Category: Regulation

Outsourcing
ArticlesRegulation

3 Reasons Why All Small Businesses Should Consider Outsourcing Payroll

Outsourcing

Different businesses may have different approaches towards outsourcing and be more comfortable outsourcing certain functions over others, but one thing that most businesses would benefit from outsourcing is their payroll. There aren’t too many reasons for a small or medium business to manage their payroll in-house when considering all the things that could go wrong. And hiring a team will usually cost you much less too. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why all small businesses should consider outsourcing their payroll.

 

Mistakes Can Have Serious Consequences

You can get away with making a mistake when hiring someone or with your marketing strategy. You don’t have this luxury with payroll. One mistake here and you could end up in trouble with the IRS, the law, and your employees all at the same time.

One or multiple payroll mistakes could literally spell doom for your business, so, unless you have one or two employees or have an actual accounting background, we suggest you stay away from that function and hand it over to a third party.

This is especially true if you’re in a tightly regulated market, for instance, when expert assistance is essential. You should think about calling an Austin outsourced payroll service today and ask about their packages and services. It could be the best decision you ever made.

 

You’ll Save Money

Having someone on your books to handle payroll when they actually only have to do active work for a few hours per day doesn’t make sense. Hiring a third party to handle things on a contract basis will allow you to save money. Another thing you won’t have to worry about is paying benefits or vacation. No sick leaves either. Having your sole payroll employee calling in sick or out of commission for a while could put you in lots of trouble and have you scrambling for a replacement. This is not something you’ll have to think about with an outsourced team.

 

Less Risk

Having someone that you don’t know handle your payroll comes with all sorts of risks. Rogue payroll employees are some of the most dangerous types of malicious agents a business can encounter. If you didn’t take the time to thoroughly vet your payroll team, there’s a strong chance that one of them might turn rogue at some point or come in specifically to embezzle you.

This is another thing you won’t have to worry about with a good payroll company. These companies take their reputation very seriously and make sure that they know everything about the people they’re hiring. They also have sophisticated systems in place to make sure that rogue actions don’t have consequences for their clients.

These are only some of the reasons why most small businesses should think about hiring an outsourced team to handle their payroll function. Not only will you be able to keep your costs to a minimum and avoid errors, but you’ll have much more time for the things that matter.

Recession Income
ArticlesFinanceRegulation

11 Tips to Make Money in a Recession

Recession Income

Many people see a recession as an intricate thing because they risk losing their earning sources. If you have liquid funds and savings, you can invest them during the recession period. If you don’t have enough savings, you need to be careful and take steps to make sure you deal with such economic conditions.

Get a headstart and see what’s hitting the new Chancellor’s to-do list and then create one of your own. Below are some tips that are going to help you make money during the recession.

 

Safeguarding your sources of income

If you happen to lose your source of income, then you may be forced to start spending your savings as you look for a new job. It is important to first secure a job. If you have a business, make sure you secure its future growth. When looking for a job, make sure you look at the job role and also the financial stability of the company.

If you doubt the financial stability of your employer, it is important to start looking for a new job in the same industry. When you do this, you have a chance of switching your profile to an industry you know well. You can also start focusing on side sources of income like a side business or even a side gig.

 

Enhancing savings

If you want to deal with the challenges coming with the recession, make sure you put something away every month from your income. Get a pen and paper then list down your expenses such as house rent, insurance premiums, car payments, and even groceries. Add up all of the expenses at the end of the month, and see how much you are spending. Go through the list and see if there is something you can reduce or remove from the list. Making this list is a good idea because you will know what you are spending your money on. This lets you see whether you are spending money on useless things. The amount you save as a result of reducing your expenses is going to your savings account.

 

Investments

Your money is probably invested in long- and short-term plans. You should always have an eye on your short-term investment. If you start to feel like the investment is risky, move your money into something that feels safer. Some of them include the stock market, dividends, precious metals, and more. When it comes to long-term investments, you can look at assets during a recession because the prices are low.

 

Invest in discounted stocks

During a recession, stock prices come down. This gives you a chance to invest in highly discounted stocks. You can get great stocks at a discount. When the stock prices start to go up, you can choose to sell or keep them. You should learn more about stock lending and borrowing because it will help you during a recession.

 

Tracking your net worth

It is a good idea to check your net worth from time to time because it is going to motivate you to keep going with your good financial habits of investing and savings. This can be a very effective tool when there is a recession. You might not see amazing results in the short term, but you will be surprised by them in the long term.

 

Planning for future

If you want to deal with the challenges that come with the recession, ensure you have a good plan for investing and earning. You shouldn’t make decisions as you go without putting in too much though. Take your time and make a good plan that is going to protect your investments and savings no matter the market state.

 

Working on 401(k)

A common thing that happens is people stop contributing to their 401(k) when a recession hits. This isn’t a good idea because this is your chance of looking at discounted stock prices and maximizing your retirement plan contributions.

 

Generating passive income

Passive investing is one of the options you have in order to earn enough to cover your living expenses. If you reach this point, it means your job becomes optional and enhances financial independence. You will also have the chance of pursuing your dream job without having to stress too much about the payment structures. Life insurance and disability insurance don’t become that much of a big deal for you.

 

Investing in properties

The real estate market doesn’t fall as fast as the stock market when there is a recession. If you choose to invest in real estate, you can get amazing deals when the economy is experiencing a slowdown. The reason why this is the case is most of the time home prices go down but rent remains the same.

 

Sell unused stuff

This is a good way of making money in a recession. There are many e-commerce platforms that you can use when selling your stuff online. The two most popular are Amazon and eBay. Selling unused stuff will offer some liquidity.

 

Moving into survival mode

You have to change your mindset when there is a recession because that is where everything starts. The mantra that will help you is “spend less and earn more”. You need to understand that things aren’t the same as before and you need to do things differently.

IT Infrastructure Budget
ArticlesFundsRegulation

How to Create An IT Infrastructure Budget

IT Infrastructure Budget

Innovations have made most business owners adopt Information Technology (IT) to run most of their operations. The aim is to allow efficiency. So, you’ll need infrastructure, such as hardware and software, to ensure the proper running of these IT operations. 

In most cases, acquiring IT infrastructure is a big investment since these tools are expensive. Some businesses might struggle to acquire these tools, which shouldn’t be the case. You can easily purchase all the tools your business needs with a budget. 

Are you wondering how to create a budget? What’s your goal? Put your worries to rest. This article discusses tips on creating an IT infrastructure budget. Read on!

 

1. Create a List of Priorities

Your list of priorities guides you in allocating your amount for each activity. You want to allocate most money on operations that you need and downsize on those you don’t necessarily need. How do you come up with the list of priorities?

Your IT infrastructure goals should guide you. If you aim to increase your business security, you’ll need tools with robust security features. In this case, acquiring security-intense infrastructure will be among your top priorities.

Most businesses tend to forget the marketing aspect of their business as they create a list of priorities. This is especially true if they offer IT services to other businesses or customers. Allocate a budget that allows for the effective marketing of IT consulting services without compromising on quality.

 

2. Understand Your Cashflow

Cashflow more or less refers to the amount your business transacts within a given period.  Understanding your cash flow will help you create a budget you can afford. You don’t want to create a budget for the money you don’t have. How do you analyze your cash flow?

Start by checking the regular income you receive on both good and bad days. It’s best to subtract your business expenses from your revenue; factor in the minor and major expenses. You want to know the amount of money available to fund your IT infrastructure. This will help you determine a concrete figure you can work with and rely on for your IT infrastructure needs. 

Even if you aim to spend within your budget, it’s good to acknowledge that some circumstances might warrant exceeding this budget. You may be expecting payments from a given client, and they delay them, yet you’re relying on the money to fund your goals. In such circumstances, you’ll need financing to help you realize your IT infrastructure goals. 

Visit https://www.credibly.com/ to see some of the financing options you can choose.

 

3. Accommodate the Risks

Like any other plan, there’s a probability of unexpected events likely to occur that need your attention and financing. In most cases, you can’t ignore them since they might hinder your realization of your goals. This will make you spend money outside your budget to meet these needs. The same concept applies as you plan your IT infrastructure goals. Therefore, it’s good practice to factor in contingencies in your budget. How?

Start by identifying the things that could go wrong with your plan, such as unexpected breakdowns. Try and estimate the amount you’d spend to counter them and include the costs in your budget. This way, if they happen, you won’t offset your budget.

 

4. Check Previous Budgets

In most cases, there’s a high probability you operate your business as a form of habit, from planning to budgeting to overseeing projects. If you aren’t wary enough, you might end up making the same mistakes year in; year out, which isn’t ideal for any firm. Hence, you must assess your previous budget.

Your previous budget will give you an understanding of the efficiency of your plans. Did you accomplish your goals within the budget you set? If not, by what margin did you exceed the limits? As you find the answers to these questions, identify the events that led to the limit exceeding. It could be budgeting beyond your cashflows or allocating limited funds to major operations. 

By knowing and acknowledging these events, you’ll ensure to avoid and mitigate them as you prepare your current budget. Doing this reduces the chances of having many unexpected events to fund, which might offset your budget.

 

Conclusion

The discussion above has proven that creating an IT infrastructure budget isn’t challenging. 

