www.wealthandfinance-news.com Q3 2023 Cyber Defence Adviser of the Year 2023 (UK): Cameron Brown * Seasoned Cybersecurity Director at Deloitte, a global leader in security consulting services. * Former government investigator, forensic officer with law enforcement, and UN cybercrime expert. * Shares his insights on acquiring and developing the right skills, staying ahead of threat actors, and the importance of team and culture.
Editor’s Comment Welcome to the Q3 edition of Wealth & Finance International magazine. As always, with every issue we endeavour to provide fund managers, alongside institutional and private investors with the very latest industry news in the traditional and alternative investment spheres. In this issue, we feel it important to highlight the prevalence of cybercrime both within the wealth and finance industry and in our daily lives. Technology is very much a part of the way we function as a society – and as such, cybersecurity should be too, whether an individual has personal information to protect, or an organisation needs to keep client information secure. Everyone benefits from the important work that is being done to keep the cyberworld safe. Playing a fundamental role in ensuring cyber safety is our cover feature, Cameron Brown, a director at Big 4 accounting and consultancy firm, Deloitte, who is leading on its work in cybersecurity. In his own words, Cameron shares with us how crucial it is to take cybersecurity seriously and the work that his department does to protect businesses and individuals from the dangers of cybercrime. He also gives us an insight into how he has come to achieve such success both for the organisation and within his own career. We at Wealth & Finance hope you find this issue to be insightful, and we wish you a brilliant quarter ahead. Rebecca Scotland, Editor AI Global Media, Ltd. (AI) takes reasonable measures to ensure the quality of the information on this web site. However, AI will not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, correctness or completeness of any information that is available through this web site. If errors are brought to our attention, we will try to correct them. The information available through the website and our partner publications is for your general information and use and is not intended to address any particular finance or investment requirements. In particular, the information does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us or any of our partner publications and is not intended to be relied upon by users in making or refraining from making any investment or financial decisions. Appropriate independent advice should be obtained before making any such decision. Any arrangement made between you and any third party named in the site is at your sole risk and responsibility. Editorial Team Sofi Parry, Senior Designer | Rebecca Scotland, Editor Izzy Mifsud, Writer | Emily Godbold, Writer | Michelle Strozykowski, Writer Design Team Lauren Baldwin, Graphic Designer Ali Mohammed, Junior Graphic Designer
4. News: 2023 cashless payment trend survey reveals just 17% of UK consumers prefer paying in cash AI is the most effective method for tackling money laundering threats, according to AML professionals 6. Deloitte: Cyber Defence Adviser of the Year 2023 (UK): Cameron Brown 8. StringsFP Limited: Best Pensions & Retirement Planning Firm 2023 – London 9. Digital Beachhead Inc: Most Client-Focused Cyber Security & Risk Management Consultancy 2023 - North America & Innovation Excellence Award in Space Exploration Cyber Security 2023 10. HMRC increases the interest charged on late payments from 22nd August 2023 11. MORTGAGE CRISIS: Google searches for ‘How to afford mortgage’ explode by 324% and ‘Mortgage help’ skyrockets by 1,366% 12. SME leaders bullish about their prospects as majority expect revenues to increase in next 12 months 13. UK Banks More Resilient to Turbulent Market Conditions Than Their US Counterparts, Research Shows 14. VCTs increase support for businesses amid wider decline in VC funding Contents
2023 cashless payment trend survey reveals just 17% of UK consumers prefer paying in cash In the digital age wherein almost everything can be done from our phones – including making payments – and contactless bank cards have become synonymous with the shopping experience, the time wherein consumers opted to pay in cash has seen its heyday come and go. But just how popular have cashless payments become? In a new research report published by one-stop business comparison website BusinessComparison, the most recent data from across the globe was gathered alongside a survey of 2,000 UK adults to determine how often people pay using cash, and which payment types are the most commonly used. The research found that, overall, Europe had seen 180,147 million cashless payments in 2020. The continent recorded the thirdhighest volume of cashless payments at the time of the data being collected, accounting for 20% of all global cashless payments. In terms of the United Kingdom, the country recorded 30,914 million payments during the 12-month period, of which, 20,722 million were cashless – making up 67% of total payments for the UK. Broken down per capita, this amounted to 455.32 cashless payments per person in 2020, with the United Kingdom recording a population size of over 67 million people at the time. Whilst the research clearly indicated that cashless payments have grown exponentially in popularity, BusinessComparison wanted to know which cashless payments had come out on top – debit/ credit cards, or digital wallets. The UK recorded 17,522 million debit card payments, alongside 2,851 million credit card payments and 345 million delayed debit card payments. Interestingly, no records for digital wallet payments were found at the time of the data collection. From the data collected, it was clear that debit card payments were the most prominent form of cashless payment. With cashless payments rapidly becoming so popular, what has become of traditional cash? BusinessComparison surveyed 2,000 UK adults to find out more about their cash-spending habits. Consumers were asked when they had last paid using cash, where the cash was spent, and what had prompted them to use cash rather than a cashless method. Interestingly, the survey found that cash was still being used relatively often in the UK. 44% of respondents said that they had paid in cash within the last week, with a further 17% using cash in the last two weeks. An additional 13% reported paying in cash within the last month. 