Category: Finance

Businessman
ArticlesFinance

How to Gracefully Exit the Business World and Move to the Next Phase of Life

Businessman

There is this little thing called retirement. It is held up as the prize for a life well lived with time and resources left to enjoy. Not everyone wants life’s golden parachute. Some prefer to work all the way up to the end. They never want to slow down. They always want to be in the mix. Those who have risen to the top of their field don’t necessarily look forward to the day when they are no longer in charge. Being in the middle of things and riding the wild wave is what gives their life meaning.

Then, there’s you. Your goal might be to get out of the rat race as early as you can and spend as much time with your family and money as you can, while you can. The most interesting things to do in life still on your list have nothing to do with business, work, or making money. You want to see the world, have a few adventures, and tend the farm. You are ready to cash out and find the sunset where you will eventually head off into. This is how you get out gracefully and move on to the next adventure:

 

Get Top Dollar for the Sale

Walking away from a business without selling it for a good price is as unthinkable as walking away from a house without getting a good return on your investment. Make no mistake about it: Your business is not just something that supports you and your family during the time you have the business. It is a lifelong investment that can be cashed out just like a whole life insurance policy. The only question is how best to cash it out.

You already know you can sell your retail business ventures. You might not have been aware that you can also find people to buy Amazon FBA business ventures. Though based on Amazon services and infrastructure, it is still your business. You have built up that business to be more valuable now than when it was started. That is like equity in a home.

In the case of your business, you have equity. You don’t have to go through a lengthy process to find a buyer and negotiate a deal. You can close the deal in as little as 45 days. If you are ready to walk away from your business and enjoy the next phase of life, don’t just get rid of it in a fire sale. And don’t go through years of headaches finding the perfect buyer. There are better options available for you to get a profitable return on your life’s work.

 

Tie Up Loose Ends

Is it time to get off the investing roller coaster? Are you tired of waiting around to learn the next lesson Covid has in store for you? You are not wrong for seeking an off-ramp. If you have been considering retirement, now is an excellent time to actualize that consideration.

What you want to do before leaving the business world is simplify your life. There are a lot of strands to untangle when moving away from business. You need to work with an accountant to make sure your tax responsibilities are taken care of. You need to give your employees plenty of time to find new work and prepare personalized, glowing letters of accommodation. If you don’t want to deal with complications later, tie up all the loose strands in advance so that you can put it all behind you.

 

Start Something New

There is a good case to be made against early retirement. The biggest danger is not retiring from business, but retiring from meaningful endeavors. Don’t walk away from your business to sit in a rocking chair. Never put a rocking chair on your porch. You still have things to do.

You can walk away from the rat race without walking away from meaningful pursuits. This is the time in your life when you are free to try something new without needing to worry about it being profitable. You can do something just because it is important to you. That is the perfect exclamation point to a life well lived.

It is different for everyone. When it is time for you to walk away, you’ll know. Just be sure to get the best possible return from your business investment. Tie Up Loose Ends. And start something new. 

Afghanistan Currency
ArticlesBankingFinanceForeign Direct InvestmentIslamic Finance

Securing Stability & Success in Afghanistan’s Economy

Afghanistan Currency

As the largest commercial bank in Afghanistan, it may have also proven difficult for Azizi Bank to simultaneously ascertain the title of best commercial bank. Yet, that is exactly what this outstanding financial institution has done, and has rightfully been awarded that title of 2020’s Best Commercial Bank, Afghanistan in this quarter’s issue of Wealth & Finance International Magazine. Join us as we find out more about what the bank has to offer, what makes it so unique, and why it is deserving of this international recognition.

Azizi Bank is the largest commercial bank in Afghanistan, and it has been maintaining that position since its inception in 2006. Being the country’s largest banking group, there is a Pan-Afghanistan presence that stretches across more than thirty provinces and a headquartered office in Ankara Square in Kabul. The work of Azizi Bank started with the professional and entrepreneurial commitment of its founder, Mr Mirwais Azizi of the Azizi Hotak Group & Family and is presently under the leadership of a young and dynamic Chief Executive Officer Dr. Prof. Mohammad Salem Omaid. What makes Azizi Bank unique is the fact that its professional customer service and the sense of belonging that every client and customer has. Each and every employee carries with them this sense of welcoming and belonging, and strives to ensure that all interactions with customers are done so in a way that makes them feel like they are a part of the family feel that the bank presents. In addition to this, there is a wealth of digital innovation and product excellence on show here also. Azizi Bank has invested significant time, money, and manpower into ensuring that every product is designed to suit a client requirement, and this commitment distinguishes the bank to be the most distinctive and superior bank across Afghanistan.

For almost fifteen years, Azizi Bank has been managed under the governance of a very competent and effective Board of Supervisors, who brings a vast repertoire of knowledge and experience in their various fields, and are internationally acclaimed in their respective work. At the management level, there is a brilliant mix of youth and experience, which leads to both innovation and stability across the board. Today, Azizi Bank has more than fifteen hundred employees, and with a fifteen percent female work force, it is playing a quietly effective role in women’s emancipation and empowerment across Afghanistan. Aside from Azizi Bank, there are another eleven banks in the country, including two banks from Pakistan. The total banking deposit is approximately USD 3.2 billion, with all assets totalling approximately five billion USD.

As a country, Afghanistan has witnessed strong economic growth and developing in banking systems when compared to the previous two decades. Growth in the financial sector, specifically within the banking sector itself, was considerable. Thus, national income increased, and there was massive promotion in many of the other macroeconomic factors, including exchange rates, inflation, balance of payments, government revenues, investment, international trade, industrial production, and employment levels. Azizi Bank has always played a pivotal role towards each and every reform of the Central Bank of the country, and has marked itself out as a pioneering force of financial inclusion programs and branchless banking. Recently, in a bid to further bolster these initiatives, Azizi Bank has signed an MOU with the Afghan Postal Service to provide branchless banking through their more than four hundred and fifty post offices covering the country and some of its most remote locations.

The team at Azizi Bank is also made up of the bankers of choice for some of the major UN agencies, such as UNICEF, WHO, and WFP, who are present and working in Afghanistan. Azizi Bank is all about enabling these agencies to make their payments and disbursements to the far and rural areas of the country. Furthermore, this outstanding bank is the only bank in the country to have a mobile wallet solution, called AZIPAY, for all types of payments, including paying utility bills, education fees, groceries, and airline tickets. There is even excellence with the more comprehensive financial inclusion initiatives, with Azizi Bank having converted one of its subsidiary banks into a full-fledged Islamic Bank in the country. This is the first and only full services Islamic Bank in the country to date. With Afghanistan having more than 99% of its population being Muslims, such a change will definitely pave the way for more people coming into the banking fraternity, thereby improving the financial inclusion ratio of the country.

Since its inception, there have been several core founding values that have been the focal point of the bank and its championing of sustained financial growth in Afghanistan. Azizi Bank has always believed in innovations, and has never stepped back away from investing in innovative technological initiatives. The bank also has the best in class management board and senior management in the country, comprising of experienced bankers with an averages of more than two decades’ experience from the United States, India, Pakistan, Africa, and Europe. Azizi Bank has also always believed in the learning and development initiatives towards capacity building, and have built a comprehensive policy on the same. These structural reforms have brought in change within the bank to a large extent, and have always made it unique compared with other peer banks working in the country.

As has already been conveyed above, Azizi Bank prides itself on being a technology-driven back that makes full use of some of the latest technological innovations from across the world. With society moving towards more digitalization than ever before, the customer’s perceptions have changed on what they can access and want from their banking services. Afghanistan in particular is a country where more than half of population has a smart phone, and there is greater opportunity for banks to invest more into technology than ever before. Azizi Bank has foreseen this opportunity prior to its competitors and peers, and is now in a position where it can adapt to the ever-changing present and future. One of the ways in which the bank has taken the initiative and seized the day regarding innovative technology is by being a prominent voice on several developmental projects aimed at meeting financial customers’ expectation all across Afghanistan.

Providing technologically-savvy services banking services is the goal for many institutions, especially now that the world is moving towards an increasingly digital society. With the gradual transition towards advanced digital banking, there comes a greater need for traditional banks to keep up with modern systems and innovative ways of doing things. Azizi Bank has also initiated different tailor-made products for both deposits and advances meant for different levels of society, including accounts for children, students, women, senior citizens, retail businesses, small and medium enterprises, and entrepreneurs to name just a few. Despite the wealth of innovation on show at Azizi Bank, there have also been challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The arrival of the pandemic meant that Afghanistan, which is a predominantly import-driven economy, witnessed a surge in the cost of commodities, thereby affected the normalcy of life and common people. Industries of all sectors and types were affected, and so was the fate of the financial sector as well. In essence, the economy and economic growth of the whole country took a massive hit. There has been some impact on Azizi Bank amidst the pandemic, which has sustained itself almost a year and still counting. With the initial lockdown in place for the first few months of 2020, business was seriously hampered, though there was no significant decline for deposits. Where Azizi Bank really was affected was new business. Overall trade finance and the recovery of loans has been another key area affected by the pandemic, although the Central Bank of Afghanistan did come out with a detailed recovery plan to aid the situation and get the country back on its feet as soon as possible.

