Category: Infrastructure and Project Finance

The Business Elite UK MD of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

The Business Elite UK MD of the Year 2016

Our services typically include Outside Broadcast, Major Projects, Host Broadcasting, Fly-Pack, Post Production, Uplink & Satellite Communications and Video Display. We specialise in technological broadcast and content management solutions coupled with experienced crews and project management.

NEP UK & Ireland Broadcast Services provide equipment and crews for the coverage of live or recorded events. The genres typically fall across sports, music, reality and entertainment and we supply the personnel to engineer and operate our cameras, lenses, displays, video, replay, storage and sound equipment.

NEP UK & Ireland Creative Technologies provide solutions to create edit and distribute some of the world’s best known current affairs programmes, commercials, drama and film. Our award winning talent is unmatched and their work is enjoyed by millions.

Next time you are watching a new feature film, your favourite comedian or band or enjoying your team succeeding in a sports final it may well be possible because of what NEP UK & Ireland do.

I (Steve Jenkins) started in outside broadcasting in 1993 after completing my higher education in arts and media. Initially I started as a General Assistant and then after some training I became a Vision Engineer. I joined Visions Limited in 1997 and was fortunate enough to progress through the company from being a Technical Unit Manager to Commercial Director in 2003.

‘Visions’ was acquired by NEP in 2005 and I became Managing Director of Roll to Record Limited, another NEP acquisition in 2006.

Remaining with the NEP group and having successfully grown the Roll to Record business in January 2009, I took on the role of Managing Director of NEP Visions. Today I am President for the NEP UK & Ireland Group of companies, including the latest acquisitions, ScreenScene, Digital Space, Ardmore, OBS TV and Observe.

In addition I am also a member of the NEP leadership team and have aligned with my colleagues in 16 different countries around the world.

I am hugely passionate about the industry and the people working in it and we continue to drive forward an ethos of embracing new technology, developing talent and using them to enhance our clients’ coverage.

I lead an extremely talented and motivated team who thrive on the challenge and excitement of outside broadcasting and creative media management.

In regards to our clients we serve a diverse range of people who operate in differing markets with differing needs and the content reaches a spectrum of audiences across sports, light entertainment and music events. Typically our clients are leading broadcasters, production companies, governments, advertising agencies and film producers.

We have a great track record and have long and trusting partnerships with our clients, every day brings new challenges and we constantly push ourselves to succeed. Being a creative technology business we have to be innovative, that’s exciting and brings change but we also need to make sure everything we deliver is of the highest of standards and that we deliver everything on time. I care passionately about my staff, NEP and the company so I take every decision seriously.

To have been awarded ‘The Business Elite UK MD of the Year 2016’ is a great honour and I feel that any win for the company is a team effort and shared with all the staff, we are a close community and take great pride in our work.

Looking ahead to the future if we can continue to thrive as a company and identify any opportunities which we can take advantage of then we will be more than content.

Company: NEP UK
Name: Steve Jenkins
Email: [email protected]
Address: Venture House, Arlington Square Bracknell, RG12 1WA
Telephone: +44 (0)1344 356 700

Business Elite MD of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Business Elite MD of the Year 2016

Despite being around for over two decades, 2015/16 was actually a record year for SPA and a culmination of a great deal of hard work by the team here. While we are successful, and it hasn’t happened overnight, we never rest on our laurels, because in our industry you are only as good as your last campaign or live event.

As for our clients, I work across many industry sectors, spanning American Golf and Black Death Vodka and to the lime industry and commercial engineering. All of these endeavours require a fresh approach to their marketing, PR and events, and this is something I really enjoy conceiving and delivering. When expanding our client base, we are often approached direct, but I also recommend networking at the highest level, as this is something that has certainly paid off for me.

In terms of my experience, I started my career as the brand manager for Vladivar Vodka, ‘the Wodka from Varrington’, working for Greenalls’ Brewery. After that wonderful opportunity, spending 10 years in-house, doing amazing marketing and powerful PR stunts, I stepped over to ‘the other side’ and joined the agency world. It was in this environment I was able to use my flair, creativity and sense of humour, aligned with marketing nous and experience.

Generally speaking, I enjoy going into companies where growth is an issue. I tend to come at problems from a new, but informed perspective.

I find this can awake slumbering giants who are embedded in old ways, and the younger members of the in-house management teams tend be fully supportive of these fresh ideas. Then, when they start to work, everyone feels the momentum and we are all winners.

Looking further down the road, there are many issues facing companies in our industry. Succession planning is one for all ambitious companies.

However, I intend to continue developing my team and delegating greater levels of responsibility. If I can get my golf handicap down to around 15, my succession planning would be deemed to be working.

As for this award, I am delighted to have won this very prestigious ‘gong’ and hope perhaps it is reflection of a certain doggedness to ride through both recessionary times as well as the years of plenty.

Ultimately, if I can continue growing the bottom line, doing great, exciting work for some fantastic clients I will be very happy. It’s not about me or my business, but moreso about the success and growth of my clients’ businesses. If we get that right, everyone succeeds!

Company: The SPA Group Ltd
Name: Simon Plumb
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 2, Bridgewater Court, Barsbank Lane,
Lymnm, Cheshire WA13 0ER
Telephone: W: 01925 755590 M: 07799 403121

Finest in Finance
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Finest in Finance

With offices in Aberdeen and Caithness along with our main office in Ellon, Aberdeenshire we have a committed team who can provide financial advisory solutions at your request.

In terms of our approach to our clients, we are happy to meet them where they find the most convenient, and our aim is to find our clients the most competitive financial products to suit their individual needs.

In regards to our investment advisory service we typically deal with investment bonds, investment trusts, capital protected investments and children’s saving plans. However, we can also deal with bank and building society accounts, personal taxation planning, inheritance tax planning and tax efficient investments etc.

Our mortgage advice generally covers a wide area with first time buyers, home movers, remortgages and buy to let mortgages being most common.

In regards to pension services, we offer advice on personal pensions, stakeholder pensions and self-invested personal pensions. At the moment we are dealing with a lot of “At retirement” advice. The pension freedoms last year have seen a huge spike in business in this area and our Senior Financial Planner Ryan Yule, is being kept very busy with pension enquiries. Last year we arranged over 200 mortgages and we are on track to arrange over 300 mortgages in 2016.

If we take a closer look at the industry, one of the challenges we are currently facing is regulatory costs. However, looking ahead to the remainder of 2016 and beyond sees Aberdeen being severely impacted by the low oil price the local economy in the north-east which is challenging to say the least. In addition, at some point I can see purchase mortgages decreasing, but the increase in people looking for pension advice is negating this for us.

In December 2015 we moved into a larger office and throughout 2016 it is our aim to continue our growth. We have recently taken on another administrator and we hope to have another financial planner on board in the near future.

Company: Phil Anderson Financial Services Ltd.
Name: Phil Anderson
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 8 Bridge Street, Ellon, Aberdeenshire, AB41 9AA
Telephone: 01358 268166

Top 100 Financial Services USA
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Top 100 Financial Services USA

First of all, can you give us a brief background to the company?

The company was founded based on inspiration, and at its dawn I realised there was something missing out there with credit card transactions online and a way to secure this. I came up with the idea of a “Next Gen Payment Gateway” which encompasses cyber security. It secures the transaction, encrypts the card, and ensures that the identity is completely stored so nobody can hack into it. In addition, it uses a third party card number to prevent merchants and customers from being a victim of fraud or identity theft.

Although Allied Wallet was founded in May 2006, it took six years to build a platform. We are the only company in the market today that has no CV investors because it is all self-built. If you think of any company including PayPal, they all started with money from an investor because such firms did not belief in themselves. I believed in myself and the company while risking my own money in the project.

What is the most exciting thing about your position in the company?

As the sole owner and CEO of Allied Wallet, the most exciting thing is being hands-on and my involvement with the everyday activities of the business. I like to understand what goes on in my company. I enjoy communicating with my people to improve things. If I’m not on top of it all, how can I therefore improve it?

Could you tell us a bit about the 24-hour support that is available to your customers and why you think this is important?

Many other companies out there in the market today don’t provide sufficient, live customer support, even PayPal. Allied Wallet still firmly believes in the old school approach, when you have a problem you can speak to somebody about it instead of being put through to an automated machine. An automated machine is not the way to conduct business. We are human beings. Allied Wallet has customer support in place with people able to speak different languages. The company is able to speak in English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic and Japanese and this is very important in regards to accommodating consumers, to ensure they are satisfied with the service they receive, and also to listen to the story and frustrations of the merchants. In short, we have to look after them.

Could you tell us about the size and nature of your client base?

Allied Wallet is massively well-known in the US, Europe, and Asia and we deal with clients that do €100 a month to €15m a month in business. We take care of businesses of all kinds, so whether you are a small merchant or a large merchant, we will treat you the same. Ultimately, our firm likes to do business with everybody. We had merchants start nine years ago and they have stayed with us and have been loyal, despite every other processor out there trying to get them on board. When you start-up an e-commerce business a lot of people don’t believe in your ideas and that includes banks. With no investors and no money in the bank it can be very difficult as a start-up particularly if you have just come out of university and college, the banks will only cater for big businesses. This leaves many entrepreneurs with no hope and that is the problem.

In the past ten years, I have managed to get approximately 3600 entrepreneurs on board with me, and right now they are making a massive volume by generating more than 600,000 jobs in the UK, USA and Asia. Companies like Allied Wallet believed in them and as a result they are helping the economy and indeed all of these families, instead of sitting at home unemployed and taking the government’s money. Allied Wallet helps guide our clients through both the good and bad times, and they stick around because we treat them every much like a friend, not a client.

Could you tell me about your offshore credit card processing solutions and what this entails?

If you are a UK-based company and have consumers scattered around the world, the question is how your bank is going to understand. If you have a European entity in the UK and more than 50% of your customers are from outside Europe, your bank is going to look at you as a potential risk for them and they could close down your account. Banks don’t understand that e-commerce is international and globally accessible due to the world wide web. From a compliance point of view, they don’t understand why consumers are going to buy your product, so we at Allied Wallet consider ourselves as the messiah of global processing simply because we make things happen.

Why should potential customers out there choose Allied Wallet?

First, we are partnered with every popular shopping cart solution. We can make it happen because we already have them integrated. We’ve spent years and years integrating shopping carts. We have about 40 of the best shopping carts in the world with approximately 200 million consumers on the back of them. This integration takes less than a few hours to give consumers access to shopping carts in every region of the world. We take Direct Debit, ACH (the electronic cheque), VISA card, American Express, and many other payment methods which banks do not provide – but as a global processor, we have all these in place.

What are the challenges and opportunities for you and the company in 2016 and beyond?

The company is growing and is doing great, but the only thing I would say is we need to add more services. More services entail finding a more flexible way to do electronic payments, indeed we have a new mobile device coming out which is the pin, chip, and swipe – all of which are combined in one device.

We also have a card registration service. Which means if you have a card registered with Allied Wallet, you will never have to apply for a card again or pull out your wallet again because it is fully electronic. We guarantee the transaction and the payment for all of our merchants, so you will never ever see fraud transactions or a chargeback based on the usage because we have the full information stored in our facilities for every single consumer registered with Allied Wallet. We are preventing the merchant from becoming a victim of fraud and accommodating the consumer with an easy and secure way to pay. Thank you for these inspiring and choice words. Is there anything else you would like to add? I would say one thing to entrepreneurs out there and to everybody reading this… Hope is the best thing you can have, and that I am one of you. I believed in myself and took a chance and made it to the top. Don’t be afraid. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Just believe in yourself and you will get everything you want in life. Don’t let anyone slow you down. If you don’t start today, every day you waste is one you will never get back in life.

Company: Allied Wallet, Ltd.
Web Address:

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016

Birtenshaw was established in 1956 by a group of parents as a special school for young children with cerebral palsy. Today our firm provides a wide range of services for children and young adults, with severe learning disability, including Autism Spectrum Conditions and/or significant physical disability, including complex health needs.

The firm runs also a range of therapeutic health and wellbeing services.

Although Birtenshaw is positioned within the voluntary and community sector, or what many people refer to as the ‘not for profit’ sector, I take the view that we should operate as a ‘social enterprise’ on sound business principles with the aim of making a profit. However, in our case the profit is not for shareholders but ‘profit for purpose’ so that we can re-invest and continue to expand the range and diversity of our services.

We have been very successful at that over the last few years. Between 2012/2013 and 2015/2015 Birtenshaw’s turnover grew by over 326% whilst in 2014/2015 the bottom line improved by over 40% and in 2015/2016 by a further 126%.

This has enabled us to increase the number of children and young people supported by our services in that time by over 280%.

Birtenshaw’s vision is “brightening lives, building futures” for disabled young people, whether that be people who are physically disabled or learning disabled. Our vision is based on the philosophy of ‘ordinary life principles’. What this means is simply that young people with Special Education Needs and Disability are supported to take part in meaningful and enjoyable activities and have the same learning and social opportunities as other children.

My own career background is mostly in the public sector; having worked for three North West based Local Authorities. Overall I have almost 30 years’ experience working in social work/care.

From a young age I knew that I wanted to be a social worker and in particular to work with disabled children. Some of the younger members of my family are disabled and I saw the struggle they and their parents had to access quality services. I have always felt strongly that disabled young people should be able to access a range of quality services that helps to improve the quality of their life.