With the right guidance, as this article gives, the process is quick and seamless. Therefore, consider adopting the tips herein, and you’ll also have an easy time acquiring the tools your business needs.

Managing Mortgages
ArticlesRegulation

How to Navigate the Housing Market Like a Pro

Managing Mortgages

Whether you’re looking for a house to buy or are out to sell your home, you need to navigate the market well to succeed. Most people prefer to sell or shop for houses during spring when it’s warm, green, and sunny. During this season, sellers can showcase their homes to potential buyers better.   

But besides appearance, most buyers pay attention to the selling price attached to homes. They contend with various challenges, including multiple bids, low home inventory, mortgage rates, and steep prices. Although there’s always hope for a balanced housing market, buyers can take specific steps to approach their search for a home confidently.   

If you’re looking to buy a home this year, these five strategies will help you navigate the housing market like a pro:   


1. Get Your Mortgage Pre-Approved  

Before searching for a house, get your mortgage pre-approved by your lender if you don’t plan to pay cash. A pre-approval means the lender has thoroughly investigated your finances and established your eligibility for the loan based on existing conditions.   

It places you at an advantage as most sellers want to deal with buyers who have taken such serious steps. A pre-approval also shows you are both able and serious about buying a house. In hot markets, most sellers turn down offers from buyers who don’t have pre-approval letters. Neglecting this step can cause you to miss out on the home you want. Thus, you can find a broker here if you need a pre-approved mortgage to buy your dream house.

 

2. Clarify Which Aspects Matter Most to You In a Home  

To navigate the housing market like a pro, you need to clarify which aspects matter most to you in a home. While a mortgage pre-approval presents you as a serious buyer, it also gives you an idea of how much you can afford to spend on a home. Having a solid budget allows you to determine the aspects that matter most to you in a home and the ones you can compromise.  


3. Get a Highly-Qualified Housing Agent 

The other thing you need to navigate the housing market like a pro is a qualified agent who has your best interests and understands the local market well. Getting a good real estate agent with in-depth knowledge of local communities and solid expertise offers you a huge advantage when buying a home.   

Such an agent brings reasonable sales prices and understands how fast homes sell in specific locations. You can benefit from their insights on zoning rules, neighborhoods, social amenities, and even schools in localities that you’re considering. While it’s possible to consult a listing agent when purchasing a house, getting a real estate agent allows you to come up with compelling offers in line with your needs.   

The agent can negotiate a good deal on your behalf while guiding you through the selling or buying process to avoid costly delays or mistakes. 

  

4. Support An Offer With a Big Deposit 

When buying a house during the peak season, you need to boost any offer with a considerable deposit. If you can get the funds, paying off a generous amount on the home you want causes sellers to perceive you more favorably. To them, a large deposit reflects goodwill and motivation to make the purchase. Generally, the deposit is applied to the down payment or loan closing costs.   

Withdrawing from the deal for reasons not provided in a contract contingency can mean forfeiture of the deposit to the seller. But this shouldn’t worry you if you have no plans of withdrawing from the deal. Moreover, you can recover the whole amount if it’s discovered that the property has problems or if you cannot obtain title insurance.   

 

5. Be Ready to Act Fast  

You’ll need to act fast to benefit from competitive offers in the housing market, particularly in the peak seasons of summer and spring. In most cases, homes sell within days during these seasons. Any viewing delays can cause you to miss out on great offers. You can benefit more if your agent prepares the way sellers want to avoid wasting time qualifying counter offers.   

 

Final Thoughts 

The housing market can be challenging to navigate, particularly when buying or selling a home for the first time. However, you don’t have to struggle and miss out on opportunities that peak real estate seasons bring. You can navigate the market like a pro by applying the five strategies discussed above.   

Production Management
ArticlesRegulation

6 Ways AP & AR Automation Software Boosts Business Productivity

Production Management

Accounts payable and receivable automation tools facilitate easier AP and AR processes management through a robust platform. Automation software provides clear visibility and better control over data collection and financial processes.

Studies show that about 55% of businesses use manual processes to handle financial data. However, over 40% of SMEs plan to adopt AP automation solutions. Now is the best time to explore the numerous benefits of automation and determine whether it’s appropriate for your organization.

 

1. Shorter Processing Times

AP and AR automation technology helps your team to process invoices faster. In the absence of automation, invoice processing can take as long as two weeks since the team must confirm the figures and get the necessary signatures for approval. On the other hand, automated AP solutions cut the processing time to as short as one day.

Invoice processing involves multiple stages, and you can use tools like OCR to scan and index your invoices and minimize manual data entry. Since the filing system is digitized, you don’t have to rummage through piles of paper to find a specific invoice. Most importantly, cloud storage allows business managers and department heads to access invoices in real-time for a quick approval.

 

2. Minimizing Human Errors

Manual invoice processing and data entry create room for errors. Whether it’s document misfiling, loss, or payment mistakes, errors can occur at any stage, and the reasons may not be easy to eliminate. Typically, AP and AR errors can cost your company in various ways. Backtracking and error resolution often consumes a lot of time that could be used to perform essential tasks. Additionally, human errors can lead to duplicate payments, overpayments, or compromise your reputation.

Erroneous invoices can cause unnecessary frustrations to your finance team and hamper effective communication. It’s crucial to have a reliable tool that validates entries and pinpoints errors. The automated AP system can identify inconsistencies and facilitate seamless collaboration among stakeholders through unrestricted access to files.

 

3. Better Oversight and Transparency

Manual filing processes are hectic, time-consuming, and often make it impossible to get a complete picture of the entire process. It’s easy to think that sophisticated automation tools will obscure operations visibility. However, these systems increase visibility by offering real-time access to data.

AP automation software gives you a comprehensive view of payment cycles to enhance oversight. For instance, you can identify critical constraints like payment delays and monitor the individuals responsible for approvals. Most importantly, real-time reporting and detailed oversight accelerates payment cycles to ensure your vendors are paid on time. In addition, the footprints left by the automated process make it easy to identify and expose fraudulent transactions and ensure sustainable financial growth.

The increase in transparency facilitates data-driven decisions on various business issues, including when to pay suppliers and how to achieve optimum efficiency when scaling operations.

 

4. Enhanced Compliance Monitoring and Efficient Process Control

Legal and regulations compliance and establishing trackable audit trails are some of the reasons why accounting professionals and financial advisors are essential to any business. When you don’t have the appropriate systems and tools to control business processes, there is a high chance you’ll overlook vital details like PayPal fees.

Since companies face numerous fraud-related issues, it’s essential to have a system that limits the use of specific functions or flag and report inappropriate processes. Automatic AR and AP software creates transaction archives that help track invoices, processing stages, and authorization rules for better compliance with IRS regulations. In addition, modern invoice management solutions have superior integration capabilities meaning you can link the tools with your accounting software for better process control.

 

5. Better Workplace Collaboration

Improving the speed and visibility of your invoice processing with a digital solution ensures that all parties involved in various processing stages have access to necessary files and data. This feature facilitates real-time collaboration and efficient file sharing for seamless workflows. Since the tools have cloud capabilities, team members and stakeholders can access invoices to clarify, dispute, or approve the process regardless of their location.

Typically, smooth workflows and consistent progress mean team members are less likely to experience frustrations that come with constant disputes. Also, process automation minimizes manual data entry, meaning your workers have enough time to consult the relevant departments and log critical discussions to solve discrepancies without much strife. Ideally, breaking down collaboration barriers in your organization increases worker satisfaction and performance.

 

6. Customizing Business Processes

You can enhance the productivity of your accounting department by customizing the invoicing process to fit the workflow requirements of your business. Most invoice automation software allows custom configurations to focus on specific areas that improve productivity. This means you can establish a growth-oriented workplace culture using digital solutions that are tailored to suit your specific AP processes.

If you get invoices through different channels like fax and email, capturing the data using OCR technology for rapid compiling may be the best option to improve productivity. On the other hand, if your invoices follow a unique route for approvals, you can customize the automatic workflow to follow a channel that saves the most time.

Most importantly, you can personalize the tools to balance employee workloads. For instance, you can channel invoices to multiple employees and share responsibilities or onboard more team members to projects with strict deadlines.

 

Endnote

Manual handling of AP and AR is an intensive process that can leave your employees tired and frustrated, leading to numerous errors. Accounting departments realize these processes bring unnecessary burdens.

Automation eliminates most of the challenges of AP and AR processes, including human errors, processing time, and compliance to enhance productivity. As more finance departments adopt digital transformation, implementing AP and AR automation tools can give you a competitive edge.

Credit Report
ArticlesRegulation

4 Factors That Can Have a Huge Impact On Your Credit Score

Credit Report

Credit is an important aspect when it comes to an individual’s personal finances. There are times you need financial assistance to execute projects needing large capital. Financial institutions will offer you this assistance through loans. However, most will assess your credit history before giving you these loans. 

Credit history contains data on how you handled previous debts. It’ll show if you defaulted on a payment and the like. This information helps financial institutions assess your risk factor before handing you out a loan. It’s said that if you’re a risky borrower, lenders are less likely to lend you the money.

