Category: Risk Management

Gold Investment
ArticlesRisk Management

How Gold Investments Help in Business Risk Management

Gold Investment


Gone are the days when gold was limited only to jewellery or to décor. When you think about the history of gold, you’ll find that many families have passed it on from one generation to the next as an asset. And, you should, too, particularly if you’re in business. Investing in gold can contribute so much to counter risks, making it a good strategy for risk management.

Whether or not you’re a seasoned businessman, it doesn’t change the fact that risks for businesses are always present. You can never really determine when a sudden change in the economy will happen, much like how the world was struck by unprecedented changes last year. Hence, you need to adopt effective asset protection strategies and make some crucial considerations to avoid dire consequences. One of the best options today is through investing in gold.

To convince you further of its viability, here are some great ways gold investments can help in business risk management:

 

1. It Offers Security of Value

One of the most compelling advantages of investing in gold is that its price will be consistently going up. Gold brings forth security of value, and this security can help smoothen out rough seas that your business might go through.

With gold, it’s normal that, sometimes, the price will go down, but it’ll always go back up again. For instance, if you bought a piece of jewellery five years ago and had it assessed by a jeweller, the value will have already increased. This becomes even so much truer with bigger gold bullions or assets, which businesses typically invest in.

With an appreciating asset, this means that you’re earning passive income. Should your business fall into the risk of low income, you can have a hedge through your asset. As a result, your financial portfolio may not suffer as much as it would’ve without this stable investment.

 

2. Offers Protection Against Inflation Risks

One common enemy of businesses, small or big, is inflation. If you’re not careful about following through the flow of inflation, it may kill your investment. This means losing everything you’ve worked so hard for.

Given this inherent risk of inflation in the economy, it’s never advisable just to put all your business resources in cash. Physically, the cash is kept in a bank, yes, but its value will deplete in a few years because of inflation.

Here’s a simple illustration of such a scenario: USD$100 in the past could buy you more than it can today. So, for instance, with your business, USD$10,000 can give you more today than it could ever do five to ten years from now.

To protect your business against inflation, it’s a good idea to place your eggs in different baskets so you can have a mix of stable assets. One of these stable assets is gold. There are online portals like https://learnaboutgold.com/ that can give you a better idea of how gold works as a stable asset to provide a hedge against inflation. Typically, this has something to do with its growth and stable history.

Such benefit is very advantageous to businesses, given that inflation usually comes along with dire effects. Some of the negative effects of inflation include the following:

  • If inflation continues to soar, this means that customers of your business will have lesser purchasing power. In effect, they may buy less from your business than they used to in the past.

  • Inflation can get out of hand, whereby businesses’ employees will also demand more in terms of their wages simply because their current salary could no longer buy them as much of their needs as it used to. When you’re forced to increase salaries, this means lowered profit margin for your business as well.

  • Inflation can also lead to disruptions in business planning, resulting in lower investments.

 

3. It Keeps Your Inventory Stable

When prices continue to soar because of inflation, this affects not just the purchasing power of customers, but also that of businesses. This is a risk that’s inherent as there really is no controlling the possible instability of economies. If your business puts too much faith on cash savings, then chances are you’ll succumb to an unstable inventory level.

Investing in gold can help you cover up the value losses of your cash savings. When the value of your cash gets too low, such that your inventory suffers, that’s when you can sell or trade gold, or make gold investments. You, then, can use the proceeds to level up your inventory.

With this, in a way, your business is protected against this business risk. Imagine how much you’d lose if your inventory won’t be able to keep up. You aren’t just losing profits, but you’re also losing potential customers that would’ve stayed happy doing business with you.

 

4. It’s A Good Way to Save Money For The Future

Over time, your business may need to expand so it can keep up with growth and competition. If you don’t have expansion in mind, then you’re not maximizing your business’s potential.

However, to achieve this business goal, you’ve got to save for it. Not only do you need to have a regular flow of income coming in, but you’ll also need to have money for your future investments. This means that your business has stable assets to keep up with the cost of future investments.

Apart from protecting your business against inflation, as explained in the sections above, having gold assets is also a good way to save business income for the future.

 

Conclusion

With the list above, now, you can clearly see that there are many benefits to choosing gold as your investment. When other assets don’t offer that much of a stability, gold is there to save the day. But, before you get too excited, don’t forget that it’s not always going to be positive all the time. Any investment form, gold included, isn’t without risk. The key is for you to ensure you’re investing in good providers, and that you’re able to weigh all pros and cons for your business before making a decision.

Home insurance
ArticlesInsuranceRisk Management

How to Secure a Cheaper UK Home Insurance Policy

Home insurance

 

The cost of home insurance in general is quite high in the United Kingdom, especially if you live in one of the major cities like London, Oxford or Winchester among others. There is, of course, a direct correlation between the average cost of home insurance and that of the local real estate in any area, so we are not likely to see home insurance costs coming down significantly anytime soon. If anything, all trends point towards both home and health insurance becoming even more expensive in 2021.

But despite that fact, there is still an opportunity for homeowners to save money on their insurance premiums, as long as they know how to cut costs without cutting the necessary benefits. Here are a few tips that should help.

 

Don’t Trust Any Insurance Agent Blindly

This is a difficult task because insurance agents are convincing professionals who will be looking to sell you the best deal that they can. It’s a “best deal” scenario for the agents and their employers, but not quite for the customers in most situations! This is not to say that every insurance agent will always try to upsell, but that is a very likely scenario, given that it’s their job to do so.

Every insurance agent works for an insurer and they have targets to meet. Therefore, there is no possible way that an agent will help you find the best home insurance deal across all insurance companies in the UK. At best, an honest agent will guide you in finding a good policy from their company, which could suit your needs quite well. That is not exactly a bad deal either, but it’s nowhere close to the kind of money you could be saving by comparing quotes from separate insurance companies.

So, don’t just listen to agents blindly, but compare home insurance online first with a site like Quotezone.co.uk. This is a neutral platform that anyone can use for an unbiased home insurance comparison. You will receive quick quotes from multiple insurance companies simultaneously, and will then be able to compare the quotes side-by-side. They help homeowners find the best possible deal, by letting customers use the competition between top home insurers in the UK.

 

See If a Combined Policy isn’t Cheaper

Home insurance policies are often divided into insurance for the structure/building (house, apartment, etc.) and insurance for the contents within that insured building. Combined policies are usually cheaper, because you will be getting both building insurance and content insurance from the same company. The homeowner will still need to compare their quotes online to find the very best deal, but combined policies are almost always cheaper than insuring the building and its contents separately.

Do be careful in ensuring that the policy doesn’t ultimately end up adding unnecessary for optional extras you don’t actually need, though.

 

Make a List of the Coverage Your Home Insurance Policy Should Have

There are several advantages to having a list which clearly highlights all your home insurance needs. It will make it easier for you to:

  • Prioritise what you need the most, instead of being swayed by an agent’s own interests
  • Find policies that cover most of those benefits within the base plan
  • Find policies that cost the lowest after adding benefits which you must, if applicable
  • Compare home insurance policies online with better results, based on the previously mentioned steps

 

Avoid Paying Unnecessary Interest on Your Premiums

Monthly, bimonthly or quarterly home insurance plans will almost always cost more than if you pay annually or biannually instead. This is because insurers will charge anything between 5% and 10% interest on the total premium when you opt for a payment plan.

If you own property in a prime location, not insuring your home is a very bad idea. There is a high chance that it will eventually cost you a lot more if you decide to skip home insurance altogether. Besides, as long as you manage to use the tips we just discussed, your insurance policy won’t feel so financially draining anymore. If you already have an ongoing policy that is putting a strain on your finances, start looking for other options so that you can shift to a cheaper and better policy as soon as the current contract comes to an end.

Successful Business
ArticlesDue DiligenceRisk Management

Your Business Is Successful: What To Do Next

Successful Business

In the world of business, huge triumphs are hard fought for.

Therefore, it’s important that you don’t squander all that your entrepreneurial journey has meant to you so far. While it can be incredibly difficult to reap any rewards from your own venture, it’s almost just as difficult to retain your success in the days ahead. A balanced, rational approach is undoubtedly needed.

Success is not the end of your journey, but a new beginning. Here’s a few ideas on what to do next.

 

Remain Rational

Even if your finances have undergone a radical makeover in recent times, it’s still important to be level-headed.

In October 2018, The Guardian reported on an American entrepreneur who made millions in commercial radio, but lost it all after falling victim to a textbook investment scam that could have easily been avoided. He died broke. Obviously, there’s a lesson to be learned here.

It’s easy to feel like you’re invincible after success has come your way. However, success can be a fickle thing and provide a false sense of security. No one is above human error and the occasional bout of poor judgement. So, invest by all means, but do so via legitimate channels for a strategic gain, and keep your wits about you.

 

Reward Yourself Smartly

Just as it is easy to fall prey to dodgy investment schemes, its also possible to spend in excess and waste your money via your own volition.

There are people in the world who would claw tooth and nail for a tiny fraction of what you have, so it’s important to not only enjoy your success, but to respect it also. That means utilising it wisely and enjoying the fruits of your labours in a controlled, strategic, and smart fashion.

If you want to dabble in high-end property, for example, then consult million-pound mortgage experts. The dedicated brokers of Ennes Global negotiate the best possible lending terms, and endeavour to provide all their clients with a smooth, clean transaction experience. Answering questions, running calculations, and providing strong advice – it’s all their bread and butter. Every investment you make that’s backed by their services is guaranteed to be a good one.

 

Find the Pattern

Congratulations, you’re successful! Now things need to stay that way.

Coronavirus has widely been reported to be the bane of businesses the world over. However, it’s undeniable that some industries have thrived despite all the doom and gloom. Online retailers, fast food services, and delivery companies have all seen a huge uptick in their productivity and profits. Of course, there’s also the real chance the boom won’t last when the crisis is abated.

Find the pulse of your success as soon as it arrives and ascertain whether it’s a temporary bit of fortune or the product of a real, recurring strategy of your own making. Many businesses ebb and flow, sometimes not staying at the pinnacle of their potential for long, so it’s important to identify exactly what is going right in your firm and sticking to whatever is working like glue.

It’s also important to plan for when outside circumstances like pandemics, the economy, and shopping trends might change. What then? Keep an eye on the future, and make sure your business is flexible enough that it isn’t a one trick pony. That way, things won’t collapse the moment the wind changes, because while firms can experience a huge surge in profits, they can crash into oblivion just as hard also.  

financial crime
ArticlesFinanceRisk Management

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

financial crime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

ArticlesInsuranceRisk Management

Surges Dominate The Search And Social Landscape For Insurance

Surges Dominate The Search And Social Landscape For Insurance

The latest report on search and social, analyses fresh data on Insurance mentions and demands. The report, Insurance Spins Fast on Social, looks at consumer behaviours, interests and attitudes to reveal a pattern of ‘topic surges’ since the pandemic started. Starting with claims and cancellations these long bell-shaped curves of conversation and search have moved Brexit concerns on travel and requests for recommendations. Underlying all chatter since March has been a constant demand for better clarity on policies.

Co-authored by Immediate Future and Sagittarius Agency, the report also looks at the top 10 insurers alongside the top comparison website to detail share of voice. Admiral, Aviva and AXA get the most mentions on social. Admiral consistently gains the largest share of positive sentiment. In the summer, 61% of posts were identified as being positive. None of the other brands achieved such advocacy.

Katy Howell, CEO at immediate future, says, “These surges are like snowballs. They start small, gaining momentum till they melt away weeks later. It’s very different from a peak or a social moment as they often last some time and frequently overlap. As a consequence, perceptions and attitudes associated with surges tend to stick in peoples’ minds. Insurance brands should be keeping a close eye on conversations, correlate to search demand, and be agile enough to react when needed”

Analysis of 773,791 mentions of insurance on social media is accompanied by the latest search data and details:

• The volume and engagement of different types of insurance from travel and health, to car and business insurance.
• Topic and interest surges alongside moments and expressed emotions.
• Compares the top 10 insurance brands by share of voice as well as message penetration and perception when it comes to cost and renewals.
• Details the triggers and motivations for purchase that are likely to continue to the end of the year.

