All posts by Susannah Griffin

car dealer
ArticlesFinance

How to Find the Cheapest Car Loans

car dealer

How to Find the Cheapest Car Loans

If you’ve found your ideal vehicle, whether it’s a dream premium sports car or a practical SUV to run the family around, you’ll now need to finance it. If you’ve got the savings to do so, great, but for the majority of you this will not be an option. You’ll need to look for finance options to do this instead, involving finding the right lenders to offer you the terms that you need. This should be a simple process but can be difficult due to the sheer amount of options out there. Here are some of the ways you can reduce your costs and find the cheapest car loans.


Compare Online

One of the easiest ways to find the best offers for a loan against a car is by using an online comparison tool. You should check how the offers are ranked, ensuring that you look at the deals that are best overall. The reason why you should do this is just because an offer has the lowest value repayments per month, doesn’t mean it will be the lowest value overall. You may have to pay a higher interest rate with lower monthly repayments. A comparison site will be able to speed up the process of searching for loans much quicker, as within a few clicks you’ll be able to see all the available offers for you on the market. This can include banks and online direct lenders so that you have a full overview. Filtering the results correctly will help you see the best overall deals, and with most online lenders, you can get quick approval and same day funding if approved.

 

Check Your Credit Score

Ideally, you’ll already know what your current credit score is, especially before you start applying for loans. You can do this by getting in contact with a credit reference agency who can show you what your rating is. Normally, you can see your score without charge, but if you want to see a more detailed report, you’ll need to either sign up or pay a one-off fee. If your score is currently showing good to excellent, you won’t need to worry too much about finding out the details of your score. However, if it is lower than expected or showing fair to bad, you should spend the time to find out what is causing this. You may already know what is causing this, such as multiple missed repayments or a default against your name. By finding out what the issue is, you can then work out if applying for further finance is going to be beneficial or only cause you to have a negative mark on your report.

 

Consider Leasing as Well as Car Loans

With so many loan options available, you may have overlooked the option to lease the vehicle you want. With a reported 9 out of 10 people confused over motor finance options, you may prefer to look at the available lease options. Leasing means you can choose a car to have over a 3-5 year period, paying monthly instalments, sometimes with a deposit upfront. At the end of the term, you can then give the car back and change to a different one if you prefer. Although you won’t own the car outright, it’s an increasingly popular way to afford a higher value vehicle. Monthly repayments are usually affordable, and you have the option of changing your vehicle to another new one every few years. 

 

Pay a Bigger Deposit

If you can afford to, you should definitely pay a bigger deposit when searching for car loans. If you can raise the funds, or preferably save up over a number of months, you can pay a larger upfront cost. This way, you can reduce your monthly loan amount considerably, saving huge amounts in interest. The idea is to not have to take out a loan over too long a period, meaning the amount of interest should be lower overall than if you kept it for an extra year or two. It may seem like you’re spending more money to begin with, but overall the total costs involved will be much less. If you can find lenders that will take a larger deposit you should consider doing so. Some lenders may not prefer this as they will not make as much interest on your loan, so shop around and ensure that the one you go with will allow this. Additionally, if there is an option to clear the balance quicker or earlier, you should go for loans that allow this. Keeping these points in mind will help to ensure you will always find the cheapest loans on the market for you.

bank of england
BankingCash Management

Traditional UK Banks Are Failing To Engage With Users

bank of england

Traditional UK Banks Are Failing To Engage With Users

One in five UK bank customers happy to see branches close in favour of improved digital experiences.

Boomi™, a Dell Technologies business, announced the results of its research on banks’ engagement with their customers. The research finds almost one in three (30%) UK adults consider the search for a better customer experience in digital interactions the main driver for changing banks.

The research quizzed 6,000 adults across the UK and Europe on the customer experience provided by their bank, and how the bank meets their needs.

Currently, nearly one in five (17%) UK customers believe their traditional bank feels ‘a bit old’ and they are looking for an improved digital performance. A fifth (22%) would even be happy if their bank closed its branches if it resulted in an improved mobile app / online banking experience. This figure rises to over a third (39%) among those aged 18-24, who also prioritise having a good banking app (58%).

The results showed traditional UK banks are not engaging with customers like they used to, and are failing to adapt and mitigate this, showing a deep disconnect between modes of communication chosen by banks (email 39%, mobile app 24%), versus those preferred by customers (phone 71%, email 69%, mobile app 62%). Most customers remain with their banking provider just through force of habit (39%), despite citing a good online banking experience (37%) and a good mobile banking experience (35%) as paramount.

The most dissatisfied customers are in the UK

On average, other European countries such as the Netherlands (33%) and Sweden (33%) are happier with their digital banking experience than UK customers (24%). The survey also found that EU banking customers (72%) don’t change banks, but add additional banks, with one in five holding a digital bank account with challenger banks like Monzo, Starling or Revolut as well as their ‘traditional’ bank account.

As of January 13th 2018, Open Banking has required banks to increase transparency and open APIs to enable third-party developers’ access to their account holder data and services. Just 21% of respondents, however, report their current bank offers open banking services, while 66% are not sure if it does – indicating a requirement for further education on the topic.

“New account holders won’t hold the same loyalty to their bank as previous generations have. New players entering the market have challenged the industry status quo thereby setting a new standard around the digital banking experience, forever changing customers’ expectations. Customers are looking for more than better products when choosing their next provider,” said Derek Thompson, VP of EMEA at Boomi.

“It’s therefore critical that banks assess their current IT ecosystem, ensuring they’re not held back by their legacy infrastructure and can quickly unite their digital ecosystems, deploying more agile technology to transform customer experience,” he added.

When asked why they bank with their current provider, a good all-round customer experience (44%) was the main reason cited by respondents, followed by having “always been with them” (39%) and “enjoying a good online banking experience” (37%).

amazon
Corporate TaxTax

Amazon Is The Global Frontrunner In Research And Development

amazon

Amazon Is The Global Frontrunner In Research And Development

The latest research by R&D tax credit experts, RIFT Research and Development Ltd, has looked at which names are driving the R&D sector when it comes to spend on sector innovation around the world.  

RIFT looked at the total spend on research and development as well as what percentage of revenue this accounted for.

Top of the list is world-beaters, Amazon, although they remain largely involved in technology and retail as their core business. The US-based business behemoths not only have the retail game on lockdown, but they top the R&D table as well, with the latest figures showing a huge R&D spend of 17.38 billion pounds in a single year. The development of delivery drones must be expensive although it’s money well spent, with Amazon’s evolution ensuring that their giant R&D spend equates to just 13% of revenue!

Tech and software giants, Alphabet, the world’s fifth-largest technology company by revenue and one of the world’s most valuable companies, take the second spot in the R&D spend league table.  The parent company of Google, they spent £12.47bn in a year on research and development, although again, this equated to just 15% of revenue.

Volkswagen takes bronze as one of just three non-tech focused companies in the top 10 R&D spend league table. The German car manufacturer is also the first outside of the US with an R&D spend totaling £12.12bn over the last year.

Samsung (£11.77bn), Microsoft (£11.33bn), Huawei (£10.45bn), Intel (£10.07bn) and Apple (£8.90bn) rank fourth to eight as the tech takeover continues, while Swiss medical multinational Roche Holding, who operates worldwide under the two divisions of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics places ninth with £8.30bn spent on R&D.  

In at the tenth spot is Johnson and Johnson, again largely involved in pharmaceuticals and consumer packaged goods, with an R&D spend of £8.11bn.

Other companies to feature in the top 20 range from Daimler, Ford, Facebook, BMW and Bosch.

Director of RIFT Research and Development Limited, Sarah Collins commented:

“It goes without saying that some of the biggest names in the business will be spending considerable amounts of money on bettering their proposition through innovation, research, and development and those with the huge budgets to do so are also some with the lowest percentage of R&D spend as a percentage of revenue. 

While R&D certainly lends itself to a wider array of work in certain sectors, such as automotive, pharmaceuticals, engineering and software development, it certainly isn’t restricted to these sectors alone and it’s great to see so many vast and varied businesses taking advantage of R&D tax relief in the UK in particular. If you’re an SME pioneering change in your individual sector, make sure you are making the most of Government rewards for doing so and no matter how insignificant you think a step forward might be, the chances are it qualifies as research and development.”

Company

R&D spend $ (US billions)

R&D spend £ (GBP billions)

R&D Intensity (R&D to Revenue %)

Industry group / sector

Country / nationality

Amazon.com

22.62

17.38

13%

Retail / technology / services

United States

Alphabet

16.23

12.47

15%

Software and services

United States

Volkswagen

15.77

12.12

6%

Automobiles and components

Germany

Samsung

15.31

11.77

7%

Technology hardware

South Korea

Microsoft

14.74

11.33

13%

Software and services

United States

Huawei

13.6

10.45

15%

Technology

China

Intel

13.1

10.07

21%

Semiconductors

United States

Apple

11.58

8.90

5%

Technology hardware

United States

Roche Holding

10.8

8.30

19%

Pharmaceuticals / biotechnology / Life

Switzerland

Johnson & Johnson

10.55

8.11

14%

Pharmaceuticals / biotechnology

United States

Daimler

10.4

7.99

5%

Automobiles and components

Germany

Merck & Co

10.21

7.85

25%

Pharmaceuticals / biotechnology

United States

Toyota

10.02

7.70

4%

Automobiles and components

Japan

Novartis

8.51

6.54

17%

Pharmaceuticals / biotechnology

Switzerland

Ford Motor Company

8

6.15

5%

Automobiles and components

United States

Facebook

7.75

5.96

19%

Software and services

United States

Pfizer

7.66

5.89

15%

Pharmaceuticals / biotechnology

United States

BMW

7.33

5.63

6%

Automobiles and components

Germany

General Motors

7.3

5.61

5%

Automobiles and components

United States

Bosch

7.12

5.47

8%

Engineering / technology

Germany

Sources

IdeatoValue

Strategy&

 

 

 

 

aspen
BankingFamily OfficesPrivate Banking

Emotional Economics: The Challenges of Mixing Love and Money in Family Businesses and Legacy Families

aspen

Emotional Economics: The Challenges of Mixing Love and Money in Family Businesses and Legacy Families

Thirty years ago, the family business started by Daniel’s grandfather and great uncle was sold. Daniel and his three siblings received nearly sixty million US dollars each, as did each of their cousins. In 2016, Daniel, who had created a successful real estate and development business and on the advice of his financial and tax advisors, transferred to his four adult children twenty-five million US dollars each. The age range for the adult children spanned nine years, and one daughter worked in Daniel’s business. From the day gifting was announced it has resulted in family disruption. The surface discord resulted from a perceived economic injustice concerning “the time value of money” since all siblings received an equal share rather than a share based on their age. But the deeper disharmony stemmed from an unresolved historical emotional impasse between the father and one of the adult children dating back to the child’s teenage years. 

As Aspen Consulting Team, (ACT) we help members in family businesses and legacy families address the psychological dynamics of love and money, the interplay between emotions and economics, in the family system. 

Love and money are symbiotic and immiscible. They are connected, but do not mix naturally. The wrong mixture results in entitlement, disruption, and conflict; the correct mixture results in gratitude, opportunity, and resilience. The wealth connection in a family business and/or legacy family requires
Emotional Economics: The Challenges of Mixing Love and Money in Family Businesses and Legacy FamiliesMar19081
adult children to stay integrated in their family of origin much longer than typical families. The financial interdependence provides great benefits and at the same time creates complexities. A basic operating principle in our work is that the deeper the economic interconnections the higher the potentiality for emotional conflicts.

Every family business and/or legacy family is a system, a combination of small subset systems (individuals) connected to mid-size systems (family units), nested within larger systems (extended and generational family units), and linked to much larger systems (business and wealth management). Everything is connected and influenced by everything else. Within this system transitioning wealth takes place at two levels where the highest goal is to provide an inheritance without creating entitlement. 

• The “external” work is wealth creation and management. The task of continuing the vision set by the founders, operating with the values that made the family successful in the first place, protecting assets, defining financial goals, policies, and strategies, adjusting to taxes and market changes, understanding investments and ROI, implementing shareholder agreements and distributions, creating foundations and estates, and increasing the financial portfolio. Legal and financial advisors help with this work.
• The “internal” work is relationship harmony and management. The task of connecting and inspiring family members, strengthening the family culture, adapting to generational values, maintaining agreements, managing interpersonal stress, working as a team, responding to special demands, and enjoying the process as members of each generation face opportunities and transitions. This is the space in which ACT works.

There are always two parallel objectives in our work. The first objective is to create guidelines to “prevent the emotional tail from wagging the economic dog.” The second objective is to “not cut off the emotional tail.” Emotions, when accessed correctly, are powerful guides and cannot be ignored without damaging relationship harmony and overlooking important decision-making data. There are more emotions in an economic experience than meets the mind’s eye.

Emotions are actions, many of them are public and visible to others as they are expressed in body language or are verbalized. Feelings, on the other hand, are always hidden, unseen and perhaps unrecognized, to anyone other than their rightful owner. Feelings are the most private property we own. Emotions precede feelings, much to the common mistaken view. “We have emotions first and feelings after because evolution came up with emotions first and feelings later.”2 We, and our emotional system, are designed to solve the basic problem of how to continue life by being either competitive or cooperative and on the economic survival level this involves money. 

A study conducted with children, ages 3 to 6 years, showed that they did not understand the economic value of money, but they comprehended its emotional value. The first group sorted coins and banknotes, while the second group sorted buttons and candy. The children who worked with money demonstrated an increase in egotistical behaviors, were less eager to help the researchers, corralled more awards for themselves, were less likely to share their rewards with the other children, but were more persistent in completing individual tasks. Handling money reduced feelings of helpfulness and generosity while increasing perseverance and effort. These results are very similar to the results of a comparable study that looked at adult behavior. According to Agata Gąsiorowska, economic psychologist and a coauthor of the study:3

“Money is such a strong symbol in the world based on economic exchange that even small children are influenced by its significance. Money causes people to switch from the view of the world that values close relationships to the world that values market exchange, where the notions of ‘me’ and ‘my gain’ are in the center.”