They’ll get to take a peek at your credit history on your credit report which shows your credit score too. Credit scores mainly range from 300 to 850, though some go up to 950. Here, the higher your credit score, the more desirable you are as a borrower to the eyes of creditors. 

As a potential borrower, are you wondering what aspects contribute to your credit score? The following aspects are said to affect your credit score:

 

1. Current Debts

When looking for financial assistance, having several outstanding debts isn’t ideal. Financial lenders will interpret this as an inability to manage your finances. They’ll conclude you can’t pay them up on time with all the existing financial baggage. How do they assess your debt?

Most will apply to your credit card, a mortgage, a student, or a car loan. They’ll check the remaining balance for you to complete loan payments. On credit cards, they’ll get your credit utilization ratio, which is the difference between your credit card balance and credit limit. The bigger this ratio, the higher of a risk you’re to lenders.  It’s always advisable to limit your credit card utilization to 30% or less. Beyond it and you’ll come off as an irresponsible spender.

Any lender will resist lending you money when you already have huge debts. It’d help to minimize your debts as much as possible to improve your credit score.

 

2. Credit Age

Credit age refers to the period you’ve had your line of credit like a credit card. The focus is on how long ago you got your first line of credit. Why does it even matter, you may ask?

An old credit card shows lenders you have experience handling credit. It’ll positively impact your credit score, making lenders feel confident to lend you money. However, your credit history age will only positively impact your credit score if you previously made timely payments to your credit balances. Most lenders will find this information on your credit tradelines, including when you opened your accounts.

 

3. Number of Accounts

When looking to avail more funds through limits, you’ll get several credit cards. Yes, you’ll achieve your goal, but what impact does this have on your credit score? In most cases, it’ll negatively affect your credit score. How?

With many cards, you have many debts to pay within a billing cycle. Depending on the amount you’ve spent on each, you’re likely to find it challenging to make payments. You might completely default or end up making late payments. Doing this increases your debt and negatively affects your payment history, aspects which significantly decrease your credit score.

It’d help to have one or two credit cards that you can easily manage to pay within the agreed period. Keep tabs on your credit health too.

 

4. Payment History

Generally, lenders want assurance that you can pay them off within the agreed period. Your payment history will help them gauge this.

If you’re prone to making payments after the due date, your credit score is likely to decrease. The same will happen if you extend late payments for an extended period. Most lenders will give you a grace period of around a month to clear off your loan. In case of failure, they’ll forward your account to collectors who’ll seek the payments on behalf of your lender. The involvement of a third party to help clear your debt will greatly affect your score, leading to bad credit.

Most lenders will avoid lending you money if you’ve got a poor payment history. They’ll believe you’ll give them a hard time during repayment, making you a high-risk client.

 

Conclusion

Your credit score is important to your life’s financial aspect. This feature has shown you the factors that impact your credit score. With this information, you can ensure you maintain a high credit score to assist you when the need arises.

Javed Khattak, CFO of cheqd
ArticlesFinanceRegulation

Going Above and Beyond for Success

Javed Khattak, CFO of cheqd

cheqd is a new revolutionary company that is striving for the betterment of the future. It is creating a world in which individuals have total control over their personal data – an issue that is becoming increasingly prevalent thanks to the rise of technology. Javed Khattak is the company’s devoted CFO, named CFO of the Year in 2018, reclaims his title as CFO of the Year in 2022.

cheqd is building a better future – one where consumers and organisations can establish trustworthy relationships, control their personal data, and maintain a sense of security. cheqd firmly believes that companies should not make money off people’s data without their consent. This means their informed and clear consent, not just pressing ‘I agree’ when the convoluted terms and conditions are displayed. To make this a reality, cheqd provides solutions that enable verifiable credentials to be transferred between stakeholders in a trustworthy, secure, and efficient manner.

By extension, cheqd endeavours to support and enhance the current data economy business models and establish the flexibility and incentive to create new ones. As such, it achieves this by offering bespoke commercial models and governance structures, which have all been built upon cheqd’s own public permissionless blockchain network. This network features cheqd’s dedicated crypto-token (CHEQ) which is used as a form of payment within the ecosystem. In addition, the company supplies a suite of mobile and backend software tools that self sovereign identity (SSI) vendors can embed in their own client-facing software.

Consequently, the company, through great passion and devotion, has acquired numerous achievements. For example, CHEQ has been listed on Osmosis, the largest decentralised exchange in the Cosmos ecosystem. In addition, the Company has also successfully bridged its token onto the Ethereum blockchain allowing access to CHEQ in the Ethereum ecosystem as well. It is already listed on two centralised crypto exchanges; Gate.io and Bitmart, with more exciting news in the pipeline. Over 60 validators were welcomed on board once the cheqd network was launched, including 20 self-sovereign identity application vendors, digital identity start-ups, investors, and Cosmos-native or cross-chain network validators. The network has been an enormous success, and already millions of CHEQ tokens have been traded.

cheqd’s clients are expected to include governments, public organisations, multinational companies, banks, financial services companies, Web3 projects, and consultancies that handle personal documents and identification. “But it won’t stop there,” explains Javed Khattak, CFO, “we will be able to serve any client that needs to identify a unique person or object, real or virtual.” There are numerous examples as to how this could work – for example, in the event that a self-driving car fuels up at a charging station, both objects would be able to identify each other’s identity with the aim to pay for the transaction using the same ecosystem.

The SSI industry and market is mostly untapped and continuously growing; we seek to introduce a plethora of benefits to the market, helping save billions worth of money while improving ‘security’ of personal credentials for individuals. cheqd aims to become the market leader in doing so and I believe, is already leading the pack,” Javed states.

Behind the company is a team that Javed describes as a ‘family’. He believes that prior to hiring, it’s important to ensure that the individual shares the same values and that they’ll be compatible with the existing internal culture. In addition, each team member should be both exceptional and passionate about their area of expertise. cheqd’s team meets the aforementioned criteria – the team share the collective goal to be a force for good in the world, and they are inspired to leave a positive legacy. Despite its global reach, there is a great effort to remain in contact and support each other.

The close-knit family feel comes as no surprise – with a team of empathetic, creative, and fun people, cheqd has cultivated an environment where individuals can thrive. Fraser Edwards, co-Founder and CEO, and Ankur Banerjee, co Founder and CTO of cheqd both agree that the company wouldn’t be the same without Javed.

Ankur shares, “Javed has absolutely been critical to the success of a young and ambitious startup like cheqd. From the very first conversation that we had, I saw that unlike everyone else we spoke to about coming onboard as CFO, Javed had a real passion for the blockchain space. Instead of just being nterested in the numbers and finances, I’ve always appreciated that he takes the time to understand the technology and product aspects and contributes meaningfully to building out our product roadmap.”

Fraser tells us, “I still consider ourselves at cheqd extremely lucky to have Javed as part of the team and still remember myself and my co-Founder, Ankur, being shocked by the quality of his application for a company so young as ours. Javed brings a unique and priceless combination of deep experience, endless imagination and focused pragmatism that mean we have achieved far, far more than we would have without him.”

With regards to the acceleration of the firm, Fraser adds, “The speed we have been able to execute with, $3.3m raised, product launch, over 60 partners, inside a year is a huge advert for his skillet. On a personal level, I already see Javed as someone who will be a lifelong friend, one of the many benefits I’ve had from cheqd.” Not only does Javed know how to improve the workplace – for the sake of people’s freedom and positivity – but he knows how to elevate a business, in line with goals, values, and ever-evolving dreams. Therefore, cheqd is not simply about numbers and finances, it is about friendship and exploration of goals for employers, employees, and clients.

Internally improving each service it offers, Javed guarantees cheqd’s technical strategies reach every layer of its clients business. Fraser shares, “It’s genuinely refreshing in this deeply complex space at the intersection of Web 3.0, digital identity, and privacy technology to see someone like him who also is keen on the ethical aspects of what freely-accessible digital identity can do in terms of improving financial inclusion.” A balance between financial security and growth, alongside human connection, is where businesses need to be. And Javed achieves this for his team with his expert knowledge and guiding hand.

All of these comments reflect the entire company overall, as Javed has led it to accomplishment time and time again. A significant portion of the company’s success can be attributed to Javed, who serves as cheqd’s Chief Financial Officer. Prior to his position at cheqd, Javed led businesses in a variety of capacities, including as a Founder, a CEO, CFO, and CTO. Throughout his career, he has established and still leads multiple successful businesses, such as Seerbytes, Zisk Properties, Zisk Investments, and Javed Khattak Consulting. His success in business has led Javed to sit as a Board Member and Advisor to several other companies, including regulated funds.

Moreover, Javed is a highly-skilled mathematician, who is a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the UK. He writes, “I truly believe maths is the mother of all sciences. In addition, I don’t like being confined to a particular role or a subject. And at times I have found the modern day world to be puzzled by it. But there are countless examples of polymaths throughout history who have helped change the world. While I don’t consider myself a genius, I certainly believe that polymaths make for better professionals and their cross-disciplinary exposure sparks creativity as well as offers them the ability to view a problem from several lenses.”

Within the business, Javed revels in his involvement in the different areas, as this allows him to gain a 360-degree view. As a result, he maintains a deep understanding of the challenges and problems and is equipped to use them to drive results-based outcomes. This is, in part, one of the reasons why Javed enjoys working with cheqd and its team. Both Fraser and Ankur welcome Javed’s drive and passion to be more than just a CFO for the project.

