How to Raise Your Business Reputation When You Are On a Budget

Running a business operation comes with a range of different challenges. One of the most common hurdles involves dealing with your company’s reputation and how to raise it. Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to build your brand, especially if you are an expert in your industry. Actually, being an expert is valuable for a number of reasons. So, do not let the things that you can do be hidden from the public any longer.

If this sounds like you, you can change these things around quickly by starting your own marketing campaign. For instance, you can begin marketing your company’s brand by telling your customers online and in your local areas exactly what you and your business can do for them. Here are some of the best ways to raise your business’s reputation when you are on a budget.

 

1. Host Webinars

Using the web to market your company name can be a great way to build your company’s reputation. Since there are platforms available like webinars, you can easily take advantage of reaching large groups of people by hosting webinars on special topics. For instance, when you set up a webinar to build your company’s reputation, you can demo the products and the services that you offer. In some cases, you may even increase your notoriety by training others on what you do. In either event, you can share what you know and make your company extremely useful to large broader audiences.

 

2. Customer Service Improvement

Do you really need a large budget to increase your reputation or build your company’s brand? Well, maybe not if you know how to improve your customer service area. Good customer support is one of the essential keys to success in any business. Therefore, any improvements in your services that can make your customers happy is a good way to get great kudos for your brand. Fortunately, there are loads of great recommendations online that can assist you and your staff in becoming the best support team in your industry.

 

3. Get a short term loan and boost your online presence

In addition to increasing your reputation by making your customers happy, you need to boost your online presence, too. However, if you are running your operation on a shoe-string budget, you may need outside financial help to help you with this type of strategy. For instance, you may want to borrow a short term loan to fund this campaign. In fact, if you know exactly how to boost your online presence, borrowing this type of loan is well worth it. A short-term loan can do a lot for those of you who want to get things started, and it is much easier for you to pay it back.

 

 

4. Setup a Google Alert on your name or business name

When you conduct business online, you may be surprised to discover what is free and available to your business. For instance, if you need a powerful online tool to grow your business, you may want to consider Google alerts. Google alerts can be used to do the following:

  • Track brand mentions and your competitor’s reputation
  • Notify your staff of negative reviews
  • Identify additional links for more opportunities

 

 

 

5. Get feedback from your customers and work on it

Increasing your company’s reputation requires a comprehensive campaign that needs to be deployed. For those of you who want to pursue free versions of certain marketing strategies, you can do your research. And, you can start your research by asking for feedback from your customers so that corrective action can be taken. Once these customers have expressed their ideas or issues in any area, you can work quickly to address their concerns in a constructive manner. By using these types of strategies online and in your local area, you will not only improve your company’s image but also seize additional opportunities to leverage the competition with others in the same industry.

 

 

Summary

How to raise your business reputation when you are on a budget can be done. Since there are loads of great information available to you and your staff, you can choose which ones will work. Once you get started, you can use these 5 proven strategies that consist of improving your customer services, obtaining good feedback from the consumer, hosting webinars to discuss the business, setting up Google alerts, and borrowing a short-term loan to fund your latest marketing strategies.

Self-Improvement: Traits Every Businessman Needs

All well-known businessmen have their particular keys to success. For example, someone worked hard day and night, while the others were not afraid to take risks. However, most entrepreneurs can boast of having some unique features that helped them to become influencers in particular fields. So, what traits do you need to have to achieve success?

Productivity

This feature is one of the most important ones for any businessman. If you would like to get astonishing results in entrepreneurship, it is necessary to increase your productivity and improve your time-management skills. It will also be great to learn how to split difficult and complex tasks into easy steps. This trick will help you achieve all your goals much faster.

For example, if you are a student who needs to complete an academic assignment with an urgent deadline, what should you do? Some students might start composing an essay by themselves and fail to do deep research and collect necessary arguments. It will be much easier to pick up a reliable writing solution to get your assignments done fast. But how to choose the most trustworthy service? Find out the reviews shared by other students. Start with reading an assignment geek review, continue exploring paymetodoyourhomework reviews, and finish your research by investigating expertwriting reviews. These simple steps on how to solve a common student’s issue might be a reference point on how to cope with difficulties in the most productive way.

Leadership

All successful businessmen are not afraid to take the responsibility for the entire project and are true leaders in the chosen niches. The truth is that you will need to lead the entire team of professionals to achieve the company’s goals. It is important to become a leader, a professional, and a manager to keep everyone moving forward. Moreover, businessmen sometimes need to make serious decisions, such as attracting investors, choosing promotion solutions, or taking loans. You are to become a true leader of your company.

Open-mindedness

Being open-minded is a must for any entrepreneur. The fact is that the modern business environment is changing at a breakneck speed. Therefore, it is vital to accept new conditions and adapt within the shortest terms. To meet the requirements of the market and attract more customers, the leader should be flexible and open to new solutions. Innovation is a key that might easily rocket launch your business in no time. Don’t be afraid to try new approaches, technologies, and marketing tactics to reach your purposes.

Motivation

Any business led by an entrepreneur who lacks motivation is doomed to failure. You need to have a whopping amount of energy to drive your company and reach new heights. It is needed to constantly push yourself forward to work harder and perform better on every step of doing business. All entrepreneurs are incredibly ambitious people who are always looking for new opportunities and goals. Being a businessman is not easy; you will likely need to work all your free time.

Optimism

Doing business is usually a long and challenging process with numerous ups and downs. Many entrepreneurs face serious difficulties in their ways but require to always stay positive no matter what. Your business might not achieve access from the first attempt, and there are always many risks to failure. However, even the worst situations should be considered as a unique experience that opens new opportunities. Feel free to experiment and never give up. Optimism will help you stay strong even during tough times.

Creativity

Becoming an entrepreneur is about finding your unique way of doing business. You can’t do the same things as your competitors do to revolutionize the industry. It is always great to offer something new and original to impress your customers. Small-business owners should always be creative to conquer new market shares and gain customers’ loyalty.

Confidence

All businessmen are confident people who always know what they need to do and achieve their goals. You need to be determined enough to make even the most impossible happen. A business owner should be focused on meeting particular objectives and remain 100% confident.

Communication

It is impossible to establish a successful partnership and look for new business links without advanced communication. Therefore, it is vital to master your speaking and communication skills, as well as learn how to impress and convince the audience. If you are a brilliant companion, you will get more links and expand your business faster and easier.

All in all, becoming a businessman is not an easy task. One should be communicative, easy-going, confident, and optimistic. It is also great to become a true leader and have a creative mind to reach even the most unbelievable goals. Confident and motivated people are more likely to achieve success in entrepreneurship, so it will be a good idea to focus on self-improvement.

Why do so many people invest in FAANG stocks?

Any modern business owner knows there are lots of things to stay on top of to succeed. Efficient marketing, for example, is vital to inform people about you as a business and what you have to offer. In addition, finances are a top priority for all entrepreneurs, and strategic planning in this area is a must for stimulating organic growth.

With this in mind, many businesses choose to invest some of their profits to generate more income. Opting to do this also opens up another revenue stream and means you have something to fall back on if your primary source of income falters. While there are a few ways entrepreneurs could invest, trading on the stock market is prevalent.

A brief look at the figures involved shows why. The current market size of the New York Stock Exchange is $24.4trn, and other big stock exchanges around the globe also have colossal market capitalization figures. This makes them attractive to investors as there are plenty of opportunities to find good trades, providing a decent return over time.

What you invest in and where you invest is vital

As with anything that involves money, you should know what you are getting into before investing in stocks. To begin with, it is essential to choose carefully with which online broker to place trades. As this Rakuten trade review shows, taking the time to check out any broker before signing up with them is advisable. If you need a trustworthy and fast way to get information like this, the AskTraders website is the best place online to visit.

The next thing is to think about what kind of shares you will put money into. For many, the most appealing stocks to invest in still are known as the FAANG stocks.

FAANG is an acronym for a group of stocks in the tech sector. It is made up of Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), and Google (GOOG). The individual companies which make up FAANG stocks have a combined market cap of around $5.6trn and are household names.

But why do entrepreneurs love to invest in these stocks? The simple answer is their excellent track records regarding returns and the leading position they have in their sector. Although finding ways for your business to save money is important, finding ways to make some with stocks like FAANG is also crucial.

But what is the story behind the individual FAANG companies?

Facebook

This tech behemoth was set up in 2004 by Harvard students Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Chris Hughes, and Dustin Moskovitz. Facebook is now a social media giant with around 2.8 billion monthly users and connects people all over the planet.

In terms of investment, it has performed very well on the stock market over recent years. This saw Facebook shares closing in January 2020 at a record high of $218.30, beating the previous high of $217.50 in July 2018. 2021 has been excellent for these stocks so far, and prices hit a new record high of $308.91 recently.

Amazon

Amazon is another FAANG stock with a rich history and an industry-leading position. Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994, it is now thought this e-commerce icon has more than 120 million products to buy on its site and over 150 million active users in the US alone. As well as its main e-commerce site, this tech leader has also invested in Amazon Web Services, AI, and TV/movie streaming (via Amazon Prime).