Emotions, often considered “gut feelings” or conscious experience, really involve many systems
within our brain. Emotions create a burst of activity devoted to one thing, survival. Emotions trump non-emotional events, like thought, reason, and decision-making, even in the most rational analyst and business leader, because they are older in the human developmental process than economics. Emotions kept our ancestors alive long enough to create and give us an inheritance. Emotions, even those in our memory system, trigger certain features, feelings, and stimuli that are designed for homeostasis. 

Homeostasis is a self-regulating process by which our biological and psychological systems try to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival and success. In love and war, as in family and business, when homeostasis is successful, individual and collective life continues and flourishes. There are “natural triggers” like the sight, sound, and smell of a predator and “learned triggers” like the sight, sound, and smell of money that aid us in the pursuit for homeostasis.4

About 10,000 years ago, when the first farmer created more than his or her family could consume, the economy of the marketplace began. Before the agricultural age, our ancestors were daily hunters and gatherers, collecting and consuming without the ability or surplus to “store up” resources. When farmers took their extra bags of gain to the marketplace they needed a symbol of exchange. In time, this symbol became money. 

From that time forward, there are few interactions or decisions in a legacy family that do not involve money and a drive for the family to flourish. The recent college admission scandal in the United States is a brazen example. 

Money is an emotional trigger in families and how we react to it may be either positive or negative. In order to have a positive environment, family leaders must work toward stability between two social systems that continuously change as individuals change. The two social systems are the homogeneous system of being similar, the drive for family unity, and the heterogeneous system of being dissimilar, the drive for personal autonomy. These systems create interpersonal tension and ambiguity, along with creativity and drive that must be anticipated and proactively managed in a legacy family and family business. Wishing that anxiety or conflict would depart the family system or that love and harmony would show up is usually not enough. 

The tension among family members is from four psychological positions; Fight, Flight, Freeze and Flow . Three positions, Fight, Flight, and Freeze , are an extension of our evolutionary survival system. The fourth area, Flow, is the way to happiness and success.5 It requires psychological awareness, behavioral adjustment, and positive action on the part of family members and leaders and is difficult to create and maintain as family members grow and change.

• Fight: When both personal confidence (autonomy) and relationship security (unity) are low, one’s psychological position is hostile-dependent. This shows itself in behaviors of “moving against” others in the family or family system. The feelings and behaviors expressed are often confusion, anger, resistance, and opposition.

• Freeze: When personal confidence (autonomy) is low and relationship security (unity) is high, one’s psychological position is co-dependent. This shows itself in behaviors of “moving in” with others in the family or family system. What we often see is enmeshment, clinginess, entanglement, low selfesteem, fear, and anxiety.

• Flight: When personal confidence (autonomy) is high and relationship security (unity) is low, one’s psychological position is counter-dependent. This shows itself in behaviors of “moving away” from others in the family and/or family system. This is seen in acts of isolation and detachment, which can look like independence, if it were not for the financial dependence. 

• Flow: When both personal confidence (autonomy) and relationship security (unity) are high, one’s psychological position is inter-dependent. This shows itself in behaviors of “moving with” others in the family and/or family system. This is experienced as cooperation, maturity, accountability, and resilience. This, of course, is the most optimal position for family members.

For economic success and relationship harmony within a legacy family or family business, family members must purposefully address emotional historical impasses, resolve sibling rivalries, find comparable values, and work toward mutual goals. The psychological tools for doing this work are what we have termed “thick trust” and “mature adult communication.” 

Long-term success in family and business life requires a willingness to trust one another. The question is how we measure the trust. Scientific research shows that most people’s accuracy in discerning if another person can be trusted is imprecise. Much of the time, we have weak or no guidelines other than a set of emotional clues we have used in the past. Trust is dynamic—not static. The more we have at risk, the greater the need for trust. It is helpful to think of trust in three levels.6

1. One-Way Trust. Only one person has trust on the line. If the other person cannot be trusted to follow through on promises or commitments the relationship ends, as do any potential gains or losses. 

2. Mutual Trust. This is a reciprocity style, often called quid pro quo and “tit for tat,” for regulating equilibrium in transactional relationships. It is the most familiar type of trust in business, worked out among and between the same parties over a long period of time. Both parties play the roles of giver, taker and matcher, and exchange these roles for mutual benefit. When trust is broken, the relationships and transactions end.
3. Thick Trust. This is the highest form of trust and is required for family members to work together for the long-term. Family business relationships are complex because they occur across different settings and include a diverse series of interactions, both personal and professional. Action at one level may have ramifications at other levels, and every action has the potential for benefit or harm. Trust at this level, like in a marriage, requires the strength, resilience, and skill of mature character to overcome and forgive mistakes. 

Trust and trustworthiness are forms of social and relationship capital. A subjective way to think about your trustworthiness or that of another person in a family business is the following formula. Personal Character plus Competency Skills divided by Self-Interest plus Psychological Awareness plus Behavioral Adjustment determines Thick Trust.  

TT=[(PC+CS)÷SI]+(PA+BA)

A solid foundation of trust allows communication to be clear, constructive, and proactive, what we call Mature Adult Communication (MAC). We suggest that family members have a formal agreement to use MAC when important economic and emotional decisions need to be made. The first step in MAC is to clearly define the issue. Much of what is called “failure to communicate” is not having a clear and collective understanding of the problem or issue. The second step is to explore all the psychological dynamics, emotions, and feelings around the issue. This is often the hardest step and may require outside consultation. The third step is to have full commitment by all family members involved in the issue to the decision-making process (who, how, and when a decision will be made) and to make a clear and firm decision, with an evaluation process if necessary.

MAC eliminates what statistician and author Nassim Taleb calls narrative fallacy, “ a wrong ruler will not measure the height of a child. ”7 This is how we fool others and ourselves by a flaw in a story of the past, often emotional, which shape our decisions for the future. An accurate diagnosis of the problem sets the stage for the correct treatment. Decisions that address the wrong description of the situation can be made with a high level of determination, confidence, and authority, but will still be defective and require correction at a later time with greater expense. 

Creating, managing, and transitioning wealth within a family is a balancing act. It requires addressing the struggles not only among and between individual family members, but the tension created by money. The connections from our emotional system to our cognitive system are stronger than the connections from our cognitive systems to our emotional system. If this were not true, Daniel’s adult children would not have entered into the discord that has alienated and estranged family members.

aspen
Thomas Edward Pyles, MA & Edgell Franklin Pyles, PhD

Edgell and Tom, a father and son team, consult with family businesses on leadership strategies, particularly succession, and with legacy families on the complexities of mixing love and money. They are the co-authors of MAPS for Men: A Guide for Fathers and Sons and Family Businesses. Fourth generation business owner Charles S. Luck, IV, wrote, “MAPS for Men is one of the most comprehensive guides to families in business that I have ever seen.”

“Edgell and Tom weave a tapestry of insight for anyone seriously interested in building family relationship bridges that endure generational transitions.” Dennis Carruth, President, Carruth Properties Company. 

“I have clearly seen results. In all cases it is an inflection point to a fresh and positive perspective.” Chris Branscum, Family Office Advisor, JD, CPA.

“I have worked with Edgell for more than twenty-five years. He has provided counsel to our family, including our two adult sons, my business, and my YPO group.” James Light, Chairman, Chaffin Light Management Company. 

“Our family legacy is now in the fifth generation. I truly appreciated Edgell and Tom’s work. The lessons learned will bear fruit for many years and generations to come.” David Hardie, Founder and CEO, Hallador Management, LLC.

“The psychological and spiritual counsel offered by Edgell and Tom has proved very helpful to my family and business.” Jeff Wandell, Founder and CEO, Prairie Gardens and Jeffrey Alan’s. 

“Dr. Edgell came into my life in a time when I had failed and did not like myself in many ways. He helped me, at the age of 58, on a new journey of bliss.” M. Ray Thomasson, PhD, President, Thomasson Partner Associates, Past President, American Association of Petroleum Geologist, Past President, American Geological Institute.

“Edgell enriches lives of those he touches in a most profound way.” Paul Schorr, Past President, Chief Executives Organization.

Sources:

1. Erik Erickson, Identity, Youth, and Crisis.

2. Antonio Damasio, Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain.

3. The study was conducted by an international research team, including: Agata Gąsiorowska, Tomasz Zaleśkiewicz, and Sandra Wygrab, SWPS University in Wrocław, Lan Nguyen Chaplin, University of Illinois, and Kathleen D. Vohs, University of Minnesota.

4. Joseph LeDoux, The Emotional Brain, The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life.

5. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

6. Elinor Ostrom and James Walker, editors, Trust & Reciprocity, Interdisciplinary Lessons from Experimental Research.

7. Nassim Taleb, “A Map and Simple Heuristic to Detect Fragility, Antifragility, and Model Error.”

vineyards
RegulationTax

What Do Sex Toys, Architects and Vineyards Have In Common?

vineyards

What Do Sex Toys, Architects and Vineyards Have In Common?

They are all sectors that could be claiming for Research and Development Tax Credit, according to R&D specialists RIFT Research and Development Ltd.

While growth in R&D tax relief claims has increased by 35% annually since inception in 2001 to over £4bn last year and has already returned £26bn in total tax relief to businesses across the nation, the scheme is yet to be fully utilised.

Introduced by the Government, it encourages scientific and technological innovation across a plethora of UK business sectors. But while RIFT has worked with some of the more traditional companies to have made the most of it, in areas like construction, manufacturing, business and finance, they believe many are still failing to take advantage of the financial benefits and have highlighted some of the more unusual work that could qualify. 

Architecture

Architects are often presented with issues when planning whether it be social or environmental and the engineering or technology-based advancements made to overcome these can often qualify as R&D. 

Some examples of architectural practices that may fall within the R&D framework include designing bespoke features, testing and prototyping, improving energy efficiency, adapting practices when working on heritage or listed structures, tackling acoustic issues, new thermal or lighting requirements and seeking BREEAM, Passivhaus or LEED certification.  

Catering

Catering is home to a whole host of R&D opportunities including work that makes innovative use of the effects of preservatives, increases a product’s nutritional value, helps increase the shelf life of a product, changes the flavour of an existing product, or even the texture or form. For example, advancements in liquid-based breakfast items.

This also includes work on reducing allergens and additives or even the processes, techniques, equipment and ingredients used, whether it be a commercial kitchen or an industrial food production unit or factory. One recent area where plenty of work would qualify is the production of gluten-free food and developing this offering across a wide variety of products that weren’t available before.

Car Manufacturer and Dealers

At times, nontechnical activities can qualify, including areas such as the design of a car’s shape should the manufacturer be able to demonstrate advancements in aerodynamics, performance or fuel consumption. 

Even the more day to day tasks of re-designing your showroom CRM system to make the day to day running of your site more efficient can qualify.  

Clean Tech

Clean tech is perfect for R&D Tax Relief and if you aren’t claiming you’re missing out. But you don’t have to be designing carbon-neutral products in a lab, even driving innovations in areas such as recycling, renewable energy, solid waste management, or sewage treatment could see you qualify.

Textiles

Textiles is another sector rife with opportunity, driven by design and creation but also heavily reliant on production methods, the way you bring a design to life and the efficiency of the machines used to produce the fabric could all qualify for R&D if you’re doing something new to pioneer efficiency and reduce waste.

Sex Toys

Believe it or not, the sex industry is consistently producing pioneering work that would easily qualify under the R&D tax relief framework. Whether it is a new technology, stimulation technique, material or even the way these products are made, any and all new advancements tend to be leading innovation in the sector. 

Football Clubs

Yes, football clubs. Largely due to the advancements being made within the performance departments on a medical basis. This can include nutritional plans, rehabilitation methods and activities, research and information into specific injuries, all of which can help reduce the time a player is unable to play and the speed and the quality of their recovery. 

Vineyards, Breweries and Distilleries

Increasing output while maintaining standards and costs has seen many companies producing wine, beer or spirits carry out R&D-worthy work. Again, removing additives or preservatives can advance a product, or by increasing alcohol content, creating new processes to help scale up productivity or even experimenting with new materials to develop unique flavours for sale to the industry.


Director of RIFT Research and Development Limited, Sarah Collins commented:
 

“Research and development is happening in every corner of British business but many are failing to recognise that the work they are doing qualifies. We’ve highlighted just a few of the more unusual, but if you’re doing something different to advance your business or product, why not get all the help you can and claim some financial relief on the costs incurred to develop these advancements.”  

marketing
ArticlesFunds

Aligning Marketing and Sales

marketing

Aligning Marketing and Sales

Geoff Webb, VP of Strategy at PROS.

It might surprise you to hear that in many financial services organisations, the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) often has the biggest IT budget. The reason is relatively straight-forward: in recent years there has been an immense investment in MarTech, and it’s made the discipline of marketing very tech-heavy. So much so in fact, that marketing departments now spend more time staring at dashboards, spreadsheets, and AI-fueled analytics than almost any other part of the business.

In fact, this trend is accelerating. Gartner research into CMO budget spend in 2018 revealed that as many as 57 percent of CEOs are prepared to invest more in marketing.

Yet, while this huge focus on technology has armed CMOs with an incredible level of insight (including where your mouse goes on their site, what kinds of content you read online, and so on), it has also resulted in a rather one-sided technology investment, especially for B2B financial services firms who are eager to demonstrate to their customers that they both understand and care about them as individuals.  

We think it’s time for perception surrounding ownership of the technology budget to change. While marketing departments may be happily sailing on an ocean of usable data, their colleagues in the sales department may be struggling to respond to an explosive change in buyer behavior and expectations.

The reality is that today’s CRO’s (Chief Revenue Officers) are facing extraordinary pressure to transform their departments – especially in the face of a growing shift towards digital commerce models. Once upon a time, a sales executive could rely on experience, insight, and interpersonal skills to close a deal and keep the customer buying – but today, that’s a much more difficult task.


Evolving with your sales team

An increasing number of buyers are now moving away from the traditional model of calling up their sales rep and asking for a quote. Instead, they’re seeking the convenience of being able to buy online, without needing to pick up the phone, send an email, or – heaven forbid – meet in person. Simply put, for the day-to-day business of buying, purchasers want the speed and convenience of e-commerce. Yet studies also show that buyers want to know there will be a well-informed sales executive available at the end of the phone, should they need one.