I joined Birtenshaw in 2006 after making the decision to move from the public sector to the so called ‘not for profit’ sector. At the time I noticed a growing trend for local authorities and councils to have their funding restricted, and I wanted to move into a sector where I could have more influence over the allocation of resources and funding.

Since my arrival at Birtenshaw I have worked tirelessly to grow the firm and expand our service offering so that we can meet the ever increasing needs and numbers of young people and children across the North West and beyond with special needs.

Recent developments include the opening of a state of the art special school in 2012 with the aim to provide quality education services which are cost effective and cater to children and young people at every level of the disability spectrum, although in particular those with the greatest need.

Birtenshaw School provides the ideal physical environment for the specialist learning needs of its pupils, with purpose built facilities. Consequently, the school is able to provide a spacious, calm and safe environment in which young people can thrive. Our facilities fully support the creative learning curriculum and “Total Communication” approach to this specialised area of education. Each of the classrooms is equipped with all of the state-of-the-art education technology such as touch screens and iPads which you would expect to find in any modern school.

In addition, the school has a range of specialist facilities which underpin its special education needs functions by working with sensory experiences (sight, sound, touch, smell and so on) to develop senses, co-ordination and communication for each pupil, promoting interaction, concentration, calmness and confidence. These facilities include a sensory integration room; a multisensory dark room; on-site hydrotherapy pool with multisensory sound and light system as well as a soft play area. The school’s multisensory input is supported by its fulltime occupational therapist who completes a detailed sensory profile for individual pupils, producing a ‘sensory diet’ for the school’s professionally trained staff to follow. Outside of the classroom, the school has also provided safe enclosed outdoor play spaces and a horticultural garden, and the school is currently developing a sensory garden, to allow pupils the chance to learn in their own way outside of the classroom.

I am delighted that the success of Birtenshaw School is recognised at national level as it has been nominated as a finalist for the second year in a row in the Times Education Supplement Awards (TESAwards). In addition, we have only just learned that the school has also been nominated for a national Diversity Award by a parent of one of the children.

In September 2014 we opened a new special education further education college. The intention was to provide the same quality of learning for students up to the age of 25 years old. The college has now achieved Independent Specialist status with the DfE and the Education Funding Agency and is already oversubscribed.

Birtenshaw School has been graded independently as an Outstanding School and we look forward to a formal Ofsted inspection in the near future.

In addition to our education services, we operate a number of care services for young adults and several children’s homes (which make up the majority of our service offering) have been rated by Ofsted inspectors as Outstanding.

Given the quality of our services it is no surprise that many Birtenshaw employees are nominated for national awards. In the last few months, a manager and a support worker form care services have got through to the national finals of the GB Care Awards, two other front line leaders are finalists in the National Learning Disability and Autism Awards and my deputy CEO is a finalist in the E3 Business Awards as an ‘Outstanding Woman in Business’. It is the quality of the people in my team that makes Birtenshaw such a success.

Although there is nothing unique in offering education or care services to disabled children and young adults, Birtenshaw is differentiated from its competitors because of the high quality of care, cost effective approach and versatile service offering.

Over recent years we have noticed that local councils and authorities are purchasing our services more often, because as I predicted efficiency targets are a prevailing trend in the Special Education Needs and Disability sector, and many public sector providers have seen their funding significantly reduced over the past few years and their capacity to provide services themselves has decreased accordingly, leading councils to outsource to firms such as ours.

Another key trend which is putting a strain on the public purse is the increased number of people living for longer with significant physical impairment and the increasing number of people being diagnosed with autistic spectrum conditions.

Advancement in medical services and knowledge has helped medical professionals to diagnose Autism more easily. Whilst I believe that medical advancement has a part to play in this, I also believe that there are other, as yet unproven, reasons for the significant increase in the number of people presenting on the autistic spectrum.

I have a number of growth strategies in place to assist Birtenshaw to continue our phenomenal growth to build on our current level of success and expand into new sectors, allowing us to help more people with Special Education Needs and Disability.

When we built the new school three years ago we drastically underestimated the demand for our services, although we have just received confirmation for the DfE to enable us to increase the number of registered placements at the school, we are also looking into a number of expansion plans, including redeveloping our previous site into new classrooms, and creating an early years’ service.

During the remainder of this calendar year we will be opening at least another four children’s homes, to compliment the recently opened children’s short break centre (formally called respite) which is designed to provide an enjoyable positive activity based experience for the child and a break for their parents/carers.

Although the new school and future new education services are exciting new ventures for Birtenshaw, approximately 60% of our business is care services and allied health support.

In the longer term we are keen to expand geographically. Our services are currently based exclusively in the Greater Manchester area, albeit with a national reach but we are planning to expand into Merseyside by 2017, with a view to eventually operating on a national basis

Ultimately we anticipate that the number, diversity and age range of the people we support will continue to grow over the coming years, and we are keen to ensure that we meet this need and can provide quality, cost effective education and care services to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable disabled young people in our society and ensure that they experience an improvement in the quality of their lives.

Company: Birtenshaw
Address: Darwen Road, Bolton, BL7 9AB
Phone: 01204 304 230

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016

My career background has been quite diverse in nature; from being in the Australian Military before joining Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited, to then joining Quickcut which was my first ‘step into the world of enabling and disruptive technologies’. I embraced the reasons and benefits behind the use of new technologies in the workplace. Be it from the introduction of the personal computer, to cell phones, to smartphones, to cloud computing and social networking. There is no doubt that the introduction of these technologies has shaken up the status quo and enforced a management re-think.

I understood that I needed to be part of this change and as such, I now have extensive experience in ‘building’ early-stage technology companies from the brand management, advertising and marketing sectors before expanding their ‘footprint’ internationally, which led me to joining Adgistics some six years ago. The company’s solutions platform, the Brand Centre®, has evolved in line with the changing demands of brand management and the challenges marketers face.

The Brand Centre is a suite of networked technologies that enable companies to optimise and support some or all major marketing operations activities and processes. Whilst it has been developed on solid, proven marketing asset management and business process management, it also matches specific functionality to individual enterprise needs, and recognizes that these needs evolve. By doing this, Adgistics ensures optimum uptake, operational efficiency, improved productivity, organisationwide transparency and contribution to building brand advocacy.

Even though I have been immersed and involved with these ‘types’ of technologies for over 25 years, if doesn’t stop me from being continually amazed with the volume and creativity of the ground-breaking technologies being developed and how these advances have and will continue to transform life, business and the global economy.

Given that the challenges faced by marketers today is ‘universal’ in nature and ever evolving, Adgistics solutions are used by brands of all types and sizes from small to medium sized businesses, to large corporate enterprises. Interestingly, in the last 24 months, the company has seen a lot of traction from brands in the Financial, Pharmaceutical and Healthcare sectors where the volatility in both their respective market conditions and public perception have caused these sectors in particular to consider the best methods to make brand coherent, effective and consistently expressed on a global stage, whilst taking into account they operate in heavily regulated industries.

As CEO, I need to ensure we stay cognisant of the challenges facing marketers today as they conceive new ways to aggregate and curate content, whilst simultaneously managing campaigns and maintaining a strong brand value identity. However, I also need to ensure we understand that we also ‘operate’ in a rapidly changing digital landscape where marketers must re-think the roles their brands play in the lives of their customers, and how they bring those roles to life across platforms and touch points.

As such, one of my challenges as CEO is to ensure our client’s and the market understand that Adgistics is constantly striving to demonstrate its desire and credentials to those marketers so that we can help them deliver upon those challenges. We believe a company’s brand extends beyond marketing communications.

It is a management asset and business system that provides a common language across the multiple specialties in a business. It can be optimally managed through a Brand Centre to create growth, profit, sustainability and long-term value.
During the six years I have spent as CEO of Adgistics, we have had a lot of successes in terms of new client wins, platform development and expansion of our ‘global footprint’. However, I was insistent that our many successes didn’t compromise our core values of quality customer service, maintaining strong values and integrity and also the desire to continually quest for improvement. To that, Adgistics continues to grow and extend its reach both across business verticals and geographies.

It is certainly an honour to be awarded Business Elite CEO, and I would like to thank Wealth & Finance very much for the recognition. Being CEO of a company that has such a group of innovative, passionate and professional people who love what they do is something I am extremely proud of and makes the role even more enjoyable.

Looking towards the future, I am very confident that Adgistics will continue to grow in 2016 and beyond. It would be too easy to focus on ‘delivery and results’ and lose sight of what is more important. I need to ensure we have clarity on what we stand for, where, why and how we’ll get there. We operate in the ‘world of branding’ and how brands utilise technology to help them serve their customers better continues to evolve at a rapid pace and as such, we must constantly demonstrate that we can deliver with and for our clients. I want Adgistics to be the company our clients look to for inspiration.

Company: Adgistics Ltd.
Name: Joe Jarrett
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 2nd Floor Deben House, 1 Selsdon Way. London E14 9GL
United Kingdom
Telephone: 44(0)20 7378 6777

Business Elite CEO  of the Year 2016
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in London, Asite helps people share information and build knowledge in a secure cloud environment. Asite’s cloud technology gives everyone involved in projects access to key information online in a secure environment. It allows for increased collaboration, fewer mistakes and reduced rework, giving huge time and cost savings. In an interview with the firm’s CEO – Tony Ryan, he reveals that he was honoured to be awarded the Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016, and sheds light on Asite’s cloud technology.

The CEO at Asite since 2006, Tony turned the business around to produce consecutive quarterly growth and led Asite to its current position as a leading corporate collaborative cloud solution provider. Prior to Asite, Tony held a number of senior roles with companies including Renaissance Worldwide, Group Bull and Cara Information Technology. He has over 27 years’ experience in the IT services arena, with extensive knowledge of corporate collaboration technologies. When he can find the time, he enjoys nothing more than playing (albeit badly) a game of golf or two.

First of all, can you elaborate on what the firm does?
Asite’s cloud technology gives everyone involved in construction projects access to key information online. It allows for increased collaboration, fewer mistakes, reduced rework, giving demonstrable time and cost savings.

Asite’s Adoddle platform allows teams to store and manage all project data in one central and secure repository, integrating with existing solutions for big data capabilities. It also enables customers to fully customize the structure of their content with highly controlled access and rich configurable workflows to allow for improved project controls.

The Adoddle platform is used by leading architecture, engineering and construction firms, as well as property owners world-wide to manage their largest and most demanding capital investment programs.

Can you go into detail about the areas your company specialises in?
Adoddle helps global organisations manage their projects and supply chains collaboratively, accessing the information they need, when and where they need it. It enables AECO companies to measure and track capital projects and asset operations.

Can you tell us how the business is going and the challenges you face at the helm of it?
I have steered the company through some very tough conditions in a market that suffered the hardest since the downturn in 2008. I could not have done it without the incredible team that I have had the honour of working for – the Ateam.

What experience do you have in the IT services arena and also in corporate collaboration technologies?
I am the CEO of a business that helped start the wave of cloud collaboration services. I have over 27 years of experience working within the IT industry and have enjoyed every minute of it. Asite’s position as a global leader of corporate collaborative technology or cocial as we call it around here, will only continue to grow.

What kind of clients do you serve and how do you approach them?
Historically, Asite managed the entire asset lifecycle for the AEC community, from concept through to completion. We now take care of the beyond by offering our Cloud based services to the owner operators and FM firms. Through the firm’s award winning collaborative Building Information Modelling (cBIM) technology, we cover the entire spectrum. However, the firm is increasingly being asked to look at every aspect of technology within these businesses from CRM, Digital Media through to Finance.

Do you have any plans for 2016 and beyond that you would like to share?
The next three years will see exponential growth for Asite, particularly in the infrastructure and ever increasing manufacturing sector. BIM is a key focus for our clients in the AEC community. The firm are the leading provider of cloud based model servers and we will continue to lead in this area.

What challenges lie ahead in 2016 for you as a CEO and for your company in 2016?
UK’s exit of Europe and Donald Trump’s hair. But seriously, the main challenge is keeping up with our clients’ expectations and ensuring that Asite delivers the best service for their needs. I love a challenge but I prefer solutions – and the Ateam always deliver, we have a very exciting future ahead of us.

Are there any specific industry based challenges you are facing now and in the future?
My Golf handicap, helping government’s around the world and globally shaping the future of BIM.

Do you have any further remarks to make?
Asite’s company ethos is to make a difference and enable clients to Get to IT!.

Brexit – What can Companies do to Mitigate the Impact?
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Brexit – What can Companies do to Mitigate the Impact?

The United Kingdom, Europe and the world woke up this morning to a new reality. With the majority of the population voting to leave the European Union, Britain has started today its road to separation.

With sterling plummeting to its lowest level in 31 years and the stock market falling sharply this morning, what lies ahead? What will be the impact on companies and markets? What can be done to mitigate potential repercussions that Brexit will inevitably bring? Even more importantly, how can companies adapt to the important changes coming our way and identify new opportunities?

Frost & Sullivan is already working with its clients to assess, review and plan strategically for the future to create a positive impact on the economy and society.

As we all know Brexit is likely to take a minimum of two years to materialize, with the process for withdrawal from the EU expected to start when Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon is triggered. Once the intention of separation is formalized, Britain will begin to negotiate withdrawal terms with EU member states on issues such as trade tariffs and the movement of UK and EU citizens, in effect laying the ground for its redefined relationship with the EU.