1% of respondents had never paid using cash. Unsurprisingly, many of these respondents were between the ages of 18-24 (8%). In particular, 62% of respondents from Wales had paid in cash within the last week, alongside 51% from the North West. In comparison, 24% of respondents in the North East and 20% in Northern Ireland had used cash within the last month. When asked where they had last paid using cash, it was hospitality that came out on top. 11% of respondents said they had been in a cafe or deli, with 9% spending cash in a restaurant. Other common locations for physical cash to be spent included: • Charity shop (9%) • Farmer’s market (7%) • Pub (6%) • Butcher’s shop or fishmongers (5%) Finally, BusinessComparison wanted to know why consumers were choosing to pay using cash. For many, it was a matter of necessity. Almost 30% said they had used cash as they were only making a small purchase (29%), with another 29% saying they were using up cash they already had on them. Other common reasons for paying in cash included: • The business only accepted cash (15%) • Technical issues meant only cash could be used (7%) • Prefer paying in cash (17%) Most notably, just 17% of respondents said they prefer paying in cash – highlighting how much attitudes towards cash payments have changed. A vast majority of respondents had spare cash to use up (29%) with just under 30% using cash to make small purchases (29%). 22% of respondents from the West Midlands said they preferred paying in cash, alongside 20% from the East of England. Philip Brennan, Founder and MD at BusinessComparison, commented on the research: “In recent years, we’ve seen cash payments become increasingly undesirable, whether due to inconvenience or something else. Cashless payments have quickly risen in popularity to become the most predominant form of in-person payment. “As well as highlighting the global success of cashless payments, our research shows how cash payment trends vary in different parts of the UK, with Wales and the North West making notable contributions to the growing popularity of convenient cashless payments. “It’s clear that savvy UK consumers understand the benefits of cashless payment methods, making it essential for businesses to cater to their preferences.” NEWS
AI is the most effective method for tackling money laundering threats, according to AML professionals • New Feedzai research of anti-money laundering (AML) professionals unveiled the most significant threats and solutions to AML processes • 46% state that increasingly sophisticated money laundering techniques, including generative AI technology, is one of the biggest threats their business faces • 53% note that the majority of money laundering activity they encounter is linked to cryptocurrencies • AI is the preferred solution to tackle financial crime, with 60% of respondents already seeing its positive effects in driving efficiencies in their AML processes and 51% viewing it as a critical element of future AML programs AI is the most effective method for improving anti-money laundering (AML) processes and efficiencies according to AML professionals, research from Feedzai, a leading provider of financial crime and risk management solutions. Feedzai’s The State of Global Anti Money Laundering Compliance Report 2023 surveyed compliance professionals to discover what the biggest threats and opportunities are in the AML ecosystem. It found that 46% of AML professionals are concerned about increasingly sophisticated money laundering techniques, including generative AI. The threat from generative AI and linked technology is now the top challenge for AML professionals, overtaking regulation, cryptocurrency and blockchain, the top threats cited in 2022. Despite no longer occupying the top spot, crypto still remains front of mind for AML professionals. Over half (53%) of those surveyed said that the money laundering activities within their scope are predominantly linked to cryptocurrency transactions. Cryptocurrencies’ anonymous and decentralized nature is being exploited to conceal the origins of illicit funds, exacerbating the challenges in detection and monitoring. As criminals utilize increasingly sophisticated technology, so too do those seeking to protect consumers. A third (33%) of AML professionals say that AI and machine learning are the most effective method for preventing money laundering. Of those already adopting AI, 60% said that the technology has already been effective in driving efficiencies in their organization’s AML processes. Looking ahead, over half (51%) of respondents believe that an increased use of AI and machine learning is the future of AML and KYC (Know Your Customer) programmes. With the potential to instantly analyze huge data sets, AI is already helping investigators identify bad actors and diffuse threats. As a result of AI integration, we’ll see improved KYC processes, reduced false positives and also a reduced cost burden on compliance professionals. Nick Parfitt, Principal AML SME at Feedzai said, “Fraudsters are capitalizing on fast-developing technologies to trick existing AML programmes, in many cases using generative AI to their advantage. Our latest report reiterates the demand from AML professionals for their organizations to adopt AI in combination with human insight as a defensive weapon to improve their compliance process and efficiencies. “Banks and financial institutions are sitting on a wealth of data that they can use to better protect their customers and business. By taking a RiskOps approach, they can put this data to good use by creating a 360-degree view of customer risk that addresses the entire lifecycle of financial crime and compliance, , – helping to stop criminals in their tracks before they can do any damage .” NEWS
