Category: Funds

house prices
ArticlesCash ManagementReal Estate

September Revealed as The Best Time to Buy A House

house prices

September Revealed as The Best Time to Buy A House

New research suggests the stamp duty payment holiday isn’t the only reason Brits can make a saving on a property this month.

Watch and sunglasses specialist, Tic Watches, has conducted research and worked with experts to reveal the best time of year to find a bargain for high value products including homes, cars and holidays. The experts have compared prices to the peak time of year shoppers are searching for and buying products most frequently, to highlight how much people could really save with the right timing.

Here are the best times of year to find a deal:

January – Watches and sunglasses
  • Peak search time: 22nd-28th December
  • Potential savings: 70%

The January sales are a great time to pick up bargains on fashion items such as watches and sunglasses. Danny Richmond, Managing Director of Tic Watches, said: “For watches, the cheapest times of year to buy are generally Black Friday and January. This is when we run our biggest sales with discounts of up to 70%.

“For sunglasses, January sees the biggest discounts, of up to 40%. This is because it’s the period of lowest demand for summer products, so it’s a great time to get a bargain!”

February – A wedding
  • Peak search time: 28th July-3rd August
  • Potential savings: 50%

February sits in the middle of the wedding low season, which runs from November to April. This is generally seen as an undesirable time to get married, so as a result there are huge discounts available. In some cases, you can have a Saturday wedding in winter for half the price of the same in high season.

March – New cars
  • Peak search time: 10th-16th March
  • Potential savings: 25%

For new cars, the best time to buy is usually March and September because of bi-annual targets, although deals are to be had at the end of each quarter, depending on individual targets and stock availability.

April – Mattresses
  • Peak search time: 29th September-5th October
  • Potential savings: 53%

Dale Gillespie, Marketing Director for bed and mattress retailer, Bed SOS, said: “Retailers  tend to release their new lineups in April, so early spring is the best time to find the biggest discounts. Buying in early April, you’ll find some great value deals as retailers clear old stock to make way for the new ranges.”

May – Winter shoes
  • Peak search time: 24th-30th November
  • Potential savings: 70%

Buying shoes out of season will allow you to find the best value deals. May is a great time for this as there will be discounts on winter footwear such as boots, wellies and walking shoes, allowing you to buy good quality products for a fraction of the price. Similarly, the best deals for summer footwear can be found in autumn and winter.

June – A gym membership
  • Peak search time: 29th December-4th January
  • Potential savings: 20%

The start of summer tends to offer some of the best deals on gym membership, with January being another good month for discounts. 

There are often plenty of deals available through voucher websites such as Hot UK Deals, but if you’re signing up in person, a handy tip is to go at the end of the month. Sales staff likely have targets to hit and could be open to negotiating if they want to get their bonus.

July – An engagement ring
  • Peak search time: 29th December-4th January
  • Potential savings: 50%

July to August is the peak of the wedding season, and with all the focus on weddings, sometimes you can find big discounts on engagement rings. Also, as it is not close to any big holidays, jewellers use this time to lure in consumers with discounts.

August – Holiday clothes
  • Peak search time: 30th June-6th July
  • Potential savings: 75%

With summer drawing to a close, retailers look to clear as much seasonal clothing stock as they can. 

This is a great time to snap up bargains on items such as swimwear and shorts, which can see discounts of up to 75% for bikinis and 43% for shorts, although it’s worth saying that stocks go quickly, and there will be less choice than earlier in the summer.

September – A house
  • Peak search time: 2nd-8th February
  • Potential savings: Subject to negotiation 

Ross Counsell, Director at property firm, Good Move, said: “The best time to buy is August or September. The majority of buyers start searching at the beginning of the year, waiting until the end of summer, when there are fewer looking, you’ll have less competition.

“You’re also more likely to get a better deal, as with fewer offers on the table, sellers may well be more likely to accept a lower price.” 

October – Home appliances
  • Peak search time: 15th-21st December
  • Potential savings: 44%

Many manufacturers unveil new models in October, so older products will often be discounted. For products such as fridges, buyers can save as much as 44% at this time. 

November – Technology
  • Peak search time: 24th-30th November
  • Potential savings: 50%

Claire Roach at Money Saving Central, said: “Without a doubt, November is the best month to get deals, particularly on tech. A lot of people make the mistake of waiting for Black Friday – when the better deals are likely to be earlier on in November because retailers try to compete with Black Friday giant, Amazon.

“eBay, in particular, was 2019’s best place for tech deals, and the people who waited until further on in the month were left disappointed. Prices weren’t any better and stock was limited on highly sought after items such as the Nintendo Switch.”

December – Used cars
  • Peak search time: 17th-23rd November
  • Potential savings: Subject to negotiation 

Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Expert for Euro Car Parts, said: “Nobody thinks about buying a car at this time of year, as most people will feel the pinch over the festive season. With some forward-planning though, December can be a great time to get a good deal on a used car. 

“This is purely because dealers will be more inclined to get sales under their belts and therefore may be more willing to offer you a deal or negotiate.” 

Danny Richmond, Managing Director of Tic Watches, said: “It’s clear from the research that bargains can be found all year round, with the best deals coming at periods of low demand.

“It’s always best to plan your purchases ahead of time to maximise your savings. Don’t wait until winter to buy your winter coat and consider buying a new phone at the start of November, rather than waiting until Black Friday. Doing so could mean huge savings!”

For more information on when the best savings can be found, visit: https://www.ticwatches.co.uk/blog/2020/03/when-youll-get-the-biggest-savings/

Retirement
ArticlesCash ManagementPensions

Forward Planning: 7 Easy Tips for Managing Your Retirement Savings

Retirement

Forward Planning: 7 Easy Tips for Managing Your Retirement Savings

We’ve all dreamed about a blissful retirement, spending more time with the people we love, in places we love and doing things we love. But is it just a pipe dream, or are you financially prepared for the life you wish to lead?

The good news is, it’s never too early to start preparing for retirement. Whilst most of us spend our twenties paying off student debt, as we approach our thirties, our financial priorities change somewhat as we’ve technically been there, done that, got the house, mortgage and family. It’s a time when we experience career progression, leading to promotions, bigger salaries and more funds that can be stashed away for later years.

To help you begin forward planning for the future, Alex MacEwen, expert at The Wealth Consultant has come up with 7 easy tips to get you on your way to achieving the retirement you imagine.

 

Before we begin, you might be thinking just how much stashing away should we do? According to research commissioned by finder.com:

– 55% of UK adults estimate that they will need £100,000 to live comfortably in retirement.

– Only 28% of people believe they are on target to meet this.

– The recommended amount for a comfortable retirement is between £260,000 – £445,000.

 

Shocked? Maybe it’s time to start planning the life you deserve.

 

1. Get independent financial advice

The future is an unknown – How should I save for retirement? Am I saving enough? How much will I need to live on? By enlisting the help of a professional, independent advisor, you will find the answers to all these vital questions. Your independent financial advisor will help you plan and make decisions based on your lifetime goals. They will advise on the various products that most suit your needs instead of pushing a product to boost their sales.

 

2. Create a realistic spending plan

Determine a budget by assessing your income, salary, interest, dividends, any rental income or child support. Define your outgoings, housing bills, utilities, transport, food, perhaps you are still paying off student loans. Decide on the things you really could sacrifice in the name of saving – do you need so many European city breaks? Are you still paying membership fees for facilities you never use because you keep forgetting to cancel the membership? Scrutinise your balance sheet and commit to saving as much as you can. Your future self will thank you, trust me.

 

3. Monitor old and new workplace pensions

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of landing a new job and just as easy to lose track of your old workplace pension! But it is important to keep track to know the value of your pension pot as this will help you decide whether it’s worth merging the old pension with the new one, and will give you an idea of how much you have saved for the future. It’s important to check the pension management fees as your previous employer will stop making contributions to old funds once you change jobs, the fees keep rolling, depleting your pension pot in the process. If you have a defined contribution pension, it is always worth checking where your pension funds have been invested, both from a risk level perspective and to ensure it aligns with your values.

 

4. Review investment performance

Keep track of your investments to ensure your portfolio is flourishing. If something isn’t working, figure out why. Perhaps it’s just a case of sitting tight and keeping your cool, or maybe time to diversify into a different sector or explore international opportunities to minimise losses. Remember, even if you have a few disappointing investments in your portfolio, a portfolio that is steadily increasing in value is always a sign that conditions are good.

 

5. Minimise retirement tax

After spending a lifetime working and sensibly putting money away for retirement, it’s important to ensure you keep as much as that money as possible. How? By ensuring your savings are as tax efficient as possible. This will mean working with an experienced financial advisor to ensure you are making use of all the tax allowances and pension tax relief.