As one of the world’s most valuable companies, Amazon’s history in the stock market is attractive. In April 2021, for example, its share price shot up by 2.4% to a record high of $3,554. Keen investors will note that July 2020 saw Amazon shares reaching similar levels, proving its excellent track record.

Apple

Apple is the FAANG company with the longest history, being founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Ronald Wayne, and Steve Wozniak. It sells arguably the world’s most popular smartphone in the iPhone, the iPad tablet, and the Apple Mac laptop. In August 2018, Apple was the first US business that traded publicly to be worth more than $1trn. A few years later, it was worth more than $2 trn and sold 1.65 billion products worldwide.

Apple’s history in the stock market shows some fine moments – and not just its incredible performance in the last few years. Summer 2007 was a big step for Apple, as its price rose 15.9% in July to $141.43 on the back of the iPhone’s launch. The iPad launch was also a critical moment, and the share prices rose to $341.19 in 2011, a year after its 2010 release date.

Netflix

Another of the FAANG stocks to know about is Netflix. The digital content streaming service enables people to access movies and TV shows on-demand in their homes. As well as offering online streaming of external shows/movies, it moved into producing in-house content as of 2012. It is now thought to have over 200 million worldwide subscribers and a truly global reach. This has also seen it ranked as the top media/entertainment company by market capitalization in 2020.

Netflix has also had some memorable moments in terms of stock market performance. Perhaps the most iconic was being the top stock in the S&P 500 during the entire 2010s! It brought investors a return of 3,693% over the whole ten years. This success has continued, with a record price of 586.34 being set in January 2021.

Google

Although first set up in 1998, Google is now officially part of the Alphabet Inc group (with a market cap of $852bn), most people still like to stick to the FAANG acronym. In terms of Google specifically, we all know it for the industry-leading search engine it delivers and its presence in the paid online ads/digital marketing space. As with other FAANG stocks, it has built its success on diversifying into many other areas. There are, for example, email (Gmail) and translation services (Google Translate). It also owns several well-known websites like YouTube and Blogger.

Google has performed well on average in terms of its share price. Starting at $85 per share in August 2004, it split its stock in 2014 and eventually rose to a price of $1,214. This was eclipsed in early 2020 when a price of $1,532.11 was set. As you would expect, this FAANG stock has also been riding high recently and rose to a price of $2,564.74 in July 2021.

FAANG stocks are popular for a reason

There really is no secret as to why these shares are popular with investors when you learn more about them. Not only do they have an excellent track record in terms of returns over a long period, but they also look likely to continue this in the future. As society becomes ever more tech-centric and these companies carry on innovating, it is hard to see their success ending anytime soon.

How to Securely Invest in Businesses That Do Well During a Pandemic

A global pandemic is generally not the best time to start investing. That, however, does not necessarily mean that all investments are a bad idea. Covid-19 has undoubtedly had seemingly endless effects on both global and national economies, rendering several previously sound investment strategies ineffective.

There are still a myriad of viable options for financiers who wish to put their savings to good use, invest wisely, and grow their capital. This article will explore the steps you can take during these unprecedented times to ensure that your money is in good hands.

Hire a Trustworthy Financial Advisor

First things first, unless you’re an expert on current economic trends, hiring a reliable financial advisor is never a bad move. They will evaluate your current finances and draw up a solid plan to work towards your specific financial goals. Plus, they’ll address areas where you may be losing money unnecessarily, and provide invaluable insight into the best ways to invest and grow your finances.

Even if you consider yourself to be fairly savvy when it comes to handling your money, a financial advisor consistently has their finger on the pulse of the economic world. At the very least, they’ll provide you with a second pair of experienced eyes to navigate the twists and turns of contemporary investing.

Studies have shown that those who hire financial advisors generally end up better prepared for retirement, less stressed about money, learn more about responsible financial practices, and accumulate more wealth.

Stocks

There is much uncertainty regarding the stability of the stock market during 2021. It has been many years since we have seen such a volatile and unpredictable global economy. There is also no guarantee that it is going to recover anytime soon.

While the successful vaccine rollout in the global North does give cause for optimism in the reopening of trade and tourism, there are still major concerns. New strains of the virus and other ripple effects of 2020s economic crash are major considerations.

A significant portion of relatively safe investments nowadays are in the digital communications sector. The impact of Covid-19 in 2020 saw companies cutting their digital advertising budgets in an effort to lower costs wherever possible. Now, however, consumers have flocked to digital spaces and relied more heavily on ecommerce than ever, which has encouraged companies to up their spending on digital marketing and media. Due to this fairly stable trend in spending, it may be wise to look into digital marketing and other communications services as potential investments in the aftermath of Covid-19.

Another promising sector to investigate is information technology (IT). Despite the global economic crisis brought about by the pandemic, top software organizations have continued to demonstrate upward trends in growth, some even showing accelerated growth in the past two years.

Information technologies like cloud-based software in an ever-expanding user market have proved to be sustainable, profitable, and resilient, even during times of recession. IT is a growth industry in the wake of Covid-19, as many companies are software-based solutions to their financial struggles. More and more companies are recognising the importance of utilizing software to increase their productivity, simplify complex processes, and stay connected. While an overreliance on software used to be a prominent concern amongst businesses, even the most cursory analysis of the fiscal benefits that come from implementing the right software will demonstrate that IT is rapidly becoming an indispensable tool for optimizing a company’s potential.

Essentially, it is extremely worthwhile looking into some hot IT stocks while the pandemic rages on.

Consider a Bond Fund

Buying individual bonds or building up your own stock portfolio may seem like too daunting a task for those whose interests and skills lie outside of the financial realm, especially during a pandemic. If you’re looking for a secure way to generate income from your capital, low-yield bond funds provide several advantages.

A bond fund is generally managed by someone who has excellent business credentials and solid experience. They’ll handle all the heavy lifting for an annual fee. Bond funds are usually made up of a diverse collection of bonds from various sectors with the sole purpose of generating profit for stakeholders. This means that even with a relatively small initial investment, an investor can quickly, easily, and cheaply diversify their financial holdings.

Bond funds can go in various directions depending on the predictions of the fund manager or the interests of the investors. Some funds prioritize security above all else, thus investing solely in bonds that pose the least risk, like government bonds. Other funds focus on high yield but high-risk bonds. There are funds that invest in a number of diverse bonds.

For new investors, bond funds provide a great way to play an active role in their financial future by granting them access to promising investment opportunities that are overseen by experienced economists. Of course, no investment comes with zero risk, but this is a good place to start for novices.

Having a low-risk bond fund can also act as a buffer for any other riskier investing practices. If you want to venture into the stock market but don’t feel comfortable unloading all your liquid assets into potentially volatile stocks, having a substantial low-yield bond fund is never a bad plan.

 

Don’t Be Afraid To Diversify

In times like these, certainty is non existent.

There is no fool-proof way to invest your savings that will guarantee large returns. In times of extreme fluctuation and volatility, a wise investor does their homework and diversifies. Putting all your hopes on one or two promising stocks can rapidly lead to ruin, even in the best of times.

Now, the need for flexibility and diversification is even greater. Even more importantly, do your own research before investing. There are numerous businesses that are flourishing in the face of adversity, and finding them is key.

There is certainly money to be made for those who are willing to brave the storm, but caution should always precede action.

Buy a Business or Start Your Own? What’s Your Best Option?

Becoming your own boss is a huge decision. Once you’ve taken that step, the decisions become even bigger and harder. The critical one is obviously how you will go about becoming your own boss. You have two options really, start your own business or buy one from another business owner.

Both options come with their own pros and cons, and which one is right for you will depend on your personal circumstances. The key difference is that starting your own business requires getting that idea for a company that can survive in the market, while buying a business requires you to have the capital needed for a purchase.

Let’s look at the pros and cons for each:

Buying An Established Business

When you buy a business, you are taking the startup step out of the equation. However, that doesn’t mean it will be plain sailing.

 

The Pros

The Brand Is Established

Marketing is a massive challenge for any new business. If you’re purchasing a business that is already up and running, with customers already in place, then a huge part of that battle is already won. You have a brand name people know and trust. You also have existing marketing platforms you can expand upon and use as you see fit.

The Business Model Has Been Proven

You don’t need to start from scratch with a business plan or figure out how the business should operate. The person who started the venture originally will have done all this and then expanded upon it as the business ran or grew.

It’s Easier To Reach The Point Of Bringing In A Profit

In the best-case scenario, you’ll buy a business that is already profitable. Then, you only need to concern yourself with paying back the investment you made into the business to purchase it. If the business is not currently profitable, you should have done your research and planning before making the purchase. You’ll need to ensure you can get it to a profitable state in a short space of time. It’s essential that you understand the finances behind it all first.

 

The Cons

The Upfront Cost Is High

The biggest downside to buying a business is the upfront cost of making the purchase. You need the capital to pay for everything that the current owner has invested in already. This can include premises, staff, machinery, product, marketing and goodwill. The good news is, you can usually get a loan for such an investment fairly easily. The business model is proven and lenders can see that the business is operational already. You’re seen as less of a risk than someone starting something entirely new.

