Category: Regulation

Brexit
MarketsRegulationSecurities

GDPR post Brexit and the impact on financial services

Brexit

GDPR post Brexit and the impact on financial services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep up to date with privacy laws

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

Customer communication has changed

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

Protect your digital data

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

Don’t forget paper records  

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

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

Educate staff on data protection policy

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

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

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

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

R&D tax relief

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

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

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

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

Other major users of R&D tax relief

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

Information & Communications rank high on number of claims

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

Mining & Quarrying dominate high value claims

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

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

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

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

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

Sector League Table - £ amount claimed
Sector League Table - Number of claims
Ranking League Table - average £ per claim
gdp
FundsRegulationTaxWealth Management

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

gdp

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

 

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

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

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

Funding freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

International collaboration

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

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

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

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

Uncertain fortunes

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

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

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

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

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

Climate strikes
FinanceGlobal ComplianceNatural Catastrophe

Climate change transforms high finance’s relationship with society

Climate strikes

Climate change transforms high finance’s relationship with society

 

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

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

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

Revival of campus activism

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

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

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

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

Financial institutions’ increased willingness to listen

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

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

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

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

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

ESG goes mainstream

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

Robert Blood, managing director of NGO
Robert Blood, managing director of SIGWATCH
Regulation

How Regulations Are Driving FinTech Growth

By Mark Hepsworth, CEO Asset Control 

As London Fintech Week kicks off, regulation in banking and finance, and the pressure and challenges it places on many traditional financial institutions high on the agenda. Regulation including MiFID II, SFTR and FRTB helps drive fintech growth as banks look to partner with specialist providers who can provide cost-effective ways to help firms remain compliant and make the most of their data in the process. 

 

These reporting requirements place intense demands on banks in terms of the level granularity they need to provide about their data as well as on the processes by which reports and business applications are supplied with data. Banks not only need to report more detail but also track additional contextual information around data including its sources, its quality checks and the lineage, i.e. the data’s origins, what happened to it and where it moves to over time.

 

Given the complex application landscape of many firms, this is challenging to do using only in-house resources. Fintech firms bring technological innovation to the party and have a key role to play as firms look to make the most of their data and look to lower the cost of change. Fintechs have evolved their approach based on cross-industry learning and combine expert knowledge with technological innovation.  They can provide a cost-efficient way for banks to deal with regulation and manage the many changes they need to make. 

Banks automated early and have a history of siloed decision-making and budgeting by business line when it comes to technology infrastructure. This has led to a sometimes bewildering technology landscape consisting of vast amounts of business applications, which in turn has made regulatory compliance and risk management more complex. Risk management is, after all, concerned with gaining an aggregate number that applies to the whole firm. It needs to have an enterprise perspective and that requires data integration which most banks are not specifically set up to deliver today.

 

This history of local department level automation complicates the job of managing regulatory change which is by its very nature typically at an enterprise level.  It is yet another reason why the overall regulatory problem is so large for banks and why there is an urgent need to draw on the help of specialist fintech partners.       

 

Key services that fintechs deliver to banks to streamline the process of regulatory compliance include: packaged integration; delivering a trusted quality management process; access to quality-proofed consistent pricing and reference data and easy onboarding of data feeds.

 

The last-named is especially challenging today given the increasing data-intensity of regulatory reporting and decision making. New content offerings speak to data-hungry business users but need to be integrated into reporting workflows.  Often content providers add new detail and also evolve the delivery format. Many of the traditional content providers have moved from an end-of-day, batch file-based delivery background to more interactive and intraday sourcing using modern application programming interfaces (APIs). 

 

That presents both opportunities and challenges to banks. Rather than waiting for a file to arrive from data vendors, firms simply call the API in real time to get the information they need. However, the challenge is that to truly gain advantage from these sourcing options, they additionally need the data management and integration that supports them, out-of-the-box with no manual intervention. They must also ensure they keep track of these requests and prevent unnecessary duplicate sourcing, which creates additional noise by generating multiple copies of the same data.

 

In line with this, the intensity of new regulation is far from the only problem facing banks today. There are also dealing with a range of other operational challenges including the need for improved efficiency, cost reductions and rationalisation of their technology stacks and the shift to cloud, which are also driving them to seek out the services of fintechs.

 

This requirement is often fuelled by a push to stay ahead of the competition in delivering services to their own banking customers, together with changes in the rules of engagement as business processes become more virtualised. Whatever the precise driver, the upshot is that fintech services are in greater demand.

 

Even going beyond this, however, Fintech Week may be a good time to consider that rather than just drawing on fintechs to help them with their inhouse work, banks might also consider going one step further and opting for a managed services approach. For banks there are a raft of benefits. First it enables them to shift a portion of the delivery risk to the supplier. They no longer have to go through the whole process of buying a service, implementing the solution, taking out a database licence or investing in cloud resources and creating a project team.

 

Second, when it comes to running the operation and changing they can pre-agree service levels and report against business-relevant KPIs. In other words, they buy the technology benefits with a service wrapper around it.  Managed services also allows them to start small and expand rather than necessitating a full-scale in-house implementation from the word go.   

 

That should be an important discussion point during Fintech Week. Banks need to focus on data management and data integration more than ever to meet the latest wave of regulations and drive competitive edge.  Partnering with fintechs and opting for a managed services approach enables them to do this efficiently and well, while reducing implementation and operational risk into the bargain. 

MarkHepsworth, CEO Asset Control
Mark Hepsworth, CEO Asset Control
Corporate GovernanceGlobal ComplianceLegalRegulation

The main steps to follow for opening a business abroad

Before starting a business in a foreign jurisdiction, it is important to follow a number of steps that will ensure a good understanding of the local company formation principles and laws as well as the cultural or business particularities. Opening a company in Dubai will be different from starting a business in Germany and investors should be informed of the general incorporation conditions in the jurisdiction where they decide to base their business.

Know the local company formation rules

Company incorporation is jurisdiction-specific, meaning that each country will have its particular set of rules for the incorporation and the registration of the business, as well as for obtaining permits and licenses for running the company.

Investors who open a business or a foundation in the Netherlands will need to comply with the Company Law in the Netherlands and register the company with the Chamber of Commerce or KVK.

Some countries offer more attractive business conditions, compared to others, especially for startups, in terms of company taxation and the overall ease of doing business. Researching the particularities of a jurisdiction is the key for finding a suitable business location.

Request professional aid

In some situations, reaching out to a local law firm or professional company formation specialist can be a good solution. Investors in the United Kingdom can also request professional defense solicitor services if they have been the victims of criminal business acts while performing an economic activity in that country.

Research the market

Understanding the local needs and preferences, as well as performing a targeted market research, can be a key ingredient for businesses that are successful in foreign markets. Due diligence is important when starting a business abroad. For example, when opening a luxury car rental business in Dubai, investors can start by analyzing the competition, the market particularities and the preferences of the clients in order to determine how their services can meet the needs of the clients.

Researching the conditions for doing business and the general steps for company formation, understanding the business and cultural differences as well as getting to know the market and the clients are all good steps when deciding to open a business abroad.

Legal

The facts behind PCP

Being realistic, we all have a bit of Hyacinth Bucket instilled in us — in that rivalry with our neighbours is something that is preconditioned within us. When the hypothetical family from number 28 parade the street in their new Mercedes GLE, doing somewhat of a victory lap, Google is just seconds away as we scout our next big purchase.

Getting the opportunity to drive the car of your dreams, for many of us, will either be completely financially unviable, or be the root cause of a serious marital dispute. But, as John Paul Getty once remarked, “if it appreciates, buy it. If it depreciates, lease it.” Many throughout the UK have taken the once-oil tycoon’s advice and done just that.

AA research suggests that after three years, a car will have depreciated by 60% from its original showroom price tag, and that is if the car is averaging 10,000 miles per year. The biggest losses come in the first year however, with a deduction of around 40% being made by the end of the first 365 days. Obviously, there are different ways of putting the brakes on depreciation. Keeping the car clean, regular servicing in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines, and one eye on the mileage gauge, will all go a long way in reducing potential losses.

But is there another option to consider?

PCP

A personal contract purchase (PCP) is proving itself to be a popular option amongst those who pick finance, with 78% of those choosing the agreement. Admittedly, it goes against everything our parents have told us to do, in regard to owning our own car, but if you can battle those initial demons, then we’re here to show you why this might be for you.

Cost

Fronting the cash for a brand-new car is not something we can all do with apparent ease, as in reality not everyone has tens of thousands of pounds kicking about in their spare bedroom. With PCP, the payment is broken down into three major chunks. Firstly, you’ve got the initial deposit which is usually 10% of the car’s showroom value. Secondly, the monthly payments which will include enough to cover the depreciation costs incurred throughout the contract. Finally — and this is where things change  once the final payment of the contract has been made, you get the option to either return the car or take a new one on a new contract. Or, you can pay a balloon payment and then the car is yours.

By taking out a PCP lease, the monthly repayments are significantly lower than they would be with a finance deal. The option then presents itself is to drive a car that you would initially have deemed to be significantly out of your price range. Therefore, if you don’t have a big deposit and want lower monthly repayments, then this might be exactly what you’re after.

Mileage

Congestion charges, heavy traffic, and the cherry on the top of the cake — parking. Three reasons many drivers in the UK have steered away from the daily commute in the car and opted for public transport. A decade ago, our decision when purchasing a car will have depended hugely on our day-to-day usage — but when that isn’t the same, why should the choice be?

The average annual mileage of a car in the UK is 7,900. One drawback of renting your car through PCP is that is that when initially taking out the contract, you are given a mileage restriction and if you exceed this, you will be penalised. If, however, you would consider yourself to be one of those average UK drivers, then PCP offers no qualms. The opportunity to purchase a new contract once your current one is up means you aren’t going to have spent your days driving around in an old car with high mileage.

The beauty of PCP, particularly if you don’t use your car for your daily commute, is you can effectively buy a weekend car. When purchasing a new car outright, you are restricted by the constant reminder that you will have this car for the foreseeable future. With PCP, you can buy the car that caters exactly to the needs of your evenings and weekends. For example, an SUV if you go camping with the kids most weekends throughout the summer, or a two-door roadster, if your Sundays are filled by coastal runs. And, if your circumstances do change, you can simply exchange the car.

Not only has PCP offered motorists a car they would never have been able to otherwise afford, it has in some sense saved the British car market. For the past three years, the number of new car sales in the UK has stayed above 2.5million units per year, in comparison to 2011 when it was only 1.9million.

Premium brands such as Audi, Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar Land Rover have all performed outstandingly through the system. This is due to the fact these cars hold their value better, and therefore depreciation is less, ultimately benefiting both dealer and driver. Mercedes reported a 100% upturn in UK sales since 2010.

The statistics makes sense, with more and more dealerships offering customers the opportunity to own a new car for £99 a month, when their total gym membership and mobile phone contract equates to more — well, it’s a no brainer.

Corporate GovernanceRegulation

What does ULEZ have in store for us?

The world is constantly changing – and the world of driving is no different! The concept of the electric car is gradually growing as the UK government plans to eliminate diesel and petrol-powered cars by 2040.