In essence, he has done it all – but his success over the years has come with many challenges. Throughout both his professional and personal life, Javed has used challenges to bolster his learning. “I don’t believe in shortcuts,” he says, “I have found that, often, doing the right thing is the most difficult of options available in a given situation. The higher the stakes, the more difficult it is. But over the long term, if you have the patience to persevere, it pays off in a big way!”

His approach to his role as CFO has made him a hit amongst his colleagues – Eduardo Hotta, the Head of Marketing and Community, testifies that Javed has contributed a great amount to structuring cheqd’s finances and navigating the company through unexplored blockchain regulatory waters. Eduardo continues, “through his impressive skills, he managed to decrease our burn rate and therefore increase our company’s runaway. Another important thing to mention is his contribution in shaping cheqd’s amazing work culture.”

It appears that for Javed that the work never ends – but this is the way he likes it. He is entirely devoted to his work and is excited about the future of cheqd, along with the ways in which he can contribute to its success. In 2022, cheqd is developing core identity functionalities, and helping its partners in bringing to life successful use cases within their industries. cheqd is in the process of adding a deeper integration for its network and token into the Cosmos and other blockchain ecosystems, which will help the company to further engage with the market. Furthermore, the company is exploring the emerging Web3 use cases, such as DEX ecosystems, DAOs, NFTs, Gaming, and DeFi applications, which it will leverage for its network strength.

For business enquiries, contact Javed Khattak at cheqd via http://www.cheqd.io or http://www.javedkhattak.com.

Safeguarding Crypto
ArticlesFundsRegulation

8 Tips to Safeguard Crypto Investments

Safeguarding Crypto

It’s said that the cryptocurrency market has gained popularity as an investment option for many in the past decade. The success stories of overnight crypto millionaires are very tempting, but experts recommend a cautious approach to it. 

The decentralized nature of the digital assets market is perhaps the riskiest part of investing in cryptocurrency. It’s crucial to understand that cybercrime is rampant in the crypto market, and your portfolio can disappear into thin air without a trace.

However, such cases shouldn’t stop you from investing in crypto. You can follow these simple tips published here to safeguard your investment. Alternatively, this feature can give you insights into navigating the digital assets ecosystem. 

 

1. Wallets are Key to Security

Once you buy your preferred crypto, move it to your digital wallet immediately. Leaving your investment on the platform is risky because hackers can access the exchange floor and wipe it clean. 

Primarily, the digital assets landscape has hot (online) and cold (offline) wallets that work as crypto storage. Both wallet options have pros and cons, but experts advise using a cold wallet to safeguard your crypto investment. 

 

2. Exchanges Matter

Investing in the cryptocurrency market requires the same business acumen you’d use in the traditional financial market. You must research the intermediaries offering access to the crypto trading floor. 

Exchanges will only protect their interest and can’t guarantee safety for your investment. Additionally, not all exchanges are trustworthy and you could be risking your money buying from any exchange or crypto marketplace. Reach out to the crypto community to learn more about established crypto exchange platforms.

 

3. Use Strong Passwords

Using a strong password is perhaps classic advice in the information age. Encoding your wallets and intelligent devices to transact cryptos will save you the heartbreak of losing your investment. Select a password you can remember since your wallets can lock you out for not having the correct combination.

Aside from solid passwords, using a public network is also risky if you’re using hot wallets or connected to your cold wallet. Hackers will have an easy time collecting cryptos through the shared network. So, be cautious when using untrusted networks.

 

4. Sharing Keys Is Careless

It’s best to keep your private keys to yourself. Sharing your private keys jeopardizes your investment’s safety since it validates crypto transactions. You can disregard the request to communicate your private keys in the cryptocurrency landscape.

Typically, experts recommend printing the seed phrase on a private printer and keeping it safe. It’s perhaps an ideal option since most attackers target unsuspecting online users. Further, access your cryptocurrency only when transacting and avoid browsing the exchange platforms while your portfolio account is online.

 

5. Avoid Dubious Crypto Schemes

In cryptocurrency, you must understand the underlying information before investing. The most basic research will look at the digital asset’s market capitalization and the traded volume.

Cryptocurrency schemes have come up owing to the unregulated nature of the market, and millions disappeared through crypto schemes such as Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in the crypto arena. If you get an invitation to join groups that promise unrealistic returns, reject them and block them altogether. 

 

6. Keep Off Untrusted Links

When transacting cryptos online, avoid clicking unrelated links. You could be exposing your portfolio to cybercriminals. In addition, upgrade your software from trusted sources to back up your crypto investment’s security.

Alternatively, use a separate email address when accessing the internet to conceal your identity. You’ll protect your portfolio from any breach or phishing attempt to access your account.

 

7. Diversify

Keeping your eggs in one basket is dangerous, especially in the digital asset market. For obvious reasons, the market is unregulated and things change very fast. Your safest bet is diversifying your portfolio. 

So, spread your investment across the cryptocurrency landscape and leverage opportunities presented by the influx of new crypto making a debut. Though, you must upskill your knowledge of the underlying digital assets.

 

8. Crypto Hype Is Risky

If you follow the hype in the cryptocurrency market, you might invest in the wrong digital asset and get the timing wrong. The market price changes very fast, and it will not spare your investment.

Consult the cryptocurrency community because investors, crypto enthusiasts, and developers discuss current issues in forums like Quora. It’ll enlighten you to safeguard your crypto investment.  

 

Final Thoughts

Investing in cryptocurrency requires researching the underlying assets to avoid making wrong moves in the market. Plus, your exposure to risk doesn’t stop hackers from trying to steal from you. You must beware of the market volatility that can empty your investment account in seconds. So, deploying the above tactics can safeguard your investment to enjoy digital assets.

Virtual Accounting
AccountancyArticlesRegulation

Benefits of Shifting to Virtual Accounting

Virtual Accounting

In today’s digital age, many fundamental business processes are being automated. People are increasingly moving towards virtual operations as they save you time. Making operations such as accounting virtual can make a significant difference in your finance department.

Virtual accounting is getting your accounting done through remote employees, such as virtual accountants or experienced people with good skill sets. Virtual accounting services like Geekbooks manage and monitor your account bookkeeping from afar, saving time and cost and bringing along numerous benefits. Here is how your business can benefit by shifting to virtual accounting:

 

1. Optimized Work-Time

As a third-party accountant will deliver your work, hiring a virtual accountant can free your finance department employees from bookkeeping and accounting worries to focus on other essential business tasks. The job of recording extensive data and analyzing it will be outsourced to virtual accounting, and you can enjoy quality work from experts in this field.

 

2. Saved Time and Costs

Virtual accounting services provide remote access and encryption of your accounting data on the cloud. This provides your team easy access to all records and saves the cost of physically storing and retrieving all the documents and records. It also saves you the salaries that would otherwise have to be allotted for store management, document storage, and the wages of full-time accounting and bookkeeping employees. This quick availability of these valuable financial records can help prove when requesting an overdraft or loan for your business on an urgent basis.

 

3. Convenience

Virtual accounting is also a very convenient option for your overall business operations. It makes all your documents available online and enables all your remote and full-time employees to work on the same projects or accounting records or report anywhere worldwide. This is particularly beneficial during times of urgency or emergency in projects where even if no one is available at the work desk, the employees can manage their work effectively as all the data is available online. This available data in a digital format can also easily be used in annual reports of your business. They can help shareholders better understand the company’s financial progress over time.

 

4. Improved Security

As per research conducted by Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), about 1,291 data breaches were reported by September 2021. This statistic was about 17% higher than the number of data breaches incurred in 2020, 1,108.

Virtual accounting comes with higher data security as all your accounting records and reports have a backup and are well-protected in cloud computing. This prevents any data losses for your company due to natural disasters, theft, or internal data breaches. Cloud security is also significantly cheaper than creating backups for physical accounting records as it requires less storage cost and is more affordable to maintain.

 

5. Virtual Meetings

By shifting to virtual accounting mediums, you can benefit from the skillsets of expert accountants without needing them to be physically present in the workspace. You can take the expert opinion on improving your current financial position and gain valuable insights without hiring an expert full-time at a high salary.

 

6. Superior Technology

By opting for virtual accounting, your business can benefit from up-to-date modern technology and maintain readable accounting records compliant with changing accounting principles without paying for the softwares. Virtual accounting services have these current softwares available, and you can benefit from these services, all included in the fees of outsourcing. Your company will also save the cost of training employees on softwares if you outsource all the work altogether.

 

7. Flexibility and Timeliness

Depending upon the nature and needs of your business, accounting procedures can be outsourced to virtual accounting agencies on a daily, weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, or yearly basis. A virtual accounting service can fulfill the needs of your business and create reliable records for the company in your desired timeliness. Your virtual accountant will deliver the record and assessment of your finances on your pre-determined schedule.

 

8. Scalability

Online accounting services are easily scalable and can meet the changing accounting needs of your growing business. The pay-as-you-go model option of virtual accounting services enables you to grow your business quickly and scale up without paying the expense of high in-house accounting assistance. Your virtual accountant can adjust to changes in work volume, especially in busy seasons of your business where there is an increase in transactions or complexity of work.