The Operating Processes Are Set

This one can be a positive or a negative, depending on how the business was set up and run by the previous owner. Even if the business runs smoothly and efficiently, it’s likely that there will be some processes that will not suit you and you’ll want to change. The issue is, changing an established process—especially if there is staff involved—can be a lot of work.

There Could Be Legacy Staffing Issues

On the subject of staff members, this can be another major problem. Legacy staff can often be resistant to new owners or changes to the way things are done. This is because people don’t like change. That’s not to say that you can’t get past any teething issues. It’s just something you will need to watch out for.

Starting From Scratch With Your Business

This is the general shape that the dream takes when most people think about being their own boss. You get the flexibility of creating something completely new and something that is all yours. However, there are many factors that you will have to be responsible for.

 

The Pros

The Chance To Revolutionize An Industry Or A Market

Bringing a new idea to the market or a new way of running a recognized business is exciting and what so many entrepreneurs live for. When you purchase something that is already established, you lose that chance to be unique and original.

It’s Usually Less Expensive To Start

Depending on the type of business you’re working on, it’s usually much cheaper to get a new business off the ground than it is to buy one. This is because you can start small and slowly expand over time. You may also be eligible for funding or tax breaks, depending on the industry you decide to operate in.

You Can Create The Business Processes

It’s all up to you when you are starting something from scratch. This may feel like a con because you have to ensure that the processes you put in place are scalable. However, you don’t have to worry about any legacy issues.

 

The Cons

You Will Need to Prove You Are Worth Financing

Getting money from a lender or an investor is much harder for a startup than for buying an established business. You have to do plenty of planning and research before you can pitch successfully for startup capital.

It Can Take A Long Time To Become Profitable

Startups are notoriously hard to make profitable in the first year, and sometimes even in the first few years. This means that you will need to be putting money into the business constantly rather than getting money out.

There Is A High Rate Of Failure In New Businesses

The research shows that about 90% of startups don’t make it through the first ten years. Around 21% of them don’t survive the very first year of business, and 30% fail in the second year. This is a big risk to take if you aren’t sure about your idea and being your own boss.

Making The Right Decision

There’s no one size fits all answer to whether starting a business or buying an existing one is the right move. You need to weigh up all your options, do your research and decide whether you’re keen on building a start-up from the ground up, or you’d be better suited to entrepreneurship by acquisition.

What Can Businesses Do to Improve Their Cash flow?

From overdue invoices to staying on top of bills, it is estimated that one in four companies in the UK struggle with cash flow at some point, with as many as 61% having issues on a regular basis.

The result can be very harrowing for a business, which means that they hold back on other important things that are needed for the company’s growth – and worst of all, other suppliers and staff members get paid late which is not good for productivity or overall morale.

But below are some of the most common ways to improve cash flow for a business and some innovative ways too.

 

Clear invoice terms

One of the most simple things you can do with your clients is have clear invoice terms included in your contracts. Whether you sell a product or a service, making payment terms very clear is essential to getting paid on time, such as 30 days or 60 day periods.

Depending on your business, you can also ask for deposits or partial payment upfront and this can be very common for certain industries such as agency work, construction, catering and more.

To make sure that invoices are paid smoothly, it is always worth being in touch directly with the person responsible for paying invoices, rather than allowing a member of staff to pass this onto the accounts team. If you have direct contact with someone from the accounts department, you can always ensure that they have the right information about your and your bank information and also just send a little reminder before payment is due, just to ensure that things run smoothly.

 

Business loans

Business loans are very common and exist in many shapes and forms. A business loan can be unsecured or secured against assets, invoices, credit overdrafts, facilities and more.

The rates for business loans can be very affordable, with Lending Expert offering rates from 2.6% APR.

Every loan will be different and some are better for those businesses who are starting out and some products may require a minimum turnover and at least two years of trading.

Think carefully about how much you need to borrow and how long for. You want to avoid overborrowing since this can result in just paying off more interest – and you want to have the flexibility to pay off early or top up if you ever need to.

Using credit cards to pay staff

Staff overheads can be the highest cost for some businesses and if you run a small company, you can find ways to pay staff each month using a credit card. This can give you an extra 30 days to pay off the finance and be completely interest-free – helping you stay on top of cash flow and avoid getting overwhelmed by costs.

Whether you use Paypal, Wise, Curve or Capital on Tap, there are some effective ways to pay off staff using credit and there are ways to earn points, miles and other rewards too – and for the employee, there is no difference once it enters their bank account!

 

Analysing your staff and office requirements

Covid has made business owners think carefully about their staff and office requirements, with people realising the potential savings from freelancers and remote working.

Whilst having a physical office and staff members working 5 days per week is very traditional, companies today are realising that this does not necessarily need to be the case.

Post pandemic, some businesses have realised that they do not even need an office, which creates a huge saving for companies, with the average firm spending around £500 per person on a desk each month, based on figures in London.

In addition, whilst having a job for 5 days a week is considered the ‘norm,’ there is a strong business case to work with freelancers or have your staff working only 3 or 4 days per week.

By truly assessing your staff and office needs, this can massively open up cash flow for you and your business.

How Feasible is a Large-Scale Return to the Office?

The return to the office is turning out to be a lengthy and gradual process as the coronavirus still looms – with many of the world’s workforce still working remotely for the foreseeable future. As many companies grapple with the return to the office, it bears questioning if and when the world’s wider workforce will return to the office in a covid backdrop.

 

Big Cities to Ghost Towns

Some of the world’s business capitals are still looking more like ghost towns as employees are struggling to coax their workers back to the office. According to data from Bloomberg and Google mobily data, workplace activity in New York, London and San Francisco is still around half of what it was before the pandemic.

In other corporate capitals, such as Frankfurt, Singapore & Hong Kong, they are still dealing with the aftermath of the virus and the large-scale roll-out of the vaccine. For example, in Hong Kong, despite the majority of workers having returned to the office already, the government is struggling to encourage the uptake of vaccines in more citizens which could affect how long this solution is possible.

With countries continuously fluctuating between increasing and decreasing case numbers, and new variants threatening government policies, it can be difficult to predict when these cities can be expected to return to normal.

 

Leading Companies

Many of the world’s biggest companies are attempting to pave the way for businesses across the globe with their return to the office. Banks including HSBC Holdings Plc and Goldman Sachs are already reopening their offices to all employees in various locations across the world.

Other companies, such as Apple Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are eager to get back to work after months of disruption caused by remote working.

As these companies are finding, the large-scale return to the office will depend on wider factors such as vaccination roll-out in the local area and the spread of new variants.

 

Changes to The Offices

We are now seeing significant changes to the look and layout of today’s offices. Whether it is through giant cubicle screens, more spaced out desks or better ventilation, it is key that everyone is playing their part to reduce covid infections spreading.

With the potential spread of the covid virus, this can lead to many staff members being away from their desks even longer and the downtime whilst they recover – which could be costly to an organisation.

The use of hand gels, facemasks and social distancing remains key as part of a large-scale return to the office, with companies using hygienic products such as ventilation systems, wall cladding and see-through dividers between desks where possible.

Finding the nearest testing centres may also be useful for companies to have their staff tested for potential covid cases. Even if it is just a sniffle, getting yourself checked quickly and potentially back to the office if everything is clear, is still very worthwhile.

 

New Employee Demands

Many employees have enjoyed the perks that come with full-time remote work be it having a better work-life balance, more time to do their domestic duties or finding it easier to balance work and childcare. Whatever the personal motivations, many employees are now looking to have greater flexibility when it comes to their working life.

Companies will have to take this into consideration when encouraging employees back to the office. After so long having remote work as a necessity rather than a luxury, it is going to be difficult to turn remote working back into a benefit or a work perk.

Already, companies including American Express, Unilever and Google have committed to letting people work remotely for at least part of the working week even when the pandemic is over.

Acquisition International is Proud to Announce the Winners of the 2021 Non-Profit Organisation Awards

United Kingdom, 2021 – Acquisition International Magazine has announced the winners of the 2021 Non-Profit Organisation Awards.

Acquisition International are delighted and honoured to formally announce the results of the inaugural Non-Profit Organisation Awards. Through our merit-driven initiative, AI have looked to recognise and reward those who work tirelessly within their given dedicated sector and cause. Our 2021 victors have demonstrated an award-worthy commitment to positive change, as well as striving to make a pragmatic and effective impact for those in need of their support.

The Acquisition International team are committed to recognising these organisations who work tirelessly for the well-being of others, and as such the Awards Coordinator for 2021, Harwinder Pawar, has said – ‘I offer a sincere congratulations to all of the well-deserved victors of our inaugural awards. I hope the accolade stands as a testament to your unwavering efforts and hope it sets you in good stead for the rest of 2021 and onward!’

Acquisition International prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. The awards are given solely on merit and are awarded to commend those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work, distinguishing them from their competitors and proving them worthy of recognition.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the Acquisition International website (https://www.acquisition-international.com/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Acquisition International Magazine

Acquisition International is a monthly magazine brought to you by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting. Its topical news articles make it a valued read, and this readability ensures that advertisers will benefit greatly from their investment.

