Category: Finance

R&D
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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.”

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.”

santander
ArticlesBankingCash ManagementFinanceTransactional and Investment Banking

Santander Consumer Finance is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK

santander

Santander Consumer Finance is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK delivering an end-to-end digital solution

 

Santander Consumer Finance (SCF) is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK delivering an end-to-end digital solution for dealers further strengthening its commitment to growing the market.

The national launch of Apply Online which offers e-sign capability means customers can calculate the finance they need, receive immediate approvals and sign documentation at home or in showrooms ensuring that dealers remain in control.

Delivery of the end-to-end digital process has taken nine months since the launch of SCF’s online calculator in December and involved substantial financial and resource investments at SCF.

The calculator has proved popular – customers have generated more than 4.1 million quotes and 51 dealers have signed up for the calculator. Apply Online, which was successfully tested over the past month, is now available to all dealers using the calculator.

SCF’s digital solution is integrated into dealers’ websites and installation takes minutes for dealers who already have the calculator. SCF is providing additional support to help dealers make the most effective use of the digital proposition.

The system is designed to provide a simple, fair and personal experience for car buyers and builds on the success of SCF’s partnership with Volvo Car UK launched in April.

Stewart Grant, Santander Consumer Finance Commercial Director said: “We’ve worked hard to design a market leading end-to-end digital solution which ensures   dealers retain control of customer relationships while benefiting from our brand power.

“The financial investment and the time spent by our team in developing and delivering the digital transformation emphasises how committed we are to support our dealer network in maximising sales and profitability within the growing digital market.”

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

The importance of sports to the UK economy
ArticlesBankingFinanceFunds

The importance of sports to the UK economy

The importance of sports to the UK economy

The importance of sports to the UK economy

 

There’s no doubt that the summer of 2018 will be difficult to top! With an uncharacteristically hot summer making for the perfect backdrop to all the barbecues we ever dreamed of, alongside an unpredictably fantastic performance in the World Cup for the English football team that single-handedly boosted the nation’s spirits even further, it was by all accounts a cracking summer. 2020 is set to bring us another worldwide celebration of sport with the Olympics in Tokyo, so you’d be forgiven for thinking 2019 might end up being something of a lull for the sporting world to recharge.

Not so. In fact, some news correspondents are forecasting another great year for UK sports. In particular, cricket is set to be the focus of the year while men’s football takes a backseat, as both the Cricket World Cup and the Ashes series are to be held in England.

Even a ‘quiet’ year has so much going on in the sporting world then. With that in mind, just how integral is the sporting industry to the overall UK economy? In this article, we will cover how the sporting industry supports the UK both in a financial capacity and beyond.

Input to the economy

If you’re not into sports (and perhaps even if you are), the wages enjoyed by sporting professionals might seem ludicrous. In particular, the six-figure weekly wages of top-league football players is a point of contention for some. What are we, as a nation, getting in return for such a cost?

Well, beyond the enjoyment of watching sport, the industry supports a huge part of the UK economy. According to CareerBuilder, the sports industry tallies up a whopping £23.8 billion annually for the economy. Let’s put a little context on that figure with a look at other contributors to the economy. The tourism industry, which the sporting industry technically supports as well thanks to the number of sports fan tourists seeking out games to spectate, brings in £24.5 billion for the economy every year.

Meanwhile, the Royal Family brings in around £1.8 billion to the UK economy each year, depending on the number of royal weddings of course! But this is outstripped by even one single contributor of the sporting world, with cycling drawing in £3 billion each year on its own. It’s a clear contrast that shows just how important the sporting industry is to the nation’s economy, standing toe-to-toe with the tourism industry.

Input beyond finances

Naturally, the sporting sector brings in benefits for the UK beyond financial too. There’s the sense of community it fosters, such as the nationwide burst of pride we all felt, sports fans or not, when England performed so well in the World Cup! This sense of social value also extends to supporting skills outside of sports — for example, numeracy skills in underachieving young people were seen to increase by 29% when becoming a regular sports participant.

Then, there’s the employment side of things. The sporting industry supports over 400,000 full-time positions in England alone.

Plus, there’s the obvious health factor. Participating in sports, which is undoubtedly spurred and motivated in many ways by fans looking up to athletes they admire, brings a much-needed boost to the nation’s health.

Protecting the commodity

The pitches

With such a strong presence in the UK’s financial stability, what is being done to ensure our sports capabilities are world-class? Well, for one, we have to maintain the best venues for both the players and spectators! A poor pitch can have a huge impact on the game it is hosting. Take Euro 2016, for example: while that year’s unusually wet summer left the French pitches in a terrible state, the UK’s football pitches were kept in prime condition. Of course, wet weather is the very foundation of which groundkeepers are experienced in here in the UK! With hybrid turf technology, undersoil heating, and pop-up sprinklers, our fields are ready for any eventuality. Keeping the soil warm ensures the grass doesn’t fall into its dormant, brown hue and stays green all winter.

As well as keeping the grass warm to avoid it going dormant, adequate draining is also needed to keep the grass from succumbing to the usually damp and dreadful British weather. One such method utilised by football pitches is pipe and slit drained pitches, which consists of a layer of firmed topsoil, stone back-fill, subsoil, and a perforated plastic pipe, along with a slit drain and sand blinding layer to allow water to drain down and away.

Sports funding

Of course, it’s not just football being maintained to such a high level. Thanks to UK Sport investing in a range of sports with money from the National Lottery and Exchequer income, other sporting disciplines are also flourishing on UK soil.

Particularly with the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, current funding is generous indeed. Example figures include £29,624,264 to cycling, £9,838,913 to taekwondo, and £16,457,953 to gymnastics.

The world of sport is hugely beneficial to the UK, in terms of economy and society. The sector sees a huge amount of funding and manpower, but for good reason, with the industry bringing in so much and putting the UK in the global eye as a key sporting participant.