However, before that is the introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London. Here, alongside Lookers who offer Ford Motability Cars, we look at what ULEZ is and what it means to motorists.

Just what is ULEZ and when can we expect it to come into play?

To travel in the ULEZ, your vehicle will need to meet a new, tighter exhaust emission standard. Failure to do so will see you needing to pay a daily charge if you want to travel inside the area of the ULEZ.

The introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone is intended to help improve the air quality in central London. Currently, air pollution is one of the biggest challenges London is facing. As road transport is the biggest source of the health-damaging emissions in London, the government is tightening its rules regarding traffic.

ULEZ is set to come into play from 8th April this year, with the area to be expanded from 25th October 2021. This expansion will see the zone include the inner London area. 

How will ULEZ affect your vehicle?

If your car doesn’t meet the criteria, you’ll face a £12.50 charge each day. This charge runs every day of the year too.  Generally, if you own a petrol car that was registered after 2005, it will meet the ULEZ standards. If you own a diesel car, it’s normally those registered after September 2015 that will be exempt from the charge.

If you own a van, minibus or specialist vehicle, you’ll face slightly different regulations than those in a car. Minimum emission standards are:

  • Petrol: Euro 4
  • Diesel: Euro 6

Petrol models sold from January 2006 should meet these standards, as too should diesel vans which were sold from September 2016. Like cars, the daily fee for those which don’t meet the standards is £12.50.

Motorbikes and mopeds also carry the same cost for failing to have a model that meets the standards. Generally, motorbikes, or similar vehicles, will reach the required Euro 3 standards if they were registered with the DVLA after July 2007.

The cost rises considerably for lorries, coaches and large vehicles that aren’t up to the required standard. Any that don’t meet the Euro VI standards (usually those registered before 2014) must pay a daily charge of £100.

It’s important to note that these costs are in addition to any applicable Congestion Charge.

Are there any exemptions?

If you live within the boundaries of the ULEZ, you’ll receive a ‘sunset period’. This entitles you to a full discount of the charges, so you have more time to have a vehicle that meets the required standards. This discount will run until 24th October 2021. After this time, residents must pay the full charge.

Also benefitting from a sunset period are drivers with a disabled or disabled passenger vehicles tax class. Their exemption runs until 26th October 2025, unless their vehicle changes its tax class. Blue Badge holders, however, must pay the charge from its introduction date.

If you own a historic vehicle and it has historic vehicle tax, you’ll be exempt. This is the case unless the vehicle is used commercially. Agricultural and military vehicles are also exempt, as are certain types of mobile cranes.

While the ULEZ may be an issue for drivers of older cars, it’s important to remember that it has been designed to help us in our everyday life and is just another step on the government’s drive for a cleaner UK. It’s clear that the government is aware of the issue that pollution is causing and is trying to eradicate further damage to our planet.

Corporate Finance and M&A/DealsRegulation

Financial Services Employees Put Their Employers at Risk through Unsecure Communication

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Additional findings from the survey include:


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

Global Compliance

Samuel Knight expands its US presence with new hire and plans for Chicago

Leading energy and rail recruitment firm, Samuel Knight International, has announced plans to extend its US operations with a new head office in Chicago as the need for rail infrastructure talent in the city looks set to grow.

With a strong track record in supporting some of the world’s most exciting engineering projects in over 30 countries, the £16 million pound turnover business plans to extend this expansion across Boston, California and Atlanta to support employment as demand for niche energy and rail professionals increases in the States.

The firm has also welcomed a new Chairman to help drive this growth. James Barbour-Smith joins the agency, bringing with him a wealth of experience in working with numerous fast growing businesses to develop and implement their growth strategies. Drawing on almost twenty years in private equity investment and portfolio management involving over 50 companies in a broad range of sectors, James also has an extensive background across the US and European markets.

Commenting on this latest news, Steve Rawlingson, CEO of Samuel Knight and President of Samuel Knight Corp, said:

“We know from experience that the States offers a wealth of opportunity for rail, energy and infrastructure recruitment and as we’ve seen demand for our services increase in the US, expanding our physical presence across the States made complete sense. Now really is the time for excelled growth for us which is why we’re investing in these four new offices – with the potential for more to be opened further down the line.”

James Barbour-Smith added:

“There’s huge investment in offshore and onshore energy in the US at the moment. Given the firm’s global experience in attracting niche talent in these fields, Samuel Knight is undoubtedly well placed to support business across the States and deliver the results that reflect this investment. I look forward to working with the team as Chairman in this exciting period of growth.”

Corporate GovernanceMarketsStock Markets

Sectigo Delivers Record Quarter of Growth Underpinned by More Than 35% YoY Enterprise Sales Increase in Q1 2019

Addition of Top Brands, Along with New Email Encryption and Digital Signing Product, Drive Sales for World’s Largest Commercial SSL Provider

Sectigo (formerly Comodo CA), the world’s largest commercial Certificate Authority and a leader in web security solutions, today announced a larger than 35% year-over-year (YoY) increase in enterprise sales during the first quarter of 2019, fueled by the adoption of the company’s Certificate Manager, Private CA, S/MIME, and IoT Manager enterprise solutions. Sectigo also kicked off 2019 with an expanded partner program, the release of its Zero-Touch Deployment S/MIME product, a new strategic IoT alliance, and receipt of numerous awards.

Sectigo’s record quarter follows a breakthrough year and a complete corporate rebrand in November of 2018. The company has experienced rapid growth since expanding beyond TLS/SSL certificates to offer solutions that protect enterprises of all sizes from increasingly sophisticated web-based threats across websites, IoT devices, internal infrastructure, and cloud services.

“After delivering a strong 2018 where Sectigo’s growth was more than twice as fast as the overall market, we have accelerated our efforts by doubling down on addressing the enterprise’s most pressing needs through product innovation,” said Bill Holtz, CEO, Sectigo.

“Enterprises are embracing automated certificate management to facilitate discovery, installation, and renewal for their vast inventories of private and public certificates across diverse use cases and operating systems. These capabilities are essential to securing our complex enterprise environments and their increasing use of virtualization, containerization, mobile devices, IoT, and DevOps. Certificate automation enables strong identity in these complex environments and protects against costly outages caused by unexpected certificate expirations,” Holtz added.

Sectigo highlights in Q1 2019 include:

Enterprise growth – Dozens of marquee brands, spanning retail to technology sectors, enlisted Sectigo as their trusted partner for certificate management. Sectigo Certificate Manager provides enterprises with complete visibility and lifecycle control over any public and private certificate in its environment all from a single portal.

Product innovation – In February, Sectigo introduced the industry’s first Zero-Touch S/MIME solution to combat business email compromise (BEC) and other spear phishing attacks and increase compliance with regulations like HIPAA/HITECH, GDPR, and the U.S. Department of Defense’s DFARS. The innovation modernizes email security and encryption by using automation to deploy digital certificates across every desktop, tablet, and mobile device in an enterprise.

Expanded IoT ecosystem – Sectigo and Kyrio, a subsidiary of CableLabs, formed a strategic alliance to provide the expertise needed for IoT projects to be designed, architected, built, and deployed with security in mind from day one. Multi-vendor ecosystems, including the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF), CBRS WInnForum, and SunSpec Alliance, have already chosen Kyrio and Sectigo to manage their global PKI deployments.

Industry awards – Sectigo won five company awards and received three executive honors in Q1.
Cyber Defense Magazine’s InfoSec Awards – CEO Bill Holtz was named the Most Innovative Chief Executive of the Year, Sectigo Certificate Manager earned the Hot Company Identity Management Award, IoT Manager was selected for Publisher’s Choice IoT Security, and Zero-Touch S/MIME won the Next-Gen Deep Sea Phishing Award.
2019 Info Security PG’s Global Excellence Awards® – Sectigo IoT Manager was awarded bronze in the New Product or Service of the Year category, and CMO Jonathan Skinner won gold for Marketing Professional of the Year.
2019 Cybersecurity Excellence Awards – Sectigo won silver for Most Innovative Cybersecurity Company, and gold for Cybersecurity Marketer of the Year (for CMO, Skinner).

Channel expansion – Sectigo unveiled a revamped Channel Partner Program, enabling partners to grow into new cybersecurity market segments. By teaming up with Sectigo, resellers develop their product portfolios and learn best practices for optimizing the customer experience. After collaborating with Sectigo, ICANN-accredited registrar Uniregistry, saw 53% of users who expressed interest in their UniSSL products complete purchases.

Thought leadership – Sectigo launched Root Causes: A PKI and Security Podcast to frame public conversations and discuss key issues, breaking news, and major trends in digital certificates and PKI. Co-hosted by Sectigo industry veterans Jason Soroko and Tim Callan, Root Causes is now live on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, SoundCloud, Blubrry, and Stitcher.

Global ComplianceWealth Management

Sparta Global announces appointment of Andy King as Managing Director

Sparta Global, a leading provider of technology and business services, today announces the appointment of Andy King as its new Managing Director. Andy joins Sparta Global following the opening of its new Head Office at 125 London Wall and £4m equity investment from Private equity house Key Capital Partners (KCP) to support its continued growth and expansion.

With his new position as Managing Director at Sparta Global taking full effect from 10th April 2019, Andy will assist with the attraction, training and deployment of highly skilled graduates in blue chip organisations – reporting to David Rai, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Sparta Global.

As former UK & Ireland Managing Director of FDM Group PLC, Andy and his team were responsible for a total revenue of £106.7m (circa 52% of total group revenue) and more than 1800 consultants deployed with clients across the UK. Additionally, he was responsible for overseeing and implementing new academies across the UK. Before his 10-year tenure at FDM Group PLC, Andy was the Global Head of Testing at Barclays Wealth for 5 years.

David Rai, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Sparta Global, says; “Attracting someone of Andy’s calibre, track record and growth potential to Sparta Global is incredibly exciting. Andy is a highly motivated individual with extensive experience managing and leading global teams across sectors such as investment banking and the public sector. His proven track record in sales, graduate recruitment, training, mentoring and programme delivery – combined with a positive attitude and passion to drive a successful team – makes him an ideal fit for Sparta Global.”

Of his appointment, Andy King says; “I am hugely excited to be joining Sparta Global at such a key stage in its growth and development. Sparta Global has built a strong platform in the UK with Academies in London, the Midlands and North of England, fulfilling the growing UK-wide demand for diverse, highly skilled and dynamic technology professionals. I look forward to working with the exceptional team at Sparta Global and giving our clients the tools to power technology projects across a diverse range of industries”.

AccountancyValue Chain Management

Guidant Global announces new leadership line-up to drive further international expansion

Guidant Global, part of Impellam Group, is delighted to announce changes to its executive team as the global leader in talent acquisition and managed workforce solutions continues to make rapid progress in expanding and transforming its portfolio across international markets.

Former Senior Vice President of Global Solutions, Karen Gonzalez, is stepping into the newly created role of Chief Sales Officer where she will become immediately responsible for overseeing global sales across North America and in the UK.

For over 25 years, Gonzalez has dedicated her career to helping clients find better ways to manage their workforces. She was appointed to her former role, overseeing the company’s sales organization, in 2015. In her first year she led the sales team to achieve more than $650 million in spend under management, a figure which has now risen to more than $1.5 billion.