Pandemic or otherwise, Azizi Bank did have a strategic business plan in place, as well as a disaster recovery plan considering the geography of operation. The bank is always prepared and ready to face any sort of adverse situation, including this current crisis. As a bank, Azizi Bank also took steps and made plans even before the government made any sort of official announcement in terms of business contingency, staff contingency, and operational contingency initiatives and operations. Azizi Bank took immediate steps to ensure total safety and stability for itself and its staff, even before the lockdown was announced. All mediums of communication were used to reach staff and the public, and the bank stopped all meetings, conferences, customer gatherings, and training. In the immediate aftermath of the announcements made by many world governments, including Afghanistan, Azizi Bank formed a committee to analyse and make plans to curve this emergency situation.

Safety precautions including complete sanitization, thermal meters, face masks and gloves, and more were initiated at all the branches for both customers and staff alike, whilst plans were also made to rotate the staff so as to avoid close proximities. Expatriate staff members were also encouraged to work from home where possible, thereby minimising the risk of transmission and infection. Armed with these various safety measures and initiatives, life will eventually return to normality for Azizi Bank. However, with the ongoing political uncertainty still prevailing and international donors reluctant to pump in additional funds, this latest COVID-19 scare will definitely affect the overall growth of the Afghanistan economy. Stability will take time, but Azizi Bank will see it through.

Outside of the financial work carried out by Azizi Bank, there is also a deep-rooted and ever-present commitment to charity work and community-based initiatives. Azizi Bank is the only banking institution in Afghanistan that has a sustained CSR Policy and Responsible Banking. For the team, they consider CSR as one of the most important aspects of growth, and the institution also supports the important cause of the government in terms of sustainability initiatives. Supporting society as a whole is equally important, and there are a great many ways in which Azizi Bank does this too. The bank’s involvement on CSR initiatives has made a great impact across society and for the brand of Azizi Bank.

In working on these initiatives, the bank has been quite active for the last five years on various initiatives across the country and has therefore received considerable amounts of appreciation from the government and wider society. From a community service perspective, Azizi Bank has supported multiple hospitals and homes in terms of providing medicines, essential utilities, infrastructure development, food materials, stationeries, and organising blood donation camps. The team at Azizi Bank have also focused their time on various environmentally sustainable and green initiatives. Working in this area, the bank has endeavoured to stand out by starting a green initiative that involved planting thousands of trees across Afghanistan. Alongside this, there are also campaigns on saving water and pollution control, two of the most prominent environmental sustainability issues faced by many all over the world.

Azizi Bank has recently partnered with the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) of the government of Afghanistan, and this partnership will surely lead to collaborative work on various other initiatives aimed at increasing environmental sustainability. Finally, the last core area that Azizi Bank works in outside of its own four walls is that of community support. Azizi Bank has always sought to provide free training sessions to local college graduates and management students alike, with topics ranging from banking and finance, to the inner workings of an economy, and much more. Whilst this is a community support initiative aimed at giving finance students the best possible knowledge around, it also doubles as the perfect recruitment opportunity. Qualifications is one thing, but Azizi Bank also encourages fresh graduates to push their way to the forefront of the industry and make an impression with their dedication and commitment to understanding finance.

Ultimately, Azizi Bank is far more than just an exceptional institute of finance. Rather, it everything a country could possibly want from a bank that seeks to be innovative, be a unifying force that invests in the future, and delivers outstanding financial services to everyone in the country. Azizi Bank is constantly redefining its own success, and is fully deserving of this latest success from Wealth & Finance International Magazine as being recognized as 2020’s Best Commercial Bank in Afghanistan.

Few Words about the bank’s CEO – Dr. Prof. Mohammad Salem Omaid

A result oriented proficient starting his professional journey with Azizi Bank in 2006 as a Finance Officer and successfully ascending the steps to become the President and CEO. In his career span of more than 14 years, Dr. Omaid handled diverse roles having rich & extensive experience in Finance & Accounting, Corporate Accounts Trade Finance, Corporate Credit Financing, Operational Banking, Investment Banking and Retail Banking. Initiated several measures, Bank Products, Technological products aimed at promoting the bank and its objectives. Dr. Omaid’s contribution towards refining the banking structure in the country earned him appreciations & accolades not only from the Govt. & Public body within the country but also from the international agencies worldwide.

Dr. Omaid’s experience and knowledge for a sustainable growth earned him several international accreditations and he is also the only afghan conferred with the honorary professorship of Academics, Oxford. He is also the Member of the Europe Business Assembly, UK, The World Confederation of Businesses, USA and an active member of BAFT, USA. He is also associated with the ICC, Banking Commission, Afghanistan and is the Chairman of the Afghanistan Banks Association.

He is also the recipient of the Asian Banker “Young Banker” Award in 2017, being the only one from the Central Asian Region till date. In 2020, Dr. Omaid is conferred with the Professional Doctorate by the European International University, Paris for his endurance, commitment and leadership in shaping a bank in Afghanistan as per international standards.

A visionary leader and a highly respected citizen in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

For more information, please contact Samrat Dutta at www.azizibank.af

gold money investment
ArticlesFinanceFundsTransactional and Investment Banking

Why People Are Going Gold As An Investment

gold money investment


Gold is one of the safest investments available, apart from a savings account. This is because of its stability, even in uncertain times. In the past, owning gold was quite controversial because of the worries surrounding its price fluctuation and potential instability. Now, however, more people choose to invest in gold as part of their overall assets because of its many benefits. For one, investing in precious metals is a good way to protect your savings.

When you hear about the benefits of investing in gold or buying gold products, most people associate it with investing in jewelry. While this is certainly a key component to any well-rounded portfolio, gold itself is a much broader asset. Gold can be used to buy or trade almost anything – bonds, mutual funds, stocks, commodities, and even estate. If you’re looking for a way to diversify your portfolio but are worried about your investments in gold being exposed to more risk than other assets, then look into investing in precious metals as a part of your portfolio.

Here’s why people are turning to gold as one of their investment options:

1. You Can Start Even With Only A Small Amount

One of the greatest advantages of investing in gold like Oxford Gold is that you don’t need to have a substantial amount of money to start. You can begin, even with only a small amount. Hence making it a very accessible option even for those with limited funds to start with at the moment.

Even if you start small, the key is for you to slowly increase your investment, so you can stabilize it in the long run.

 

2. It’s A Very Safe Investment

Gold is considered to be a safe investment. As an investment, it won’t lose its value unlike other stocks and bonds, which are very susceptible to the volatile market.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll encounter any problem with the value of this precious metal. You can easily earn a lot of money with your gold investment and even increase your wealth within a short time.

 

3. It’s A Stable Hedge Against An Unstable Market

Gold is one of the most stable assets that you can choose to invest in. Even when the stock market goes down, gold continues to retain its value. Therefore, you can consider it as a very safe investment choice.

The thing with gold is that it’s a very limited asset because it’s a precious metal. This stays the same, even if the demand does increase. Because of this, the price continues to go up. This situation makes it a very stable hedge against an unstable market.

 

4. It Gives You A Good Return On Investment

One of the other reasons why gold is also becoming a very popular investment form is that it guarantees a very good return on investment.

There are several factors that influence the rate of return that a precious piece of metal can offer. First, it’s very easy to mine and sell the metal. Second, it doesn’t require too much investment capital to start off with. You can simply start selling jewelry and coins to get started.

With these two factors alone, you can rely on a faster ROI. This means you can start paying back whatever capital you spent on your gold. The profits will also come in faster than expected. It can bring your financial status a sense of security.

 

5. It Protects Against Inflation And Economic Fluctuations

If there’s a dip in the value of currencies around the world, owning precious metals such as gold or silver is a great way to protect yourself against the fluctuations in the value of money.

Because of its value being tied to the U.S. dollar, precious metals are usually the safest investments out there. They don’t depreciate like other assets. This protects you against inflation, as you know the value of your gold investments stays stable, at least.

This makes gold a good form of long-term investment. You don’t have to worry about it losing its value over time. It’s something that can keep increasing in value on a regular basis, so you have great security in knowing they are protecting your wealth.

It also increases the likelihood that if you do sell your assets, you will receive a high enough amount to cover your losses, if you incur any. This can also help provide economic stability for you, particularly when you’re going through big changes, such as newly starting a business, for example.

 

6. It’s Easy To Diversify

The last benefit to investing in gold, in particular, is that they’re easy to diversify. There are so many different investments you can make with them. You can invest in fine gold jewelry, gold coins, ETFs, gold bars, bullion, and coins, for instance.

Gold bars are smaller than bullion coins and are less susceptible to theft. If you want a simple, low-risk investment, invest in gold bars. You can purchase them at banks or from online brokers, and you can store them in safety like a safety deposit box or a bank safe.

Diversification is a great way to increase the value of your investments and protect yourself in case of a crash. Investing in just one gold investment can diversify your portfolio significantly, and you don’t have to sell your holdings to take advantage of these diversified investments.
In the past, investors used to get along just fine without diversifying their portfolios. However, the world’s economy has changed, and most investors have had to deal with the global recession. It’s thereby imperative for investors to start diversifying their portfolios to protect themselves from these negative indicators.

 

Conclusion

Investing in gold is a very good choice for you, even if you’re a newbie investor. These reasons above are precisely why so many have gotten into investing in gold as their choice. The key is for you to just learn more about it and make sure that you understand everything there is for you to know about gold investing. You can learn so much more about it and comprehend it in totality, depending on your risk tolerance, liquidity, and risk level. In doing so, you know that you’re on the right path towards the proper way of investing in gold.