Climate strikes
FinanceGlobal ComplianceNatural Catastrophe

Climate change transforms high finance’s relationship with society

Climate strikes

Climate change transforms high finance’s relationship with society

 

Extinction Rebellion’s city centre disruptions and Fridays for Future’s well attended school strikes across Europe inspired by Greta Thunberg have placed climate change firmly in the public consciousness. Now more than ever before, the question is not if something should be done, but when and how. Robert Blood, managing director of NGO tracking and issues analysis firm SIGWATCH, explains how this is already forcing the financial sector to take more decisive action.

In June 2018, Legal & General told Japan Post Holdings (JPH) that it was dropping the company from its $6.7billion Future World index funds. It added that any of its funds that still held shares would be instructed to vote against the re-election of JPH’s chairman. L&G justified the move by saying that JPH had “shown persistent inaction” to address climate risk.

L&G is not alone in taking action on climate risk. BNP Paribas, AXA, Allianz, RBS, Munich Re, ING, Rabobank, Standard Chartered, Barclays and HSBC are all now committed to exiting deals and investments concerned with coal mining and coal-fired power. In the U.S., despite (or arguably because of) an administration that is openly sceptical of the need for climate action, many of the largest banks including JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have all announced coal exits, as they have begun to do in Australia. Japan’s largest banks and insurers, and their equivalents in Singapore and China, have come late to the divestment game but they too are finally rolling out new coal pledges.

Revival of campus activism

These moves are the consequences of growing pressure from stakeholders, driven by activist groups, for almost ten years. It was in 2013 that US student environmental groups first demanded college endowment and pension funds sell off their shares in fossil fuel-related projects. Their carbon divestment campaign was modelled on the Apartheid campus divestment battles of the 1980s, which aimed to undermine the economy of South Africa by forcing U.S. firms and investors to sell off South African assets. Congress imposed investment bans too. Until the Klerk-Mandela settlement of 1993, South Africa was for almost a decade a pariah state for investors.

While the priority for campaigners has been to drive out coal, the pressure on carbon does not stop there. Under the slogan, ‘extreme carbon’, campaigners have extracted concessions from leading financial institutions on Canadian oil sands, Arctic and deep-sea drilling, shale gas, and related infrastructure such as LNG terminals and pipelines. As these specific sources become demonized, conventionally produced oil and gas becomes more and more dubious. Divestment on the basis of increased risk has a tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When money flows out of an asset type, the remaining investors are by definition exposed to increased financial risk, and this in turn stimulates additional cycles of divestment. There is a reason why fossil fuels are commonly described by climate campaigners as ‘stranded assets’. Even giants like Shell are now openly reconsidering their futures.

The success of campaigners in getting their arguments heard and taken seriously is a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact, one of the most striking developments in the financial sector of the last decade has been the ‘mainstreaming’ of environmental and social responsibility standards in investing. Until relatively recently, these were the preserve of SRI and ethical funds, often funds that had been set up at the behest of well-funded environmental groups who insisted on strict exclusion criteria.

Now, environmental and social governance (ESG) is embedded in standard fund management practice, helped by pressure from political stakeholders and customers, particularly in relation to the institutions’ own funds, to take intangible risks such as human and indigenous peoples’ rights seriously.

Financial institutions’ increased willingness to listen

The financial crisis of 2008 also played an important part. With the reputation of the financial sector in tatters, leading institutions made a conscious decision to prove their ‘value to society’ by adopting ESG, and engaging with NGOs in a far deeper and more open way than ever before.

Campaigning NGOs have not been slow to exploit investors’ new-found willingness to listen, to push their wider agenda on a wide range of environmental and social concerns. These include human and indigenous rights, sustainability, corporate environmental responsibility and benchmarking, labour standards, animal rights, even the ethics of investing in industrial scale agriculture.

As NGOs become more active and more influential, their campaigning can provide an early warning system for emerging issues for investors. On plastics and shale gas (fracking), campaigning levels rose significantly ahead of public concern, anything up to 12 months prior. This is not very surprising, since activists are effective at getting media attention and this feeds into public awareness. We are now seeing this with ‘green vegetarianism’ – the switch away from meat for environmental reasons like deforestation and climate change (see chart 1). All these correlations show how campaigners can ‘make the weather’ politically.

It will become more important for global financial institutions, as they develop ever more expansive policies and standards under pressure from NGOs and other stakeholders, to track the long-term implications of the criteria they are enforcing.

Pension funds linked to ‘politically sensitive’ workforces such as public sector employees, health and education, are especially vulnerable to this kind of pressure. The campus campaigns of the carbon divestment movement quickly moved on to targeting staff pension funds once they secured the support of a significant number of faculty. In Denmark the state pension funds have been called out by Greenpeace on the same issue. In Sweden, Greenpeace launched a boycott of payments into the mandatory state pension scheme AP3 until it agreed to divest from all fossil fuels and related infrastructure projects.

ESG goes mainstream

With leading financial institutions engaging seriously with campaigners and their concerns, doing nothing is not an option. As more major mainstream funds are managed on ESG principles, investment managers and institutions increasingly have to justify to their peers why they are not doing the same, rather than the other way round. It is no longer a question of, Are the NGOs being fair, but rather, Do the NGOs have the ear of our stakeholders, and are they already influencing rival institutions? They may be small and apparently insignificant compared to a bank or investment fund, but NGOs have become critical players in transforming what society expects from finance.

Robert Blood, managing director of NGO
Robert Blood, managing director of SIGWATCH
CAR INSURANCE
ArticlesFinanceInsurance

Six of the best ways to reduce your car insurance

CAR INSURANCE

Six of the best ways to reduce your car insurance

 

Are you aware of all the ways you can potentially reduce your insurance outlay? Here, we look at the biggest contributing factors.

We all know that cars can be expensive — and not only to purchase. There are many extra charges that you may face as a car owner, including MOT charges, road tax and fuel allowance for things like your daily commute.