There are also some interesting differences between search and social. Health insurance mentions have remained consistently high since lockdown on social (increasing 51% at the end of summer), yet on search, it’s Travel insurance that spiked early followed by a lift, more recently, in Car insurance.

Paul Stephen, CEO at Sagittarius Agency shares the potential opportunity for insurance brands, “The contrast between relatively standard search behaviour and an increase in social means that the power of recommendation is about to leap. Social research and proof have taken centre stage again.

“Added to which better clarity on policies that are explained on social and discoverable in the longtail of search ease the customer journey, simplifying the decisions to buy”, he continues

The report takes the data analysis to the next step and offers insurance brands advice and direction as to how to approach social as consumer interest surges in different directions. More on the report findings at http://bit.ly/InsuranceInsight

dividends
Natural CatastropheRisk Management

AIM Dividends Set to Fall By At Least A Third In 2020 Following A Record 2019 As Covid-19 Crisis Bites into Company Profits

dividends

AIM Dividends Set to Fall By At Least A Third In 2020 Following A Record 2019 As Covid-19 Crisis Bites into Company Profits

Having reached a new record in 2019, AIM dividends flatlined in Q1 2020 on the back of a weak UK economy before succumbing to the Covid-19 recession in the second quarter, according to the latest annual AIM Dividend Monitor from global financial administrators Link Group.

The second quarter usually marks a seasonal high point for dividends, so what happens in this period is very important for the whole year. It was also the quarter when companies began to react to the chilling effect of the government’s lockdown policy. Q2 AIM payouts fell by an unprecedented 33.6% on a headline basis to £266.8m. Special dividends supported the headline total. At £33m, they were almost five times larger than Q2 2019. Excluding specials, dividends fell 40.6% to £234.3m, a level last seen in mid-2016. The £107m decline was exaggerated by the promotion of Diversified Oil & Gas to the main market, and the takeover of SafeCharge and Manx Telecom, but on a like-for-like basis the decline was still over 33% year-on-year.

Two fifths of Q2 AIM payers cancelled their dividends outright, while another tenth reduced them year-on-year. Not all of these were due to Covid-19 however. For example, the biggest impact came from Eddie Stobart group, which was saved from administration late in 2019 by a capital injection from investors, but which naturally will not pay dividends during its turnaround period. The group was one of AIM’s top payers in 2018 and 2019 and accounted for one sixth of the total decline. Central Asia Metals also scrapped its payout for reasons of tough trading unrelated to the pandemic. Burford Capital, the second largest payer in Q2 2019, scrapped its dividend and reallocated the capital saved to its financing arm.

AIM dividends fell less in the second quarter than companies on the main market (where payouts halved) and a smaller proportion of companies made reductions. Two-fifths of companies reduced payouts on AIM compared to three quarters on the main market.

A culture of dividend paying has been growing on AIM. In 2019, 290 companies distributed cash to shareholders, up from 263 in 2018. The proportion paying has grown from 26% in 2012 to 35% last year. This compares to 80% on the main market. 2020 will see a break in this trend as the pandemic wreaks its historic disruption to all walks of life. It will take time for a full recovery to take place, but we would expect 2020 to mark only a temporary low point.

According to our most recent UK Dividend Monitor, the main market will yield 3.6% over the next twelve months if Link’s best case materialises, or 3.3% if Link’s worst case does.

AIM is a lower-yielding market, even in normal times. Over the next twelve months, Link expects AIM shares to yield 1.1% on a best-case basis or 0.7% on a worst-case basis. This figure is artificially distorted by the two thirds of AIM companies that do not normally pay dividends. If these are excluded (but not those that only dropped out in 2020), then the best-case yield is 1.9% and the worst case 1.1%.

Link expects total AIM payouts to drop by 34% on a best-case basis to a headline £873m in 2020, slightly better than Link’s best-case scenario for the main market (-38%). This would reduce AIM’s dividends to a level last seen around the middle of 2016. The worst-case scenario sees them falling by 48% to £698m (worse than the main market at -42%), a level last seen in late 2014. The greater uncertainty over the response from AIM companies explains the wider range between the best and worst case than for the main market.

Susan Ring, CEO Corporate Markets of Link Group said: “Even before the pandemic struck, late 2019 and 2020 were set to be different. The UK economy had already weakened significantly by the end of 2019. AIM companies tend to be more sensitive to the economic cycle because the sector complexion means defensive firms are relatively under-represented. Industrials, financials, and resources companies feature prominently on AIM. These groups find their profits rising and falling with the fortunes of the wider economy more than, say, tobacco or food producers, whose earnings are relatively insulated. On the main market, roughly half the total payout comes from defensive sectors, but on AIM just one quarter does. The rest are more exposed.

“The fact that AIM dividends fell less than the main market must be seen in the context of long-term AIM underlying dividend growth of 18% per annum. The change from an increase of that size to a sudden decline of one third is consistent with the magnitude of main market dividend cuts we have reported in our main UK Dividend Monitor. What’s more, only a minority of AIM companies pay dividends at all, and those that do will tend to be the ones with deeper pockets. Lower payout ratios in the first place play a role too, as growth companies tend to pay lower dividends in the early days. We think it likely that AIM companies may also have simply been slower off the mark than larger UK plcs which reacted with lightning speed in cancelling payouts. This may well mean a delayed impact over the coming quarters, not least as the impact on profits becomes a reality rather than a prospect.

“2020 will take the biggest hit. Our estimates come with a health warning, given the relative lack of visibility in AIM dividends and the unusually large uncertainty in the wider environment. AIM’s payouts will certainly bounce back in 2021, but even if they return to trend growth thereafter, they are unlikely to top 2019 until 2022 or 2023 at the earliest. This AIM recovery will be faster than on the main market, where it will take time to make up for the loss of £7.8bn from Shell alone.”

financial markets
ArticlesCapital Markets (stocks and bonds)MarketsNatural Catastrophe

Markets Have More Upside Potential Despite Second Wave Fears

financial markets

Markets have more upside potential despite second wave fears

By Luc Filip, head of private banking investments at SYZ Private Banking

While fears of a second wave of coronavirus bring renewed volatility to Europe and the US, investors are looking East for reassurance. China, which entered the pandemic three months ahead of the rest of the world – and now boasts positive economic growth – offers a useful template for the trajectory of the rest of the developed world. 

As witnessed in China, we expect a significant pickup in activity from Europe and the US now that social distancing measures are relaxed. The downward trend has finally slowed in these areas and economic indicators have risen above April lows, marking a positive first step in this direction. This was, and will likely continue to be, led by activity in the service and consumption sectors, as social distancing measures are lifted further and people learn to live in the new post-Covid environment. 

We anticipate the recovery will be faster than consensus expects, with the real possibility most economic activity could return close to pre-crisis levels by the beginning of next year. In fact, we believe the unprecedented amount of fiscal and monetary policy stimulus might fuel a temporary overshoot of economic growth in 2021 – before falling back toward more subdued long-term trends. 

Despite the very real risk of a second wave, of which we are already seeing signs, we do not believe this will result in another full- blown lockdown in developed countries. Instead, we would likely see more targeted measures, which would not derail economic recovery. Nevertheless, the recovery will remain concentrated in developed countries following in China’s footsteps, while the rest of the developing world – countries mostly dependent on manufacturing and commodity export – are likely to experience a far less robust recovery. 

 

Positioning for recovery

Before these positive developments are fully priced in by markets, now is still the time to increase risk exposure. But with ultra-low bond yields and sky-high equity valuations, many investors do not know where to turn. The key is to consider every aspect of an asset’s characteristics, including its merits compared to the available alternatives, as there is always relative value to be found.

Equity valuations, which regained pre-crisis highs in some sectors, may appear expensive given the current economic situation. However, it is necessary to go beyond purely intra-equity market metrics and consider equity valuations within the current rate environment. Taking into account the excess return currently offered by stocks over cash and bonds, equities are not expensive at all. In the US, this equity risk premium is close to a historic high. Therefore, combining both internal equity metrics and risk premia, we still see value in equities. 

 

Covering all bases 

Nevertheless, our confidence in the economic recovery does not discount the high probability of volatility in the markets – due to downside risks such as the speed of the recovery, the geopolitical situation, the likelihood of a second wave and a second lockdown. 

Therefore, diversification is crucial – across asset classes, regions and sectors. In the eventuality of a negative surprise, our exposure to gold, long treasuries and hedging equity strategies will protect the portfolio. Meanwhile, we increased our exposure to US and European equities in May through passive instruments to obtain wide-ranging coverage across all sectors. We also took advantage of the recent lower volatility to purchase additional portfolio protections as they became cheaper. 

Another key to managing downside risk is to focus on quality. We prefer holding proven quality assets which are continuing to perform well – even if they are more ‘expensive’. On the equities side, this means stocks with strong balance sheets, cashflow and brand, which are well positioned for the new normal of digitalisation – such as Google, Mastercard and L’Oréal. On the credit side, we reduced our exposure to high yield, as we anticipate a painful recovery for many companies, and reinvested the money into investment grade corporates – which are supported by the Federal Reserve’s purchasing programme. 

Generating performance while managing risk requires a flexible active approach to asset allocation. Through the crisis, our preference for quality, rigorous diversification and tactical protection have enabled our portfolio to participate in the market recovery, while mitigating downside risk. 

managing finances
FinanceRisk Management

How can tech help people manage finances during isolation?

Yiannis
Faf, CEO,
What We Want

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

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

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

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

  1. Management

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

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

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

  • Switching
    providers

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

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

  • Bargain
    hunting

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

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

  • Small
    acts of kindness

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

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

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

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

  • Safety

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

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

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

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

money loss
ArticlesRisk Management

Emergency Measures Called For To Support Insurers And Organisations Buying Cover

money loss

Emergency Measures Called For To Support Insurers And Organisations Buying Cover

  • Most Coronavirus linked losses will be uninsured, but investment profits for insurers have fallen dramatically – exacerbating hard market conditions
  • Insurance premiums set to rise, some insurers will withdraw cover, and more exclusions will be included in policies
  • This could lead to a major long-term shift in which risk is transferred back to companies, further limiting their activities as they attempt to manage their response to the ongoing economic disruption

Mactavish, the leading independent expert on commercial insurance procurement and dispute resolution, is calling for the Government to consider introducing Coronavirus related emergency measures to support insurers and organisations buying cover – especially those facing renewals in the next few weeks.

It says that without this, the impact of Coronavirus could have a significant impact on insurers over the medium-to-long-term.  However, this is not because of claims linked to the virus, but because of the effect of the losses insurers have incurred in their investment businesses.  It warns this could lead to premiums rising dramatically, insurers pulling out of sectors and classes of business, and an increase in claims being rejected along with payment of settlements being slowed down.  All which will worsen an already severe expected recession.

Mactavish is calling on the Government, insurers, brokers, business trade bodies and other relevant parties to enter into a dialogue about possibly introducing the following measures:

  • Insurance premium tax – which is currently 12% –  be temporarily suspended
  • The government should consider providing
  • cheap loans/funding to insurers to help support their cash flow/reserves
  • Insurers should temporarily freeze any increase in insurance rates
  • Insurance renewals should be automatic
  • Government should loosen its capital requirements on insurers
  • The Government should explore ways to compensate insurers from any losses incurred from these measures

 Mactavish believes the value of insurance claims paid out as result of the impact of Coronavirus will be much smaller than many predict because it will predominantly fall outside of traditional “Business Interruption” insurance. To be insured against the virus, organisations would have had to opt in for ‘contagious disease’ extensions on their policies, which very few do.  Even if they did do this, almost all such extensions are limited in both the range of diseases covered and the financial limit of cover as well as being subject to a wide range of conditions – which means very few offer any real protection in a situation such as this.

The bigger issue facing insurers is the losses they are continuing to suffer as a result of ongoing capital market falls and interest rate cuts.