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ArticlesFinanceTransactional and Investment Banking

“The Modern Investor” Setting New Investment Rules

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Retail investors have made quite an impact on the stock market recently, although several seasoned investors deem them as amateurs set to make wrong decisions and lose their wealth. Other experts believe modern investors are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

There is a lot of focus on addressing the modern investors, who are mostly millennials and became a more visible investor group in 2020 by investing heavily in tech stock, seeing the opportunity to hedge against the potential inflation and at the same time exploring alternative investment asset classes. Some seasoned investors are saying the modern investors are just chasing a trend and playing with fire, while others believe the cohort should be taken seriously.

Who is the modern investor?

Modern investors are predominantly millennials, both in age and spirit. Though most of them, especially in the US, have yet to acquire more wealth than their predecessors, baby-boomers, millennials are a growing power in the investment world, already influencing the current industry.

The driving force behind modern investors’ ability to change the industry is technology. From robo-advisors to gamification, tech-savvy investors are increasingly relying on and using apps and the internet. When once investing was a privilege accessible only to well-off citizens, now technology has made it only a few clicks away, presenting a plethora of opportunities to invest not only in the traditional assets like stocks or bonds, but also alternatives like arts, wine, loans, and others. 

Contrary to the general view, modern investors are well-informed. A survey by Accenture revealed that 90% of financial advisors believe their millennial clients are more aware about their investing options than they were five years ago, indicating that the interest and engagement in investing is nevertheless growing.

Alternative investments – crucial part of modern portfolio

Blackstone research on new investor behaviour also shows that alternative investments are rising in popularity as investors are seeking alternative investments to find yield, some for higher returns, or protection from rising rates, or a haven against market volatility.

As modern investment portfolio changes, adapting to potential market changes may require a search for new sources of funding. One of the growing alternative investment asset classes— popular with millennial investors—is investment in loans. Their biggest advantage is higher returns in comparison to passive income instruments, in addition to being a more predictable alternative to growth stocks. As a debt-based product, investment in loans is also less volatile.

“Modern investors have shown everyone in the past year that they are a force that needs to be taken seriously,” said Martins Sulte, CEO and Co-founder of Mintos, the leading alternative investment platform for investing in loans in Europe. “We have worked closely with this investor segment, with over 370 000 retail investors on our platform, who give us feedback that they turn to alternative investments, and investing in loans in particular, as a means to manage their savings or create them.”

Mr Sulte also added that modern investors are more prudent than the industry might think, seeing diversification and alternatives as a way to future-proof their portfolios. 

“We see a trend towards diversification even within our platform, which indicates that modern investors are not reckless as some make it out to be,” he said. “With pensions funds or bank accounts offering low savings rates, we see people search for better options and find passive investing as a solution for higher returns. While we cannot compare investing in loans to savings accounts at a bank due to both being entirely different forms of financial service and risks involved in any form of investing, we do understand and lately witness in greater amounts the interest for making money work much more for oneself.”

Conclusion

For many modern investors, especially those using trading apps, a retail portfolio may include a rather random selection of assets. That said, the retail investors are quick learners and are not as naive as some observers deem them to be. Undoubtedly, there are those that follow the trend, but the modern investors are making their moves and the market is responding accordingly. 

flexible payment
ArticlesFinanceFundsRegulation

Flexible Pay: Could it Become a New Trend Amid Pandemic?

flexible payment


In the light of the pandemic many are experiencing financial difficulties and are feeling the pressure of waiting for payday. Research carried out by Money Advice Service has previously discovered in the UK there 8.3 million adults who have found meeting monthly bills a “heavy burden” and have missed more than two bill payments in a six-month period. With the current economic climate and new research performed by EY, the weight of financial commitments is now at the forefront of people’s minds, as a result employers are exploring ways to alleviate the financial pressures currently felt by many.

 

What is flexible pay?

Flexible pay is a new concept whereby employees are paid with an on-demand option. This means if the employee requires their pay early, they can call their earnings to date to fulfil their financial needs removing pressures.

Flexible pay provides an on-demand solution to overcome financial difficulties without the need to ask for an advance from the employer which, in itself, is a daunting task. Flexible pay provides employees with on-demand access to their salary without cause to provide reasoning to why they need access to their salary early.

 

What employees needs it can address

In a study performed by EY, 73% of UK workers find it a challenging to meet everyday expenses or worry about not being able to meet them. In the report EY found 58% of people who have experienced financial difficulties have also reported a material deterioration in their health and wellbeing. Additional pressure stemming from financial difficult can cause mental health issues if long term strain of finances is not addressed.  The stresses associated with these financial burdens can impact other aspects of people’s lives from health and mental wellbeing to work life and personal life.

Flexible pay provides employees with a solution that does not result in additional borrowing and interest associated with borrowing.

 

The benefits it can generate for employers

Flexible pay is a solution that benefits the employer as well as the employee in several ways.

  • Cash flow neutral option for employers
    • Unlike other benefits often provided by employers, flexible pay is a cash flow neutral option. This means employers are not having to factor an upfront payment before the work has taken place.

  • Seen more favourably by employees
    • As with other employee benefits, flexible pay offers the opportunity for employees to look favourably upon their employers. This is a benefit that is designed to help remove a common factor that triggers stress, where work life can also be a contributing factor, flexible pay helps remove stresses outside of the workplace.

  • Attract Talent
    • When recruiting employee benefits can often sway talent to choose to work with a specific employer. Flexible pay demonstrates the employer is not only aware of the employee needs but also shows they are looking to support the employee with benefits designed to provide solutions to employee’s needs whether short or long term.

  • Improve Productivity
    • With many working remotely as a result of the pandemic, mental health and wellbeing has been a focus for employees as it can often impact productivity. By alleviating financial strain that often negatively impacts the employee’s mental health and in turn, their productivity the employer helps prevent their employee’s productivity from being affected.

 

How to roll it out in your business

Part of the challenge when introducing new benefits to employees is how to integrate it within the business. With flexible payment it requires set-up, training and rolling out to employees.

 

So what are the initial requirements?

  1. Flexible pay requires integration with the employer’s payroll system to enable a proportion of the employee’s salary to be available to call upon at the rate it is accrued.

  2. Employees will be required to measure the time worked; this could be through some form of a timesheet to record what has been worked when. This measurement will help calculate the accrued earning.

If payroll is performed in-house, training your finance team is vital to ensure only the salary accrued is available to the employee and any changes to payroll processing processes with particular attention to your payroll software. Training will need to focus on how employee accrued salary data is collected and processed as part of your payroll solution whether outsourced or not. 

Once the changes to your payroll is available to your employees it is important to educate them on what it means for them, what is changing for their payroll and, of course, how they can use flexible pay to call their salary early if need be.

 

IRIS FMP UK is an international payroll solutions provider that is able to offer bespoke payment solutions to businesses to reflect the employer and employee needs including flexible payment options. We are supporting thousands of international and UK based SME organisations. With over 40 years’ experience, we are committed to providing our clients with the very best service, offering transparency, reliability and honesty.

cryptocurrency
ArticlesFinanceFunds

Examining the Pros of Stablecoins

Stablecoins are a form of cryptocurrency that differs in one key way to the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum – they’re stable, hence the name. Rather than experiencing volatility on the markets, those who purchase stablecoins can relax knowing that their investment won’t fluctuate in price. This makes them beneficial for not just individuals, but businesses that accept cryptocurrency as well.

The main type of stablecoin that we are going to look at in this article is centralized stablecoins. These are backed by fiat currencies 1:1 and so you often see them referred to with the currency next to their name – for example USDT (Tether) and GUSD (Gemini USD). The reason they are classed as centralized is because they are backed by a central organization, such as a government, a bank, or a company.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of centralized stablecoins.

 

Easy to Purchase

Opting to buy USDT and other stablecoins is very easy, and can be done by anyone with an internet connection. Platforms like Paxful make it easy for anyone to sign up, open a wallet, and buy USDT in whatever amount they want. You can purchase stablecoins using your debit card, PayPal, gift cards, credit cards, Western Union and more. It has never been as easy as it is today to get started.

 

Allows You to Use Fiat Like Crypto

When most people get started with cryptocurrencies, they can find it hard to understand just how much of a particular cryptocurrency they’re getting for their dollar. However, because stablecoins are pegged to a Fiat currency, it’s not quite so difficult to understand. Looking at Tether again, we can see that one USD equals one USDT. Tether experiences the exact same price movements as the USD, making it easier to understand and invest in.

 

Low Fees

Because of the peer-to-peer nature of stablecoins, and the lack of intermediaries, transactions tend to be a lot cheaper than with traditional finance. Credit card payments and bank transfers, for example, both charge a fee and commission, which can be exceedingly high when transferred abroad. This is not the case with stablecoins. Also, as mentioned above, due to them being pegged to a Fiat currency, it’s possible to transfer your USD to USDT, transfer the USDT to a friend, and then have them transfer it back to USD to save on transaction fees.

 

They’re Not Volatile

The main advantage of stablecoins over other types of cryptocurrency is that they’re not affected by the same price fluctuations. This is something that is crucial if the world is going to accept cryptocurrencies in the mainstream. No-one wants to accept payment for something, or receive their paycheck, without stability as the amount they receive could change dramatically from day to day. Due to their nature, stablecoins are helping to overcome many of the challenges faced by traditional cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, which will only help to encourage the spread.