Q3 Wealth & Finance Cyber Defence Adviser of the Year 2023 (UK): Cameron Brown As a leading cyber defence expert, what exactly is it that you do? I am a Director at Deloitte in the UK, one of the global ‘Big 4’ accounting and consultancy firms, where I lead on cybersecurity in technology, media and telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and life sciences. We help organisations deal with present threats and ever-growing future risks posed by cybercrime. My remit is to support clients in neutralising threats, help protect and fortify their business value, and sustain customer trust. Beyond that, we share our knowledge and experience in managing threats to help protect all organisations, businesses, and individuals from the impact of cybercrime and unauthorised data access. As the pace of digital transformation accelerates and the world becomes increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats, our aim is to guide clients in maturing strategic and tactical security capabilities, incident response measures, proactive defence, resilience investments, and in devising effective countermeasures to insider threats, whether malicious or unintentional. This includes direct specific advice and support delivered as trusted advisors and project leaders, but also through publishing research findings, thought leadership, contributions to conferences, and via comments to the media. How did you develop your skills in cybersecurity? The work I do for clients is, I think, heavily influenced by my early career choices. These took me from being a music composer and producer, to becoming a practising lawyer, a digital forensics specialist for the police, and then to the government in Australia, and later the United Nations. So, when I joined mainstream consulting in the field of cybersecurity, I had already acquired a useful skillset in advocacy, conflict resolution, creative problem solving, deductive reasoning, and communicating complex information with clarity and brevity. Some of the hardest earnt skills that I developed were gained hacking all flavours of devices for law enforcement and appearing as an electronic evidence expert in matters associated with serious crime. What are the core values that guide you when making business decisions? I am passionate about teamwork and knowledge sharing, as when done well, it ensures that work produced is consistently precise, relevant, and useful. The quality of the team’s service delivery is really influenced by how we treat each other. As a leader, I support initiative and seek avenues to improve service quality and the value we can deliver for our clients. Being able to think creatively and break out of the box is a superpower and it’s important to take time to understand individual strengths across the whole team so that they can be integrated and fostered. Cybersecurity is a team sport, and you achieve success by attracting and retaining high calibre, diverse talent, and proactively driving an inclusive culture through coaching and effective leadership. How do you stay ahead of competitors and what gives you an edge in the market? Studying forensic psychology, behavioural science, investigation and interviewing techniques, and music performance has given me a very practical understanding and unique perspective on human nature, personality types, and how to manage groups of individuals. I work at building partnerships and alliances. I also welcome differences of opinion. Success in working across many domains with a security mandate (legal practice, policing, international relations, anti-corruption, infosec and compliance) requires an equal measure of flexibility, forward planning, and creativity, whether advising prosecutors, diplomats, CEOs, or government officials. The foundation guiding my career journey springs from the pleasure derived from working with diverse personalities, cultures, and unique organisations. What solutions do you offer and how does your background make an impact? Each new project I lead benefits from extensive coalface experience and operational fieldwork expertise which enable rapid trust building and responsiveness to changing Deloitte is a leading global provider of audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related professional services. Cameron Brown, Cyber Defence Adviser and Data Protection Strategist, is a Director within the UK firm. He is described by his colleagues as a handson, collaborative, and pragmatic leader. In light of Cameron’s recent success within the Cyber Security Awards 2023, we now gain an insight into his career trajectory and developments within the cyber security industry, in his own words. Jun23353
7. priorities in demand-based environments. I work alongside my clients as a critical friend and I partner with them to design cyber governance strategies, build effective enterprise-wide security architecture, and enable defensive technologies to protect data and to comply with privacy regulations. In essence, helping organisations to enact safeguards to protect their employees, customers, and competitive advantage, while also supporting recovery from debilitating cyber-attacks when they occur. Multidisciplinary investigative teams typically work on cases involving the use of technology to commit traditional and non-traditional offences, including extortion, identity theft, and fraud or forgery. Due to the borderless nature of information flows and cybercrime offending, the process of gathering electronic evidence often requires transnational cooperation with local and foreign law enforcement agencies. Similarly, in corporate environments such as Deloitte, international teams are needed to build organisational resilience and deliver security projects across time zones. This includes 