Senior Partner and Managing Director for Europe Sarwant Singh explains:

“It is important to note that during this interim period, Britain will still be subject to existing EU treaties and laws, but will be barred from decision making processes. Therefore, existing regulations are likely to continue until negotiations are completed.”

“However, there is uncertainty regarding the path ahead,” adds Mr Singh. “This could trigger a dip in business sentiment and delays in FDI (Foreign Direct Investments). On a positive note though, Brexit could pave the way for Britain to expand trade relations with the rest of the world beyond EU, and this would especially help mitigate risks arising from excessive reliance on one trading partner.”

Looking at the UK financial sector, Senior Partner Gary Jeffery admits that “there may be risks if financial institutions lose passporting rights which presently allow for the sales of services across EU states without the need to secure local regulator approval.”

Britain could also see the departure of automotive plants from its shores if manufacturers cease to enjoy the benefits of tariff free trade with the EU. Currency volatility could persist in the medium term given the uncertainty of the path ahead and if the devaluation sustains, we could see exports becoming more attractive, therefore benefitting UK based manufacturers.

Although the results are a cause for concern, one must remember that they also herald the mark of a new beginning for the UK which will be influenced by a strong government policy and the success of negotiations with the EU and the rest of the world. We will have to wait and watch to see how the nation’s growth story unfolds.

Wellian Investment Solutions Shares Reaction to Brexit vote
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Wellian Investment Solutions Shares Reaction to Brexit vote

At this stage, Wellian has said that it is difficult to predict a long term outlook, however, the only immediate certainty is the extreme volatility in the financial markets prompting huge price swings across equity, currency, bond and commodity markets. Such volatility will require continuing close management and careful analysis over the weeks ahead as Sterling falls to its lowest since 1985, the DFM has said.

As the pound reaches a 30 year low against the dollar, Richard Philbin, Chief Investment Officer of Wellian Investment Solutions (part of the Harwood Wealth Group plc) comments:

‘Whilst it is not our position to debate the rights and wrongs of this historic outcome, we are acutely aware of the fact that this verdict has raised many poignant and serious questions. Of these questions, the ones to have the most immediate impact on our industry include whether or not there will be an interest rate hike, will businesses turn away from the UK market and will the M&A market suffer even more than it already has done?’

Philbin continued:

‘The answers to all of these questions are at this stage, on this list of the many unknown outcomes of a Brexit. However, we would like to reassure our clients by reaffirming that we have recently been focussing all of our attention on diversifying our portfolios whilst simultaneously leaving plenty of room for wealth creation; regardless of the result.

“Furthermore, what is also reassuring is that the fall in Sterling will actually act as a diversifier. We have substantial international holdings in most of our portfolios and a 10% fall in Sterling will immediately boost their values by the same amount (excluding any movement in the underlying asset). Many of the UK’s best known companies are very international and a fall in Sterling will make their goods and services immediately more competitive overseas.

“We also need to remember that our Sterling based assets such as gilts, property and UK fixed interest won’t change in value to our Sterling based clients; neither will the income they are receiving from it.’

Philbin concluded:

‘Today and in the weeks ahead we will be spending lots of time thinking through the implications from an investment point of view. We acknowledge that this is not an issue that will be purely restricted to Europe; but one which will have a significant ripple effect across the global markets, which is why it is so crucial for us to continue to apply a long term view to our investment strategy.

“We wish to reiterate that investing; by its very nature, is rarely all plain sailing, even at the best of times and there will always be moments of risk and uncertainty like these. One only has to refer to the history books to see that we have often navigated through turbulent market risks and that in hindsight, these risks rarely seem as bad as they appeared at the time.

“The secret of our success in riding these storms has always been to design our portfolios with a long term view in mind and our diversification focused strategy has delivered excellent long term returns to our investors. We have been very aware of the implications of Brexit as well as the other investment risks such as the slowdown in the Chinese economy and the upcoming election in the US for quite some time. As such, our portfolios remain well diversified and invested with some of the City’s brightest minds to take advantage of opportunities as they unfold. As always, we will continue to keep our clients informed of our decisions as and when they arise.’

Germany and Slovakia fans face 395% hike on Average Hotel Room Prices
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Germany and Slovakia fans face 395% hike on Average Hotel Room Prices

IG Group, a global leader in online trading, reveals that fans of Germany and Slovakia descending on Lille in France this weekend for their Round of 16 clash at Euro 2016 can expect to fork out the most for a hotel room.

Analysing the average hotel price per match during the group stage of the tournament*, prices are 395% higher in Lille during Euro 2016 than the average price during 2015 making it the most expensive host city to stay in.
According to IG’s analysts, AccorHotels, which is the largest provider of hotels across France, is anticipated to be one of the main beneficiaries from France hosting the tournament.

AccorHotels, which has a portfolio of 1,598 hotels throughout France and a wide range of hotels in close proximity to each of the host venues for Euro 2016, incorporates brands including Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis and F1. 

The stocks of AccorHotels and others which might be affected by Euro 2016 that IG are following can be viewed here.

As illustrated by the table below, Lille is the most expensive city in which to stay overnight of all the host cities where Round of 16 matches are taking place.

Alexandre Baradez, IG France, said: “France accounts for more than a quarter of Accor’s portfolio throughout the world with 28% of their hotels located in the country hosting Euro 2016.

“Accor’s stock has been performing well since mid-February, but started to retract in June as it tracked the wider European stock indices lower. The global macro-economic and political concerns are driving the direction of stocks in the near term.

“Any positive impact on Accor’s bookings being thanks to the tournament will become evident once it reports its results for the quarter later in the year.”

IG has created a Euro 2016 landing page, which includes some of the shares that IG is tracking during the tournament with comment from some of their analysts across Europe, at

How Asia and Australia will Determine the Value of Sterling on Friday
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

How Asia and Australia will Determine the Value of Sterling on Friday

Polls close at 10pm GMT today. Sydney opens at the same time and closes at 6am GMT, while Tokyo opens at 11pm GMT and closes at 7am GMT. According to a number of media sources in the UK, the final decision will be announced around 7am GMT on Friday. A flurry of activity is likely between 4am GMT and 6am GMT. Since no exit polls have been commissioned, any early warning signs and emerging voter trends are going to have a real bearing on trade in Tokyo and Sydney.

As Sydney closes, Frankfurt will open at 6am GMT, followed by London at 7am GMT. In all likelihood, a Leave vote will see Sterling decrease in value by approximately 10% and a Remain vote will see it increase in value by approximately 5%. “A rightsizing is inevitable,” adds Secker. “And in a poetic twist of fate that no politician on either side of the debate could have orchestrated in a million years, time will have the upper hand. Together, Frankfurt and London will determine Sterling’s value the morning after the night before. Everything else will be history.”

New York will open at 12pm GMT and close at 8pm GMT. In all probability, based on many years’ experience, the European trend will continue stateside.

The weekend will create a “cooling-off” period, so there should be a degree of calm and purpose by the time Asia and Australia wake up on Monday morning. In the event of Leave winning the day, volatility will remain for some time to come. How long is anyone’s guess.

Secker believes now is not a good time to be trading the currency market. “It is like the Wild West out there. Leave/Remain is a gamble, and one can win big – or lose big. As a professional currency trader, I want reproducible strategies and systems that give me low risk and an edge over time. I am not in the business of betting on Lady Luck!”

However, he says currency traders who are brave enough to ride the wave should keep a close eye on their risk management strategies and trade within their limits. He also recommends putting strategies in place to mitigate any overnight risk, particularly from 10pm GMT on Thursday to 7am GMT on Friday, when clarity will be low and volatility will be high.

Secker is backing Remain.

Looming Brexit Vote Shows Why Investors Must Treat Currencies with Caution
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Looming Brexit Vote Shows Why Investors Must Treat Currencies with Caution

“The impending vote on the UK’s future in Europe has seen sterling volatility spike to levels not seen since the financial crisis, driven by sharp intraday swings as investors’ nervousness around the pound’s value, gravitating around $1.46 to the US dollar currently, increases. While there has been a marked improvement for sterling in recent sessions, sentiment can swing rapidly.

“Indeed if the UK was to vote leave, the volatility experienced would be severe and we would expect currency and UK risk assets to come under intense pressure initially. Longer term, the risk of barriers to trade and investment worsening the UK’s current and capital account balances would potentially put pressure on gilts. Rather than UK equities, which in large-caps are overwhelmingly multinationals with a global footprint that benefit from pound weakness, the government bond market would likely succumb the most to rising bearishness.

“By staying hedged until after the result of the referendum, investors can mitigate any further weakness for sterling in the event of a Brexit, whilst also retaining the flexibility to move back into unhedged investments if the vote for remain wins out.”


Manchester Cancer Treatment Company First to Secure Funding from £100m SME Funding Drive
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Manchester Cancer Treatment Company First to Secure Funding from £100m SME Funding Drive

• As current figures stand, Manchester‐based oncology company, Incanthera, has received a £150,000 investment pledge, which has been raised by private equity house IW Capital via Race to Scale;
• Crowdfinders and IW Capital launched Race to Scale – a £100 million funding drive – for UK scale-ups in London on 21 April, in association with a network of partners including Seedrs, SyndicateRoom, the UKBAA, Money&Co., Crowdstacker, Crowdcube, Envestors, Smith & Williamson and Invesdor to form the largest UK funding initiative of its kind;
• The annual initiative is open to UK SMEs that are looking for development finance in the form of an investment/loan between £100,000 and £5 million;
• Race to Scale launched in response to over a third (34%) of UK investors with over £100,000 in investments who would consider investing in SMEs in the next five years but do not have the knowledge to do so – equating to £126 billion in untapped investor finance;
• Launched in partnership with the UKBAA and its first Angel Investing Accreditation programme.

With 79% of high-growth businesses based outside of London, the primary objective of Race to Scale is to encourage and support the nation’s scale‐up community in sustaining growth from start‐up into successful mid‐size enterprise. The annual initiative aims to power vital development finance into entrepreneurial hotbeds across the UK, with a focus on key cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Manchester. Race to Scale will enable established businesses across the country to submit business proposals for a share of the £100 million funding pot, comprised of debt and equity finance. The finance is available exclusively to established small to mid‐sized enterprises that are proven in concept and require capital to scale, as opposed to start-up funding. Each successful SME will qualify for an investment or loan ranging between £100,000 and £5 million in value.

To reflect the new national roll-out of Race to Scale, IW Capital and Crowdfinders have launched the SME Heatmap. The motion infographic champions the regional hubs of entrepreneurial activity across the UK, concentrating on seven cities that are nurturing a thriving scale-up community and the sectors fuelling UK innovation and growth.

Incanthera is committed to the development of pioneering technologies that target solid tumours. Originally a spin‐out from the University of Bradford’s Institute of Cancer Therapeutics, Incanthera now operates from Manchester and has research facilities in Bradford and Salford. Incanthera exists to bridge the funding gap that often inhibits groundbreaking research from translating into a commercially viable product and progressing into a cure for serious diseases. The company progresses drug programmes through to early human clinical trials, to obtain vital safety and efficiency data, to then commercialise the product through licensing deals with major pharmaceutical companies. In addition to the Race to Scale funding pledge, Incanthera is still actively fundraising to support a clinical trial for a ground‐breaking drug, dubbed a ‘smart bomb’.

Crowdfinders commissioned national research to support the launch of Race to Scale. Key findings from the research include:

• Over a third (34%) of UK investors with more than £100,000 in investments would invest in UK SMEs but do not have the knowledge to do so – this equates to £126 billion of potential private investment that remains untapped;
• Only 9% of UK investors who would invest in SMEs feel they have the knowledge to do so;
• 71% of investors with over £40,000 worth of investments say they are confident in SMEs’ abilities to drive economic growth;
• 63% of UK investors with an investment value between £70,000 and £100,000 would consider investing in SMEs in the next five years;
• 57% of investors in London would consider investing in SMEs in the next five years – representing the highest appetite for SME investment in a regional comparison.

Acknowledging the necessity of greater investor education, Race to Scale is supported by Jenny Tooth OBE, CEO of the UKBAA. In March this year, the UKBAA launched the first Angel Investing Accreditation – a new official qualification to promote effective investment into Britain’s SMEs. Recognised by the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI) and the SFEDI – the standards body for enterprise and entrepreneurship – the accreditation is the first quality-controlled angel training that will validate investors and demonstrate their knowledge and expertise.

Luke Davis, Chairman & Co‐founder of Crowdfinders and CEO of IW Capital said:

“Race to Scale got off to a fantastic start at our latest Crowdfinders event, and I am thrilled with the reception that Incanthera’s pitch received. The company is doing incredible things for the world of oncology and our investor audience was very perceptive to the immense potential that Incanthera has. This response encouraged me to lead the funding raise for Incanthera, to further its business progression and ensure that it can continue to push vital cancer treatments through the development pipeline. Our health service needs revolutionaries in the oncology field, so I am delighted to be supporting Incanthera’s scale‐up journey.”

“The company is such a worthy recipient of further investment, and reflects the calibre of businesses that are based around the UK. Incredible companies like Incanthera already exist all over the country, however, I think investors tend to have a very London‐centric view towards SME investment. Therefore, there’s a danger of businesses based outside of the capital becoming overlooked. By rolling out Race to Scale to other UK regions, we want to make sure that businesses nationwide receive the financial support they need, and to ensure that investors have greater access to remarkable, regional opportunities like Incanthera” Davis added.