As you can see, stablecoins have a clear place in the economy. It will be interesting to see if they ever replace Fiat currency in the future.

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ArticlesFinance

How to get Approved for Finance

Approved


Applying and then being rejected for equipment finance or loans for your business can be disappointing and frustrating, not to mention time consuming, even more so in the current climate. This is why we are encouraging our businesses to follow the correct process and work with us to process their applications efficiently and have a better chance of securing the best deal possible.

It’s safe to say that lenders do not need an excuse to turn down applications, which means your application needs to tick every box, cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’, in order to give you the best possible chance. Our job is to help you, so here are some of our top tips on how to get approved for finance.

 

Have a target outcome in mind

Lenders will either provide finance for your equipment, to help support your business and its operations, selling to customers, such as a frying range for a chip shop, oven for a restaurant or squat rack for a gym. However, you may require a business loan, which may support your business by helping to invest in equipment, stabilise cash flow as well as giving you money for a rainy day. By establishing which of these two target outcomes is suitable for you and your business, you can ensure you get the right finance for the right reasons, giving your business the best time of investment.

 

Get the right equipment

Most lenders prefer equipment in a good condition from a recognised supplier, such as those we work with at Johnson Reed. The finance for your equipment will be secured against the value of the asset, therefore the working condition, type and origin of the equipment will help to reassure the lender that it can help your business, whether its use is directly or indirectly connected to turnover, in order to be sure your business can repay the finance. This gives the lender confidence in your business and the investment.

 

Have a rationale

Your business is more likely to be accepted for finance if you have a clear rationale or business plan for the purchase. By answering the following questions:

What is the finance for?

How will it be used?

How will it benefit your business

How will it help you generate turnover?

the lender will be able to clearly see the plan for the business, how it can generate revenue using the finance, giving confidence to the lender to accept your rationale and confidence that you can make repayments. Being prepared and knowing your business inside out, as of course you do, is exactly how you can you can boost your chances to secure that all important investment for your business.

 

Check your credit score and documents

By having your credit score in order (we use Experian), with updated history, addresses, details and information, as well as any documents ready-to-hand. Having information and documents such as bank statements, accounts, ID and rationale for investment can all help to ensure your application is processed quickly and efficiently, without delays or hesitation from the lender.

 

Think like an underwriter

You need to install confidence in underwriters when applying for finance. They are paid to assess your application by scrutinising every aspect of it, to establish whether there are any doubts about you or your business, and its ability to succeed in repaying the finance that you need. Therefore, it makes sense to think like one, try and visualise what they are thinking when processing your application. Are you presenting the best case for your business to be approved? Are you presenting a clear rationale, with up-to-date documents and reasoning behind any questions they have regarding your business? The answer to these questions needs to be ‘yes’ to give your business the best chance.

 

We know how important investing in your business is, and how it has to be done right. This is why we offer hands-on support to our clients in securing their funds, at the best price, because rates matter, to us and to you, when it’s your business.

If you are interested in a business loan, equipment finance or leasing from Johnson Reed, visit our website, drop us a call (0161 429 6949) or an email ([email protected]).

Crypto currency
ArticlesFinance

3 Signs That Crypto Is Going Mainstream

Crypto currency

 

This Bitcoin bull run is different from 2017’s because cryptocurrency is showing all the signs of going mainstream in the next couple of years

For a long time, cryptocurrency was the preserve of a small group of tech enthusiasts and hardcore libertarians. This began to change in 2017 when Bitcoin hit staggering heights and the front pages of most newspapers. After the great crash of 2018, however, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies dropped off the radar of mainstream consciousness.

Bitcoin was still a popular asset but primarily one for savvy individuals trading on exchanges and consumers making derivatives bets via smartphone apps. But the latter half of 2020 saw a change. Today, all the signs point to crypto going mainstream and becoming part of our daily lives.

 

1. The PayPal Effect

With over 305 million active accounts and a merchant network of 22 million, PayPal has a large reach. This is why the company’s bombshell announcement that it would start allowing users to buy, and more importantly spend, cryptocurrency was so big. Users would be locked into PayPal’s network, which will not be enough for crypto purists. But it provides an easier way than ever before for people to buy and sell cryptocurrency.
PayPal’s decision will help to normalize cryptocurrency for large numbers of people and merchants who would never have considered it before. The key is that most people are familiar with how PayPal works. So it provides a frictionless way for merchants to accept crypto payments without being forced to integrate new tools into their e-commerce packages. In other words, it makes cryptocurrency simple.
The decision has come with some limitations. For the moment, it is limited to the United States. And perhaps more important, users will be unable to withdraw cryptocurrency from the PayPal wallet. This means that PayPal is acting as a sort of “crypto gateway,” rather than allowing users to truly own and control their cryptocurrencies.
That being said, the deal is still significant and represents a leap forward in crypto education and acceptance.

 

2. Institutional Capital Is Obsessed With Bitcoin

The most recent Bitcoin bull run differs from 2017 because it is being fuelled in part by institutional investment capital. Household names in the investment world, including Grayscale, MassMutual, and even Goldman Sachs, have jumped headfirst into the world of cryptocurrency. Indeed Greyscale now has over $19 billion in crypto-assets and that figure looks set to grow.
This rush of investor capital is significant as it represents a “stronger hand” than many of the retail investors currently in cryptocurrency. Many companies that are betting on crypto will be looking to hold their assets for the long term. One of the more ambitious claims was from Microstrategy, which is looking to hold onto its newly acquired BTC for 100 years or more. 
In theory, this capital increases the underlying value of Bitcoin. This effect is compounded because the supply of Bitcoin is capped at 21 million. This means that scarcity will cause an increase in value as demand continues to rise. In the long term, this will lead to other cryptocurrencies being lifted by Bitcon’s rising tide, as investors late to the party seek a better deal with more affordable options.
 

3. A Crypto Ecosystem Is Being Built

The other success story of 2020 is Ethereum, which has grown by more than 455% to $723. This impressive growth has been driven primarily by an explosion in DeFi apps, and the much-anticipated update to Ethereum 2.0.
DeFi apps are designed to mimic real-world financial instruments and have attracted around $14 billion in locked crypto assets. The most popular so far have been lending apps and decentralized exchanges.
The apps work using smart contracts and the vast majority use the ERC20 token protocol. This means they use the Ethereum blockchain. These smart contracts enable decentralized apps to do things like allowing P2P crypto exchanges and lending without the need for a 3rd party adjudicator.
The problem is that each contract functions as a transaction and so needs to be approved by validators on the Ethereum blockchain. The sheer popularity of DeFi apps has led to a significant slowdown in 2020, which some saw as a block on growth. The Ethereum 2.0 update will go some way towards fixing this via a switch to Proof of Stake, which will improve scalability.
If the Ethereum 2.0 update proves to be workable, it could be a bedrock upon which a fully decentralized crypto ecosystem is built. This will enable crypto holders to access financial services without being forced to use fiat currency and could open up a whole new world.

 

Crypto Is Here to Stay

Perhaps the biggest sign that the world is warming up to crypto comes from JPMorgan’s own Jamie Dimon. The famous executive was one of the more vocal voices comparing Bitcoin, and by extension cryptocurrencies generally, to a scam akin to the famous Dutch tulip mania. Now he openly admits that Bitcoin and the technologically underpinning it has potential, but it is simply not his “cup of tea.”
With even staunch skeptics coming around, it’s clear that cryptocurrency is here to stay and you may even find yourself using your own crypto wallet in the near future. If you aren’t already, that is.
financial crime
ArticlesFinanceRisk Management

How businesses can prevent themselves from financial crime- an expert advises

financial crime

How businesses can prevent themselves from financial crime- an expert advises

Financial crime is a threat which every business faces. Companies have been warned to take more care this year as the increasing digitisation of business elements such as online banking may have increased their online security risk if preventative measures haven’t been taken.

Here, Andrew Davies, VP of Global Market Strategy, Financial Crime & Risk Management at Fiserv discusses the biggest challenges businesses can face and the best practices they can implement to prevent being a victim of financial crime.

1. What are the biggest challenges that corporates face when it comes to fraud management?

Money moves around the world faster now than ever before, and many electronic transfers are settled in real time. Most financial transactions are completed with no face-to-face interactions. These are good things; they facilitate global trade and keep the wheels of global commerce turning. However, these transformational capabilities come with risks that must be managed. Managing these risks effectively and doing so in a way that doesn’t introduce friction to business operations and the customer experience are the biggest challenges facing businesses when it comes to fraud management.

Fraud threats are evolving as quickly as money moves. Criminals are becoming more sophisticated and are singularly focused on exploiting any situation and any weakness. For example, according to the Federal Trade Commission in the United States, between 1st January and 22nd September this year, U.S. citizens have lost more than $145M to COVID-19 scams. In the U.K., during the first half of 2020, U.K. Finance tells us a total of £207.8 million has been lost to authorised push payment fraud.

Criminals leverage technology and are constantly refining their tactics to commit fraud and find new ways of hiding their activities. The rising use of mobile devices and contactless transactions have also opened more channels for cyberattacks. In this environment, corporates are challenged to balance expectations for instant, real-time and seamless services with the need for security.

 

2. How is automation playing a role in fraud and risk management?

Automation is enabling corporates to deliver better fraud and risk management systems and formulate effective prevention strategies.