There are also the hidden costs to consider if your vehicle unpredictably breaks down. However, one of the biggest expenses you’re likely to face is your annual insurance just to drive your car. In Britain, there are over one million uninsured drivers on our roads, which in turn increases premiums for those who do insure their vehicles.

For many people, a yearly payment is too big of a lump sum, so they must break it down into monthly payments. But, are you aware of all the ways you can potentially reduce your insurance outlay? Here, we look at the biggest contributing factors.

Shop around

It goes without saying that it’s important to consider your options. Like any service, you should do your research. Many insurance companies will attempt to ‘better’ the offer on the table by a different provider, so be sure to know what you want and don’t just settle with the first, or your current provider. However, remember that cheaper isn’t always better. Check what is included before agreeing to a cheaper cover.

Reduce coverage on older cars

While you may be tempted to always choose comprehensive cover for your vehicle, be aware that choosing this coverage for particularly old vehicles may not be cost effective. For example, if your car is worth £1,000 and is in a crash, there’s a possibility that your insurer will just write your vehicle off. Therefore, if your insurance is costing approximately £500 for comprehensive cover, it may not make financial sense to purchase it. Comprehensive cover is most cost effective for those with new cars, or cars that have held their value.

Have a solid credit score

Having no claims bonuses are obviously a great help when it comes to lowering the cost of your insurance. But, were you aware that your overall credit score can also have a huge impact on your car insurance? That’s because insurers take in the impression that if you’re responsible in your personal life and with other financial situations, you are less likely to file a claim.

Include a black box monitor

Some insurers will lower the annual cost of your cover if you fit a small box in your car that can help insurers to track your driving methods. This will include aspects such as braking and speed via GPS, as well as taking into account the time of day you drive. This method, also known as telematics insurance, is effective for young and inexperienced drivers, those who have a low annual mileage, or older drivers who want to prove that they’re safe behind the wheel.

Add other named drivers

It may seem strange that more drivers being named on your insurance will bring down your costs, but that’s the case for many quotes. This is because it helps the insurer tie more people into their service. This works well for younger drivers who would usually be charged an extortionate amount. Being named on their parents’ insurance can help reduce their outlay.

Increase your excess

Your premiums are based on how much your insurer is likely to pay out if you claim. By choosing to pay a higher voluntary excess, you will lower the cost of what the insurer will have to pay towards the claim. Therefore, this can lower your overall insurance. However, you must ensure that you choose an excess you will be able to afford and make sure the excess doesn’t exceed the overall value of your vehicle.

While it’s a necessity to be insured when on the road, you don’t have to pay over the odds to do so. Following the above guidelines can help you reduce your overall payments — leaving you with extra money to spend elsewhere.

wealth management
Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsHigh Net-worth IndividualsWealth Management

Report calls for major digitisation of the wealth management sector but warns 84% of projects could fail

wealth management

Report calls for major digitisation of the wealth management sector but warns 84% of projects could fail

Over £20 billion of high net worth individuals’ investable wealth could be passed on to their loved ones every year, but as many as 80% of wealth manager’s don’t have an existing relationship with these beneficiaries. Digitisation is key to addressing this challenge.

A new report from Nucoro, a B2B fintech providing Wealth Management as a Service solutions, says traditional wealth managers need to totally re-engineer their operations if they are to prosper in the future. However, it warns that on average around 84% of companies generally fail at digitisation projects. 

The report entitled ‘The Future Challenges for Wealth Management’, says wealth managers and financial services companies in general need to prioritise and redefine what can be expected and achieved from digitisation, and make increased use of partnerships with expert solution providers.  

Nucoro says the digitisation of the wealth management sector needs to go beyond simply moving physical into digital, and fundamentally rethink products from the conceptual to execution. It says this is being driven by the rise of automation facilitating scalable growth, and the transformation of customers where their expectations, needs, behaviours and demographics are changing.

To illustrate this point, Nucoro estimates that on average, for the next decade over £20 billion of high net worth individuals’ investible wealth will be passed on to their loved ones every year, but as many as 80% of wealth manager’s don’t have an existing relationship with these beneficiaries. Many of these beneficiaries will be millennials who make great use of technology in all aspects of their lives, including managing their finances.

Nikolai Hack, the COO and UK MD of Nucoro commented: “As with any investment in a financial business, a central motivation should be to ultimately produce outcomes that can benefit customers. Adopting bolt-on enhancements like digital customer experiences or automations for back office functions are the best routes to upgrading the services to existing and potential clients due to their accessibility, scalability and affordability.” 

“Wealth managers must embrace technology. The industry is heavily regulated, and it therefore faces a large administrative burden, but technology can minimise the time and resources spent on tasks that are very basic but high in volume.”

The report highlights several key trends that innovative wealth managers need to address if they are to be successful in the future:

The growth of digital wealth management:

The report says it is now realistic to consider direct to consumer robo-platforms as legitimate industry challengers. By the end of 2018, they were managing $257 billion, and this could grow to $1.26 trillion by 2023. 

The rise of fintech new entrants:

While tradition still reigns supreme in wealth management, there are major indications that the next decade will see technology driven services enjoy strong growth. Taking an example from another industry, looking at the banking and payments market in Europe – new entrants (including challenger banks, nonbank payment institutions and big tech companies) that entered the market after 2005 now amass up to one third of new revenue, despite only taking 7% of the overall revenue.

Growing advice gap:

The cost of financial advice is demonstrably pricing out large sections of potential clients. A report in 2018 found that more than 40% of financial advisers has been forced to review their charging structures in the first half of 2019. This is a huge threat and opportunity for wealth managers

Wealth passed on to millennials/changing client needs

Beginning around 2030, an estimated $4 trillion of wealth is going to be passed on to millennials in the UK and North America from their parents. However, only some 20% of UK advisers currently have an existing relationship with their current clients’ beneficiaries, many of whom are millennials. This means that digital and mobile first access will become more universal as the younger generations mature. Digital finance is a highly effective engagement tool for younger generations.