AI works alongside leading industry analysts to ensure we publish the most up-to-date figures and analysis. The magazine has a global circulation, which brings together all parties involved in deal making and, in an increasingly global deal market, we are uniquely positioned to reach the deal makers that matter.

What Are the Top Industries to Invest in for 2021?

The business world has been radically changed over the past year. What were originally projected to be prosperous industries have now fallen from grace, whilst other business sectors have unexpectedly risen from the ashes (hand sanitiser, anyone?). As well as this, interest has been renewed in the stock market and investments, accelerated by the GameStop revolution. With so many new investors joining in the fun, we thought we would discuss some of the top industries to invest in this year. We are also going to be sharing a couple of helpful tips and tricks along the way. Keep reading to find out what they are!

1.) Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has been at the top of our ‘good investment’ list for a long while now. This emerging technology has the potential to completely change our lives as we know it. From delivering healthcare to manufacturing products, the possibilities are pretty much limitless when it comes to artificial intelligence. As a result, this is one of the best industries to invest in for 2021. However, it is worth noting that investments are competitive in the AI sector. Everybody is clued in on the fact that this is the pioneering technology of the world right now. Some questionable tech start-ups might also be trying to capitalise on this momentum, so don’t be too easily pulled in. Make sure to do your research. If you are thinking about investing in artificial intelligence, then remember to allocate your assets across the board, using the all weather portfolio technique to mitigate risk.

2.) Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is another emerging technology that has been all the craze for the last few years. At the moment, the only mainstream use of virtual reality is video games, immersing people in 3D photorealistic simulations that they can interact with. However, virtual reality has so many other applications that scientists are only now discovering. For example, psychologists are using virtual reality to conduct more ethical experiments on participants. Meanwhile, the healthcare industry is developing VR programs that teach students how to conduct surgery without requiring a patient to practice on, reducing risk significantly. Firefighting services are using VR in a similar way to this, creating simulations that require trainees to navigate harsh environments without actually entailing any risk. VR has a lot of untapped potential which investors can help scientists to extract through their funding. To minimise risk, it might be a good idea to start off small and incrementally increase your payments once you are confident that the VR company you have invested in has enough traction and longevity to generate some real profit.

3.) Renewable Energy

Nothing is more concerning than the current climate crisis. In a couple years’ time, the damage to the planet will be irreversible. Obviously, this news has galvanised people into action, resulting in the renewable energy industry gaining a lot of attention. Renewable or alternative energy can provide our planet with an infinite source of power that is non-polluting. As coal, gas, and oil supplies start to dwindle, we might well be forced to rely on renewable energy. So, it is essential for more than just environmental reasons. Impact investors might find the green energy industries most appealing, as their money can make a tangible difference to the world. Of course, before investing, you should do some research into renewable energy. What are emerging technologies that could really make a difference to the planet? What energy solutions are a good idea, but simply aren’t practical? Gaining a better insight into the market overall will help you to make the right decisions with your investment.

4.) Cyber Security

Pretty much everything is online nowadays. Our personal information, our bank details, where we live, and who we work for. As a result, cyber-attacks have become a massive problem. Data leaks are common, phishing emails are almost everywhere, and viruses can infect our computers with one mis-click. The greater demand for cyber security means that this tech industry is looking particularly profitable for investors. But where to begin? What cyber security solutions can genuinely make a difference? Which ones are promising, and which ones are going to fall flat? Once again, we recommend becoming an expert in your chosen investment field before buying stocks in anything. Business and academic journals dedicated to the subject will be best informed on what areas of cyber security are most promising for potential investors.

5.) Transport

Bear with us here. Yes, the transport industry has been hugely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, this business sector has likely had it the worst out of everyone. But as a result, stock prices are lower than ever before. Transport businesses are desperate for financial aid. Now might be the best time to invest, before the share prices skyrocket once again. In addition to this, we suspect that interest in travel will increase once the pandemic has mostly blown over. After all, people in countries from all across the world have been cooped up in their homes for over a year now. Though this might be a slightly riskier investment than the others on our list, it could also be the most lucrative. The stock market is known for its unpredictability. Just make sure to weigh up the risks/rewards for yourself and don’t rush into any decisions!

6.) Cloud Computing

The pandemic has made some people realise that they prefer working from home. Even as restrictions ease, professionals might decide to combine remote working with on-site working. This has resulted in cloud computing becoming a big deal. With the cloud, we can easily share files with one another, streamlining business operations and upping efficiency. What’s more, developments are still being made with cloud computing. Who knows what could happen next? So, this is definitely a sound industry to invest in for 2021.

These are some of the best industries to invest in this year. The stock market is fickle and so there are never any guarantees with investments. However, these sectors certainly look promising. 

5 Innovative and Advantageous Improvements To Your Business Model You Cannot Afford To Ignore

Now, more than ever, whatever the industry your company specializes in it is imperative to take the time to examine your business model, identify areas that require improvement and implement those changes as soon as feasibly possible.

 

1. Outsource Customer Service

It makes considerable business sense to outsource your customer service to a professional, established and experienced company. With the internet being so utterly prolific and influential to all businesses regardless of industry, customer service is more paramount and powerful than ever, so you need to make sure you are getting it right.

Outsourcing your customer service has a multitude of significant benefits. Call centers have their own individual infrastructures and generally charge considerably less than if you were to create your own in-house customer service team. For larger businesses in particular, outsourcing your customer service operations allow you to spend more time in other areas of your business that need attention and investment, safe in the knowledge that trained professionals are handling all of your customer enquiries.

Additionally your revenue is likely to increase, you are able to release a significant portion of you and your employee’s workload and outsourcing your customer service means your customers will be helped with multi-language support.

 

2. Invest in Superior Technology

Whether your current business model needs considerable work, or perhaps just a few smaller tweaks to the structure, the latest technology can significantly and relatively easily be of substantial assistance.

There are copious benefits to upgrading your technology, both for the short-term growth and the long-term growth capabilities. Such benefits include, but are categorically in no way limited to:

  • Efficiency – The initial outlay will quickly become wholly justifiable when you and your business partners see for yourselves the increase in employee efficiency resulting from providing them with new computers and other electronic equipment.
  • Compatibility – It would be of considerable detriment to your business, specifically your finances, if you were pipped to the post by a competitor who advanced purely because they decided to invest in the latest technology and you held back. As technology is constantly improving and evolving, staying up to date with such developments will ensure your systems will always accept new operating systems and software releases.
  • Productivity – Undeniably, the faster and smoother your technology, specifically computers and associated electronic equipment is, the faster an employee is able to work.

 

3. Conduct a Full Energy Audit

Not only will conducting a thorough energy audit of your entire business will save you considerable money in the long-term from reducing your business water supply, it will also mean your entire business model is considerably more eco-friendly,

The resulting benefits of a more environmentally friendly business are plentiful and include, but are by no means limited to:

  • The likelihood of financial rebates, tax breaks and even monthly tax credits
  • Lower utility bills
  • Respect from business peers and industry experts who are interested in making business greener
  • Customer loyalty due to the environmentally friendly nature of your company, products and services

 

4. Theory of Constraints

If you are unfamiliar with the term, the theory of constraints (TOC) is essentially a business-based, problem solving methodology which enables you to determine the biggest obstacle within your business model that is currently preventing you from achieving a particular project’s objectives and goals.

Invented by Eliyahu M. Goldratt in 1984, the theory of constraints focuses on what is preventing particular business processes from being successfully carried out and essentially suggests five steps to facilitate this process:

  1. Identify the main constraint – Simply identify the main constraint preventing you from completing a particular project
  2. Exploit the main constraint – Stop wasting money and time on this constraint 
  3. Subordinate everything – Expand the consequences of the main limitation and investigate whether or not it has been limiting any other elements of the project’s progression.
  4. Improve the main constraint – Apply a specific problem-solving method to attack the root cause
  5. Repeat the cycle – Identify the second largest obstruction and repeat steps one to four.

The theory of constraints will effectively and succinctly improve each project’s success rate and length of completion time and will subsequently save you a considerable amount of money thus improving your monthly cash flow.

 

5.‘Box Theory’

The Darvas box theory effectively breaks down individual functions of your business into more manageable and smaller system groups, or ‘boxes’. This enables the business to concentrate on the most important few that most effectively drive your business forward and seek to improve such systems even further as to elevate them to a higher overall level of performance.

The six essential areas that the box theory focus on are:

  • Measurement
  • People
  • Process
  • Components
  • Quality
  • Speed

There is a wide number of additional tried and tested ways to improve your overall business model and subsequently increase your sales and overall cash flow.

Hiring an accountant who specializes in cash flow, seeking out marketing strategies that are simultaneously low in cost yet high in impact, staying abreast of the current innovative trends within your specific industry and ensuring you maintain transparency right through your business model are all effective improvement strategies. Meticulously and continuously documenting your processes is also extremely prudent change to make, mainly as this prevents any miscommunication which can cost you significant amounts of time and money.

Issue 7 2021

Welcome to the July edition of Acquisition International Magazine, bringing you the latest news, features, and success stories from businesses all over the world.