Simon Ward, CEO of Incanthera commented:

“We are thrilled and very grateful to receive the support and investment given through the Race to Scale project. It is often very difficult for investors other than Institutions and traditional Venture Capital to support small, drug discovery and development companies and Race to Scale allows for this opportunity. The fight against cancer is a long and difficult war and will involve us all. We wish the IW Capital‐led initiative every success.”

Investment Outlook: Looking Beyond Brexit
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Investment Outlook: Looking Beyond Brexit

With less than a week to go until the EU referendum, this seems an appropriate time to remind clients of our current investment outlook.

Whilst we don’t discount the short-term uncertainty around our membership of the European Union. We believe that markets are vulnerable to several major economic risks – the scale of the Chinese credit bubble, negative interest rates and anaemic growth to name but three.

Over the next eighteen months, the political landscape will also alter with a new US president and the Eurozone’s four largest countries heading to the polls for a number of key ballots.

These factors have led us to position our portfolios more defensively and will exert a greater influence over the UK economy than whether the country votes in or out on 23 June. We have raised cash levels, lightened our exposure to developed market equities while maintaining our absolute return strategies and a light allocation to fixed income.

1. Equities

We have taken a defensive stance to equities tactically, as we feel that markets are vulnerable. Developed market equities are fully valued on most measures and we have grown cautious on the potential for a strong pick up in corporate earnings.

Emerging markets are very cheap in absolute terms and relative to their historical valuations. For the time being, the earnings outlook remains uncertain and so sentiment towards Asian markets is particularly sensitive to news about Chinese economic activity and movements in the US dollar.

2. Cash

As a simple but effective method for risk control, we have increased portfolio cash holdings.

We are comfortable holding cash on a short term tactical basis to reduce exposure to the market in light of the various risks we identify. As greater clarity is found, we will redeploy this cash into asset classes that we deem to be attractive.

3. Fixed income

Yields on sovereign debt remain too low to invest rationally and are being suppressed by central banks across the globe. In the UK the Bank of England is unlikely to change interest rates until Q4 2016 at the earliest. The European Central Bank is firmly in monetary easing mode, as is The Bank of Japan. The Peoples’ Bank of China is dealing with a slowing economy and so biased towards easing as well. The exception of course has been the US Federal Reserve which has started raising rates.

Although we recognise the defensive benefits of government bonds, we see little value in owning them. We do see riskier ‘high yield’ bonds in Europe as attractive on a relative basis.

4. Alternatives

Our overweight position in alternatives partly reflects our lack of enthusiasm for fixed interest. We have increased our allocation as it provides an opportunity to protect portfolios in the event of a significant downturn.

We have reduced our overweight position to property. While property has enjoyed a significant positive return over the past six years. Looking forward we see limited potential upside in prime properties except in the form of rental growth.
For more information about EQ Investors, visit

Protest Debt on the Rise Amongst UK Consumers
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Protest Debt on the Rise Amongst UK Consumers

The survey of 1,500 households, by Echo Managed Services, revealed a number of reasons for debt outside of consumers simply not having the financial means to pay. Almost 1 in 3 people hadn’t paid because the bill was incorrect or higher than expected; 14% because the bill was difficult to understand or there was a mix-up with it; and 6% because they’d received poor service. Just 28% of people said that late or non-payment was as a result of not having the means to pay.

The research also revealed that higher income households are less tolerant of poor service, with 1 in 10 of those earning more than £40,000 per annum having withheld payment for this reason in the past, compared to just 1% of those earning less than £10,000.

Echo understands the importance of collecting outstanding payments and is now urging service providers to improve their billing processes and customer service standards, in order to mitigate some of the reasons behind avoidable debt and to avoid losing valuable customers in a market full of competition and choice.

“There are many reasons why people might not pay a bill and although a lack of income would be the obvious reason, our research clearly indicates that these days debt cannot be attributed solely to financial circumstances. Consumers are now much more aware of their rights and have the freedom to exercise them. They might be less tolerant of poor customer service or inaccurate billing, or think that failing to pay won’t necessarily lead to debt collection procedures, for example,” said Monica Mackintosh, customer services director at Echo Managed Services.

“That’s why it’s so important to understand customers and their reasons for missing payments so that the debt can be mitigated before it becomes an issue, or be resolved as quickly as possible. Making sure bills are clear and accurate, regular pre-bill customer engagement, and early intervention such as payment reminders are essential. In addition, a range of internal and external data sources can provide a strong indicator of customer behaviour and propensity to pay. But data alone does not provide the answer and should be used to support personable and empathetic customer service to ensure customers receive a positive experience” she added.

The report also revealed that although most customers do feel guilty about missed payments (59%), a surprising 3% think that regular debt is acceptable and 4% think it’s acceptable if they have more pressing needs, such as paying for an annual holiday. Over 1 in 4 think it’s acceptable to get into debt in extreme circumstances, while 6% think it isn’t an issue to be late with payments and that it causes no harm.

The full list of rankings and report can be found here.

2016 UK IT Outsourcing Study Results Published
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

2016 UK IT Outsourcing Study Results Published

The key findings of this year’s UK Study include:

• There is still an appetite for outsourcing among UK companies. 72% of all respondents in the study confirm that they will continue to outsource at the same rate or more (an increase of 3% from 2015). This is a good indication that the UK market still has some growth potential.
• It is clear that the pace of outsourcing is slowing down. 40% said last year that they would outsource more. This has declined to 31% this year. Last year we noted a trend towards selective insourcing, which appears to be accelerating. It is notable that 21% of UK organisations are planning to outsource less and insource more, up 6% on last year. The driver for insourcing is that some organisations are looking to in house capabilities to support business initiatives such as Digital Technology adoption and Agile Transformation. Significantly, cost reduction is the biggest motive, in spite of the transformational aspirations of many firms. We may be out of the depths of recession, but cost pressures have not let up for the CIO.
• After two years where business transformation and a focus on core business were the primary reasons quoted for outsourcing, cost reduction has returned as the pre-eminent driver for companies who are planning to outsource more (cited by 60%). This ‘return to normal’ where outsourcing is seen a cost containment approach is subtle but clear.
• The service provider community continued to show a strong overall performance, with clients remaining satisfied with 86% of contracts (unchanged from last year’s impressive figure). However, inevitably, there were significant differences between the suppliers assessed.
• TCS retained its position as the supplier with the highest level of satisfaction, joined by Cognizant (up from fifth last year), after three years of identical satisfaction levels, and new entrant Hexaware. Those providers delivering predominantly network and telecommunication services continue to remain at the bottom of client satisfaction scores. In 2015 we noted “expectations on the customer side need to be adjusted” and this remains true; but large telco providers continue to struggle with matching their service provision to customer need and this threatens the non-telco components of their businesses.
• The continued rise of public cloud usage is marked, with 67% of all UK organisations planning to increase their usage of these services. Satisfaction with cloud vendors such as Microsoft, Google, Amazon and is generally high.
• Comparing customers’ perceptions of suppliers with suppliers’ perceptions of customers is always revealing. The service providers suggest that around 35-50 percent of their outsourcing clients can still significantly improve their transition skills and governance and supplier management capabilities, while the client perspective on their own capabilities is much more positive.

“Our survey with Whitelane highlights the changing nature of IT outsourcing in the UK for both customers and suppliers, with some interesting themes emerging around the key drivers, insourcing and service integration. As a leading advisor on sourcing, we continue to help our clients understand how these trends can be harnessed to gain the maximum value from the constantly developing market.” Alan Young, Global Head of IT Transformation, PA Consulting Group.

The UK study is part of Whitelane’s annual extensive IT outsourcing studies. We interview sourcing executives about their outsourcing plans and their opinions on service providers. The study is conducted in 13 different European countries and provides a comprehensive overview of the IT outsourcing landscape in each country. The survey also shows the main sourcing trends and positions of the main IT service providers based on different key performance indicators (KPIs), in addition to cloud computing and governance trends.

8/10 Businesses Fail to make Preparations for Brexit
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

8/10 Businesses Fail to make Preparations for Brexit

• 80% of senior interim executives fear UK businesses are not prepared for Brexit

• Experts warn that a vote to leave the EU would affect operating costs, exchange rates and trade deals

• Businesses should reduce risks by hedging investments, broadening markets and collaborating with peers

Eight out of ten UK businesses have failed to make adequate preparations for a potential exit from Europe following the upcoming referendum, according to a survey.

Interim Partners, a market-leading provider of senior interim executives, conducted the survey as part of the research for its 2016 White Paper on the state of the interim market.

Over 400 top interim managers from across the public and private sectors were quizzed for their views on the EU debate, including whether UK businesses are prepared for the potential ramifications of Britain exiting the EU.

80% of those surveyed feared that the businesses they are currently working with are failing to prepare adequately. Predictions about the potential effects of Brexit included:

– Increased legal, travel and import costs
– Slump of the pound on the Foreign Exchange market
– Changes in how trade deals are made with EU countries

Those surveyed also warned that if UK businesses do not take swift measures to cope with these changes, they risk losing out in the event of a Leave vote.

Respondents recommended that businesses should protect themselves by:

– Developing new overseas markets to increase trade options
– Hedging their investments to protect against overspend
– Forming coalitions with sector peers to strengthen existing relationships

“Interim managers are specialists in change management, and are often brought into businesses to help them navigate periods of transformation and uncertainty,” says Steve Rutherford, Managing Partner of Interim Partners.

“As such, they are ideally-placed to help businesses negotiate the potential economic pitfalls of a UK exit from Europe.”

Six top tips to Help Businesses Prepare for Brexit

A recent survey by Interim Partners showed that eight out of ten UK businesses are under-prepared for the potential effects of Brexit. Leaving the EU would mean that UK businesses have to deal with a host of new challenges, from coping with an unpredictable exchange rate, to navigating fundamental changes in European trade law.

So what can you do ahead of the referendum to minimise the risk to you and your customers in the event of a Leave vote?

Interim Partners asked some of the UK’s most senior interim managers for their top tips to make the potential transition as smooth as possible for business leaders.

1. Develop new markets: By nurturing relationships outside the EU, your business will be more resilient to losing trade with your existing European partners.
2. Hedge your investments: To maintain financial stability and protect against overspend, make sure that any risky investments are countered with more reliable propositions.
3. Don’t act in isolation: Form coalitions with sector peers to build new bridges and strengthen existing relationships.
4. Consider a comms strategy: When you’re going through turbulent times, it’s a good idea to keep your stakeholders informed and reassured – plan ahead by getting a communications strategy in place now.
5. Have back-up plans: You can’t plan for every eventuality, but you can give yourself as many options as possible – consider all the possibilities in case things don’t work as expected.
6. Embrace the change: Brexit might not be your preferred option, but if it happens try to see the positive – look out for new opportunities and don’t be afraid to take them when they arise.

Draper Esprit IPO Brings Patient Capital to the London and Irish Stock Exchanges
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Draper Esprit IPO Brings Patient Capital to the London and Irish Stock Exchanges

The Draper Esprit team has considerable experience. The team has operated the Group for nine years and, prior to that, its members worked for leading firms within the venture capital industry. In aggregate, the team has been involved in investing over US$1 billion into more than 200 technology businesses and has been involved in creating businesses with a total aggregate value of over US$8 billion, with an exited value of over US$6 billion.

Simon Cook, CEO and Co-Founder of Draper Esprit, said:

“Our motivation for evolving our Venture Capital business model was twofold. Firstly, we wanted to be able to invest for longer in our emerging companies and to be able to build bigger stakes as companies remained private for longer periods, capturing more value for shareholders. Secondly, we wanted to further democratise funding for entrepreneurs.
Traditionally the Limited Partnership model in Europe has restricted who can invest in venture capital backed companies and many growing technology companies are not accessible to institutions or public investors until they go public. Now everyone can participate in the growth of VC backed companies from their earliest stages through series A and B to their success in the later stages up to and including their IPO.

This permanent capital model is ideally suited to a listed vehicle and we are grateful for the support this approach has received from shareholders including: Woodford Investment Management, the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, China Huarong International Holdings Ltd, Baillie Gifford and several other city institutions, successful entrepreneurs and family offices, many of whom have active later stage and IPO investment activities.”

More information is attached (as is a photograph) and senior management are available for interviews. Please use the mobile number below, larger images are available on request.

The New Modern in New York City
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

The New Modern in New York City

Lilian Weinreich. Photo: ©Steve Freihon

Formal simplicity requires intellectual rigor and aesthetic restraint – which is immediately apparent in each of the firm’s
projects – from the reinvention of a building in Gramercy Park with duplex apartments to the remodel of a Central Park
South bath and dressing room. The firm’s portfolio includes a range of high-end apartment building, duplex and townhouse renovations, as well as institutional work. Each project is opulent in the clarity of its spatial and functional resolution.

Weinreich’s pure sensibility evolves not from a predetermined architectural style, but rather from the intent to design clean, intelligent and functional space that operates as a background to what is contained within them. Working with space and light as sculptural materials, LHWA constructs architecture dramatic in its purity of means. “My aesthetic is entrenched in the modern, using prevailing technology to create leadingedge environments that are simple yet intelligent and sophisticated ‘the new modern’”, Weinreich says. “My goal is always to aim for the essence of timelessness and the paramount in design as well as in execution.”