Nikolai Hack said: “An unprecedented transfer of wealth is expected to be served by a shrinking pool of advisers. They will be dealing with a client base that is likely to need them to become more flexible and deliver a more modern and personal service.”

“This could mean more agile tech-driven firms will need to fill the gap. Alternatively, the existing firms could push to streamline their operational functions and manage overheads – cost cutting essentially – while handling an influx of orphaned clients at the same time.”

“For the next generation, their needs and expectations are centred on interacting with their finances via digitally accessible platforms that link their money, their everyday lives and their goals to the future. Greater customisation of service levels will also be key here.”

The reach of regulation

The number of individual regulatory changes that regulated organisations must track on a global scale has more than tripled since 2011. Tech can play a key role in helping wealth managers with this area of their business.

Conclusion

Nikolai Hack said: “For wealth managers, technology and digitisation can be applied across all functions, from onboarding clients and portfolio management to operations and reporting. It also enables wealth managers to become much more agile and focused on the needs of clients. However, wealth managers need to find the right balance between digital and human services and the key to success will be how wealth managers combine these two in order to meet the challenges now and in the future.”

From client onboarding to portfolio construction through to billing automations, Nucoro combines all the tools required to build the next generation of wealth management propositions. To help the wealth management sector move forward, Nucoro offers a new technology-based foundation built without legacies – a complete overhaul to the models of client service and accessibility. Nucoro’s is a radically different approach to the relationship between technology providers and the organisations adopting their solutions – in short, they can provide the new engine to power the next generation of financial services.

Whilst Nucoro has recently launched to the public, the technology behind it powers the retail investment platform, Exo Investing – a fully automated, AI-powered wealth management platform. Within the first year of operation, Exo won two industry awards (Best digital wealth manager OTY + Industry Innovator OTY at the AltFi awards 2018), was named as a finalist in three more and selected to two disruptive company annual indexes (Wealthtech 100 and Disruption50’s 100 most disruptive UK companies).

Nucoro is making this technology available for businesses in the wealth management sector that have the ambition to truly innovate and future-proof their businesses – and are struggling to realise their digital ambitions alone.

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

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

Hyper short-term investments what are millennials investing in

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

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

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


Art flipping

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

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


Clothes

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

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


Shoes

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

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

 
Sources:

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

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

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

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

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

mobile bank fraud
BankingFinance

Mobile financial attacks rise by 107%

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finance Business
Finance

FINANCE BUSINESSES MISSING THE MARK WITH GAMIFIED REWARDS

FINANCE BUSINESSES MISSING THE MARK WITH GAMIFIED REWARDS

75% of finances businesses currently offer a gamified rewards system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMMOATIVE
FinanceFunds

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Operational and Trading Highlights

 

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

Fundraising Highlights

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

Background and Current Strategy

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Martin Higginson, CEO of Immotion Group, said:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

car management
Finance

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

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

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

 

What do you need to know when buying new?

Personal loan

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hire purchase (HP)

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

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

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

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

 

Personal Contract Hire (PCH)

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

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

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

 

Personal Contract Purchase (PCP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What do you need to know when buying used?

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

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

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

liquidation 2
Finance

What Is The Difference Between Solvent And Insolvent Liquidation?

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

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

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

But what about solvent liquidation?

Solvency vs insolvency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ‘winding up’ procedure

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

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

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

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

However, it doesn’t always go this smoothly.

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

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

What is liquidation?

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

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

● Late customer payments

● Customers/suppliers entering insolvency

● Market fluctuations

● Increased competition

● Mistakes in pricing of goods/services

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

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

● Members’ voluntary liquidation (MVL)

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

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

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

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

● Creditors’ voluntary liquidation (CVL)

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

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

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

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

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

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

● Compulsory liquidation

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

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

This can be done so by submitting a WUP.

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

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

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

 

Company dissolution

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

This is recorded and registered by the Registrar of Companies.

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

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

 

Why you should act quickly

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

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

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

accountancy hack
BankingFinanceFunds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe Collinwood is CEO of CySure

dubai
FinanceFundsMarkets

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Driving the Future of Financial Services in MEASA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting Human Capital Development and Delivering Sustainable Impact

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

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

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

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

Enhancing the Legal & Regulatory Framework to Fuel Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating a Vibrant Retail & Lifestyle Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Professor Linder adds,

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

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

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

Finance

Best European P2P Loan Platform 2019

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


Web Address: www.swaper.com 

 

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

Swaper picture

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

Women Finances
Finance

Financial Inequality: The Gender Gap

  • There is a financial inequality gap between men and women in developing countries and their economies and there has been no sign of improvements in recent years. There is no discernable gender gap in high-income economies.
  • 69% of adults. Which is a total of 3.8 billion people around the world have a bank account or mobile money provider. This number has increased by 7% in the last 5 years.
  • About 1.2 billion adults have obtained some sort of formal financial account since 2011, when the rate of financial inclusion was just 51%.
    However, 1.7 billion people around the world remain outside of the formal financial system.
 

In developing countries, the gender gap in financial inclusion between men and women has stalled at nine percentage points. FairPlanet researched further into the current situation.

 

When governments deposit social welfare payments directly into women’s digital bank accounts it can  empower their decision-making at home.

 

Research suggests that when women have more financial autonomy, spending in the home tends to be reprioritized. With factors such as the interest of families and children. It can also boost labour force participation among women.

 

The gap is large in the Middle East and North Africa: 35% of women compared with 52% of men, have access to some type of financial account.

 

Beyond labor force participation, women face an array of problems and obstacles to getting financial services, including discriminatory laws and conservative social norms.

 

Simple accounts accessed through mobile phones might help thwart some of these barriers.