Managing this shift from meeting in person to being mostly offline/sometimes in person isn’t easy, and requires sales professionals to be fully informed about their customers, have visibility into transactions as they’re occurring (should the customer need help) and be ready to provide insight and guidance.

The solution to supporting this change for the sales team lies – just as it did for the marketing team – in the deployment of technology. In the same way that MarTech has transformed marketing teams, sales departments need to adopt highly specialised technology that can help them to be more personalised, faster, more efficient, and ultimately capitalise on the increased number of leads.

When we look at where much of the investment in sales automation technology is currently, we see it at the operational level. As is stands, sales professionals can spend as little as 36 percent of their time actually selling, meaning they are dwindling away precious time and productivity on administrative tasks. However, there is a deeper need to be met for sales leadership, a more fundamental question as we shift towards more complex, multi-channel digital selling – how do I make my sales people not only more productive, but more informed?


Getting personal

We’re now seeing the emergence of several next-generation sales technologies that are able to go beyond operational efficiency and provide the same degree of analytic-based insight to CROs that marketing technology provides to CMOs.

Top of the list are technologies that can enable more intelligent quoting for complex products (where configuration can be highly time-consuming and prone to expensive errors), and some good examples of this are products like heavy equipment or high-tech medical devices.

Arming sales executives with the tools they need in order to support these kinds of purchases, replete with information not only about the product, but about the specific needs of that customer, can slash the time needed to respond correctly to a request. Studies show that delivering highly personalised responses to buyers not only increases win rates, but also increases the value of the sale. Customers are much more likely to pay additional for something if they know that the product being offered is personalised to them and designed with their specific needs in mind. This includes the product itself, how it’s packaged, how it’s delivered and how it’s priced.

Driving the bottom line together

Yet, all these changes are indicative of a more profound change that looms on the horizon for financial services firms.

Aligning marketing and sales has long been a challenge that has vexed the c-suite. At their heart, misalignments often arise from a lack of common understanding regarding the nature of their customers and the market needs. And these misalignments are expensive and disruptive, wasting time, effort, and opening cracks in customer satisfaction that agile competitors can exploit to steal market share.

But what if sales and marketing had a common, clear, and consistent understanding of their customers and their needs? What if, instead of arguing about messaging and focus, sales and marketing teams were completely aligned?

One of the keys to achieving this will be sharing the same big data lake and analytic/AI engine to give rise to a unified and common sense of the who, where, what, and how of customer engagement. This changes everything – because now the entire business becomes a single, focused unified force to deliver precisely what the customer needs, every day, with every interaction.

It might seem ironic that technologies such as big data, cloud platforms and AI will serve to transform the most ‘human’ aspects of financial services sales and marketing, yet this is exactly what’s starting to happen. What’s more, freed of disruptive disagreements about what customers want, businesses can finally start to align all their energy into delivering a customer experience that sets them apart.

So, while the CMO might be getting the lion’s share of the tech budget today, we expect to see more sharing with other teams to happen in future. Of course, adopting this more hybrid sales model might bring cultural, organisational, and even revenue implications with it, but the rewards on offer couldn’t be clearer.

offshore
BankingCash ManagementOffshore

5 Reasons Why You Need To Bank Offshore

offshore

5 Reasons Why You Need To Bank Offshore

Offshore banking is often associated with negative connotations in regard to tax evasion and criminal activity, but this couldn’t be further than the truth. Despite what you may hear, offshore banking is completely legal. Put simply, they’re bank accounts held in a country other than the one you permanently reside in.

So why do you need one? James Turner, Director at York-based Turner Little, takes us through the benefits of banking offshore.

 

They’re not just for the ultra-wealthy

A common misconception is that offshore banks are just for ultra-high net worth individuals, who want to hide their money. Anyone can benefit from using an offshore bank account, depending on what their needs are. At Turner Little, we work with our clients to specifically identify their needs, and tailor our solutions based on our extensive experience and understanding of the banking industry.

 

They’re safe

Offshore banks are often considered to be politically and economically stable, with any associated risk considerably reduced. Using an offshore bank, based in a highly regulated, transparent jurisdiction that offers individuals an element of protection with a deposit compensation scheme, enables you to feel safe in the understanding that your wealth will be protected from the risks of capital accessibility restrictions, control and potential currency devaluation.

 
They provide flexibility and control

Banking offshore is completely flexible, often offering the same high level of service you would expect with traditional, onshore banking. It has always been a successful way of ensuring you maintain control over your long-term finances, which ultimately means you have greater freedom without depending on any one country. This convenience and flexibility is especially relevant for those who travel regularly, or have international assets.

 

You’ll always have easy access

Offshore banks have evolved over the last decade, and offer 24/7 online banking. This means that no matter where you are, you’ll always have easy access to your funds. Depending on which bank you choose, you’ll also have access to accounts in multiple currencies, allowing you to manage accounts and automate payments whenever you need.

 

You’ll be able to build on your investment portfolio

Many countries offer tax incentives for foreign investments and provide you with a wide choice of both funds and investments. There is no shortage of opportunities that are fiscally sound, designed to promote a healthy investment environment and, most importantly, legal.

m bills
BankingWealth Management

Slovenian mBills Pioneering with the Next Step in Mobile ePayments

m bills

Slovenian mBills Pioneering with the Next Step in Mobile ePayments

Innovation in the Fintech space can come in many forms. Whilst the idea of seamless mobile payments is far from a novel one, with many firms around the world moving to capitalise on a growing demand for accessible financial services, mBills mobile wallet has swiftly differentiated itself in the Slovenian market. Eager to find out more, we spoke to CEO, Primož Zupan to find out more about their expertise and services.

Fintech, long associated with swift moving developments and a certain innovative spark, has been the great driver of change in a comparatively sluggish market. Where brick and mortar giants have been slow to adapt, leaner more proactive entities have seen exceptional success through an ability to cater – intrinsically – to ever-changing consumer behaviour. This is where mBills have secured their success.

Indeed since 2015, mBills has been providing cutting edge solutions in the e-payment space. Through utilising mobile smartphone technology, they have, essentially, put the consumer at the centre of every transaction – giving them back control of their finances. This is especially important when considering the market that mBills primarily operates in – Slovenia. As Primož discusses, the novelty of mBills services helped them to quickly forge an impressive reputation in the industry, “mBills was the first mobile app on Slovene market to introduce mobile wallet solutions to its users and has since than implemented and significantly expended variety of solutions, constantly keeping the user and the best possible user experience in the centre of development.

“The vision of mBills is to give the user a complete control and overview of finances, so that paying, purchasing or ordering financial products will be at the user’s fingertips in one app, regardless of the bank, communications provider or operating system.” This user-centric ethos has resulted in mBills experiencing a burgeoning client base of consumers eager to make use of the company’s ‘next-generation’ approach to financial services – as Primož continues. “Our user database is steadily growing, and we have received huge positive feedback from both users and thought leaders of the industry. The ultimate vision of mBills is to give the user a complete control and overview of finances, so that paying, purchasing or ordering financial products will be at the user’s fingertips in one app, regardless of the bank, communications provider or operating system.”

“mBills mobile wallet is available to everyone and at any time – whatever the bank, operating system and mobile operator.”

Through their ‘all in one’ app, users can make quick and easy point of sale payments, pay monthly invoices, and manage their e-wallet, ensuring that budgets are followed, and finances are maintained. Moreover, through their partnerships with cash programs such as mintPOS, VASCO and microGRAMM, mBills has ensured their longevity for the years to come.

“As a fintech start-up MBILLS is basically run by a team of enthusiastic individuals who put their heart and soul in the product. We all share the same vision and complement each other to reach it faster, therefore staying ahead of the competition.”

All in all, mBills is a firm with the future firmly in mind. Even among the competitively crowded ePayment landscape, they have distanced themselves from the competition by prioritising the user experience. It’s a mindset that has proved to be the key to the firm’s enduring success and looks set to secure their longevity in the years to come.

Specifically, for Primož, the future sits with development of the app’s integration and features: “We plan to expend the variety of features in the app that will further cater to the needs of our users – making mBills the only application you need on your phone for keeping a track on your finances, enabling savings, donations, ordering financial products, supporting different loyalty programs, purchasing etc. Ultimately, we aim to fulfil our promise to become a ‘digital solutions’ provider. These multiple in-app solutions will simplify user’s everyday life. The future of mBills looks very exciting .”

offshore banking
BankingOffshoreWealth Management

Offshore Banking: Breaking The Taboo

offshore banking

Offshore Banking: Breaking The Taboo

It’s not what you think. Offshore banking is often slandered, and most commonly associated with tax evasion. But this begs to question – what do people really know about offshore banking? James Turner, Director at York-based Turner Little tells us everything we need to know about offshore banking.

“Offshore banking, simply put, is banking done in a country other than the one you live in. That’s it. It doesn’t mean tax evasion, it doesn’t mean hiding money, it doesn’t mean fraud, it’s perfectly legal – and convenient.

“There are both financial and legal advantages to banking offshore. At Turner Little, we recommend clients consider the why, before they consider the where. Banks in certain countries tend to be less stable, whilst other offshore jurisdictions are incredibly stable and provide easy account set-up and access online.

“One clear benefit is having access to a multi-currency account. If you have international financial obligations, the ability to transfer money between currencies is a relatively fast and painless experience, with some offshore banks able to provide competitive rates in comparison to regular banking services.

“Depending on the bank you choose, offshore banks can act as a private banking facility, where lending and credit facilities can be more flexible and tailored specifically to your needs. A good offshore bank will also be able to provide you with a wide array of funds and investments that are appropriate to your risk profile and the outcomes you want to achieve.

“Offshore banking is also one way you can ensure your financial information is kept private. It’s also a way in which you can protect your assets against financial instability. Offshore banking works if you use it correctly, and if all the documentation is correct – this is where we come in. At Turner Little, we familiarise ourselves with the regulations necessary for compliance in a multitude of offshore jurisdictions – so you don’t have to. When the rules are followed, offshore banking is legal and gives you the means to better protect your assets, providing you with both financial strength and freedom.” 

insurance cost
Cash ManagementInsurance

Five Ways To Save Money On Fuel This Christmas

insurance cost

Five Ways To Save Money On Fuel This Christmas

As all motorists will know, fuel prices are one of the many hidden costs of owning a car, and with fuel prices set to reach a six-year high, now is the perfect time for motorists to start thinking about how to get the most out of their tank.

To help motorists cut costs over the festive period, the UK’s leading car parts provider, Euro Car Parts has shared their top five ways to save fuel by driving more efficiently.

 

  1. Drive at one speed through speed bumps

Some driving styles can mean extra fuel is used when driving over speed bumps, and learning how to properly tackle them could save motorists a lot of money. 

Motorists can avoid any unnecessary fuel consumption by driving at a constant speed between bumps. Accelerating or braking too often in between speed bumps is when most fuel is used. 

 

  1. Don’t overfill your tank

It might be common knowledge that carrying excess weight reduces fuel efficiency, but did you know that overfilling your tank can actually make your car less efficient?

Although it seems counter-intuitive, brimming your tank will lead to extra fuel being used to transport the extra weight, and by only filling it up to half full you can cut extra weight and save money in the process. 

 

  1. Managing your revs

Most drivers barely look at the RPM (revolutions per minute) count when changing gear and rely on the sound or ‘feel’ of the engine. However, in doing so, you could be over-revving without even knowing, and wasting precious fuel with each gear change.

The most fuel-efficient RPM to change up a gear is 2,500 for a petrol car and 2,000 for diesel. So next time you’re changing gear keep an eye on the revs count, stick to that number and the pennies you’ll save will soon stack up.

Additionally, try to avoid dropping your revs too low, as this could cause unnecessary strain on the engine and waste fuel. Staying above 1,500 revs in petrol and 1,300 in diesel cars should comfortably avoid this.

 

  1. Slow down on high-speed roads

Driving at high speeds down dual carriageways and motorways means your engine is operating at a higher RPM than it is on slower roads. 

However, by simply slowing down a little on those fast roads you could end up saving a lot of money. The most efficient speed to drive at is between 55-65mph, and driving at 70mph compared to 80mph could save you 25% more fuel.

 

  1. Turn your engine off

It might seem obvious, but it’s worth remembering that keeping your engine idle whilst stationary and not using your car still burns fuel.

Leaving your car running on a cold winter’s morning, or keeping the engine on whilst sat in stationary traffic, wastes a lot of unnecessary fuel. If you know you’re going to be stationary for some time, it’s a good idea to turn off the engine to conserve your petrol or diesel.

Chris Barella, Digital Services Director at Euro Car Parts, said: “Driving more economically can save a lot more money than drivers may realise. By following these tips not only are you kinder on your wallet, but you’re also helping to cut down on unnecessary emissions”.

For more information on driving efficiently and saving fuel visit during the winter months visit: https://www.eurocarparts.com/blog/top-5-winter-driving-tips

divorce
Family OfficesHigh Net-worth IndividualsReal Estate

Divorce: Jurisdiction and Financial Relief Applications

divorce

Divorce: Jurisdiction and Financial Relief Applications

By Stephanie Kyriacou, associate in the family team at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau.

Many high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) lead truly international lifestyles, travelling the world, owning multiple residences and holding assets all across the globe. However, whilst this internationally-mobile way of living certainly has its benefits, for couples navigating the emotional process of divorce, dealing with multiple legal jurisdictions can often cause issues, particularly if one side of the divorcing party has been unfairly treated by the foreign courts.

Luckily, if an individual believes that they have suffered financial hardship as a result of a financial order in a foreign jurisdiction, there may be an avenue which they can pursue to balance the scales, provided by the English and Welsh courts. The UK’s legal system has long been considered one of the most fair and agreeable around the world in terms of settling financial matters upon divorce, and there is a reason why London itself is known as the ‘divorce capital of the world’.

Sadly, the foreign courts are often not as generous as their English and Welsh counterparts and the disparity between the sums awarded can often result in extreme financial hardship for spouses who get the raw end of the deal.