 

6. Estate planning

Your inheritance and estate plan should set out your values and your intentions for how you wish your estate to be divided up and managed when the time comes. By focusing on your estate planning now, you can manage your tax obligations and safeguard the financial stability of those you hold dear. Inheritance matters can be challenging emotionally and financially, so it’s important to get professional advice and protect your wealth for future generations.

 

7. Save as much as you can

Save as much as you can, while you can. Achieving your dream retirement means making small short-term sacrifices in favour of saving for the future life you want. Remember, topping up your pension now means you will benefit from tax relief up to the annual limit of £40,000.

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FundsPensionsPrivate BankingWealth Management

UK Gender Income Gap for Single Pensioners Widens by Almost 20% in Four Years

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UK Gender Income Gap for Single Pensioners Widens by Almost 20% in Four Years

Men over the age of 75 receive £114 a week more from their pension income than women of the same age, according to a new report.

Single male pensioners receive up to 26 per cent more income than female pensioners, according to official data compiled by digital wealth advisory firm, Fintuity. The findings, analysed using data compiled by the Office for National Statistics, reveals that the gender pension gap between single men and women was only eight per cent in financial year (FY) 14/15, noting a rise of 18 per cent in four years.

In 2018/19, the average incomes for males, who were under 75 and 75 or over, were £441 and £429 per week, respectively during this period. At the same time, these figures were significantly lower for the same age groups of women: their average income per week reached £333 for those under 75, and £315 for 75 or over.

Furthermore, according to analysis from Fintuity, a woman in her 20s would need to save approximately £1,300 extra per year in order to close the gender pensions gap. However, this average amount increases depending on age. For example, the average 30 year old woman would require an additional £2,000, a 40 year old woman would require an additional £2,900 and a 50 year old woman would need to acquire a further £5,300 in order to close the gender pensions gap.

Gross income of single pensioners consists of different sources, including; benefit income, occupational pension income, personal pension income, investment income and earning income. According to the most recent pensions data, in FY 18/19 occupational pensions income for men was on average 35 per cent higher than women, compared to 23 per cent four years prior.

The personal pension income gap was 63 per cent in FY 18/19, compared to 46 per cent in FY 14/15, and, the investment and earnings income gap between male and female pensioners increased from five and eight per cent in FY 2014/15, to a massive 61 and 74 per cent respectively. Suggesting that women are not as capable of making savings and investments due to low income which results in lower level of pensions.

Ed Downpatrick, Strategy Director, Fintuity comments:

“Despite government initiatives to improve the pensions income for women, it’s clear that no amount of support programmes can make up for the occupational gender disparity in the UK. This problem needs to be tackled head-on, with correct support initiatives put in place to enable women to get a much fairer deal.

“With Fintuity, women and men of all ages can receive professional, yet affordable, financial advice in order to see what options are available to them so that they can manage their pension income. All of this can be conducted online, via our digital platform, making professional financial help more accessible than ever.”

For more information on how to effectively save, spend wisely, understand alternative income routes, or improve monthly pension payments, please visit: https://fintuity.com/ 

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market
MarketsReal Estate

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market

TurboTenant, an
all-in-one, free property management tool, releases its latest industry report
– “How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market.” This report
highlights key rental market indicators from March 2020 in cities throughout
the U.S. who have and are currently following social distancing and
stay-at-home orders.

You can read the report and how COVID-19 is Impacting the
Rental Market here.

TurboTenant’s new trend report analyzed 18 cities and four
key rental market indicators: total active listings, change in number of active
listings, total renter leads and the average number of renter leads per
property. While the full effects of the coronavirus on the housing market are
still unknown, delisting and new home listings steeply declined in March.
TurboTenant’s report found while some markets reflected those trends, others
had strong markets.

TurboTenant Highlights that New York, Denver and Houston all
experienced large net losses for new listings with New York holding the biggest
decrease at -65.17% while San Diego, Atlanta and Cleveland all experienced net
gains in listings. Lead growth in 14 of our cities, including Jersey City and
Denver, fluctuated throughout the month, but ended lower than they started. In
cities such as Boston, Houston and Milwaukee, leads were higher at the start of
April than at the beginning of March.

The reasoning for the report to be created is to give “insights
on how the rental market is starting to react to the COVID-19 pandemic,”
said Sarnen Steinbarth, TurboTenant Founder and Chief Executive Officer.
“With the peak rental season approaching, we want landlords to be prepared
and informed about the trends nationwide and in their own cities.”

“It is imperative to monitor rental trends during the
coronavirus pandemic,” Steinbarth said. “This report along with our
past and future trend reports, will help educate not only landlords, but also
property investors, businesses and the public.”

hsbc
ArticlesFundsStock Markets

How Clued Up Are You On The FTSE 100?

hsbc

How Clued Up Are You On The FTSE 100?

Brits incorrectly believe household favourites Tesco and Sainsburys are in the top 10 biggest companies of the FTSE 100, according to a new poll by IG Markets.

The trader polled 2,000 adults, alongside the launch of its Decade of Trade tool, to discover how clued up the general population are on the FTSE 100. The results show that as a nation we are fairly savvy when it comes to our knowledge of the stock market and over two-thirds (77%) are knowledgeable on the definition of shares.

Online trading platform, IG Markets, created the Decade of Trade tool to help Brits gain an understanding of the FTSE 100 and to allow traders to view not only how companies in the markets are performing now, but how they have performed over the last ten years. The tool covers twelve world markets including the FTSE 100, DAX40, ASX200 and HANG SENG.

When asked to name which companies are in the top ten of the FTSE 100 from a list, Brits identified eight out of ten businesses correctly. The mistakes came from thinking the supermarkets had a bigger presence than they do, with Brits believing Tesco (23rd in the FTSE 100) and Sainsburys (100th in the FTSE 100) to be in the top 10 market share.

 

Perceived top 10 of FTSE 100

Actual top 10 of FTSE 100

BP (+3)

HSBC

HSBC (-1)

Royal Dutch Shell A

GlaxoSmithKline (+4)

BP

Unilever (+6)

Royal Dutch Shell B

Tesco (+18)

AstraZeneca

British American Tobacco (+2)

Diageo

Royal Dutch Shell A (-4)

GlaxoSmithKline

Royal Dutch Shell B (-4)

British American Tobacco

Sainsbury (+91)

Rio Tinto

AstraZeneca (-5)

Unilever

 

Brits failed to identify beverage company, Diageo, whose brands include Smirnoff, Baileys and Guinness and mining corporation, Rio Tinto, as top 10 FTSE 100 companies.

Brits were also tested on their knowledge of the FTSE’s sector market share. The results showed there is a perception that Oil and Gas, Chemicals and Banks and Persona are the three largest sectors of the FTSE 100 when it is actually Oil and Gas, Banks and Persona and Household Goods.

Respondents were also asked what they perceive to have the biggest impact on the FTSE 100, and just over a quarter (27%) thought the Brexit referendum would have the biggest impact on the stock market.

 

Top five things Brits think have impacted the FTSE 100

  1. Interest rates (43%)
  2. Economic releases about earnings reports (35%)
  3. The Bank of England quarterly inflation report (27%)
  4. Brexit referendum (27%)
  5. Eurozone politics (26%)

 

Almost four in ten (39%) correctly thought all of the above factors have an impact on the FTSE 100.

To view the Decade of Trade tool, click here: https://www.ig.com/uk/special-reports/decade-of-trade

pension
ArticlesPensions

43 Or Younger? Here’s How To Recoup Your Years Of Lost Pension Income By Investing Today

pension

43 Or Younger? Here’s How To Recoup Your Years Of Lost Pension Income By Investing Today

In October this year, the pension age is due to increase from 65 to 66 years old, with a further increase to 67 by 2028 and plans to increase this even further by 2046 to 68 years old.

Leading Peer to Peer investment platform, Sourced Capital, has looked at the lost pension income for those facing the additional three years at work, the current median age of those in line to work until they’re 68, how long they still have left in the workplace, and just what they would need to invest today via private pension funds vs peer to peer platforms, in order to recoup their lost pension income between now and the time they retire.

Not only are we set to work for longer, but we’re also in line for a pension pay cut to the tune of £8,767.20 for the first year for those working to 66, climbing to £20,588.71 for two additional years for those working until the age of 67, and an eye-watering £47,582.06 over three years for those working until the age of 68 when also accounting for the minimum pension increase of 2.5% per year*.

That means anyone born after 6th April 1978, at a current median age of 42.5 years old, faces being nearly £50k out of pocket from lost state pension income as a result of the Government moving the pension age goal posts.  