Commenting on her expanded remit, Karen Gonzales, Chief Sales Officer at Guidant Global, said:

“I am delighted to be stepping into this new role which is firmly aligned with Guidant Global’s long term objectives through enabling a more holistic approach to international sales strategy. I’m incredibly excited by what can be achieved, both in the short to medium term and as we continue to expand into new geographies.”

Former President of the Americas, Brian Salkowski, meanwhile, has been elevated to Chief Operating Officer where he will lead the implementation of the brand’s strategic vision and its operational delivery.

Dedicated to changing the dynamic of MSP services by championing a better, more forward-thinking approach, Salkowski has 20 years’ experience in the workforce management industry and was a key figure behind the coming together of Bartech and Guidant Group, which marked the inception of Guidant Global in 2018.


Commenting on his new role, Brian Salkowski, Chief Operating Officer at Guidant Global, said:

“I am honored to step into this role at a time when the organization continues to grow its portfolio across international markets. The creation of Guidant Global enabled greater sharing of best practice, best people and operational accountability for the workforce solutions business and through the creation of a Chief Operating Officer role we are able to bring greater synergy across implementation, operations and account management.”

Simon Blockley, CEO of Guidant Global, added:

“I’d like to congratulate both Karen and Brian on their new positions and I have no doubt that both will excel in their new roles. The alignment of our key teams is integral to success in expanding our global reach and this new leadership structure is indicative of our commitment to finding better ways of working in order to meet our organizational objectives.”

ArticlesCorporate Governance

How important is online branding and marketing for your business?

Branding and marketing and the effects on a business

 

Can we bring short-term sales goals and long term value together through brand-building and marketing?

 

Known as Thomson Holidays, the holiday company decided to undertake a total rebrand, becoming TUI, in 2017. CMO Kate McAlister explained that upon rebranding, their brand awareness increased by 36% in under one year. 

 

As indicated in the graph, 2017 saw a boom in stock prices and google searches. Furthermore, this is a perfect example of the positive effect branding can have on a business’ stock price and google search.

Branding and marketing is a consistent combination of several factors that come together to create a company’s image. The cold Coca Cola you’ve been craving, or the newest Apple iPhone upgrade. Brands, brands, brands. We recognise these immediately – we trust them.

“Strong brands performed 20% better than weaker brands.”

 Digital marketing is also an essential part to build whether it be B2C or B2B.

 

Statistics show that 32% of businesses plan one year ahead, with consideration for the ways in which the marketing industry will change through digital technologies.

 

Text Local researched the ways in which customer satisfaction was affected by mobile marketing and general mobile readiness.

 

Bringing together real-life data and hidden data, Text Local have been gathering information about the levels of mobile website speed of various businesses and the positive effects it had on customer happiness.

When it comes to customer satisfaction there are many platforms for online reviews. Online reviews not only give potential customers a snapshot of the quality of your product or service, they are also very beneficial to your search rankings and search page visibility.

Comparing business success metrics, we can conclude that online branding and digital marketing is something to consider for 2019 – improving customer satisfaction, business efficiency, Google rank and a boom in revenue.

 Sources: Google, Text Local

FundsMarketsRegulationWealth Management

FTI Consulting Resilience Barometer Sheds Light on Lack of Business Preparedness

At this week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, FTI Consulting launched their inaugural 2019 Resilience Barometer which explores how G20 companies are tackling an interconnected, technologically disrupted and increasingly regulated world. Astonishingly, the report has found that whilst companies anticipate challenges, such as cybersecurity and data, they remain largely unprepared.

 

In an age categorised by the WEF as “The Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” (4IR), it is more important than ever for G20 companies to be instrumental in supporting societies and governments navigating unavoidable uncertainty and volatility. FTI Consulting’s new report outlines the key challenges we face as we move into 2019 by investigating company preparedness to 18 scenarios which could have a negative impact on turnover, value and reputation.

 

Highlights of the report include:

  • The resilience score for the G20 is only 40 points (out of a top score of 100 points) and turnover has been lowered by an average of 5.1% over the last 12 months, a major cause for concern in an environment that is growing more and more challenging.
  • We have found that the biggest threat to resilience in 2019 is that of ‘cyber-attacks stealing or compromising assets’ and 30% of companies we surveyed said this had happened to them in 2018. Yet whilst 28% of business leaders predict that this will occur to them over the next year, just 45% say that they are taking proactive steps to manage this risk.
  • 87% of companies expect a major crisis in 2019, yet only 4 in 10 are very confident in their ability to manage such a scenario.
  • One-third (1/3) of companies acknowledged that they are not doing enough to keep their data safe.

Kevin Hewitt, Chairman of FTI Consulting EMEA region explained that: “This report looks to identify and unpick the challenges, and opportunities, that companies are facing today as they manage risk and enhance their corporate value. More must be done to ensure sufficient infrastructure and processes are in place to proactively manage business threats in 2019. With significant expertise and experience, FTI Consulting is well placed to help businesses effectively respond in an effective and efficient way.”

 

Following the launch of the FTI 2019 Resilience Barometer, FTI Consulting will be attending the WEF in Davos this week and are available for more in-depth analysis of these results and how FTI Consulting can help your company build resilience and protect value in the face of challenges brought about by the 4IR.

Regulation

47% of businesses look internally to bridge dire skills shortages, survey reveals

.Almost half of business (47%) believe that developing staff internally will be their greatest opportunity from a talent management perspective over the next three years. That is according to a survey of 1,500 UK-based hiring managers by international talent acquisition and managed workforce solutions provider, Guidant Global.

The news comes as 78% of all respondents admit they are currently finding it difficult to access the quality and volume of talent their businesses need to thrive, with 39% of hiring managers finding that uncertainty around Brexit has directly impacted access to talent.

Other measures that those surveyed plan on implementing to bridge current and future skills gaps include using technology to plan and manage workforces more strategically, and tapping into underutilised talent pools, which were favoured by 22% and 16% of respondents respectively.

A further 8% of hiring managers plan on taking a more global approach to sourcing and managing staff, while 5% are maximising the potential of contingent talent by flexing workforces to meet demand.

Commenting on the findings, Simon Blockley, Managing Director, EMEA, at Guidant Global, said:

“While the chronic skills shortages which are impacting the UK labour market have been well documented, these findings demonstrate that smart businesses are working hard behind the scenes to mitigate against future talent gaps.

“It’s encouraging to see that a significant proportion of businesses are concentrating on training and developing existing teams as part of their wider talent management strategy, particularly when you consider that skills demand is shifting rapidly in line with the digital revolution. Taking this approach also has the added benefit of increasing engagement levels, which is proven to have a positive impact on retention and productivity long-term.”

ArticlesRegulation

Brits spend £1.45m on post-Christmas return to work, Edinburgh and Bristol lead the way

Statistics from leading m-ticketing provider Corethree show mobile transport tickets sales have increased more than 23 times since 2015, showcasing appetite for digital mobility

Corethree – Europe’s leading mobile ticketing and payment solutions provider, has announced record-breaking figures of 140,000 mobile tickets issued on the first full working day of 2018, as the majority of Britain returns to work and school after the Christmas break. This figure is an astonishing 23 times more than recorded in 2015, showcasing appetite for a smarter digital way to commute and travel across the country.

 

With Manchester and Bristol leading the way in 2017, Edinburgh emerges as the region where the majority of mobile tickets were sold, followed by Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds.

 

Corethree CEO Ashley Murdoch commented: “People are becoming more aware of the benefits of mobile ticketing. As smart cities across the country become a reality, it’s not just about getting passengers from A to B, but improving the value of their journey before embarking at A and after disembarking at B. With ticket sales growing at a spectacular 2000% rate from 2015 to 2019, we expect mobile tickets will become the default way for people to move, offering a fresher and more meaningful experience that goes beyond catching a bus”.

 

For a more detailed breakdown of stats or information, please get in touch.

 

About Corethree

Corethree is a fast-growing data technology business, solving business problems and creating new revenue opportunities through mobile. As Europe’s largest provider of mobile ticketing and cashless payment technologies, Corethree integrates disparate data points to create simple, easy to use solutions to maximise revenues and improve customer service.

 

Since its launch in 2012, Corethree has built up an enviable client base including, but not limited to, First Group, Arriva, Transport for London and TfGM. Using historical travel data intelligence from its industry-leading digital ticketing platform, Core Engine, Corethree arms its clients with valuable industry knowledge and insights as to the way passengers move and travel around the UK, allowing the development for better business models and stronger consumer relations.

 

Corethree’s m-ticketing apps are available for download via the iTunes App Store, Android or Google Play.

 

ArticlesFinanceRegulation

Brexit, transferring data and what it all means – Prettys explains…

The House of Commons is yet to vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit withdrawal agreement and, until then, there are still a number of unanswered questions, including the issue of transferring data internationally post-Brexit.

 

While the government has assured people and businesses in the UK that they will still be able to transfer any data they want into Europe after Brexit, receiving it as easily has not yet been confirmed by the EU. 

Leading Ipswich-based law firm, Prettys, has an expert Data Protection team highly experienced in dealing with a wide range of issues. Matthew Cole heads up the team and explains what could happen following the vote. He also gives advice to organisations on how they should approach their data sharing processes going forward.    

 

What regulations are currently in place? 

Currently with Data Protection law and GDPR regulations, if you’re within the European Economic Area (EEA), you are free to transfer data over national borders.

However, if you are transferring data from within the EEA to outside of the EEA, then you can only do it under certain grounds. These are:

  • If the third party has an adequacy agreement in place
  • If you have explicit consent from the data subjects to transfer their information
  • If permission has been given in a contract with the data subject

If none of these factors apply, then a safeguard is required to transfer the data. And safeguards take one of three forms:

  • Binding corporate rules
  • A contract with European Commission model clauses
  • A code of practice that enables transfers, such as the U.S. Privacy Shield

What happens if the withdrawal agreement is passed?

Should Parliament approve the withdrawal agreement, we will not have to worry about data transfer until 31 December 2020. This is when the transition period comes to an end and the withdrawal agreement works towards the parties getting an adequacy agreement.

The transition period will allow the UK to get to a stage where the EU recognises it as an adequate jurisdiction and data can continue to flow as normal.

This should be fairly straightforward, as our country already has good data protection and information regulations in place following GDPR.

 

What happens if the withdrawal agreement is not passed?

Unless there is any other intervention, such as a second referendum or the Article 50 notification is revoked, it would mean the UK crashes out of the EU and, ultimately, all bets will be off.

We will effectively become a ‘third country’ from 11.00pm GMT on 29 March 2019. This will make things complicated, as there will be no recognition in place from the EU and no adequacy agreement.

This means that we will be able to continue transferring data into the EU but they will find it much more difficult to receive it.     

 

So, what can businesses do in the meantime?

The first thing businesses need to do is get an audit to indicate where they currently share data in Europe and where data is received.

They also need to be aware of:

  • Where their servers are hosted
  • If their websites are maintained in other countries
  • If they’re using cloud services based in other countries 

Once they have established where their data transfers occur, they can then look for any significant data flows between member states and the UK and establish whether they have the ability to continue transferring this data. This may require them to put a safeguard in place.