Bruce Hepburn, CEO, Mactavish said: “In recent years, insurers have increased their riskier asset classes, in addition to their traditional investments in low risk corporate and sovereign bonds, many of which are increasingly returning low yields. Partly as a result of this decline in yields, insurers have tended to move away from long-term debt towards short-term gilts which must be rolled over more frequently. In addition to this, they have also increased their exposure to illiquid assets such as private equity and infrastructure, making it more difficult to manage their reserves and cash flow.

“For insurers, the impact on the investment landscape will be more pronounced than Coronavirus itself. It could see insurers increase their premiums to recoup poor returns and improve their cash reserves, reject more claims, slow down the process of settlements, and stop providing cover in certain markets. They may also include more restrictions on the policies they do underwrite”. Bruce Hepburn said: “The overall impact of coronavirus on the insurance sector could be more devastating than 9/11.

“We predict that insurers will now move to a model in which their businesses are primarily sustained by underwriting profits, rather than the traditional combination of underwriting and investments.”

“Prior to the emergence of Coronavirus, insurers were already coming under considerable pressure and we were already seeing the classic symptoms of a hard market. Coronavirus has just made this situation worse. In the long run, this could herald a seismic transfer of risk back onto companies who will in turn be forced to allocate more of their own capital to protecting themselves against high-severity losses, limiting their activity and ability to create returns for shareholders.”

“Given all of this we are calling on the Government to find ways to provide financial support for insurers and help alleviate any increase in premiums at a time when businesses are increasingly struggling to survive.  On a short-term basis, with the right support from the government, insurers could also offer to freeze premium increases for the short-term.” 

How to Deal with Malpractice Claims
Due DiligenceInsuranceRisk Management

How to Deal with Malpractice Claims

We all make mistakes. However, as a doctor or other medical technician, a mistake from one of these professionals can be incredibly damaging. Sometimes we do not even make mistakes, but patients will still file potentially damaging malpractice claims. Here are some of the best paths to follow if you do receive a malpractice claim from a former patient.

Keep Calm

Your first instinct will no doubt be to panic about the situation. However, this is unlikely to help you. You instead need to focus on making things right. It can be difficult to put your feelings aside so you can try to improve things. Make sure you explain to your friends and family what has happened so they can support you through the process.

If you a private medical professional, you should have insurance to help you out in such a scenario. An indemnity insurance policy is designed to protect you from negligence suits like these. Protect yourself and get the right insurance for your career here: https://incisionindemnity.com/

Gather Your Own Evidence

If you think the claim might have been filed falsely, you should do everything in your power to fight it. Make sure you consult a lawyer who specialises in these types of malpractice suits. The more knowledgeable you are, the better position you will be in to fight this claim.

The evidence is going to be a key part of this. Try to gather information about what you recommended as treatment and the path they should have followed. Make sure you include any notes you made during the appointments the patient they had. Even something that might seem inconsequential might be what you need to get the claim thrown out.

Be Sincere and Understanding

Even if the case comes out in your favour, the claimant might have had their life seriously affected by what has happened to them. Likewise, your reputation might become quite damaged by the claim, especially if the claimant decides to take it to the press.

However, you should instead try to stay as gracious as possible throughout the whole process. If you are seen to be sympathetic and genuinely sincere in your actions, it will serve you much better than if you are cold and withdrawn. Acknowledging that you have had an effect on this person’s life, even if they are later proven to be lying, will always be the better path to take.

Keep Business Running as Usual

You will still have a business to run even when fighting a malpractice suit. It cannot become neglected as that might result in many more suits. Though it can be very difficult to do, you need to make sure you are as focused on your business as ever.

Try to complete each new patient to the same standard and level of care as you always have. Just by delivering a stellar experience at your surgery, you might be able to dispel some of the rumours swirling around you. Sometimes, it is just simple changes like this that can really help you as you try to keep things going as normal.

A malpractice suit can be incredibly difficult to fight but there are ways to do so. As difficult as it might be, you need to make sure that you keep your head above water and continue as usual. Gather evidence, make sure your insurance is valid, and get some good legal advice. It is entirely possible to defend yourself through a medical malpractice suit if you make the right choices. Before you know it, you could be back to serving patients happily once more.

corona virus
Natural CatastropheRisk Management

Coronavirus: Protecting Your Assets From An Epidemic

corona virus

Coronavirus: Protecting Your Assets From An Epidemic

Around the ­world, concern is growing for Coronavirus. As the death toll in China soars, incidents are being reported across the world, with the virus now having a knock-on effect on travelling, the financial markets and is triggering rising panic.

With the Hang Seng Index, FTSE 100 and Nikkei falling, it’s no wonder that global investors are concerned. “This should serve as a forewarning to investors, to ensure first and foremost that their portfolio is well-diversified across asset classes, regions, sectors and currencies,” advises Granville Turner, Director at Company Formation Specialists, Turner Little.

“This is not only the best way to mitigate risks but also ensures you’re well positioned to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. It’s important to understand in cases such as this, that economic impact is not directly related to the number of people who get sick, or even die in some cases, but depends on the indirect effects of the decisions that both individuals and businesses make on how they react to the threat,” adds Granville.

“The most important thing to do is plan. Effective planning ensures that no matter what happens, you will always remain in control of your assets. A robust plan employs legal strategies and can include separate legal structures or arrangements such as corporations, partnerships or trusts. It’s important to remember that most asset protection measures don’t work if you’re already in trouble, so the most effective protection must be put in place before you even think you need it,” advises Granville.

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

car insurance
ArticlesInsuranceRisk Management

Just One In Five ‘Fully Understand’ Motor Insurance Add-Ons

car insurance

Just One In Five ‘Fully Understand’ Motor Insurance Add-Ons

Drivers have an average of more than two paid-for add-ons with their car insurance policy – but just one in five say they fully understand the extra cover they have, a new report* from insurance data analytics expert Consumer Intelligence shows.

Breakdown cover was identified as the least well-understood additional policy with more than two out of five wrongly believing all policies provide cover from the first instalment.

Consumer Intelligence’s research shows 22% of motor insurance customers are confident they know the full details of the cover provided by the add-ons on their motor policy. Around a quarter (24%) admit to being in the dark about the extra cover they have bought.

Add-ons include a wide range of additional cover such as Protected No Claims Discounts, Uninsured Driver Cover, Windscreen Cover, Legal Expenses, Courtesy or Hire Car, Breakdown (UK/European), Personal Injury Cover, Personal Belongings Cover, Key Cover and Wrong Fuel Cover.

Consumer Intelligence’s research found 89% of drivers are willing to pay for at least one add-on  to their motor insurance with Protected No Claims Discounts seen as the most valuable.

John Blevins, Consumer Intelligence Product Manager, said: “Add-ons are clearly very much valued by drivers as they are willing to pay extra on their car insurance for them.

“It is however worrying that so few people fully understand the cover they have and are either not making the full use of it or believe they have more cover than they do.”

Consumer Intelligence’s report on add-ons and market benchmarking can help insurance brands to find out how they compare and how they can improve their competitive position.  It is available to download at https://www.consumerintelligence.com/motor-insurance-add-ons-report

What is General Liability Insurance
Insurance

What is General Liability Insurance?

What is General Liability Insurance?

In business, as well as in life, accidents happen. The problem is, when you’re running a business, accidents can open you up to liability, and if you’re not adequately covered, it can really cost you.

This means that general liability insurance is an essential part of running a business because it protects you in many important situations. If you don’t have general liability insurance, you open yourself up to being sued by members of the public in the case of an accident and you will be responsible for the costs.

So, what exactly does general liability insurance protect you against?


Damages Towards Third Parties

General liability insurance for small business is there to protect you from the basic risks your business faces. It covers you against damages to third parties, but not damages incurred by yourself, your employees, or to your equipment or tools.

Say you’re working on a ladder and you drop a tool which hits a passer-by on the head and injures them. The injured person is entitled to sue you for their medical costs. If you weren’t covered, then you would have to pay them out of your own pocket, but if you’ve got general liability insurance, the insurance company will take care of it.


A Legal Obligation

In some states, it is a legal obligation to have general liability insurance. Authorities want to see that members of the public are protected when they interact with your business, and insurance is one way of guaranteeing that.

If a business is not insured and gets sued, there’s no guarantee they have enough money to pay, this is why many authorities make general liability insurance a requirement for getting a business permit. It means they know that members of the public will get the money they are owed because your company is covered.


Required for Some Contracts

Even if general liability insurance isn’t required by law, many companies will only do business with you if you have the right insurance. Many contracts will stipulate your need for basic insurance, and you won’t be able to win those contracts unless you’re properly covered.

For other companies, employing the services of another company that isn’t insured opens them up to greater risk, and naturally, they want to avoid this. Your insurance might be a small detail, but it can make all the difference when you’re competing for certain jobs.

Allows You to Focus on the Things You’re Good At

You want your business to focus on doing the things it’s good at without having to worry about what happens if something goes wrong. Having the right general liability insurance means you can get on with the job, knowing you’re protected if something should happen.

With the right provider, arranging your general liability insurance is quick and simple, and you can get a quote that’s tailored to your business needs. Finding the right insurance isn’t difficult, but the benefits are clear to see.

Focus on growing your business, without having to worry about whether you’re properly protected by your insurance.

insurance cost
Cash ManagementInsurance

Five Ways To Save Money On Fuel This Christmas

insurance cost

Five Ways To Save Money On Fuel This Christmas

As all motorists will know, fuel prices are one of the many hidden costs of owning a car, and with fuel prices set to reach a six-year high, now is the perfect time for motorists to start thinking about how to get the most out of their tank.

To help motorists cut costs over the festive period, the UK’s leading car parts provider, Euro Car Parts has shared their top five ways to save fuel by driving more efficiently.

 

  1. Drive at one speed through speed bumps

Some driving styles can mean extra fuel is used when driving over speed bumps, and learning how to properly tackle them could save motorists a lot of money. 

Motorists can avoid any unnecessary fuel consumption by driving at a constant speed between bumps. Accelerating or braking too often in between speed bumps is when most fuel is used. 

 

  1. Don’t overfill your tank

It might be common knowledge that carrying excess weight reduces fuel efficiency, but did you know that overfilling your tank can actually make your car less efficient?

Although it seems counter-intuitive, brimming your tank will lead to extra fuel being used to transport the extra weight, and by only filling it up to half full you can cut extra weight and save money in the process. 

 

  1. Managing your revs

Most drivers barely look at the RPM (revolutions per minute) count when changing gear and rely on the sound or ‘feel’ of the engine. However, in doing so, you could be over-revving without even knowing, and wasting precious fuel with each gear change.

The most fuel-efficient RPM to change up a gear is 2,500 for a petrol car and 2,000 for diesel. So next time you’re changing gear keep an eye on the revs count, stick to that number and the pennies you’ll save will soon stack up.

Additionally, try to avoid dropping your revs too low, as this could cause unnecessary strain on the engine and waste fuel. Staying above 1,500 revs in petrol and 1,300 in diesel cars should comfortably avoid this.

 

  1. Slow down on high-speed roads

Driving at high speeds down dual carriageways and motorways means your engine is operating at a higher RPM than it is on slower roads. 

However, by simply slowing down a little on those fast roads you could end up saving a lot of money. The most efficient speed to drive at is between 55-65mph, and driving at 70mph compared to 80mph could save you 25% more fuel.

 

  1. Turn your engine off

It might seem obvious, but it’s worth remembering that keeping your engine idle whilst stationary and not using your car still burns fuel.

Leaving your car running on a cold winter’s morning, or keeping the engine on whilst sat in stationary traffic, wastes a lot of unnecessary fuel. If you know you’re going to be stationary for some time, it’s a good idea to turn off the engine to conserve your petrol or diesel.

Chris Barella, Digital Services Director at Euro Car Parts, said: “Driving more economically can save a lot more money than drivers may realise. By following these tips not only are you kinder on your wallet, but you’re also helping to cut down on unnecessary emissions”.