Weinreich cites her Australian upbringing as a major aesthetic influence, instilling sensitivity to the natural environment as well as a proclivity to architectural modernism from her family home. Her parents, Holocaust survivors, commissioned famed architect Harry Seidler, an Austrian-born Australian architect, to design a house in the early 1960s. A leading proponent of modernism in Australia, Seidler was the first architect to fully express the principles of the International Modern Bauhaus in the country.

In 2013, the Weinreich house was given a Sydney Heritage Building Registry citation. Weinreich’s parents recognised her artistic talents at a young age and, when she was 14, they arranged private tuition with Professor Maximilian Feurerring in his Woollarah studio. Feuerring was considered to be one of Australia’s leading painters. Feurring did not teach children, but made an exception for Weinreich, whom he considered a prodigy. In rigorous weekly sessions, she reproduced works by modern painters such as Gauguin, Cezanne, Chagall, Modigliani and Clave and all of these paintings still hang in the family home in Australia. Through these lessons, Weinreich developed a regular following amongst his other pupils and friends, unbeknownst to her until years later. She chose Feurring as subject of her highly awarded Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours Thesis at Sydney University.

Growing up in a home and within a family that fully embraced the methodology of modernism shaped Weinreich’s uncompromising aesthetics. These influences can be seen in the firm’s signature vocabulary—defined by essential reductivism, fastidious attention to detail and execution and sensitivity to the intrinsic properties of building materials and the environment. “Australians, by nature, have an honesty in their intent,” Weinreich says. “I strive to find the most direct and honest resolution in my work.”

The day after Weinreich became a registered architect in Australia, she set off to New York City. She says, “This was an unexpectedly difficult transition. While I still consider myself an Australian, I could not imagine being based anywhere else in the world. The United States has awarded me amazing opportunities and career choices – for which I am very grateful.”

When beginning a new project, LHWA’s approach to design is defined by a specific set of criteria: the unique needs of the individual clients and their space; the development of an unequivocal, clean, simple, seamless and sophisticated background for the programmatic requirements; and the creation of an aesthetically unencumbered environment.
requests the real estate floor plan or a site plan, existing photos, and the clients’ wish list. She wants to take the time to think about the opportunities of the prospective job and to come to the first meeting prepared with an initial design idea.

“Interestingly enough, and to great personal satisfaction, my first sketch often reflects the built end product,” says Weinreich—a testament to her intuitive and visionary design ability, as well as her dedication to uncovering the right architectural solutions for her clients. For an interview for one particular apartment commission, she had learned from the real estate broker that the client had previously interviewed six other architects before meeting her. “The client selected me on the spot,” she recalls. “About halfway through the job, I asked him why he chose me. His reply: ‘You came with a vision’.”

Painting with Light
A key signature of the LHWA aesthetic is the precise application of light. The lighting schemes in all of the firm’s projects are designed to enhance spatial quality. In New York City apartment buildings, ceilings are traditionally lowered in bathrooms to accommodate plumbing pipes above, and Weinreich’s innovative solutions can often be found at this transition between ceiling heights. In the NoHo Duplex in downtown Manhattan, this condition becomes a design feature; lit cove edges soften the lowered ceiling at the entry to the powder room and master bathroom are ghosted behind full-height, eleven-foot tall sliding glazed panels doors.

Inside the master bathroom, backlit dropped ceilings at the rear wall visually heighten the space while giving the interiors a warm glow. In the West 72nd Street Duplex on New York City’s Upper West Side, an infinity lit ceiling edge visually opens up the ceiling plane of the Calcutta gold clad master bathroom.

This visual elongation of space appears throughout the firm’s portfolio, developed in response to working and building in Manhattan. Many In the West 67th Street Apartment, now under construction, perimeter dropped ceilings frame and define the main living spaces and innovative knife-edge cove lighting emphasises the full-height ceilings. The lowered ceilings house mechanical equipment, ducts, pipes, structural support for the tracks, audio-visual equipment, wiring and recessed light slots. By lowering a ceiling height to highlight function, the sculptural interplay of dropped ceiling planes creates an illusion of a vertical spatial openness.

Sliding Panels, Flexible Space
LHWA also employs full-height sliding panels as a signature design feature to enhance the feeling of soaring verticality—no matter if the floor to ceiling height is an eleven-foot loft space or an eight-foot post-war highrise.
The firm’s design vocabulary uses full-height sliding panels to shape and elongate space, provide functional flexibility and shield visibility.

In the NoHo Duplex, the powder room and master bedroom ensuite are separated by a series of eleven foot-tall, fully retractable, sliding, steelframed glass panels. These featured full-height elements create a perspectival vista to what appears to be an ostensibly larger space beyond.

The glazed panels soften the glowing cove edges above the entries post war high-rise apartments in New York were built with low ceilings throughout—a developer device to minimise cost and to maximise the number of apartments. In the West 72nd Street duplex, LHWA’s renovation opens up the ceiling on the main floor to full height, while using a hovering ceiling plane softened with lit coves as a visual highlight.

Large open spaces with flexible functions are highly desirable in cities like New York, where real estate space is at a premium. The combination of two apartments on Lexington Avenue, currently under construction, incorporates sets of sliding translucent panels to create options in how the clients can configure the spaces—all open for entertaining and maximum daylight, or closed in multiple configurations for varying levels of privacy. The renovation of the West 72nd Street Duplex opens the main level of the duplex into one large, open, utilitarian space for dining, living and entertainment with full width unobstructed window views. The den space can be partitioned off with three full-height Shoji screens, designed in collaboration with the Italian manufacturer, when it needs to serve as a temporary sleeping area.

Design and Material Innovation

Weinreich’s work highlights an innovative use of materials. The design and fabrication of the NoHo Duplex’s staircase presented the biggest single challenge of the project. The staircase’s co-planar, clear-tempered glass rails and childproof open slots elegantly comply with rigorous code and child safety standards. For a unique handcrafted industrial appearance, metalworkers forged all of the project’s metalwork, including the stair supports and door frames, on site.

The work of LHWA combines a clean modern aesthetic with an understanding of how people will actually live and use the spaces on a daily basis. All of the firm’s projects integrate extensive storage. The NoHo Duplex has floor-to-ceiling storage in the master bedroom, lower level playroom and children’s bedrooms. In the Central Park South Apartment’s kitchen, the renovation integrated a commercial-quality kitchen into a residential setting, enabling the client’s in-house chef to cater for over a thousand guests per year. The kitchen facilitates both intimate family gatherings as well as formal sit-down banquets for heads of state, dignitaries and royalty, complete with silver service and tuxedoed waiters.
New full height upper cabinets, floor-to-ceiling pantry closets and the utiliSation of all under the counter island spaces, increased the storage capacity of this kitchen by 20%.

LHWA enjoys a high-profile Internet presence, which continues to be a strong source of new work. The firm’s number of projects has tripled over the last two years with commissions of increasing size and scope. However, Weinreich never turns away a project because of its size. “If I see a potential design interest, I will take the job,” she says.

The firm’s greater visibility includes three publications featuring Weinreich’s work coming out at the end of 2016. Her work was prominently featured in the latest edition in the BBeyond Publication Series, entitled Fabulous Interiors and Architecture. The coffee table book’s international theme covers “interior and architectural icons of today/classic landmarks of tomorrow”, targeting a high net worth audience and covering the issues that matter to them and their lifestyles. LHWA in the only New York City architect featured in the publication.

Weinreich credits her success to her dedicated team of collaborators, skilled contractors and artisans as well as her husband, Dr. Michael Ezekowitz. Weinreich calls upon the support of the world-renowned cardiologist— cited by Thompson-Reuters in the top one percent of scientists in the world due to his research and publications—for his innate eye for detail and skill as a client and contractor liaison.

LHWA is currently working on several new projects, including two large apartment remodels, one on Park Avenue and the other on Central Park South, a building in Gramercy Park with duplex units and a house in Avon, Connecticut. The firm is also exploring new markets, including the design of private jet interiors and commercial projects, where Weinreich’s considered, innovative design aesthetic can be applied in new ways.

Name: Lilian H. Weinreich, AIA RAIA LEED-AP(BD C), NCARB
Firm: Lilian H. Weinreich Architects
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 150 Central Park South #502
New York, New York 10019-1566
United States of America
Telephone: 1 (917) 770 1000

First Meeting of the Cross-Government Retail Round Table
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

First Meeting of the Cross-Government Retail Round Table

Ms Soubry, along with Ministers from the Treasury, Department for Health and Department for Communities and Local Government met senior management from leading retailers including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, John Lewis Partnership, B&Q and the British Retail Consortium to discuss their priorities and consider the business environment for retail.

As well as discussing the future of the British retail sector other topics included:

– Business rates;
– Levelling the playing field between online only businesses and those with a high street presence
taking forward the obesity strategy;
– The group has huge influence on consumer behaviour in the UK, generating sales of £340 billion in 2015, and supported over 3 million retail jobs in the UK, up from 83,000 in 2010.

Following the meeting, Business Minister Anna Soubry said:

“The first cross-government retail roundtable is an important milestone in getting some of the country’s top retailers together to discuss collectively with government how we can work better to create an environment for them to grow, create more jobs and boost our economy.

“This government will keep on going further to back British businesses – cutting red tape, lowering taxes on jobs, getting more young people into work and promoting enterprise.”

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium added:

“It was a valuable to attend such a meeting with ministers across government and some of the country’s leading retailers. It gave everyone there the opportunity to directly consider issues facing the industry and their businesses with government and I was pleased with the open and constructive dialogue.

“I was also encouraged that retailers saw the benefit of such a meeting and I want to thank Anna Soubry for her personal commitment to these meetings. I look forward to working more closely with her and others throughout government, given the significance of the structural change underway within retail, and getting round the table at the next government retail roundtable.”

Winners Directory
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Winners Directory

The Business Elite UK MD of the Year 2016
Company: Whitescape Ventures Limited
Name: Andrew White
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Studio 5a, Upper Adhurst Farm, London Road,
Petersfield, Hampshire GU31 5AE
Telephone: 01730 897960

The Business Elite UK MD of the Year 2016
Company: Covenco Recovery Services Ltd
Name: Gurdip Sohal
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Unit 4, MXL Centre, Lombard Way, Banbury,
Oxfordshire, OX16 4TJ
Telephone: 01295272080

The Business Elite UK FD of the Year 2016
Company: Sellick Partnership Limited
Name: Nives Feely
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Queens Court, 24 Queen Street,
Manchester M2 5HX
Telephone: 0161 834 1642

The Business Elite 2016
Company: Associated Joinery Techniques Ltd.
Name: Anneliese Polan
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Waterside, Marks Hall, Margaret Roding,
Chelmsford, Essex CM6 1QT
Telephone: 01245 231881

Most Outstanding Law Firm of 2016
Company: EmployEasily Legal Services Limited
Name: Gary H Sutherland
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Baltic Chambers, 50 Wellington Street,
suite 544-545, Glasgow, G2 6HJ
Telephone: 0800 612 4772

Most Outstanding Law Firm of 2016
Company: Lee International IP & Law Group
Name: Nicholas Park
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 14F, Poongsan Bldg., 23 Chungjeong-ro
Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 03737, KOREA
Telephone: 82 2 2262 6000

Most Outstanding Law Firm of 2016
Company: Cordell & Cordell
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:;
Telephone: 1-866-DADS-LAW; 0330 60 60 161

Winners’ Directory
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Winners’ Directory

Asset Manager of the Year 2016 – Singapore
Company: APS Asset Management
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 3 Anson Rd, Springleaf Tower, #23-01 Singapore 079909
Telephone: (65) 6303 4595

2016 Private Debt Fund Manager of the Year
Company: Abax Global Capital
Name: Donald Yang
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Suite 1708, 17/F, International Commerce Centre,
1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hong Kong,
Telephone: 852 3602 1800

Hedge Fund Manager of the Year 2016 – Sweden
Company: Origo Capital
Name: Anders Nilsson
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Birger Jarlsgatan 18, 114 34 Stockholm, Sweden
Telephone: 46 76 8430509

Hedge Fund Manager of the Year 2016 – Canada
Company: Marret Asset Management Inc.
Name: Kathleen Cooney
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: 2 Queen St. East, 12th Floor, Toronto,
Ontario M5C 3G7 Canada
Telephone: 1 416 214 5800

Real Estate Awards 2016
Investment Bank of the Year 2016
Company: QInvest
Name: Craig Cowie, Head of Real Estate Investments & Advisory
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Level 39, Tornado Tower, West Bay,
P.O. Box 26222, Doha, Qatar
Telephone: 974 4405 6666, 974 4405 6548

CEO Of The Year 2016 in Commodity Trading and Risk Management
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

CEO Of The Year 2016 in Commodity Trading and Risk Management

AspectCTRM is a full-featured E/CTRM suite for front, middle and back office with support for financial and physical trade activity. It’s available in three editions: Lite, Standard and Enterprise, expanding in functionality according to the needs and budgets of clients. Aspect is the only E/CTRM solutions provider with market data and analytics tools delivered with its trade and risk functions on the same platform, for convenient price uploads to CTRM.

Because AspectCTRM resides in the cloud, there are no software, hardware or IT investments required by clients. On premise installations are also available. Clients are able to trial AspectCTRM before investing in a system, which removes significant financial risks.

Aspect solutions are available on desktop, tablets and mobile devices and through its Aspect Partner Program (APP). Aspect was incorporated in 2000 and so this is our 16th year. Aspect has offices in Houston, New York, London, Moscow, Bengaluru and Singapore.