Binding corporate rules are usually the best option here but, with all the regulatory bodies they need to go through for approval, it would not be possible for a business to get this in place by late March.

Migrating data is another option many businesses are exploring, which means putting all their data in a centre in mainland Europe or vice versa. 

Mathew Cole
FundsGlobal ComplianceTransactional and Investment Banking

The rise of renewable energy

You can’t deny that businesses around the world have taken a greater focus on sustainability — and although this has been damaging for some companies, it has been a great shift for others. One prime example of this is the renewable energy sector; while traditional energy markets are faltering and facing a challenging road ahead, the renewables sector is breaking records.

Although a lot of markets rely on natural resources to operate, the renewables industry use resources that naturally replenish. Collected under the umbrella term of renewables is solar, wind and wave power, alongside biomass and biofuels.

As the market continues to grow, HTL Group, specialists in controlled bolting for the wind energy sector, analyses where the renewables sector is at now:

The market’s performance

The recent years have been successful for the renewables sector. In 2016, 138 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity was created, showing an 8% increase on 2015, when 128 GW was added.

Occupying 55% market share and using 138 GW of power, the renewable energy sector is in the lead. Following in second place, coal created 54 GW of power-generating capacity, while gas created 37 GW and nuclear created 10 GW.

Renewables’ huge contribution to the global power-generating capacity accounted for 55% of 2016’s electricity generation capacity and 17% of the total global power capacity, increasing from 15% in 2015.

Research released by the UNEP highlighted that the renewable sector prevented 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 in 2016 alone. Based on the 39.9 billion tonnes of CO2 that was released in 2016, the figure would have been 4% higher without the availability of renewable energy sources.

Renewable market investment

Regardless of the continued growth of the sector, investments actually decreased in 2016. In 2016, $242 billion was invested in the sector, showing a 23% decrease on 2015’s figures. This reduction can largely be attributed to the falling cost of technology in each sector.

However, this could be down to the alterations made to markets on a country-specific basis. In 2016, Europe was the only region to see an increase in investment in the renewables sector, rising 3% on 2015’s figures to reach $60 billion. This performance is largely driven by the region’s offshore wind projects, which accounted for $26 billion of the total, increasing by over 50% on 2015’s figures.

Across Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium, investment seems to be strong. UK investment slipped by 1% on the previous year, while Germany’s investment dropped by 14%.

Believe it or not, investments made from China decreased from 2015’s $78 billion to $37 billion. Investment from developing nations also dropped in 2016 to a total of $117 billion, down from $167 billion in 2015. In 2016, investment had almost levelled out between developed and developing countries ($125 billion vs $117 billion).

What does the future look like?

With greater developments, the future looks bright for the renewable sector. From the falling cost of technology to societal shifts like the 2040 ban to prevent the sale of new petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars, the future certainly looks positive for the sector — even if investment has declined in the past year.

In the future, it is inevitable that the sector will overtake more traditional markets on a global scale, revolutionising how we generate and consume energy.

This article was provided by HTL Group, hydraulic torque wrench suppliers.

ArticlesCash ManagementFX and PaymentLegalStock Markets

Keeping your Payment options open, by Anderson Zaks

EPOS, MobilePOS, Pin on Glass, Pin on Mobile – there’s a lot to choose from for today’s merchant. Adina Ahmed, Chief Technology Officer at Anderson Zaks explains some of the latest options.

“In many emerging economies, people are by-passing traditional bank and card accounts altogether and adopting mobile payments”

Mobile phones have revolutionalised the way we live today. The way we communicate, watch TV and other online entertainment, and, the way we shop. The next obvious step, is the way that we manage our money and pay for goods and services. But these days, it isn’t just settling the bill in a restaurant, or buying something enticing in the sales, with contactless people are paying for their morning coffee, and with PSD2 and the associated deregulation, they will soon be able to make direct payments to each other. In many emerging economies, people are by-passing traditional bank and card accounts altogether and adopting mobile payments in much the same way that they have missed out broadband landlines – it’s a whole layer of infrastructure that they simply don’t need. 

The payment market in China is a prime example where most people don’t have a credit or debit card, or plastic of any kind. They have leapfrogged straight to mobile apps and user friendly ecosystems that seamlessly blend social media, ecommerce, payment and other finance functions. Consumers in China now rarely carry a wallet or cash, and even buskers display a QR code so that people can leave tips. 

Consumers in the UK, particularly younger people that are now coming into the workplace (millennials) expect to pay for everything contactless, many don’t carry cash. This presents a problem for the smaller retailer or merchant. How do they take payments without a full blown EPOS system? There are a whole range of options now opening up to merchants in the UK, and as evidenced in China, they don’t need a heavy IT implementation with all its associated costs, nor are they tied into long contracts with banks or card providers. 

PIN on Glass (POG) solutions are already available in the UK. As the name suggests, PIN on Glass has evolved from the traditional PIN pad so that merchants can now use a touchscreen device to capture the PIN. There are a range of versatile devices, referred to as SmartPOS, that have been designed for this very purpose. Typically run on Android, they have additional security features baked in, a scanner for bar codes and QR codes, and can print receipts. The beauty of these devices is that they can run with a user-friendly app, enabling smaller merchants to operate using the device as a standalone solution, without the need to have a full blown EPOS solution.

These purpose built POG terminals connect directly to a bank, to accept payment. They are sleek and modern, and the apps that run on them are intuitive and easy to use for both staff and the consumer. The devices run with all current card technologies including swipe and contactless, providing an all in one solution so that the merchant doesn’t need a computer in the shop or at whatever location they need to take payments. 

For independent software vendors (ISV), POG devices enable them to migrate their existing POS solutions to a smaller, portable device, opening up the market to much smaller merchants than they might have otherwise targeted. 

At Anderson Zaks we are already working with several ISVs to incorporate our payment platform into their PIN on Glass solution. 

pros assist
AccountancyArticles

Not Just Your Accountants, But an Extension to Your Business!

Not Just Your Accountants, But an Extension to Your Business!

Pros Assist consists of a gifted team of qualified practicing members of the Institute of Financial Accountants, notably headed by the Director and Senior Financial Accountant, Alom Rouf. We profiled the firm and Alom to discover more about the innovative services that they provide to their clients.

With over 15 years of experience in private practice, advising sole traders and partnership clients alike, Alom leads the Pros Assist team in offering clients expert advice on a diverse range of business support, including guidance on business planning and funding, advising on project viability, as well as all matters relating to taxation and profit.

With such a diverse team, it enables Pros Assist to provide their clients with selection of specialist services which include; SME business advice, personal & corporate tax planning, financial analysis, company incorporation, bookkeeping & accounting and company secretarial & treasury to name just a few.

Throughout the years, Alom has gained a vast amount of experience in evaluating sole trader and partnership clients, to assess whether they would be better off incorporating. In addition to this, he advises clients on how to extract profits in the most tax efficient way. Also, Alom provides clients with a diverse range of business support, advising on project viability, business planning and funding. As the face of Pros Assist, Alom is a very professional, friendly, and approachable accountant.

The team pride themselves in being dedicated to their clients, ensuring all professional needs are taken care of to the highest standard. All members of staff are highly qualified with up-to-date training, as well as regulated by the Institute of Financial Accountants; to ensure that clients can be rest assured that they are in good hands.

One of the USPs at Pros Assist, is the proactive approach which they take in making themselves available at the client’s convenience. The team understand that SME business owners often work round the clock, so they make themselves available with ease of communication via, emails,
texts, and even social media. The teams mobile contact details are made available to the clients ensuring the highest level of care 24/7.

As for the firm’s three core strengths, these are:

• Flexibility: We make ourselves available when you are available 

• Reliability: All our staff are qualified and professionally trained with several years of experience. 

• Affordability: We work on a Fixed Fee basis, so what we quote you in the beginning is exactly what we charge you in the end.

Pros Assist specialise in business start-ups and looking after owner managed businesses. The firm offers all levels of financial assistance – whether you are looking to form your own company and don’t know where to begin, or you have some experience and want to make some changes, or if you simply require an all-round accountant to deal with all your business affairs.

Looking ahead to what the future holds for the firm, Alom and the team at Pros Assist will continue to provide their award-winning excellent advice and guidance to their clients, helping them to get their business off the ground and established in the industry.

 

Contact: Alom Rouf

Company: Pros Assist Highstone House, 165 High Street Hertfordshire, Barnet, EN5 5SU, UK

Telephone: 020 3697 0878

Web Address: www.prosassist.com

SteelEye MiFID II
Global Compliance

Reflecting on six months of MiFID II

Reflecting on six months of MiFID II

By Matt Smith, SteelEye

The financial services industry is in the throes of a new era. In January, the biggest overhaul of its operations in the past decade was implemented – the second Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, or MiFID II for short. MiFID II had those in the industry working overtime last Christmas as they scrambled to become compliant for deadline day, but major Exchanges failing to implement the regulation on time, postponement of dark pool caps and reigning confusion meant that, for many, January 3 failed to have the impact that was expected.

In the six or so months that followed, the industry has continued to adapt to this shifting landscape and new elements of the regulation have trickled in. Below, Matt Smith, CEO of compliance tech and data analytics firm SteelEye, explains what’s been happening on the ground since ‘the day of the MiFID’ and what we can expect to see in the future.

 

Best execution

Firms’ best execution requirements under MiFID II are far from over. Regulators have consistently cited execution quality as fundamental to the integrity of the market and, accordingly, MiFID II’s best execution requirements are extensive.

The first of these, RTS28, was implemented on April 30 and required firms to publicly disclose their order routing practices for clients across all asset classes in human and machine-readable reports. This was followed soon after by RTS27, which hit firms on June 30 and requires quarterly best execution reports detailing the ‘sufficient steps’ that have been taken to achieve the best possible results for clients when executing orders. This required the capturing of a remarkable amount of data, a process aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in the industry.

But experts believe it will still be a while longer before the data generated under these reports is sufficiently detailed and consistent enough to have a significant impact on trading behaviour. There have also been problems among firms unsure of what exactly to include in the reports, with many calling for regulators to issue more detailed guidance. Perhaps the next quarterly disclosures under RTS27, due in September, will make bigger waves.

 

Research unbundling

MiFID II’s unbundling rules have, so far, been the most controversial. Under these new rules, firms need to make explicit payments for investment research in order to prove that they are not being induced to trade – meaning free research is no more.

This created a number of hurdles for buy and sell-side firms, which set about creating frameworks to evaluate the materials they produce, distribute and consume in order to understand whether or not it now needs to be paid for under MiFID II. Currently the impact on the market is unclear, but there has been early evidence of an increase in M&A activity as providers tie up their services to expand sector coverage, and the more frequent use of tech to maximise existing research platforms.

The FCA has already announced a review into the application of these new unbundling rules. This is somewhat unsurprising, given that firms were issued with no guidance on how they should negotiate and price their research under MiFID II.

 

Dark pool transparency

One of the major focuses of MiFID II was to force equity trading back onto public stock markets by reducing the use of dark pools in favour of lit book trading venues. Early evidence suggests that the share of trading on lit exchanges hasn’t risen since January, still comprising around 50% of all trades.