The fuel powering intelligent automation is data. For example, intelligent automation technology, a combination of robotic processing automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence (AI), can act on and analyse large volumes of structured and unstructured data efficiently, leading to valuable, accurate insights that would be out of reach otherwise.

Automation can also help reduce operational costs and streamline workflows. Employees spend less time on manual, time-intensive tasks, and focus instead on the strategic aspects of fraud and risk management.

 

3. What technological and infrastructure investments do corporates need to make in order to keep ahead of criminals?

Keeping ahead of criminals is a never-ending race. Fraud prevention really is an area where up-to-date capabilities and techniques can make a difference. As fraud continues to evolve, so do financial crime prevention technologies. Therefore, it is vital for businesses to make the appropriate technological investments, not only to keep pace with current challenges, but also to stay ahead of any potential emerging threats. Corporates can take advantage of tools such as advanced analytics to detect characteristics that are indicative of previous attacks and uncover new attack vectors by identifying unusual behavior patterns. Intelligent automation and insightful data management systems can be utilised to optimise operations and results. With effective technology, corporates can maximise data assets to monitor, detect and combat emerging threats, as well as reduce false positives and minimise customer friction.

For all organisations nowadays, security is a differentiator. Everyone wants to do business with corporates that provide security and have integrity. Trusted providers can help advise, and implement, various tools to ensure that corporates have the appropriate and most up-to-update capabilities.

 

4. How can corporates formulate optimal “best practices” for fraud prevention and risk management?

Best practices consist of several key elements. As mentioned earlier, appropriate technology investment and implementation is considered a best practice. Sharing data with peers and creating a data consortium is another powerful best practice; it can improve data integrity and detection accuracy, allowing for better fraud prevention and management. Shared data insights drive increased collaboration between corporates, financial institutions, law enforcement and regulators, something all can benefit from. Common data usage can facilitate more effective fraud risk management while also assisting law enforcement.

Internal collaboration is also a best practice. Enterprises can share data, as well as use common technology and tools, such as alert and monitoring systems, across different business units, from corporate finance to sales departments. This enables corporates to generate more reliable data and gain a better overview of risk.

 

5. How can robust fraud prevention and risk management strategies be a differentiator for businesses?

Combatting financial crime and any associated activities is an increasing priority for corporates and their customers. Beyond the immediate effect on business, preventing fraud and countering money laundering support the moral imperative to limit the impact of crime on society. Fraud and money laundering are not victimless crimes – they are often conducted by the same organised crime groups that perpetrate human trafficking and drug trafficking, both predicate crimes for money laundering. With the access organisations have today to more innovative and advanced technologies, they can better defend their customers, and conduct business securely and seamlessly.

A robust fraud prevention and risk management strategy can be a key differentiator for organisations versus the competition. It enables corporates to retain customer trust, create better relationships with partners and regulators, and develop a better reputation amongst society.

ArticlesFinance

PayPal Will Soon Include Bitcoin on Its Platform — Is This Good News?

Blockchain tech is going mainstream as the traditional finance world begins to embrace its disruptive potential.

Bitcoin and Ethereum are the market leaders when it comes to cryptocurrency investment by institutions or consumers trading in retail markets. And it’s no secret that both digital assets have helped create many millionaires. But it’s the technology that undergirds it that has the power to change the world.

Blockchain has plenty of applications but centralised blockchains could help to ease the many problems that currently plague our international money-transfer system.

Slow, Expensive Transfers Remain a Major Pain Point

A big challenge for financial institutions is cross-border and cross-country transfers. This is because there is a heavy reliance upon correspondence banks and other middlemen. One of the early attempts to ease this problem came from blockchain company Ripple.

Ripple is better known for its payment network and protocol, rather than its currency (XRP). The project uses an open-source peer-to-peer decentralized platform that acts as an agnostic form of money transfer. It does this using RippleNet, a network of institutional payment providers like banks and money services businesses that leverage Ripple’s technology.

Ripple uses a network of “gateways” to serve as the link between two parties who want to make a transaction and provide liquidity to the system. This helps the company avoid the problems faced by traditional currencies. It also keeps transaction fees as low as $0.00001. Reportedly, one-third of the world’s major banks are already using the platform.

Traditional Fintech Companies Are Jumping on Blockchain

The success of Ripple hasn’t gone unnoticed. For some time now, a number of companies have been toying with blockchain technology. The most recent, and impactful, was the fintech giant PayPal. While there have been many other fintech companies adopting crypto, like Revolut, the news that PayPal was making it possible to buy and sell Bitcoin made big waves.

The company confirmed that users in the US would be able to trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash using their PayPal accounts. The service will be rolled out to Vemo and other geographical areas over the first half of 2021 and users will be able to use their cryptocurrency to purchase goods and products via PayPal.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies saw a sudden price rise as many traders and investors learned the news. It was generally seen as a sign that cryptocurrency had taken another big step towards the mainstream.

But there is a problem. PayPal users will not be able to withdraw cryptocurrency from the company’s ecosystem and there is a good reason for it.

Bitcoin Isn’t Ready for the PayPal Effect

Bitcoin still suffers from a scalability problem. During any major rise in transaction volume, the waiting times for a single Bitcoin transaction increases significantly. This “PayPal effect” could have a disastrous impact on the reputation of cryptocurrency.

There are around 350 million users and 26 million vendors in the PayPal ecosystem, compared to Bitcoin’s estimated 190 million users. To understand the impact that this sudden influx of users could have, it is useful to look at how the DeFi craze impacted Ethereum in September.

As the number of DeFi apps exploded, the transaction costs on the network skyrocketed. In September, miners made over $160 million, a 39% increase from the month before. This was due to an increased number of transactions triggered by DeFi. Now imagine if Bitcoin suddenly gained 350 million more users, few of whom really understand how blockchains operate.

This would be a massive problem. Visa is able to process around 1,736 transactions a second. Currently, Bitcoin can guarantee less than 5 transactions per second. And as more transactions hit the blockchain, their costs will skyrocket. Until Bitcoin can move away from Proof of Work consensus, the PayPal effect remains a major threat.

It’s Not All Bad News

In order to combat this effect, PayPal has decided to make it possible to access cryptocurrency through their network, and not withdraw it. Other limitations will help to keep down the volume of cryptocurrency taken into the network and mitigate the impact — at least until second layers such as the lightning network are in place to reduce scalability problems.

The good news is that PayPal has opened up an easier way for people to become acquainted with using cryptocurrency. It has the potential to normalize the practice of paying for goods and services using it, something which is currently difficult to impossible except for niche purchases such as VPNs.

This change would have two important effects:

  • It makes it easier for vendors to justify accepting Bitcoin. As more vendors adopt cryptocurrency payments, the utility for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will increase significantly, and more people will see it as a viable method of payment.

  • It might shock the crypto community into accelerating to make solutions more scalable, either by shifting towards Proof of Stake as Ethereum has. Or by adding in second-layer solutions.

While many crypto enthusiasts won’t be happy with PayPal’s closed garden, this is a positive step towards the mainstream. It will take time before PayPal is able to open up withdrawal features, but they likely will if regulations and scalability allow it.

FinanceWealth Management

World Mental Health Day: Does More Money Correlate With More Happiness?

World Mental Health Day: Does More Money Correlate With More Happiness?

It’s an age-old question, does money really bring happiness? While many joys can’t purchased, money can give access to things that can lead to happiness.

Many of us strive to do better in our careers to obtain a higher salary, which we assume will lead to a more comfortable lifestyle – but do higher salaries actually equal happiness?

We firstly mined and then cross-matched ONS data from Average Weekly Earnings by Industry and National Well-being to understand if there were correlations between income and happiness. The infographic showing the results can be seen below:

info

Industries with Correlations Between Average Weekly Salary and Happiness

Happiness was calculated by asking adults aged 16 and over to rate on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 was not at all and 10 was completely happy, how happy they were feeling.

The top-scoring industries with high correlations between happiness and average weekly earnings were as follows:

  1. Retail Trade and Repairs – 92.01%
  2. Accommodation and Food Service Activities – 88.91%
  3. Education – 88.59%
  4. Administrative and Support Service Activities – 87.4%
  5. Manufacturing – Engineering and Allied Industries – 86.3%

These industries showed strong correlations between earnings and happiness. This means that as earnings increase, happiness tends to as well.

The industries with the lowest correlations were:

  1. Mining and Quarrying – 22.15%
  2. Professional, Scientific & Technical Activities – 26.18%
  3. Manufacturing – Chemicals and Man-made Fibres – 33.22%
  4. Real Estate Activities – 33.68%
  5. Financial & Insurance Activities – 34.30%

While specific data as to why this happiness was so low or high was not provided, we can speculate. Many careers, such as mining and quarrying, can be highly stressful and demanding roles. Although these industries can often pay a decent salary, the satisfaction levels may not increase due to this as the intensity of these roles can often lead to strain regardless of the weekly earnings. The impact on the health of an individual working in mining and quarrying would be a good example of this.

This does not imply that industries with the highest correlations are not stressful roles, rather any unhappiness can be lessened with the benefit of a higher salary. Overall, skill, trade and administrative based jobs see higher correlations with happiness and weekly salaries.