In this issue’s cover story, we speak to CEO of beCause Global Consulting, Nadine B Hack. Following the company’s recognition as the ‘Best Specialist Stakeholder Engagement Consulting Firm’, Nadine offers insight into the comprehensive techniques and expertise behind the business and how it has forged its incredible reputation.

Nadine’s feature shapes the rest of the issue, as we take a look inside some of the ways businesses of all sizes have built reputations that have looked to redefine paradigms and change status quos. We talk about the ‘next generation’ of business, alongside new mobile technologies and transforming software to best serve the needs of the modern, dynamic company. Later in the issue, we touch on things of a legal nature, before taking a rest for some mindful pursuits.

All in all, we hope you enjoy this issue of AI Magazine and wish you all the best for the rest of the month ahead.

Financial Literacy for Students: Important Points

People who create school curricula suppose they do everything right, and the curriculum contains all required courses. However, we see that a large number of college students are unprepared for an independent life. We mean they have little basic knowledge, including financial knowledge. Parents also should work on it, but forget. As a result, students don’t know what financial literacy is in general. This term presupposes the understanding of money management concepts and the ability to use certain skills.

Students who are financially literate have higher chances to succeed in the future. They’ll hardly find themselves in a situation when they have no money to live at all. You may be surprised, but even middle-aged people consider financial literacy useless and don’t obtain these skills. Fortunately, the percentage of such people lowers every day. Here are the reasons why students need financial literacy skills:

  • They have to manage the limited sum of money;
  • They have to pay the student load;
  • They need to pay for college;
  • They should buy enough food;
  • They should save some money.

No matter who you are: a freshman student or a second-year and graduate student who returns to campus. You need to know these secrets if you want to forget about the difficulties forever.

1. Make a budget

You’re a college student, so you’ll hardly have a steady job. Perhaps you have some side hustles or a regular part-time job that doesn’t give you enough money. We may try to suppose that you live on the money your parents give you or you’ve to save some money before college. No matter what the situation is, you have to know your earnings and expenses. Get a finance book or install a specialized app on your phone and add the information about all incomes and expenses there. You must be sure your expenses don’t exceed the income.

2. Save money for emergency

No one knows what’ll happen tomorrow. If you think you have enough money to cope with any problem, we must ask you to check your bank account once again. You can hardly cope with any big problem, and you have to realize it. Some people open accounts in banks to have the emergency fund, and they do everything well. Here you set the rules, so there is no exact sum you have to save — proceed from the expenses.

3. Get a consultation from professional

If you have difficulties with understanding what financial literacy is, it’s okay. There are a lot of financial literacy experts online, and they are ready to listen to your troubles. Students shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. A lot of them prefer to pay people to do homework, and they use the Internet to find these people. Quite often, services let users order an essay paper online and get it delivered fast. You just text a message “write this essay for me please” and receive a letter with the final paper a few days before the X day. Financial literacy coaches work principle is the same.

4. What about a finance course?

All colleges offer their students several facultative subjects to choose from. In most cases, you ignore this offer, but if you want to learn financial literacy, this is your chance. It’s not so difficult to devote some more time to studies, especially when you know it will have a good result. It’s always better to learn literacy from your college teacher than try to find a friend who’ll help you after it or even ask your friends to lend some money to you. Ask your counselor about the list of available disciplines, describe your problems, and you’ll be offered a good solution.

5. Grow your credit score

No one knows what’ll happen to you today or tomorrow. Therefore, experts advise people to open bank accounts in their youth, lend small sums of money and pay them off on time to have an excellent credit score. If you lend money, return them fast, or never return them at all, you’ll risk getting blacklisted and get a fine. It’s the best investment you can make in the future since people with good credit scores have access to lower interest rates. Life is impossible without big purchases, so you have to do your best to obtain money if something happens.

6. Learn how to invest money

You may be too young to understand the importance of investing, but we are here to explain it to you. Saving money is good, but it’s better to put the sum somewhere to make it generate revenue. Numerous free financial newsletters and podcasts contain a lot of information on investing; you just have to find it and get an advantage out of it. There are a lot of ways to invest money, but opening a brokerage account and trying your hand at investing is a good way to understand how this industry works.

Bitcoin vs Stock Investing – Which is the Best Option for New Investors?

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have brought many people into the world of investing, and they can be attractive to beginners for many reasons. Some may want to jump on the trend or might think that they’re truly the future, while others may think that they’re more accessible than stock markets. But that’s a false assumption.

Cryptocurrency trading is just as complex as stock trading, even more so in some cases, and you should think twice before making this your first investment. Let’s take a look at the differences between crypto investing and stock investing so you can choose the best option for you.

The Volatility Issue

One of the worst things about cryptocurrencies for new investors and investors is the wild swings in the market. There is no telling what is going to happen, and a lot of people are pretty much swinging in the dark. That counts for experts as well.

This is because very few people truly understand crypto, even though they won’t admit it. Movements end up surprising the community as a whole and the reasons behind them are often revealed hours after the fact.

Stocks are much more predictable. That is if you don’t start dabbling into questionable products like penny stocks. It also makes them better stores of value if you want to build something for the long term.

Lack of Products and Resources

Another thing that makes crypto investing not the ideal choice for beginners is the lack of options. Some exchanges do not allow you to exchange fiat for crypto, so that’s one barrier. Day trading is also very difficult with cryptocurrency since it’s not the most liquid asset and fees on transactions can be prohibitively high.

Then there’s the lack of concrete information and educational resources. As we said earlier, many are learning as they go in the space, and you don’t have access to the same educational resources as if you were investing in a well-known product like stocks.

There are so many tools available to traditional traders who lack experience. You have everything from trading signals to social trading that allows you to mimic trades from successful traders. You also have tools like Atom Finance that allow you to analyze stocks fast.

These tools allow you to get news on hot stocks and help you time your decisions. You can also look up information on companies like SEC filings, for instance, and be notified of important events. This brings us to our next point.

Timing Difficulties

There is no event calendar with cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are not like companies that have to report earnings every quarter. They’re not backed by a country’s economy either. You will have to rely on cryptic information like halvings or murky adoption rate figures, which makes it much more difficult to time trades precisely.

These are all things that you have to take into consideration when choosing between investing in stocks for cryptocurrency. Don’t follow the herd and look at the pros and cons of each before you get started.

5 Actionable Tips on How to Improve Your Digital Marketing Strategy with the Help of Animated Videos

8 seconds.

That’s your time to catch your audience’s attention and impress them enough, so they stick around for your message. The average attention span of consumers today drops almost every year.  In the year 2000 it was 12 seconds, today it is 8.

How can you be effective with your marketing if you don’t use videos then?

The truth is – it is very difficult.

Video marketing helps with brand recall. According to HubSpot, 80% of customers remember a video they’ve watched in the last month.

Animated video marketing provides an advantage in your brand communication with its highly visual and auditory components which makes it extremely successful at grabbing viewers’ attention.

In fact, 50% of viewers (18-34 years old) say they stop what they’re doing to watch a video from their favorite video creators.  It’s far easier for many users to remember what they’ve seen than what they’re read.

Animated videos, in particular, are a preferred form of video content.  That’s because they offer dynamic, artful, and intriguing characters, shapes, and movements that entertain unobtrusively.

Animated videos stick in people’s memory. They can be used to diversify marketing content on any digital channel- creating opportunities for a huge return on investment (ROI) and therefore they will help your bottom line.

Here are a few actionable tips to guide you in integrating animated videos into your marketing strategy.

Acquisition International is Proud to Announce the Winners of the 2021 Global CFO Excellence Awards

United Kingdom, 2021 – Acquisition International Magazine has announced the winners of the 2021 Global CFO Excellence Awards.

The CFO Excellence Awards have been a cornerstone of Acquisition International’s recognition programme for the last eight years. After all, a CFO plays a crucial role in the growth and success of companies of all shapes and sizes. Ultimately, an experienced CFO can be utterly key to overcoming challenges in a way that other c-suite executives cannot compare.

Awards Coordinator Steve Simpson reflected upon the success of the programme and winners: “It has been an absolute pleasure to speak to you all and find out how you continue to innovate and create in your respective industries. I wish all the winners the very best and hope to work with you again in the future.”

Acquisition International prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. The awards are given solely on merit and are awarded to commend those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work, distinguishing them from their competitors and proving them worthy of recognition.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the Acquisition International website (http://www.acq-intl.com) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Acquisition International Magazine

Acquisition International is a monthly magazine brought to you by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting. Its topical news articles make it a valued read, and this readability ensures that advertisers will benefit greatly from their investment.

AI works alongside leading industry analysts to ensure we publish the most up-to-date figures and analysis. The magazine has a global circulation, which brings together all parties involved in deal making and, in an increasingly global deal market, we are uniquely positioned to reach the deal makers that matter.

Why Financial Literacy Is Significant In Business Endeavors

Any business endeavors are impossible without a variety of skills, and financial literacy is one of them. The fact is that any startup or young company owner must understand the importance of all financial transactions, investments, loans, and budgets. If you do not even have a piece of such knowledge, then you have nothing to do in business, as your company risks being on the financial bottom from the very first days of its existence. Here’s what you need to know first.