24/7 cyber operations, as well as complex multi-year transformations targeting alignment of key business processes and technologies with new laws and regulations. One of the major success factors in working with multinational clients is defining security investments that are fit-for-purpose to address prioritised risks and to ensure minimum interruption to daily operations. This extends to conducting rapid platform vulnerability and threat assessments, cyber due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, providing practical and knowledgeable advice on remediation, and developing costed programme plans based on strategic objectives aligned with available resources and risk appetite. How do you keep pace with change and gain insight into new developments? The cybercrime and cybersecurity spaces are evolving in tandem, each reactively and proactively challenging the other. On both sides, there are specialisms with pockets of information sharing, networking, and collaboration — some organisations who sell crimeware in dark markets even have dedicated customer support! For my part, I join leaders of industry in round-table discussions concerning emerging security threats. I also regularly present at places like the Underground Economy Conference at the Council of Europe, London Tech Week, and the European Cybercrime Centre in The Hague. Working in international relations, anti-corruption, law enforcement, compliance, and cyber defence has enabled me to develop a strong network of contacts. These trusted relationships are invaluable for gaining insight into the activities of threat actors, new vulnerabilities and exploits, and security trends across industry. This helps me anticipate how emerging technologies impact the modus operandi of offenders and the attack surfaces of my clients. Communication lies at the heart of what we do as security professionals and cyber defenders. Communication, by definition, is two-way. My contribution includes authoring books, intergovernmental reports, and papers in journals. I am an editorial board member of several peer-reviewed journals and look forward to publishing new material which contemplates the shifting cyber threat landscape and the evolving role of lawyers, underwriters, and artificial intelligence in security operations and incident response. I hope to continue exploring how artificial intelligence and machine learning can be harnessed in the battle against cybercrime and cyberespionage. We live in exciting times with new vistas continually opening in front of us. Company: Deloitte Website: deloitte.co.uk/cyber Phone: +44 (0)7494579195 Email: [email protected] LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/ analyticalcyber Twitter / X: @AnalyticalCyber
8. Q3 Wealth & Finance Best Pensions & Retirement Planning Firm 2023 – London StringsFP Limited is a financial planning firm based in Edgware, London. As an appointed representative of Blackstone Moregate, wellestablished and reputable financial planning firm StringsFP offers a range of financial planning services, including pensions, investments, mortgages, protection, tax planning, equity release, and retirement planning. Established by Krunal Thakkar, who has more 11 years’ worth of experience in the financial services industry, StringsFP is committed to providing impartial advice that meets the individual needs of its clients. Krunal has a master’s degree in business administration and has achieved a coveted diploma in financial planning. Today, he advises on all aspects of financial planning, with clients praising his professional and friendly approach. In more depth, the services offered by Krunal and StringsFP include: Pensions: The firm can help clients to understand their pension options and make sure that they are on track to meet their retirement goals. StringsFP can also help clients to transfer their pension to a new provider if it is in their best interests. Investments: StringsFP can help clients to choose the right investments to meet their financial goals. The firm can also help clients to manage their investments and make sure that they are aligned with its clients’ risk appetite. Mortgages: The business offers advice and can help clients to find the right mortgage for them, as well as negotiating the best possible interest rates. Protection: StringsFP can assist clients in protecting their income and assets in the event of an accident, illness, or death. The firm can offer a range of products, such as life insurance, critical illness insurance, and income protection insurance. Tax planning: The company can help clients to minimise their tax liability and make sure that they are compliant with the latest tax laws. StringsFP can also help clients to claim tax relief on their investments and expenses. Equity release: StringsFP assists clients in releasing the equity from their homes without having to sell it. This can be a good option for retirees who need access to cash but do not want to downsize their home. Retirement planning: The firm can help clients when planning for retirement in order to make sure that they have enough money to live comfortably. StringsFP can also help them to choose the right retirement products, such as annuities and drawdown plans. Recently, thanks to its reputation for exceptional customer service, StringsFP was named Best Pensions & Retirement Planning Firm 2023 – London in the Ethical Finance Awards – a welldeserved accolade indeed. For impartial and expert financial planning advice, StringsFP is an excellent option to consider. With a team of experienced financial planners, the firm is more than capable of helping clients from all walks of life with achieving their financial goals. Contact Details Contact: Krunal Thakkar Company: StringsFP Limited Web Address: www.stringsfp.com May23333 For professional advice and exceptional customer service, look no further than StringsFP Limited! We speak to the company’s Founder, Krunal Thakkar, as it is crowned in the prestigious Ethical Finance Awards 2023.