 

Mobile money accounts are often easier to open than traditional bank accounts and they have the added benefit of allowing women to transact from the safety and comfort of their homes.

 

Mobile technology and money accounts may help to close the gender gap when it comes to financial equality. However, like anything, further research and data is needed to truly predict what the future holds.


Finance

12 Expenses You Can’t Deduct Against Business Even If You Incurred Them For Business

By Jonathan Amponsah CTA FCCA, The Tax Guys

One of the key ways to reduce your tax bill is to claim all legitimate expenses you incurred for the business. But the general rule that says you can claim all expenses incurred wholly and exclusively for the purpose of your business is not as straight forward as you may think.

 

So here are some surprising things you cannot tax deduct even if you incurred them for your business.

 

  1. Accommodation

Imagine you’re an actor who lives in London. You’ve secured a contract to shoot an exciting film in Edinburgh for three months. You realised hotel costs would be too high. So, you decided to rent an apartment for three months. Surely you can claim for the costs of the rent against your profits right? Well it makes sense but HMRC will deny the claim on the basis that the expenses were not incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of your profession as an actor. Why? One of the reasons HMRC will put forward is that there is a dual purpose in incurring the expenditure, namely to meet your ordinary needs for warmth and shelter as well as your stated business purpose.

 

  1. Travel

Here’s another scenario that might surprise you. You operate as a self-employed doctor or sole trader rather than limited company. You have a home-based office. You travel to see different patients or clients on a regular basis. Your journey starts from your office (at home) and includes a few itinerant travels from one client to the other client. Can you claim the full travel expenses? Logic will tell us that yes. However, the rules deem the travel from your home office to patients / clients as ordinary commuting and therefore not tax deductible.

 

  1. Client Entertainment

As part of your sales and marketing, you decide to take clients to a relaxed restaurant to discuss new business. The purpose is to negotiate and generate new business. The income will be taxed so the expenses should be ok to put through the business, right? Unfortunately, the rules specifically disallow these expenses to be claimed against tax. Part of the reason behind this is that you could have had the same conversation over a cup of tea in the office, plus there is an element of personal benefit in the entertainment.

 

  1. Promotional Gifts

It’s true that nothing ever happens in business until a product or a service is promoted and sold. And when it’s sold at a profit, tax gets collected accordingly. However, if you promote your business by spending too much money on promotional gifts to customers and the gifts cost more than £50 per customer, you won’t be able to deduct these costs against your income. Even where the gift cost £50 or less, make sure it carries a conspicuous advert for your business.

 

  1. Clothes for Work

Imagine you’re a barrister and you’ve purchase your gown to be worn in court. You don’t wear this gown in public. Can you go ahead and claim the cost of the gown against your tax? Not according to the famous tax case of Mallalieu v Drummond which established that “no deduction is available from trading profits for the costs of clothing which forms part of an ‘everyday’ wardrobe. This remains so even where the taxpayer can show that they only wear such clothing in the course of their profession.”

However, some protective and work clothing with logos and other business branding are claimable. If in doubt, speak with a tax accountant.

  1. Staff Reward via Trust

Your staff are well engaged within your business and you want to reward them. You decide to make payment into a Trust to demonstrate that the money has been earmarked for them and waiting to be paid when they hit their targets.

 

As the money has been paid out of your bank account to the Trust, can you claim it as a legitimate business or staff expenses? Unfortunately, not. Because of a specific tax avoidance rule, this legitimate expense cannot be claimed. 

 

  1. Parking Fines

Your business is delivering some items to a customer. The driver parks for a few minutes and get a parking ticket. Surely the reason for the fine is because of business activity so it should fall under the wholly and exclusive for the purpose of business rule? Not quite. Fines incurred for breaking the rules are disallowed.

 

  1. Legal Expenses

Legal fees can be expensive right…? And whilst they do add value to your business and may save you from making costly business mistakes, not all legal costs are tax deductible. For example, fees in connection with the purchase of a business premises or investing in shares are disallowed.

 

In addition, fees that have both personal and business elements may fail the wholly and exclusive test. And legal costs associated with breaking the law are also disallowed. For example, where you’ve got a parking fine and you decide to call your lawyer to defend the case and you lose, you won’t be able to claim the legal fees.

 

  1. Wages to Spouse or Kids

A great way to keep more of your cash within the family is to employ your spouse and kids. And there is nothing wrong with this plan. However, where you pay family members over and above the market rate, where they don’t actually perform any task for the business or where you’ve structured this working arrangement incorrectly with no evidence or paperwork to back up your plan, HMRC will not allow their salaries to be put through the business. Do take care with this as it’s currently a hot spot for HMRC enquiries.

 

  1. Sponsorship

Sponsoring an event is another area that might surprise you. HMRC will disallow the cost if they can show that perhaps the sporting field you are sponsoring is a director’s, partner’s or proprietor’s regular hobby or if the party being sponsored is a relative of the business owner, or if there is no proposed or actual return on investment from the sponsorship.

 

So, the trick here is to ensure that the sponsorship deal is structured correctly and there is a clear commercial benefit for your business.

 

  1. Donations

Donations made to political parties and non-registered organisations outside of the Gift Aid regime cannot be claimed against tax. This is to stop businesses offsetting costs through privately owned ‘non-profit’ organisations.

 

  1. HMRC Penalties

Penalties imposed by HMRC and other government departments are not tax deductible. So, avoid those penalties and get your accounts and tax returns done on time.

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Jonathan Amponsah CTA FCCA is an award-winning chartered tax adviser and accountant who has advises business owners on entrepreneurial tax reliefs. Jonathan is the founder and CEO of The Tax Guys.  www.thetaxguys.co.uk

Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsRegulation

Financial Services Employees Put Their Employers at Risk through Unsecure Communication

Symphony “Workplace Confidential survey highlights a worryingly casual attitude to workplace communications within the Financial Services Industries

Symphony Communication Services, LLC, the leading secure team collaboration platform, reveals that financial services employees are inadvertently putting company and customer data at risk through their communication channels.