For more information on driving efficiently and saving fuel visit during the winter months visit: https://www.eurocarparts.com/blog/top-5-winter-driving-tips

van driver
ArticlesInsuranceWealth Management

Insurance Premiums Continue to Slow For Van Drivers

van driver

Insurance Premiums Continue to Slow For Van Drivers

 

Van drivers across the country are benefiting from a continued reduction to their insurance premiums, contradicting the industry’s prediction of premium increases in the wake of the Ogden rate change, new analysis from data analytics company Consumer Intelligence shows.

Its Van Insurance Index shows average premiums have fallen to £1,781 in the three months to September.

Since Consumer Intelligence started tracking insurance premiums five years ago, van insurance premiums have increased across the market by 34.4%, primarily driven by increased claims costs. The value of claims are increasing as more technologically advanced vehicles require higher repair costs, exacerbated amid Brexit uncertainty by the need to import parts for vehicles manufactured overseas.

Under 25s experienced a premium drop of 9.3% in the past year, yet average prices remain the highest at £4,673. Meanwhile, in the same 12-month period, a 2.4% price rise for the over-50s saw their average premiums increase to £581 annually. This compares to £843 for van drivers aged 25-49, who noticed their premiums nudge up by just 0.3% in the last 12 months.

Drivers operating their vans as a car substitute are benefiting from falling insurance premiums. A typical ‘social, domestic and pleasure’ policy today costs £1,691 – down 3.1% in the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, drivers using their vans for business have seen premiums rise 0.3% over the same period. An average ‘carriage of own goods cover’ now stands at £1,805.

John Blevins, Consumer Intelligence’s pricing expert, said: “Whilst claims costs continue to be one of the main drivers for premium changes in this market over the long-term, we are seeing premiums trending down over the last 12 months.

“It appears that the Ogden rate reset hasn’t had quite the impact some in the industry predicted. The price reductions over the last quarter have actually confounded many forecasts.”  

Ferrari
ArticlesCash ManagementInsurance

Purchasing your dream car – can it become a reality?

Ferrari

Purchasing your dream car – can it become a reality?

 

Buying a new car over one that is second-hand can bump up the price tag, but driving off the forecourt in your dream car is a feeling like no other. In fact, thousands of car buyers each year seek their dream car with a brand-new registration. So, without breaking the bank, how can you afford your dream car?

Buying a car by credit card

Paying through your credit card company can give you added protection on the full purchase cost (often as long as the value of the vehicle is over £100 and less than £30,000). Of course, you have to be able to meet your monthly payments too.

This method allows you to put down an even lower deposit than 10% and pay the rest of the vehicle off using a debit card. It’s best to consider all options here, as often the interest that you pay on a credit card could be significantly higher than that of a finance agreement.

If you want to buy a car by credit card however, it’s best to speak to your car dealer first as some dealerships don’t accept this method of payment.

Personal Contract Purchase agreement

PCP is an agreement where the end value of the car is agreed at the start of the contract, so you can plan your payments accordingly. Payments are often less than what you’d pay in a hire purchase agreement as you pay the full price of the car, plus interest but minus the guaranteed future value of the car. You must pass credit checks before you’re eligible for a PCP agreement.

When it comes to the end of your PCP agreement, you can either pay off the future value of the car to become the full owner, hand back the keys or trade the car in as a deposit for a new finance agreement.

To lower the monthly cost, you can place down a large initial deposit if you can afford it. Saving a lump sum for a large deposit is easier than saving up for a car, while reduced monthly payments can really help out too. Always evaluate your current monthly payments before you agree to a finance agreement, as being behind on your payments can lead to financial issues.

Be aware though, if you have exceeded the forecasted mileage on the car, there will be further charges to pay. This is because more miles decrease the value of the car. Also, any damage to the car will be charged to you, so you must be prepared to take good care of the vehicle.

Hire purchase agreement

This is relatively similar to a PCP agreement. It involves monthly payments with the option to purchase the car at the end of your agreement based on its new value.

A usual deposit for a car is 10% of the car’s value, but often you can pay more to reduce the follow-up monthly payments. The rest of the car is then payed off in instalments over a period of one to five years. The longer this period, the less you have to pay each month but due to interest charges, the total cost of the car becomes higher.

As we can see, there are a range of finance options available to you for purchasing new as oppose to used cars, allowing you to drive that dream car you’ve always wanted without forking out loads of cash. Save up what you can for a significant deposit and always make sure that you can cover the payments before signing any agreements.

Climate strikes
FinanceGlobal ComplianceNatural Catastrophe

Climate change transforms high finance’s relationship with society

Climate strikes

Climate change transforms high finance’s relationship with society

 

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

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

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

Revival of campus activism

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

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

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

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

Financial institutions’ increased willingness to listen

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

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

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

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

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

ESG goes mainstream

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

Robert Blood, managing director of NGO
Robert Blood, managing director of SIGWATCH
CAR INSURANCE
ArticlesFinanceInsurance

Six of the best ways to reduce your car insurance

CAR INSURANCE

Six of the best ways to reduce your car insurance

 

Are you aware of all the ways you can potentially reduce your insurance outlay? Here, we look at the biggest contributing factors.

We all know that cars can be expensive — and not only to purchase. There are many extra charges that you may face as a car owner, including MOT charges, road tax and fuel allowance for things like your daily commute.

There are also the hidden costs to consider if your vehicle unpredictably breaks down. However, one of the biggest expenses you’re likely to face is your annual insurance just to drive your car. In Britain, there are over one million uninsured drivers on our roads, which in turn increases premiums for those who do insure their vehicles.

For many people, a yearly payment is too big of a lump sum, so they must break it down into monthly payments. But, are you aware of all the ways you can potentially reduce your insurance outlay? Here, we look at the biggest contributing factors.

Shop around

It goes without saying that it’s important to consider your options. Like any service, you should do your research. Many insurance companies will attempt to ‘better’ the offer on the table by a different provider, so be sure to know what you want and don’t just settle with the first, or your current provider. However, remember that cheaper isn’t always better. Check what is included before agreeing to a cheaper cover.

Reduce coverage on older cars

While you may be tempted to always choose comprehensive cover for your vehicle, be aware that choosing this coverage for particularly old vehicles may not be cost effective. For example, if your car is worth £1,000 and is in a crash, there’s a possibility that your insurer will just write your vehicle off. Therefore, if your insurance is costing approximately £500 for comprehensive cover, it may not make financial sense to purchase it. Comprehensive cover is most cost effective for those with new cars, or cars that have held their value.

Have a solid credit score

Having no claims bonuses are obviously a great help when it comes to lowering the cost of your insurance. But, were you aware that your overall credit score can also have a huge impact on your car insurance? That’s because insurers take in the impression that if you’re responsible in your personal life and with other financial situations, you are less likely to file a claim.

Include a black box monitor

Some insurers will lower the annual cost of your cover if you fit a small box in your car that can help insurers to track your driving methods. This will include aspects such as braking and speed via GPS, as well as taking into account the time of day you drive. This method, also known as telematics insurance, is effective for young and inexperienced drivers, those who have a low annual mileage, or older drivers who want to prove that they’re safe behind the wheel.

Add other named drivers

It may seem strange that more drivers being named on your insurance will bring down your costs, but that’s the case for many quotes. This is because it helps the insurer tie more people into their service. This works well for younger drivers who would usually be charged an extortionate amount. Being named on their parents’ insurance can help reduce their outlay.

Increase your excess

Your premiums are based on how much your insurer is likely to pay out if you claim. By choosing to pay a higher voluntary excess, you will lower the cost of what the insurer will have to pay towards the claim. Therefore, this can lower your overall insurance. However, you must ensure that you choose an excess you will be able to afford and make sure the excess doesn’t exceed the overall value of your vehicle.

While it’s a necessity to be insured when on the road, you don’t have to pay over the odds to do so. Following the above guidelines can help you reduce your overall payments — leaving you with extra money to spend elsewhere.

bitcoin
Due DiligenceFX and Payment

Leading UK tax and business advisers BKL to accept Bitcoin as fee payment

bitcoin

Leading UK tax and business advisers BKL to accept Bitcoin as fee payment

 

The London and Cambridge-based charted accountancy firm BKL, is believed to be the first UK mid-sized accountancy firm to accept a cryptocurrency to settle invoices. BKL specialises in helping entrepreneurs, high net worth individuals and owner managed businesses across a range of business sectors. These include technology, financial services, property and farms and estates.

“As a forward-looking business, we are always exploring new ways to develop our offering. We are pleased to now offer this option to clients,” said Jon Wedge, Financial Services partner at BKL.

“We support people and businesses that work with cryptocurrencies and blockchain, and this move has been driven by demand from our clients. It’s a convenient way for many of them, particularly those in the fintech and technology sectors, to buy our services.”

Using a leading automated payment processing system, BitPay, clients of BKL can now opt to receive invoices in Bitcoin. 

“BKL are one of the most respected specialist accountancy practises serving the blockchain industry and we are very happy that they are successfully using BitPay’s B2B service” said Sonny Singh, Chief Commercial Officer of BitPay.

“This is another superb example of forward thinking professional service businesses engaging with the ever-expanding crypto currency industry.  As blockchain ventures continue to proliferate there will be an increasing worldwide demand by vendors to pay invoices in bitcoin.”

BKL will invoice their clients with a traditional fiat value, and then the client pays in bitcoin or bitcoin cash with a conversion rate provided by BitPay that is issued and fixed for 15 minutes, using an average price from leading regulated exchanges. This ensures there is no exposure to any of the price volatility that characterises the digital currencies.

BKL receives its payment electronically through BitPay, but as fiat money.

4Stop - Most Innovative Risk Management Platform (Western Europe)
Risk Management

Most Innovative Risk Management Platform (Western Europe)

Most Innovative Risk Management Platform (Western Europe)

Thanks to its impressive industry expertise, 4Stop, a leading fraud prevention provider, solves businesses riskbased approach through a modern, all-in-one KYB, KYC, compliance and anti-fraud solution at an international level. To celebrate the firm’s win in this year’s competitive FinTech Awards we profile it and share an insight into the innovative solutions it has to offer, speaking with members of the senior team to understand the true value of this exceptional solution.

Since its inception in 2016, 4Stop has onboarded various clients within its target markets of Payment Service Providers, Payment Gateways, eMobile payments, eCommerce, eWallets, and Cryptocurrency.

As all the founders of the company have collectively over 60 years of experience within the risk management realm, they understand the need for a simple, fail-safe, future-proof solution that businesses can effortlessly manage their risk requirements and more importantly with absolute confidence. When they first started their firm, their focus and challenges were to establish a product to resolve the cumbersome processes surrounding KYB, KYC, compliance and fraud prevention globally.

This drive led 4Stop to develop an all-in-one solution encompassing global data aggregation that resulted in a full suite of KYB and KYC data sources, and their proprietary risk management tools paired with automation and integrated analytics, all from a single AP. Removing the market pain point of multiple integrations and patchworked solutions to fully address risk management requirements.

Thanks to this unique technology, the firm now allows its diverse range of clients to easily perform required validation, verification and authentication at the point of onboarding through to transactional processing, both at the merchant and merchant consumer level.

Over the past three years the adoption and usability of the 4Stop solution have been well received. By encompassing a complete end-to-end solution for KYB, KYC, compliance and fraud prevention, 4Stop allows businesses to enjoy a single-view-ofrisk and it has already been proven to dramatically improve their overall performance and bottom line.

Today, the firm has achieved proven results for its clients and have cemented its place as a true revolutionary within the risk management and technology space. Businesses that have utilised 4Stop’s anti-fraud technology experience a 66.6% reduction in chargebacks in the first 2 months with an average of 81.5% approval authorisation rate. Additionally, businesses that have implemented the cascading KYC verification technology, have seen a growth of 10.9% in savings within the first two months.

4Stop’s revolutionary KYB solution is now leading the industry by performing granular business underwriting in near real-time with comprehensive data analysis surrounding business’ online presence, operational performance, structure. Comprehensive data analysis surrounding the business’ online presence, operational performance, structure, and compliance adherence. Enhanced by additional KYC due-diligence performed on directors/ UBO’s and required document retreival, businesses obtain all the data and documentation they require to confidently onboard businesses.