Understand the Impact of Your Actions

Let’s imagine that you are starting a marketing company and will help people gain popularity online to boost their business. But how are you going to be successful if you don’t have a basic understanding of business processes? Let’s say you need to calculate the financial budget for targeted ads, video integrations, and banners. Are you ready to assess the effectiveness of all advertising areas and optimize your budget?

Knowing how to handle finances is just as important as finding honest my assignment help reviews for students. Only by knowing all the pitfalls, you can avoid financial ruin and unfulfilled expectations. In addition, a financially literate person can determine in advance how unpromising any goal or investment object may turn out to be. Therefore, you should get the required skills as quickly as possible to avoid these kinds of problems.

Make More Informed Decisions

Making the right decisions is what will make your business successful. Once you have the necessary skills, you will no longer stop halfway, afraid to take another step. At the same time, knowing about budgeting or reallocating finances will help you direct most of your resources to the area that will become key for your company.

Financial literacy is not the Holy Grail. However, this skill can be compared to an honest speedypaper review. When you know all the possible aspects and soberly assess the situation, your result will always meet your expectations. Moreover, your knowledge will help the rest of your team members. That is why you should improve your skills and never forget about basic skills.

Advocate for Your Team’s Budget

Imagine being appointed to a management position and managing the company’s budget. This is a rather responsible mission. Suppose you need to invest money in a startup, new product development, or a promising business direction. Without financial literacy, you are unlikely to master the company’s budget and achieve positive results.

Money is a great tool for achieving goals. But what if you don’t know where to start? If you don’t have basic skills, why were you assigned to a leadership position? You should enlist the support of professionals so as not to fail the mission entrusted to you. If you are experienced enough not to waste your money, then you will surely be successful.

Hone Your Negotiation Skills

As a rule, any negotiation involves two or more parties. However, if you have enough experience and skills, you can determine when your company is in the best position. For example, let’s say you have the most valuable offer on the market. This means that negotiations can occur on your terms, and you can pick a higher percentage of contract duration.

Financial literacy will also allow you to recognize failures in advance and save your company’s budget. For example, sometimes it is better not to start negotiations with other companies and not waste time in any direction that will not pay off even after 5-7 years. It is the basic skills of financial literacy that will help you avoid dozens or even hundreds of unpleasant situations and wasted budgets.

Become Financially Efficient

Here’s another benefit you should know about. If you are financially literate, you will always find a way to keep costs down for your startup or company. For example, let’s say you found a laptop supplier for your team and were able to save 10-15% of your original budget. This is a great result because the money saved can be redirected to some important activities.

Many other examples can show the importance of the ability to make the right financial decisions. For example, imagine that you have to negotiate with a company that supplies chips for your equipment. What if you find a manufacturer that offers cheaper products? Even a couple of cents will make a huge difference, especially if the transaction amount is in the hundreds of millions.

Final Words

Without financial literacy, you have nothing to do in business. The lack of such skills can be compared to a sailor who cannot swim or a pastry chef who uses salt instead of sugar. Basic skills, experience, and common sense are what anyone in a business environment needs. The fact is that any segment of the market is a piranha pool. If you are not wearing a protective suit, then you will be eaten in 15 minutes. Take at least 3-5 months to improve your financial literacy skills. Attend courses, consult with professionals and study real-life cases to make your business prosper.

A Guide to the Types of Collateral

If you are applying for finance such as a Lombard loan, you might have to put forward some form of collateral as a guarantee. What works best as collateral? Let’s take a look at some of the options that you could decide to use.

Why Do Some Lenders Ask for Collateral?

Since lenders tend to give out large amounts of money to borrowers, they need some sort of guarantee that they will see the money repaid. For this reason, they ask for collateral. Collateral tends to be important assets that the borrower owns. Should they fail to make good on the repayments of the loan, the lender can claim the collateral as compensation.

Obviously, the collateral usually represents something that the borrower does not want to lose. It is a good idea that borrowers search for a good financial advisor who can help them to navigate this area. Many lenders are willing to be a bit flexible, but having an expert firm like Enness Global on your side will help you to negotiate and navigate your loan a lot more successfully.

With a clearer picture of its purpose, let’s take a look at some of the assets that can be used for collateral.

Property

One of the classic options for collateral will always be property. This is an easy asset to be turned over in the event that payments can’t be made. Properties are a great choice as they tend to be quite high in value but do not depreciate rapidly as some others might.

Properties could be the borrower’s own home, or they could represent part of a real estate portfolio. If the borrower has the assets to offer, this can end up being a fairly flexible form of collateral. Of course, using one’s own home as collateral can also be something of a nervous experience.

High-Value Assets

Another great option that often gets used for collateral is high-value assets that the borrower might own, that are not property. These could be vehicles like a car or a boat, or could represent some form of collection the borrower might have such as art pieces or jewellery.

These can be very high in value and again easy to claim in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan. If the borrower has spent some time accruing a high-value collection in some particular area, choosing to make this collateral over something like a property could be preferable. Of course, the value of the collection would most likely have to be assessed by a third party before the lender accepts it as collateral.

Inventory

If an entrepreneur is searching for collateral for a business loan, they will often use the inventory of their company as collateral. This could be some of the stock their company currently holds, but it could also be equipment that they might own.

This is a flexible option that many businesses choose to use. Since many companies will take out a business loan at some point in their lifetime, using inventory as collateral can be a fairly common practice.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin has also proved to be a very useful form of collateral. It is high-value, and though it can depreciate in value as the markets change, it is still a fairly stable form of collateral.

It is also very easy to transfer in the result of the loan being defaulted on. Trading bitcoin is almost cost-free, and records on blockchain mean that an accurate report of the transaction can easily be generated.

Can You Borrow Without Collateral?

Since many can be nervous about the idea of putting something forward as collateral, they might want to look for some other loan options that do not require the potential loss of assets. Loans without collateral are called unsecured loans. They can be found from many different lenders.

However, because they don’t have collateral attached to them, they are considered to be much more high risk for the lender. Therefore, they can be more reluctant to give these loans to borrowers, especially if they are new customers who do not have much in the way of a lending history.

If you wish to take a loan of some sort, whether this is a high-value mortgage, a Lombard loan, or some other line of credit, it is important that you fully understand how collateral works. The items used for collateral will no doubt be extremely important to you, and you will have worked hard to gather them. Defaulting on a loan can often be avoided, even if it means that you have to renegotiate the terms of the loan with the lender and you would not want to lose your assets due to carelessness. Offering collateral is nothing to be afraid of, but you do need to ensure that you fully understand it.

Innovative Business Concepts to Save Money

The ultimate goal of any business is to turn a profit. One way to increase your margin is by reducing expenditures. Here are five innovative business concepts you should explore to save money.

1. Unexpected Automation

If you aren’t yet using apps to automate many of your daily practices, please take the time to learn the tech. You’ll end up saving precious minutes every day as a result — and time is money. Today, apps can do everything from cleaning up your desktop to keeping you on schedule.

You’ll find some innovations surprising, such as self-serve beer technology for restaurants and other public venues. Such devices allow staff members to devote their time to providing top-notch service, not making repeat runs to the tap for one patron determined to drink away their blues.

2. Telecommuting Beyond the Pandemic

The pandemic made telecommuting the new normal, and you should adapt if you want to save money and remain competitive when seeking new hires. Nearly 40% of recent survey respondents said they would rather quit their jobs than return to the office full-time.

Maybe it isn’t “the way you always did things,” but consider the perks. You’ll save a small fortune on office space rent and utility bills — and get rewarded in higher productivity to boot.

3. Going Green

Are you still printing out meeting agendas? Please don’t unnecessarily kill trees and throw cash away on ream after ream. Strive to make your workplace as paperless as possible to cut costs.

Likewise, taking advantage of natural light, switching to long-lasting LED bulbs and installing low-flow plumbing fixtures when upgrade time arrives can save you considerable cash on monthly utility bills. If you work in construction, selling your scrap materials instead of tossing them in the dump can put money in your pocket while being kinder to the planet.

4. Embracing a Shorter Workweek

The research that currently exists supports the anecdotal evidence that a shorter workweek boosts productivity. It only makes sense — employees who are focused on how to squeeze in that doctor’s appointment or needed oil change during regular business hours aren’t dedicating their full mental powers to the task at hand.

You also save money by keeping the lights and other utilities off or used lightly on out-of-office days. Dialing up the office thermostat to 85 degrees for three days instead of two each week can save you a small fortune in cooling during a Phoenix, AZ summertime.

5. Adopting Free or Low-Cost Marketing Strategies

Finally, improved communication systems have made marketing more affordable than ever before. Sit down with your department and discuss ways to cut costs by harnessing the power of social media and building an online presence over pricier methods like television advertising. You could conceivably shave tens of thousands of dollars each year by emphasizing those campaigns that require minimal overhead to launch and perpetuate.

Save Money With These 5 Innovative Business Concepts

Your ultimate goal as a business owner is to increase your profit margin, and cutting costs is one way to do so. Save money with the five innovative business concepts above.