Q3 Wealth & Finance 9. Aug23001 Most Client-Focused Cyber Security & Risk Management Consultancy 2023 - North America & Innovation Excellence Award in Space Exploration Cyber Security 2023 Now, more than ever, equipping yourself with the necessary cyber security measures is simply imperative. Technology is evolving at such a breakneck pace, and with it comes the need for companies to update themselves on compliance, as well as the potential threats to their online security. It may seem like a tricky process, but sometimes the path to cybersecurity starts with a conversation, and Digital Beachhead Inc (Digital Beachhead) is at the forefront of delivering on this notion. Established in 2015 with an ambitious vision for the future of cybersecurity, Digital Beachhead hoped to combine 30 years of experience with a desire to support small to midsize businesses in cultivating cohesive and comprehensive protection against cyber risks. Eight years later, Digital Beachhead has earned itself a place among some of the greatest cybersecurity and risk management consultancies within America. This is all a product of its desire to offer its Department of Defence level of expertise in order to keep its clients wholly protected via its virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO) services. By presenting companies and individuals alike with its vCISO services, Digital Beachhead proposes a new approach towards a multitude of cybersecurity needs. Be it awareness training, phishing tests, dark web intelligence, penetration testing, or end point security tools that include 24/7 monitoring, Digital Beachhead is able to outfit each client with the means to keep their business up to date with cyber regulations. It’s no secret that the industry suffers from a shortage of highly skilled, effective personnel, and Digital Beachhead exists as a means to bridge a very noticeable gap within the sector. In addition, Digital Beachhead brings a fresh attitude towards its work that truly makes it a standout among other companies of a similar nature. Not only does it strongly believe in the sentiment that cybersecurity starts with a conversation, but it seeks to involve everyone in this dialogue. It accomplishes this through the immense importance that it places upon getting to know its clients and, in turn, their needs in conjunction with their budget. From there, it’s able to forge strategies that are a fraction of the usual cost of hiring a full-time employee, all whilst remaining just as effective. That being said, Digital Beachhead doesn’t simply see itself as a third-party consultancy. On the contrary, it becomes a part of the companies that it works alongside, allowing it to better align itself with the needs of its clients. Only through a close bond forged on mutual trust can coherent cybersecurity strategies be forged, and nobody recognises this more than Digital Beachhead. As such, it manages to deliver on its promise of quality solutions to complex issues, all whilst keeping its vCISO services fully customisable to any requirement. This, partnered with Digital Beachhead’s exceptional ability to adapt to evolving technologies, makes it an invaluable cybersecurity asset to any company needing that little bit of extra assistance. Digital Beachhead is a consultancy that’s truly ahead of the curve when it comes to advancements in the digital and cyber sphere. It not only works tirelessly to maintain the current industry flow, but it’s avidly set on uncovering new approaches that most would define as ‘outside the box.’ When asked for an example, Digital Beachhead presented us with a recent system development, through which high value individuals can install a toolkit that’s designed to provide Department of Defence levels of security throughout their home networks and personal assets. This innovative toolkit serves as a truly inventive example of what’s possible, should the right minds be set to it. Throughout the cybersecurity industry, the demand for a baseline solution to everyone’s problems has become overwhelming. This is mostly due to the fact that there simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to each business’s cybersecurity needs. Digital Beachhead recognises this, and has placed itself in a position to adapt depending on the needs of its clients. Its flexibility has become the standard for what clients should expect, and this notion is only amplified by Digital Beachhead’s desire to work as a part of its clients’ teams in order to deliver the best, most cost-effective solutions within North America’s current cybersecurity market. Contact: Mike Crandall Company: Digital Beachhead Inc Web Address: https://digitalbeachhead.com/ Digital Beachhead Inc
10. Q3 Wealth & Finance HMRC increases the interest charged on late payments from 22nd August 2023 HMRC have increased the interest rates payable by taxpayers on late payments, to 7.75% - up from 7.5%, the highest interest charge on late payments since ca. 2001, say leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg. Robert Salter, a Tax Technical Consultant with the firm, said: “With the recent increase in the Bank of England’s official base rate, it should come as no surprise that HMRC have increased the interest rate on late payments. But the increase simply increases the challenges faced by taxpayers at a time of real financial stress.” He added: “It also reinforces the disconnect between the late payment interest payable by taxpayers compared to the ‘repayment supplement’ which HMRC pay to taxpayers when there is a tax overpayment.” Robert said: “The late payment interest is due on a wide range of taxes including income tax, national insurance, capital gains tax, corporation tax and stamp duty land tax and means that taxpayers should look at ensuring that they make