Industries with Correlations Between Average Weekly Earnings and Anxiety

Anxiety was scored in the same way to happiness, by asking adults aged 16 and over to rate on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 was not at all and 10 was completely anxious, how anxious they were feeling

The top-scoring industries with a correlation between anxiety and average weekly earnings were as follows:

  1. Retail Trade and Repairs – 74.52%
  2. Manufacturing-Other – 72.07%
  3. Manufacturing – Engineering and Allied Industries – 70.67%
  4. Education – 68.51%
  5. Accommodation and Food Service Activities – 68.04%

Although these are not as strong as the 80%+ correlations that are shown against happiness and average weekly earnings, there is still something to be taken from these results.

Happiness is strongest with average weekly earnings in retail and trade repairs, but this is also the highest correlation with anxiety. Most of the industries that reflect happiness, also reflect more anxiety.

Anxiety is not to be mistaken with unhappiness and you can have both alongside each other. We can hypothesise from these results that as wages increase, job responsibility increases and can cause more anxiety in the role.

Interestingly, health and social work scored the lowest correlation with anxiety at 53.40%. This industry is infamous for having high stress and anxiety levels but these results may show that anxiety does not increase with weekly wages.

 

Those That Reported as Living Comfortably or Completely Satisfied with Income Reported Higher Levels of Anxiety.

Respondent income was scored on the same scoring system as happiness (so is subjective to how happy they are about their level of income instead of actual income which is scored objectively in ‘average weekly earnings’) and was broken up into:

  • Completely satisfied
  • Mostly satisfied
  • Somewhat satisfied
  • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
  • Somewhat dissatisfied
  • Mostly dissatisfied
  • Completely dissatisfied

Managing financially also followed the same scoring system and was broken up into:

  • Living comfortably
  • Doing alright
  • Just about getting by
  • Finding it quite difficult
  • Finding it very difficult

Those who ranked themselves as ‘completely satisfied’ with their income showed a correlation with higher levels of anxiety at 65.68%.

Those who reported as ‘living comfortably’ reported an 89.97% correlation with anxiety.

With this, we can see that the higher the earnings, most likely from roles with higher responsibility and stress levels, the higher the anxiety.

Again, this does not correlate with happiness but we can conclude that for 65-80% of those who live comfortably or are completely satisfied with their income, the higher their levels of anxiety.

 

Correlation Between Bonuses and Happiness

Many companies throughout the UK provide bonuses to boost staff productivity and morale, however, it appears these bonuses may not be providing increasing feelings of happiness.

When workers were surveyed regarding if bonuses correlated with happiness, the correlation percentages were small and relatively inconclusive.

The industry with the highest correlation between bonuses and happiness was the construction industry, despite being the top scorer, showed at only 41%.

This could be interpreted in a few ways. Perhaps the bonus sums are not high enough to justify a change in attitude or income satisfaction may be high enough that some extra will not bring elation.

It could also be that performance-based bonuses can cause more stress in the workplace as employees push themselves to meet targets to achieve these. The outcome may not justify the means.

 

Income Satisfaction and Happiness

You may be forgiven in believing industries who previously reported a correlation between higher weekly and happiness would also report a high correlation with satisfaction with income and happiness.

Higher earnings do not necessarily equal income satisfaction. Those on more modest incomes can still report higher levels of income satisfaction and happiness.

The industries that had the largest correlations between income satisfaction and happiness are:

  1. Retail Trade and Repairs – 87.81%
  2. Administrative and Support Service Activities – 87.74%
  3. Education – 85.71%
  4. Accommodation and Food Service Service Activities – 84.87%
  5. Health and Social Work – 81.98%

The industries that had the lowest correlations between income satisfaction and happiness are:

  1. Mining and Quarrying – 9.28%
  2. Professional, Scientific & Technical Activities – 24.15%
  3. Manufacturing – Chemicals and Man-made Fibres – 29.18%
  4. Financial & Insurance Activities – 29.46%
  5. Real Estate Activities – 29.95%

Changes in income have very little correlation on happiness for mining and quarrying, likely because of the perceived poorer working conditions that remain regardless of income changes and the impact on the health of the worker.

Overall, retail trade and repairs show to have the highest correlations between income satisfaction and average weekly earnings, as well as income satisfaction and happiness but also showed high correlations with anxiety.

We can conclude from this, money can equal happiness but only in certain industries, as long as we are also willing to take on higher levels of anxiety.

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Finance

How The UK Furlough Scheme Boosted the Economy

The term furlough refers to a temporary leave of absence. Under the current economic and employment situation, a large number of employees in the UK have been furloughed. The UK Furlough Scheme is providing fixed wages to the employees who would have otherwise been unemployed.

What is the Furlough Scheme, and How Does it Work Now?

The UK Furlough Scheme is the government’s response to the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic and its financial implications. The furlough scheme was launched on April 20, 2020, and aimed to reduce unemployment and related costs. The UK Furlough Scheme comprises of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).

While Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme focuses on paying the wages of employees who would have been laid off otherwise, the SEISS comes in the form of grants to self-employed individuals whose businesses have been adversely affected by COVID-19. To be eligible for grants under the SEISS, you must earn over 50% of your total income from self-employment, and your average annual profit must be less than £50,000. The individuals must have been self-employed from before April 6, 2019, and must have filed tax returns for the financial year 2018-19. The amount of grant will be based on the average of tax returns for the past three tax years.

For applications to the CJRS, the employers must have started a CJRS scheme before March 19, 2020, and should be enrolled for CJRS online. All employees, whether part-time, full-time, flexible, agency or zero-hour contracts, can be put on furlough. The coverage of the UK Furlough Scheme varies from town to town, depending on the percentage of employees furloughed. For instance, the maximum coverage is in the cities of Crawley, Burnley, Slough, Sunderland, and Birmingham, with the largest number of employees sent home by their employers. Crawley reported 33.7% of the employees furloughed in May 2020, while Cambridge reported 17.4% of the employees furloughed in the same period, being one of the least affected cities.

The employers and self-employed individuals are utilising the UK Furlough Scheme optimally. According to data released by the government, over one million firms were using the job retention scheme in May 2020 wherein the wages of 8.4 million workers have been covered. On the other hand, the self-employed income support scheme received 2.3 million claims for over £6.8 billion in income support. The construction industry has been the most affected and had the highest number of claims under the SEISS. The government has paid out a total of £1.76 billion to 680,000 construction employees who were furloughed due to the pandemic. The companies that have used the schemes include Costain, Morgan Sindall, and Wates, among others.

Updates on the Scheme and How is it Changing

The UK Furlough Scheme was launched on April 20, 2020, and planned to cover the wages for March, April, and May. The furlough scheme was later extended to cover the month of June and has now been announced to run until October 2020. Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the government pays 80% of the furloughed employees’ wages to the employer, up to £2,500 per month, in addition to the national insurance and pension contributions.

For the months of June and July, the government will continue to pay the same and employers will not be required to pay anything; however, the employers will need to bear the national insurance and pension payments from August 2020 onwards. For September, the state will pay 70% of the employees’ wages and the employer will be required to take care of the remaining 10% and the insurance and pension payments, while in October 2020, the state will pay 60% and the employer will pay the remaining 20% of the wages.

Similarly, for the SEISS, the government currently pays 80% of the average monthly trading profits, paid out for three months together, capped at £7,500 in total. After the extension of the scheme in May 2020, the government will pay 70% of the average monthly trading profits, capped at a maximum of £6,750.

Benefits of the UK Furlough Scheme

The UK Furlough Scheme has proved to benefit the workers, employers, government and the economy on the whole. The scheme has helped to keep the unemployment rates low and avoid the financial and emotional costs associated with laying off and rehiring employees. Thus, the scheme has limited the damages caused by the pandemic and kept the money flowing in the economy.

Additionally, the advance notice about the furlough prepared people to save up the amount of money they would lose by reducing their expenses. The money saved can then be invested in general investment accounts, money market funds and short-term CDs to generate additional income. The returns on the investment will make up for the lost income.

How Does the Furlough Scheme Affect Pension?

The government has made it clear that furloughed payments are pensionable. The employers can claim the pension contributions made for the furloughed employees; however, the amount is capped at the minimum automatic enrolment contributions equating to 3% of the qualified earnings. For employers making additional pension contributions over and above the minimum, only the minimum amount can be reclaimed from the government.

Moreover, if the employer elects to top up the salary of their employees beyond the 80% offered by the state under the UK Furlough Scheme, the total salary is pensionable. The additional costs related to the top-up wages paid by the employer need to be borne by the employer itself. For the self-employed individuals, it is advisable to continue making payments towards their personal pension schemes or SIPPs every month so that they can sail through the difficult financial times later and also save on taxes.

What is the cost of the Scheme to the UK Government?

The UK Furlough Scheme is currently supporting about 7.5 million jobs. As a result, by June 2020, the government has already spent over £20.8 billion on the Job Retention scheme. The cost is expected to reach £80 billion by the end of October 2020. Furthermore, 70% of the individuals eligible under the SEISS have made a claim, for a total cost of £9 billion to the UK government.