These findings form part of the Symphony Workplace Confidential survey, which looked into the growth of new collaboration tools and platforms entering the workplace. FS workers are increasingly putting their trust in these platforms to conduct business, for both internal and external communications. For instance, the survey revealed that 34% have used these platforms to share strategic plans regarding their company, 40% have shared information regarding a customer, and 30% have shared financial information regarding their own employer.

However, many collaboration platforms are not protected with end-to-end encryption, and employees using them to share sensitive data points towards a worrying gap in security knowledge. Despite the fact that 94% of survey respondents have confidence that information shared via these platforms is safe from external eyes, a shocking 28% of financial services professional surveyed were not even aware of their employer’s own IT security guidelines. Interestingly this 28% figure is actually above the survey average of 22%; a cause for concern given the highly regulated sector of financial services.

“Financial services is about transactions and efficiency. And market workers have always been innovators when it comes to communication and speed. Fifteen years ago they ‘hacked’ AOL Instant Messaging and IRC into their workflows to help them get more work done faster,” states Jonathan Christensen, Chief Experience Officer at Symphony. “They adopted these tools for the ease and speed they offered but without regard to privacy, security, or compliance. The same thing is happening today with mobile device proliferation and cloud applications moving into the workplace.”

The use of these tools helps to accommodate a new way of working, allowing employees to work remotely from any location. While this is a positive move in powering the modern workforce, this also presents its own security and compliance challenges:


● 38% admit to accessing these tools from their personal computer
● 48% use their personal phone (higher than the 38% who use a work issued phone)
● 12% even admitted to using a publicly available computer

“Taking core capabilities away with draconian IT policies is not the way forward.” noted Christensen. “Workers need responsive, flexible collaboration platforms that are also safe to get their jobs done.”

Additional findings from the survey include:


• Only 31% of survey respondents said they were very confident they always stuck to company security guidelines
• 24% had shared information for HR including personal salary information, contracts, reviews etc.
• 25% admit they have used these tools to talk badly about a customer
• 33% have connected to unsecured internet to conduct work

Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsForeign Direct InvestmentStock Markets

US and Asian brands dominate rankings of world’s most valuable technology brands

  • US tech giants take top 5 spots, Amazon is world’s most valuable technology brand with monumental US$187.9billion brand value
  • Apple, Google and Microsoft defend spots as brand values continue to surge
  • China’s WeChat breaks into top 10 as world’s strongest tech brand, more Chinese brands rising through ranks
  • New entrants from digital space: Twitter and Instagram gaining traction, as online shopping portal Taobao is most valuable new entrant
  • Baidu owned iQiyi fastest-growing, rising 326% to impressive brand value of US$4.3 billion
  • Facebook losing brand strength, recording Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 82.9 out of 100 and AAA rating
  • IT Services brands log growth: TCS, Accenture, Capgemini, Wipro and IBM all see growth in brand value

Amazon leads tech titans

Amazon strengthens and maintains its position as the world’s most valuable technology brand. Brand value surges 25% to a record US$187.9 billion, over US$30 billion more than 2nd place Apple. Notoriously strong for service, last year, Amazon recorded its most successful Prime Day to date, with consumers purchasing more than 100 million products. This was shortly followed by the brand crossing the US$1 trillion threshold on Wall Street for the first time in its history. And due to an ever-diversifying portfolio, it seems no industry is safe from the threat and power of Amazon.

The Amazon brand is well-positioned for further growth but the presence of Chinese brands this year is most impressive and certainly not to be ignored.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commented:

“Amazon is leaving no stone unturned as it relentlessly extends into new sectors, however its technological might still overshadows rivals to retain the status of the world’s most valuable tech brand.

The Amazon brand is well-positioned for further growth but the presence of Chinese brands this year is most impressive and certainly not to be ignored.”

Chinese brands flex muscle

While the top 5 most valuable tech brands are dominated by brands from the USA, the remaining 5 within the top 10 are from China and South Korea, asserting the dominance and competitiveness of the Asian players.

New entrant Taobao (brand value US$46.6 billion) is the most valuable, breaking into the top 10 for the first time. The Chinese online shopping website is headquartered in Hangzhou and owned by Alibaba. It is one of the world’s biggest e-commerce websites, offering its almost 620 million monthly active users a marketplace to facilitate consumer-to-consumer (C2C) retail by providing a platform for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to open online stores

At US$50.7 billion, China’s WeChat is a rising star, having lifted its brand value 126% over the previous year. Its influence is reflected in the impressive way in which the brand has successfully created a digital ecosystem for its 1 billion Chinese users who use the platform every day to instant message, read, shop, hire cabs, and more

WeChat has broken into the top 10 for the first time, making it worthy of its strongest brand accolade, improving on last year with an upgrade to the elite AAA+ brand strength rating and a corresponding 90.4 out of 100 Brand Strength Index (BSI) score. Whilst China’s burgeoning middle class makes it attractive to continue strengthening the brand domestically, the massive growth experienced by brands as they pursue international business is also appealing

Another tech brand relying on the domestic customer base has made the most of the immense growth in demand for streaming content within the country. iQiyi is not just China’s but the world’s fastest-growing brand this year, up 326% to US$4.3 billion. The Baidu-owned online video platform is China’s answer to Netflix and hosts over 500 million monthly active users.

More likes for digital and social media brands

Netflix is rising through the ranks, with its brand value growing by a whopping 105% over the past year to $21.2 billion, Netflix is set to play the lead role in home entertainment, building a disruptive business as a universally accessible narrowcaster and in this way effectively challenging traditional broadcasting brands.

YouTube (brand value up 46% to $37.8 billion), another rapidly growing digital media brand, retains its spot in 11th place. Like Netflix, YouTube is building a broad platform for video content, in an effort to leverage its brand from merely peer-to-peer video creation and sharing to also include a growing premium and professional video library.