This access to financial relief in the UK revolves around Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (MFPA 1984). This act allows spouses who have been divorced overseas, and who have a proven connection to the UK, to access financial remedy in the UK, if they have been treated unfairly by foreign courts and have exhausted all avenues to correct that unfairness in that overseas court.

However, whilst this piece of legislation can offer a lifeline to those individuals who have not received adequate financial provision in an overseas jurisdiction, there are a number of criteria which need to be met before an application can be made under Part III of the MFPA 1984. The application itself is a two-stage process and the applicant must first apply for permission (leave) to make the application. The factors the court will examine when determining whether to allow an application to proceed to the second stage can be found in sections 15-16 MFPA 1984. If the applicant is successful at the first stage, they will proceed onto the second stage, whereby they will go on to make the substantial application for financial remedy.

When determining whether to make an order, the court will base its decision on the connection that both parties to the marriage have with England and Wales, and with the foreign court, as well as any financial benefit which the applicant or a child of the family has or will receive as a consequence of the foreign divorce. Other factors which will be considered include any rights that the applicant has, or has had, to apply for financial relief from the other party under the foreign court – including reasons why they may not have done – as well as the availability of any property in England and Wales and the extent to which an English order will be enforceable, along with the elapsed time since the foreign divorce.

Whilst putting the wheels in motion as soon as possible after the foreign divorce has been granted is preferable, the case of Z v Z [2016] EWHC 911 is authority that even with a five-year delay, a court will still consider an application if the other criteria are met.

Whilst the requirements for making at Part III application may seem quite complex, at face value they centre on being able to evidence a strong link to the UK, either through residency or assets. The case of Agbaje v Agbaje [2010] UKSC 13 is the leading authority in this area and a provides a good illustration of how a Part III application for financial relief can be made, and what the courts will be considering when choosing whether to grant an application. In this case, the husband and wife were Nigerian and had been married for 38 years, with assets totaling circa £700,000, much of which were tied up in two London properties. All five of their children were born in London and the couple had spent large chunks of their life in England. Despite the wife living in London, the husband applied for a divorce in Nigeria and his wife was awarded £86,000 worth of property assets in Lagos, and £21,000 as lump sum maintenance payment. Not happy with this financial award, the wife issued proceedings under Part III of the MFPA 1984 and was awarded 39 percent of the couple’s total assets, allowing her to carry on her life in London.

This is a relatively common situation which is experienced by a large number of the spouses of HNWIs, but should give hope that in the event of hardship or mistreatment in divorce proceedings handled by a foreign court, there is a safety blanket offered by the MFPA 1984. Whilst many high-net-worth individuals will have factored pre-nuptial agreements into their marriages, which include clauses dictating where they would like their divorce heard in the event of a relationship breakdown, some will not, and it is those who the English and Welsh legal system supports through this channel.

engineering
FinanceTax

UK Engineering Companies Are Potentially Missing Out On £10 Billion Of R&D Funding Each Year

engineering

UK Engineering Companies Are Potentially Missing Out On £10 Billion Of R&D Funding Each Year

 

Engineering companies in the UK are potentially missing out on over £10 billion of R&D funding each year, new research has revealed.

The study[1], commissioned by innovation specialists MPA for Advanced Engineering 2019, found that one in five (21%) innovation active engineering firms are not taking advantage of the government’s R&D Tax Credit scheme, which allows companies to claim back up to 33p for every £1 spent on R&D activity.

On average, engineering companies invest £386,000 a year on R&D activity, meaning they are potentially able to claim £100,360 in funding[2]. With over 100,000[3] UK engineering firms not claiming, despite describing their company as innovation active, a staggering £10.2 billion is going unclaimed each year.

Reasons for not claiming the funding vary, but the most common answer given by engineers is that they don’t believe their companies are eligible (10%).

However, the research revealed that many engineering companies probably qualify without them realising. Some examples of indicative qualifying activities are, if your company develops new processes to improve efficiency, quality or performance; overcome unplanned technical difficulties or create bespoke solutions for clients.

Two-thirds (67%) of workers think that their firms are ‘innovation active’, which is the most accurate indicator that a company is eligible for the R&D Tax Credit scheme. Despite this, only a third (37%) say that their companies claim the available funding.

Another barrier blocking engineers from claiming is a lack of awareness about the initiative. Nearly a quarter (24%) of the surveyed engineers who aren’t claiming admitted that they didn’t even know that the scheme exists. Even among those who think they are innovation active, one in fourteen (7%) said that they were completely unaware of R&D tax credits.

While many are yet to take advantage of the scheme, engineering companies in the UK are planning on investing heavily in research and development. Over the next year, over one in five (22%) businesses in the industry are planning on spending over £1 million on innovative projects.

Nigel Urquhart, Senior Technical Analyst at MPA, said: “Engineering companies in the UK are respected all over the world for their quality and innovation, but a worryingly low number of them are claiming the R&D funding they are entitled to.

“Our research has highlighted that more work needs to be done to raise awareness of the R&D Tax Credit scheme, as these innovative companies could save themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds. This money could then be reinvested to fund further innovation, which would ensure UK engineering stays at the forefront of the industry.”

 

To see whether your company is eligible for the R&D Tax Credit scheme, visit:  https://mpa.co.uk/services/rd-tax-credits/

[1] Survey of 250 UK engineers conducted by The Engineer on behalf of MPA in September 2019

[2] R&D tax credits calculator: https://mpa.co.uk/services/rd-tax-credits/

[3] Office for National Statistics: ‘Engineering Industry in the UK’ (December 2018) – there are 721,940 active engineering enterprises in the UK. 485,143 (67%) of these are innovation active. 101,880 (21%) of these innovation active companies are not claiming R&D funding: //www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/business/activitysizeandlocation/adhocs/009383engineeringindustryintheuk

boring money
BankingCash ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

New Charges Calculator Tackles ‘Shocking’ Lack of Clarity in the Investment Industry

boring money

New Charges Calculator Tackles ‘Shocking’ Lack of Clarity in the Investment Industry

Consumer investment site BoringMoney.co.uk has launched an independent fee calculator which provides investors with a single simple £ fee across 20 leading platforms and robo advisors.

According to research from the company’s 2019 Online Investing Report, two thirds of investors are not fully confident they understand what fees they are currently paying. Additional Boring Money testing shows that even those who feel confident often miscalculate in reality, as a result of complex fee structures and ambiguous additional charges.

Holly Mackay, CEO of Boring Money commented: “Trying to work out what we pay for investment services remains shockingly difficult. Customers tell us they want to see a single £ fee, but instead they have to build complex Excel spreadsheets with multiple inputs to try and work out what each provider costs.”

The Investment Fee Calculator – found at www.boringmoney.co.uk/calculator – enables investors and would-be investors to compare fees across 20 leading investment providers. In an industry first, the calculator also pulls in both customer ratings and the Boring Money rating so that customers can choose whether to focus on price alone, or take a broader view of the service.

Although designed to be simple to use – with pre-programmed assumptions for those who don’t know how many trades a year they make, or how exactly their investments are split between funds and shares – more experienced investors can override these assumptions to tailor the calculations more accurately.

Alongside the unveiling of the calculator, Boring Money is also launching a campaign for fairer fee disclosure.

Mackay says: “There’s endless talk and very little action. We know that customers want to see fees in simple £ amounts. We know they want to be able to compare.

“We are calling on the industry to improve this fundamental part of disclosure and acknowledge that transparency is not the same as clarity. We think every part of the chain – from platform to asset manager – should have some way for consumers to understand in simple £ terms what any given investment would cost. So they can make informed and confident decisions.” 

The campaign comes against the backdrop of the FCA’s recent Investment Platforms Market Study, in which the regulator very clearly stated that it expects the industry to show “progress in making charges more accessible and comparable for consumers who are shopping around”.

Major players in the industry have shown support for Boring Money’s cause.

Andy Bell, Chief Executive of AJ Bell Youinvest commented: “Seeing an investment platform’s charges in pounds and pence is significantly easier for people to understand than percentages. It’s something we’ve provided on our website for a while now and the Boring Money calculator is a good addition to research tools available to investors.”

Highlighting the importance of understanding fees, he added: “Price isn’t everything of course and people will also want to look at service and the reputation of the platform provider, but making sure you have the best value platform for your needs can save thousands of pounds over a long term investment.”

fintech
FX and PaymentTransactional and Investment Banking

New Financial Technologies Are Changing Lives

fintech

New Financial Technologies Are Changing Lives

By Ronald Miller, CEO, Paysend

Fintech is revolutionising traditional financial services and helping to change lives. PwC, the professional services firm, reports that the majority in the banking sector believe at least some part of their business is under threat by the fintech revolution. 

New fintech firms are disrupting traditional financial services and are giving birth to a whole new generation of starts ups.These start ups are changing the way we move money around the world with significant and positive economic and social implications.

Most financial services used to be the preserve of big businesses.  Now new technologies are automating processes, reducing start-up costs and making it possible for challenger brands to disrupt this industry. However, the changes we witness are creating far more than a shift of power from big business to new players in the sector. 

Fintech is giving consumers greater control of how they pay, hold and spend money.  It is creating a revolution in the way that funds move between people and countries. Global money transfers, where workers in one country send money to their families back home, is not a new phenomenon. 

However, World Bank figures show that there are now 270m people globally who live outside their home country, sending an estimated $689bn home.  This is almost ten times as much as it was in 1990.

Very often these transactions are life changing for those that send or receive them. Money earned in the UK often goes further in emerging economies.  Some of it goes to provide seed money for small enterprises and family businesses.

Global money transfers will soon overtake foreign direct investment as the biggest inflow of capital into developing countries.  In some countries, the money received will represents a third of their total GDP.

Technology has helped foster this dramatic rise. What was once a laborious, slow and expensive process to move money across borders is now simple, quick and low cost. Fintech has made it easier than ever to move money around the world. 

Over the last two years, at Paysend we’ve helped nearly 1.3m customers transfer money to more than 70 countries worldwide. We grow by each day as more people use our service for instant and flat-fee transfers. We believe in the power of technology to ease money transfers to allow more people to benefit from it and as a result imnprove their lives.

Ronald Millar is CEO at Paysend, the UK-based global fintech company, with a unique card-to-card money transfer technology, serving 1.3m customers worldwide.

telecoms
Cash ManagementFundsMarketsTax

UK Telecoms Industry Boasts Fastest Growing R&D Spend Of Any Sector

telecoms

UK Telecoms Industry Boasts Fastest Growing R&D Spend Of Any Sector

The telecoms industry is the UK’s fastest growing sector when it comes to spending on R&D, the latest ONS data has revealed.
Telecoms businesses increased their spending on research and development by £192m to £947m, according to the latest statistics for 2018 which were released recently.

This was a rise of 25.4%, taking it to a four-year high. However, the sector is still some way off its all-time high of £1.5bn set in 2007, analysis by R&D tax relief specialist Catax shows.

Total R&D spending by telecoms firms totalled £755m in 2017 and £797m in 2016.

The amount that UK businesses across all sectors have invested in R&D continues to grow, rising £1.4bn to £25bn in 2018 — up 5.8%. Manufacturing was associated with £16.3bn of R&D spending, up 4.7%, but pharmaceuticals remained the biggest product group with £4.5bn of R&D spending, up 3.3%.

The number of staff employed by UK businesses also continued to grow, rising 7.3% annually to exceed 250,000 full-time equivalents for the first time.

Mark Tighe, chief executive of R&D tax relief specialists Catax, said: “The telecoms industry is extremely important to the UK strategically and it is reassuring to see such growth in investment.

“There is still some way to go if this investment is to recover to levels seen before the financial crash, however, and it is vital this happens if Britain is to continue to be a key technological player on the world stage.

“More broadly, this is the second full year that Brexit Britain has shrugged off the political poison after the EU referendum and posted great gains in terms of R&D investment, running head and shoulders above the long-term average.

“For the first time in history a quarter of a million people nationwide are engaged full time in keeping the UK at the cutting edge. This is going to make a huge difference to Britain’s prospects outside the EU.

“The rate at which UK businesses are adding R&D staff to the workforce remains impressive, virtually matching the previous year with a rise of 7.3%.”

gold bar
CommoditiesFX and Payment

The Top Five Things You Need to Know About Gold

gold bar

The Top Five Things You Need to Know About Gold

Commodities are the lifeblood of commerce and economic growth. Daily FX, the leading portal for forex trading news, has built an interactive tool showing global commodity imports and exports over the last decade.

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

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

John Kicklighter at DailyFX has used the tool to put together his top five things you need to know about gold:

1. Will the Federal Reserve System capitulate on policy tightening?

Gold is often seen as a credibility default swap on central banks and governments, and a further reverse course of Federal Reserve Monetary Policy in 2019 or beyond could help gold shine for investors.

2. Will inflation bring back the factor that gold has historically rallied behind?

Gold has long been praised as an effective hedge in times of inflation, and more so, times of hyper-inflation when prices skyrocket out of control. While that seems unlikely, an unexpected jump in general prices could align with a resurgence in the gold price. 

3. Could governments spiral out of control, leading to a hedge in gold as a haven amidst the political chaos?

Amidst noise and fears that the leaders of the state have lost their way is typically when gold does best. A recent example was the US Government shut down in 2011 when Gold traded near $2,000/oz. Recent Trade War rhetoric and other geopolitical themes seem to be fertile ground for gold investors.

4. Will central banks further ramp up gold purchases to hedge their Fiat Currency Reserves?

In late 2018 Eastern European central banks boosted their gold holdings following other purchases made by Russian and Chinese central banks as a source of stability. Estimates state that central banks hold 20% of all gold ever mined.

5. Could a bear market in stocks lead to the long-awaited boost in gold prices?

The rally in stocks since 2009 has not been kind to Gold, except at the start when the longevity of the stock market rally was in doubt. With the SPX500 near record highs and overall stock market volatility still low. Gold has had little reason to rise as a hedge, but a shock decrease in stocks and higher in volatility could give gold bulls the jolt they’ve long been without.

