many opportunities for consumers and financial institutions, but it also raises the stakes on security. If financial institutions begin engaging consumers more often through fintechs, identification and validation will become even more crucial.

 

In the new interconnected financial services landscape, it’s not enough for a financial institution to ensure their own systems are secure, they also have to consider the security of the companies accessing information through their systems. This consideration takes on multiple layers when considering the different channels and services fintechs and other third-party companies represent. Financial institutions’ security strategies will need to account for payments, lending and card issuance, just to name a few.

 

Financial institutions are responding by adjusting their strategies in terms of due diligence, updating processes, and monitoring and evaluation.

 

Leveraging Data

Financial institutions’ success in managing risk in the future will be largely dependent on how well they assess, leverage and control their data. The sheer volume of information flowing through financial institutions poses what can appear to be an overwhelming challenge, particularly when there is a need to make sure this data is also accurate, current and useful.

 

Deploying technologies, such as advanced analytics, machine learning and AI, will enable financial institutions to manage data quickly, accurately and efficiently. Data can then be used as a powerful tool to better understand customers and get a clearer picture of typical (or atypical) behaviour. While data on its own is useful, analysis against broader sets of information can reveal patterns that improve the ability to differentiate between normal activity and fraudulent transactions.

 

Financial institutions can draw on a wide range of information sources to inform internal data sets, validate models and take a more agile approach to risk management. Monitoring card usage trends and capabilities, such as geolocation, allows more risk monitoring to take place behind the scenes, while biometric authentication enables more streamlined customer interactions that are simultaneously more secure. Financial institutions can also benefit from coming together as an industry to share intelligence and build shared databases of ‘bad’ devices and suspicious activity.

 

Securing the Future of Financial Services

Speed is a key factor for the future of financial services, and with the right strategy financial institutions can balance the need for speed with the imperative for security. As the introduction of faster financial services accelerates, security will become a differentiator for financial institutions that deliver it well.

 

digital tax
FinanceFundsTaxTransactional and Investment Banking

The importance of Making Tax Digital to the UK mid-market

The importance of Making Tax Digital to the UK mid-market

Written by Steve Lane, CTO at Access Group

With UK Government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) deadline less than two months away, the race is on for UK organisations to understand the impact of MTD on their business. MTD could mean a significant shift in operations for some organisations, which means they need to act now in order to get themselves in order for the impending deadline.  


What MTD requires

The Making Tax Digital programme will require UK businesses with annual turnovers above the VAT threshold of £85,000 to keep digital records for VAT and submit their returns digitally. The points-based penalty system means business taxpayers gather points with each late submission of an MTD report, those with multiple businesses must submit tax reports for each of their businesses. To ease the transition process, HMRC is allowing the use of ‘bridging software’ to support the digitised submission and account information retrieval from spreadsheets. However, those without it in place risk not being able to carry out their business as usual.

While all respondents in Access Group’s survey use some type of electronic system for financial management, 96 percent of mid-market businesses still process a portion of their tax returns manually, for example performing off-system calculations, which could be problematic come 1st April if businesses fail to use bridging software to support the digital submission of their VAT returns. Which begs the question, why do some organisations still rely heavily on manually calculating? A large proportion of the finance professionals surveyed explained that they haven’t transitioned to 100 percent digital processes due to a lack of knowledge and training (26 percent) while others said it’s the fact that multiple legal entities are involved in VAT registration (23 percent).


Putting off MTD is no longer an option

Manually entering VAT is inefficient and opens businesses up to human error. Under the new regulations, mid-market businesses could stand to lose not only money in fines, but credibility within their field. Putting off making the necessary technical changes to your business is no longer an option.  

There are certain things that businesses simply cannot afford to ignore, for instance:  


Transformation

Deploying new business software isn’t always an easy decision. Especially when there are multiple ways to ensure your organisation remains compliant with government regulations. Considerations need to be made for either full business software transformation or a single solution update i.e. bridging software, to support. Given the impending deadline, businesses must act now, to ensure they’ve put in place measures that abide by the regulations.


Accreditations

When deciding to begin a digital transformation project, particularly with digitising financial systems, choosing a partner that has the proper government accreditations is vital. Acronyms like ISO or IL are ones to look out for.


Productivity

Digitising financial systems offers the business not only a more efficient, and free of human error way of working, but a more productive way as well. Entrusting admin-heavy tasks to intelligent software can free up time elsewhere to focus on innovation, business development and growth ambitions.

Whilst it’s important that businesses’ financial systems are all set for the 1st of April deadline, to think about Making Tax Digital solely in terms of tax compliance would be to miss the point. It’s the perfect opportunity for UK business’ senior management teams to take a broader perspective – one that turns this regulatory burden to the business’ advantage. The organisations who act now are the ones who will see greater efficiency and productivity, driving both business growth and profitability. It’s good practice to update your operational processes at any moment in time, the MTD deadline provides a good excuse for companies to do just that. Given the pressures coming from Government organisations to digitise and the complexities that go into technology investment, mid-market businesses need to ensure their finance teams’ house is in order to remain compliant and avoid fines in the new era of digital tax.

Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsSustainable FinanceTransactional and Investment Banking

The growth of the wind energy sector both in the UK and abroad

Greener initiatives are being utilised more and more across the globe, as Earth’s citizens try to safeguard the planet’s resources. We may have relied a lot on fossil fuels like gas and coal in the past, but due to these sources not being sustainable we’re now ambitious about developing practices which are more environmentally friendly.

The market for renewable energy now includes everything from wind turbines to wave power. Wind power is proving particularly popular, with the amount of energy generated across windfarms in just 2016 found to have exceeded the amount created via coal power plants in the UK for the first time ever. In fact, over 40 per cent of all the energy generated on Christmas Day 2016 was as a result of renewable sources and 75 per cent of that sum was from wind turbines.

As coal-fuelled electricity has dipped to its lowest output for 80 years, the future certainly looks bright for the renewables market and, in particular, the wind energy sector. Join joint integrity software experts HTL Group as they explore just how much potential this industry holds…

What we can expect in the near future

The wind energy sector had to reconsolidate record-breaking growth for the years between 2014 and 2016. In total, the global installed capacity at the end of 2016 was 486,790 MW — an impressive figure by anyone’s standards.

Growth is expected to pick-up once more in the years ahead though. In fact, there are predictions which expects the global installed capacity to rise to 546,100 MW. This year, this figure was anticipated to hit 607,000 MW before reaching 817,000 MW by 2021. Although the rate of growth is anticipated to slow, it’s clear that wind power will continue to occupy a large energy share on a global scale.

How is each area of the world performing? Asia, North America and Europe are expected to remain the dominant wind power markets. By 2021, it’s anticipated that Asia will create 357,100 GW of energy from wind turbines. Europe is expected to hit 234,800 GW, while North America is likely to generate 159,100 GW.

What’s more, emerging markets are predicted to continue their development. For example, Latin America will grow to 40,200 GW by 2021 — up from 15,300 GW in 2016 — while the Middle East and Africa will more than quadruple their output, growing from 3,900 GW in 2016 to 16,100 GW in 2021.

Investments to expect in the years ahead

Additional investments will obviously be required in order for the sector’s continued growth to be supported. In 2016, €43 billion was spent across Europe on constructing new wind farms, refinancing, fundraising and project acquisitions — an increase of €8 billion compared to 2015.

Offshore windfarms appear to be getting more attention than sites found onshore. Investments onshore dropped by 5%, while offshore reached a record-breaking €18.2 billion. Impressively, the UK is leading the way, raising €12.7 billion for new wind energy projects. This more than overshadows the country in second place, Germany, with €5.3 billion.

The total investment may be lower then. However, it’s clear that wind energy will remain vital to the global movement towards greener, more sustainable energy both now and in the future.

Cash ManagementFinanceFundsMarketsRisk Management

TOP RANKINGS FOR ASHFORDS LLP IN PITCHBOOK’S GLOBAL LEAGUE TABLES

Ashfords has again been ranked as one of the most active law firms globally in venture capital. The firm has been ranked 2nd in Europe for 2018 by PitchBook, which provides a comprehensive ranking of private equity and venture capital activity worldwide.

Ashfords is the only independent UK law firm to appear in the top five most active firms in Europe and has been placed in the top 5 in each of the past eight quarters.

PitchBook’s global review details top investors by region, firm headquarters, as well as the most active advisers and acquirers of PE-backed and VC-backed companies.

Chris Dyson, Partner and Head of Ashfords’ technology sector, commented: “Ashfords’ recognition in this prestigious league table confirms the team’s position as a leading venture capital practice in Europe. The team has deep expertise in this area and are very proud to work alongside many leading investment funds and growth companies.”

Deals the firm completed globally in 2018 include advising:

Notion Capital, Eden Ventures and BGF Ventures on the $350m sale of NewVoiceMedia to Vonage

Form3 on its investment from Draper Esprit, Barclays and Angel CoFund

Fluidly on its investment from Nyca Partners and Octopus

Anthemis on its investment in Realyse

Simply Cook on its investment from Octopus

WhiteHat on its investment from Lightspeed, Village Global, Anil Aggarwal, and Wendy Tan White

Mobius Motors on its investment from Pan-African Investment Company, Playfair Capital, VestedWorld and others

Local Globe on its investment in StatusToday

Holtzbrinck Ventures and Notion Capital on the sale of Dealflo to OneSpan

BGF on its investment in Ruroc.