It is this unique solution that has driven 4Stop to win one of the 2019 FinTech Awards from Wealth & Finance International Magazine. Ingo Ernst, CEO of 4Stop, comments on the firm’s success in this award’s programme and how it is the direct result of the firm’s expert team’s hard work and dedication to excellence.

“This award is another great milestone for 4Stop. Our ever-changing online landscape demands innovation and for everyone at 4Stop, our focus is driving our technology advancements as an equalized force across all aspects of our product offering. Our teams’ hard work, diligence and passion have been the pathway for our success and we greatly look forward to continue bolstering our products to support online risk management.”

Seeking to change the face of risk management for the better, 4Stop’s KYC data hub solution encompasses one of the largest KYC data aggregations in the industry to provide true worldwide KYC data coverage. As a result, clients have access to thousands of global data points and hundreds of KYC data sources with real-time and on-demand activation. Additionally, this data creates full market profile data simulations in a seamless manner and allows businesses to make quantifiable decisions based on data science. Through 4Stop’s cascading verification logic costsavings on KYC data performance is maximised and the best data experience output is obtained. 4Stop continuously aggregates global data and KYC data sources so businesses can continue to enjoy all the data they require from their initial integration with zero touch on their IT and internal development resources.

Dedicated to safety as well as efficiency, 4Stop’s cutting-edge anti-fraud technology provides an automated and multi-faceted rules engine that performs real-time analysis with automated system actions through to providing granular risk monitoring and integrated intelligence. Businesses can apply risk thresholds and anti-fraud parameters per merchant, sub-merchant, region, type, market/ industry, date/time, etc. Clients have full control of their risk management in a fully automated manner. Through the single-view-of-risk, overall monitoring and risk analysis processes are efficient with minimal requirement for manual intervention.

Improving businesses authorisation rates, dramatically reducing chargebacks and accelerating their performance, the Businesses all-in-one solution provides everything required to manage risk from a single API.

Whilst its fully integrated solution is revolutionary in the FinTech market it enables 4Stop to overcome the KYC industry issue of managing so much data safely and effectively. The firm is constantly seeking to enhance this product for the benefit of its clients across the financial and business markets. 4Stops’s continued technological investment is based on a few variables within the market landscape.

By closely engaging within the industry through networking globally with key market leaders, events and conferences, close client engagement and staying abreast of global payment and risk management centric reports and trends.

Through this process, 4Stop develops vigorous assessments of the market landscape, emerging trends and evolving regulatory requirements, all of which are funnelled to their executive and product innovation teams to drive product expansion and ensure 4Stop’s all-in-one risk management solution remains leading-edge across the various industries in the market they services.

“4Stop has been designed to be future-proofed from a single API for our clients to manage KYB, KYC, compliance and anti-fraud technology on a global scale. It is our continued responsibility that the product does just that. Expanding our fraud technology and data aggregation accordingly to stay relevant to the rapid evolution of online payments and engagement.” States Brian Daly, Head of Product Implementation and Innovation, 4Stop.

At the point of inception 4Stop launched with a full suite of KYC data sources and their proprietary anti-fraud technology that encompasses a multi-faceted automated risk rules engine with cascading rule performance and automated system actions, alongside a dashboard with realtime intelligence and multiple reporting widgets. In early 2019 4Stop launched its global end-to-end KYB solution. Seeking to build upon its current success, moving forward 4Stop will continue to aggregate data and expand its KYB and KYC solution, in conjunction with furthering its features available such as machine learning to support the anti-fraud and risk monitoring technology. The firm has also recently completed a German-based €2.5 €Million Series A Round Investment from Ventech, the leading pan-European VC fund investing in early-stage tech-driven start-ups. This financing will help the company to expand its solution and drive real change in the market.

Ultimately, 4Stop is a global product with clients worldwide. In the coming years, the business has established a focused acquisition plan specific to regions and markets within Europe, Asia and the United States. These developments will drive the company to even greater global recognition and truly prove it as a pioneer in the risk management technology space. As many companies seek a single provider to manage all parts of their risk management cycle, 4Stop will become a key part of the payment’s ecosystem and the central aggregation hub in the eco-system.


Contact Information:
Name: Ingo Ernst
Address: Neusser Str. 85, Köln, Germany, 50670
Telephone Number: +49.151.1101.7175
Web Address: https://4stop.com/

Insurance

What finance options are there available for your engagement ring?

Often, covering the cost is also a vital element of any proposal, and the options available aren’t always obvious. There are a few important things to consider before you get down on one knee however. Things like ring insurance might come as a surprise, but it is necessary for guaranteeing peace of mind on these single high value items.

In this article we’ll take a look through some of the necessities to think about when it comes to planning the perfect proposal.

1.      Insurance

Possessions can be added to an existing contents policy, or specific jewellery cover can be taken out. For peace of mind on the off chance of theft or damages, jewellery insurance is an excellent option.

The latter is more commonly applicable when the cost of your item(s) is less than £1,000-£1,500, as this is usually covered by standard contents policies. For example, the policy holder will choose an amount to which cover is provided, so a £50,000 policy would insure your home contents as well as your special pieces of jewellery.

Furthermore, a single item limit will usually apply to each item and if the cost of the item itself exceeds the single item limit amount (around £1,000 to £1,500), then these valuables should be listed separately in a quotation. The expensive, sentimental nature of jewellery makes it a common item to want to insure. By adding your engagement ring to your home insurance policy, you are essentially futureproofing it for years to come.

2.      Finance plans

While many people choose to save up for wedding rings, some will opt for finance to spread the cost of their jewellery.

As with any finance item, it can be crucial to ensure that you read the small print and you pay on time. Some jewellers will offer a zero per cent finance rate, but clarity on the exact nature of these agreements is key to ensuring that you get a good deal. Finance can be a useful option depending on your situation, or maybe you have found the perfect ring, but you’ll require a bit of extra help to secure it for your special someone. There are various online calculators which can help you to calculate a sufficient loan amount, but it’s important to be realistic if you are looking into this option. Most retailers will have a price threshold before finance options are available, and typical time frames are six, 12, 24 and, 36 months. Often, customers can apply for finance quickly and easily at online checkouts, which takes the stress out of waiting for a decision to be made.

If taking out a finance agreement would best suit your needs, then looking into the terms and conditions is certainly advised, to cover the cost for your treasured piece.

3.      Finding the perfect ring: important questions

It’s important to have a solid idea of what you’re looking for, and you should find a trusted retailer for making the big purchase. Consider using an online retailer. Often they are more competitively priced as they don’t have the same overheads as high street retailers.

Online reviews are widely available nowadays, making it easier than ever before to evaluate your choice based on the experiences of others. On receipt of your ring, ensure that you review the supporting paperwork, including any diamond certifications and keep these safe in case you need them in the future.

You can ensure that by taking all of the above into the account, you make a purchase that your loved one will treasure for years to come.

ArticlesCash ManagementInfrastructureRisk Management

Samuel Knight’s aggressive five-year growth plan leads to new office opening in Baghdad

Newcastle-based Samuel Knight International has announced plans to open a new office in Baghdad as part of its extensive international growth plans. This move will support clients of the specialist global energy and rail recruitment firm and further ensure the company abides by compliance laws in Iraq.

Haider Kadhim, Samuel Knight’s Iraq Country Manager will be the point of contact for clients and candidates in the city. The firm will officially launch the office opening in an event next month that is expected to see representatives from the Department of Trade Industry along with other several reputable organisations attend.

Commenting on the firm’s success, Steve Rawlingson, CEO at Samuel Knight said:

“Our aggressive five-year growth plan is manifesting at such an impressive rate, taking the company to exciting new territories. The team is working diligently to surpass expectations set out in the plan and ensure Samuel Knight is cemented as the leading global energy and rail recruitment specialist. Our Baghdad office will give us a distinctive edge over our competition and allow for more exciting business opportunities. Once the office becomes more established and client acquisition develops, we will certainly be adding more consultants and manpower in the city.”

Cash ManagementFinanceFundsMarketsRisk Management

TOP RANKINGS FOR ASHFORDS LLP IN PITCHBOOK’S GLOBAL LEAGUE TABLES

Ashfords has again been ranked as one of the most active law firms globally in venture capital. The firm has been ranked 2nd in Europe for 2018 by PitchBook, which provides a comprehensive ranking of private equity and venture capital activity worldwide.

Ashfords is the only independent UK law firm to appear in the top five most active firms in Europe and has been placed in the top 5 in each of the past eight quarters.

PitchBook’s global review details top investors by region, firm headquarters, as well as the most active advisers and acquirers of PE-backed and VC-backed companies.

Chris Dyson, Partner and Head of Ashfords’ technology sector, commented: “Ashfords’ recognition in this prestigious league table confirms the team’s position as a leading venture capital practice in Europe. The team has deep expertise in this area and are very proud to work alongside many leading investment funds and growth companies.”

Deals the firm completed globally in 2018 include advising:

Notion Capital, Eden Ventures and BGF Ventures on the $350m sale of NewVoiceMedia to Vonage

Form3 on its investment from Draper Esprit, Barclays and Angel CoFund

Fluidly on its investment from Nyca Partners and Octopus

Anthemis on its investment in Realyse

Simply Cook on its investment from Octopus

WhiteHat on its investment from Lightspeed, Village Global, Anil Aggarwal, and Wendy Tan White

Mobius Motors on its investment from Pan-African Investment Company, Playfair Capital, VestedWorld and others

Local Globe on its investment in StatusToday

Holtzbrinck Ventures and Notion Capital on the sale of Dealflo to OneSpan

BGF on its investment in Ruroc.


Ashfords LLP
ashfords.co.uk

Cash ManagementRisk ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

Tail expands portfolio driven by significant investment

Tail Offers Ltd is pleased to announce that Quantum Financial Holdings, a Fintech and security investment Group, has made an investment of £500,000 into the business. In addition to the financial investment Quantum has made, Tail will benefit from a suite of backoffice, infrastructure and value-added functions provided by the Quantum Group which will accelerate Tail’s significant growth to date.

“I am delighted to have been able to secure a deal with Tail which will enable them to invest in critical systems and further develop their amazing offering, driven by their exceptionally talented team,” says Floyd Woodrow, Chairman of Quantum Financial Holdings. “As well as financial investment, Quantum prides itself on bringing additional value to those companies we have an involvement in, through expertise and the streamlining of business support functions which free up key drivers in Fintech organisations to do what they do best – innovate.” 

“Open Banking will change the way consumers and retailers interact and we want to be at the forefront of facilitating that change,” says Philipp Keller, CEO of Tail Offers Ltd. “We are already focused on expanding our offering to a national audience and this will be accelerated through Quantum’s involvement.” 

“As our offer portfolio expands, we will continue to deliver a readymade white label rewards solution to corporate and financial institutions which will, in turn, enhance their own customer propositions. We are excited to embark on the next step of our journey with a partner that not only provides us with capital but, more importantly, with the right network and infrastructure to use it effectively,” Keller concludes. 

Part of the inaugural Tech Nation Fintech programme, Tail is one of the leading cashback solution providers for Open Banking. Already available for Monzo and Starling customers, its most recent addition includes Volopa, a London-based card provider active in the corporate and private banking sector. 

The Tail app integrates directly with a user’s bank account to provide tailored, high-value offers and cashback rewards in the most convenient way possible. Via its industry-first, cashback, self-serve platform, Tail enables hyperlocal, local and national merchants to use a tailored, data-driven rewards solution to engage directly with customers. 

For further information, please email [email protected] 

ArticlesBankingMarketsRisk Management

The fragile line between financial returns and social good – how much can, and should, personal values influence a portfolio and asset allocation

By Charlotte Filsell – Head of Client Relationship Management at Sandaire.

In many industries no two clients are the same. In Family Offices this is particularly evident. Every family, and every individual within that family, is entirely unique and is continually growing, evolving and shifting their needs and priorities.