Problems with the Scheme

The UK Furlough Scheme is proving to be highly beneficial for individuals and employers. However, the scheme is very expensive for the government and is costing about £8 billion a month. The generous nature of the scheme can pose potential problems for the economy as it may deter the transition of the economy to recovery. The scheme cannot keep on supporting the jobs that will not remain viable in the post-COVID economy and will only delay the restructuring of the businesses. Despite the high costs associated with the UK Furlough Scheme, it has been a saviour for the UK economy and its workers. The scheme has helped to avoid a surge in unemployment and saved many workers from layoffs. The hold on economic activities and the associated damages would rather be more temporary than permanent, owing to the scheme, as the workers will be able to go back to their businesses and the economy will bounce back sooner than later.

saving pounds
ArticlesFinance

Britons are Set to Accumulate £75.5bn in Savings as Lockdown Sparks a ‘Money Revolution’

  • UK adults with discretionary income set to save on average a record £1,434 in the three months to June 
  • More than double the previous quarterly record for household saving of £37.2bn set in Q1 2010
  • Surge in people investing and using digital banking services for the first time

Britons with unspent discretionary income are set to accumulate £75.5bn in savings in just three months as lockdown sparks a ‘money revolution’, eToro can reveal.

Joint research by the multi-asset investment platform and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) shows those fortunate enough to have more discretionary income during lockdown are on course to save an average of £1,434 each in the three months to June.

The restrictions on movement have meant that, despite many workers being furloughed and the financial hardships associated with that, a significant number of people have been able to make regular savings on travel costs and other daily expenses.

In fact, the staggering £75.5bn of savings these Brits are forecast to make in the second quarter of 2020 will be more than double the previous quarterly record of £37.2bn set in Q1 2010.

Bank of England data reveals households saved a record amount in April alone and paid off a record £7.4bn of debt, more than two-thirds of which was on credit cards.

Further, eToro’s research can reveal that lockdown has sparked a widespread revolution in the way people use and think about money.

More than two-fifths (42%) of Brits – or 22 million people – plan to keep up their new savings habits even after lockdown is lifted, which would turn Britain from a nation of spenders into a nation of savers almost overnight.

It can also be revealed that an estimated 3.8 million UK adults have invested in the stock market for the first time since February this year. This suggests the market volatility caused by Covid-19 has awoken in many the idea of investing in shares as a means of wealth accumulation.

eToro’s research also reveals how coronavirus is speeding up the UK’s transformation into a largely cashless society.  

During lockdown, more than a third (37%) of UK adults stopped using cash altogether, the research shows, while an estimated 2.2 million say they won’t use cash again even after the threat of Covid-19 diminishes. This is on top of the 5.5 million people who stopped using cash prior to the crisis.

Lockdown has also led to an explosion in the use of digital banking platforms, the research shows.

An estimated 9.4 million Brits have adopted new apps and websites to manage their cash during lockdown.

Further, more than a quarter (27%) of Brits – or 14.4 million people – expect to increase their use of digital banking apps post-lockdown. 

Iqbal V. Gandham, UK Managing Director of eToro, says“Our research shows that lockdown has ushered in a revolution in terms of the way we manage, view and treat money. 

“For many of course there have been significant challenges with debt and loss of income. However, in just a few short months, a significant proportion of the UK households that are in a position to set money aside have moved away from spending and cheap credit and turned to saving.

“At the same time, this pandemic has awoken in millions the idea that the stock market can be used as a potent means of generating wealth and prosperity, while many of us have also embraced new, digital ways of managing that wealth.

“The period of lockdown has severely impacted the economy and household finances, but one of the positives is that it has transformed how we engage with money, which will hopefully make many of us better equipped to manage our finances in the future.”

Pablo Shah, an economist at CEBR, says: “Brits are on course to save a staggering £75 billion between April and June – more than triple the quarterly levels recorded prior to the coronavirus crisis. 

“The period of lockdown has narrowed spending opportunities and encouraged precautionary saving activity, which will bring the household saving ratio to an all-time record high of 23%.

“The survey results also reveal the longstanding behavioural shifts that will be brought about by the period of lockdown. Consumers use of digital platforms to manage their finances is expected to increase significantly, while the shift away from cash to digital payments is set to accelerate.”

cryptocurrency
Finance

The Emerging World of Cryptocurrency

As the name suggests, cryptocurrencies are an emerging currency based on cryptography. Bitcoin is the most famous example, but new ones are being launched all the time. But with so much information out there about cryptocurrencies, it can all get a bit bemusing.

“As it happens, cryptocurrencies have been in existence for quite some time, and many believe they are the future of currency, so it’s important to invest in your understanding,” shares James Turner, Director at company formation specialists, Turner Little.

So, here’s our simple cryptocurrency explainer – how they work, why they matter, and where to start if you’re considering investing in them.

How do they work?

There are a limited number of digital ‘coins’ available, and powerful computers ‘mine’ these coins by solving highly complex equations. People are then able to buy and sell these ‘coins’ via cryptocurrency exchanges. Cryptocurrencies are stored in digital wallets and can be exchanged for certain goods and services, although it’s important to note that not everyone accepts them. To reduce the risk of fraud, every transaction is recorded in a blockchain.

What is a blockchain?

A blockchain is a distributed ledger. In other words, every transaction is recorded as a new block of information in an encrypted chain of data. With traditional currencies, banks oversee the ledger, whereas with blockchain, it is shared and synced across multiple places. This means if anyone attempts to alter the blockchain, it will no longer match the other copies that exist.

Why do cryptocurrencies matter?

Cryptocurrency is transforming the financial landscape because it de-centralises financial transactions. Essentially, people no longer need to use banks to transfer money. Its fans say that this democratises money and respects people’s privacy. Its detractors say that this relative lack of oversight and regulation can make it unreliable.

Cryptocurrency also has periods where it has risen sharply in value in a short period of time, which has attracted investors. That said, its price has generally been quite volatile compared to traditional currencies.

Should I invest in cryptocurrency?

“There is no simple answer to this question, nor can we give direct financial advice. As with any potential investment, it’s worth considering the risks and rewards and consulting a financial advisor,” adds James.

To discuss your personal situation and find out more about the options available with cryptocurrency, get in touch with us today.

Bas NieuweWeme
FinanceWealth Management

Lockdown has crystallised what the S stands for in ESG

The coronavirus crisis and subsequent lockdown have finally given real clarity on how to evaluate companies’ ability to tackle social issues, “crystallising” what the S in ESG really means, according to Bas NieuweWeme CEO of Aegon Asset Management.

Historically the social element of ESG has always been more challenging to evaluate as it typically relies on qualitative measures with limited means to assess actual performance.

However, the severe impact from coronavirus and the changes to the way people have had to both work and live means this has very much now come to the fore.

“The lockdown has allowed a crystallisation of the real performance on social issues versus mere policies and positioning,” NieuweWeme said.

“We can now look at how companies have behaved during this crisis. For example, are they providing employees sufficient equipment and appropriate facilities to do their jobs, have they shared the burden of the crisis when it comes future board remuneration, and have they abandoned their employees or customers in these difficult times?”

The importance of employees’ health and safety in terms of both mental and physical wellbeing has risen in prominence during the lockdown and is at the forefront of our emergence from it.

NieuweWeme said the role for investors now was to assess how businesses have actually adapted practices and working environments to ensure employee wellbeing.

“Previously we have usually relied on discussions with executive boards, while assessing policies on areas such as diversity & inclusion, childcare and flexible working among others, while using sites such as Glassdoor to get a feel for corporate culture. Key events sometimes highlight poor performance on social issues and provide us with an opportunity to engage with the worst performers, but coverage is limited to what is reported publicly.” he said.

“Going forward, we will be keeping a close eye on how companies implement new rules and regulations around employees’ safety and wellbeing, and on the executive and shareholder remuneration of those companies accepting public bailout funds.”

More broadly in terms of markets and the economy, NieuweWeme said the current crisis was a clear catalyst for change.

“From an investment perspective, if there is any good to come from this episode, it is the fact it has created greater awareness about Environmental, Social and Governance issues,” he said.

“In respect to the environment, I think many of us have enjoyed that during lockdown there has been less pollution and consequently fresher air, while nature has seemingly started to reclaim some of our urban environment.  There is also some preliminary scientific research pointing to links between air pollution and Covid-19 mortality.  These, as well as other factors mean environmental standards will come under increasing scrutiny post pandemic.”

Aegon Asset Management runs €206m* in responsible investment solutions on behalf of its clients. Its responsible investment team, led by Brunno Maradei, comprises 13 investment professionals.

For more information about Aegon Asset Management, visit www.aegonassetmanagement.com

value stocks
ArticlesFinanceMarkets

These 5 stocks prove that value investing isn’t dead

Investors who ignore so-called “value stocks” are at risk of missing out on good long-term gains, RWC Partner’s Ian Lance warns.

While the valuation gap between growth and value stocks has been exceptionally wide for some time, that gap will not grow continuously, Lance believes.

In fact, Lance believes some of the most interesting investment opportunities throughout the coronavirus have been value stocks.

Some of them, he explains, have highly profitable subsidiaries that are actually worth more than the entire group, meaning you get, in essence, two investments for the price of one.

Lance says: “Some of our most successful investments have been ones in which sentiment towards a company becomes so negative, that the valuation ends up making no sense versus the worth of its various parts.

“Valuations have become very irrational and have reached the point where they are excessively punished for a temporary earnings decline. Therefore, we believe that the current market throws up the opportunity to buy great companies with long-term returns and earning potential.”

Below, Lance sets out five unloved companies that he thinks have decent long-term potential or that have highly-profitable subsidiaries that make them worth investing in.