any payments on a timely basis, as the costs of mistakes and oversights in this area are becoming ever greater.” He added: “Whilst HMRC have also increased the repayment supplement which is payable to taxpayers in recent months – and this will go up to 4.25% from the 22nd of August, in some ways it is difficult to justify a discrepancy of 2.5% in the headline rate payable to HMRC and the rate that they pay in reverse.” Robert said: “This is even more so, when one notes that late payment interest may be payable on all late payments – even those which are, for example, purely 1 day late – whereas HMRC will not pay repayment supplement to taxpayers until the ‘relevant date’ has been exceeded.” He added: “This means, for example, that repayment supplement will only be due for most personal taxpayers from 31st January following a tax year. For example, taxpayers will only receive repayment supplement if a 2022/23 tax refund has not been settled by 31st January 2024, even though in many cases, the tax may have already been ‘banked’ by HMRC for 12 – 18 months by the 31st of January 2024.” Robert said: “Given that most tax advisors and accountants have seen a significant increase in the number of taxpayers who are waiting for 6 or 9 months for HMRC to issue refunds, it is difficult not to question whether these delays – usually explained on HMRC’s side as ‘additional security checks’ – are just a deliberate policy on HMRC’s part to gain additional revenues as part of the low repayment supplement rate paid to taxpayers.” May23333 Taxpayers warned to make payments they owe now
Q3 Wealth & Finance 11. Oct22055 MORTGAGE CRISIS: Google searches for ‘How to afford mortgage’ explode by 324% and ‘Mortgage help’ skyrockets by 1,366% As mortgage rates continue to rise, analysis of Google search data reveals that searches in the United Kingdom are skyrocketing regarding the mortgage crisis, with terms such as ‘Mortgage help’ exploding by 1,366% in the past seven days. The analysis, by mortgage broker L&C Mortgages, reveals the United Kingdom’s current searches relating to the current mortgage crisis. According to Google search data analysis, terms such as ‘Mortgage help’ have exploded to over ten times the average volume, an unprecedented increase in Brits seeking information about the current mortgage crisis. Brits seemingly feel lost and want support amid the mortgage chaos, with searches for ‘Mortgage help’ increasing by 1,366%, following numerous announcements from the Bank of England over the increased base rate, which can also be the main reason for the rise of the UK public searching for ‘Mortgage support’ which has seen a 213% increase in the past 30 days, over double the average volume. The data reveals searches for ‘How to afford mortgage’ have exploded by 324% in the past five years and ‘Remortgage’ by 106% in the past 30 days. These searches can reflect the financial stress the current crisis has on the Brits in finding out how to afford the rising costs or considering remortgaging to lower monthly payments. Although you can remortgage at any time, it is best to check for any Early Repayment Charges (ERC) if considering remortgaging before the end of your current mortgage deal. The British public is turning to Google for information, predictions, and hope on the future of the crisis as ‘When will interest rates go down’ has seen a massive 487% search increase and ‘When will mortgage rates go down’ has a 268% search increase in the past 12 months. UK fixed-rate mortgage costs have now soared to a new seven-month high, adding more pressure on the finances of Brits. According to Moneyfacts reports, the average two-year fixed residential mortgage has risen to 6.66%, up from 6.63% on Monday, the 10th of July, the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis. Figures released by the Bank of England show that almost a million borrowers can expect their mortgage payments to increase by up to £500 a month by 2026, the equivalent of almost a week’s worth of pay for the average employee. This only adds growing pressure on homeowners as Google Trends data shows Brits are searching for the term ‘How to pay mortgage’ has increased by 186% in the past 30 days. The financial pressure has also had a huge impact on renters, as they see their payments rise as buy-to-let landlords pass on the effect of higher mortgage repayments. Brits have noticed the increasing rent costs as Google searches for ‘Rent increase’ over the past five years in the UK have soared by 235%. A spokesperson from L&C Mortgages, commented on the findings: “The past few weeks have seen the rising mortgage payments and high-interest rates make front page news, with these increases pressuring the finances of millions of borrowers in Britain, triggering a surge of uncertainty about where interest rates will go next. However, the latest news has now caused a surge of online interest in those looking to get more information and help on mortgages, interest rates and rent, highlighting the massive impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the British public. There are still plenty of deals available for borrowers looking to switch, but remortgaging a home is a decision that should be made with thorough research and help. Some tips to keep in mind during these uncertain times would be to shop around for the best rates available, which can be done online or by using a mortgage broker. Or look to request to extend the term on your mortgage so that you can pay a smaller amount each month but for a longer period. Another option could be to switch to interestonly temporarily; this can reduce the monthly amount of your payments in times of need and financial difficulty. Lastly, if you are struggling for tailored support, talk to your lender to help find the best solution.”