 

9. Profitability

Your company can increase its productivity and profitability in the long run by opting for virtual accounting. It can benefit your overall business in time, technology, labor, and productivity. This will result in lower overheads, and your business will have lesser expenses in the long run leading to a positive impact on your overall profitability.

 

Endnote

Virtual accounting has numerous benefits, especially for small-scale businesses that want effective management of their financial records and require expert analysis of the financial position of their business economically. Outsourcing accounting to virtual accounting agents allows companies to benefit from superior softwares and technology and get the best service at a low cost. While having an in-house accounting expert will not only cost you more and require consistent training, a remote team of virtual accounting will provide you the same expertise with lower to no maintenance costs.

In this fast-paced world where businesses are increasingly moving towards remote work, this is your ideal time to shift to virtual accounting. Virtual services like virtual accounting help you recruit the best of all talents on board without the problem of geographical barriers. Your staff can work on creating accounting records from any city, state, country, or even across continents. This also helps you get accounting assistance even when your budget is tight. Your recruitment becomes solely based on skills fit and not the geographical fit. This ensures that you attract the best talent available for your firm.

Anti-Money Laundering
ArticlesRegulation

Enforcing Sanctions and Combating Money Laundering

Anti-Money Laundering

Creating beneficial ownership registers is an important step in combating money laundering and evasion of sanctions but it has to be done in tandem with ensuring public access and information accuracy. 

The discussion around beneficial ownership registers has made many headlines in the last few years but has intensified recently in the context of the war in Ukraine and the global sanctions imposed on Russian businesses and politically affiliated oligarchs. Sanction circumvention is however a reality through the use of asset ownership concealment schemes and doing business via countries that have not joined or committed to the global sanctions efforts.

Wally Adeyemo, deputy U.S. Treasury secretary even issued a warning to anyone assisting Russia in bypassing the economic sanctions by way of shell companies or crypto currencies. “What we want to make very clear to crypto exchanges, to financial institutions, to individuals, to anyone who may be in a position to help Russia take advantage and evade our sanctions: We will hold you accountable,” said Adeyemo.

The main purposes of establishing and maintaining Beneficial Ownership Registers are to deter Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, to help enforce sanctions and to identify those who seek to conceal their ownership and control of corporate entities. Such registers will ensure that the ultimate owners/controllers are identified and that this information is readily and publicly accessible.

 

Shell companies and nominees

In order to comprehend the issue of beneficial ownership, we need to understand some of the terminology : a beneficial owner is commonly defined as a person who ultimately owns or controls an asset. Shell companies, according to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, are a key feature in schemes designed to disguise beneficial ownership. History, and a long list of leaked documents such as the Panama Papers, have taught us that shell companies often enable money laundering, sanctions circumvention, tax evasion and other unlawful activities. According to sources, tax evasion costs governments globally close to $427 billion in losses each year. Europe loses $184 billion a year, more than half of which is from private tax evasion. 

Another vulnerability of beneficial ownership registers is the practice of using nominee directors and shareholders. The role of these “straw-men/women” is to conceal the identity of the real company or asset owners. This is often done using undisclosed agreements which essentially allow for one individual to hold shares of a company in the name of another person. While the appointment of nominees is legal in many countries, this practice is seen by the FATF as a cause for grave concern.

 

The benefits of beneficial ownership registers

Ieva Tarailiene, who holds the positions of Head of Registry practice and principal consultant roles at NRD Companies and served as interim CEO of the Lithuanian State Enterprise Center of Registers explains. “It is clear that if a business wants to hide the ultimate beneficiaries, the real shareholders, and to conceal its links with sanctioned persons or hide the origin of ill-gotten capital, it is likely to find ways to do so. However, imposing an obligation to provide mandatory beneficial ownership information to public authorities, to registers, will make it easier for law enforcement agencies to identify illegal activities or attempts to bypass sanctions. Failure to provide such information or falsifying data should carry serious consequences”.

In the last few years, both the FATF and the EU have issued recommendations and directives relating to beneficial ownership. FATF’s Recommendation 24 states that “Countries should ensure that there is adequate, accurate and timely information on the beneficial ownership and control of legal persons that can be obtained or accessed in a timely fashion by competent authorities”. The 4th EU Anti Money Laundering Directive (AMLD 4) from 2015 required member countries to establish beneficial ownership registers and “ensure that corporate and other legal entities incorporated within their territory are required to obtain and hold adequate, accurate and current information on their beneficial ownership, including the details of the beneficial interests held”.

As this 2021 illustration demonstrates, some countries in the EU have failed to establish such registers while others have imposed a myriad of obstacles — geographic access restrictions, registration requirements, paywalls, and public access limitations.

Transparency International has also called for a number of fixes to ensure global standards for improving beneficial ownership transparency including closing loopholes such as the use of nominees and clearly defining the term “beneficial owner” which differs between jurisdictions. To illustrate the inconsistencies in global regulations and according to the World Bank, registering beneficial ownership was mandatory in only 64 economies in 2020 (out of 191 economies included in the sample), and more common amongst high income economies. Beneficial ownership disclosure requirements in certain world regions are substantially lower — 20% in East Asia and Pacific; just over 20% in Sub Saharan Africa; and just under 30% in Europe and Central Asia.

Ms. Tarailiene concludes that “registers of beneficial owners are at the heart of a robust system aiming at financial transparency. Register of beneficial owners is a starting point towards a more transparent business environment and an essential part in a system to fight ill-gotten wealth, money laundering and terrorist financing, and circumvention of sanctions. Governments should take steps to not only establish the registers and make them freely accessible, but should also build mechanisms to validate the accuracy of the beneficial ownership information provided to them. Such mechanisms would require the involvement of other agencies such as Financial Intelligence Units and other law enforcement agencies to uncover false fillings and deter others from doing so”.

Regulatory Compliance
ArticlesGlobal ComplianceRegulation

Regulatory Compliance and its Importance

Regulatory Compliance


It doesn’t matter what a company’s size or industry is, all businesses need to adhere to specific regulations and laws as a part of their operations. Regulatory compliance deals with a lot of guidelines that organizations must follow by law. For example, this might involve ensuring that employees have a safe working environment.

It can help to take a look at a definition of regulatory compliance in order to understand exactly what it is and how it can be different from other facets of compliance.

 

Definition

To put it simply, regulatory compliance is when businesses follow international, federal, and state regulations and laws relevant to their operations. There are even companies that can help with this – such as businesses that help with Amazon FBA customs compliance. It should be noted that specific requirements can and do vary depending on the type of business and industry. 

Adhering to government laws can differ from other aspects of what’s known as corporate compliance – or adhering to specific internal rules and policies. For example, financial market regulations might differ from specific bank policies. While both of them are critical in order to ensure financial behavior, safety, and integrity in businesses, it’s also important to understand the differences. 

 

Regulatory Environment

Since the regulatory environment constantly evolves, the target for compliance is forever moving. You may come to find that just when you’ve achieved total compliance, the regulatory environment shifts in some way and you need to tweak the approach you take in order to remain compliant. Your business has to be adaptable or it can be put in jeopardy. This can make things extremely difficult. 

 

Failure to Comply

If your business fails to comply, it opens the company up to financial liability and even potential lawsuits. This is why compliance is so critical. Regulatory compliance assists you with protecting the reputation and resources of your business. Consider the time it takes for it to build trust with vendors, prospects, and customers. Much of that depends on how the business behaves ethically. 

Compliance is what lays the foundation on which the reputation of the company is built. There are times when all it takes is a single misstep with compliance and you can break the trust that it took years to build. 

If you fail to be compliant, you may even risk the loss of access to certain parts of your customer base. As an example, if you have a medical business and fail to comply with HIPAA regulations, you might lose access to a variety of insurance companies and even risk losing your state license.

Finally, consider all of the time you’ll need for your business to spend following a violation of compliance, likemanaging an outbreak of E. coli linked to a grower you use or a security breach due to someone hacking into your database.

 

Protection

Regulations and rules are there for a reason. They assist with protecting your customers, your employees, and your entire business. Failure to adhere to the requirements for regulatory compliance can leave you open to risks that go beyond simple fines. As an example, regulations regarding security are in place to protect against things like breaches of data, those regarding finances protect against things like fraud, and regarding safety have been created to keep your employees safe.

These types of regulations haven’t been put into place to make the lives of business owners more difficult, even though a lot of the time they do. Instead, they should be viewed as a benefit to your business as well as to external and internal individuals. 

Financial advisors looking over spreadsheets and graphs
ArticlesCorporate GovernanceFundsLegalPensions

How Can Pension Schemes Align With ESG Goals?

Financial advisors looking over spreadsheets and graphs

 

By Tracy Walsh, partner in the pensions team at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson

Pension schemes and the industry as a whole are responding to the zeitgeist of ESG investing. Last year, the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the UK’s largest pension scheme, announced that by 2023 it will have divested from companies involved in tobacco manufacturing, coal mining and weapons manufacturers, where this makes up more than 25% of their revenues.