However, there are moves you can make now to bridge this gap and increase your lost pension pot through investing wisely.

A Private Pension Fund

Over the last decade, private pension funds have averaged a return of 5.9% per annum. 

Therefore investing £1,000 today based on this average while considering compound interest and a yearly compound interval, would return just £4,314 over a 25.5 year term. Nowhere near enough to bridge the pension gap.  

Investing into the same scheme with £10,000 would return a more favourable return of £43,137, but it would take an investment of £14,370 today in order to make both your money back and the additional pension loss of £47,582 by the time you hit 68 (£61,987). 

For those with deeper pockets, investing £50k would return a total of £215,684 over the same period, while £100k would bring a return of £431,367.  

Peer 2 Peer Platforms 

But, a more interesting investment option is a Peer to Peer platform such as Sourced Capital. While your capital is at risk, with annual returns of as much as 10%, you could bridge the pension pay gap with a much smaller initial investment today.

In fact, with a return of 10% per a year, it would take an investment of just £4,595 today to see a return of £52,215 over a 25.5 year period, enough to recoup your initial investment along with an additional £47,620 to cover your three years of lost pension income.

Founder and Managing Director of Sourced Capital, Stephen Moss, commented:

“The requirement to work for longer is one that won’t sit well for those that have paid into pension schemes for many of their working years, only to see as many as three years worth of pension payments vanish to the tune of almost fifty thousand pounds.

But there’s a silver lining and for those that stand to lose the most, there are other investment options available that could see them recoup this lost pension pot by investing less than five thousand pounds now with an eye on the future.

In fact, the right investment now could not only recover these lost in pension payments but could do so by the age of 65, allowing you to retire ‘early’ without any financial penalty.

As with all investments, there is an element of risk. However, opting for the right platform can help reduce this dramatically. For example, all of our investors get a first charge against the property invested in, which gives a greater level of protection and lowers risk but is something that not all platforms do.  

We always recommend that investors only opt for FCA approved companies which again reduces risk, while we also only loan at a maximum loan to value of 70%. We also offer all investors the chance to view a project and to learn directly from us which again, is something that other platforms don’t offer, but for us, it provides greater transparency and trust while helping improve knowledge on a particular investment.” 

marketing
ArticlesFunds

Aligning Marketing and Sales

marketing

Aligning Marketing and Sales

Geoff Webb, VP of Strategy at PROS.

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

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

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

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

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


Evolving with your sales team

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

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

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

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


Getting personal

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

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

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

Driving the bottom line together

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

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

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

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

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

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

offshore
BankingCash ManagementOffshore

5 Reasons Why You Need To Bank Offshore

offshore

5 Reasons Why You Need To Bank Offshore

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

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

They’re not just for the ultra-wealthy

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

They’re safe

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

 
They provide flexibility and control

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

You’ll always have easy access

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

You’ll be able to build on your investment portfolio

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

offshore banking
BankingOffshoreWealth Management

Offshore Banking: Breaking The Taboo

offshore banking

Offshore Banking: Breaking The Taboo

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

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

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

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

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

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

divorce
Family OfficesHigh Net-worth IndividualsReal Estate

Divorce: Jurisdiction and Financial Relief Applications

divorce

Divorce: Jurisdiction and Financial Relief Applications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

telecoms
Cash ManagementFundsMarketsTax

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

telecoms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ecommerce
FundsWealth Management

Five Ways To Compete With Bigger ECommerce Stores

ecommerce

Five Ways To Compete With Bigger ECommerce Stores

 

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

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

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

1. Digital Marketing

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

2. Improve Customer Service

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

3. Analyse The Competition

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

4. Write Unique Product Descriptions

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

5. Adjust Pricing

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

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

Wealth and Finance
Cash ManagementPensionsPrivate BankingReal EstateWealth Management

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

Wealth and Finance

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

 

By Axel Hörger, CEO Europe at Lombard International Assurance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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FundsRegulationTaxWealth Management

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

gdp

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

 

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

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

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

Funding freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

International collaboration

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

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

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

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

Uncertain fortunes

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

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

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

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

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

Retirement fund
Cash ManagementPensionsTransactional and Investment Banking

Retirement fund is top saving priority for Brits

Retirement fund

Retirement fund is top saving priority for Brits

 

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

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

The top ten most important saving priorities for Brits are:

  1. Retirement fund

  2. ‘Rainy day’ fund

  3. House deposit or increasing equity

  4. Holiday fund

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

  6. Debt repayments

  7. New car

  8. Children’s saving account

  9. Children’s education

  10. Wedding fund

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

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

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

Retirement data

 

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

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

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

Employee spending
FundsWealth Management

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

Employee spending

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

 

  • Company cards are most used at supermarkets and service stations

  • Fast food is bought more often than train tickets

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Coffee spend per region: 

1.       West Midlands: £9.22 

2.       Northern Ireland: £8.79 

3.       North East: £8.79 

4.       Scotland: £8.70 

5.       Yorkshire and the Humber: £8.48 

6.       East: £8.41 

7.       North West: £8.30 

8.       South West: £7.80 

9.       London: £7.62 

10.   South East: £7.40 

11.   East Midlands: £7.22 

12.   Wales: £6.56 

 

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

 

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

R&D tax relief
FundsTransactional and Investment BankingWealth Management

Capital on Tap Celebrates the Milestone of Lending Over One Billion Pounds to Small Businesses

R&D tax relief

Capital on Tap Celebrates the Milestone of Lending Over One Billion Pounds to Small Businesses

 

In seven years from creation, the fintech company Capital on Tap, celebrates a major milestone of lending over 1 billion pounds to more than 65,000 small and medium enterprise businesses across the UK. 

By 2018, Capital on Tap had lent £500m to small businesses, and in the short timeframe that followed to September 2019, has now doubled this number to hit the milestone of £1bn. The quick, two-minute online application has drawn-in customers from various industries who praise the lending service for its ease of use. 

The one billionth pound customer Elaine Speirs, founder of Speirs Consultancy Ltd in biopharmaceuticals, said: “It was very easy, very fast. I don’t remember having to have a conversation with anyone, and I got my credit card within a couple of days.”   

“The app is really easy to use on my phone, and there’s a website where I can track all payments; it’s just very simple, I don’t really have to think about it.” Elaine continued that “my own bank turned me down as I was a new business, and without even applying for a loan – that was after 25 years of banking history with them, which I was quite taken aback by.” 

The Capital on Tap ‘soft searching’ function is ideal for new business owners as it allows customers to find out if they’re eligible for a loan without impacting their credit score. This method challenges typical lenders and empowers customers, particularly benefiting those in rural parts of the UK who could suffer approval delays of up to three weeks. In addition, once the Capital on Tap fund is agreed; the money is available online in a matter of minutes, streamlining the lending function and supporting those who may struggle with traditional lending platforms. 

Support given by Capital on Tap has been commonly found to facilitate travel, allowing customers to work internationally without charging any extras. Sean Swart, founder of PICS Consultancy Ltd, highlights that “I am often required to move around as part of my job and the Capital on Tap card removes stress around cash flow created by expenses, mainly those from travel expenditure which is created as a by-product of my job.” 

David Luck, CEO at Capital on Tap, commented: “We started Capital on Tap in 2012, with a mission of making it faster and easier for small and medium enterprises to obtain working capital. Since lending money to our first customer back in 2013, I never thought we would have lent over £1bn to more than 65,000 small businesses in just seven years.” 

“We have worked to develop a lending platform that not only makes funding easier for small businesses, but also provides a service for traditional banks. Not only do we pride ourselves in supporting small businesses in the main cities, we provide a unique service for those in provincial areas, where traditional banks fall short.” 

For more information, visit the Capital on Tap website: https://capitalontap.com/

The importance of sports to the UK economy
ArticlesBankingFinanceFunds

The importance of sports to the UK economy

The importance of sports to the UK economy

The importance of sports to the UK economy

 

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

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

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

Input to the economy

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

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

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

Input beyond finances

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

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

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

Protecting the commodity

The pitches

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

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

Sports funding

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

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

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

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FundsPrivate BankingReal Estate

Two Thirds of Buyers are Struck With Anxiety Fighting the Challenges of Buying Their First Home

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Two Thirds of Buyers are Struck With Anxiety Fighting the Challenges of Buying Their First Home

 

This year, reports revealed that first-time buyers (FTBs) account for more than half (51%) of the nation’s buying market for the first time since 1995 and with the average deposit for a first-time home now sitting at £33,000, today new research has revealed that mortgages have as much impact mentally as they do financially on first-time buyers.