To learn more about Global Commodities visit: https://www.dailyfx.com/research/global-commodities

Online banking
BankingCash ManagementPrivate BankingWealth Management

For UK Consumers the Front Door of a Bank is Now Its Mobile App, Not Its Physical Branch

Online banking

For UK Consumers the Front Door of a Bank is Now Its Mobile App, Not Its Physical Branch

 

72 percent of UK residents said they do the majority of their banking online and 77 percent consider switching to digital-only providers.

Marqeta, the first global modern card issuing platform, announced the results today of its new digital banking survey, which found that demand for physical bank branches continues to decline as digital banking platforms offer more seamless access to remote money management tools.

The research, conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of Marqeta and surveying 800 UK and 1200 US consumers, found that 74 percent of consumers expect to use their mobile app regularly in the next three months, in comparison with just 22 percent who expect to visit a physical branch. The majority of respondents (77 percent) said that they will consider digital-only platforms when they next switch banks.

Most UK consumers (72 percent) also confirmed that they now complete almost all of their banking online, with the younger generation leading the way. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of UK respondents aged 18-34 say they use a digital bank as either a primary or secondary banking option. Of those that use a digital bank in tandem with a traditional option, 56 percent of them said that they were more satisfied with the service provided by their digital bank. 

Trends in digital banking have also seen UK consumers make the switch to digital faster than their US counterparts. The survey found that:

• Only 21 percent of UK respondents, expect to visit a physical bank branch in the next three months, compared to 30 percent of US respondents.

• 72 percent of UK respondents said they do the majority of their banking online, while 62 percent of US respondents said the same. 

This confidence in utilising digital banking platforms is driving new expectations for innovation in the banking and fintech sector, as the vast majority of UK respondents (86 percent) say they want to see new technology from their bank in the future.

Marqeta’s survey also show that given how new digital banks are, consumers see the risk factor around digital banking as somewhat of an unknown. 51 percent of UK consumers said they felt like a digital bank was a riskier place to store their money, while 41 percent said they would limit how much money they deposited in a digital bank. 78 percent of UK respondents said they considered a bank’s security and reputation before giving them their business, with 30 percent saying that a lack of market track record was holding them back from making the move to a digital-only bank.

“This research demonstrates that UK consumers are ready to go digital with their finances, but digital banks still must work hard to innovate as we become an increasingly cashless, mobile-first society,” said Ian Johnson, Head of Europe at Marqeta. “Apps and payments cards account for an overwhelming majority of spending and money-management actions, and the rapid rise of new wave challenger banks is a major drive of this of this. At Marqeta we see the modern card issuing market being worth as much as $80 trillion globally by 2030, which is going to continue to create unprecedented demand for innovation and new offerings in banking.”

ecommerce
FundsWealth Management

Five Ways To Compete With Bigger ECommerce Stores

ecommerce

Five Ways To Compete With Bigger ECommerce Stores

 

The eCommerce industry is fiercely competitive which can make it difficult to succeed. It is hard to compete with the bigger brands in your industry because they will have the reputation and visibility online to attract new customers, but there are a few key strategies that you can use which will help you to compete at a higher level and both attract and retain customers.

Once you are able to do this, your reputation should skyrocket which only makes it easier to get new customers and become one of the key players in your field.

Here are a few ways that you can compete with the bigger ecommerce stores:

1. Digital Marketing

The first and most important step to take is to increase your marketing efforts. As it is so competitive, this needs to be an area of investment so that you can benefit from greater results. Using SEO and PPC can deliver both long-term and short-term results so that you can immediately increase your visibility and garner more visitors to your store.

2. Improve Customer Service

Even in an online industry, consumers need to feel important and valued but even this is an area that the bigger brands can struggle with. Make sure that you are looking after your customers, responding to queries and complaints swiftly and thanking them for their custom. Additionally, it should be easy for them to contact you whether this is with live chat, on social media, via email or phone.

3. Analyse The Competition

A smart business owner will always keep a close eye on their competitors and learn from them. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and find ways to use this information to your advantage to compete at a higher level. You can use reverse image search on your own products to find other stores selling the same item. This will help you to discover who your competitors are and enable you to carry out research.

4. Write Unique Product Descriptions

One area where larger ecommerce stores struggle is with product descriptions, as they often have so many products that they end up using the default description from the manufacturer. Creating unique, detailed descriptions can be effective for converting customers and increasing your visibility online. In addition to unique product descriptions, you could also use augmented reality apps, customer reviews and product videos to give visitors a much better sense of the product.

5. Adjust Pricing

Most consumers will compare products at a few different places before settling on an eCommerce store. Adjusting your pricing could help you to lure customers away from the competition and to your business, and a slight reduction should balance out with the increase in sales. Additionally, you also need to make sure that shipping is affordable as this is the primary reason for abandoned carts.

Hopefully, these tips will help your ecommerce store to start competing at a higher level and attract customers away from the bigger stores. It is fiercely competitive online but if you are intelligent and strategise, then it is possible to find success and challenge the bigger brands.

r&d
Corporate TaxTax

UK engineering companies are potentially missing out on £10 billion of R&D funding each year

r&d

UK engineering companies are potentially missing out on £10 billion of R&D funding each year

 

Engineering companies in the UK are potentially missing out on over £10 billion of R&D funding each year, new research has revealed.

The study, commissioned by innovation specialists MPA for Advanced Engineering 2019, found that one in five (21%) innovation active engineering firms are not taking advantage of the government’s R&D Tax Credit scheme, which allows companies to claim back up to 33p for every £1 spent on R&D activity.(1)

On average, engineering companies invest £386,000 a year on R&D activity, meaning they are potentially able to claim £100,360 in funding.(2) With over 100,000 UK engineering firms not claiming, despite describing their company as innovation active, a staggering £10.2 billion is going unclaimed each year.(3)

Reasons for not claiming the funding vary, but the most common answer given by engineers is that they don’t believe their companies are eligible (10%).

However, the research revealed that many engineering companies probably qualify without them realising. Some examples of indicative qualifying activities are, if your company develops new processes to improve efficiency, quality or performance; overcome unplanned technical difficulties or create bespoke solutions for clients.

Two-thirds (67%) of workers think that their firms are ‘innovation active’, which is the most accurate indicator that a company is eligible for the R&D Tax Credit scheme. Despite this, only a third (37%) say that their companies claim the available funding.

Another barrier blocking engineers from claiming is a lack of awareness about the initiative. Nearly a quarter (24%) of the surveyed engineers who aren’t claiming admitted that they didn’t even know that the scheme exists. Even among those who think they are innovation active, one in fourteen (7%) said that they were completely unaware of R&D tax credits.

While many are yet to take advantage of the scheme, engineering companies in the UK are planning on investing heavily in research and development. Over the next year, over one in five (22%) businesses in the industry are planning on spending over £1 million on innovative projects.

Nigel Urquhart, Senior Technical Analyst at MPA, said: “Engineering companies in the UK are respected all over the world for their quality and innovation, but a worryingly low number of them are claiming the R&D funding they are entitled to.

“Our research has highlighted that more work needs to be done to raise awareness of the R&D Tax Credit scheme, as these innovative companies could save themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds. This money could then be reinvested to fund further innovation, which would ensure UK engineering stays at the forefront of the industry.”

To see whether your company is eligible for the R&D Tax Credit scheme, visit: https://mpa.co.uk/services/rd-tax-credits/

[1] Survey of 250 UK engineers conducted by The Engineer on behalf of MPA in September 2019

[2] R&D tax credits calculator: https://mpa.co.uk/services/rd-tax-credits/

[3] Office for National Statistics: ‘Engineering Industry in the UK’ (December 2018) – there are 721,940 active engineering enterprises in the UK. 485,143 (67%) of these are innovation active. 101,880 (21%) of these innovation active companies are not claiming R&D funding: //www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/business/activitysizeandlocation/adhocs/009383engineeringindustryintheuk

crisps
ArticlesTax

Bras, rum and crisps – just some of the things the government has given tax relief on

crisps

Bras, rum and crisps – just some of the things the government has given tax relief on

 

Organisations of all shapes and sizes can benefit from R&D tax credit, providing tax relief on research and development costs and while you might think the work you’re doing doesn’t qualify, R&D tax credit specialist RIFT Research and Development Ltd has released some of the stranger cases they’ve worked on to highlight just how much of the UK’s output could qualify.

Drone technology for a humanitarian crisis

 

One engineering company set out to address the issue that 40% of vaccinations expire while still in the warehouses before they can be delivered and administered to those in need.

They set out to use drones to deliver medicine to remote regions in order to save money and lives and in doing so, found that the technology required was advanced, needing to include links with existing response solutions, ground controlled computers, autopilots and aerial surveillance.

The project went from a conceptual idea to a built and tested prototype and RIFT identified over £104,000 worth of qualify R&D costs over two claims in two years.

Plus-sized lingerie

One company that qualified for tax relief designs and manufactures plus size lingerie and swimwear, starting at bra size 36D, with the aim to flatter, accentuate and celebrate natural curves.

The founder used to struggle to find larger sized underwear and swimwear that offered the same boudoir appeal to smaller sized undergarments, so they brought garments to market that used high quality materials such as lace, soft satins and chiffon.
The company engaged in research & development to produce high quality, durable, comfortable and supportive bras that come in a range of materials, patterns and sizes.

RIFT identified £55,000 worth of eligible costs over two financial years that qualified for R&D Tax credit.

Guess who – facial recognition technology

The firm in question developed facial recognition software which better identifies forgeries.

The company collated a dataset of copied documents, including photocopied, manipulated, screen modified and superimposed examples.

These were combined with professionally forged documents that had been legitimately acquired to test out the technical uncertainties of the new detection solutions they developed. 

The systems were able to detect real identification documents and flag fakes. They can also verify that the photo within the ID matches the person claiming to own the ID.

RIFT identified over £1.07m of qualifying R&D expenditure in one financial year, even though many of the technologies were still at the prototype stage when the claim was submitted. 

Natural crisp flavours

The company produces crisps using locally sourced ingredients from the South of England which are hand-cooked and free from artificial ingredients. 

The manufacturer identified that few companies exist that make unique flavours of crisps using locally sourced ingredients, so it wanted to experiment with new flavours.  

Through a trial and error process, new ways of flavouring were found and tested with sample groups. 

Technical advances were made and technical uncertainties were resolved by the company with RIFT identifying £101,000 worth of eligible costs across two financial years that qualified for R&D Tax credit. 

Making traditional luggage using new methods

A 200-year-old brand used by Royalty and famous explorers worked on numerous projects to combine Victorian engineering with the latest technology, materials and processes.

The company collaborated with the most prestigious fashion houses and brands to make technologically advanced pieces while retaining that traditional feel.
RIFT identified over £1.037m worth of qualifying R&D costs over three claims covering four financial years.

Boutique Rum

Alternative rum flavours are increasing in popularity and demand, such as spices or coconut.

However, there were no established, open-sourced recipes, which meant that distilleries/fermenters had to develop their own by combining flavours and identifying the correct ingredient quantities, blends and alcohol levels.

The firm in question decided to develop a rum base which would have high quality coffee infused into its 5 year old golden rum.

After various tests and alterations to the recipe following feedback from bartenders and members of the public, the company increased the alcohol and flavour strength to produce a coffee rum liqueur that can be drunk straight or used in a cocktail.

RIFT identified £60,000 worth of eligible costs across two financial years that qualified for a R&D Tax credit.

Technical advances were made and technical uncertainties were resolved by the company in producing a cocktail in a matter of seconds instead of minutes.

Head of RIFT Research and Development Limited, Sarah Collins commented:

“Even though the R&D claim process was launched nearly 20 years ago, the number of companies failing to claim back R&D tax credit for their work is huge and this is largely due to nothing more than the fact they didn’t realise they could claim, or they had been incorrectly advised otherwise.

But as these examples show, there are a whole host of unconventional and wonderful things that qualify for R&D tax credits and so it’s always well worth looking into.”

R&D Tax Credits
Articles

Four Things Your Business Does That Qualifies You For R&D Tax Credits

R&D Tax Credits

Four Things Your Business Does That Qualifies You For R&D Tax Credits

 

When people think of research and development (R&D), they often picture large corporations or specialist science, tech or pharmaceutical companies. This explains why, despite the Government’s efforts to encourage innovation in UK industry through the introduction of R&D tax credits, only one in five (19%) of businesses that can be classed as being ‘innovation active’ have ever claimed money back for their time developing new products or processes.

This could be due to the complicated nature of processing the claims, as many business owners may not understand what qualifies as R&D or how to go about making a claim. To help companies to better understand the confusing world of R&D tax credits, industry expert Nigel Urquhart, Technical Analyst at MPA, has outlined four things businesses could be doing to qualify for R&D tax credits – simply by continuing the work you’re already doing.

Developing technically improved products

If you are a business that manufactures products and you’re constantly working to improve those products through research and experimentation, this qualifies as R&D. One surprising thing is that whether you’re successful or not in developing a new product doesn’t actually matter as, in the case of R&D tax credits, any time spent on the process still counts.

One company that has been successful in producing technically improved products and claiming R&D tax credits is Bee Lighting, which develops lighting for vehicles that are used on land, sky and sea. It has an innovative approach to work, investing in high design and engineering specialism to produce products that exactly meet a client brief for new bulbs. In one case, to create the right single small light for one client it developed and tested over 100 iterations of lens shape, 1000 frosting effects and four ways of fixing the lens. That led to a happy client, and the work that went into it qualified for a R&D tax rebate.

Is your business doing something similar?

Creating new systems or software to improve your quality of service

When businesses see a new software or manufacturing development that would enable them to improve their product or service, it’s common to look at ways of integrating that technical advancement into what they do in order to improve service quality. The good news is that if you’re doing that you could qualify for R&D tax credits.

One example of a business that has done this successfully is Logistex, a leading logistics integration company, which worked in collaboration with Pharmacy2U, a pioneer in digital healthcare, to design and develop an automated system to accurately pick, pack and dispatch both prescribed and over-the-counter medicines, at a rate of over 600 prescription orders per hour. The new system integrates a range of technologies, including pick to light, an automated packaging solution and automated twin headed dispensing robots; all of which presented technical challenges in development. Bringing these new technologies into its offering helps move the industry forward and enabled Logistex to claim R&D tax credits.

How are you bringing technical innovations into your business’ systems and processes?