The government has chosen not to impose targets onto pension schemes and is instead hoping that all schemes can learn from the actions of some larger schemes like this that have set ambitious ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investment strategies, and in particular those that have voluntarily adopted net zero targets for their investments. Pension schemes will need to engage much more with their asset managers, understand what net zero really means, and be prepared to better interrogate their managers over their fund selection and how this is being monitored.

That will require Trustees to be more clued up, and to have a much different investment strategy, than perhaps they have been in the past. But the effort is likely to be worth it, for their scheme members. ESG investing is proving to be very attractive to millennials (Trustees may be surprised by just how many of their members fall into that bracket), and is bucking the assumption that ESG investing means lower returns.

Research from Bloomberg has shown that the average ESG fund fell in value by just half the decrease registered of other funds in the S&P 500 index over the same period during the Covid-19 crisis. All of which is good news for DC fund values, and also for DB schemes that are seeking to rely less and less on the employer going forward.

Trustees should not focus solely on the “E” in ESG though. The social credentials of companies seeking investment are just as important and it seems that those companies with solid scores in their area have also performed better during the pandemic, and members will likely expect further and better particulars from their schemes about how those scores are arrived at, and how it has shaped the investment strategy for the scheme.

So how can trustees ensure that managers engage positively with investee companies on their behalf? There are some key actions Trustees should take, in order to exercise the right degree of influence and accountability among their fund managers:

 

Awareness:

Trustees should educate themselves about the S and the G in ESG, not just the E. Ask the managers and other advisers to provide training on how to interpret information, and what sources are being used to asset the ESG credentials of funds (especially social factors, such as labour standards and diversity). This will enable the Trustees to better monitor their managers and understand and interrogate the information provided by them, and in turn, managers will be forced to engage positively with investee companies

 

Accountability:

Trustees should make clear in their SIP and their risk register what their position is in relation to ESG, and how they will review the performance of their managers and investments against that position. Don’t just use boiler-plate assurances that the asset manager’s policies are consistent with the Trustees’ ESG beliefs. The voting policy is an excellent tool, even where voting is delegated, and would set out how schemes check their manager’s approach (some asset managers’ policies currently offer limited coverage of social topics) and the steps that will be taken where the managers’ voting choices diverge from the scheme’s voting policy.

 

Leadership:

Require your managers to be signatories of the UK Stewardship Code. If you are a qualifying scheme, you should also sign up, to show that you are walking the walk as well.

 

Follow through:

Select managers whose approach to ESG and sustainability issues is in line with that of the scheme, and choose those that can demonstrate that they fully integrate ESG considerations into their investment process.

Tracey Walsh
Tracy Walsh
US tax return and a laptop
ArticlesFinanceRegulationTax

If You Freelance By the Hour, Should You Receive a Pay Stub?

US tax return and a laptop

As a freelancer, you are responsible for all the duties of your profession. But, you are not provided with benefits. When you freelance by the hour, it’s important to keep track of your time spent on various projects. You can use an online time tracker or download an app to help you see how much time is spent on each project.

Keep track of all this information so that you have it for tax purposes and invoices at the end of the year. If you have questions about whether or not you should receive a pay stub, read on to learn more about what they are and their importance.

 

1) Pay stubs help keep financial records tidier for everyone

If you have a client pay you a set hourly rate for a specific project, then a pay stub is something you can generate to help organize and track financial transactions. You’ll still deal in invoices, but pay stubs are a good place to keep track of hours you spend on specific projects.

Pay stubs are one of the easiest forms of documentation you can create for freelance work. They usually take about five minutes to create using an online paystub generator.

 

2) Pay stubs give you a place to categorize hours worked and help you reconcile your hourly compensation to your weekly cash flow

When you get paid for a project, you’ll have to come up with some way to track and reconcile the time you spent on a particular project with the money you received. You can think of an invoice as an itemized list of what you’re being paid for, but a pay stub can be easier to track and reconcile your hours spent on different projects.

Simply put, an important benefit of pay stubs is that they make it easy to reconcile the hours you worked and your hourly compensation.

 

3) It’s easier to establish proof of income and apply for credit loans

One problem freelancers have is showing proof of income when they want to apply for credit loans. In many cases, companies won’t consider your PayPal balance alone as proof of income. Pay stubs are one of the easiest ways to prove that you are being regularly paid and that your income level is reliable and consistent.

When you generate a pay stub, you can also include details such as the date, amount, time worked, and more. This will help you demonstrate that you’ve worked for a client and that the payment you received was for work that you did.

 

4) It’s an easy way to understand how you are going to bill clients, if you invoice a project separately from hourly rates for the same client

There are several different ways freelancers can bill for their work. Hourly rates are the most common, but many also choose to bill “per item” or “per project”.

If you generate pay stubs for a particular project or one of your clients’ projects, you can always break your hourly rate down into an itemized bill for clients who need more details, and you can easily split an hourly rate into an itemized bill for each client.

 

5) If you are paid on a percentage basis, it’s often more intuitive to receive a pay stub with the hours worked designated for that percentage

If you receive a client or project’s payment in a flat fee or per hour amount, it can be a challenge to calculate how much you worked. On the other hand, when you’re receiving payment for a percentage of the work that you’ve done, it’s much more intuitive to know how many hours you’ve worked and be able to divide that number by a particular percentage.

For example, if you work a certain amount of hours per week on a project, you’ll likely receive a bill based on an hourly rate, which makes it a lot easier to calculate how much you worked on a specific project. It’s a good idea to send clients a pay stub with the hours worked designated to a specific percentage.

 

6) Pay stubs help establish how much you are earning for each client, and therefore, why it makes sense for you to set up direct deposit

By utilizing your hourly compensation, you can know exactly how much you are being paid per hour for each client, and that can allow you to charge clients the appropriate hourly rates for their projects. If your client pays you per hour, you’ll know exactly how much they are paying you to perform each task. This is an important way to ensure you’re billing your clients appropriately.

Accountancy
AccountancyArticlesRegulation

Accountancy Services for Large Businesses: What Leaders Must Look Out For

Accountancy

 

Finding the right accountant to help with your business can be a crucial step in management that you need to look out for. You cannot afford to get the financial details of your company wrong, and the right accountant will be a crucial part of this. The larger your business is, the more important it will be that you are able to meet the needs it generates.

Industry Experience

If possible, try to find an accountant who has some experience of your industry. While any accountant will be able to do the basics, there are some advantages to finding one that specialises in your chosen sector. There are many small quirks that go into different industries, and you need to make sure that you are going to find an accountant who is able to meet the needs presented by yours.

There might be a certain process or supply that you need to have to be able to run your business. To someone who is not familiar with your industry, it might appear to be a superfluous expense that can be cut from the budget when this is not actually the case. An accountant who is familiar with the specific needs of your industry is going to be able to catch small and important expenses such as this and ensure that your finances can accommodate them.

 

Scale

While you might be able to find an accountant who is familiar with your industry, you have to consider whether or not they are comfortable working with a business on your scale. There are many skilled accountants out there, but they might only have experience working with much smaller companies.

Having a larger company under your control means that you are going to automatically be generating far more financial data than a smaller business. Finding either an individual you trust or a company with a good reputation who specialises in corporate accounting services will help to give you some peace of mind that they are going to be able to meet your needs as a business owner and as a wider company.

 

Open Communication

A large company means that you are going to need to look in multiple directions at once. You need to make sure that you have people by your side who are able to come in and correctly coordinate with you to deliver the most efficient results possible. Therefore, it is incredibly important that you find an accountant who is able to communicate effectively.

You might have a busy schedule or a limited time in which you could hold meetings with them. While it is important that you do hold semi-regular meetings with your accountant, you might have to rely on reading reports from them on the occasions where you can’t meet. Therefore, they need to be able to deliver information about your finances in a way that is clear, concise, and easy for you to digest. Find an accountant who understands your needs and can work around them to deliver the results that work best for your partnership.

Finding an accountant or an accountancy team to outsource to can take time and might be more difficult than you initially think. However, with the right attitude and a willingness to work with this key professional instead of merely handing over your documents, you should be able to create a partnership that works for both of you. Handling the accounts of a large company is not easy. You need to make sure that you have found the right individual to work with you and deliver the results you expect from them, no matter what.

Saving money
ArticlesBankingRegulationTransactional and Investment Banking

Simple Ways to Save Money That Often Go Overlooked

Saving money

One of the most fundamental concepts of generating wealth is knowing how to save money. When you master the art of stretching your earnings further, you have more resources to invest and save towards a more secure future. While shopping around for the best price, using coupons, and other common savings tactics are ideal, other strategies go overlooked, costing you hundreds of dollars each year. Continue reading to learn more. 

 

Skip ATM Fees

When you need access to cash, the ATM is the fastest way to retrieve it. It saves you from standing in long lines at the bank and allows you to get money 24/7. Be that as it may, you incur a fee when you use ATMs outside of your bank’s network. The fee might only be $2-5, but when you calculate that over the number of times you use the ATM in a month, it adds up. Not to mention, most banks charge an additional fee for using out-of-network ATMs. You can save several dollars every year by merely using no-fee ATMs or making purchases using the debit card linked to your bank account. 