12. Q3 Wealth & Finance Jun23326 SME leaders bullish about their prospects as majority expect revenues to increase in next 12 months Average volume of daily card transactions up 10% in growing businesses as consumer confidence improves, even amid cost-of-living crisis, according to Dojo LONDON, United Kingdom: 16 August 2023: Business confidence is high among SME leaders in the UK, with three in five forecasting increases in revenue over the next 12 months, according to payment technology provider, Dojo. Small businesses have been under unprecedented strain over the past few years, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost-ofliving crisis and ongoing economic volatility creating persistent and cumulative challenges. Yet the majority of SMEs are looking ahead to the next 12 months with optimism, with two thirds (65%) confident about the outlook for the economy, a similar number (63%) assured about the end of the cost-of-living crisis and a further four in five (79%) confident about the outlook for their business. The new figures are based on a survey of 500 UK decision-makers, supported by Dojo payments data based on spending across more than one in 10 UK high street SMEs. This is further illustrated through Dojo spend data which reveals that on average, the number of card transactions per location is up by 10% between January and June compared to last year. Such an increase suggests that consumers are growing in confidence, even with high inflation and surging interest rates, along with businesses investing in improved payments infrastructure. Three in five (60%) business leaders expect their revenues will increase in the next 12 months - by an average of 22% - while a quarter (24%) expect revenues to stay the same. Jon Knott, Head of Customer Insight at Dojo, said: “Growing businesses on the high street have been forced to weather all manner of unpredictable storms over the last three or so years - so it’s a testament to them that so many are confident of delivering growth in the current economic climate. With the right strategic investments, SMEs will be best-placed to continue improving the experiences they deliver for customers, supporting continued growth.” Independent restaurant Maki & Ramen grow against the grain Indeed, Edinburgh-based Maki & Ramen launched four new locations in the last 12 months bringing it to 12 sites across Scotland and Northern England, with plans for four more in 2024, against the backdrop of economic uncertainty, supported by Dojo. The business - which recorded £10m in revenue in 2022, representing 48% year-on-year growth - saved £40,000 borrowing from Dojo to fund its expansion, with new restaurants set to open in Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester. Michael Salvador, COO at Maki & Ramen, said: “Having access to flexible funding means we can manage our cashflow which allows us to cover admin costs or relocate staff, whilst continuing to execute our expansion plans. Traditional borrowing options were completely unsuitable. With Dojo, repayments are linked to your revenues, so when you’re doing well, you can pay down the borrowing so quickly.” Market challenges require strategic investment While business leaders are optimistic about their prospects over the next year, they are also realistic about the challenges ahead, with hurdles cited including growing their revenue (43%), expanding to new geographies or opening new branches (36%) and broadening their product ranges (33%). Many businesses recognise the importance of the right technology, payments and digital infrastructure to help ensure they navigate upcoming challenges and realise their potential. Two thirds (64%) admit they need to invest in better services to fulfil their business’ potential, with over half (53%) agreeing their current technology and digital infrastructure is hindering their business’ growth. Over one in five (22%) leaders believe their payments infrastructure is “average”, citing it could be improved by delivering more reliable service (51%), better security of payments (45%) and better connectivity (38%). Over three in four (78%) leaders are confident in their ability to invest in the technology they need for their business in the next 12 months. “In today’s cost-of-living crisis, going out costs more – and consumers rightly expect more for their increased spend. Businesses must therefore invest in the right technologies, from superfast payments to access to data and insights, to ensure their people are enabled to deliver the best possible value and experiences to meet this heightened expectation,” Knott added.