Aspect aggregates data from commodity exchanges and commodity- related news sources in real time to allow commodity trading firms to understand how the market is moving now and in the future. This information is used to make important decisions concerning the buying and selling of commodities such as oil and oil-related products, precious metals, base metals, concentrates, coal, agricultural products, food products and many other commodities.

Once such buy/sell decisions are made and executed, the AspectCTRM solution helps trading firms to manage their profit and loss, and perhaps more importantly, market risk. Every trade can be managed from trade execution and capture, through P&L and risk management, on to mid-office functions such as management of logistics and storage, right through to back-office functions such as cash management and payment reconciliation.

Aspect’s latest product, AspectSTP, allows direct and seamless integration between commodity exchanges where the trading is executed and its AspectCTRM solution. Straight-through processing is critical for trades to be efficiently processed throughout the supply chain with no re-entry which causes costly mistakes.

Aspect differentiates from the pack by providing all of its solutions via the cloud meaning clients do not need any hardware, software or IT expertise to successfully operate Aspect’s solutions. The only thing required is an Internet connection and a browser such as Explorer, Safari, Firefox, etc. With this, Aspect’s solutions may be implemented in record time, perhaps 4 to 6 weeks, rather than the very lengthy timeframes experience with using older technologies.

On being awarded Business Elite CEO of the Year 2016

Frankly, I am very flattered and deeply honoured to be recognised in this way. This is especially rewarding as individuals cannot apply for the award, a research team has to ‘discover’ the candidates based on their work and success. Winning any such award always depends on a team of people and the team at Aspect is the best I have worked with over more than 30 years of managing companies. Their motivation, dedication and expertise makes it easy for any CEO to manage a business.

The challenges at the helm of the business

Aspect started as a ‘cloud’ company some 16 years ago. Way back, few understood the benefits but over the last 3 or 4 years, this has changed.

The fear, uncertainty and doubt associated with new ways of doing things has evaporated and there’s an overwhelming acceptance of cloud solutions and the benefits they bring. This has led to Aspect’s astonishing success with an increase in contracts for its AspectCTRM solution growing by 71% in 2015 over the prior year. The main challenge here is to maintain the momentum and continue this level of organic growth.

The second area is the development and exploitation of indirect channels to market. Many solution providers have partnerships but none, other than Aspect, are able to train others to sell and implement its solutions without the help of the vendor. Aspect has achieved this by deskilling the implementation process and thus shorting the time needed (and the costs) to implement what are very complex systems.

The final challenge concerns inorganic growth. Aspect has a program of planned acquisitions in the coming years and this will test the corporation’s ability to rapidly absorb new entities and technologies. And so, we have spent the past quarter reorganising to ensure we are ‘acquisition ready’.

Prior career background

I started in the IT industry back in 1979 and spent the first 11 years at the National Computing Centre (now NCC). I refer to this part of my career as my apprenticeship and I did computer operations, programming, systems analysis and design, project management and eventually I managed two of their business units. From here, I joined a series of US-based firms in senior management positions – Legent Corporation (systems management), Seer Technologies (application development environment), Point Information Systems (customer relationship management) and Youcentric (customer relationship management). I then joined Carnegie Information Systems (customer relationship management) as CEO. Almost all of these firms bought other firms and/or were sold and I gained a lot of experience in mergers and acquisitions. I joined Aspect in 2005 as CEO. Aspect is the toughest job I have had, but it’s also the best job I ever had. I think it was Confucius that said, ‘Find a job you love and you will never work another day in your life’. Many at Aspect feel the same way.


Aspect and its solutions appeal to commodity trading firms of all sizes but that wasn’t always the case. Aspect’s approach was to ‘avoid’ tier-1 clients – the large integrated majors, global trading firms and national energy companies. Why? Because each already had a solution and business there was drying up for the market leaders. Aspect focused on mid-tier clients where often the only ‘system’ in place was spreadsheets, very complex, easily-broken spreadsheets. A rich functional capability coupled with delivery via the cloud was perfect for such firms especially as lines of credit were increasingly difficult to secure and new regulations meant spreadsheets were no longer acceptable. This has now changed in the last two years as tier-1 firms are now turning to Aspect as its reputation grows for massively reducing the cost of commodity trading and risk management systems; hence, firms such as Sumitomo, Mitsubishi, Trafigura, BP, Hess, Aegean, Klesch and Gulf are now Aspect clients

Challenges in 2016 as a CEO of the company

As CEO, my main challenges concern our outsourcing program and ensuring we are ‘acquisition ready’. 

Aspect is constantly changing and the changes are often fundamental. In Q1 2016, Aspect outsourced all of its product development, infrastructure and quality assurance to India having spent many years with its development centre in Russia. The migration has just been completed but we have a challenge ahead to stabilise the processes, improve productivity, quality and provide more flexibility. The management team understands the challenge and I’m confident we will see it through.

Coupled with this, Aspect has just undergone a major reorganisation starting with the management team but effecting just about every team member. This was done to ensure that Aspect can quickly and effectively absorb new firms under our acquisitions programme, codenamed, ‘Project Acorn’. It means the roles and responsibilities have changed for many people at Aspect and, whilst this can be challenging, I am confident that each will ‘step up to the plate’ and succeed. Aspect has won many awards for its technology and innovative solutions. This all comes done to the team and I know how readily each will embrace the changes.

Industry based challenges and future plans

The commodity trading industry is under tremendous pressure right now with shrinking lines of credit, regulatory changes and the ultra-low price of many commodities. However, each of these pressures drive new clients to Aspect’s solutions. We are in the right place at the right time… by design.

This falls in line with my thoughts above concerning the challenges at Aspect, namely, continuing our exceptional organic growth through direct and, more recently, indirect sales channels plus driving our acquisitions program

It’s difficult to explain to others about life at Aspect but employees often use the word ‘family’. Aspect people feel like part of a family and Aspect always puts family first … even when some employees forget that their immediate family is more important than their ‘Aspect family’. We do things differently but that’s beyond the scope of this article. We run a meritocracy. Aspect is blind to gender, race, creed or colour. Three of the four members of the Executive Management team are women – no ‘glass ceiling’ here – and this balance continues throughout the company. The London office has 22 members of staff with 12 countries of origin represented and more than 12 languages spoken. Aspect only ‘sees’ contribution and capability in people and that drives all of us forward.

Company: Aspect
Name: Steve Hughes
Email: [email protected]
Web Address:
Address: Castlewood House, 77 – 91 New Oxford Street,
London WC1A 1DG, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 632 0170

Volkswagen Posts Growth of 5.4 Per Cent in April
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Volkswagen Posts Growth of 5.4 Per Cent in April

As Europe’s biggest car manufacturer, Volkswagen was amongst those affected, and its growth figures slowed dramatically. The motoring behemoth had to fight tooth and nail to maintain its supremacy, and fight it undoubtedly did.

Yet even for this giant, it has been hard to reach the dizzying heights of their pre-2008 success – until April 2016. Now, it looks like everything is about to change for the better. With growth once more beginning to soar, we look at what’s ahead for Volkswagen…

An Impressive Growth

April 2016 was a great month for car manufacturers across Europe, and Volkswagen was right there with them to ride the wave of success. With car sales returning to growth for the first time since September 2015, they booked an extraordinary return to form, with an increase of 5.4 per cent.

This mirrored the trend seen across much of the continent, with new passenger car registrations in the European Union rising by an astonishing 9 per cent over the course of the year. With 1.3 million vehicles recorded, this marks the most impressive performance since April 2008.

Carmakers across the board contributed to these figures, with the Brussels based Association of European Carmakers proving eager to share this record result with the rest of the world.

The Rise in Volkswagen Sales

Volkswagen is Europe’s biggest car manufacturer, and with April’s growth figures in mind, it looks clear that it’s set to maintain its place on the top spot.

Overall sales rose a fantastic 5.4 per cent over a 12-month period, with sales up 2.7 per cent in April alone. The Audi and Porsche brands that shelter beneath its umbrella recorded more impressive figures yet, with growth in the double digits for each.

This means that the group’s overall market share sits at a steady 25.2 per cent.

A Full House for Europe

The growth in Volkswagen sales and the motoring industry can be seen across the board in Europe, with all five of its major economies relaying sales increases. The rise in registrations was greatest in Spain, coming in at 21.2 per cent, with Italy, Germany, France, and the UK posting scores of 11.5 per cent, 8.4 per cent, 7.1 per cent and 2 per cent respectively.

In a statement released by the ACEA, the body said that: “The EU passenger car market posted strong results again, marking the 32nd consecutive month of growth. This is the highest result in volume terms since April 2008, just before the economic crisis hit the automotive industry.”

With Volkswagen and its peers already in the process of offering retail incentives, and set to launch an array of new and exciting products for 2016, it seems that Europe and its biggest car manufacturer are set to take the world by storm once more.

Winckworth Sherwood Advises Genesis on Innovative Development and Funding Partnership
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Winckworth Sherwood Advises Genesis on Innovative Development and Funding Partnership

LINQ will support housing associations in the development and financing of mixed tenure housing including affordable, shared ownership, market sale and market rent. Genesis will provide full property management services to LINQ.

LINQ was launched in March 2016 with the purchase of its first long term housing assets from Genesis. The market rent units are drawn from two multi-tenure schemes in London – 50 flats at Zenith House, Colindale and a further 27 flats in the Mildmay regeneration scheme, Shoreditch. All are new units which will be held by LINQ for market rental on a long term basis.

By acquiring and holding rental properties on a long term basis, LINQ provides true off balance sheet treatment for the properties acquired – without the need for guarantees from existing corporate entities.

Elizabeth Froude, Executive Director of Finance, Genesis Housing Association said:

“I expect this new model to be of great interest to the social housing sector because it offers an efficient long term funding structure that can be used to de-risk development programmes of housing associations or house builders. This model helps to address many of the financial challenges around delivery faced by housing associations and other developers in terms of valuations, loan covenants and restrictions arising out of their existing funding arrangements.”

LINQ will, going forward, acquire properties from a range of housing associations, local government and developers.
Louise Leaver, Partner and Head of Housing Finance at Winckworth Sherwood said:

“Housing associations and local authorities have great potential to develop and manage properties on a long-term basis, but restrictions and covenants in existing loan portfolios can make it challenging to realise that potential. This project required great teamwork from all parties involved and is an exciting step in unlocking the sector’s ability to develop and manage properties in a sustainable, responsible and long-term way.”

Winckworth Sherwood advised Genesis on various aspects of the new funding model, including Corporate law (Partner James Duncan), Property law (Partner Andrew Murray) and Finance law (Louise Leaver).

SpaceZero Holds Majority share as Preferred Partner in Country’s PSBP Schools
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

SpaceZero Holds Majority share as Preferred Partner in Country’s PSBP Schools

Having recently bid on four out of five PF2 batches across the UK, SpaceZero secured contracts with two schemes – one in the North East region, and another in the North West. Out of the country’s 45 PSBP PF2 schools, SpaceZero has bid on, completed work with, or is currently working on 24 – more than any other interior architecture company in the country.

In December, Hylton Castle Primary School, Sunderland, became the first government funded PSBP PF2 school to open its doors, welcoming students to transformed education environments, complete with furniture, fixtures and equipment specially designed to improve learning outcomes and inspire students for generations to come.

SpaceZero has also bid on, completed work with, or is currently working on 27 per cent of the 208 PSBP1 capital batch schools in the UK.

The most recent of the PSBP1 batches SpaceZero has secured is on the Isle of Wight – the last PSBP1 batch planned for construction in the UK.

Wayne Taylor, managing director of SpaceZero, said:

“We’re pleased to have been selected as the FFE consultancy on such a high proportion of schools under the PSBP schemes which, like SpaceZero, create learning environments that set new standards in the education sector – but the work has not been without its challenges.

“Designing and developing education spaces that are intelligent, provide long-term flexibility and are inspirational while functional is something that’s been part of SpaceZero’s ethos since we won our first education contract in 2009, though some members of the team were working on education projects seven years prior to this. We’ll be working closely with the architects contracted to these batches to ensure we meet the individual needs of each school, adapting our designs to their core values to ensure students enjoy stimulating educational, social and recreational facilities that promote positive learning outcomes.”

The Priority Schools Building Programme was established in 2011 to address the needs of the schools across the country that are in poor condition and require urgent repair. Through the programme, the majority of schools highlighted as needing to be rebuilt or refurbished to transform working and environmental conditions will be funded by the Education Funding Agency (EFA). However, under the PSBP scheme, the EFA will also deliver five batches of 46 schools through ‘PF2’, the government’s new approach to private finance.

PSBP2 – a further phase of the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), with a value of around £2 billion – is expected to launch later this year.

High net Worth Individuals’ Investment Mistakes
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

High net Worth Individuals’ Investment Mistakes

In the survey carried out by deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations, the number one cited mistake (27 per cent) was a failure to properly diversify portfolios.

The other errors were not having started to invest earlier (23 per cent); focusing on the short-term (20 per cent); being emotional over investments (15 per cent); and not having kept enough cash in reserve (8 per cent). 7 per cent did not know or did not respond.

A sample of 652 deVere clients in the UK, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the U.S. who have investable assets of more than £1m (or the equivalent) were polled.

deVere Group CEO and founder, Nigel Green comments:

“All serious investors, including myself, have made previous investment mistakes that could have been easily avoided.