This is a fascinating and complex journey to help families navigate. Where this is especially pertinent, is finding the delicate balance between financial returns and social good. As such, it’s incredibly important that families have access to delicate guidance and careful stewardship, so they can find the right balance to match both their values and their long-term needs – and to match their individual and familial priorities.

As families navigate a generational wealth transfer to the younger generations, social good and impact investing becomes more apparent. There is undoubtedly an increasing trend from the younger generation, to go beyond a simple financial transaction or donation to worthy causes. When it comes to using their wealth, millennials tend to be more concerned about making their money go further, making a larger impact, and are interested in finding sustainable interventions and solutions. Differences certainly exist across generations, but what unites family members, is the motivation to make the world a better place.

In philanthropy, this can be reflected in a desire to learn about an issue and understand the nuances in order to direct effort and resources as effectively as possible. To achieve this effectively, it’s crucial to work closely with clients to assist with their philanthropic endeavours, including helping to find causes that are important to them and guiding on how they might be able to make a positive contribution. In addition to this, connecting clients to other families in the same situation, or perhaps further along the philanthropy journey, allows them to share ideas and experiences, and apply these to their own particular investment desires.

In no small part because this is such a personal yet complex issue, families are increasingly looking for advisers who not only understand the intricacies of the financial and investment landscape, but who have a thorough grasp on the values and philanthropic intentions of the client. This can make a huge difference. It’s incredibly important to provide thoughtful guidance and careful stewardship to help families strike the right balance. This can take many forms – an effective family office must shift with the needs of the families it serves and take on the role that’s required – whether that’s a leader, a partner, a facilitator, or a mediator.

The trend towards Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) has led to the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decisions. The development of SRI and impact investment is offering the prospect of achieving returns measured in more than merely financial terms; it is embedding values and responsibility into investment decisions. While many businesses may have long been delivering more than financial returns, social and impact investing is bringing intention to the fore in investment selection and outcome measurement into the evaluation of success.

The crucial role of the family office is to help steer the families we serve through this fascinating and complex process, developing a successful wealth plan that futureproofs their wealth, whilst satisfying their philanthropic interests and passions. Although a fragile line, we believe that a portfolio can satisfy both financial return objectives and positive social impact that reflects a client’s personal values, acknowledging that a balance will need to be struck depending on the needs of each individual client.  

Cash ManagementMarketsRisk ManagementTax

Top tips when it comes to completing your self-assessment tax return

The time of year is almost upon us where millions will have to complete their self-assessment tax return. Whether that’s as a sole trader, a freelancer, a contractor or running your own businesses, anyone who works for themselves will have to complete their forms before the annual January 31 deadline. For many, it can seem like a daunting task, so is there anything you can do to make the process easier?

 

 

James Foster, Commercial Manager at specialist accountancy provider Nixon Williams

At Nixon Williams, we manage a large client base of small businesses, contractors and self-employed individuals, which means we complete thousands of tax returns each year. This experience has provided us with an in-depth knowledge of the process and how to maximise efficiency when it comes to completing a self-assessment tax return submission.

 

The majority of the working population have their tax deducted at source from the company that they work for, however, anyone that is self-employed has to complete a self-assessment tax return in order to be taxed appropriately on their earnings by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

 

When you start working for yourself, your workload includes everything that you might need to do to make your business a success – from marketing and advertising to admin and ordering stationery. You may find that managing your finances is more complex than you might have expected as you will need to keep records of all the money you spend in the running of your business, as well as how much you earn. Many people decide to use the services of a professional accountancy firm like ours to help them through the process, but some decide to manage everything themselves. Either way, there are some simple things you can do to make the process as straightforward as possible, so here are my top five tips:

 

  • Get organised – compiling all your invoices and receipts ahead of time is the best way to alleviate last minute stress when it comes to self-assessment forms. Ideally, you’ll have kept some form of spreadsheet or an online portal up to date throughout the year of your accounts, and you can use that to finalise your tax return. But if that’s not the case, don’t wait until the very end of January to get started. There are often missing pieces of information you’ll need to track down, so give yourself plenty of time to work through everything. And don’t forget – if it’s your first time completing your Self-Assessment Tax Return, make sure you’re registered with HMRC in time.    

 

  • Know the key dates for completion – If you decide to complete your tax return online then the deadline for this is any point up until the 31st January, whereas a paper tax return needs to arrive with HMRC by the 31st October the previous year. If you haven’t sent an online tax return before then you will need to register and HMRC advises you to do this no less than 20 working days before the deadline.

 

  • Separate your work and personal bank account – a number of self-employed people operate with just one bank account for personal and business use, but this can make it hard to separate out your business expenses from your personal expenses. It’s often easier to identify which costs are related to your business by having a separate business bank account. This will not only help you keep a track of your business expenditure throughout the year, but it will make your life a lot easier when it comes to your tax return.
  • Know the expenses and tax reliefs that you can claim – if you are a sole trader, for example, make sure that you know the expenses that you can claim in your tax return, as there may be some items you might forget about such as business mileage and expenses relating to working from home. It’s also beneficial to know about other tax reliefs that you are entitled to such as personal pension and gift aid payments.

 

  • Tax returns can be complex so use an accountant – having professional support can be really beneficial because an accountant should not only assist with the compliance side of things (i.e. helping you to file your tax return on time) but they will also give you pro-active advice where appropriate.  Tax returns are something most accountancy practices deal with on a daily basis from April to January, alleviating a lot of the financial stress away from clients and helping them to focus on what they do best – making a success of their business.

 

Running your own business and managing the many tasks that come with it can often push your tax return submission to the bottom of your ever-growing pile of work to do – but help is always available from professionals with the right experience and knowledge of the latest legislation. You can find further information on completing your self-assessment tax return on the Nixon Williams website here.

Cash ManagementFundsRisk ManagementWealth Management

Samuel Knight International on track to continue major growth following investment

Samuel Knight International, the global recruitment and project man-power specialist headquartered in Newcastle, has announced significant investment from Gresham House Ventures. Samuel Knight, which was established in 2014 and has offices in London and Bristol, provides skills and energy solutions to the energy and rail sectors on a permanent, contract and temporary basis.

The company has demonstrated impressive growth since its formation. Last year, it achieved £13m turnover and took home ‘Team of the Year’ at the Great British Entrepreneur awards. 2018 also saw Samuel Knight securing major new client contracts in more than 30 countries, boosting headcount and expanding the business to accommodate business growth.

The growth capital investment from Gresham House Ventures, using funds from the Baronsmead Venture Capital Trusts, will fund Samuel Knight’s near-term growth plans. These include increasing headcount at the offices in Bristol and London and adding local talent to the Newcastle team, from entry level graduates to experienced consultants. The company is also planning international expansion with the potential acquisition of two sites abroad.

The recruitment drive is geared up to support expansion across the energy and rail space given increasing demand from clients and candidates. Samuel Knight is focusing on achieving greater market share and boosting awareness of the brand through targeted marketing and business development. The investment will also allow Samuel Knight to further invest in technology to continue innovation within the business.

Steven Rawlingson, CEO at Samuel Knight said: “We have a clear vision of what we want to achieve with the investment, and how this will help us to support commercial goals. We are delighted to have secured the funding from Gresham House Ventures, who share in our ambition and vision to grow the business. The investment will enable us to strengthen our global offer, expansion plans and team growth.”

Paul Kaiser, Katy Lamb and Michael McCulloch from UNW LLP provided financial advice to Samuel Knight International.

Katy Lamb, Senior Corporate Finance Manager at UNW who led the transaction said: “Having worked with the business since late 2017, helping management prepare for the investment, we were delighted to advise on the finance raise and have enjoyed working with such a dynamic, fast-growing business. It’s also great to see investment into the North East.”

Steve Cordiner, Director at Gresham House said: “Steven and the Samuel Knight team have done a fantastic job in growing the business so rapidly in such a short time period and we are proud to be partnering with such an ambitious team. There is huge scope for Samuel Knight to expand globally and we look forward to supporting the business on this phase of its journey.”

Anthony Evans, Adam Rayner and Harry Hobson from Muckle LLP provided legal advice to Samuel Knight International.

Shoosmiths LLP provided legal advice to Gresham House and Dow Schofield Watts provided the financial due diligence.
The Gresham House Ventures team invests equity of up to £5m in growth businesses, supporting founders with bold ambitions for the future, whilst providing transformational capital and expertise to accelerate business potential.

Cash ManagementRisk ManagementWealth Management

YOTHA LAUNCHES WORLDWIDE INNOVATIVE NEW PLATFORM WILL MAKE YACHT CHARTERING SIMPLER, FASTER AND FAIRER

YOTHA, the new digital yacht charter platform connecting owners, charterers and yachting professionals, has launched worldwide with a promise to bring trust and transparency to the yachting market.

YOTHA’s digital technology will make yacht chartering faster, simpler and more straightforward and www.yotha.com will become an invaluable tool for everyone involved in the industry.

YOTHA offers a unique chartering experience, allowing customers to negotiate directly with the owner’s representative, book their trip online and then benefit from a free concierge service which helps them to create their own bespoke itinerary.

More than 100 of the world’s finest luxury yachts are available for charter on the platform, which has launched worldwide for the 2019 season after a beta version was successfully tested last summer. Hundreds more yachts from the global charter fleet will be added to the platform in the coming months.

YOTHA was founded by Philippe Bacou, who has owned and chartered luxury yachts for more than 15 years. Frustrated by his own experiences as an owner, he decided to create a unique digital platform that would enrich the charter experience, shaking up the market in the same way that Booking.com has revolutionised the hotel industry.

By making chartering easier, YOTHA will expand the market and attract a new generation of charterers. Its unique features include:

  • A facility to negotiate the charter price online, supervised by a 24/7 customer care service
  • Substantially reduced commissions – YOTHA takes an 8% commission if a yacht is booked directly through the platform, or 4% if the booking is made through a broker, compared to the standard industry commissions of 15% to the broker and an additional 5% to the central agent
  • A simple, fair electronic charter contract balancing the interests of charterers, owners and professionals
  • All financial transactions secured and guaranteed under the supervision of FINMA, the Swiss banking regulator
  • Partnerships with luxury brands, including award-winning concierge service Quintessentially Switzerland, and leading yacht service providers

YOTHA will encourage more owners to charter their yachts because they will have greater flexibility, including shorter charters and more off-season deals. It will empower their captains, allowing them to connect with charterers through the YOTHA app in advance of their trip to plan the perfect itinerary whilst providing all their favourite food and drink on board.

Amongst the 114 yachts currently registered for charter on the online platform are some of the best-known super yachts in the global fleet, including the 90m Lauren L, the award-winning 50m Vertige and the 55m Mustique. Smaller motor yachts and sailing boats are also available on the platform. Yachts are available for the end of the Winter season in the Caribbean and the upcoming Summer season in the Mediterranean.

Philippe Bacou, Owner and Founder of YOTHA says:

“I am excited that YOTHA now opens the way for the digital transformation of the luxury yachting industry. Our ambition is that our innovative new solution for chartering will improve the customer experience, offer new services and help attract new customers to luxury yachting. We are keen to explore fresh ways of expanding the charter business and want to form partnerships with investors, brokers and other key industry players.”

“At YOTHA, we hope to increase the size of the market both in charter volume and services through in-depth industry co-operation”

“It is an exciting time to be involved in the Yacht charter industry and we hope to improve the experience for everyone involved in the industry: charterers, brokers, agents, captains, crews and owners.”

BankingCash ManagementMarketsRisk Management

FISCAL TECHNOLOGIES LAUNCHES NEXT GENERATION PURCHASE-TO-PAY RISK MANAGEMENT PLATFORM

FISCAL Technologies, a world leading provider of forensic financial solutions and services, today announced the launch of NXG Forensics®, the next generation Purchase-to-Pay (P2P) risk management platform.

NXG Forensics is forged from FISCAL’s 15 years of experience protecting organisational spend and combines a comprehensive range of industry-recognised tests with Machine Learning to deliver unparalleled risk protection. It is designed specifically for Finance, P2P, Shared Services and AP teams and sits securely in the cloud, to reduce payment risks, fraud and compliances issues.