Similarly, Twitter (brand value up 66% to $3.2 billion) jumps almost 100 ranks to become the 258th most valuable brand in America. Another successful social media platform, Instagram is the most valuable new entrant to the ranking this year, claiming 47th spot with a brand value of $16.7 billion.

New entrant Instagram, the photo and video sharing social networking platform owned by Facebook, recorded a brand value of US$16.8 billion. The service has over 1 billion active monthly users and with the rising popularity of Instagram influencers, is also becoming the most attractive portal for digital marketing spends and bringing in impressive advertising engagement revenue.

Although rising up from sixth to fifth place, social networking site Facebook (brand value up 8.7% to US$83.2 billion) has recorded a drop in its brand strength, its AAA+ status from last year slipping down to AAA in 2019. Facebook’s corresponding Brand Strength Index (BSI) score has decreased to 82.9 out of 100.

IT Services brands log growth

Not to be ignored are the notable performances in the technology rankings clocked in by IT Services brands TCS, Accenture, Capgemini, Wipro and IBM who have all seen growth in brand value since last year.

Valued at US$26.3 billion, Accenture has grown rapidly by 56.5% since last year, a testament to its continued innovation across AI, advanced analytics and growing cybersecurity practice. The professional services and IT Services brand has made waves in the industry for its pioneering work on how companies can best achieve a smooth blockchain transformation.

Growing in brand value by 23% to US$12.8billion is India’s largest IT services conglomerate, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), bolstered by a disciplined focus on the market’s increased demand for digital services. TCS has positioned itself as a leader in providing a superior all-round customer experience, leveraging artificial intelligence and robotic automation across its transformation programs. TCS is also to be commended as the first Indian IT services brand to achieve success in the Japanese market; the Mumbai-based brand has expanded its operations in Japan and overseen a merger of three brands to create Tata Consultancy Services Japan. 

Wipro (up 25% to US$4.0 billion) is to be commended for its significant investments in digital transformation capabilities, niche acquisitions, and a recent brand refresh, which have propelled it up the rankings to 81st most valuable technology brand this year.

Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsTransactional and Investment Banking

Nevion and Sony establish a strategic partnership to provide enhanced IP broadcast production solutions

Nevion, award-winning provider of virtualized media production solutions, today announced that it has agreed with Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. (“Sony”) to establish a strategic partnership in the area of IP-based solutions for broadcasters and other industries. To reinforce this partnership, Sony will also become a leading investor in Nevion by acquiring a minority stake in the company through a share purchase agreement.

In recent years, Nevion has established itself as a leading provider of IP media network solutions for the real-time transport, processing, monitoring and management of the video, audio and data signals that are used in production. This partnership with Sony will allow customers to benefit from more advanced, fully integrated and standards-based media production solutions that combine outstanding media network technology with world-leading equipment such as cameras and switchers. These solutions will make it easier for customers to move to IP in their facilities and in remote production, as well as improve their ability to create content – for example through better sharing of resources.

“This is an exciting alliance for Nevion, its customers and its partners,” said Geir Bryn-Jensen, Nevion CEO. “It is based on very complementary solutions, products and know-how, and will allow us to offer a lot more to our customers, both existing and potential, than we have been able to until now. It will also give us a much greater scalability and reach.”

“Through this strategic partnership, we will be able to expand our end-to-end IP solution offerings that allow customers to produce live content connecting multiple locations”, said Mikio Kita, Senior General Manager, Media Solution Business Division, Professional Products & Solutions Group, Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. “Working together with Nevion, we will deliver an integrated and optimal experience for our customers.”

Nevion’s CEO, Geir Bryn-Jensen concluded: “This strategic partnership with Sony is a real vote of confidence in Nevion, its vision, its strategy, its people and its IP-based media network solutions. We look forward to working closely with Sony to maximize the benefits for our customers.”

For more information about Nevion and its solutions, please visit the Nevion website.

Cash ManagementFinanceSecuritiesTransactional and Investment Banking

What is next for cryptocurrency?

The rise of cryptocurrency is to be seen as a democratising force within the global economy. For example, secured token offering, has emerged as a true competitor to the traditional Initial Public Offering (IPO) for growing businesses. Judging from the growing acceptance of cryptocurrency by countries and companies, it is predicted that institutional investors will move towards secure cryptocurrency investments over the next decade, if not earlier. Ana Bencic, President and Founder of NextHash explores this phenomenon in more detail.

 

Uber Technologies Inc.’s large initial public offering launched in May and the ride-hailing app has run into some trouble. Uber proposed to go public with a $120 billion valuation, to be pitched by financiers at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs ahead of its IPO. Nonetheless, the company eventually listed with a $75.5 billion market cap. The New York Times elucidated that institutional investors, many who privately owned Uber stock, would not purchase additional shares at a higher price. Uber had received in excesses of $10 billion from institutional investors and private equity firms, among other investors, according to the report and many bought their Uber shares at valuations below $61 billion.

 

The ride-hailing giant priced its IPO on Thursday 9th May at $45 a share, raising a minimum of $8.1 billion and putting Uber’s IPO well behind some of the other, large offerings on the U.S. market in recent years. Facebook Inc raised $16 billion its offering in 2012, while Visa Inc. raised close to $18 billion in 2008 and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. brought in around $25 billion in 2014.

 

Initial Public Offerings can offer companies the prospect to raise new equity capital; to monetise the investments of private shareholders such as corporation founders or private equity investors and to enable simple trading of existing holdings or future capital raising by becoming publicly traded enterprises. 