“It is almost universally recognised that seeking professional independent financial advice allows you to avoid most of the common mistakes that have been flagged up by high net worth investors in this poll.

“All this could make it sound like investing is somewhat perilous. Yet nothing could be further from the truth – not investing is probably more dangerous over the longer-term. This is evidenced by the fact that most of the world’s wealthiest people are themselves dedicated investors. It is just a question of being sensible, taking proper advice and, where possible, learning lessons from others to avoid the obvious mistakes. This is why we conducted this poll.”

Of the poll’s results, he says:

“Ensuring your portfolio is properly diversified is one of the fundamentals of successful investing. Yet it is surprising how many people fail to do this. Having a well-diversified portfolio across asset classes, sectors and regions means you are best-placed to mitigate risks and best-placed to take advantage of important opportunities.

“All too often even experienced investors focus on the short term heavily and there are many disadvantages to this. Typically, a short-term investment strategy involves considerably higher risks, compared to investing over a longer period. Other pitfalls of a short horizon include that investors can often sell a quality investment too early due to over focusing on short-term valuation metrics. Alternatively, they may sell an investment if it drops in the short term, meaning that they would then miss out on it potentially growing steadily in the longer term with increasing returns.”

He continues:

“Stock market performance is fairly predictable over the longer-term – they usually go up. For this reason, investing in equities is recognised globally as one of the optimum ways to accumulate wealth over long periods. If you put off investing you are likely to miss out on the long-term benefits you could have been gaining.

“Making decisions based on heartfelt emotions and loyalty are admirable traits in most parts of life – but not when it comes to investing. Investment decisions based on pure emotions, such as fear, greed, or the desire to follow the crowd, amongst others, can be disastrous. Objectivity is key.

“Finally, not having kept some powder dry is another common error highlighted by many investors. It is always advisable to have some cash at the ready and be prepared to use it should a clear trend and/or opportunity present it itself.”

Investing in Crowdfunding Projects
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Investing in Crowdfunding Projects

“If I were to describe Lendified in my own words, I would describe us as a lending technology company, and our primary focus being originally on the provision of working capital loans to small businesses in Canada and secondly to now more broadly supporting financial services companies seeking credit risk review process enhancements and efficiencies globally. Our platform provides us with a tremendous amount of opportunities through a variety of applications to generate service/subscriber-based revenues, while maintaining a stable base of revenue through short-term lending to the small business market all across Canada, actually using the same portal/credit adjudication process tools we now are licencing”.

Although early in the development of their licencing model, Lendified’s perhaps more interesting area of revenue generation is this services aspect of supporting, enhancing and streamlining credit risk analysis and SME lending activities for other financial services institutions. “This model can be used for other institutions to use and analyse the credit performance of small businesses for strategic benefit – like for insurance companies, leasing companies, trust companies, banks and just about every firm that’s analysing SME credit these days”.

Another unique aspect of Lendified, is the wealth of experience they can provide their customers. Both Clark and Wright, spent 30 years with the Bank of Nova Scotia, which is one of the Canadian ‘Big 5’ banks. During this time, they held executive positions in operations, client-facing sales businesses, and broader general management responsibilities, both domestically and abroad, with Lendified being born out of the awareness of the SME segment not being served well in the Canadian market and to some extent ignored by the “Big 5”. Canada is by no means exceptional in this area, and this is a prevailing issue across many markets.

From their experience of working in a major bank, they’re very aware that small business lending can be a difficult area to achieve acceptable returns because of its cost structures. The fintech industry in general, and certainly Lendified, however, without legacy systems and overhead, has developed a business platform that holds the per-customer cost to 10 and maybe 5% of the cost that traditional institutions incur to review and adjudicate credit with the same output. And additionally, models like the Lendified model are built with significant scalability. And as Clark indicated, “banks are very keen to maintain deposits to help strengthen their capital base, but are shy in terms of providing that same customer access to credit because of the cost of doing so”.

As a company operating in the ever-evolving fintech industry, the business is also built on having a combination of highly innovative technology and data science skills. It is fundamental for them that they can design and build the tools necessary to adjudicate the credit with the same (or better) outcomes of portfolio performance. This process, simply-speaking, involves the gathering of data, and deciphering that data to draw conclusions based on historical performance on what will happen in the future. Building out the model to ever-increasing capability and increasing amounts of data-input is critical to its developing technology. “Behind our products and services is a team build on a variety of core skills to ensure delivery of the most advanced use of technology, the best possible coding to drive our decisions and a methodology to reduce the friction in the customer experience. More specifically in the fintech industry, having a very capable skillset is crucial”.

Being successful in this industry is an ongoing process, so companies in this space must constantly have their eye on any emerging developments in the industry. Recently, Wright attended the “Lendit conference” in San Francisco, which brings together all the major players in the financial technology sector. During this year’s conference, 4500 people attended, whereas last year’s had 2500 and the year before had only 800 – a clear testament to the direction the industry is moving, with more and more desire for involvement. During that conference, one of the main points addressed was the urgency in which companies need to move to gain traction in their particular product application. There is no doubt that the technology is constantly advancing, with windows of opportunity becoming tighter.

Funding costs for these new lending businesses can be challenging – the cost of capital being potentially high and dependent on many factors. “For us, crowdfunding may or may not play a role in our development. Certainly it is important to be aware that crowdfunding is both a source of debt capital and equity, and the term seems to be very liberally used as of late. Generally speaking, I think conceptually, the process has been great for companies who are in start-up mode. Interestingly in Canada, the incubator process and investment interest has been been quite strong with crowdfunding becoming a successful source of equity capital in the fintech marketplace. Such is the popularity of this particular type of funding, that I would argue that it’s even harder to find secondary capital than it is to find start-up capital”.

“On the whole, crowdfunding has the benefit of attracting smaller investors. However, there is still an uncertainty in terms of capital coming back given its infancy. It will be interesting to see when these investments start to show returns. When they do, and a general understanding of what the average length of time is for these investors, we will get a better feel for its permanency as an investment class.”

Looking further down the road, the fintech industry is only going to grow and the future looks very bright for companies like Lendified. As Clark notes “although we are clearly aware that the future is unpredictable, particularly in the financial services world, there’s no doubt that there is huge innovation being developed and opportunity to leverage that. It is certainly an exciting place to be.

Company: Lendified
Address: 330 Bay St #306, Toronto, ON M5H 2S8, Canada
Phone: +1 844-451-3594

Infrastructure Fund Manager of the Year 2015 - USA
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Infrastructure Fund Manager of the Year 2015 – USA

Founded in 2012, I Squared Capital has offices in New York, Houston, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong and Singapore, offering a truly global reach and a wealth of investing experience. The firm invests in energy, utilities and transportation sectors, and seeks to invest in India, China, North America and Europe. It seeks to invest between $125 million and $400 million. Many of the firm’s executives have strong experience in investing with major corporations previously, ensuring that investors receive strong, risk averse returns.

Recent developments include, its through its ISQ Global Infrastructure Fund, the acquisition of Lincoln Clean Energy (Lincoln), a developer, owner, and operator of wind and solar projects in North America. The transaction includes an operating solar facility in southern New Jersey and Lincoln’s development and asset management platforms, including a robust development pipeline. Lincoln plans to deploy $250 million in equity investments through 2018. Founded in 2009, Lincoln has developed more than $1.5 billion of clean energy projects totaling 1,000 megawatts across North America. The company has assembled a team of veterans from the power industry.

Declan Flanagan, Founder and CEO, is the former CEO of Airtricity North America. He went on to become CEO of E.ON Climate & Renewables following the 2007 acquisition of Airtricity North America. Declan has led the deployment of over $5 billion in capital in wind and solar projects in the U.S. and Europe and is a former board member of both the American Wind Energy Association and the Solar Energy Industry Association. The Lincoln team includes 18 professionals with over 150 combined years of experience in the renewable energy industry. The wind and solar industries have received a regulatory boost in the United States following the recent extension of the 30 percent investment tax credit for solar energy and the 2.3-cent-per-kilowatt-hour production tax credit for wind power. “This is an opportune time to invest in the renewable energy sector and we are delighted to partner with Lincoln’s high caliber management team, with its proven track record in the development and management of clean energy projects.” said Adil Rahmathulla, Partner at I Squared Capital. “Lincoln’s operational experience and track record, combined with I Squared Capital funding and expertise, positions Lincoln to become a premier renewables generation company in the U.S.” Commenting on the transaction, Declan Flanagan, CEO of Lincoln Clean Energy said “The Lincoln team is extremely excited to work with I Squared Capital. This partnership allows us to enhance both execution and value creation while we capitalize on the tremendous market opportunity before us.”

Company: I Squared Capital
Address: 410 Park Avenue, Suite 830, New York, NY 10022
Email: [email protected]

Investment Outlook for Q2
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Investment Outlook for Q2

Problematic liquidity issues in bond markets

Conditions in the first quarter created a perfect storm. The way spreads widened in corporate and high yield bonds suggested that a re-pricing of systemic risk was happening, and we were left with a sense that there was possibly something out there relating to a bank or a hedge fund that we were unaware of. So our recommendations at this time are a bit of a balancing act.

As a result of regulation and investment banks’ diminished desire for risk-taking, liquidity conditions in bond markets have become problematic, and this tends to exaggerate price movement responses to bad news. Both credit market weakness and bank share performance were worrying: for example, Barclays lost nearly a third of its value before finding a floor, whilst Deutsche Bank shares were moving 10% a day in both directions.

Fears of a Chinese hard landing and banking crisis

Various causes have been suggested. Fears of a Chinese hard landing and a possible banking crisis unsettled both Chinese shares (which lost a quick 20%) and international markets. We will have to get used to lower growth figures from China – its GDP grew at 6.8% in Q4 2015, the lowest since 2009. It was, however, encouraging to see that services and consumption compensated for weak exports and manufacturing, which is compatible with China’s move towards a domestic demand economy and becoming less export dependent.

There were concerns about the prospects of a substantial Renminbi devaluation, arising from a poorly communicated change in how the currency is now to be measured. Markets were also unsettled by speculation that the US economy was slowing and the risks of a US recession were increasing, while equity markets also chose to be unsettled by falling oil prices. This seemed extraordinary, as rising oil prices would be net only the oil producers, while lower prices are good for consumers and the global economy.

Rebound in oil – is the low over?

The rebound in oil has helped stabilise market sentiment, and price movements in March suggest that the low is over. Most commodity prices became heavily oversold in the first quarter and it is not unreasonable to expect a gradual recovery in 2016. However, for commodities as a whole we are only suggesting a bounce from an oversold position and not the start of a new bull market. The medium-term outlook is still constrained by excess supply in many commodities, and this situation is likely to persist for a few years yet.

The outlook for 2016?

While some experts believe that Quantitative Easing (QE) and Central Bank interventions have merely in inflated asset prices, markets will continue to be underpinned by accommodative policies.

The minutes of the March Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting were more dovish than expected. The Committee noted that US economic activity has been expanding moderately, fuelled by an improving housing sector, consumers spending their profits from low oil prices, and improvements in the labour market. Although there are weak spots, such as business investment and exports, the US economy is performing relatively well.

We were interested in the comment in the minutes that “global economic and financial developments continue to pose risks”. Whilst this is true, the Fed is in no hurry to raise interest rates a second time and we do not think they’ll be able to deliver the four interest rate rises they alluded to in December. Just one further rise this year now looks most likely.
This will obviously support market sentiment, and with wages picking up, unemployment falling and household debt lower relative to disposable income, US consumers are in good shape – and they’re a bigger driver of economic growth than Chinese output.

It is just over seven years since the S&P 500 lows in March 2009. The US has substantially outperformed the rest of the world over this period, especially since 2011. This trend may continue in the short-term but can’t do so indefinitely, especially as the US Dollar should rise further in response to positive interest rates and the strength of the economy. Valuations have become a little stretched and long-term cyclically adjusted price-earnings ratios are above their long-term average. The earnings outlook has also deteriorated, so it’s likely that, over the longer term, the US will start to underperform cheaper markets.

Budgeting for Brexit

The EU Referendum makes it difficult to be positive about short-term prospects in the UK. Brexit fears will adversely affect investment, growth and job creation. From a long-term economic standpoint it probably doesn’t matter whether the UK remains in Europe or not, but the short-term rami cations of a ‘leave’ vote are worrisome. The exit negotiation could take up to ve years, while another SNP independence referendum could result in further Sterling weakness.
There seems to be a degree of complacency about the vote and a consensus that a vote to stay in is likely. We don’t necessarily disagree with this view, but we’ve made sure we’re underweight in UK equities and Sterling. It’s not surprising that the UK’s GDP growth target was revised down to 2% for 2016 by the Office for Budget Responsibility in March’s Budget. It’s difficult to argue with Chancellor George Osbourne’s assessment that the UK faces a “dangerous cocktail of risk” up to the Brexit vote.

In Europe the recent European Central Bank (ECB) monetary easing package contained some interesting measures, buying highly rated corporate bonds for the first time and announcing a new long-term refinancing package. This will allow banks to borrow at negative interest rates, i.e. they are being paid to borrow and hopefully encouraged to lend more. The signs are encouraging and credit demand has picked up.