The powerful user interface and diagnostic reporting elevates finance teams away from transaction processing to strengthening internal controls that reduce costs, protect working capital and drive process improvements.

Protects organisational spend

NXG Forensics integrates into all major ERP systems and delivers constant protection and monitoring with the highest possible risk detection rate. By using a platform of continually evolving detection methods and machine learning, new fraud tests are regularly added to keep organisations ahead of emerging threats.

Delivers immediate and tangible cost savings

NXG Forensics provides unique daily forensic insights about payment risks before they impact working capital or damage reputation. The comprehensive reporting centre provides detailed and powerful diagnostics to quickly identify and understand exceptions and enable corrective actions to be taken.

Drives process improvement

The forensic analysis engine in NXG Forensics improves supplier risk profiling and identifies more high-risk transaction exceptions than ever before, whilst radically reducing the number of false positives. This generates actionable insights for root cause analysis, leading to faster resolution and creating time efficiencies.

David Griffiths, CEO at FISCAL Technologies comments “Organisations are facing an unprecedented rise in geo-political risks to their Purchase-to-Pay supply chains. Changing regulations along with the increasing speed and complexity of transaction processing all add to the challenge of protecting against payment risk, fraud and compliance breaches. NXG Forensics provides the most effective way to manage this risk and optimise financial performance both in the short and long-term.”

The next generation NXG Forensics platform is available immediately to empower finance teams to continually protect organisational spend with a continuous preventative approach. Implementation is fast and efficient, supported by a proactive customer success programme, built on strong relationships and a supportive knowledge-sharing environment to ensure maximum benefit is achieved.

Dr Alfred Pilgrim, CTO at FISCAL Technologies concludes “We are committed to making our forensic analysis platform the best-in-class and enabling our customers to protect effectively their Purchase-to-Pay cycle against risk and fraud. NXG Forensics demonstrates our continued focus on innovation and desire to offer the best risk prevention framework. It will empower organisations to be increasingly responsive to increasing complexity and changing regulations.”
For more information please visit www.fiscaltec.com

Cash ManagementRisk Management

Why Are Investor Relations So Important?

Following the implementation of GDPR, consumers, investors and businesses around the world are becoming increasingly aware of every communication they receive from a company.

As such, compliance, in all its forms, is now even more important to businesses than ever before, and in the financial and investment space this is as vital as it always has been, if not more so. Whilst it has always been crucial to success in the investment market, now compliance, and assuring investors of compliance, has been bought to the fore.

For example, the recent announcement that the UK Government is suspending its Tier-One Investment Visa Programme, with a view to making important changes to this to combat the risk of money laundering. Bruno L’ecuyer, Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Migration Council, made the below comment on the changes and how these would affect investors.

“The UK government may not have much influence with the European Parliament these days, but it has provided an object lesson in how to manage investor migration sensibly and for the benefit of its citizens.

“According to reports, potential investors will have to agree to undergoing a thorough audit of their financial assets, proving they have control of the required capital for at least two years, and will require audits to be undertaken by suitably regulated UK firms.

“Most notably, it appears the UK government recognises the value of investment migration and desires any investment made by individuals to have a greater impact on the UK economy, which is why it is apparently looking at scrapping its own government bond option in favour of directing investment into active and trading UK companies.”

As Bruno highlights, the importance of audits and transparency in this space is as vital as ever, and firms need to be able to prove to both their investors and the authorities that they are acting properly and are fully compliant with all relevant regulations to ensure their continued success.

This is why investor relations have, over recent years, become a vital aspect of any company, fund or asset manager. Many multinational companies, such as Hitachi, Etsy and the Coca Cola Company all operate their own investor relations departments, showcasing the increasing focus companies are putting on the role.

After all, as client satisfaction and feedback become buzzwords within the corporate space, it makes sense that investor relations should also increase in importance, and many companies and investors are now embracing this side of their business. Through strong communication and specialist support, companies, investors and fund managers can ensure that their investors remain on-side and that they understand that their money is in safe hands.

ArticlesFinanceRisk ManagementWealth Management

IVA or bankruptcy: what is the best solution for your debts?

If you are suffering from severe cash flow issues, you may be considering both bankruptcy or an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA). Bankruptcy and IVAs are both legally-binding and formal insolvency options between you and your creditors. However, while they might appear similar, there are some vast differences to consider before entering into one of the procedures. Most importantly, you should always seek insolvency advice before doing so to ensure you are not impacting your future finances.

 

With that in mind, Business Rescue Expert – a licensed insolvency practitioner firm – is sharing the difference between the two and what you can expect from both insolvency procedures.

 

Choosing an IVA or bankruptcy

Recently, both insolvency procedures have hit the news due to a number of high-profile celebrities suffering cash flow issues. Katie Price is the most recent victim, with her bankruptcy woes documented in the media. However, she is certainly not the only to face cash flow issues, with the total number of individual insolvencies continuing to rise in 2018. The Q2 Insolvency Service report made for particularly tough reading, with the number of individual insolvencies at its highest since Q1 2012. IVAs accounted for 62% of the total, with bankruptcy behind a further 14%.

 

Individual voluntary arrangements were, originally, intended as a better alternative to bankruptcy. IVAs are, generally, considered the more suitable option for those with assets they wish to protect. The procedure is defined as ‘less extreme’ than bankruptcy and also provides moratorium for the individual, with the breathing space helping to regain control of the issue and get to the root cause of the cash flow problems. However, an IVA is a much longer procedure than bankruptcy, and you could be tied up in the process for up to seven years.

 

Bankruptcy, on the other hand, is often considered as it is much shorter than an IVA – typically lasting no longer than 12 months. Unlike an IVA, however, your assets will be forfeit, and that could include your vehicle and house.

 

There are both advantages and disadvantages to each and, if you are not particularly savvy as to those, we suggest seeking advice to ensure you go down the right path.

 

Can the procedures affect my home?

The effect of the procedures on your home is a common cause of worry for many. If you do enter an IVA procedure, you will not be forced to sell your home. However, if it is highly possible that you could be asked to remortgage six months prior to the end of your IVA to free up any capital to repay your debts. This will only ever happen, though, if it is affordable for you. If not, an additional 12 months may be added to your IVA.

 

In the case of bankruptcy, however, your home will likely be affected. If there is any equity tied up in the house, your creditors may ask you to sell to repay their debts. Either way, you should seek advice at the earliest possible opportunity.

 

What about my car?

Another major cause for concern is your vehicle. IVAs ae much longer procedures than bankruptcy and, as such, you are likely to be able to keep your car. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for bankruptcy, as the sale of your car could offer a large contribution to your debts. However, if you do require your car/van for your trade and rely on the vehicle to make money and repay your debts, you will, likely, be able to keep it. If this is the case, you must speak to your bankruptcy trustee immediately.

 

Could my job be impacted?

When you do enter insolvency or bankruptcy, the details will be made public. While that doesn’t mean a front page story in your local newspaper, your details will be placed on the Insolvency Register. Similarly, a notice will be placed in The Gazette for your creditors to find. If you work in the finance industry or are a director of a company, both procedures can significantly affect your standing.

 

If you file for bankruptcy, you cannot act as a director of a limited company. However, there is no such prohibition with an IVA. But, there is likely to be restrictions on handling client’s funds and some companies may have stipulations in their contracts for hiring those who have entered or are in the procedures.

 

Why choose an IVA?

There are many reasons to choose an IVA – especially as the consequences appear less severe than bankruptcy. The IVA will be completed after no more than seven years and you can then begin building your credit. Whilst you are in the procedure, your creditors cannot make further demands for repayments or take legal action against you for the debts. Similarly, your assets are afforded more protection, with also far less consequences on your future career – particularly if you are hoping to act as a director for a company.

It’s also important to note the disadvantages, however. If you are looking for a short arrangement with your creditors, you must be aware than an IVA can last up to seven years. Your credit rating will also be affected due to the procedure, meaning you will have to work to build your credit report once complete.

 

Why choose bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy does come with advantages, especially for those that are looking to repay their debts quickly. It is completed in around 12 months. However, if there is any evidence of fraud – such as hiding your assets or not detailing all finances – the trustee could apply for a bankruptcy restriction order, meaning you could be deemed bankrupt indefinitely.

 

Similarly, if you don’t have many belongings/assets or equity tied up in your house, bankruptcy could prove a suitable option. Creditors cannot also demand anymore payments while in the procedure.

 

Like an IVA, bankruptcy does have its disadvantages. The procedure will, almost certainly, affect your ability to work in the finance sector and will stop you from acting as director of a company.

 

Ultimately, there are many differences between the two and any advice you can obtain can only help to ensure you choose the correct option.

ACE Packages New Multinational Insurance Solution for UK and Ireland Customers
InsuranceRisk Management

ACE Packages New Multinational Insurance Solution for UK and Ireland Customers

This cover will be spanning, traditionally separate lines of business, for UK and Ireland based companies with one or more overseas subsidiaries. The cover has been designed by a specially-created project team, selected from across the region and from multiple disciplines, responding to the latest broker and client research.

During 2014, the ACE project team spoke with around 30 UK broker organisations to identify how multinational insurance solutions could be better structured to support the changing needs of their clients as they expand internationally. The common themes that emerged from this research were the need for flexibility, coherence and easily-tailored solutions, combined with the importance of seamless coverage across a client’s international operations and traditional insurance lines. Emphasis was given to the importance of clear and relevant solutions for those organisations that are just beginning to trade internationally or operate in a limited number of overseas territories.

ACE Multinational Partner has been designed to meet these needs as well as the requirements of the Insurance Act 2015, due to take effect next year. At the heart of the new proposition is a recognition of the importance of a globally compliant insurance programme in an increasingly complex regulatory and compliance environment.

Detailed benefits include:

– ACE’s broadest-ever cover as standard and available across a range of lines of business, including property, business interruption (including money, goods in transit, contract works and machinery breakdown), general liability (including environmental liability), employers’ liability, computer, global terrorism.

– Flexible cover to suit all sizes of clients.

– Simple, customer-friendly and jargon-free wording.

– Removal of insurer avoidance remedy for innocent non-disclosure.

– No basis of contract clause (See related ACE press release for full details1).

– Standard policy is warranty free.

– Access to local underwriters across the UK and Ireland, empowered to make underwriting decisions.

– Access to ACE’s global network and local regulatory and compliance know-how – including the ACE Worldview online portal which offers 24/7 real-time programme information.

– Dedicated relationship managers, underwriting, claims and engineering personnel around the world.

– Multinational training and support for brokers throughout the region, where they want it.

Sally Blyfield, ACE Multinational Partner project leader for the UK and Ireland at ACE said:

“Recent ACE research2 shows that the vast majority of European companies believe their risk profile has become more multinational over the past three years. With a mounting array of international regulations bringing ever more complex compliance requirements, they are increasingly at risk of fines, reputational damage and the potential for invalidated claims if their insurance programmes fail to perform as expected. ACE Multinational Partner provides trusted ‘belt and braces’ protection backed-up by comprehensive global service, and we have packaged it in a way that we are confident will work effectively for companies of all sizes and industries.”

Phil Sharpe, Chief Operating Officer for the UK and Ireland at ACE said:

“When we spoke to brokers about their clients’ multinational insurance needs last year, compliance with local insurance standards, advice and support managing international risks and access to on-the-ground account and claims assistance were among the priorities they highlighted. Through our own operations in 54 countries, a global network spanning 200 territories and a team of 2,000 claims handlers around the world, ACE has the right people in the right places to deliver the high level of responsiveness our clients demand and deserve, while minimising cultural and language barriers and time zone issues.”

Darlingtons Solicitors: Raising the Bar
Due DiligenceRisk Management

Darlingtons Solicitors: Raising the Bar

Established in 1999, Darlingtons is a fast growing boutique law firm in London, a modern practice with 50 staff. Covering a wide range of specialisms, the firm serves clients ranging from investors and entrepreneurs to long established, international businesses. Debbie talks us through the firm’s core practice areas and how it aims to provide excellence in these areas.