But, price swings have fallen, as have trading volumes in dark pools. Additionally, the LSE’s total lit order book ADV rose to £6.2bn in the first quarter of 2018 – the exchange’s highest quarterly performance in a decade. This indicates that MiFID II’s impact on transparency has been mixed. While the overall proportion of trades executed in the dark versus lit venues hasn’t changed significantly, the proportion of LIS trades is higher.

It’s also necessary to factor in the delayed implementation of these new dark pool caps, which were postponed from January to March – meaning their full impact may not yet have been shown, and Q1 summaries will not necessarily illustrate what is currently happening on the ground. We may have to wait longer still to see whether the industry has seen the light, or will continue to operate in the dark.

 

Systematic internalisers

Despite the January rush, systematic internalisers (SIs) haven’t yet been fully implemented under MiFID II. This was due to come in September, by which point any firm labelled as an SI would have to comply with their new obligations, but ESMA announced in July a further delay to the new rules.

Now, derivatives have until March to comply with the requirements and ESMA will not publish its calculations for derivatives until February due to ongoing issues with incomplete and inadequate data. This isn’t a let-off for the entire industry, though; instead of publishing all the rules, ESMA is focusing on completeness for a select number of asset classes and delaying others. Equity, equity-like and bond instruments will still have to be compliant by September 1.

 

Going forward

If MiFID II has proven anything, it’s that compliance is, more than ever, an evolving process not a one-off event. In the coming weeks, months and years MiFID II will remain an ongoing challenge for firms and strategic and operational flexibility will be needed if they are to flourish.

MiFID II absolutely has the potential to have a significant and positive impact on the industry. But collaborative partnerships, innovation and further guidance from regulators are critical to this impact being realised. In July a formal complaint was lodged against the FCA for its silence on MiFID II, and undoubtedly for those firms making the right efforts to comply with the new rules this lack of clarity is frustrating.

 

There is hope in the industry that, once clarification is provided and regulation requirements are gradually met, focus will shift from merely complying, to embracing the opportunities provided by MiFID II’s new framework. As the dust settles and uncertainty fades, a more transparent, competitive and trustworthy industry should, hopefully, emerge. 

gdpr
Global ComplianceRegulation

Debunking Five Crucial GDPR Misconceptions

There’s now less than a month to go until the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, and yet research shows that many businesses are still struggling to understand what they need to do. Worse still, many remain unaware of the full extent of the legal implications of non-compliance – whether deliberate or accidental. A YouGov poll in March found that 72% of British adults hadn’t even heard of the regulation, whilst a study by Crowd Research Partners carried out in April found that just 7% of companies worldwide were ‘fully prepared’ for GDPR’s arrival.

These figures should be cause for concern, since GDPR represents a huge change in the way in which every business uses, manages and protects personal data. It enshrines the sanctity of personal data ownership with the individual, with businesses merely the custodians. And as Jan Phillip Albrecht LL.M, Member of the European Parliament and Vice Chair of its Civil Liberties, Home Affairs and Justice Committee wrote in 2016: “It is paramount to understand how GDPR will change not only the European data protection laws but nothing less than the whole world as we know it.”

With this in mind, here are the five most common myths about GDPR, and some steps you can take to ensure you’re on the way to being geared up for the change.

This isn’t just about the EU

One of the biggest misconceptions about GDPR seems to be that it’s only an issue for companies physically based in the EU. This is not the case. GDPR essentially applies to any business anywhere in the world wanting to sell products and services to EU customers, or monitor their behaviour using personal data. In other words, if you’re based in Dubai wanting to do business with a customer in Germany, then GDPR – or equivalent standards – still apply.

It’s not as simple as following the rules

One of the reasons why GDPR is causing a certain amount of angst – amongst those who have, in fact, heard of it – is that it is principle-based regulation, which means that judgement will be based on whether data has been processed in accordance with designated principles, rather than hard and fast rules. If a company is investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), then the ICO will look at whether ‘effective’ consent has been obtained by the data’s owner and whether that data is deemed ‘current’. This leaves the door open for interpretation, which would be entirely at the ICO’s discretion and involve a legal-based assessment. This means there’s a big job for the legal profession in helping businesses understand and act on their responsibilities.

It’s about more than just compliance

The other source of confusion in all of this is that many companies have assumed that this is a compliance, or even a technical issue, which can simply be left to the relevant team to deal with. The problem is that GDPR is so all-encompassing that any individual handling data in an organisation will undoubtedly require training to understand the regulatory demands and what to do in order to comply. It also means assessing processes for handling a serious data breach and examining every contract – with employees and subcontractors – to ensure that they are GDPR compliant. For some companies, it may also mean hiring a dedicated data protection officer or at the least gaining specialist legal advice on their current practice and system.

Technology is no panacea

Likewise, GDPR is not something that can be ‘fixed’ with technology. A lot of people have mistakenly assumed that GDPR is only concerned with extreme data hacking cases, but the regulation imposes draconian sanctions for a range of other breaches, too. For example, if consent of use has not been properly obtained, or the data is not processed as set out in the regulations, then serious penalties, including hefty fines, could be on the cards. There are also some data breach risks that simply cannot be fixed by technology, for example a staff indiscretion or mistake such as leaving confidential information in a public place. What’s more, GDPR forbids reliance on automated decision making, as typically seen when loan companies refuse customers based purely on an automated credit score. The point is that this regulation demands that companies take a holistic and intelligent approach to the treatment of personal data – it’s not a question of picking and choosing the bits you want to adopt or relying on your systems to do the job for you.

This isn’t just another overhead

It’s hard to overstate the risk of getting this wrong – the potential fines are on a level we’ve never seen before in data protection. Certain infringements are subject to fines of up to €20 million or 4% of worldwide annual turnover – whichever is higher. Severe breaches also run the risk of class actions. But the fines only tell part of the story. The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal wiped around £25 billion off the social media platform’s value in the first 24 hours after the story broke and the reputational fallout continues. Businesses simply cannot afford the reputational damage that could be wrought by such a significant change.

Not sure if you’re in breach of GDPR regulations? Take the GDPR quiz to test your resilience.

Four things you should do straight away:

1. Review your processes for data breach notification, security and risk assessment.
2. Ask yourself whether the data you handle could be anonymised.
3. Review your contracts for GDPR compliance.
4. Consider hiring a data protection officer or seeking specialist legal advice.

http://www.bestcriminaldefencebarrister.co.uk

3EAccounting
AccountancyRegulation

A Sneak Peek into the Success Story of 3E Accounting

A Sneak Peek into the Success Story of 3E Accounting

3E Accounting Pte. Ltd. stands out as one of the leading service providers, especially in Singapore Companies Registration and Corporate Secretarial Services, with its one-stop solution that covers all of its client’s accounting and regulatory requirements. We spoke to Managing Director, Lawrence Chai, to gain an insight into the firm’s impressive success.

Throughout Singapore, many people are looking for a reliable services provider who can fulfil their accounting, taxation, secretarial, immigration, human resources, payroll, legal, marketing and other compliance need. Located in Novena, 3E Accounting makes the cut as one of the leaders in these cost-effective professional solutions for startups and small- to medium-sized firms with their principle: efficiency, effectiveness and economy.

The professional team at 3E Accounting, which comprises highly experienced and expert professionals in Singapore’s financial, tax, corporate and regulatory milieu, is one of the important reasons that factorised the success of the company.

The husband and wife team, who are also the founders of 3E Accounting, Lawrence Chai and Stephanie Chua are the driving force behind the continuous success that 3E Accounting achieves. Before starting up 3E Accounting, the pair worked for an audit firm where work-life balance was not an important part of the workplace culture. When they were expecting their first child in 2011, the thought of having more family time prompted them to start their accounting firm.

Another key factor was that they both noticed the discrepancy in services at some other firms in Singapore. Many accounting companies are offering overpriced financial services which not many people can afford. Drawing on their combined years of experience in the industry, both Lawrence and Stephanie were confident that they could start an accounting firm that offers financial services at affordable price.

“We started everything from scratch. I assumed the role of Managing Director, while Stephanie assumed the role of Director. It might sound incredible that a small firm started in 2011with two staff and limited clients would have penetrated the market (high, medium and low segment) at such an incredibly fast rate. Yet, we did it!”

“As of now, we are proud to say that 3E Accounting is currently one of the leading service providers in Singapore that supports entrepreneurs to start their business with our one-stop solutions.” said Lawrence. Having built the company from scratch, Lawrence clearly has a goal in mind and he outlines the vision of the firm, detailing what techniques will be used in order for staff to hit their targets and achieve the overall mission, something he is clearly excited about. 3E Accounting is not just a normal accounting firm, but a one-stop solution provider that offers all the services under one roof. The diversity in services shows that 3E Accounting is truly the one-stop solution services provider in Singapore.

In addition to this, expanding the geographic footprint of the business to the whole world has always been one of its core goal. 3E Accounting expanded into Malaysia in 2014, and it is currently the leading services provider in Malaysia. In 2016, 3E Accounting started its own international accounting network: 3E Accounting International network, which is managed by 3E Accounting International. It’s expanding and growing fast with 54 countries, 86 offices and 1,300 staff worldwide today. The “Best Home-grown Global Accounting Network” award was the important milestone as it endorsed the reputation of the international network.

Lawrence goes into a bit more detail about the accounting network.

“We are the Accounting Alliance that consists of top international accounting firms across the globe. 3E Accounting International accounting network only recognises accountancy companies or global corporate service providers with strong professional backgrounds and product knowledge. Our Accounting Alliance members will embrace a service culture that emphasises efficiency and effectiveness through personal touch, swift response times, reliability and innovative thinking. We work together within the global framework provided by the international alliance of global accounting firms, where most of our member firms can provide integrated one-stop solution services and international accounting services to our clients.”

Capitalising on its global success, 3E Accounting has also garnered a reputation for being a tech savvy accounting firm. It has also recently become the first accounting firm to implement the revolutionary double robotic technology. The adaptation of the emerging robotics technology in the workplace provides a flexible working environment for staff. Besides, this technology also enables the firm’s valuable workers to contribute and communicate with other team members, regardless of the geographical barriers.

Moreover, 3E Accounting is well aware of the urgency of employing software or online tools in today’s business world, and Lawrence and Stephanie understand how this can benefit all companies in the long run. Therefore, specialists in 3E Accounting will take the initiative to introduce suitable software or tool that suits their customer’s business. In relation to this, 3E Accounting is now a Xero Certified Advisor, providing Xero Cloud Accounting Software in Singapore on valuable business and tax advice that assists our client’s in setting up Xero software. Furthermore, 3E Accounting is also a QuickBooks ProAdvisors that provides QuickBooks Online Services in Singapore to our clients, as well as deep product knowledge and a stellar client service.