 

Overdraft Protection

Even the most financially organized person can overlook a bank transaction. You forget that your cell phone bill is on automatic withdrawal. The funds aren’t available in your checking account. The payment gets returned, and you’re left with a $25-$35 fee to cover. While setting reminders can reduce the chances of overdraft fees, there’s another solution – overdraft protection. This is an “insurance” policy offered by banks where transactions totaling more than your available balance are honored or paid using a linked savings account, saving you hundreds in fees each month. 

 

Rebates

Using coupons or taking advantage of sales when making a purchase are common ways to save money, but they’re not the only solutions. Most people tend to overlook rebate opportunities. Though not applied at the time of purchase, rebates can quickly add up. If you frequently shop online, applying for an Amazon rebate could save you hundreds of dollars on everyday purchases. Believe it or not, there are several cashback and rebate programs you can sign up for to save on everything from groceries to apparel. 

 

Buy Generic

As a consumer, you’ll always pay for the brand’s name and reputation, from your medications to your clothes. For example, a pair of athletic shoes from Payless shoe store will cost you less than a pair you purchase from Nike. Since Nike is the more popular brand, it will always be more expensive than a generic brand from your local retailer. However, if you dig deeper, you’ll learn that these shoes are made in the same factories using the same materials, ultimately providing you with the same quality. So, it’s safe to say that you would save yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars by being open-minded about generic or lesser-known brands. 

 

Timeliness

When it comes to wasting money, timeliness is a huge factor. When you don’t pay your bills in a timely manner, you incur late fees, penalties, and sometimes added interest. Depending on how frequently you practice this behavior, you could be watching hundreds of thousands of dollars go down the drain. You can remedy this problem by ensuring that you pay your bills on time. Set up automatic payment plans or set reminders to ensure that you have the available funds to cover the bill. If you’re having difficulty keeping up with the due dates, talking with service providers about making adjustments is recommended. 

As the saying goes, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” On the surface, these habits may not seem like much. Incurring a $2 ATM or $35 overdraft fee, spending more on a popular brand, or missing the deadline for a utility or credit card bill seems minuscule, but if you were to add it up over the course of a month or year, chances are you’d be surprised. Keep more of your money in your pocket by developing better financial habits and taking advantage of the resources available to help you save more each day.

Business leader
ArticlesRegulation

How Your Leadership Team May Be Ruining Your Business

Business leader

Any business’s objective is to make a profit or be sustainable over time. To achieve that outcome, one must understand the steps necessary to accomplish the results desired and all the little things that go into making that goal a reality.

Did you know that employee satisfaction, job performance, and productivity are linked with excellent or poor management? 

There are many factors for this, but in general, the saying that nobody “quits a job, they quit a boss” is the difference in your organization’s success or failure.  

In any conversation regarding high-end achievement versus mediocre results, factors such as timing, speed, positioning, motivation, and leadership are all points that are recognized as to why a project is successful or not. 

 

Analyze Your Team’s Successes

All too often, the focus on why a project succeeds is on tangibles such as improved market position, increased sales, and the like. 

Most organizations focus on the most obvious metric to analyze, and that is customer engagement and sales. For example, a brewery is only as successful as its sales, and to grow sales, there needs to be increased brand awareness. 

Utilizing a customer data platform that allows the brewery to streamline all the marketing, sales, and service processes for its organization can enhance its brand awareness and outreach. 

The brewery will need to improve engagement by increasing brand awareness through product placement, marketing, or other strategies. 

One area that is too often ignored is the morale and general sense of well-being that team members have for their jobs and management. A poorly run organization struggles with retaining quality team members, declining productivity, and lost labor hours due to illness and other factors. 

Too often, a poorly run organization believes that to correct its course, a reshuffling of management is vital. That may be true in some instances; however, one solution is for leadership to take stock of what may be their failings and correct those behaviors. 

For example, employees tend to look unfavorably at management when communication between management and labor is poor, disconnected from the employees ’ concerns, or seems arbitrary and detached negatively. 

 

Find The Patterns To Success And Empower Your Team

This issue may accelerate your organization’s disconnect, especially when an achievement isn’t shared with all the contributing members that helped make that achievement or milestone possible. Part of what makes for effective leadership is to find patterns in your successes and analyze your shortcomings.

Often little achievements are located in the minutia, small actions that add up to become a significant achievement. As a leader, you should be focusing on the small steps that your team members take in their workflow and enhancing their opportunities for success. 

 

Become A Better Communicator

The most crucial step in becoming a better leader is to become a better communicator. Too often, misunderstandings create an environment built on tension and more significant problems. There are three primary communication principles: listen, speak, and empower. 

These three processes will create an environment that your team members will become more invested in, increasing job satisfaction and enhance productivity as a result.

  1. Listen First
  2. Speak Clearly
  3. Delegate Tasks And Empower Solution-Based Thinking

Focusing on empowering labor through engaging conversations and encouraging better lines of dialogue helps improve the perception of the organization’s leadership.

Improved relationships help team members believe in the company’s value, which has a real-world impact on performance and productivity. 

 

Become A Better Leader

A goal of good leadership is to empower your team members to have a set of small achievements that can create a sense of cohesion to the project as a whole. 

These small achievements take on momentum on their own and help your project and organization make larger and larger accomplishments. By sharing in the process, you’re creating an environment where team members can feel pride and attachment to those outcomes. The key then is to share in the accomplishments. 

A leader’s actions will set the trajectory for any project and determine its possible success. Leaders as a whole are made from a series of experiences, reflection, iteration, and education. In fact, through self-awareness and education, most people can learn to become a more effective leader. 

To create sustained growth and success for your organization, you need to focus resources on educating your management team on more effective ways to lead your teams. 

flexible payment
ArticlesFinanceFundsRegulation

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

flexible payment


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

 

What is flexible pay?

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

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

 

What employees needs it can address

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

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

 

The benefits it can generate for employers

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

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

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

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

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

 

How to roll it out in your business

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

 

So what are the initial requirements?

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

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

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

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

 

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

Take care of what you share privacy and protection in a pandemic
LegalRegulation

Take care of what you share: privacy and protection in a pandemic

Take care of what you share: privacy and protection in a pandemic

Caroline Holley, Partner, Family & Divorce, and Oliver Lock, Associate, Reputation Management, Farrer & Co

A good reputation, hard won, can be ruined in moments. Never have those words been more true than in this strange new “normal”.

The coronavirus lockdown period has resulted in an exponential increase in the time that people are spending online, with greater use of video calls and social media platforms. This brings with it a number of security and confidentiality issues, some of which may not ordinarily be at the forefront of people’s minds.

Privacy has long been a concern of many, but recently we have seen a sharp rise in confidentiality provisions being included in a range of agreements, such as employment contracts, pre or post nuptial agreements, parenting plans used by separated parents, as well as non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

Those who have entered into such agreements would be wise to review them in light of their new online lives. Others may think now is the right time to revise agreements to include new, or tighten up existing, confidentiality provisions.

Social Media
Social media use has become more prevalent than ever. People often share huge amounts of personal information on various social platforms, not only in terms of what they say directly, but also information gleaned from photos or videos posted or articles shared or retweeted. The potential pitfalls are wide-ranging and extend beyond simple privacy concerns. Both online and physical security, as well as reputational issues, need to be given careful consideration.

Employment contracts

Contracts for household staff, particularly nannies, regularly include confidentiality provisions, such as clauses preventing disclosure of personal information obtained during employment. However, they can also extend to the employee’s own use of social media. An open Instagram account of a high-profile family’s nanny could disclose the whereabouts of the family, details of their home or private photographs of children. There have been notable incidents where well-known individuals have been burgled when away from home, as a result of information gleaned from social media posts.

Pre and post nuptial agreements

Couples in relationships can have very different approaches to social media. Whereas one half of a couple may enjoy a large following or generate an income from their profile, the other may eschew social media entirely, potentially creating considerable conflict.

Some couples are therefore choosing to agree their intended approach to social media in nuptial agreements, ensuring that the family privacy is protected even in the event of marital breakdown. Right at the outset of their relationship, couples can discuss their views of social media – what they are comfortable sharing and with whom – and having reached a consensus, can record that understanding either in a pre-nuptial agreement or NDA.  As can be imagined, it is much easier to come to a consensus early on in a relationship than it is after it has ended.

Agreements such as these are flexible and entirely bespoke, dealing with the couple’s private life, business affairs or financial information that may have been shared by either party. They may include clauses on whether photographs of future children or of the interior or exterior of their home be shared, a particularly important consideration for those in the public eye.

As the number of people earning an income from their social media presence and posts grows, it has become even more important to consider such agreements, and the potential financial impact of them, when agreeing provision in a pre-nuptial agreement.

Video Calls
The coronavirus epidemic and resulting lockdown has seen many of us have turn to video calls to facilitate many daily activities; from work, and social arrangements, to exercise classes or even church services.

Keeping in touch with the outside world in this way has been a lifeline to many. But some people are using this technology without due consideration of security concerns and, again, confidentiality and privacy issues arise. Users may be sharing far more information than intended – their location, security weaknesses, evidence of expensive artwork on the wall, or even family photos. This is particularly concerning when the call could be recorded, or if there are a number of unknown people on the call. The simplest way to guard against such issues is to add a blank background to all calls, a feature available on most platforms, to ensure privacy, security and reputation are all protected.