Modifying existing systems to improve efficiency, capacity or performance

Almost every business, no matter which industry or market it operates in, will want to improve efficiency, capacity and performance. Looking at ways to improve this won’t only increase output, sales and, long-term, the profit of the business, it will also qualify the organisation for R&D tax credits.

Brainomix, a world leader in imaging software for neurological and cerebrovascular diseases, identified that a lack of timely, available expertise for brain CT scan interpretation can delay stroke patients from accessing life-saving treatments. Building on the systems that are already out there, it has since developed the CE-marked, award-winning stroke imaging software, e-ASPECTS. This modification to the existing CT scan helped support stroke physicians deliver fast, consistent diagnosis. However, organisations don’t need to be saving lives to qualify, they just need to show how the work they have done has improved performance.

What innovations are occurring in your business to improve the efficiency and performance of your staff or products?

Developing bespoke solutions for particular problems

Every client is different and there won’t be many businesses that haven’t been presented with a unique problem by a particular client. Principally of course, the work that goes in to developing solutions for a particular problem is to meet your client’s needs. However, it also has the added benefit that it makes you eligible for R&D tax credits.

One business that has been able to do this successfully is 48.3 Scaffold Design Limited, highly skilled structural engineers who design and develop scaffolding systems for commercial projects throughout the UK. It believes that it’s not about generic scaffold designs and want to create unique systems and challenging projects that develop new solutions. By taking this distinct approach and pushing the boundaries in its field, the business qualifies for R&D tax credits – like many others in the building sector which are looking for ways to improve current systems.

What bespoke projects is your business working on that could qualify for R&D tax credits?

Nigel Urquhart, Technical Analyst at MPA Group, adds: “In our experience, UK businesses are some of the most innovative in the world when it comes to advancing their products, systems and services. However, relatively few are aware that this entitles them to make huge savings when it comes to R&D tax credits. Of course, most businesses develop new products and processes simply to meet the needs of clients and customers, yet this quality of service doesn’t only help improve reputation, it could easily save them tens of thousands of pounds each year too.”

MPA Group is exhibiting at Advanced Engineering 2019. To find out more about the R&D Tax Credit incentive, visit: https://www.thempagroup.co.uk/rd-tax-credits/

van driver
ArticlesInsuranceWealth Management

Insurance Premiums Continue to Slow For Van Drivers

van driver

Insurance Premiums Continue to Slow For Van Drivers

 

Van drivers across the country are benefiting from a continued reduction to their insurance premiums, contradicting the industry’s prediction of premium increases in the wake of the Ogden rate change, new analysis from data analytics company Consumer Intelligence shows.

Its Van Insurance Index shows average premiums have fallen to £1,781 in the three months to September.

Since Consumer Intelligence started tracking insurance premiums five years ago, van insurance premiums have increased across the market by 34.4%, primarily driven by increased claims costs. The value of claims are increasing as more technologically advanced vehicles require higher repair costs, exacerbated amid Brexit uncertainty by the need to import parts for vehicles manufactured overseas.

Under 25s experienced a premium drop of 9.3% in the past year, yet average prices remain the highest at £4,673. Meanwhile, in the same 12-month period, a 2.4% price rise for the over-50s saw their average premiums increase to £581 annually. This compares to £843 for van drivers aged 25-49, who noticed their premiums nudge up by just 0.3% in the last 12 months.

Drivers operating their vans as a car substitute are benefiting from falling insurance premiums. A typical ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ policy today costs £1,691 – down 3.1% in the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, drivers using their vans for business have seen premiums rise 0.3% over the same period. An average ‘carriage of own goods cover’ now stands at £1,805.

John Blevins, Consumer Intelligence’s pricing expert, said: “Whilst claims costs continue to be one of the main drivers for premium changes in this market over the long-term, we are seeing premiums trending down over the last 12 months.

“It appears that the Ogden rate reset hasn’t had quite the impact some in the industry predicted. The price reductions over the last quarter have actually confounded many forecasts.”  

Brexit
MarketsRegulationSecurities

GDPR post Brexit and the impact on financial services

Brexit

GDPR post Brexit and the impact on financial services

By Ian Osborne, UK & Ireland VP, Shred-it

October 31st has been and gone. Yet despite the Prime Minister promising to deliver Brexit by this date, the UK remains part of the EU at least until January 31st 2020, following last week’s confirmation of the extension. And even then, it is still not clear exactly what will be, as MPs are interrogating the deal while preparing for a General Election on 12th December.

Like many industries, financial services have felt the effects of uncertainty surrounding if, how and when the UK will leave the EU. With London the epicentre for financial services in Europe, the wider potential impact is enormous.

The biggest fear amongst the business community has been that global companies will move their operations from the UK to other countries within the Eurozone.  Another cause for concern has been that companies will increasingly pause or divert investment in the UK, leaving Britain’s economy in stagnation.

On a more operational level however, there remain questions around EU regulations and how Brexit will impact financial services businesses from a regulatory perspective.  Take data protection, which was brought to attention last year with the introduction of the EU’s GDPR, and is today a big challenge for the industry.

According to data from the Ponemon Institute in 2017, financial services companies that experienced an information breach suffered the highest cost per capita than any other industry, at £154.  Furthermore, data left in insecure locations was the number one source of reported incidents in the finance sector in the UK (PwC for the ICO 2017).

Guidance from the Information Commissioners’ Office has recently confirmed that most of the data protection rules affecting businesses will remain the same post-Brexit.  The good news is that financial services companies that comply with GDPR and have no contacts or customers in the EEA (which constitutes EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) don’t need to do much more to prepare for data protection after Brexit.

However, organisations that receive personal data from contacts within the EEA must take additional steps to ensure they are fully compliant after Brexit, which may require designating a representative in the EEA.

Brexit aside, there remain questions as to how compliant with GDPR businesses are across the UK, despite it being a year since the legislation was introduced.  Financial services organisations that saw the introduction of GDPR as an opportunity to get their data-house in order and to improve the quality of the personal data they store are certainly reaping the benefits of last year’s GDPR efforts.

To assess the attitude of businesses in general, Shred-it commissioned a survey of 1,439 UK-based SMEs (under 500 employees) which found that 72 per cent of respondents said they were very aware of GDPR.

While this presents positive news, the biggest concern is whether that confidence in GDPR-readiness is justified. Less than half (45 per cent) of the firms who said they were ready to deal with data protection requirements also said they had reviewed their policies recently. Just over a third had contacted their customers to confirm consent to data use, less than a quarter had published a privacy notice, and just over two in 10 had reviewed, deleted or destroyed personal data.

These results suggest that businesses across all sectors – including financial services – need to take a more proactive approach to data protection.

So how can financial services firms ensure they are GDPR compliant?

Keep up to date with privacy laws

First things first. Businesses must stay up to date with privacy laws and understand what action – if any – they need to take to comply – particularly post-Brexit. Clear guidance is provided by the ICO website.

Customer communication has changed

Since the introduction of GDPR in 2018, financial services companies have had to rethink their strategies for communicating with customers. For example, customer e-marketing activities, such as newsletters, now require assessment post-GDPR and businesses must seek permission from customers to store their personal data and contact them with offers and promotions.

Protect your digital data

It’s important to remember that data protection refers to both digital information, as well as paper records. For digital data, financial services firms can take simple measures to ensure they are compliant with GDPR, including setting secure usernames, passwords and PINs for all devices, installing anti-virus software and a firewall on hard drives, avoiding posting confidential files on social media platforms, and avoiding opening files or links from an unknown sender.

Don’t forget paper records  

Not everything you collect, store, or handle is digital. When financial forecasts or year-end results are printed for a meeting, when reports or agendas are circulated for a meeting, they are at risk of getting into the wrong hands if they are not handled and disposed of properly and securely. Best practice should include the provision of locked confidential information consoles that are easily accessible, and company-wide policies that encourage a clean desk at night.

Business leaders should also be arranging for the secure destruction of documents after use or after prescribed periods of mandated storage, keeping only digital copies of essential files in an encrypted format.

Educate staff on data protection policy

In an industry that relies on privacy and confidentiality, the reality is that many information breaches happen not because of inferior firewalls or passwords, but because of employee error, negligence, or poor judgement. You may be doing everything you can but one employee, casually dropping a draft financial report into the recycling, can undo everything.

Finance services companies must have a strict policy on how to identify, handle and securely dispose of confidential information, that is communicated clearly to all employees and updated whenever necessary to avoid a potential breach.

Ian Osbourne
This article was written by Ian Osborne, UK & Ireland VP, Shred-it
R&D tax relief
Corporate TaxRegulationTax

Manufacturers top the R&D tax relief table – is your sector lagging behind?

R&D tax relief

Manufacturers top the R&D tax relief table - is your sector lagging behind?

Manufacturing firms claimed £1.25bn using R&D tax relief in the 2017-18 financial year, more than any other industry sector, a study from R&D tax credit experts, RIFT Research and Development reveals.

Manufacturing firms also made the highest number of claims over the period, at 11,925.

The R&D tax relief scheme is effectively Corporation Tax relief that can reduce a company’s tax bill and R&D specialists, RIFT, have dissected the latest industry data. This shows which sectors are submitting the most claims, the sectors being awarded the most in successful claims, and those that are bringing home the largest sums financially with just a single claim.

Other major users of R&D tax relief

Professional, Scientific & Technical firms came in second by amount, claiming £1.02bn annually. Behind that sector was Information & Communication (£820m), Wholesale & Retail Trade, Repairs (£235m) and Financial & Insurance firms (£215m). The smallest amounts claimed were from firms in Accommodation & Food (£5m), Real Estate (£10m), and Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning (£10m).

Information & Communications rank high on number of claims

Information & Communication firms made 11,635 claims over the period, the second highest behind Manufacturing. Professional, Scientific & Technical firms were also responsible for 9,545 claims. There were only 125 claims for the Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning sector, while there were just 215 claims by Real Estate firms. 

Mining & Quarrying dominate high value claims

The Mining & Quarrying sector has by far the largest average claim amount, at £1.16bn. However, despite the extremely high value, there were only 95 claims over the course of the year in that sector.

Other high value sectors per average claim were Financial & Insurance firms (£232,400), while third on the list was Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (£157,900). Once again Accommodation & Food was the smallest sector regarding claims (£21,700), while another comparatively low value sector was Wholesale & Retail Trade, Repairs (£44,000).

Head of RIFT Research and Development Limited, Sarah Collins commented:

“It’s been interesting to see how the dynamics of the research and development landscape have changed, as more and more companies from a wide variety of sectors have started to utilise the scheme.

“Of course, a sector like manufacturing is likely to provide more regular opportunities to further develop the practices being used through R&D and so it’s no surprise that it leads the way for both the total amount claimed and the number of claims. However, when it comes to the value of the claim, it can very much be a case of quality over quantity, with some of the less prolific sectors for overall claims contributing with some of the highest values of R&D tax relief.”

Sector League Table - £ amount claimed
Sector League Table - Number of claims
Ranking League Table - average £ per claim
investments
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

British Business Investments makes £15m Tier 2 capital facility available to PCF Bank

investments

British Business Investments makes £15m Tier 2 capital facility available to PCF Bank

 

British Business Investments (BBI), a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank, has announced a new £15m Tier 2 capital facility to specialist bank, PCF Bank.

PCF Bank has a long history as a specialist financier of vehicles, plant and equipment. Established in 1994, and launching banking services in 2017, PCF Bank has helped more than 18,000 customers with purchasing business critical assets for their businesses.

The facility will enable the Bank to draw on additional capital as required, allowing it to utilise capital in an efficient and earnings enhancing manner as the business grows. This investment could support up to an additional £125m of asset-based lending to UK smaller businesses.

The £15m capital investment is a Tier 2 capital facility provided through BBI’s Investment Programme, which is designed to increase the supply and diversity of finance for smaller businesses by boosting the lending capacity of challenger banks and non-bank lenders. Since it launched in 2013, the Investment Programme has committed over £900m to providers of finance to UK smaller businesses.

Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO of British Business Investments, said: “This commitment to PCF Bank supports British Business Investments’ objective to increase the diversity of supply of business finance. Banks like PCF help diversify the finance market, and in turn contribute to more choices for smaller businesses across the UK.”

Scott Maybury, CEO of PCF Bank, said: “PCF has been helping UK SMEs purchase the assets they need for over 20 years. Since launching as a bank in 2017 we have been able to increase the size of our lending book driving profitability in a sustainable way. This facility from British Business Investments will allow us to continue to grow and support the UK private sector.”

The Investment Programme unlocks increased development capital to speciality lenders and challenger banks serving smaller businesses and enables BBI to support the development of diverse finance markets.

Wealth and Finance
Cash ManagementPensionsPrivate BankingReal EstateWealth Management

The Mosaic of Modern Wealth: Wealth Advisers Must Keep Pace with Globally Mobile Clients

Wealth and Finance

The Mosaic of Modern Wealth: Wealth Advisers Must Keep Pace with Globally Mobile Clients

 

By Axel Hörger, CEO Europe at Lombard International Assurance

The world’s wealthiest people are on the move. According to this year’s Knight Frank Wealth Report, 26% of ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) are planning on emigrating in the next year. An astounding 36% already hold a second passport. For many, the ability to move their lives, families and assets freely around the world is the new norm.

This trend has been growing for well over a decade, fuelled by increased competition between countries seeking to attract the world’s wealthiest and drive investment. From France to Thailand, countries are seeing the benefit of adopting competitive tax regimes, investment-based visa schemes, and fast-tracked citizenship programmes. Since 2000, 20 EU member states have implemented these types of policies, resulting in approximately $28 billion in foreign direct investment.

For countries like Malta and Cyprus, this has led to a much-needed economic boost as thousands of wealthy individuals have invested in their local economies in return for residency or citizenship. In Portugal, attractive tax rates have in part led to a remarkable economic rebound, with GDP growth set to be one of the highest in Europe, while Lisbon and Porto consistently top the list of most attractive places to live in the world. As countries look to replicate this type of success story, global mobility is only set to increase.