On top of that, 3E Accounting value talents more than anyone else does. They believe that solving the hardest problems requires the best people. “We think that the best people will be drawn to
the opportunity to work on the hardest problems and that’s where we build our firm around that belief.” The large pool of professionals in 3E Accounting is one of the notable reasons that the firm outperforms its peers. There is a right mix and number of accredited and experienced professionals in the team, such as a registered qualified accountant, qualified secretaries, a qualified tax agent and a qualified GST agent, along with a qualified HR personnel, and lastly a qualified immigration consultant. Besides, they have a strong network with professionals and specialists from different fields, who they can refer their client to for help, that consists of good lawyers, bankers, fintech companies, auditors, software vendors, property agents, insurance agents and many more. The strong network and resources are a kind of assurance to clients that they can get any required assistance when they come to 3E Accounting.

3E Accounting put client interests ahead of the firm’s. To ensure that clients are able to have an input into the firm’s operations, 3E Accounting uses its complaints system as a customer whistleblowing charter, because the firm believes that customers’ views count and should be acted upon. Their almost 100% customer satisfaction score vouches their reputation. Every complaint is personally handled by Lawrence and is taken with incredibly seriousness, and dealt with the utmost urgency. The team are committed to responding to clients within 24 hours, and the management are always monitoring the system to ensure all staff adhere to the principle.

As a leading player in the finance industry, Lawrence gives us his views on the state of the industry at present, and explains what major challenges the company and the industry face. He then goes on to describe how 3E Accounting stays ahead of emerging developments within the industry.

“Fundamentally, the major challenge that we are facing now is the adaptation of technology by accounting firms and how to transform the business to be future-ready. For 3E Accounting, we incorporate technology into our workplace and stay updated on all new developments. We adopt technology and get ourselves ready for the future, as we have migrated most of our services to the cloud as well as a hybrid IT environment with physical servers and cloud based servers.

“We have strong banking relationships with our banking counterpart – OCBC Bank. 3E Accounting has been recognised as an OCBC Platinum Partner in 2017 in Malaysia. This is not an ordinary recognition and we are one of the few companies to get it,” Internally, it is vital that all of Lawrence’s employees are working towards the same mission and heading the same direction.

He explains how he cultivates the good internal culture within the firm, ensuring that staff can provide the very best service to its clients. “Honestly, I am proud to say that we have a family-oriented working environment at 3E Accounting. We started 3E Accounting when we were expecting our first child, and that is the
main reason that we were inspired to be the best employers in a leading firm that promotes a good work-life balance in accounting industry. The company offers employees a flexible working arrangement, allowing employees to take leave at any time to take care of their family. With our family-oriented culture, we are able to attract majority of the staff force of more than 90% female for the past five years. At 3E Accounting, we wanted to make a difference.”

“Another thing worth mentioning is we have a low staff turnover rate and high staff retention rate. We do not find it difficult to get talent and we can attract talent to join us easily. Furthermore, we focus on staff professional growth. We provide opportunities and chances to our staff to grow and learn. For example, we trained our administration staff to become immigration consultant, human resource personnel as well as compliance officers. We focus on the capability and experiences rather than just certificate itself.” On 28 November 2016, the team was honoured to have the Senior Minister of State, Mrs Josephine Teo, to visit its headquarter office in Singapore. During the visit, Mrs Teo got to know the good employment practices that have been adopted by 3E Accounting, as well as the technology that the firm has used to enhance work productivity. This aspired the firm to continue to cultivate the work life balance culture.

3E Accounting’s efforts pay off with awards and recognitions. On 1 November 2017, 3E Accounting PLT and 3E Accounting Pte. Ltd were both honoured to be awarded separately, the Best Company Registration Specialist of the Year 2017/2018 in Malaysia and Singapore respectively. 3E Accounting was also listed as the Top 30 Accounting Firms in Singapore, as well as being featured in Singapore Business Review’s Magazine for January 2016 issue. This global growth, together with awards and recognition from some of the world’s leading industry experts, highlights 3E Accounting’s ongoing prosperity.

Ultimately, the current management and organisation of 3E Accounting demonstrates the future of accounting firm. The team always work hard to retain its position as the leading services provider. “Our mission is to help our clients make distinctive, lasting, and substantial improvements in their businesses. We believe we will be successful if our clients are successful. Also, we aim to be the world’s leading corporate service provider, offering services beyond excellence. Lastly, we strive to help SMEs, not because we want to make profits, but because we want to see the SMEs to grow with us”

 

Contact: Lawrence Chai

Address: 51 Goldhill Plaza #07-10/11 Singapore, 308900

Phone: +65 66909262

Website: www.3ecpa.com.sg

CMA Demands Greater Transparency from Legal Service Providers
LegalRegulation

CMA Demands Greater Transparency from Legal Service Providers

Obtaining the right service at good value can therefore be challenging as consumers can face wide variations in the cost of similar services. They can also struggle to find enough information to help them identify their legal need in the first place.

The CMA has set out a package of measures which challenges providers and regulators to help customers better navigate the market and get value for money. These changes have been drawn up after discussions with key stakeholders, including the 8 frontline legal regulators, and will be overseen by the Legal Services Board, which will report regularly on progress. These include:

A requirement on providers to display information on price, service, redress and regulatory status to help potential customers. This would include publishing pricing information for particular services online (only 17% of firms do so at present).

Revamping and promoting the existing Legal Choices website to be a starting point for customers needing help, information and guidance on how to navigate the market and purchase services.

Facilitating the development of comparison sites and other intermediaries to allow customers to compare providers in one place by making data already collected by regulators available. At present only 22% of people compare the services on offer before appointing a lawyer.

Encouraging legal service providers to engage with feedback and review platforms to ensure that customers can benefit from the experience of others before making their choice.

Recommending that the Ministry of Justice looks at whether to extend protection from existing redress schemes to customers using ‘unauthorised’ providers.

In addition, as part of the study, the CMA considered the impact of legal services regulation on competition. The CMA found that whilst the current system is not a major barrier, it may not be sustainable in the long term. In particular, the framework is not sufficiently flexible to apply proportionate risk-based regulation which reflects differences across legal services which could harm competition.

The CMA is therefore also recommending that the Ministry of Justice reviews the current framework to make it more flexible and targeted at protecting consumers in areas where it is most needed.

Rachel Merelie, Acting Executive Director for Markets and Mergers, said:

You might not need a lawyer very often but when you do it will often be at a crucial point in your life – whether that’s buying a property, resolving a dispute or getting expert advice on financial and employment matters. So the transparency, affordability and accessibility shortcomings we have identified are a real concern.

Consumers who are equipped with the information they need to assess the services on offer and choose the best deal for them, will not just benefit personally but will also help drive competition, quality and innovation across the whole market. That means a better outcome for everyone and, importantly, fewer people will be discouraged from seeking the help they need.

Around £11–£12 billion a year is spent by consumers on legal services in England and Wales in the area covered by the study – including commercial law, employment law, family law, conveyancing, wills and probate.

The CMA has recommended that frontline regulators work with consumer and small business groups – including the Legal Services Consumer Panel, Citizens Advice, Which?, and the Federation of Small Businesses – to deliver this improved transparency on price and quality as well as clearer guidance on buying legal services.

The CMA has pledged to re-evaluate progress and the impact of the recommendations in 3 years’ time and intervene further if progress is not satisfactory.

Further information relating to the study is available on the case page and the CMA has also published a 60-second summary on the findings.

Compliant E-Invoicing Now Available in Brazil
AccountancyRegulation

Compliant E-Invoicing Now Available in Brazil

 

OB10, the global e-Invoicing network that is part of Tungsten Corporation plc, now delivers compliant e-Invoicing in Brazil through its partnership with Comprova, an officially accredited Brazilian certification service provider and digital signature platform.

Brazil is a leader in e-Invoicing with a government mandate and market accustomed to automated invoice technology. In addition to complying with the complexity of tax and e-Invoicing regulations, companies are looking to streamline their invoice processing. The strategic alliance with Comprova enables OB10 to meet the demands of its customers, and deliver compliant e-Invoicing and straight-through processing to businesses operating in Brazil.

“We are delighted to add Brazil to our list of compliant countries and offer unparalleled e-Invoicing services to the biggest market in Latin America,” says Edmund Truell, Group CEO, Tungsten Corporation. “Brazil represents a huge and lucrative opportunity for our customers, many of whom are ready to start transacting with their Brazilian suppliers immediately. We are focused on giving our clients what they want to help them reduce costs and simplify their invoice processing.”

“As the first organisation to offer legal proof for electronic transactions in Brazil, Comprova is thrilled to partner with OB10, one of the world’s leading providers of invoice automation solutions,” says Marcos Nader, President at Comprova. “Combing our local expertise with OB10’s trading network and global customer base will enable even more companies to do business in Brazil and capitalise from the benefits of e-Invoicing.”

THe.MiS Attorneys -at-Law
LegalRegulation

THe.MiS Attorneys -at-Law

Our goal is to help our clients assert their rights and empower them during the whole legal process. Throughout this process, we build up a professional and close relationship with our clients, which we view as our partners. As well as litigating on individual cases, we provide general company and compliance advice to both Taiwanese and foreign corporate clients.

As an internationally focussed firm, we provide legal services in Chinese, English, Japanese and French. As a boutique law firm, we believe that our stature enables us to provide a more personalised service for our clients.

Ethics are the core of everything we do, and our associates and staff are fully aware of the value of their role as counsel and companion to our clients we assist by providing legal service. The main concern of our firm is human rights, especially gender equality. This is the reason why our partners are all activists in human rights movement in Taiwan, such as the movement for women’s rights, the movement for migrants’ rights and the abolition of the death penalty.

We take great pride in the fact that we are a female owned law firm, and believe all three of our partners bring their own unique set of skills to the firm. We all practice three distinct styles, have three different personalities, but at the same time share the same passion for gender equality and human rights issues.

Over the years, we have developed a network with other law firms, with ties in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. Furthermore, we are hoping to work with other law firms in other country in Asia Pacific area and other continents in the field of International family law in the near future.

Company: THe.MiS Attorneys-at-law
Email: [email protected]
Web Address www.themislaw.com.tw
Address: 10F, No.123, XinSheng S. Road, Sec.1, Taipei 106, TAIWAN
Telephone: +886-2-8771-8611
Fax: +886-2-8771-9181

Qtrade Financial Group
AccountancyRegulation

Qtrade Financial Group

Most Innovative Finance Team – Canada & Online Brokerage Firm of the Year – Qtrade Investor

At its core, the corporate accounting team at Qtrade is tasked with the responsibility of capturing and disseminating financial information arising from financial transactions. Beyond this is the opportunity to separate ourselves from the other accounting teams and become the best performing team!

The corporate accounting team has certainly evolved over the last several years and together with the reporting & analytics team, the finance department has embraced the choice to deliver outstanding service and be a top performer.
In order to deliver at that top-tier level, the work starts at the hiring stage, continues at the training and development stage and simply continues on after that. It simply never ends! The financial services industry is constantly changing, and technology continues to evolve and improve, becoming readily available to those equipped to quickly identify and put into use. Qtrade Finance attracts, hires and retains staff that can consistently deliver on these demands.

In total, Qtrade Financial Group is comprised of several operating entities offering comprehensive solutions all along the wealth continuum. As a result, a certain level of complexity arises requiring the corporate accounting team to focus on internal as well as external stakeholders or users of our services and output. These stakeholders or users include shareholders and management and department heads, our ever-growing list of partners, industry regulatory bodies and associations and external auditors.