Ashfords LLP
ashfords.co.uk

Cash ManagementRisk ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

Tail expands portfolio driven by significant investment

Tail Offers Ltd is pleased to announce that Quantum Financial Holdings, a Fintech and security investment Group, has made an investment of £500,000 into the business. In addition to the financial investment Quantum has made, Tail will benefit from a suite of backoffice, infrastructure and value-added functions provided by the Quantum Group which will accelerate Tail’s significant growth to date.

“I am delighted to have been able to secure a deal with Tail which will enable them to invest in critical systems and further develop their amazing offering, driven by their exceptionally talented team,” says Floyd Woodrow, Chairman of Quantum Financial Holdings. “As well as financial investment, Quantum prides itself on bringing additional value to those companies we have an involvement in, through expertise and the streamlining of business support functions which free up key drivers in Fintech organisations to do what they do best – innovate.” 

“Open Banking will change the way consumers and retailers interact and we want to be at the forefront of facilitating that change,” says Philipp Keller, CEO of Tail Offers Ltd. “We are already focused on expanding our offering to a national audience and this will be accelerated through Quantum’s involvement.” 

“As our offer portfolio expands, we will continue to deliver a readymade white label rewards solution to corporate and financial institutions which will, in turn, enhance their own customer propositions. We are excited to embark on the next step of our journey with a partner that not only provides us with capital but, more importantly, with the right network and infrastructure to use it effectively,” Keller concludes. 

Part of the inaugural Tech Nation Fintech programme, Tail is one of the leading cashback solution providers for Open Banking. Already available for Monzo and Starling customers, its most recent addition includes Volopa, a London-based card provider active in the corporate and private banking sector. 

The Tail app integrates directly with a user’s bank account to provide tailored, high-value offers and cashback rewards in the most convenient way possible. Via its industry-first, cashback, self-serve platform, Tail enables hyperlocal, local and national merchants to use a tailored, data-driven rewards solution to engage directly with customers. 

For further information, please email [email protected] 

Cash ManagementFinanceFunds

Mayflex forms a Distribution Agreement with Global Invacom

Mayflex, the distributor of Converged IP Solutions, announces it has formed a distribution agreement with Global Invacom. The deal will see Mayflex and Global Invacom targeting Multi-Dwelling Unit projects by liaising with System Integrators, Consultants and End Users.

Global Invacom, the global provider of satellite communications equipment, specialises in Fibre Integrated Reception System (“FibreIRS”), delivering Satellite TV reception. Global Invacom’s vision is to increase the awareness of the advantages of FibreIRS and to work alongside Mayflex to help specify FibreIRS alongside cabling, data and CCTV Security.

Aaron Ghera, Sales Manager at Global Invacom, commented on the alliance: “Having seen interest from a number of organisations, we’re delighted to form a distribution agreement with Mayflex, who we believe have the resources, industry knowledge and proficiency to support our strategies.”

He continued, “Our plan is to minimise the amount of contacts required for a single project. For instance, rather than approaching four different supplies for your data, security, cabling and Satellite TV, Mayflex will supply all four services from one point of contact. By providing an integrated system solution, we can add more value to our customers and develop relationships that will see similar integrated systems across the UK.”

Ross McLetchie, Director of Sales, commented, “I am delighted to welcome Global Invacom on board with Mayflex. Incorporating this brand into our existing product portfolio will open up a host of new customer opportunities.”

Ross continued, “It is an exciting start to the year for Mayflex, as this agreement comes just shortly after the launch of Excel’s new Passive Optical Networks (PON) Solution.”

Similar in concept to PON infrastructure, FibreIRS technology is a new method of carrying satellite signals via fibre rather than coax. There are various advantages of using fibre such as reduction in signal loss, increased distance capacity, scalability and improved cost efficacy.

Ross concluded, “New customers to Mayflex can be assured of a first rate, knowledgeable team of sales and technical personnel. Partners will be provided with dedicated account management and the support needed to ensure the correct solution is specified and delivered on a project by project basis. I am confident that Excel’s new PON Solution and the Global Invacom range will become a staple part of our product portfolio and look forward to working with all parties involved.”

The FibreIRS technology itself was developed and manufactured by Global Invacom with the intention of revolutionising the satellite tv market. Over the years we’ve seen the development of similar products throughout the industry, however Global Invacom is determined to be at the forefront of the satellite industry and Mayflex are enthusiastic to support this drive.

The range of Global Invacom products will be widely available to purchase from Mayflex from February 2019. Global Invacom will also be sponsoring the upcoming Excel Partner Briefing events, taking place across the country in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and London. There will be presentations on both the Excel PON Solution and Global Invacom’s FibreIRS Technology, as well as representatives available in the exhibition areas to discuss any requirements. Visit www.mayflex.com for further details or speak to the sales team on 0800 75 75 65.