But as global mobility increases so too does the complexity of managing wealth. Globally mobile clients will look to their advisers to be able to seamlessly manage their cross-border wealth, regardless of where they look to base themselves. And as many of the residency by investment programmes have a time limit, moving to a third or fourth country over a ten-year period is becoming increasingly normal. Wealth solutions for truly globally mobile clients need to be able to facilitate this unprecedented level of cross-border movement.

Advisers will also have to be aware that the globally mobile HNW and UHNW client base they are serving is expanding. In 2018, $8.7 trillion of personal financial wealth was held cross-borders – roughly 4.2% of the global total. The fabric of modern-day wealth is evolving as the sources and destinations of this wealth are set to change significantly over the coming years. For example, Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2023, the value of Asia’s cross-border wealth will have grown by 150%.

Wealth advisers will need to keep pace with this dramatic shift and cater for the changing needs of this growing client base. Driven by continuing economic and political uncertainty in the region, HNWIs and UHNWIs from emerging markets will increasingly seek asset safety, protecting against currency depreciation, and the desire to gain stable returns through international diversification. What these clients need are wealth structuring solutions that can manage cross border wealth spread across multiple developed markets. They will also need advisers who are able to navigate effectively around any regulatory or cultural differences between markets.

The mosaic that makes up the lives of modern wealthy people is constantly shifting and being redesigned as wealth is distributed across a more diverse range of ages, genders and nationalities than ever before. What drives wealthy people around the world has never been so complex. For wealth advisers, this means greater difficulties and greater opportunities. The wealth management industry needs to understand the changing landscape that faces HNWIs and UHNWIs and offer solutions that can help them to navigate the uncertainty and complexity.

When I speak to clients, what they are looking for is comfort that their adviser has expertise across multiple markets and jurisdictions. What they want is a feeling of control over their wealth and life’s legacy wherever they are, wherever they want to be, and regardless of what lies ahead.

For more information about Lombard International Assurance, visit our website.

Commodities
Capital Markets (stocks and bonds)CommoditiesFX and PaymentStock Markets

Top five things you need to know about commodities

Commodities

Top five things you need to know about commodities

 

Commodities are the lifeblood of commerce and economic growth. Daily FX, the leading portal for forex trading news, has built an interactive tool showing global commodity imports and exports over the last decade.

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

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

John Kicklighter, Chief Currency Strategist at DailyFX, has used the tool to put together his top five things you need to know about commodities:

1. Will the US-China trade war lead to trade peace and synchronous growth to help commodities?

The US-China trade war is seen globally as a hindrance to growth, and as such, a hindrance to the demand for commodities. The International Monetary Fund warned governments to be  “very careful” and that the global economy remains vulnerable, and presumably, so do commodities until the issue is sorted out.

2. Will the US dollar strength continue and continue to suppress commodity price gains?

Since commodities are priced in US Dollars, a stronger USD as evidenced by the 6% gain in the US Dollar Index since the start of 2018 has had a positive impact on commodity price gains.

3. Will inflation pop up to increase the demand for commodities as a value store?

The lack of inflation has baffled central bankers and kept speculative buyers of commodities at bay.

4. Could a renewed China stimulus plan give industrial metals like copper the price boost and reverse weak sentiment?

Chinese stimulus via credit growth and top-down building projects have helped commodities in recent years find renewed demand, and the hope among commodity buyers is that there is more stimulus left in the tank.

5. Will US manufacturing turn around after falling at the start of 2019 to also lift commodities’ outlook?

A significant reading of the US Manufacturing Sector, the Institute of Supply Management recently touched the weakest levels since 2016 alongside Chinese Manufacturing weakness that has heavily weighed on commodities in general and especially metals like copper.

To learn more about Global Commodities visit: https://www.dailyfx.com/research/global-commodities

gdp
FundsRegulationTaxWealth Management

Boom or bust? Brexit’s impact on innovation and R&D

gdp

Boom or bust? Brexit’s impact on innovation and R&D

 

Brexit will undoubtedly affect life in the UK in several ways. The nature and extent of its impact, however, is anyone’s guess. Regarding research and innovation, on the surface not much should change. The R&D Tax Credit Scheme is a government initiative and while it is subject to European Union rules, ultimately the money is provided by HMRC, so the amount of funding available for creative pursuits should not be affected.

But Brexit will likely alter the entire business landscape for UK companies and these wider changes may indirectly affect the state of play for those looking to innovate.

Here innovation funding specialist MPA, which is exhibiting at Advanced Engineering 2019, looks at the implications of Brexit on innovation and R&D in the UK, and whether the current political uncertainty will actually give way to a more prosperous environment for businesses.

Funding freedom

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, UK spending on R&D rose by £1.6 billion in 2017 to £34.8 billion, placing it 11th in the EU for R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP.

While such figures are impressive, with an average of £527 spent for each person in the UK, the spending is somewhat restricted by EU regulations. R&D tax credits are classed as ‘state aid’ by the EU and as such there are currently limits on how much the government can hand out to companies.

Once the UK leaves the union, this cap is removed, opening the door to higher value handouts and less strict qualification criteria. Such a move would be welcomed by SMEs across the country and would signal to the world that the UK is strongly encouraging innovation. Plans to increase funding are already in place, with the government’s long term industrial strategy aiming to raise R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

There’s widespread anxiety about the impact of Brexit on British industry and the government faces significant pressure to provide a boost for the economy. Investment in innovation would be a clear statement that the country is still thriving despite the political overhaul.

With the government potentially looking to reallocate some of the money they currently send across to Brussels, there could be funds available for such action.

Regardless of the nature of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU post-Brexit, innovation is always going to be vital for businesses to stand out and thrive in competitive industry landscapes. If trade deals put UK companies at a disadvantage on the world stage, the need to be creative and forward-thinking increases tremendously.

International collaboration

While international funding for UK research has fallen in recent years,from £5.6 billion in 2014 to £5 billion in 2017, it still comprises 14% of all investment in innovation. But it’s not just the financial connection to Europe that UK companies will have to cope without after Brexit, but the level of continental collaboration currently in operation at universities and research centres across the country.

UK industry and innovation is revered across the globe, with our institutions producing world-leading work in every sector. Such breakthroughs are only possible by bringing together the best people from across both Europe and further afield. In fact, in the decade prior to the 2016 referendum, 50% of all UK research publicationsinvolved a co-author from overseas. Moving forward, Brexit may make it more difficult for businesses to recruit staff from overseas and make cross-country projects rather impractical, if not impossible. There is talk of plans to only allow immigrants who earn over £30,000 to stay in the country and this could make it difficult for bodies to continue hiring skilled international research assistants and graduates as salaries for these jobs are generally below the threshold.

Britain’s booming tech industry has given the country potential to dominate and grow in IT and many other sectors. Mark Sewell, CIO of Microsoft recruitment partner Curo Talent, explains that for the many industries developing IT infrastructure, such as in financial services, there is concern that there may not be enough IT talent available to match increased demand. The average age of the IT workforce is increasing, and Britain’s education system is not producing an adequate number of skilled workers to replace these employees once they retire. This is exacerbated by Brexit and its restriction on access to talented EU-workers. To continue this development, businesses need IT workers with the skills to deploy the latest technology, unfortunately this talent pool may become limited.

Such barriers may force businesses to seek ventures elsewhere. Even British companies might start to launch their innovative operations overseas, targeting countries which have both good R&D incentives and simpler immigration policies, allowing multi-national teams to work without obstacles. Asian nations might be among those that benefit, with China and South Korea as potential suitors. In recent years, South Korea has been one of the world’s biggest investors in R&D and UK businesses could cash in on the country’s commitment to progress.

Uncertain fortunes

As with most aspects of Brexit, no-one really knows how the UK leaving the EU will impact on homegrown innovation. While some relevant policies will remain unchanged, such as the general R&D claim process, there are wider-reaching implications which could affect British researchers.

The UK has an excellent reputation for innovation and this could prove significant. If our economy suffers as a result of Brexit, the value of the pound against other currencies will fall. As such, global businesses may see British companies as attractive investments, as their quality services and projects will suddenly be available for smaller sums. This could potentially fill the void left by current EU funding.

R&D tax credits and Patent Box relief will play a crucial role in establishing the UK as a creative force post-Brexit. Once EU funding for projects is removed, the importance of the domestic HMRC initiative will amplify tremendously, potentially causing a rapid increase in applications.

Continuing and improving the financial incentives for businesses to spend time on R&D will ensure that the country continues to be at the forefront of innovation. MPA’s guidance on the R&D Tax Credit Scheme and Patent Box relief will help you see whether your company qualifies for the initiative.

MPA is exhibiting at Advanced Engineering 2019 and can be found at stand C14 in the Automotive Engineering section.

Retirement fund
Cash ManagementPensionsTransactional and Investment Banking

Retirement fund is top saving priority for Brits

Retirement fund

Retirement fund is top saving priority for Brits

 

Over half (58%) of Brits wish they had invested in their future and retirement at an earlier age, according to new research by savings and mortgage provider Nottingham Building Society, known as The Nottingham.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults looked at the biggest saving priorities for the nation, and what age we wish we had started investing in different aspects of our lives, from health and careers to money management. A retirement fund was ranked as the biggest saving priority, despite only 29% of respondents admitting to actively saving towards their future.

The top ten most important saving priorities for Brits are:

  1. Retirement fund

  2. ‘Rainy day’ fund

  3. House deposit or increasing equity

  4. Holiday fund

  5. Funds to partake in my hobbies / outside of work activities

  6. Debt repayments

  7. New car

  8. Children’s saving account

  9. Children’s education

  10. Wedding fund

Debt repayments didn’t make the top five saving priorities for the nation, however, of the respondents who are currently saving, paying off or planning to pay off their debt, this saving was ranked second in importance, indicating that those who are currently in debt are prioritising this over saving for other factors such as a house deposit (ranked fourth in importance), or a new car (ranked seventh).

However, when it comes to what Brits are actually saving for, the most common goal was a ‘rainy day’ fund, with over a third (34%) of Brits currently saving towards this. Interestingly, more than double are saving towards a holiday (29%) than a house deposit (13%), despite a house deposit being ranked as a higher priority overall.

When it comes to the ages the nation wish they had started investing in different aspects of our lives, Brits found that they wished they had invested towards their retirement at age 31, when on average they actually began investing at 39 – almost a decade later. On average, UK adults begin saving towards a ‘rainy day’ fund at 34, despite wishing they had started at 28.

Retirement data

 

Jenna McKenzie-Day, Senior Savings Manager at The Nottingham, said: “Our research found that on average, homeowners wish they had begun planning to buy their first home three years earlier than they started, with a similar picture being painted for those saving for their future. Interestingly, it found that Brits wish they had started their retirement fund a staggering eight years before they actually began saving.

“Whether you are saving for your first home or starting your retirement plans, products such as the LISA, which is available for those looking to plan for their future, offer a 25% government backed bonus on annual savings  up to £4,000, those extra eight years of savings could have increased their future savings by a potential £8,000 – making it the perfect product to start your saving journey.”

To find out more about the Nottingham’s LISA, visit: https://www.thenottingham.com/lifetime-isa/

R&D
ArticlesCapital Markets (stocks and bonds)Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsTaxWealth Management

Meet the company recouping hundreds of thousands for UK business in R&D tax relief

R&D

Meet the company recouping hundreds of thousands for UK business in R&D tax relief

 

While growth in R&D tax relief claims has increased by 35% annually since inception in 2001 to over £4bn last year, and has already returned £26bn in total tax relief to businesses across the nation, the scheme is yet to be fully utilised by UK business according to R&D tax credit specialists RIFT Research and Development Ltd.

RIFT secures each client an average of more than £60,000 in tax relief due to R&D across sectors such as construction, manufacturing, agri-foods, ICT, advanced engineering, business and finance, mining and even education, but believe many are still failing to take advantage of the financial benefits. 

Introduced by the Government, the scheme is almost two decades old and encourages scientific and technological innovation across a plethora of UK business sectors. 

 

What is it?

It’s essentially Corporation Tax relief that when utilised, could reduce your company’s tax bill and in some cases, it can even result in you receiving payable tax credits.  

A company can qualify for R&D relief when they carry out research and development within their respective sector with the intention of advancing the overall knowledge or capabilities of science and technology within that field.  

 

R&D tax relief schemes

There are currently two R&D tax relief schemes in operation although the most beneficial is that aimed at SMEs which considers companies with a headcount of less than 500, a turnover of £86.3m or a balance sheet total below £74.3m – learn more.

If you want to see if your company qualifies and the types of costs you can reclaim, RIFT can also help you – learn more.

 

R&D sector success stories

RIFT has worked with countless companies who weren’t just unaware of R&D tax relief but had been incorrectly told by their accountants that they didn’t qualify.   

Here are some of the highest value claims.

Automotive: RIFT worked with an automotive industry tool manufacturer and identified £900,000 worth of qualifying costs, of which, the company was able to recoup £180,000 worth of previous costs.

Construction: RIFT worked with a leading construction company and identified £2m worth of qualifying costs for ongoing innovation across the entire business. Their accountant had identified just £50,000 worth of qualifying costs relating only to some new software they had developed and failed to recognise the gravity of the work they were doing within the sector. 

Architecture: Working with a private limited company practice within the architecture space, RIFT identified £1,000,000 worth of qualifying costs per year, after their accountant had told them their activities didn’t qualify as R&D.

Software: Thanks to RIFT, a client developing software was able to claim back a huge £750,000 from HMRC after £2.3m in qualifying costs were identified.

 
Head of RIFT Research and Development Limited, Sarah Collins commented:  

“Across the UK we have such a wealth of great businesses driving their respective sectors forward through research and development and it’s only right that they should be recognised in one form or another for doing so.  

However, time and time again, we see companies who are really leading the charge but are failing to maximise the return on their efforts by neglecting R&D tax relief. Some aren’t aware of the scheme full stop, while some are, but just didn’t realise that the innovative work they’re carrying out qualifies.  

Particularly now, while many SMEs are struggling with the potential implications of leaving the EU and the reductions in funding this might bring, R&D tax relief provides a very real, Brexit proof opportunity to maximise financial viability.”