4 Things to Do to Improve Your Finances

We are all looking for quick ways that will give us some financial stability back into our lives after the craziness of the last year. We could all do with a little savings boost that will give us a cushion to fall back on should we need it. If you are looking for ways to improve your finances, why not implement the following strategies?

 

Rejigging Your Finance with Lenders

One way to improve your finances is to look at where you have borrowed money from and how you can improve the repayment situation. Sometimes this means taking out a debt consolidation loan but one way to improve things that hasn’t been given much airtime recently are home equity loans. They work similar to a remortgage and are a way of using the equity that you’ve put into your home as a secured guaranteed loan. Think about whether you’d be able to readjust your budget to make repayments and take some time to check out home equity rates from top lenders.

 

Get Some Advice from Financial Authors

There is lots of advice out there written by professionals who talk about money-saving all the time. Some of them are quite well-known in the media and have written books on the subject that you can find in your local independent bookstore or online. Our advice would be to check out some of these books by well-known authors as there are always a couple of ideas in them that are not mentioned online. They also go into a lot more detail about different strategies and ways to reach your goals. Books are another great resource to learn about how to tackle next level financial strategies like investing and diversifying.

 

Get Used to Budgeting

As with pretty much every other piece advising on ways that you can save your money and improve your finances, we are going to have to drop the obvious one: create, maintain, and stick to, a budget. Budgeting will help you in the long run and it is worthwhile getting a handle on it early because the sooner you get to grips with the concept of spending what you have as opposed to spending what you want, the better. A budget is also a necessary tool in creating financial protection for yourself in case of emergency

 

Reduce Unnecessary Expenditure

This one is a bit of a biggie in terms of how easy it is and how much you can save. Basically, this involves taking a copy of your various bank statements and sitting down to go through each statement to create a master list on what you are actually spending. Are you using everything you’re paying for? Let’s take something like subscription TV service bills; are you watching all those channels? If not, it may be time to cut payments fully or reduce your package.

You can go even deeper and evaluate how much you are spending on groceries each week. Can you cut back on some of the expensive items you’re buying? Or perhaps you can find those items cheaper at another store. The same concept can be used in all areas of spending so take the time to go through everything and you could end up saving hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars every year.  

Big Success in the Big Apple

Winner for the second year in a row of Best Independent PPLI Solutions Provider 2021 – New York, Private Risk offers client service that bucks the trends of its industry. Made in the USA but offering its solutions across the globe, the firm ensures its clients benefit from a personalised and friendly service that is the logical choice when it comes to protecting high income assets.

With a focus on serving its clients’ interests, Private Risk Capital Development Advisors LLC, or Private Risk, is an independent firm. This independence forms a large part of the identity it has forged within its industry, being a global consulting firm that specializes in the design, formation, and administration of its services. These offerings include Private Placement Life Insurance and Private Placement Annuity based solutions, with the reliability and efficacy of both having secured significant good will and trust amongst leading national and global law firms who serve as referral sources. To serve this market, Private Risk has developed a team of experts, each of whom is exemplary in their specialties of tax, insurance and asset protection law, private equity formations, actuarial science, accounting, risk management, and oversight. This top-of-the-class team has collectively aided its clientele in protecting their financial wellbeing. This has made Private Risk the guardian of wealth for some of the wealthiest families in the US; and through private-placement insurance-based structures, it is one of the best at doing so.

Its clientele is part of a hugely diverse and incredibly dynamic market that Private Risk caters to. Represented amongst those who contract its services are family offices, hedge fund owners, tech start-ups, private equity funds, professional athletes, musicians, artists, hospitals, medical centres, and other wealth-holding persons and institutions. Private Risk’s PPLI and PPA plans both have enjoyed glowing reviews, including word of mouth testimonials from users that have bolstered its client base even further. It has been hailed as ‘uniquely innovative’ in its operational model, specifically in how it helps not just to protect wealth, but to build it whilst also keeping to a strict and rigorous code of conduct.

Throughout its work, it adheres to the United States Internal Revenue Code and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Not only does this reassure its clientele that they are getting the best services in line with the strictest standards, it ensures a flawless internal mechanism with state-of-the-art processes. Staff work hard to tailor their plans to be flexible and unscrupulous when it comes to insurance protection, as well as all other elements of its service. Its focus on efficiency and cost savings are far harder to achieve through traditional planning such as through the solutions its competitors offer. This allows it to cement itself as a front-runner of unique and truly modern ideas in its industry, giving it an edge over the other leading companies in its field.

Part of Private Risk’s appeal to its global affluent client base is its ability to keep close track of developments and changes. This is so often governed by market trends and legislation, both of which can alter the terrain; but life insurance in general has been undergoing a far more slow and gradual evolutionary process. Much of the most impactful changes within the sector have been towards designing solutions for ultra-high-net-worth clients, a relatively new demographic given the over 200-year lifespan of the sector in the macro scale. Most companies and entities offering life insurance copy from others, forming a culture of one business’s innovation being incorporated into the wider industry, and one where those who do come up with these successful measures thrive. This is where Private Risk shines. It has developed its bespoke PPLI and PPA planning solutions to be two such measures, making them creative, unique, and effective to serve this element of the market. Consequentially, its high-net-worth families and individuals benefit from the methodologies Private Risk has introduced to cater to them specifically, putting Private Risk in an excellent position to access more areas of the market.

It works closely with its clients and their advisory teams when it is developing custom-curated solutions. In this way, it can offer them an individually designed service that considers even the most minute detail, ensuring that each case receives the diligence needed to make its solution exemplary. In this way, it secures itself as fundamentally different from other financial planning, brokerage, and insurance sales organizations. It prides itself on its collaborative model, completely rejecting the usual trend in its industry of competing with its clients’ advisors. Private Risk finds this attitude unhelpful at best and counterintuitive at worst; instead, thinking of itself as a consultancy service that will forge a close working partnership with its clients and their team. This helps them to arrive at the best solution for each client’s needs, ensuring successful long-term outcomes. Therefore, its operation focuses on protecting and amplifying the capabilities of its clients and their management team instead of competing over resources or investments, holding to the adage of “we don’t make the colours, we make the colours brighter.”

Another principle that it prides itself on is its self-dependence. This is a strength that allows it to work unbeholden to insurance companies and any semblance of an insurance broker attitude. This lets it skirt around any bias and inherent contradiction, keeping the focus on the client and the relationship it can form with them instead of worrying about compensation. The inherent originality of its business model also allows it a significant degree of creative freedom. In forging its priorities out of the conception, formation, integration, and oversight of a client’s PPLI solution through bespoke policy, it can adapt and alter things as needed. This allows it the flexibility to react to client needs at every stage of the process. Furthermore, its team are amongst the most qualified in the world to do this effectively, with each member being a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Thanks to the tailored nature of its services and plans, Private Risk’s team designs PPLI policies to be structurally rigorous. ‘We are not myopic in our vision’, Private Risk told us, and it strives to reassure its clients in this way. Therefore, nothing in the plan it develops is arbitrary. By using such a streamlined methodology and being rid of anything that may bloat it, it can cut through any unnecessary elements and only offer what is relevant. This intimate knowledge with every aspect of its industry also allows it to handle challenges with sophistication. When hurdles arise, such as a client being in urgent need of capital or needing to meet when past advisors would tell a client it was an impossible task, Private Risk will often exceed expectations and succeed. This even extends as far as obtaining insurance protection for things deemed impossible to insure. Between its experience, its unique approach, and its dedication to each client on an individual level, Private Risk rejects the word ‘impossible’ in its vocabulary.

For more information contact Stacey Milner at Private Risk Capital Development Advisors LLC via https://privateriskcapital.com/privaterisk-policy-design/

The Legal Bridge To Success

Created by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs: Tecola is a specialist boutique law firm that deals in technical communicative legal analysis for businesses and individuals across Belgium and beyond. We take a closer look at the firm and its founder, Christophe Baekeland, as Tecola celebrates recognition as the Best Niche Technology & Privacy Law Firm of Belgium for 2021.

Based in Veltem-Beisem, Belgium, Tecola is a specialised boutique law firm created by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. Tecola, named for its functions in Technical Communicative Legal analysis, is driven by innovation, forward-thinking and sustainability to go above and beyond its services in legal analysis in order to develop and implement pragmatic, strategic solutions and policies in accordance with its clients’ financial backgrounds.

The values that Tecola has been built on are embedded into its very name: Technical, Economic, Concrete, Original, Legal Interim Management, Anticipatory. Verbosely, these values guarantee that Tecola is both a practical and academic specialist in the domains of its services, committed to giving clients the most innovative yet pragmatic solutions at an optimum price to quality ratio that is transparent. Tecola focuses on sustainably integrating its solutions into the internal operations of its clients, and is predominantly driven by its core responsibilities of entrepreneurship and originality, exceeding expectations by proactively anticipating the future business strategies of its clients. In brief, the Tecola philosophy can be condensed into a single statement: ‘Business Innovation from Idea to Success’.