According to a survey of 2,000 FTBs currently in the market for a home, commissioned by online bank Atom bank, two thirds (64%) have admitted to feeling anxiety when tackling the challenges of getting a mortgage and purchasing their first home.

A lack of education around mortgages is playing a huge part in buyers’ anxiety. Of the 64% of buyers who have felt anxious whilst looking for a house, a massive three quarters (74%) attribute being unsatisfied with their knowledge of mortgages as a key factor.

The process has become so overwhelming for some, that over a third (37%) of buyers recently considering purchasing a new property have pulled out due to the stress of it all.

3 in 5 (58%) admit that a key contributing factor to their high stress levels is saving for a large enough deposit. Though the stress is not limited to those on a lower income, as almost half (47%) of households earning more than £80,000 a year have said they’re struggling to save for a deposit. This is in spite of the fact they’re earning nearly three times the national average wage (£29,009).

Mortgage Complexity and Mental Health

The research reveals the complexity of the current mortgage process is causing first-time buyers to doubt whether mortgage companies actually understand the challenges modern buyers face.

More than 7 in 10 people (72%) who are anxious about the challenges of purchasing a home don’t think that mortgage companies fully comprehend the challenges buyers face. The consensus is heightened by the fact that more than three quarters (78%) of the nation believe the mortgage process is too complex and needs to be more consumer-friendly. More than a third (37%) of buyers – from builders to barristers – with a postgraduate degree feel dissatisfied with the mortgage process and with 7 in 10 (70%) of Brits looking to move in to their new home this year still feeling anxious about the prospect, the mortgage process proves to be daunting from start to finish.

The challenge is too much for one person’s shoulders, as a fifth (21%) of buyers going through the mortgage process by themselves have had to pull out due to stress, compared to only 6% of those going through it with at least one other person. This still takes its toll on those in a relationship, as two thirds (65%) have claimed that although they haven’t pulled out of the market, the process has given them anxiety.

Spend or Save: Where does all the money go?

The turn of the 21st century has brought a new challenge for millennials trying to save for a deposit. The average person spends £1,740 a year on amenities such as streaming and on-demand services, phone bills and electronic devices. Modern technology has also made travelling much more accessible, with the average person spending £1,152 a year on trips. Combining the two means the average person spends £2,892 a year on both exploring and everyday tech, which is more than 1% of the average UK house price (£230,292).

In efforts to balance the books, nearly half (46%) of buyers would be willing to move back home with their parents to save money. Higher earners are the most likely to move back home, as nearly half (47%) of those earning over £34,000 would move home to save money for a deposit, compared to 2 in 5 (39%) people earning under £34,000.

However, those living by themselves (69%) and former university students (53%) are least likely to move home, despite 3 in 5 (60%) students claiming that saving for a deposit is their biggest obstacle, as well as paying off their university debt which is on average £50,800.

 But moving home is just the start for some, as 2 in 5 (38%) of buyers admit that their only way of saving a large enough deposit is through financial support from either a family member or partner. The reliance on family help grows with the buyer’s age; Generation X are twice (26%) as likely as millennials (13%) to ask for financial help when they’re trying to buy.

Despite a double income, two thirds (65%) of those in a relationship say that the biggest obstacle they face is saving for a deposit, compared to half (50%) of singletons. Having children stretches finances further, as 2 in 5 (38%) buyers rely on financial help from their family or partner, compared to 1 in 5 (22%) of those without children.

Stick or Twist: Flying the nest

Over a third (37%) of FTBs look to buy in the same area they grew up, with a quarter (25%) stating that they will look to buy somewhere that’s close to their friends. Traveling may give millennials the confidence to buy a new home in the unknown, as a quarter (25%) look to move away from the area they grew up in to experience some where new, while only 1 in 10 (10%) of generation X are willing to move away from their childhood area to try something new.

A key factor behind many buyers’ move is their job as a quarter (26%) look to buy a property closer to work. Many buyers looking to change jobs are caught in a predicament, as 2 in 5 (38%) look to buy somewhere that will give them better job opportunities, but nearly half (46%) are struggling to save the deposit they need to get in to those desired areas.

 

Education, Misconceptions and Help

Millennials believe knowledge is key, as 1 in 5 (19%) stated that a lack of education is the key reason behind the stress issues for first time buyers, whereas only 1 in 13 (8%) people from generation X believe a lack of education is to blame.

The process starts with confusion, as 43% of people found it complicated to choose a company or mortgage broker to get the ball rolling, while two thirds (63%) of buyers have stated that choosing a mortgage type is the most complicated part of the process.

Half (51%) of buyers who recently pulled out of the market explained that having their documents in order was the most stressful part of the process, with their little knowledge on key terms being a key issue.

The research has revealed the most common words in the mortgage process that buyers had either never heard of or didn’t understand are:

Highest percentage of words that were never heard of

Over half the nation (52%) wish they’d been taught more in school about the mortgage process. Worryingly, almost as many people would seek mortgage advice from a parent (55%) as they would a professional (57%), despite the abundant challenges new buyers face.

The lack of education on mortgages has left buyers unaware of multiple schemes that can help first-time buyers get on the property ladder. 4 out of 5 (83%) buyers with children have never heard of a ‘Family Offset Mortgage’, over a third (37%) have never heard of the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme and nearly 4 in 5 (78%) are unaware of the ‘Starter Home Initiative’.

Mark Mullen, CEO of Atom bank, said: “Today’s findings have showcased just how much impact the mortgage process can have on a first-time buyer, before they’ve even entered the market.

“Buying a home is commonly the largest investment most people will make in their life time, which is stressful enough without worrying about the mortgage process. This makes it vital that buyers feel at ease from as early on in the process as possible. The results show that there is a real disconnect between advisors and buyers, as many people are seeking advice from their parents, who may have not purchased a property in decades.”

Bitcoin $150000
FinanceFunds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMMOATIVE
FinanceFunds

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Operational and Trading Highlights

 

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

Fundraising Highlights

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

Background and Current Strategy

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Martin Higginson, CEO of Immotion Group, said:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

accountancy hack
BankingFinanceFunds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joe Collinwood is CEO of CySure

dubai
FinanceFundsMarkets

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Driving the Future of Financial Services in MEASA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supporting Human Capital Development and Delivering Sustainable Impact

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

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

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

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

Enhancing the Legal & Regulatory Framework to Fuel Growth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creating a Vibrant Retail & Lifestyle Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funds

Xolo secures $6.8m in Series A funding, launches “a virtual company” service for modern freelancers

Xolo (formerly known as LeapIN), the online platform for launching and running one-person businesses anywhere in the world has announced the completion of $6.8m (€6m) Series A funding, and a launch revolutionary form of entrepreneurship. The launch of the “virtual company” service will enable millions of professional freelancers around the world to radically reduce the complexity and cost of engaging with national governments and operate in a borderless world. The service will cut the time needed to launch a freelance business from weeks to minutes. 

 

Xolo’s investment round was led by European venture firms Karma Ventures (Estonia), Vendep Capital (Finland), and Leap Ventures (France). 

 

The company has been offering a full suite of services for global freelancers from 2015, including company formation online, access to banking, and full accounting and compliance service. The new “virtual company” product will bring that concept further by removing the last obstacles to launching their business.

 

Allan Martinson, Chief Executive Officer at Xolo, said: “We are focusing on 40 million professionals globally who have chosen to run their business independently. Estimated one million new freelancers start their professional journeys each year. Our ultimate goal is an absolutely seamless service that brings time spent on administrating a freelance business to zero.”

 

Xolo will now offer two products: Xolo Go and Xolo Leap. Xolo Go will allow launching a freelancing business in mere minutes as “a virtual company”, complete with a dedicated bank account, invoicing, expense management and payouts. Xolo Leap allows launching an EU-registered company with full banking service, accounting and tax compliance based on Estonia’s innovative e-Residency concept. 

 

“Administrating independent professional business in a traditional way may take up to two days a month. Our aim is to cut that down to near zero by offering an incredibly simple online platform that merges company formation, banking, accounting, and other services. We’re taking care of the bureaucracy so that millions of talented professional freelancers can focus on running their businesses,” Martinson continued. 

 

Xolo has thousands of customers around the world who use it as a subscription-based software-powered service, with 93% recommending the service that processes over €10,000,000 in customer revenues every month.

 

“Xolo is the quickest and easiest way to launch and run a one-person freelancing business in Europe. Our largest markets are Germany, Spain, France, the UK, Ukraine and Turkey. Our typical customers are software developers, management consultants or designers. Many of them are describing launching on Xolo as a life-changing event,” said Martinson.