Royal Mail

RMG owns a European parcels business, GLS, which makes a 6-7% margin in a normal market environment and which has grown at mid to high single digit (benefitting from structural growth of online retail). In 2019, GLS made an operating profit of £180m and is therefore worth c.£2b if we put it on a multiple of 11x. The current market cap of the entire group is £1.7b and therefore the UK business is not just in for free but actually valued at around £300m.

BT

BT’s Openreach division generates £2.6b of Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) which we have valued at £22b. This represents a multiple of just over 8x historic EBITDA which compares favourably with other utilities and therefore ought to be achievable. The enterprise value[1] of the entire group is currently £31b meaning that all the other businesses are being valued at £9b, which is only 3x their historic cash EBIT of £2.8b. Rumours surfaced in the a recent Financial Times piece that BT might be about to monetise a stake in Openreach.

Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer have a food retail business which makes £237m of Earnings Before Interest and Tax. If we value this at 12x historical EBIT, add their £750m investment Ocado at cost (less the future performance payments), take away net debt and give no benefit for the company’s freehold property, the total is around £2.0b, which is in line with today’s market cap. The entire clothing and home business, which is still the largest clothes retailer in the UK and which last year made a profit of £224m, is therefore in for free.

ITV

ITV is, in effect two business; broadcasting which is very reliant on advertising revenue and content production. In 2019, the content production business made EBIT of £267m and we might value this at around £3.5b (13x EBIT). The enterprise value of the entire group is £3.8b meaning that the broadcast business which last year made c.£500m of EBIT is being valued at around £300m in the stock market. Another way to think about this is that companies like Netflix spend around $15b a year on content production; for a fraction of this, they could have ITV’s entire back catalogue and all future content.

Capita

Capita has a software business which made just over £100m of EBIT in 2019. As these businesses are high margin (28% in this case) they tend to be valued quite highly. Using a multiple of 15x(which would be the low end of their peers) would value this division at £1.5b which is not far short of the enterprise value of the entire group of less than £2b. The rest of the businesses, which in 2019 made around £200m are thus only being valued at around 2x EBIT.

Each of these companies has a strong franchise within them that is being undervalued by a market that is fixated on short-term earnings momentum and hence creating some genuine bargains in the market today.

managing finances
FinanceRisk Management

How can tech help people manage finances during isolation?

Yiannis Faf, CEO, What We Want

The spread of coronavirus has caused an incredible amount of disruption to lives and economies worldwide. The British Government has taken far-reaching steps in an effort to minimise the impact on the UK in both regards, by encouraging the population to practise isolating.

Such a massive overhaul of day-to-day life will come as a shock to many. However, for non-key workers who are staying at home, there are many things that can be done to allow life to still feel normal. Spending time on Facetime, Zoom on in WhatsApp groups, for example, can allow you to stay connected.

In terms of finance, self-isolation provides its own host of challenges and opportunities. With the help of tech, those staying at home should be able to successfully combat or maximise on these.

Here are five ways we can use tech to overcome financial challenges during self-isolation:

  1. Management

First and foremost, COVID-19 is affecting people’s finances and the way they manage them. With consumers unable to visit their local bank branch or speak to an advisor in person, many will be concerned about financial management. However, technology is on hand to offer a bit of reassurance throughout this testing time. 

Money management applications can be useful throughout this process. Mint, for example, is an application that collates all your income, expenditure and other any other important finance information, helping to outline your overall financial position.

For some, self-isolation might inspire a large financial overhaul, and prompt an investigation into digitally-oriented ‘challenger banks’ like Monzo or Revolut. Whilst these banks might seem targeted at younger people, they offer an incredibly streamlined way of managing your money, thanks to their well-designed and easy to use mobile apps and online platforms. For example, every time a purchase is made, an account holder will receive a notification and their app will be updated, ensuring they are able to easily track their expenditure. In a period of economic uncertainty, that’s certainly a major upside.

  • Switching providers

With more time on our hands, many consumers will consider reviewing the costs of their major outgoing. This includes switching providers.

There are many comparison websites that provide a clear breakdown of the options available. Here, the various products, benefits and charges of different firms will usually be clearly laid out, allowing consumers to find the best option to suit their needs and make an informed financial decision.

  • Bargain hunting

At a time when we are unable to visit bricks and mortar stores, we are forced to shop online. With these changes comes an added benefit – it is easier to find the best deal.

Whether it is toiletries, groceries or clothing, online shopping enables consumers to quickly scan multiple retailers to find the desired product at the best price. This could result is further cut-backs in ones expenditure.

  • Small acts of kindness

Here’s another, more heart-warming idea. Technology can go a step beyond aiding an individual’s personal finance and can be used to help others within the community.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, crowdfunding apps are being used by local communities to raise money for worthy local causes. These causes can be of any size; from raising money to help a local retailer stay in business, to a supermarket shop for a vulnerable neighbour. Demonstrating small acts of kindness has never been more important to boosting the morale of communities, and it certainly is encouraging to seeing technology facilitating this.

At WhatWeWant we have seen use of our crowdfunding app increase notably over recent weeks for this very reason. Even though we are separated physically, using crowdfunding technology – and social media to share funding campaigns – can help direct cash to great causes.

To that end, during the Coronavirus pandemic WhatWeWant is donating all fees, including payment provider fees, to the National Emergencies Trust. We do not want to profit from people using our app for such worthwhile reasons. What’s more, we can also use this money to support a vital charity that is doing great work to help people through this crisis.

  • Safety

Finally, technology can do more than simply help improve your finances when in self-isolation; it can also protect you. When going to the shop, for example, using a contactless card saves you from touching the receiver, thereby minimising the spread of the virus.

Moreover, cybersecurity and fraud detection measures are stronger than ever – with people managing their finances and shopping online more than ever during this period, this is an important point. We can rest easier knowing the banks and retailers are putting more robust measures in place to protect our finances.

There is no doubt that we are currently living in unprecedented times. However, for those looking to improve personal finances, or indeed help vulnerable people within the community, technology undoubtedly offers some much-welcome comfort throughout this difficult time. We must embrace this during this difficult time.

Yiannis Faf is co-founder of the crowdfunding app, WhatWeWant. The app, which allows users to upload what they want for an upcoming event for themselves, or someone else. Users can contribute to what their friends and family want as well as notifying them to contribute to whatever you have uploaded. Once enough has been raised, users simply use the money. During the Coronavirus pandemic, WhatWeWant is donating all fees, including payment provider fees, to the National Emergencies Trust. 

online broker
FinanceWealth Management

Quick Tips for Choosing the Best Online Broker

There are plenty of factors that contribute to making someone a successful trader. You need the right strategy, a good idea of your chosen market, and a commitment to constant learning. However, you’ll also need access to the right tools – including an excellent online broker. For those of you who are new to this industry, a brokerage service is something that facilitates the purchases and sales that you make each day to build a successful profit in your space. There are a lot of different options to choose from, including specialist companies that focus on a particular exchange, and experts that offer advice on how to make the most of your finances. The question is, how do you choose a broker that you can trust? If you’re not certain, the following tips could help you to make the right choice. 

Know What you Need

Before you start searching on Google for the ideal company, you need a good idea of what you actually need. Are you the kind of person who mostly wants to go it alone with your accounts? If so, you won’t need access to a bunch of professional services, but you might want to keep your fees and commissions as low as possible. If you’re new to the marketplace, then it might be helpful to search for a business that offers practicing with a demo account. These environments allow individuals to put their skills to the test and explore new strategies without spending any money. Some organizations may refer to these learning opportunities to paper trading. Be honest with yourself about where you are in your journey into securities and assets and use that information to decide what sort of broker is right for you. 

Look at Credibility

If you were going to buy a new television, you’d want to read the reviews first to see if other consumers thought it was worth the cash. In the same way, when you’re trying to decide which expert to work with on your investments, it’s best to check out their reputation. Examine the website for trust signals that put your mind at ease. For instance, some companies will have certifications from certain financial authorities. You can also find out if the accounts on a site are protected with things like two factor authentications. This reduces your chances of ending up with a stolen account after you’ve made a decent amount of cash. Checking for testimonials and mentions from other happy clients can also be useful too.

Try Before You Buy

Finally, remember that a lot of brokerage firms offer you the chance to check out an account and see what trading feels like before you commit to any long-term fees. If you’re not sure whether a particular company is right for you, it may be a good idea to test them out for a while and see how you feel. You can always switch to another company if you feel that you’re not getting the right results first time around. Just be sure you haven’t signed up for any long-term discounts on yearly subscriptions or anything like that before you switch.

investgrowth
Cash ManagementFinance

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE FUTURE OF TAX HAVENS
Finance

The Future of Tax Havens

THE FUTURE OF TAX HAVENS

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

car dealer
ArticlesFinance

How to Find the Cheapest Car Loans

car dealer

How to Find the Cheapest Car Loans

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


Compare Online

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

 

Check Your Credit Score

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

 

Consider Leasing as Well as Car Loans

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

 

Pay a Bigger Deposit

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

Civil partnerships Exploring the financial benefits
ArticlesFinanceWealth Management

Civil partnerships: Exploring the financial benefits

Civil partnerships: Exploring the financial benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

engineering
FinanceTax

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

engineering

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

R&D

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

 

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

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

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

 

What is it?

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

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

 

R&D tax relief schemes

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

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

 

R&D sector success stories

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

Here are some of the highest value claims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.”