What if an agreement is breached?
Breaching an NDA or confidentiality clause may be very easy to do without realising.  For example, it may have been agreed that neither party will share pictures of their children, but one of them forgets to remove family photos from the wall behind them in a video call. For couples on good terms, this may not be such an issue. But should the relationship have broken down, this could have serious consequences. Actual liability will always depend on the exact terms of the agreement and the level of fault asserted. But, as a minimum, parties are usually expected to take reasonable steps to ensure information does not get into the public domain.  

International considerations
Restrictions arising from the pandemic vary between countries and for those who continue to travel, it is important to keep abreast of the differing rules in different locations. In Singapore, for example, it has been reported that permissions to work have been withdrawn from a number of expats as a result of social media images showing them out socialising in breach of lockdown rules there.

Coronavirus has changed the way that we live and work, quite possibly forever. Restrictions are now beginning to lift but even so, our reliance on the growing online world is most likely to remain. It is important to consider these issues as we go forward into the ‘new normal’, remaining alert to possible breaches of agreements and ensuring that in future, appropriate provisions are incorporated into personal agreements.

 

mediation
Family OfficesLegal

Keeping Divorce Out Of Court: Why Mediation Matters

mediation

Keeping Divorce Out Of Court: Why Mediation Matters

By Kirstie Law, at Thomson Snell & Passmore

People are increasingly looking to facilitate a smoother and faster divorce by keeping it out of court.  As such, former couples are turning to mediation as a way of resolving the issues arising from their separation (including financial and child arrangements).

Mediation can provide real benefits in appropriate cases. It reduces tension and hostility and helps couples make their own informed decisions about their futures. The process involves the couple working with normally one mediator, (but in some cases two mediators/co-mediators,) who encourages them to come to a solution that works for them both and their children.  The mediator is impartial, but will give the couple information as to the law and, for example, how in his or her experience the court might deal with a particular issue.

 

Children and mediation

With Children Act proceedings, if the case is being decided by a judge, he or she will want to know what is in the best interests of any children concerned.  This is often achieved by the court appointing a CAFCASS officer who normally visits any children with each parent before preparing a report, including recommendations for future child arrangements.

Some mediators are qualified to see children as part of the mediation process.  Having had an initial meeting with the parents, (who both have to agree to the mediator seeing any children) the mediator will then have a meeting with the child(ren) without the parents, although another adult will be present.  Having seen the child(ren), the mediator will report back to the parents any points that have been specifically agreed with the child(ren). If the child(ren) asks for some things not to be repeated to the parents the mediator MUST respect this.  The only exception to this confidentiality is if the child(ren) discloses he/she or another child is at risk of harm, in which case the appropriate referrals, e.g. to social services, is made.  This is explained to the child(ren) at the start of the process. 

The mediator will make an effort to ensure that the environment is relaxed, including providing appropriate child friendly refreshments. The child(ren) will also be given the opportunity to doodle or draw a picture.  Most mediators will also write to the child(ren) in advance of the session (in a way that is age appropriate) inviting them to attend. 

It is important to emphasise that the child(ren) is/are not being asked to decide what will happen, but told that mummy and daddy want to know what the child(ren) feel(s) about the current situation and any suggestions the child(ren) has with regard to arrangements going forward.

The feedback from both children and parents who have been involved in mediations where the children have had direct involvement and the opportunity to discuss issues with the mediator is extremely positive.  Mediation can be concluded very quickly enabling the whole family to move on and hopefully the parents to co-parent more successfully.

 

Finances and mediation

With financial proceedings, if the case is being decided by a judge, he or she will have quite a wide discretion as to what settlement is appropriate in any given case.  This can make it very difficult to predict the outcome with potentially thousands of pounds being spent obtaining an order that no one is happy with.  The mediation process can take into account the priorities of both (e.g. one wanting to keep the house, the other a pension) and consider whether a clean break settlement is the best solution.  It is arguably far easier to live with a settlement into which you have had input than one that has been imposed on you.

The mediator will want both to provide financial disclosure but the couple can decide when, and for what period, this is provided (the court process requires bank statements for a year but if the decision to separate is mutual and recent the couple can in mediation agree a shorter period).

It is normally possible to have a first mediation appointment within a week of the mediator speaking to both.  By contrast the first court hearing is normally three or four months after the court processes the application.

The mediation process is therefore normally significantly quicker and cheaper, and usually improves rather than damages the couple’s relationship, hopefully making future co-parenting easier.

 

Shuttle mediation

Shuttle mediation is a form of mediation where, instead of the former couple being in the same room as the mediator, they are in separate rooms and the mediator effectively shuttles in-between. 

Shuttle mediation can be used in cases where mediation is not appropriate because one or both of the former couple, for whatever reason, do not feel comfortable being in the same room.  This could for example be due to past coercive or controlling behaviour, or if one person is still finding it difficult to come to terms with the end of the relationship.

The potential disadvantage of shuttle mediation is that there is inevitably a duplication of costs because the mediator has to repeat what has been said by the other person.  There are also usually advantages to having the discussions directly, but in the presence of an independent mediator.  Witnessing these discussions directly can enable the mediator to assist with improving communication going forward particularly if, for example, there is a need for future co-parenting.

Ultimately the most important thing with regard to mediation is that both feel comfortable to discuss issues openly with the mediator and do not feel pressurised as a result of the other person’s presence. 

Shuttle mediation can be used for the whole of the mediation process or just to deal with a particular issue that the parties feel would be easier to discuss if they are not in the same room.

 

Final thoughts

The breakdown of a relationship can be a painful and difficult time for all involved. By opting for mediation, it is possible to help mitigate the stress of a divorce or separation, by making the process smoother and faster, and helping to ensure an outcome that works for everyone.

vineyards
RegulationTax

What Do Sex Toys, Architects and Vineyards Have In Common?

vineyards

What Do Sex Toys, Architects and Vineyards Have In Common?

They are all sectors that could be claiming for Research and Development Tax Credit, according to R&D specialists RIFT Research and Development Ltd.

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

Introduced by the Government, it encourages scientific and technological innovation across a plethora of UK business sectors. But while RIFT has worked with some of the more traditional companies to have made the most of it, in areas like construction, manufacturing, business and finance, they believe many are still failing to take advantage of the financial benefits and have highlighted some of the more unusual work that could qualify. 

Architecture

Architects are often presented with issues when planning whether it be social or environmental and the engineering or technology-based advancements made to overcome these can often qualify as R&D. 

Some examples of architectural practices that may fall within the R&D framework include designing bespoke features, testing and prototyping, improving energy efficiency, adapting practices when working on heritage or listed structures, tackling acoustic issues, new thermal or lighting requirements and seeking BREEAM, Passivhaus or LEED certification.  

Catering

Catering is home to a whole host of R&D opportunities including work that makes innovative use of the effects of preservatives, increases a product’s nutritional value, helps increase the shelf life of a product, changes the flavour of an existing product, or even the texture or form. For example, advancements in liquid-based breakfast items.

This also includes work on reducing allergens and additives or even the processes, techniques, equipment and ingredients used, whether it be a commercial kitchen or an industrial food production unit or factory. One recent area where plenty of work would qualify is the production of gluten-free food and developing this offering across a wide variety of products that weren’t available before.

Car Manufacturer and Dealers

At times, nontechnical activities can qualify, including areas such as the design of a car’s shape should the manufacturer be able to demonstrate advancements in aerodynamics, performance or fuel consumption. 

Even the more day to day tasks of re-designing your showroom CRM system to make the day to day running of your site more efficient can qualify.  

Clean Tech

Clean tech is perfect for R&D Tax Relief and if you aren’t claiming you’re missing out. But you don’t have to be designing carbon-neutral products in a lab, even driving innovations in areas such as recycling, renewable energy, solid waste management, or sewage treatment could see you qualify.

Textiles

Textiles is another sector rife with opportunity, driven by design and creation but also heavily reliant on production methods, the way you bring a design to life and the efficiency of the machines used to produce the fabric could all qualify for R&D if you’re doing something new to pioneer efficiency and reduce waste.

Sex Toys

Believe it or not, the sex industry is consistently producing pioneering work that would easily qualify under the R&D tax relief framework. Whether it is a new technology, stimulation technique, material or even the way these products are made, any and all new advancements tend to be leading innovation in the sector. 

Football Clubs

Yes, football clubs. Largely due to the advancements being made within the performance departments on a medical basis. This can include nutritional plans, rehabilitation methods and activities, research and information into specific injuries, all of which can help reduce the time a player is unable to play and the speed and the quality of their recovery. 

Vineyards, Breweries and Distilleries

Increasing output while maintaining standards and costs has seen many companies producing wine, beer or spirits carry out R&D-worthy work. Again, removing additives or preservatives can advance a product, or by increasing alcohol content, creating new processes to help scale up productivity or even experimenting with new materials to develop unique flavours for sale to the industry.


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

“Research and development is happening in every corner of British business but many are failing to recognise that the work they are doing qualifies. We’ve highlighted just a few of the more unusual, but if you’re doing something different to advance your business or product, why not get all the help you can and claim some financial relief on the costs incurred to develop these advancements.”  

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.”

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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.”