 

“We are fascinated by Xolo’s vision of powering the revolution of free work. This, combined with the company’s proven service and talented team, is a formula for success,” said Margus Uudam, the partner with Karma Ventures. 

 

Sakari Pihlava, a partner at Vendep Capital, said: “Xolo is building something revolutionary – an interface between the micro-businesses and the governments that eliminate the complexity of reporting and compliance”.

 

Karma’s Margus Uudam and Vendep’s Sakari Pihlava will join Xolo’s board.

 

Xolo was founded in May 2015 when its founders had the urge to revolutionize the way microbusinesses are set up and managed. Using this funding, it aims to expand its operations across Europe and globally to allow more entrepreneurs to join the market.

WeSwap
Cash ManagementFunds

WORLD’S FIRST P2P CURRENCY EXCHANGE PLATFORM WESWAP HITS 500,000 USERS, LAUNCHES £2.3M FUNDRAISE

This morning, WeSwap, the award-winning peer-to-peer currency exchange platform, announces that in tandem with the launch of a £2.3 million funding round on leading investment platform Seedrs, it has hit 500,000 users. This raise will support the Series B investment round led by IW Capital, WeSwap’s lead investor, who has invested an additional £3.7 million in the travel money start-up, including £1.7 million of equity in this round.
 
Today’s news follows the company hitting a staggering £250 million in global currency traded on the platform since its launch in 2015, making the company the first peer-to-peer travel money fintech in the UK to do so. With award wins including Best Travel Money Provider at the 2018 and 2019 British Bank Awards, the fintech front runner has firmly cemented its role as one of the UK’s leading case studies for scale-up growth, fortifying a loyal and ever-expanding user base whilst maintaining the edge on product innovation and user experience.
 
WeSwap continues to hit remarkable milestones since its launch – presently, the currency exchange platform has over 30 travel industry partnerships, as well as booking flow integrations with online travel partners and numerous innovative travel-money products including:
 

  • A WeSwap pre-paid travel card
  • Card payments and withdrawals in over 195 countries and territories
  • Rate tracker
  • Smart Swap (where a user can pre-select an exchange rate at which they would like to execute a currency exchange)
  • Next day Travel Cash delivery
  • Buyback service

 
This is WeSwap’s third raise on Seedrs, having previously attracted over £3.5m from 3,868 investors.
 
Jared Jesner, CEO and Founder of WeSwap commented: “We have an incredibly loyal and engaged user base, something we’re truly proud of and will continue to honour with a great service. We are delighted to open up this latest round of funding, supplementing a series of debt, equity and private investment routes that have aided us in achieving some great milestones that we’re really proud of. This latest round will allow us to launch a range of new WeSwap product innovations and expand into Asia.”
 
For more information, please visit: www.seedrs.com/weswap3

Funds

Pimberly looks to expansion and sets sights on $10 million target

Pimberly looks to expansion and sets sights on $10 million target

SaaS firm helps companies manage all forms of product data

Manchester – Pimberly, the Manchester-based SaaS Product Information Management (PIM) and Digital Asset Management (DAM) platform provider, has moved into scale mode, investing to accelerate growth and achieve an ARR target of $10 million. The tech firm passed its $1 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) milestone earlier this year.

Pimberly’s PIM platform acts as a central hub for all omnichannel product data, including descriptions, specifications, sizing, pricing, availability, imagery and videos for multiple brands, currencies and geographies. Its automation and intuitive “No-Code” UI significantly streamlines ERP/eComm workflows. This helps retailers, distributors and manufacturers to seamlessly expand into new marketplaces and territories, as well as rapidly increasing time to market and the agility of their products and services.

The company has secured contracts with leading UK brands including, JD Sports, Freeman Grattan, Regatta and Card Factory, as well as international clients such as Brightstar in the US, Mconomy in the Netherlands and WhiteAway in Denmark.
Pimberly’s rapid growth follows investment from NorthEdge Capital and the UK Government. This has enabled the company to double its headcount to 40 over the last 12 months. The team is now in the process of expanding its headquarters, taking two floors within St James’s Tower in central Manchester and investing in more staff for product development, go to market and customer success.

Martin Balaam, CEO of Pimberly, said: “As new Enterprise B2B SaaS companies will know, getting your first paying clients is a huge milestone, enabling you to focus on getting to the nirvana of the $1m ARR target – I’m thrilled that Pimberly has been so well received by businesses. To surpass this target and focus on scaling to $10m ARR so quickly is just awesome”.

“It’s also a real indication that companies are increasingly focussing on their eComm/online strategies to fuel growth and can see the value that automated and effective product information management can have on their operational efficiency, their customer service and their bottom lines. This is a hugely exciting time for tech in the North West and we’re delighted to be a part of its success.”

PensionsWealth Management

What are the top ways to save on everyday spending?

We’re always on the lookout for ways to save money, especially after our bank balances have taken a hit over the festive period. Of course, there are the traditional ways of saving such as budgeting and setting aside a certain amount of funds each month. But, without overly restricting your leisure activities, what everyday changes can you make to spend less?

1.      Spend less on your energy bill

Make small everyday changes to lower the cost of your energy bill.

Did you know that 4% of your energy bill is attributed to cooking? Work on lowering this if you can. Your oven stays warm for a long time after you’ve switched it off. Try turning it off 10 minutes before you’re finished cooking to save on energy.

Instead of turning your thermostat up during the colder months, layer up instead to save on pennies! Switching down by just one degree Celsius can save you £85 per year — it all adds up. When it comes to showering, cutting your shower time down to 5 minutes instead of 15 minutes can save you £98 per year — less singing and faster washing!

2.      Storing food properly

When we’re packing food away in the fridge or freezer, we usually don’t think about how it’s stored. But, the way that you put away your goods can have an impact on your energy bill.

If you pack your freezer more tightly, this keeps more of the cold air in when you open the door. This means that the appliance doesn’t have to work as hard to lower the temperature again. The same applies for the refrigerator too — a full fridge requires less energy to stay cool than one that’s empty. If you’re struggling to pack your fridge or freezer full, filling it with newspaper can do the job.

3.      Save money booking holidays

Even when we’re trying to save money, we all deserve a holiday now and then! The good news is that you can save money by following a few top tips the next time you book a vacation.

Try and fly out on a Friday if you can, this can save you 18% on your airfare compared to if you flew out on a Sunday. Taking into consideration the average cost of a flight and the fact that the average Brit goes on holiday three times a year, you could save £85 annually by following this top tip.

Be calculative about when you book your holiday too. You can save £36 per year by booking your trip on a Monday as flights are 5% cheaper.

Consider packing more economically too. You can save £144 per year by only taking hand luggage on your flights. Squeeze more into your suitcase by rolling clothes and packing garments in your shoes.

4.      Meal prepping

Being prepared when it comes to grocery shopping and planning lunches for the week can help save on cash.

Even making a shopping list before you head to the supermarket can help. In fact, 60% of people who take a shopping list to the supermarket said it saves them money. It stops you buying things that you don’t necessarily need and helps you stick to your budget.

Create a meal plan for the week too. This means that you’re only buying what you need and don’t need to spend money on unexpected lunches out. Statistics have shown that you can save an impressive £1,300 per year by preparing lunch at home rather than eating out during the week.

5.      Eco-conscious coffee drinking

There are a few ways that you can be eco-conscious about your coffee drinking while saving money.

First of all, you can start by making your coffee at home when you can. You can save £507 per year by making your coffee at home instead of buying one each day from a retailer. If you prefer coffee from the store, why not take your own cup? This is helping the environment and you can save £150 per year as many high street retailers now offer 50p off coffee when you present your own cup.

 

Make the small changes above and watch your pennies turn into pounds this year! For more saving tips, check out True Potential Investor’s Life Hacks interactive.

FundsFunds of Funds

Showpad Secures $70 Million in Series D Funding

Investment will accelerate global expansion and drive continued platform innovation by the world’s largest sales enablement software provider

Showpad, the leading sales enablement solution, has secured $70 million in Series D funding, a combination of debt and equity, led by Dawn Capital and Insight Partners with participation from existing investor Hummingbird Ventures and new investor Korelya Capital. Silicon Valley Bank provided the debt financing for the deal. The investment will fuel Showpad’s continued global expansion and new product development as Showpad accelerates delivery on its mission to empower sales and marketing to sell the way modern buyers want to buy.

 

Showpad is the world’s largest sales enablement software provider, with more than 1,000 customers worldwide spanning a breadth of industries including manufacturing, healthcare, technology, and financial services. With more than 90 percent year-over-year growth, Showpad’s rapid expansion is indicative of the explosive growth of the sales enablement market segment. According to Gartner, 15 percent of all sales technology spending will be applied to sales enablement technology by 2021.