Overall, data points to a modest recovery, although most recent estimates for 2016 GDP growth are nearer 11⁄2% than 2%. Similarly to the US, consumer spending should prove resilient, so with some wage growth coming through we find it relatively easy to be overweight in Europe. However we are mindful that a vote for Brexit would prove nearly as problematic for Europe as for the UK.

Japan’s economic performance in 2015 was weaker than expected, especially consumption. Consumers remain cautious and there are on-going concerns about Abenomics. Further growth measures are likely by the summer. There is even the possibility that the next consumption tax hike might be cancelled, which would benefit sentiment. We are a little concerned that the Nikkei has not rallied as quickly as other major markets from their recent lows, but we’ll persist with our modest exposure for the time being.

The Bank of Japan announced during the quarter that they would be joining the negative interest rate club; this has unsettled short-term sentiment. However, it’s always important to differentiate between the economy and the stock market. The latter is cheap relative to other major markets and trades on a forward P/E ratio of 14x. The greater emphasis on corporate governance, resulting in higher dividends and increased share buybacks, is helpful.
We entered 2016 with our asset allocation at a near benchmark weighting to risk assets. Although the sell-off has proven to be a short-term buying opportunity, we decided not to go overweight in equities because the ‘feel’ of the market was as fragile as early 2009. We were not tempted to increase pressure by the news background and liquidity issues, especially as the extent of the move has seriously damaged longer-term chart patterns.

Keeping a balanced outlook

As stated earlier, we don’t believe the outlook is as bad as January price movements suggest. We still believe equities will outperform, central banks will remain accommodative and interest rates will stay low. However, we are also mindful that the benefits of declining oil prices on inflation are ending, so the inflation outlook could deteriorate quite rapidly.
We believe we should get another opportunity to increase equity exposure in the first half of 2016. In a low growth environment markets are particularly vulnerable to surprises, and the geopolitical backdrop is not that constructive. The Middle East situation, the European refugee crisis, the rise of populism and Brexit could all cause a wobble on the tightrope.

Since sentiment has been damaged, markets may require evidence that recent recessionary fears were unfounded and will now need to consolidate. They are therefore likely to trend sideways, at best, in the short term. We’ll remain vigilant and look for opportunities; for example, we are considering India and the global banking sector as possible future investments because, whatever the level of uncertainty, there are always opportunities.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Publishes Annual Business Plan
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Publishes Annual Business Plan

The seven themes are: pensions, financial crime and anti-money laundering, wholesale financial markets, advice, innovation and technology, firms’ culture and governance, and the treatment of existing customers.

Tracey McDermott, acting Chief Executive of the FCA commented:

“It is our job to make markets work well. Ensuring effective and proportionate regulation which tackles the problems of the past without inhibiting developments of the future is at the heart of what we do. Over the next year we will continue to embed this sustainable approach to regulation in everything we do.

“The majority of our resources remain devoted to our core business and today we have set out the outcomes we want our work to achieve. Transparency is important to us, and this plan will give all stakeholders an understanding of our focus for the year ahead.”

The Business Plan details a number of pieces of work across the breadth of the FCA’s responsibilities that will help the FCA achieve their desired outcomes. As well as ensuring their rules are sustainable, these include launching a market study looking at retirement outcomes, implementing the recommendations of the Financial Advice Market Review, developing a policy to extend the Senior Managers and Certification Regime to all FSMA firms, supervising the major UK FICC benchmarks and launching the “Regulatory Sandbox” to give firms a safe space to test innovative products and services.

Alongside its business plan, the FCA also published its fees consultation paper for 2016/17. The FCA’s annual funding requirement for the year will be £519.3 million, an increase of 7.8% on the previous year. The increase is due to the inclusion of Consumer Credit in operating costs for the first time. Excluding Consumer Credit, the FCA budget has reduced by £7.6 million.

Financial Services Sector Aims for Cultural Change
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Financial Services Sector Aims for Cultural Change

Leading talent mapping and pipelining specialist Armstrong Craven is working with a number of clients in the sector which are keen to widen their focus beyond gender diversity targets.

The shift in emphasis towards deeper cultural change was highlighted in this week’s Gadhia Report which recommended a series of positive actions the financial services sector can take to improve inclusion in the workplace.
These included providing technology that supports flexible working, ensuring pay structures are transparent, implementing good flexible working practices and investing in supportive people managers.

Rachel Davis, Armstrong Craven’s Deputy CEO, said:

“Gender diversity has been a major priority within the financial services sector for some time and last year’s Davies Report ensured it remains at the top of the HR agenda.

“A number of banks are already targeted with providing a diverse candidate slate for every hire with KPIs linked to bonus. This is increasingly being extended to include line managers as well.

“Where we are seeing a lot of interest at the moment is around the need for insight to help firms take a much bigger step and actually change the culture of their organisation.

“For example, a lot of the issues previously facing women in the workplace now apply to parents – irrespective of gender – and those who care for ill or elderly relatives. Similarly, there is the need to ensure great inclusion for the LBGT community.

“The work we do helping organisations have a more diverse culture also extends to diversity of thought – ensuring businesses embrace people from different sectors and backgrounds.

“The financial services industry is still some way behind consumer organisations, but there is serious evidence that an industry dogged by a reputation for previously fostering a macho culture is committed to change.”

An example of Armstrong Craven’s diversity work saw it partner with a global financial services client which was struggling to attract and retain female leaders in corporate roles.

The firm engaged with over 200 senior female professionals to understand their career drivers and the challenges they faced. They also captured views on the client as a brand and a prospective employer.

The result was a research report that informed the client about how it could become a more attractive employer to the targeted cohort. The organisation responded by implementing a number of changes to its employee proposition to improve its prospects of engaging with and attracting the best talent.

Armstrong Craven’s work included building a pipeline of senior females for immediate and longer-term recruitment.

The Waitrose Effect: A Waitrose Supermarket Can Double Your Property Price
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

The Waitrose Effect: A Waitrose Supermarket Can Double Your Property Price

It’s well known that the close proximity of a house to sought-after amenities can help increase a property’s price potential. Previous research by eMoov found that a mainstream supermarket, such as Waitrose, was the second most important amenity to UK buyers (30%) – beaten only by the British corner shop.

Waitrose opened its first supermarket in Streatham back in 1955. Since then the average house price has increased by over 11,000% and now tops £461,000 in Streatham and £220,000 nationwide.

The allure of a Waitrose is clearly more appealing to Britain’s upper class than a discount store such as Aldi, with one resident of Poynton in Cheshire quoted last week saying “I thought we were making real progress as a community with the opening of Waitrose in 2012, however with the opening of Aldi I feel as though we are taking a step back into the lower class.”

But how beneficial is the presence of a Waitrose store to the surrounding areas and does its middle to upper-class image rub off on property prices?

eMoov’s research found property surrounding Waitrose stores costs £456,000 on average, more than double the UK average of £221,254. The most expensive? Where else but Kensington in Chelsea, where the average property around the Waitrose store will set you back nearly £2.6m.

But it isn’t just London’s prestigious areas that are benefiting from the Waitrose effect. The property surrounding the Waitrose supermarket in Wolverhampton has the lowest average house price across all UK stores at £118,000. However, over the last year prices in the area have increased by 9% in value, compared to just 6% in Wolverhampton as a whole.

Waitrose Southsea in Portsmouth has also enjoyed an increase in surrounding property values of 5% in the last year, despite the area as a whole only increasing by 3% in the same timeframe. Waitrose’s Stirling store in Scotland has seen surrounding property outperform the local market by 1% in the last year, as has Waitrose Lincoln.

Founder and CEO of, Russell Quirk, commented:
“In a market as competitive as the UK’s, savvy home sellers will use any bargaining chip they can to justify a higher asking price and, close proximity to a desirable amenity, will always act as such a chip.
Although Waitrose positions their stores in more affluent areas, it is clear that the presence of a Waitrose supermarket can influence surrounding property values in a positive manner and in many cases, can see homeowners double the price potential of their property.

Waitrose is a bi-word for ‘well to do’ and therefore for those that place a high importance on such an image, a walk to the local Waitrose justifies a higher asking price to similar nearby properties.”

8% tax cut for Residential Property Funds Following UK Budget
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

8% tax cut for Residential Property Funds Following UK Budget

This is set to have particular impact on the UK’s regional investors who will see average tax payments jump up, on average, 2.5 times. However, whilst most residential investors battled large tax hikes, Property Funds received a significant and welcome boost with a substantial 8% tax cut announced.

During the Budget speech, Chancellor Osborne cut capital gains tax from 28% to 20% for higher rate tax payers and from 18% to 10% for basic rate tax payers, although gains from residential sales were notably excluded. Property Funds, however, are set to benefit from the reductions as gains arise from the sale of shares rather than the sale of property.

It appears that such funds are now set to become the investment of choice for British investors still wanting to access residential property as an asset class. Not only enjoying the reduction in CGT, these vehicles are also unaffected by the controversial changes in mortgage interest relief. Alongside this, as large investors, they can strategically capitalise from the commercial rate of Stamp Duty which applies to buildings of 6 or more properties. Whilst the Budget has seen an increase of commercial SDLT to 5%, this remains significantly lower than the new residential rates of SDLT.

“These tax exemptions and, specifically, the 8% tax cut will be a real bonus for UK investors into our latest fund, London Central Apartments III (LCA III). The Government has recognised the importance of the PRS in maintaining the UK’s position as an international business hub and a provider of domestic housing. The reduction for funds falls in line will this strategy, encouraging investment through professional vehicles and investment companies rather than through private BTL landlords. It represents a step in the right direction in terms of future regulation of the PRS sector.” comments Naomi Heaton, CEO of London Central Portfolio (LCP) whose Property Fund is currently open for subscriptions.

Another attraction for British investors, says Heaton, is the fund’s eligibility for Government approved, tax efficient savings schemes. UK investors can access LCA III through their SIPPs, SSASs and by using their new increased ISA allowance of £20,000. So far, 45% of all UK subscriptions have come through these schemes and, on the whole, UK investors currently make up 52% of the fund’s total subscriptions. Thanks to the Chancellor’s tax reductions, LCP now expect a notable uptick.

“Historically of appeal to the hands-off foreign investor, interest in LCA III from British investors was already growing. UK subscriptions into this fund presently stand 30% higher than during our first fund, launched in 2007. With the increasingly attractive tax landscape for Property Funds, we fully anticipate a further inflow of capital from UK domestic investors.”

LCA III is a listed investment company that invests exclusively in the mainstream Private Rented Sector in Prime Central London. With the flexibility of choosing your own ticket size, from £25,000, it is targeting returns in excess of 10% per annum over a five-year period.

Response to the UK Budget by EQ Investors
FinanceInfrastructure and Project Finance

Response to the UK Budget by EQ Investors

Lifetime ISA – a great deal for the under-40s

On the face of it, a great idea. Pensions are much maligned whereas ISAs are viewed positively by many. This new product provides a 25% tax bonus for those saving for their first home or retirement from age 60. The big but is that only £4,000 p.a. can be saved and only if you are under 40 when you start. Our understanding is that you will be able to hold investments within this product as well as cash; this could be a great opportunity for simplified advice providers such as our own Simply EQ.
Lifetime ISAs can be accessed for other purposes, but you lose the bonus plus associated interest/growth will be returned to HMRC – and a 5% levy. Those looking to use the money to buy a first home will have their budget set at £450,000 with no allowance for higher property prices in London. Interesting for some will be the idea that you may be able to borrow part of the value in a similar way to the 401k plans in the US.
But do we really need yet another ISA? What happened to the simple tax regime that we need for ‘the next generation’?

Lifetime ISA impact on pensions

To us, this looks like a future model for pension saving. There’s a good chance we’ll see the contribution limits increase in the future. There’s no facility to pay in more than £4k or take employer contributions at the moment. This would be the logical next step. The fact you can’t access until age 60 points to a likely state pension age of 70 and resetting of expectations on when people can realistically retire.

Increase in standard ISA allowance

Reaffirming that the ISA is very much George Osborne’s product of choice, in addition to the new Lifetime ISA the standard ISA allowance will increase to £20,000 from April 2017, an increase of over 30% on the amount that can be saved tax-free every year. A couple under 40 could now save up to £40,000 into ISAs, £80,000 into pensions & £10,000 into Lifetime ISA in one year – that’s £130,000 of tax-free saving in one tax year.

CGT drop may bring a windfall for Osborne

The Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rates cut, to 10% for basic rate payers and 20% for higher-rate are welcome. It needed to be cut radically before it dried up completely – a classic case of the higher a tax goes, the more incentive there is to avoid it. These changes should result in more revenue for the Government.
Current rates of CGT will remain for gains on residential property and carried interest, equivalent to an 8% surcharge. This will provide an incentive to invest in companies over property. Private residence relief will continue so that an individual’s home will be exempt from CGT.

Entrepreneurs’ relief will be extended to long term investors in unlisted companies. Gains of newly issued shares in unlisted companies purchased on or after 17 March 2016 will be subject to CGT at 10%, provided they are held for a minimum of 3 years from 6 April 2016 and subject to a new lifetime limit of £10 million of gains.

Personal allowance and higher rate threshold rise, to £11,500 and £45,000 respectively

As we urged in our pre-Budget wish list, the move to increase these is welcome. This will take more than half a million people who should never have been paying the higher rate out of that higher tax band altogether.

Social impact investing

Good to see that the homelessness is also being tackled with funding for the ‘Rough Sleeping Social Impact Bond’ doubling from £5m to £10m.