Generally speaking, the corporate accounting team is organised in such a way to align a team member to one or more corporate entities while at the same time taking into consideration the aforementioned stakeholders and users. Functions which tend to permeate across all entities (for example – payroll, accounts receivable and accounts payable) are, however, assigned to specific members of the team. Building a strong, cohesive and effective team requires improvements in workflow and processes and integrating financial information capture and reporting.

One of the most pivotal moments in our success today was the decision to invest in an ERP system in 2012, which paved the way for the capturing of financial information at broader and deeper levels. The initial vision of providing granular details for internal and external use forced us to build a framework around flexibility and scale. For example, the combining of all the Qtrade entities into a ‘singular entity’ within the ERP system proved to be the turning point for what was to come. Though not revolutionary, this multi-entity-management concept gave us the opportunity to introduce a shared-services model that quickly paid dividends.

With Qtrade having such a fully integrated suite of product offerings, the shared-services model became an obvious necessity. Building upon a stronger foundation, the focus quickly turned to the reporting of information. What good is the information captured if it is not used to achieve the ultimate goal of accelerating and maximising profit?
In tandem with the ERP system, the development of our proprietary finance database brought our financial reporting to a whole new level.

Expectations within the team and from elsewhere were raised. Senior management needed to understand the financial levers of the company and the key performance indicators in order to make informed decisions on resources. Partners also looked to us to report useful financial information in a timely manner.

As you can imagine, the financial services industry is laden with transactional information. Working with our IT department and reporting and analytics teams, we set out to define and organise all the information already captured within the core operational systems into usable data sets for populating the newly created finance database.
Integrating internal and external reporting was starting to come together.

For example, we utilise a 5 segment, 17-character alpha-numeric string in our general ledger account numbering to provide not only flexibility and scale but to offer the ability to bring reporting and analytics to the forefront. We have the ability to report and analyse by division, department, expense type, and even by partner or any other category. Bringing together the ERP setup with the data sets in the finance database, we were able to efficiently marry the requirements of internal users while also meeting the demands of external users. One early by-product of this integrated process was the ability to auto-generate a monthly journal entry comprising of 800 plus lines for seamless upload into the ERP system.

It soon became very clear very quickly that we needed to streamline processes, and where possible make use of technology to automate. As a result, we could spend less time keying in entries and more time on analysing information and communicating the findings.

Looking towards 2017 and beyond, the corporate accounting team at Qtrade is poised to take on greater challenges. We continue to work closely with our reporting and analytics team to further strengthen our department’s ability to meet and exceed expectations. Perhaps we will also reach out to our finance counterparts at the partner level and offer them a monthly automated set of journal entries, to go along with their existing reports. Regardless of what challenges may lie ahead, we have the infrastructure, we have the tools and more importantly we have the people to move towards even greater success

Name: Shayne Kong
Company: Qtrade Financial Group
Email: [email protected]

Defining good Corporate Governance
Corporate GovernanceRegulation

Defining good Corporate Governance

How would you define corporate governance and why is it important today?

Corporate governance refers to check and balance mechanism to assure the best interest of company (firm) is upheld by all decision makers effectively – especially at the board, senior management and (controlling) shareholders – which would become the foundation of all corporate decisions and actions in fulfilling their corporate mission-vision toward triple bottom line objectives (Profit/Economic Value, People/Social Value, and Planet/Environmental Value).

What in your view does corporate governance bring to the industry?

It would bring tremendous positive effect to the ‘responsible’ industry who really care about their sustainability and continuation of civilization, welfare, and commonwealth.

How does your company implement it?

We assure the corporate governance is implemented across several layers:
• Cultural;
• Process;
• Structure.

Cultural means that Good corporate governance principles become the values that people believed in, starting from the shareholders, board members and executives. There have been conscious efforts made to assure those values become the working fundamental assumptions on every key decision making process. Whereas, positive artefacts have also been encouraged to recognize and award positive and ethical behaviours at all levels.

Process means to consider/recognize/ explicitly the principles of good corporate governance as guiding principles, consistently applied in all company’s business process for example treating fairly our minority shareholders, treating fairly our suppliers/employees, putting transparency at its best to the investors/shareholders via transparent corporate reporting, assuring accountability is crystal clear at every level of business processes, and embedding corporate social responsibility at our strategy and key business process such as using environmental friendly papers, reducing carbon footprint in our production process, and so on.

Structure means overall organization structure follows the principles of having check and balances starting from the Board level through the composition of their executive and non-executive directors, the existence of relevant boards’ committee, the existence of internal oversight/assurance roles, and how do they engage their external auditors and stakeholders at large through whistle blower system (which is run by trustworthy external independent party). Organization structure encourage people take up their accountability clearly and no ambiguity.

How does corporate governance affect tax legislation and cross border planning?

Albeit the tax legislation and regulation which are different from one country to another, the principles of corporate governance are universal. Therefore, it might affect some structural related issues but remain universal at underlying and fundamental aspects to promote transparency, accountability, responsibility and fairness.

What are some of the recent trends and developments in how to implement good corporate governance practices?

In my view, the trends and developments in how to implement good corporate governance practices are pretty much different from one region to other region, for example Africa Sub-Sahara who focuses on getting more international investors to the region, and therefore they emphasize on adopting and practicing more transparency but still not much on accountability, social responsibility and fairness. It might also be a case for Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, and some eastern European countries. In other regions, the challenges might have already shifted to other focuses, for example South East Asia which are now strengthening their regional corporate governance platform where many large corporations have already put their feet to become regional/international players rather than local, and therefore placing good corporate governance practices even higher than before.

Nevertheless, one common thing applied across continent and regional economic cooperations remain, i.e. the need of better board members (composition, evaluation) and the urgency of enterprise risk management good practices at the board level which require higher practices of risk governance – how do they address the uncertainties, enhance the organization’s capability to exploit opportunities whilst dealing effectively with the risks associated in pursuing their strategic/operational/compliance objectives.

What support is available to businesses looking to implement new governance statutes or looking to respond to allegations of wrong doing?

We work with the local Institute of Directors, National Committee on Governance, Consulting firms, Risk Management Associations, and with IFC-World Bank in many developing countries. To a certain extent, we could also ask some helps from academicians of respectable universities.

Company: Dr. Antonius Alijoyo ERMCP, CERG.
Web Address: www.crmsindonesia.org
www.erm-academy.org
Telephone: 62-813-1559-8888

AI Global Media
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AI Global Media, Publishers of Wealth & Finance Magazine have Become CPD members.

In short, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their abilities.

CPD combines different methodologies of learning, such as training workshops, conferences and events, e-learning, best practice techniques and ideas sharing, all focused on helping individuals to improve through access to effective professional development.

Engaging in CPD activities ensures that both academic and practical qualifications do not become out-dated or obsolete; allowing individuals to continually ‘up-skill’ or ‘re-skill’ themselves, regardless of occupation, age or educational level.

Commenting on the fantastic news, Kathryn Hall, Director at AI Global Media said:

“We are very pleased to make this announcement. Over the coming months we will be publishing articles on our website and in our publications from which we feel our subscribers will gain great insight and as such will be able to gain CPD hours from reading. AI Global Media is committed to providing insightful, useful and intuitive news and announcements for our readers, allowing them to further develop within their specialist fields.”

 

Title Here

2016 Asia Pacific Legal Guide
LegalRegulation

2016 Asia Pacific Legal Guide

We are one of South India’s largest law firms, with a principal office in Bangalore and branch offices in Chennai, Hyderabad and New Delhi. Moreover, we have exclusive affiliate relationships with law firms and lawyers in areas such as Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Surat, Chandigarh, Allahabad, Kolkatta, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore and Kochi. In terms of the services we provide, our main areas of practice are in banking, project finance, corporate restructuring and bankruptcy, to name a few.

Our firm has grown alongside Bangalore, and the city was not a big city 35 years ago. It has now become the educational capital of India, with the biggest number of engineering, medical and law schools in the country. During the pre-liberalisation era, the availability of technocrats and its salubrious climate saw the establishment of major public sector undertakings. For example, the Indian Space Research Organisation has its headquarters in Bangalore and our firm has been very closely associated with it since the early eighties. This created a strong technology law practice and helped the firm to be a major player in the intellectual property and technology law areas.

During the mid-eighties, the firm helped in setting up India’s first Venture Capital Fund – TDICI. It was also associated with several venture capital funds and banking and non-banking finance companies. In this environment, hand holding start-ups during the nineties was a niche area in the information technology industry. Furthermore, as the city grew and expanded, the firm advised on several major real estate transactions. Post-liberalisation, the firm has been advising several PE and VC funds, and the firm is very well known in its litigation practice, especially in the fields of corporate litigation and banking.

Flashing forward to today, the legal industry in India is flooded. Thousands of lawyers pass out of law schools each year and many of them start their own firms or individual practices, sadly without much experience and at low cost. This is where the more established professionals stand out, and the lesser experienced learn some pretty harsh lessons. At Thiru & Thiru, we have a unique blend of rich experience and energetic youth.

Looking beyond India, the overall industrial growth in Asia-Pacific is stunted and this has made an impact on the legal industry too. While litigation is on the rise, transactions have fallen sharply. Moreover, non-litigation practice in our opinion may not be as encouraging as it was in the past. When looking at particular sectors, infrastructure is a very promising area which India is pressing to grow in, and non-conventional energy has gained momentum. Generally speaking, any industry that grows in direct proportion with the population is a sure winner here. Healthcare, agriculture, essential consumer durables, food, two wheelers and education are areas that will see a good growth.

In terms of our culture, honesty and sincerity to the client are our mantras. It is our duty to keep the client well informed; disclose the positives as well as the negative issues while counselling and ensure that clients are not forced to take a decision, instead guide the client to logical analysis of the issues involved. The advice should be sound and well-reasoned, and we give utmost importance to confidentiality and ethical values.

At our firm, every client is important to us and every work done by an associate is always reviewed in detail by a partner. Partners are easily accessible, and clients’ calls and queries are promptly answered within 14 working hours. We have a policy not to say “no” to our clients, and try our best to find an answer or at least provide alternatives.

When it comes to hiring new staff, we hire lawyers who are knowledgeable, willing to learn, and having an appropriate team spirit attitude. We have been lucky with the staff we have taken on, and we provide a great opportunity to learn from the combined experience of our partners which is about 266 years who imbibe the values to our young associates.

Moreover, the firm is a knowledge centre, and we strongly encourage learning. In this environment, the seniors mentor the juniors, and we believe that any up to date knowledge helps the client ultimately. Additionally, the firm takes pride in having promoted India’s first finishing school for lawyers “The Marquis Diamond Finishing School”. This helps the members of the firm to keep themselves abreast with the changes in the industrial, technological, socio- economic arenas. With all of these attributes in mind, we are confident that our company will continue to grow in the future. Furthermore, Indian industries are gradually becoming multinational, and our clients have been constantly requesting us to open offices abroad. Very soon we will be opening our office in Dubai, and will bring many more exciting opportunities to our company.