 

“The growth we’ve experienced in the past year is proof that sales enablement solutions are now a must-have for B2B businesses. We pride ourselves on empowering modern sales teams to increase win rates, deal size, and buyer engagement with a single, scalable platform and a consumer-like user experience,” said Pieterjan Bouten, CEO of Showpad. “The continued support of our investors is validation of our vision for the sales enablement market and our ability to deliver innovation that maximises sales productivity and optimises marketing impact.”

 

Showpad has experienced explosive growth in recent years. In the U.S., the company has experienced 150 percent year-over-year revenue growth and grew the headcount of its Chicago office to more than 150 employees in just 18 months. With this investment, Showpad will drive continued growth in the sales enablement market by adding more than 200 new jobs to its global workforce of 400 in 2019. This investment will also drive the next chapter of the company’s geographic and platform expansion, including deeper penetration into the European market, which Showpad has dominated since its founding in 2011. In addition to its headquarters in Belgium, Showpad has offices in London, Munich, Poland, Chicago, San Francisco, and Portland.

 

With organisations accelerating their investments in sales enablement, Showpad remains focused on extending its leadership position in the sales enablement industry. In 2018, Showpad acquired two technology companies to broaden its sales enablement capabilities, including the $50 million acquisition of sales training software, LearnCore, and the acquisition of meeting intelligence platform, Voicefox. As a result, Showpad now offers the most flexible and complete sales enablement platform and is recognised as a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Sales Enablement Automation Platforms, Q3 2018.

 

“To date there has been enormous innovation in automating the marketing and sales workflow. However, in the end, sales comes down to one person selling to another,” said Norman Fiore, General Partner at Dawn Capital and member of the Showpad Board. “Historically, this has been an offline process that has been wildly inconsistent and opaque. Showpad’s suite of products succeeds in bringing this process online for the first time with data-rich feedback loops on the effectiveness of teams, managers, salespeople and even individual pieces of sales content.”

“Its AI-driven recommendation engines work at all these levels recommending, for example, the most effective next piece of content for specific customers or the most appropriate training for an individual seller. Since we first invested in 2014, Showpad has consistently demonstrated its ability to define and lead the sales enablement category and we are thrilled to double down on this category, co-leading their Series D alongside Insight.”

 

To learn more about Showpad’s product, mission and vision, visit showpad.com

EquityFunds of FundsInfrastructurePrivate Client

Fairjungle raises €1.8m to accelerate is growth in the European business travel market

The Paris-based start-up, founded by former McKinsey mangers and Apple engineers, has recently raised close to €2m to accelerate the deployment of its modern business travel management solution in France, the rest of Europe, and beyond.

Fairjungle shifts into second gear. After making a name for itself in 2018 in the world of business travel, the start-up intends to accelerate its growth in 2019 with this raise of €1.8m. This round is highlighted by a complementary group of investors such as entrepreneurs Thibaud Elzière (Fotolia, eFounders; PayFit investor) and Eduardo Ronzano (Keldoc; Meero investor), business travel expert Bertrand Mabille (former Europe MD of Carlson Wagonlit Travel), and Whitestones Ventures, an investment fund led by Goldman Sachs alumnus Youssef Kabbaj.

Corporate travel in the technology age
Launched at the end of 2017 by former managers and engineers from McKinsey and Apple, the start-up has developed a solid reputation as an innovative challenger in the world of business travel.

Today, Fairjungle allows business travellers to book all their trips on a single platform in just a few simple clicks, while saving their companies 20-25% on their travel budgets.

Using proprietary algorithms based on the latest machine learning technologies, Fairjungle helps customers reduce the average booking time from 25 minutes to 60 seconds.

Voted 2018 Start-up of the Year at the IFTM Tourism Fair, Fairjungle’s platform today boasts more than 400 airlines and over a million accommodation options, all available at the best prices on the market.

For CEO Saad Berrada “everything started from our experience as consultants at McKinsey. We spent a fortune travelling but had to do so via a user experience dating back to the 1980s. With the technological tools we have today it was mindboggling that there was such a large gap between leisure and business travel. Thus, we set ourselves the goal of providing business travellers with an experience closer to that of Amazon than that of the La Redoute phone catalogue. We worked with a team of former Apple engineers and designers to rethink everything from the ground up; that’s how Fairjungle was born!”

For Youssef Kabbaj, managing partner of Whitestones Ventures (www.whitestones.vc) “FairJungle is a one stop shop solution for lean organizations who want more efficient business travel while improving massively the user experience and streamlining the booking process. The market is enormous and the team is amazing. We are very proud at Whitestones Ventures to be part of this adventure as investors and as (very satisfied) clients.”

Fairjungle redesigned the typical booking process of a business traveller to save time and money for all stakeholders involved. Thus, the platform now allows users to book and prepay their next trip (flight and hotel) in less than one minute (vs. an average 25 minutes with traditional tools). On the employer side, travel management is facilitated through automated travel policy functionality, a travel budget approval module, and an accounting reconciliation support tool.

The start-up has also innovated by offering a gamification module allowing businesses to save nearly 30% on their business travel expenses, while improving employee satisfaction. How? By directly influencing the purchasing behaviour of employees and rewarding them for choosing cheaper travel options. Think of it as an “inverted” loyalty program that promotes savings, realigning the financial interests of the company (the payer) and the travelling employee (the trip consumer).

A barely disrupted €260 billion market
With this raise of nearly €2 million, Fairjungle intends to shake up the European business travel market, estimated at more than €260 billion. Although the market is still largely in the hands of traditional, poorly-digitised agencies, new players are developing abroad. TripActions, a California start-up, is positioned in the same segment in the US and is now valued at more than €1 billion. Fairjungle’s formula for success is to focus on technology and the user experience for both the traveller and employer.

Fairjungle Co-Founder & CTO, Bertrand Guiheneuf, trained at Apple and was long-time right-hand man of Jean-Marie Hullot, CTO of Apple. For him “the opportunity is, above all else, a technological one. The journey, and especially the business trip, has been inadequately disrupted by digital technology: the technical culture dates back to the 1980s and 90s. Much of business travel today is still done manually. This limits the possibilities of existing solutions but also opens up a world of exciting possibilities for a team trained in the development of consumer applications, like Fairjungle.”

Fairjungle shifts into second gear
By leveraging the latest technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, NDC), Fairjungle is primarily targeting modern companies that are looking for a tool to help them manage their journeys easily and with better costs, whether or not they currently use a travel agency.

Having seen the power of Fairjungle’s platform, a large number of start-ups and SMEs, as well as some larger companies such as OVH, are onboard. With additional success abroad, especially in London and Dubai, the company sees big things ahead beyond France.

Funds

APSCo members share unused levy funds for benefit of wider recruitment profession

Umbrella members of the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCohave donated unused Apprentice Levy funds to assist others in sending delegates on the Executive MBA in Human Capital.

The new programme, which is being delivered by Cranfield School of Management and was developed in conjunction with APSCo and Grant Thornton UK, is the first EMBA which is tailored specifically for the recruitment and talent management sectors.

Members which have shared parts of their own Apprenticeship Levy pots for the benefit of the wider recruitment profession include Orbital Payroll Group, Sterling Group and PayStream.

This has been made possible thanks to new rules introduced in April, whereby employers who can’t use their entire pot to upskill their own people are able to donate 25% of their funds to other companies rather than it being absorbed by the Treasury. Due to the large payrolls umbrella companies run, they typically have significant Levy pots.

When donated funds are coupled with APSCo bursaries, the cost of the EMBA for members is reduced from £27,000 to £7,000.

Jonathan Myatt, Director, Orbital Payroll Group said:

“As a payroll provider, we have a sizable Apprenticeship Levy pot that we cannot feasibly exhaust within our own organisation. However, through donating a portion of our unused funds to other APSCo members which are not Levy payers, we are providing recruitment professionals with an opportunity to upskill themselves to MBA level and putting money to good use that would otherwise simply be absorbed by the Treasury.”

Janene Rudge, Commercial Director, Sterling Group added:

“Sterling are delighted to be working with APSCo to assist with the funding for the Executive MBA. Encouraging and supporting employees with further qualifications and training is extremely beneficial for both the company and the employee and Sterling are pleased to be part of this.”

A spokesperson from PayStream said:

“PayStream is delighted to be supporting this exciting new initiative with APSCo. Investing in and training our future recruitment stars is something that PayStream strongly believes in and we are sure that this Executive MBA programme will prove to be a great success and highly sought after by many UK recruitment professionals.”