“At Darlingtons our corporate and commercial team deals with a full range of corporate transactions and advisory services. We are regularly involved in sale and purchases of businesses or assets and shares, MBO, MBI, corporate restructuring, contracts and commercial, advising shareholders and directors on corporate issues. The team also specialises in advising directors and shareholders in relation to disputes that have arisen between themselves and fellow shareholders and directors. Our reputation is built on commercial, practical and insightful advice.

“Expertise and experience are key to our success, but not far behind is the working relationship between lawyer and client. We are dynamic and proactive, taking the time to understand how clients operate and what their objectives are, resulting in structured and tailored advice at the right cost and according to the client timescale.”

Legal practice is changing rapidly, clients are ever more discerning, with perceptions of service quality as well as advice quality just one example of the changes. Debbie outlines how the firm’s ongoing focus remains firmly on providing valuable services in the future.

“Clients have historically seen accountants and not lawyers as their primary trusted advisors. Whilst there are good reasons for this, lawyers are also valuable business advisors, not just to instruct when a transaction is needed or for a contract or a dispute. As lawyers, our challenge is to build proactive, valued business advisor relationships with clients and to remain adaptable and flexible to changing market and clients needs.”

Company: Darlingtons Solicitors LLP
Name: Debbie Serota
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.darlingtons.com
Address: Darlingtons House, Spring Villa Park, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 7EB
Telephone: 0208 951 6666

Effective Threat Detection Strategies for the Financial Industry
Due DiligenceRisk Management

Effective Threat Detection Strategies for the Financial Industry

The research, which forms part of NJR’s cyber security report: how real is the threat and how can you reduce your risk, shows that 23 per cent of employees use the same password for different work applications and 17 per cent write down their passwords, 16 per cent work while connected to public wifi networks and 15 per cent access social media sites on their work PCs. Such bad habits and a lack of awareness about security mean that employees are inadvertently leaving companies’ cyber doors wide open to attack.

This research is supported by a report which incorporates the advice from fifteen experts in the field. Here, Tony Berning, OPSWAT, discusses effective threat detection strategies for the financial industry.

“Over the past few years, the financial industry has been moving towards more digitisation and greater accessibility, mostly due to the industry’s competitive nature. In retail banking, customers expect access to their accounts at all times, from any device that has access to the Internet. Banks are also offering more services than ever before, from digital deposits to money transfers, and any bank that does not offer these services will surely lose customers to competitors that do. Unfortunately, these new services provide an easy way for cyber criminals to attack financial institutions. Some of the threats affecting the financial industry have taken advantage of this digitisation trend by using multiple channels to extract funds that they have compromised.

Similar forces are driving commercial banking towards increased automation and connectivity. With the majority of trades of equity, currency and commodities now done via electronic exchange, transaction speed can make or break a trade. Automated algorithms now execute trades so quickly that the physical distance trade orders travel (at the speed of light), to reach trading platforms significantly impacts profitability. This focus on speed has pushed more operations to become automated with less focus on human interaction.

This combination of greater automation with more information being stored on interconnected networks means that financial institutions have more to lose if hit by a cyber attack. Because of the potential for large gains, malware developers have rapidly adapted their methods, creating new types of threats such as banking malware. There are many different attack vectors that need to be considered, as well as various strategies that attackers may use that need to be addressed.

For instance, some attackers may attempt to get information out of financial institutions, such as customer information, account numbers, etc that they can then use for financial gain. An example of this is the recent Shifu attacks on Japanese banks. Other attackers may be looking to compromise systems within an organisation and modify their behaviour to either move cash out or to create conditions that they can profit from. Other attackers may not have a financial motive at all, instead aiming to sabotage critical networks for geopolitical reasons.

When designing a data security policy, threats need to be addressed as part of a comprehensive program. The first step is to ensure that proper authentication is in place before conducting any transactions, such as multi-factor authentication to ensure that customers are who they say they are. After confirming their identity, it is still important to check all data in the transaction to ensure that the user isn’t unknowingly bringing in any malware. This can be done by defining a secure data workflow to detect and eliminate any threats.

Handling sensitive data is best addressed by keeping it within segregated networks that have limited access to outside networks, reducing the likelihood that the data can be extracted by any malware that has managed to compromise the secure network. A combination of secure data workflow policies and unidirectional transfer devices (data diodes) can be used to make sure that high-security networks stay appropriately isolated.

A regular security scan should be part of any financial institution’s security strategy. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) can stay in a network for long periods of time, avoiding detection and waiting to carry out an attack. ZeuS, one of the most persistent threats in the financial industry, has been around for almost nine years and is constantly adapting to compromise more systems. The Shifu virus has continued spreading as well, moving from Japan to the UK. Anti-malware engines are always updating their detection techniques and databases, so it is important to perform regular system scans and continue to check files for threats, even in secure networks that have been fully scanned before.

Financial institutions are at risk from cyber threats because of the large amounts of money they handle as well as the technological innovations they are making that leave them vulnerable to new attack vectors. It is crucial that these organisations consider the security implications of any new technology, in order to keep up with the evolving threat landscape.”

To read more useful and practical insights into topics including: How to assess the scale of your risk level; Managing the immediate aftermath of a security breach; How different sectors are affected, download the full report – http://www.norriejohnstonrecruitment.com/downloads/cyber-security/

The Business Elite UK CEO of the Year 2016
InsuranceRisk Management

The Business Elite UK CEO of the Year 2016

Celebrating its tenth anniversary since writing its first policy in January 2006, Dewsall has built a business which now writes premiums of over £100m annually, insuring businesses across nine European countries, providing a range of products to SMEs across many sectors.

When asked what he thought he would achieve back in 2006, Dewsall explains: “Europe was going through many changes and I had worked successfully across a number of insurance markets. It was clear to me that with the right brand and capital backing, we could build a service offering that would be defined by quality and trust. We set about building Gable from a standing start, creating a product portfolio that was designed to meet what the customer required. It was about offering bespoke products through a selected distribution network of brokers around Europe who we could work with and build a trusted brand in the insurance sector.”

Clearly, customers liked what they saw, and Gable now provides a range of commercial insurance products through specialist brokers in the UK, France, Italy, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Sweden and Spain.

Gable commenced underwriting in the UK market with its construction liability insurance products. Over subsequent years since then it has consistently expanded its product range and the number of European markets in which it operates, achieving uninterrupted growth in both premiums written and insurance profits.

“Since inception we have managed our growth carefully, balancing the requirements of our customers with the management of risk. Ultimately, we are there to support our customers with bespoke products that can allow them to do what they are good at. Over the last ten years we have seen many different situations where businesses that we insure have required swift action by us to help them get back on their feet after an event which threatens their business. At the same time, we have managed to qualify our overall risk by the purchase of reinsurance from world-wide A-rated reinsurers” he continues.

Dewsall and his team have certainly delivered on the promise to customers, with high upper quartile retention rates supporting year-on-year growth in the business, allied with a series of new products. Gable has also carefully built a network of trading relationships with a range of specialist brokers in each of the countries in which it has expanded into, providing bespoke products such as Deposit Guarantees, Commercial Bonds, Latent Defect and its core range of Commercial Combined products.

Gable produced another year of growth in 2015 with the underlying business producing a strong core underwriting performance, achieved against a backdrop of challenging markets. Commenting on Gable’s 2015 performance, Dewsall comments: “As always, we have remained focussed on delivering high service levels to our customers whilst managing underwriting profits, delivering a strong and growing cash position which has continued to increase by over 40% on 2014.”

Where does Gable go from here?

Dewsall reveals that his team will continue to focus on building Gable’s brand reputation in each of the markets in which it now operates and continue to listen carefully to what its customers are asking for.

“Clearly we have the key advantage derived from our efficient underwriting platform, affording us the ability to write profitable business across multiple sectors and differentiate through service, product specification, claims handling and settlement to our customers. This has allowed us to grow the business while still maintaining our pricing discipline. There are still a number of markets where we are being asked to provide new bespoke products, there is still much to play for, despite the changes to the regulatory regime across the EU which is a challenge to everyone in the insurance business.

We know that we can build significantly on what we have already achieved, so in essence, it will be more of the same for us” he explains.Gable’s distribution is focused on exclusive distribution relationships in different territories and markets, utilising its networks of brokers, building some commercial partnerships with some major broking networks along the way. Gable’s European business outside of the UK accounts for over 50% of gross written premiums, with an increasingly diversified book of business.

“Our continued strong growth is driven by our bespoke products provided through our expanding European wide distribution channels. Although the economic environment in general remains challenging, I believe we have excellent momentum and can foresee continued expansion supported by our European broker network. The fundamentals of our business are sound and underpin our optimism and growth ambitions for the future” he enthuses.

About William Dewsall

William Dewsall has over 30 years’ experience in the European insurance market having worked at Jardine Glanville (UK) and Alexander Stenhouse. In 2000 he established his own underwriting agency, writing insurance risks in the UK and worldwide on behalf of a number of insurers including Italian giant, Assicuriazoini Generali. He was instrumental in developing policy wordings for the Contractors and Liability insurance sector, credited in the foremost sector reference ‘Construction Insurance and UK Construction Contracts’. He is registered with the FCA as an approved person for insurance activities.

Company: Gable Holdings Inc
Name: William Dewsall, CEO
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.gableholdings.com
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7337 7460

Leading Dutch Insurance Group Aegon Invests in Microfinance
InsuranceRisk Management

Leading Dutch Insurance Group Aegon Invests in Microfinance

Aegon began investigating the potential of microfinance investments in 2014. The Aegon The Netherlands Risk & Capital Committee which approved the mandate concluded that microfinance was a good fit within Aegon’s portfolio, stating that: “In the current low interest rate environment the returns from microfinance are attractive, the risks and durations are acceptable, and there is essentially no correlation with other asset classes Aegon invests in.”

The biggest single challenge, according to Marcel van Zuilen, a portfolio manager at Aegon Asset Management, was reporting requirements. “Solvency II introduced far-reaching ‘look-through’ reporting requirements. Microfinance funds need to report on their investments in a great amount of detail so that the investor can demonstrate to the regulator that it is compliant. If you consider that data needs to come from microfinance institutions in places like Cambodia, Nigeria and some 100 other countries you realize that’s no simple task.”

To truly understand the microfinance investment chain and to select the microfinance funds that can handle Aegon’s demands necessitated the development of a new area of expertise, which according to Harald Walkate, Global Head of Responsible Investment at Aegon Asset Management, can now also be leveraged to service Aegon and external investment clients in a sustainable manner.

A solid track record and diversified investment products

Swiss-based responsAbility looks back on a 13-year track record of successful microfinance investments. Managing a whole series of investment solutions, responsAbility is the world’s largest private investor in the area of microfinance. At the end of 2015, responsAbility-managed investment vehicles had USD 1.9 bn of capital invested in 314 financial institutions across 76 developing and emerging countries. responsAbility has been active in the Dutch market since January 2016. The largest microfinance fund in the world, which is managed by responsAbility, is now available for retail distribution in the Netherlands along with the vehicles dedicated to institutional investors.

Building on its solid experience in the area of microfinance, responsAbility has since expanded its operations to cover other development-related sectors such as energy and agriculture. In the financial year 2015, responsAbility grew its assets under management by 22% to CHF 3 billion. As was the case each year since 2011, this reflects inflows of new assets totalling around USD 500 million – of which 50% stemmed from retail investors, 31% from institutional investors and 19% from public sector investors. In 2015, a total of 12 responsAbility investment vehicles invested almost USD 1 billion in 522 financial institutions, agricultural companies and energy firms – carrying out more than 700 transactions in this context.

Alexandre Coquet, Head of Sales France & Benelux, stated: “We are pleased to welcome Aegon to our funds’ investor base, especially since their decision to invest followed a very thorough evaluation process. To successfully develop and manage development investments, what is needed first and foremost is a sound knowledge of local markets. Around 150 experts working at our 9 offices across 4 continents identify new investment opportunities on an ongoing basis, thus laying the foundations for the continued successful development of our business.”

For further information, please visit: http://www.aegon.com/Home/ and http://www.responsability.com/investing/