Company: Thiru &Thiru
Name: Mr. THIRUVENGADAM B C
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.thiruandthiru.com
Address: #31, Nandidurg Raod, Thiru &
Thiru Chambers,
Jayamahal, Bangalore 560046, India.
Telephone: 91 2343 03024 /05 /06

2016 Asia Pacific Legal Guide
LegalRegulation

2016 Asia Pacific Legal Guide

The Firm’s tagline is: passionate, committed and reliable. It is passionate about assisting the legal needs of its clients and committed to deliver the best outcome for them. It is reliable because it values the trust of its clients and put their needs and interest as first priority. Rosetini & Partners is committed to providing quality legal service with a high degree of attention to its clients. It is the firm’s objective to understand the clients’ needs and assist them in an efficient and effective manner to achieve their goals and conclude their transactions.

General Corporate Matters

Concerning general corporate matters, the Firm offers legal assistance in relation to the presence and operations of companies doing business in Indonesia by providing advice on the relevant regulations with respect to the business activities of those companies.

Banking & Finance

The Firm also has experience in providing legal services in the areas of banking and finance. In the area of banking, it can assist in drafting loan agreements, security documents and other banking transaction documents, either representing the lender or the borrower. The Firm also provides advice on banking law and regulations.

Foreign Direct Investment

The Firm assists its clients in realizing their goals to develop their business in Indonesia starting from helping the clients to prepare the best possible scheme of transactions for their investment in Indonesia considering the legal environment.

Mergers & Acquisitions

In acquisition transactions it has represented the acquirers, as well as the sellers. It assists its clients with their corporate approval and government approval requirements in the merger process. The Firm also assists in the structuring of transactions for its clients, so that they will have the most beneficial structure and still comply with prevailing laws. It also performs the due diligence, prepare the transaction documents and provide assistance in procuring the local regulatory approvals.

Restructuring

The Firm has represented both borrowers and lenders in certain loan restructurings. It provides advice and prepares necessary documents related to the restructuring transaction.

Clients

The Firm’s clients are mostly foreign companies that are doing business in Indonesia. Many of its clients are companies or subsidiaries of companies from Japan. It also has clients from other countries, among others USA, Germany and Singapore.

Indonesia’s economy has been going through different phases because of the economic and political situation. Many laws and regulations have been changed following the dynamics in the economic development and political situation both domestically or by the influence of other countries and global trends.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance for companies that are doing business in Indonesia to obtain professional legal advice which will provide them with understanding and knowledge about the Indonesian legal system and practice.

With the experience of its lawyers and their professional integrity, the firm ensures that its clients are provided with quality legal services. The Firm is aiming for a long term and mutually beneficial relationship with its clients.

The Firm believes that with its passion, experience, commitment, dedication and professionalism it will be able to continue providing legal assistance as required by its clients and contributing to the success of their business in Indonesia.

Company: ROSETINI &PARTNERS
Name: Rosetini Ibrahim (Managing Partner)
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.rosetini.co.id
Address: Office 8, 18th-19th Floor, SCBD Lot 28
Jl. Jenderal Sudirman Kav.52-53,
Jakarta 12190
Indonesia
Telephone: +6221 2933 3618

2016 Asia Pacific Legal Guide
LegalRegulation

2016 Asia Pacific Legal Guide

At our firm, we cover the broad areas of patents, trademarks, licensing, and litigation. Within these fields, we provide ancillary specialist expertise, such as advanced IP searches, evaluations of technology, and portfolio management. All of these services combined allow us to meet our clients’ demands with respect to protecting their IP both domestically and abroad. As such, our IP protection capabilities cover over 50 patent jurisdictions and 160 for trademarks.

Since the inception of our firm 34 years ago, we have grown to become one of the leading IP firms in Korea. We take pride in this achievement and continue to reflect the high standards demanded by our clients into our work. By establishing innovative partnerships internally and externally, we are able to provide efficient and effective IP services, and more importantly, we continue to push our boundaries so that we can adjust our expertise and services with the changing times.

We believe that there are a number reasons behind our position as leaders in our industry. Our main strengths currently lie in patent and trademark prosecution work, and we are repeatedly recognised as one of the leading firms for prosecution in Korea by reputable IP publishing companies. In total, we file and prosecute more than 4,000 patent and 2,000 trademark applications annually before the Korean Intellectual Property Office for both domestic and international clients. Moreover, we also manage more than 3,000 corresponding patent and 1,000 trademark applications entrusted to overseas associates.

Furthermore, we have one of the largest groupings of IP professionals in the country, all of whom provide services in IP filing, prosecution, litigation, due diligence, licensing, IP search and valuation, alternate dispute resolution, etc. Not only are they highly educated, but they also have diverse backgrounds, both in terms of technical expertise and international experience. As we believe our professionals are our greatest assets, we try to encourage their development by providing them with new educational experiences (i.e., sending attorneys to the US and China) and organising IP seminars for them on a regular basis. As such, we are confident that when approached by new clients or working with existing ones, our professionals can always provide them with friendly up-to-date legal information and the most cost-effective strategies to protect their IP. Due to this nurturing environment, our retention rates are consistently high.

In terms of our clients, our domestic and international clients range from corporations, research and development institutions, academics, and individuals. As the vast majority of our professionals are multilingual, we are able to communicate with our clients in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese, which makes it easier for our clients to reach out to us. We have found that we have been able to expand our clientele through referrals, legal service bids, government contracts, advertisements, etc.

As for my personal background, I am an attorney-at-law with a background in telecommunications and electrical engineering. I represent clients by providing them with legal advice on infringement and enforcement matters, as well as undertaking legal work regarding licensing and litigation. Due to the growing IP needs of our clients, YOU ME’s legal services have increased over the past few years, and to meet this increasing demand, we have a range of attorneys-at-law with technical backgrounds from the US and Korea who work closely alongside our IP attorneys. This unique aspect of our services reassures our clients and means we can provide them with a vast spectrum of one-stop services.

Looking back on 2015, YOU ME Patent & Law Firm had a tremendous year. During this time, our firm grew steadily from 7 to 10%, and for 2016, we plan to further diversify our services to cater for the international and domestic markets. In addition, we plan to increase our involvement and representation with respect to the Chinese market and Chinese companies. 

Company: YOU ME Patent & Law Firm
Name: David Hunjoon Kim, Attorney-at-Law
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.youme.com
Address: Seolim Building, 115 Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu,
Seoul 06134, Korea
Telephone: 82-2-3458-0101

Overview of UAE’s new Commercial Companies Law
LegalRegulation

Overview of UAE’s new Commercial Companies Law

Although the New Law maintains the cornerstones of the Old Law, it introduces some fundamental provisions that must be observed carefully by existing companies and investors in the UAE. All commercial companies operating in the UAE are required to adjust their positions in compliance with the provisions of the New Law within a maximum period of one year from the Effective Date.

The New Law eliminated two of the seven forms of commercial companies that may be registered in the UAE, namely Joint Venture Companies and Share Commandite Companies. Any company that does not adopt one of the remaining five forms will be null and void and the parties contracting in the name of such companies will be personally and jointly liable for any and all of the liabilities deriving from such contracting.

The main provisions relating to Limited Liability Companies (the “LLCs”) in the Old Law are maintained by the New Law. However, the New Law makes several positive changes which can be summarized as follows:

– An LLC can be incorporated in the UAE now by one natural Emirati shareholder;

– The pledge of an LLC’s shares is now expressly permitted under the New Law;

– A shareholder intending to sell his shares in an LLC is obliged to disclose the name of the intended purchaser of the shares, as well as the terms of the purchase to the other shareholders;

– The shareholders can now nominate managers for an LLC without any limitations;

– The statutory required notice period for general meetings has been reduced to only 15 days; and

– The statutory quorum required for general meetings has been increased from 50% to 75%.

– The New Law has also made key changes to the provisions affecting Joint Stock Companies (the “JSCs”), these include the following:

– The minimum founding partners required for Private Joint Stock Companies have been reduced from 3 to 2 and from 10 to 5 for Public Joint Stock Companies;

– The minimum and the maximum limits for the subscription of the founders of a Public Joint Stock Company have been increased to 30% and 70% respectively;

– The Securities and Commodities Authority in the UAE has been given the right to issue a resolution to regulate the mechanism of subscription in new shares on the basis of book building;

– The cap on the number of board members of JSCs has been reduced from 15 members to only 11;

– The minimum notice required for convening a general assembly meeting has been reduced from 21 days to 15 days;

– The minimum share capital required has been increased from AED 2 Million to AED 5 Million for Private Joint Stock Companies and from AED 10 Million to 30 Million for Public Joint Stock Companies;

– The shareholders’ pre-emption rights can now be sold to other shareholders or to third parties;

– The New Law gave the UAE’s Cabinet the right to issue a resolution determining and regulating other classes of shares issuable by Public Joint Stock Companies;

– Public Joint Stock Companies are now prohibited from providing any of its shareholders with financial assistance to enable them to hold any shares, bonds or Sukuk issued by the company;

– A JSC company may increase its share capital by the entry of a strategic shareholder in consideration of the technical, operational or marketing support that such shareholder may extend to the company; and- The appointment of JSCs’ auditors have been capped at only 3 consecutive years.

The New Law introduces several new penalties which all companies and their management operating in the UAE should consider and observe. These include a daily penalty of AED 2,000 on any company that fails to amend its Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association in compliance with the provisions of the New Law within one year from the Effective Date.

There are almost two months left before the expiry of the period granted for existing companies to comply with the provisions of the New Law and any company that fails to achieve that, may be considered as dissolved.

Authored by Mojahed Al Sebae, www.galadarilaw.com

Homebuyers save Hundreds of Millions from Stamp Duty Reform
LegalRegulation

Homebuyers save Hundreds of Millions from Stamp Duty Reform

Transactions levels at the top end of the market remained constant under the new regime and stamp duty receipts from homes costing more than £1 million went up by 15% across the year.

In December 2014 the government reformed the residential stamp duty system, changing it from a ‘slab’ to a ‘slice’ structure and reducing stamp duty for 98% of people who pay it.

New analysis released by HMRC shows that the benefits of this reform have been felt across the country, with homebuyers saving an estimated total of:

– £24 million in the North East or £900 for the average house
– £90 million in the North West or £700 for the average house
– £74 million in the East Midlands or £500 for the average house
– £131 million the South West or £4,800 for the average house
– £38 million in Wales or £800 for the average house

The Chancellor George Osborne said:

“In 2014 I cut stamp duty and already three-quarters of a million home-buyers across the country have benefitted. The overwhelming number of home-buyers – 98% – are saving money thanks to our reform, which has done away with the unfair old system that meant increases being imposed on those paying just a pound over the threshold.

“These figures show that the benefits are being felt across the country. It’s a fair, workable, lasting reform to the taxation of housing.

“I am determined that this government will continue to take bold action to support a home-owning democracy.

Under the old slab system, homebuyers would have paid stamp duty at a single rate on the entire property price. With the new system, home buyers only pay the rate of tax on the part of the property price within each tax band.

The news coincides with new analysis from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) finding that the reform has “reduced distortions and is a step in the right direction. The IMF commented on the impact of the Stamp Duty reforms as part of its annual Article IV consultation with the UK.