Ann Swain Global CEO at APSCo, commented:

“It’s fantastic that APSCo members have come together to donate their surplus levy funds to help the wider recruitment industry. I’m very thankful to everyone involved in supporting the Executive MBA programme and ensuring that our people continue to be able to learn the valuable skills that will strengthen the profession.”

If you would like further information on using or sharing Apprenticeship Levy funds to finance this programme, please contact Elaine Jacobs on +44 (0)20 7383 5100 or at [email protected]

Funds

Crypto Millions Lotto Launches the World’s Largest Bitcoin Lottery

Ofertas365 Limited is proud to announce the launch of its brand new lottery – Crypto Millions Lotto. Crypto Millions Lotto is the world’s largest online crypto lottery and provides a unique opportunity for players to play with Bitcoin – and to also win Bitcoin as prizes.

New customers will receive three free lines as an introductory offer and if that isn’t enough of an incentive, consider the jackpot which starts at a whopping US$30 million and rolls over on each draw until it is won!

All customers can be assured that the draws are completely trustworthy, transparent and fair as they are based on the outcome of the German National Lottery. Operational since 1955, the German National Lottery has an exemplary reputation in the industry and is televised twice weekly at times which are sure to quickly become the focus of Crypto Millions Lotto players around the world: at 6.25pm on Wednesdays and 7.25pm on Saturdays – Central European Time.

Bringing Bitcoin into the mainstream

In addition to offering exceptional prizes, Crypto Millions Lotto effectively bypasses the qualifying requirements of residency and any need to participate in local currency, which are common playing conditions of many existing lotteries around the world. Key to Bitcoin’s appeal is the payment freedom it provides, whereby it can be sent and received anywhere in the world, at any time, without the burden of national borders or the unnecessary bureaucracy of traditional currencies.

However, one of the most significant features of the launch of Crypto Millions Lotto is the major step it represents in bringing the world’s most widely used alternative currency further into the mainstream.

As Sulim Malook, CEO at Ofertas365, states: “We are delighted to launch Crypto Millions Lotto and believe that giving away three chances to win prizes worth tens of millions of dollars will encourage Bitcoin usage and adoption. Our affiliation with two top notch fiat-to-crypto exchanges – Coinbase and Wirex – will ensure new players get the best possible user experience, the cheapest fees and the most competitive fiat-to-Bitcoin conversion rates.”

Supported by market-leading technology

For Bitcoin holders, the process to start playing for the coveted US$30 million jackpot is very quick and easy. For those who need to buy Bitcoin, they are directed straight to market leading affiliate partners – Coinbase and Wirex.

The need for guaranteed peace of mind for players using Bitcoin with Crypto Millions Lotto is stressed by Pavel Matveev, CEO of Wirex: “In common with our partners Ofertas365, Wirex also know about delivering a unique service. As the world’s only licensed business account that allows payments in both crypto and traditional currency, we are pleased to provide our service to Crypto Millions Lotto. Our UK Financial Conduct Authority approval will undoubtedly provide the financial security that players require. Wirex delivers unbeatable value, flexibility and transaction speed by combining the efficiency of cryptocurrency payments with the universal acceptance of traditional fiat currency accounts, on a global scale.”

Licensed for everyone to enjoy

These capabilities make them a perfect match, as Ofertas365 is licensed to operate in more than 100 countries which includes anywhere online gambling is not prohibited. The company’s jackpots are comparable to the biggest State and National lotteries in the US and Europe, and for peace of mind are insured at Lloyd’s of London, the world’s leading insurance market.

Sulim Malook concludes: “We believe that our lotteries and games will provide a great deal of enjoyment because it’s much more fun to win Bitcoin than fiat

currency! We welcome further collaborations and partnerships that will expand and guarantee our offering.”

Funds of Funds

Rural communities receive a significant boost from The Prince’s Countryside Fund

In June, The Prince’s Countryside Fund has awarded half a million pounds of grant funding to 26 grassroots, community-led projects across the UK, which will benefit people living and working in rural areas.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund awards grants to local organisations, and since 2010 has distributed over £10 million. The Fund’s mission is to help ensure a vibrant rural economy with a thriving and resilient farming sector at its heart, and its grant programme is a major focus of activity to achieve this.

The broad range of successful projects will create locally-delivered solutions to the ever-pressing challenges facing rural communities – from farmer mental health support in Wales, to rural skills training in the north east, and the creation of rural hubs in Northern Ireland.

The Rural Four programme supported 13 of these projects with thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Rural Four aims to tackle isolation in rural areas and is funding projects including social hubs in Norfolk and rural transport schemes in Northamptonshire. It is helping rural communities in Norfolk and Cheshire to improve their digital connectivity by installing high speed broadband in a central hub, which is open to all, and to provide digital skills training in Lincolnshire.

Announcing the grant recipients, Claire Saunders, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “It is great to see so many organisations coming up with unique ways to combat the challenges that are facing rural communities and to know these projects are key to making a difference. From funding a community brewery in East Anglia, to a mentoring and land access programme for young entrants to agriculture in Northern Ireland – The Prince’s Countryside Fund is committed to improving the quality of life, in all aspects, for all people living and working in our great British countryside.

“This has been our most competitive round of grant applications in Fund history, with nearly 300 applications requesting £10 million of funding. The applications were all of a very high standard and we are delighted to be working with the 26 successful beneficiaries.”

The Fund will be open again for grant applications in January 2020. More details can be found at www.princescountryside.fund.org.uk/grants.

Infrastructure

The skills needed to become an independent non-executive director

By David Selves, Broadcaster and Business Advisor at The Selves Group

Authorised Fund Managers (AFMs) across the UK are scrambling to fill up to 480 independent non-executive director vacancies to comply with new legislation released by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

 

As part of the legislation, the FCA requires that all AFMs must have a minimum of two independent directors on their board by Monday 30th September 2019. So, with just three months until the deadline, AFMs are actively looking for suitable professionals to fill this gap, but who are the desired candidates and what skills do they need to possess?

 

Essentially, the primary role of a non-executive director (NED) is to impart a creative contribution to the board by providing independent oversight and constructive challenge to the executive directors. Assigned to question the status quo of an organisation, NEDs typically do not engage in the day-to-day management, but are involved in policymaking and planning exercises.

 

Ideally, NEDs should not be from the industry in question, thereby enforcing impartiality in the best interests of the company stakeholders. In addition, they should either be worldly – which may mean simply having a vast experience of life in general across numerous disciplines, rather than senior roles in another industry – or be what is referred to as an ‘expert customer’; a person who potentially might use the product or service offered.

 

Regardless of industry experience, NEDs must be independent thinkers and question strategy, management techniques, performance and standards of ethics and conduct. Predominantly, they should always take an independent view on the promotion and external appointments of senior executives.

 

NEDs also need to understand the workings of the company before they accept a position because they will have exactly the same responsibilities in law as executive directors. Whilst they should be given sufficient industry training to be able to effectively challenge the executive directors, they must also ensure that they have the time to keep up to date with ever-changing industry standards.

 

For progressive businesses, the value of a NED is that they bring a broader perspective. Companies often appoint NEDs for their contacts, particularly in the bigger cities, but that can be a dangerous route. The idea of a NED is not to facilitate wheels within wheels, but in fact quite the opposite. A NED should act as a centre of influence to ensure the company contacts the right external groups. Moreover, smaller companies are increasingly finding that the relatively low cost of NEDs is a very worthwhile investment.

 

In short, NEDs need to bring a host of skills to the table. AFMs want someone who has a wide experience of life, is independent of thought and deed, acts impartially, and is a well-rounded and respected individual. While on the job, the ideal NED should provide constructive challenge both strategically and operationally, offer specialist advice where qualified to do so, and never be afraid to hold management to account.

David Selves is a business advisor at The Selves Group. He has enjoyed an eventful 50-year career as a seasoned broadcaster, entrepreneur, publican and hotelier. Making his name in business hospitality by purchasing struggling hotels and turning them into award-winning venues, David has built a reputation as a respected and highly regarded businessman. He was also the former Regional Chairman and National Board Member of the Small Business

Funds

How to understand and learn to love your business accounts

By Jonathan Amponsah CTA FCCA, The Tax Guys

Business owners need to understand the language of numbers if their business is to succeed

Let’s looks at how to understand your year-end or management accounts, what you need to know and red flags to look for. The aim is to take away the fear of accounting and help you connect with your numbers.

  1. Profit

The first thing to check is whether you’re making profit and if that profit figure makes sense. Do this by looking at the profit and loss account and scrolling down to the bottom which will show a profit (positive figure) or a loss (negative figure).