 

Nevertheless, for companies looking to list, there are potential drawbacks. Foremost, there is the risk that the required funding will not be raised. Additionally, the cost for accounting, marketing and legal professionals to get to the point of an IPO can be sizeable. It might also necessitate a significant amount of time and effort from the management team, potentially disrupting them from their primary task of running the business. Furthermore, as in Uber’s case, there is a. While no promises can be made in these circumstances, many may be looking at the recent state of these tech unicorns (privately held start-up enterprises valued at over $1 billion) such as Uber and even Facebook may have people pondering if the next big thing will follow the same path. 

 

Aside from financial sacrifice, the time and effort to get to the IPO stage and the administration required once a company has gone public or floated, is considerable. For companies at the front-line of technological advancements, time is of the essence. According to Street Directory, an IPO typically takes between six and nine months. In some cases, this procedure can take up to 18 months. For high-growth businesses, this kind of interval may well bump potential unicorns off their path to a £1 billion valuation and present their rivals with a huge advantage. So what other prospects do highly scalable businesses have? 

 

The cryptocurrency market provides distinctive opportunities for businesses in need of access to vital growth finance and for investors desiring access to potential unicorn businesses at an early stage. This is made likely by cryptocurrency platforms’ capacity to operate across borders, an advantage that isn’t possessed by conventional markets.

 

In April, the French parliament permitted a ground-breaking financial sector bill which aims to encourage both cryptocurrency traders and issuers to set up in France. Organisations looking to issue or trade both existing and novel cryptocurrencies will soon have the option to apply for official accreditation.  The scheduled certification process exhibits a degree of official acknowledgement of the cryptocurrency marketplace. Bills like this enable French investors to trade and invest cryptocurrencies, as well as facilitating businesses to be traded as a Secured Token Offering which would give investors, traders, and entrepreneurs a way to trade and exchange tokens for cryptocurrencies, bringing the ecosystem into the cryptocurrency world. In exchange for charging tax, France is laying the foundations for the Europe-wide adoption of cryptocurrency trading.

France is pushing for the European Union to adopt a regulatory framework on cryptocurrencies.

 

There has been a largely positive attitude towards cryptocurrency by several countries. Malta, Slovenia and France are strong examples of those who are encouraging the implementation and use of cryptocurrency for trading and investment. The ability to invest or trade freely and across borders is an attractive prospect for businesses, who are able to receive financial investment from foreign parties.

 

New technologies are allowing businesses that are not in a jurisdiction that has cryptocurrency regulation in place yet to be included in the new, second generation of scaling business investment. 

 

With Brexit on the horizon for the UK, economists are making their forecasts about how the worth of the pound will be affected. Due to the interdependence of the pound and euro, some have claimed that in either of the potential outcomes- there will likely be some loss in value to these traditional forms of currency.  Cryptocurrencies offer an alternative to traditional, fiat currencies for both consumers and companies, due to their unique advantages of being decentralised, transparent and wholly unaffected by the Brexit situation

 

With incongruent regulation and legal frameworks throughout the globe, platforms that empower a corporation or investor in one jurisdiction to trade or exchange tokens or currency with another trader in another country with a different statute could open the doors to potential unicorn companies to thousands of family offices, hedge funds and institutional investors in a matter of years. In the medium term, platforms that give businesses access to global growth finance could help developing countries and the wider global economy grow at a truly competitive rate to their Western counterparts. 

 

CONCLUSION

 

Cryptocurrencies have spent the last few years in a stage of growth and maturation. The emergent importance of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies is easy to grasp today. From the snowballing rate of adoption of Ethereum and Bitcoin by conventional institutions, the instituting of digital-assets trading platforms and the implementation of cryptocurrency-specific legislation by numerous countries both inside and outside of the EU- cryptocurrency is seeing far greater adoption by both institutional and private traders/investors. With the ability to invest in a corporation from anyplace in the world, quicker than by traditional means and with a far greater potential for a swift return on investment, cryptocurrency offers manifold unique and substantial advantages that have fortified it a lasting place in society.

 

 

Foreign Direct InvestmentHigh Net-worth Individuals

Puzzel receives growth investment from Marlin Equity Partners

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corporate Finance and M&A/Deals

APSCo Announces Trade Delegation to US and Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finance

Balancing the Books on delivery – the right approach for retailers

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

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

Are retailers looking at customer experience incorrectly?

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

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

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

The Brexit effect

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

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

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

  • Longer cross-border delivery lead times

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delivering for the right price

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

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

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

  • Delivery to a designated address

    • A standard ‘free’ or at low cost option

    • An express option at a small premium

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

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

    • Free in-store collection

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

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

What’s holding retailers back from delivering?

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

An affordable delivery strategy

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

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

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

FinanceSecurities

72% of Brits Have Fallen Victim to These Scamming Techniques

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Scams to Be Aware Of

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

 

How to Avoid a Scam

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

Swiss President Ueli Maurer to Attend 4th International Blockchain Conference

blockchain

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

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

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

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

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

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

Foreign Direct InvestmentFunds of Funds

Bitcoin: Stability Not Likely For Burgeoning Investment Product

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corporate Finance and M&A/Deals

Guidant Global appoints Director to drive strategic growth in Australian market

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

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

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

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

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

digital tax
FinanceFundsTaxTransactional and Investment Banking

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

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

Written by Steve Lane, CTO at Access Group

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


What MTD requires

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

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


Putting off MTD is no longer an option

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

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


Transformation

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


Accreditations

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


Productivity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we can expect in the near future

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

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

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

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

Investments to expect in the years ahead

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

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

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

Cash ManagementFinanceFundsMarketsRisk Management

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

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

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

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

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

Deals the firm completed globally in 2018 include advising:

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

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

Fluidly on its investment from Nyca Partners and Octopus

Anthemis on its investment in Realyse

Simply Cook on its investment from Octopus

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

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

Local Globe on its investment in StatusToday

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

BGF on its investment in Ruroc.


Ashfords LLP
ashfords.co.uk

Cash ManagementFinanceFunds

Mayflex forms a Distribution Agreement with Global Invacom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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