CX-Platforms
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Purpose-Built CX Platforms ensure banks are meeting the needs of vulnerable customers

CX-Platforms

Purpose-Built CX Platforms ensure banks are meeting the needs of vulnerable customers

 

FCA consultation shines spotlight on fair treatment, putting pressure on financial services to implement suitable solutions.

In July, the Financial Conduct Authority announced the launch of a consultation on proposed guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. As a leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions, Clarabridge, Inc., is stressing the ability of dedicated technology to maintain compliance and ensure fair treatment of all customers. Without it, the firm says, banks and financial services companies are in danger of failing customers and breaching regulations.

The Clarabridge solution is widely used in the finance sector, and it is already helping companies to develop interactive dashboards to assist contact centre and customer service staff in monitoring the experiences of vulnerable customers.

“Any time customers make contact, it is not always easy for customer service agents to quickly understand their challenges,” said Jagrit Malhotra, Managing Director EMEA at Clarabridge. “Vulnerable customers may face a variety of difficulties and obstacles that affect their interactions. Our technology allows banks and financial institutions to analyse these interactions in great detail, thereby uncovering the sentiments that customers are expressing, the effort that they are making to access services, and how this can be improved to enhance the overall journey.”

The FCA has stated that whilst many firms have made significant progress in how they treat vulnerable customers, there needs to be more consistency. It says that in some cases, a failure to understand their needs is leading to harm.

In the last six months, Clarabridge has designed tailored dashboards for a prominent UK bank and a leading insurance company to help them analyse data from sources such as phone calls, web chats, email and social media posts. By identifying and addressing negative feedback, including that from vulnerable customers, financial organisations can prioritise improvements to help these customers while also addressing areas of compliance or regulatory risks.

“Financial services companies can ensure fair and consistent treatment of customers by proactively identifying the root causes of problems,” continued Malhotra. “The news features reports of banks discriminating against the disabled in overdraft charges, for example, or failing to indemnify vulnerable customers against fraud. We can use highly advanced analytics to help organisations quickly tackle issues, consistently meet FCA guidelines, and gain a deeper understanding of the very real needs of their customers.”

Clarabridge’s AI-powered solution also meets the banking industry’s need for fast-turnaround implementations. Its modules are customised to the unique workflow of the industry and include Complaints & Compliance Analysis, Digital Experience (Mobile App & Website), Branch & ATM Experience and Contact Centre Experience.

To learn more about this solution for retail banking and other industries, please visit: https://www.clarabridge.com/solutions/industry/banking/

Employee spending
FundsWealth Management

Friday 10am is peak time for employees splashing the company cash

Employee spending

Friday 10am is peak time for employees splashing the company cash

 

  • Company cards are most used at supermarkets and service stations

  • Fast food is bought more often than train tickets

  • Workers are most reliant on caffeine on Wednesdays, with West Midlands the coffee capital

Business owners and finance bosses may want to look away on Friday mornings as this is the most popular time for spending on company cards, according to new research. 

 

The data from business card provider, Capital on Tap, reveals that businesses spend more money on its company cards at 10am on Fridays than any other time during the working week, with the following hour also among the costliest periods. 

 

The top five times of the week for spending on company credit cards: 

1.       Friday 10am: users spend 225% more than they would usually  

2.       Tuesday 10am: users spend 223% more than they would usually 

3.       Monday 11am: users spend 214% more than they would usually 

4.       Friday 11am: users spend 213% more than they would usually 

5.       Wednesday 11am: users spend 208% more than they would usually 

 

Supermarkets and service stations are the most frequented locations for company credit cards, with the highest number of weekly transactions (16.7% and 15% of all weekly purchases respectively). 

 

There are also more purchases made on company cards in fast food establishments (4.9%) than for more traditional business activities such as rail travel (2.8%) and overnight accommodation (3.3%). In fact, Saturday lunchtime is the most popular time for fast food spending, with KFC (£11.67 spent per visit) proving more popular with workers than Burger King (£11.25) and McDonalds (£8.12). 

 

Out of hours spending at the pub is also a popular business expense, with end-of-week celebrations the peak time for spend in drinking establishments – 21% of this taking place between 8pm-9pm on a Friday. 

 

Gone are the days of the Monday morning ‘pick me up’, with only 19.2% of the week’s coffee purchases taking place at the beginning of the traditional working week. Instead, workers are looking for a midweek caffeine boost, with 21.4% of coffees being bought on a Wednesday. 

 

West Midlanders are the most reliant on coffee to fuel their working week, spending £9.22 in coffee shops on an average visit, while those in Wales are least dependent on the beverage (£6.56). 

 

Coffee spend per region: 

1.       West Midlands: £9.22 

2.       Northern Ireland: £8.79 

3.       North East: £8.79 

4.       Scotland: £8.70 

5.       Yorkshire and the Humber: £8.48 

6.       East: £8.41 

7.       North West: £8.30 

8.       South West: £7.80 

9.       London: £7.62 

10.   South East: £7.40 

11.   East Midlands: £7.22 

12.   Wales: £6.56 

 

David Luck, CEO of Capital on Tap, said: “It is interesting to find when workers are spending most on their work credit cards and spot patterns in how businesses are evolving. Finding that Friday evenings are popular for pub spending and Saturdays are peak times for fast food shows that business expenditure is not as traditional as we might have thought. 

 

“A refreshing diversity of spend was seen on Capital on Tap cards. Given our ability to service those that traditional banks opt-out of, it’s no surprise to see service station costs, lumber yards and parking lots as part of the funding use – retailers that are traditionally popular outside of the bigger cities.”  

HMRC
Corporate TaxTax

Leyton UK welcomes increase in R&D funding, but urges ‘further and faster action’

HMRC

Leyton UK welcomes increase in R&D funding, but urges ‘further and faster action’ by Government

 

Leyton UK, the country’s leading innovation funding consultancy, has welcomed the increase in R&D tax credit claims, announced last week by HMRC, but urged the Government to go further faster and to increase awareness and uptake of the scheme to ensure the UK keeps pace with other economies. R&D tax credits are a tax relief designed to encourage greater R&D spending, leading in turn to greater investment in innovation. They work by either reducing a company’s liability to corporation tax or by making a payment to the company.

The announcement by HMRC has revealed that there have been 48,635 R&D tax credit claims for 2017-18, of which 42,075 are in the SME R&D scheme, corresponding to £31.3bn of R&D expenditure. This is expected to rise and HMRC has now revealed that claims for the last complete year, 2016/17 indicate an overall increase of 20% from 2015-16. The increase was primarily driven by a rise in the number of SME claims, which totalled 45,045 in 2016-17, an increase of 22% from 2015-16.

Leyton highlights that the take up of claims from sector to sector and across the country varies. The Government has an ambitious target of 2.4% investment in R&D overall by 2027. The most recent ONS figures however revealed the UK’s investment to be just 1.69% of national GDP, well below the European average of 2.07%. This suggests far bigger increases in R&D investment will be required to come close to meeting this ambition. The need to focus on investment in innovation is clear and Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to ‘double down’ on R&D investment in a recent speech at the Manchester Science and Industry Museum.

According to Leyton UK MD William Garvey: “The R&D tax incentive has become well established in the UK and we are seeing an encouraging take up as businesses realise the full scope of what they can claim. However, if the Government wants to realise its goal to ‘double down on R&D’ there needs to be better education and communication for SMEs as we have found awareness of the scheme varies from sector to sector and across the country. We would also suggest further financial incentive. The UK is blessed with a combination of creativity and technical brilliance that are the foundations for success in the future. To support innovation post-Brexit, Government will need to continue to invest.”

Leyton UK has witnessed impressive growth on the back of increasing awareness of the scheme, recently revealingannual revenue growth of 50% for the financial year 2018/2019, its most successful year in its 10-year trading history.

Angel Investment
Articles

Angel Investment Network reports strong annual revenue growth

Angel Investment

Angel Investment Network reports strong annual revenue growth

 

Angel Investment Network (AIN), the world’s largest online angel investment platform, has announced strong growth, with annual revenues up 9.4% year on year and a record number of deals for the broking business. AIN connects startups with angel investors and now has more than a million users in total on the platform.

AIN received over 100,000 pitches in the past year from entrepreneurs across the globe, with the figure doubling over the last two years. Alongside existing markets there has been a rapid growth of startups coming from emerging markets. Meanwhile investors registering on the site have surged nearly 40% year on year, now standing at more than 200,000 registered business angels.

Alongside the online platform, AIN also runs a successful broking division, which has seen exceptional growth in the past 12 months. Revenues have increased by 22% as demand for the team’s expertise increases. AIN has been involved in several significant raises in the past 12 months for a variety of business. This includes eco-friendly baby product business Kit & Kin, fully customisable bio-polymer plastic company Teysha, and Pin Point, data science offering early cancer detection.

Despite ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and a global slowdown, AIN’s results reveal the buoyant startup culture both in the UK and internationally and the popularity for this method of financing.  The biggest demand among investors over the past year has been for software-based business, however food & beverage and property ventures are also seeing impressive growth. Fast growth worldwide markets include India, Canada and Australia.

Additionally AIN has been expanding into new areas including a property investment site, BrickTribe and an impact-driven online hub SeedTribe, catering for the increasing demand from investors for businesses with sustainability at their core.

According to AIN co-founder Mike Lebus: “AIN is the largest network connecting angel investors with startups, and we continue to see strong growth with investors keen to connect to our wide pool of early-stage businesses. We reflect a strong, growing and resilient worldwide startup culture which has now taken root in every continent of the world. We are particularly encouraged by the performance of our broking business as more and more investors are coming to us for access to high quality dealflow.”

He continues: “We continue to operate a lean and agile business model and we are able to launch new products to respond to the needs of our users. This includes our two new standalone platforms, BrickTribe and SeedTribe, which we built to fulfil demand that we were receiving from our investors.”

Cyber threat
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsFinance

EfficientIP and IDC Report Reveals: Financial services organisations suffer $1.3M cyber attacks

Cyber threat

EfficientIP and IDC Report Reveals: Financial services organisations suffer $1.3M cyber attacks

 

88% of financial services organisations surveyed experienced DNS attacks in the past 12 months.

EfficientIP, leading specialists in DNS security for service continuity, user protection and data confidentiality, revealed the financial services sector is the most targeted industry in its 2019 Global DNS Threat Report with 88% of FS respondents experiencing under-the-radar DNS attacks in the past year.

With 900 respondents from nine countries across North America, Europe and Asia, the report found financial services organisations experienced an average of ten attacks a year, a 37% increase from last year. In addition, 47% of financial services organisations were subject to DNS-based phishing scams.

Last year, a single DNS attack cost each financial services organisation $924,390. This year the research shows that each organisations on average spent $1,304,790 to restore services after each DNS attack, the most out of any sector and an eye-watering increase of 40%.

Rising costs is only one of the consequences DNS attacks caused for the financial services sector. The most common impacts included cloud service downtime, experienced by 45% of financial organisations, and in-house application downtime (68%).

While 65% of financial organisations are either already using or planning to incorporate zero trust architecture, they still appear to be behind the curve when it comes to making use of DNS analytics for enhancing overall network security. Just over 67% perform no DNS traffic analysis for their internal threat intelligence program, and 43% have adopted very little or no automation at all in their network security policy management. This still leaves the financial services sector vulnerable to DNS attacks, which appear to be on the rise. On the positive side, financial services organisations do see real value in using machine learning to bring predictive security into their capabilities. 90% of respondents see this as particularly useful for detecting unknown (“zero-day”) malicious domains.

David Williamson, CEO, EfficientIP, commented: “Financial services organisations have always been the gate-keepers of customers’ money, providing vital services people expect to be able to use all day and night. With so much at stake, the networks of financial services organisations are a predictable, prime target for DNS attacks.

“What is a surprise is these organisations are not amplifying their security measures. They are big targets with costly breaches coming thick and fast.
As our research shows, DNS security is a business imperative for the financial sector if hackers are to be kept at bay and to prevent services from caving in on themselves.”

card
BankingCash Management

Yordex introduces smart company card to spend management solution software, which cuts the cost and complexity of controlling business finances

card

Yordex introduces smart company card to spend management solution software - which cuts the cost and complexity of controlling business finances

 

UK fintech Yordex is making it simple for fast-growing companies to control business spend by adding company cards to its smart spend management solution, giving businesses complete visibility and authority over their current and future finances.

Expense management currently takes up a disproportionate amount of time and money within most organisations; on average, it costs in excess of $20 in people power to process every invoice or expense claim, while expenses only account for less than 6% of total company spend.* In addition, firms struggle to get a real-time picture of their financial health, as their existing software platform only provide a historical view of spend. It takes an average company up to 10 working days at month end to get an accurate account of what was spent the previous month.

Yordex is pioneering a new approach to managing business finances. Its smart solution provides 100% visibility over company spending – from cards and expenses to invoices and budgets – so businesses can control all current and future finances in one place, reducing the cost of spend management by 60-70%.

Adding company cards further enhances Yordex’s smart spend management solution, by empowering employees to make autonomous purchases within set spending limits. Receipts and invoices are automatically matched with expenses and the correct VAT rate is applied, significantly reducing the administrative and compliance burden placed on staff. Businesses can also manage online spending, such as subscriptions, through virtual cards, avoiding the need to unsecurely pass physical cards around the office.

By introducing smart company cards that are fully integrated with Yordex’s spend management platform, businesses will be able to make agile, insight driven decision-making enabling real-time spend visibility and accurate cash flow control through the use of Yordex’s financial reporting tools.

Erik De Kroon, co-founder and CEO of Yordex, comments: “As companies grow, their costs become harder to track. Businesses want to keep the fast decision-making capabilities of their early days, but there have been no financial tools available to help them achieve this – until now.”

“Yordex enables businesses to retain control over their spend as they scale up, so they can make rapid decisions based on real-time insights. Introducing smart company cards will make it even easier for fast-growing businesses to make intelligent choices.”

Companies already using the Yordex smart spend management solution will be offered complimentary cards as valued customers.

Erik concludes: “Every business is different, but they all have one thing in common: they’ve got better things to do than waste time on spend management. Our approach gives companies complete cash flow visibility without expensive, time-consuming software implementations, and adding smart company cards will enable business owners to focus on growing their business without compromising on financial insight and control.”