Then look at the top figure (the sales) and glance through the list of expenses.

Take the bottom figure (let’s assume it’s £15,000 profit). Divide it by the top figure (assume £100,000 sales). This gives you 0.15, meaning for every £1 of income, you’re generating 15p in net profit.

Is this level of profit what you had in mind? Does the 15% net profit margin deliver the right return?  

  1. Is Your Business in a Good State?

Does the business have a positive balance sheet value? The balance sheet statement shows what your business has and what it owes. Note the number at the bottom. It’s normally called capital and reserves. A positive figure means your business has some value.

A negative figure is a red flag. It means if things carry on as they are, you won’t have a business for long.  Take action and start by improving profits.

Reviewing the balance sheet ask simple questions like; is this how much I owe my creditors? is this how much my customers owe me? If the amount your customers owe you is higher, it’s a red flag. Get the debtors list, review and start making calls.

  1. Cashflow

Your profit figure shows £15,000 as above but your bank balance is only £3,000. Where did the £12,000 go? A financial statement called the cashflow statement reconciles your cash to your profit. Even without a statement you can check:

Have your customers paid you late?

Have you drawn more money or dividends out?

Have you paid your suppliers early?

Have you purchased some equipment?

If you answer yes to any of these, then chances are that’s where the £12,000 is sitting.

  1. Using trends

 

Compare the current year or the current month’s figures to the previous year or month to make sure you are making progress towards your milestones and also to spot anomalies.

For example, if your phone costs or utility costs have gone down by, say 30%, compared to last year, ask yourself why. Is this because of the cost cutting decision you made a year ago? Or the change in tariff decision?

  1. Margins

It is very important to know your Gross profit margin. The next time you get your accounts, take the direct costs of sales or direct expenses (variable costs) from the revenue. Divide that number by the revenue. This is your gross profit margin.

Say your revenue is £100,000 and your materials or direct labour or direct expenses cost £70,000. The difference of £30,000 divided by £100,000 revenue gives you a margin of 30% i.e. every £1 of sale, you’re making 30p in gross profit. This tells you how profitable you are at the gross margin level and whether your business model works or not.

Two red flags: if you’re making £30,000 in gross profit but your fixed costs are say £35,000, something needs to change if you’re to remain in business. Also, if your margin is far below the industry average, you need to understand why and take corrective action.

  1. Breakeven

Breakeven is the point where your total income equals your total costs.

The reason you need an idea of your breakeven number is so that you know how much income to make to cover all your costs.

How do you get this number from your accounts? You will first need to know your total fixed costs; the costs that do not change regardless of the amount of sales you make e.g. rent, admin team costs, rates, fixed line contracts. In your profit and loss account, it should be most items listed under admin expenses – although do watch out for any variable costs that find their way under admin costs.

You then need the gross profit margin. You divide the total fixed costs by the gross profit margin and this tells you the amount of sales you need to make at any given period to cover all your costs.

Let’s assume you have calculated the margin as 30% and your fixed costs as £35,000 as per the example above.

£35,000 divided by 30% gives you a figure of £116,667. Remember the income is currently £100,000. This tells you that your business needs to grow its income or review its costs if you’re to stay in business. Armed with this number you’re in control rather than flying blind.

  1. What’s Your Business Worth?

You now know how to get and make sense of your profit figure. You also know what to look out for when you review your balance sheet and the meaning of the balance sheet value. And how to look out for the cash drain in your business. Did you know that these give you a starting point in measuring the value of your business?

Healthy profits, good cashflow and positive balance sheet values are signs of a valuable business. Of course, there are many other factors to consider when valuing your business and other key drivers of business value. However, understanding your accounts will help you make the right decisions for building the value of your business.

 

Conclusion

Numbers are the language of business. It’s important that you or someone skilled in accounting interprets them.  That way you’ll understand the story the numbers are telling you and can use this to inform your business decision-making. I hope the areas discussed here are helpful. Remember to keep talking to you accountant regularly as there are other key numbers to review.

Equity

eFounders and Yousign join forces to build the European leader on the eSignature market

Yousign, a major player on the French eSignature market, and eFounders, the startup studio at the inception of successes like Aircall, Front, and Spendesk, have joined forces to build a leader on the European eSignature market. eFounders has taken a substantial stake in Yousign by bringing its expertise and its international experience in order to build a European leader alongside American competitors.

The market for eSignatures has grown beyond $1 billion in 2018, and is expected to grow by 30% each year for the next 10 years. Europe, via the eIDAS regulation, and the USA, via the ESIGN Act, have adapted their legislation to make eSignatures legal and recognised. The obvious advantages have firmly established electronic signatures in the day-to-day processes of businesses across the world and across industries. Yousign’s customers include Cisco, Admiral Group, and Chrysler reflecting this diversity.

Launched in 2013 and certified at EU level, Yousign has thousands of clients in France using their app and API services. Yousign raised $3.3 million in early 2018 to fund its triple digit growth.
Founded in 2011, eFounders is a startup studio. Together with entrepreneurs, eFounders has launched 20 SaaS startups and is now taking on a new challenge by partnering up with an already established team.

“We’re used to building companies from scratch. Entering an existing company is new for us. We’re thrilled to be able to join the Yousign adventure and work with them towards a shared objective. We met Luc and Antoine 4 years ago when we were considered working in that space. We followed their progress and kept in touch until this summer when the opportunity to work together presented itself. “

— Thibaud Elzière, founder @eFounders

Both companies bring complementary assets to the table. Yousign has assembled a great team, deep understanding of the market, a large customer base, as well as a solid technical infrastructure. eFounders brings product and marketing expertise as well as international experience in SaaS.

“We immediately hit it off and knew from the get-go that we both had plenty to gain from relying on our complementary expertise.”

— Antoine Louiset, founder @Yousign

“The market is huge, and hugely competitive. We decided to partner up with eFounders to aim for the next level. We’re hoping that with their experience and expertise we can turn Yousign into the European eSignature leader. “

— Luc Pallavidino, founder @Yousign

After launching in France, Yousign is now entering Germany, the UK, and Spain. European countries are all subject to the same legislation, but Yousign will adapt to local cultures and markets in a way that it’s US-based competitors have not been able to.

“eFounders has focused on creating tools to help SMBs in their digital transformation and we consider eSignatures to be a key part of that transition. Our desire to position ourselves on this market and Luc and Antoine’s vision on how to address it compelled us to join forces with Yousign and to deliver our know-how and our resources. We’re excited by the challenge ahead and for the journey we will be taking together with Yousign’s founding team.”

— Quentin Nickmans, founder @eFounders

OffshoreWealth Management

How to choose the right country for opening a company

How to choose the right country for opening a company 

The world we live in today has made it quite easy for most of us to start our own company. The Internet has created a lot of new business opportunities and ideas which can be successfully put to use and to the benefit of others. With so many options, choosing the country to set up a business in is one of the most important challenges.

Selecting the country to open a company depends on the money one is willing to invest, the industry or the profession of the business person and, of course, the legislation in that particular country. Plus, one also needs to consider the many frauds which have developed along with the appearance of the Internet. One must always consider asking for legal advice from a criminal defence lawyer, if confronted with a possible fraud.

Let’s see what one should consider in terms of country of choice when deciding to start a business.

Taxation is essential when opening a business

Most business persons consider taxation as one of the most important aspects when choosing a country to start a business in. There are onshore and offshore destinations, if we are to categorize countries from a taxation point of view; however, there are also countries which provide for low taxes just as offshore states. For example, large companies can decide to set up subsidiaries in Labuan, one of the most important offshore jurisdictions in Malaysia, while benefiting from a very good taxation system.

Offshore jurisdictions are still preferred by many investors

Offshore countries remain among the preferences of many foreign entrepreneurs who consider they can reduce their taxes and ensure a higher degree of confidentiality if they decide for such a jurisdiction. Let’s take Seychelles, for instance: setting up an offshore company in Seychelles will definitely offer a good protection when it comes to the assets of the owner, if one chooses this business form. Investors can also decide to open onshore companies and complete activities just like in any other onshore jurisdiction.

Going for traditional country

There are also entrepreneurs who decide to go the old-fashioned way and settle their companies in traditional countries with well-established regulations. These are usually European countries, such as Germany, France, Spain and Italy which have evolved a lot in the last few years, especially in accommodating the needs of the new generation of investors which rely on new technologies. Those who decide to operate in Italy, for example, are advised to use the services of a local law firm in order to integrate their businesses under the legal requirements of the authorities here.

No matter the country one decides for setting up a business, what matters in the end is for that country to answer the needs of entrepreneur, while his or her products or services answer the needs of the clients in that country.