Q3 Wealth & Finance 13. UK Banks More Resilient to Turbulent Market Conditions Than Their US Counterparts, Research Shows • According to a study of 800 UK and US financial service firms executives, 78% of financial services company executives in the UK say high interest rates are impacting their ability to innovate and invest vs 91% of executives in the US • 58% of UK financial services company executives are increasing investment in generative AI, compared to 45% of US executives • However, UK banks are investing in Generative AI less than US banks - and risk falling behind As financial services providers and consumers face continued pressures from economic and market instability, FIS® (NYSE: FIS), a global leader in financial services technology, has fielded new research to explore how executives and consumers are responding to the environment, and how they’re making their financial or investing decisions. The research found that financial services company executives in the UK are showing more resilience to market turbulence than their US counterparts. These findings come as the UK has experienced sharper rates of inflation that are still significantly higher than those in the US. Whereas the US saw its peak at 9.1% in June 2022, the UK saw its peak at 11.1% four months later in September 2022. Meanwhile, the UK is still experiencing a higher rate of inflation at 7.9% as of June 2023, compared to the recent drop to 3% in the US. How executives and consumers in the UK are reacting to economic headwinds compared to those in the US: • 78% of financial services company executives in the UK say high interest rates are impacting their company’s ability to innovate or invest according to the FIS study. • In contrast, nearly all US-based executives in financial services surveyed (91%) said they were experiencing an impact from high interest rates. • Consumers in both the UK and the US showed a similar level of concern over high interest rates, with 76% and 77% respectively saying they have or will have an impact on their financial decisions. UK-based financial services executives are investing in AI at a faster pace than those in the US, apart from UK banks - who risk falling behind. • 58% of UK financial services company executives are increasing investment in generative AI, compared to 45% of US executives. • Large financial services companies (£10B+) in the UK are driving the bulk of investment across the sector; with 75% of executives from these firms focusing innovation efforts on the ease and speed of opening accounts, ahead of other priorities. • Driving this increase are UK securities and investments firms, with 61% investing in Generative AI vs just 41% of US firms • In addition, 60% of UK fintech firms are investing in Generative AI vs 54% of US firms • However, considerably more US banks are investing in Generative AI compared to UK banks. Only 36% of UK banks are investing in Generative AI, compared to 48% of US banks - suggesting UK banks risk falling behind when it comes to Generative AI innovation, despite the UK’s pro-AI stance. “Across all negative market conditions respondents were presented with, UK financial services executives said they were less severely impacted than their counterparts in the US. This could be in part because the UK financial services sector is nimbler and more resilient to shocks, particularly given the current government’s efforts to stabilize conditions,” said Himal Makwana, Head of Platforms, Strategy, Operations & Venture at FIS. “With consumers showing significant concern about the state of the economy, especially higher inflation and interest rates, businesses are exploring how they can build trust with existing and potential new clients. Many of the executives we surveyed plan to do so with future-looking technology, such as embeddable financial services using APIs, blockchain and generative AI, to deliver advanced customer experiences.” “We are seeing a divide in how financial services companies are investing in new technology and what types of solutions consumers want most from their providers, according to this study,” added Makwana. “At the root of this gap between executive investment and innovation and consumer expectations seems to be the need for businesses to innovate through economic uncertainty. For example, many UK businesses are investing in automation and self-service, which can reduce costs while enhancing the customer experience. On the other side of the coin, consumers worrying about their finances are seeking personalized experiences and targeted services to make it easier to manage their money.”
14. Q3 Wealth & Finance VCTs increase support for businesses amid wider decline in VC funding • Capital invested by VCTs increased to £664 million in 2022 • Over £1 billion raised by VCTs for the second year running • Total sales of VCT supported companies totalled £18.18 billion in 2022, growth of 54% versus 2021 • Export sales worth £3.7 billion in 2022, up 29.8% The Venture Capital Trust Association (VCTA) today publishes new data gathered from over 600 early-stage companies that have benefited from VCT funding, which shows that deployment of capital into early-stage startups grew 8% year-on-year to £664 million, proving resilient in context of wider UK venture capital funding, which fell by almost a quarter (23%) in 2022. Annual data collected and analysed by the VCTA, members of which make up more than 90% of the VCT industry by value, shows that the industry continues to grow its positive impact, with the £664 million of capital deployed across 345 investments, and raised in excess of £1 billion of new capital for the second year running. The continued strong growth among investee companies is set against a backdrop of volatile markets and economic uncertainty. In the wider VC industry, funding fell by 23% according to KPMG data, as investors were forced to take a cautious approach amid global economic turmoil. Will Fraser-Allen, Chair of the VCTA, commented: “UK PLC is increasingly in need of innovative young businesses to push the economy forwards and help to drive growth by investing in new technologies such as artificial intelligence. With government policy also looking to bolster UK growth by encouraging investment in fast-growing companies, the vital role of VCTs in the investment ecosystem has never been clearer.” Total sales of VCT supported companies totalled £18.18 billion in 2022, growth of 54% versus 2021. Exports also rose significantly, with export sales totalling over £3.7 billion in 2022, up 29.8% from £2.9 billion in 2021, illustrating the growing number of businesses which are expanding overseas. Will Fraser-Allen added: “I am delighted to see that our data continues to show strong performance among VCT supported companies, which are not only boosting economic growth but providing countless high quality employment opportunities and social benefits around the UK. “VCTs provide truly patient capital, supporting businesses with multiple rounds of investment supporting the changing needs of VCT supported businesses as they grow and innovate.” May23333
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