As part of its central ethos, Tecola also provides its bespoke, inhouse services for one or more legal subdomains or during reorganisations, and regularly contributes to the co-drafting of legislative norms such as laws, decrees and other regulations. Supporting both public and private undertakings, Tecola practices sustainable and efficient business that meets the standards of good corporate governance, providing expertise and services in three signature fields: Technology and Privacy, Communication and Legal Services.

Expertise

Built on a strong background in IT, Tecola is able to provide leading services in Technology and Privacy that focus on intellectual property agreements in hardware and software related to ASP, Cloud & SaaS, consultancy, distribution, escrow, franchising, confidentiality, hosting, licensing, maintenance, development, outsourcing, service level and timesharing. Tecola is also able to deal with more general and traditional commercial agreements such as concessions, commercial agency agreements, e-commerce, leasing, and the contractual protection of trade secrets.

Based on this expertise, Tecola is also able to offer preventative and curative legal advice and assistance on a number of privacy-related matters, such as cookies and the processing of personal data. Going beyond the drawing up of agreements relating to the processing, joint processing and independent processing of personal data, Tecola also provides advice on ambiguities in current and future regulations, and working out affordable and efficient privacy policies, charters or regulations for its clients.

Tecola is also able to act as a certified Data Protection Officer and GDPR Lead Auditor that is dedicated to the support and advising of its clients, helping them in various capacities such as to respond to data breaches, to improve the security of their information, or to conduct an investigative audit that ensures a business’ compliance with current privacy regulations.

Within its second core function, Communication, Tecola handles all elements in communications relating to the effective implementation of a legal or strategic reorganisation, working out restructuring and investment guidelines, policies and strategies to create solutions that align with the operations and goals of its clients. This requires close collaboration with boards of directors, shareholders and stakeholders to explain and enforce their rights, thus avoiding liability and accountability.

This pillar of Tecola’s expertise also sees the firm developing internal and external lectures, training courses and workshops inhouse, designed for clients to gain an initial yet thorough understanding of specific subjects, solutions or strategies, whether it be about changes to specific regulations and its impacts on a business, or on subjects like public procurement and GDPR. Through these programmes, Tecola is able to equip its clients with the ability to carry out certain communications as an organisation and achieve, for example, acceptable and workable settlements through alternative dispute resolutions.

Finally, by the third quarter of 2021, Tecola will also be able to act as a recognised mediator in issues relating to trade affairs, co-ownership, and governmental institutions and public undertakings. With its vast experience in communications within legal and business matters, Tecola will be able to reconcile multiple parties and mediate with them to establish mutual, pragmatic, and efficient solutions that are typical of the Belgian firm.

Tecola’s third area of expertise is twofold. Within Legal Services, Tecola offers support in a vast array of corporate matters, including the selection of appropriate legal structures, support measures, grants, shareholders and directors agreements, mergers, acquisitions, reorganisations, B2B and B2C focus, trade agreements and non-profit regulations. The firm also advises private enterprises and public undertakings on a wide range of matters relating to real estate, dealing with building contracts, lease and purchase agreements, apartment co-ownership and more. Tecola is also able to provide support in matters pertaining to state aid, services of general economic interest, SPV and PPS, securities, rights in rem within particular construction structures, and in all kind of corporate and financial structures of huge real estate projects.

Meet Christophe Baekeland

The combination of expertise in IT and IP with property law stems from the experienced knowledge of Tecola’s founder, Christophe Baekeland. A solution-oriented lawyer who is a self-proclaimed entrepreneur on the side of entrepreneurs, Christophe is known for his inquisitive character, keen eye for detail, and innovative mindset that helps him to successfully tackle even the most complex cases.

Drawing on a strong academic background and vast experience in a myriad of business-related areas, Christophe boasts leading expertise within property and intellectual property law. Regarding real estate, Christophe is experienced in reviewing and writing construction, leasing and purchase agreements; in assisting private and public undertakings in large real estate projects; integrating investment and financing strategies; creating Special Purpose Vehicles including joint ventures; providing both preventive and procedural assistance in public procurement; and in advising clients both technically and strategically in co-ownership and timesharing.

Meanwhile, for his expertise in IT services and IP law, Christophe is credited with superior service in various software agreements, including cloud, escrow, franchising, licencing, outsourcing, NDA and SLA, as well as IP contracts pertaining to copyright issues, the protection of trade secrets, and e-commerce. Christophe’s innovative approach to matters regarding GDPR and other fundamental rights and liberties has enabled him to establish his position as a leading partner to undertakings in implementing IT strategies and charters, both preventing potential issues for his clients and maximising their compliance with current and future regulations.   

Christophe has obtained diplomas from institutions such as the University of Antwerp, the KU Leuven and the Brussels School of Competition, gaining the Master in Laws, Master after Master in Company Law, Master after Master in Intellectual Property Law, Master after Master in Corporate Law, LL.M. Competition Law & Economics, and a Postgraduate in Finance – Corporate Finance. He has also achieved both the certificates of Data Protection Officer and GDPR Lead Auditor, and is a certified mediator specialising in civil and trade affairs with a particular focus on conflicts regarding apartment co-ownership.

In addition to his position at the helm of Tecola, Christophe also currently serves as an associated professor at the AP University College Antwerp and at Syntra, where he teaches Constitutional Law, Construction & Property Law and IT Law. He is also involved in several scientific projects regarding those topics, publishing regularly in highly ranked scientific magazines, giving international lectures and symposia. Christophe is also the Chairman of the board of directors of Paralegals4Professionals, a non-profit organisation focused on the post-education of paralegals and the further development of their interests and skills.

As Tecola nears its fifth year of operation, its receipt of the award for Best Niche Technology & Privacy Law Firm 2021 in Belgium is a testament to its successes so far. Propelled by this accolade and its growing reputation for excellence, we can be sure to expect a continued positive trajectory for the future of Tecola.

For business enquires contact Christophe Baekeland of Tecola PLLC via www.tecola.be

Acquisition International is Proud to Announce the Winners of the 2021 Business Excellence Awards

United Kingdom, 2021 – Acquisition International Magazine has announced the winners of the 2021 Business Excellence Awards.

Business success can be defined in a multitude of ways and can be found in all locations, regardless of industry. Despite the difficulties of the last 16 months, companies still innovate, create and experiment with new ideas every day. Some have achieved growth in the face of immense turbulence, others have honed an expert team that deliver customer satisfaction every day. Whatever the market or sector, business excellence is still apparent and on full display.

Now in its seventh year, the Business Excellence Awards are truly the cornerstone of Acquisition International’s annual celebratory programmes. Awards Coordinator Steve Simpson took a moment to comment in light of the announcement, “once again, it has been an absolute pleasure to speak to you all and find out how you continue to innovate and create in your respective industries. I wish you a fantastic rest of the year ahead.”

Acquisition International prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. The awards are given solely on merit and are awarded to commend those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work. To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the Acquisition International website http://www.acq-intl.com) where you can access the winners supplement here.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Acquisition International Magazine

Acquisition International is a monthly magazine brought to you by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting. Its topical news articles make it a valued read, and this readability ensures that advertisers will benefit greatly from their investment.

AI works alongside leading industry analysts to ensure we publish the most up-to-date figures and analysis. The magazine has a global circulation, which brings together all parties involved in deal making and, in an increasingly global deal market, we are uniquely positioned to reach the deal makers that matter.

BroadwayHD Recognised as Best Niche Streaming Service 2021

2020 was a challenging year for the live theatre industry, with productions shut down by the pandemic. However, BroadwayHD has been ahead of the game for years by championing the idea of live theatre digital captures. In other words, delivering a filmed version of the stage show, ensuring that the show can and will go on.

BroadwayHD has been the leader in the recording, aggregation, and digital distribution of live arts. The trend of live theatre captures and making theatre accessible became even bigger this year with the debut of smash hit musical Hamilton on Disney+ and the growing live theatre content available on streaming platforms. Although live theatre will eventually make its return, digital captures will continue to play an integral role and BroadwayHD has been one of the strongest proponents for film captures of live theatre, enabling theatre fans to stream their favourite Broadway hits anytime, anywhere since they launched in 2015.

In 2007 when Netflix launched its streaming service, it was one of a kind. Today there are over 300 streaming services with new companies entering the field every day. BroadwayHD is a pioneering on-demand Internet streaming service, taking the Netflix model and applying it to live theatre productions. BroadwayHD’s survival is attributed to the owners’ significant investment in technology to ensure that streaming is a faultless, high-quality experience for subscribers and the company’s laser sharp focus on carefully curated and exclusive content: Broadway shows. BroadwayHD recently celebrated its 5th year anniversary and has cemented its status as a genuine niche OTT innovator with strong brand recognition and the future looks bright.

In order to support its first four years of steady subscriber growth, BroadwayHD launched a new suite of applications, its next-generation Subscription Video-On-Demand (SVOD) service, across multiple platforms and devices, and introduced new high-performance business models, therefore enriching the user experience. The technology provided the platform with a robust end-to-end OTT video solution that accelerates growth by providing subscribers with a rich, personalised, and easy-to-navigate experience on any device. With a solid, customer friendly platform and a continuous flow of quality branded content, BroadwayHD was perfectly positioned to connect a globally underserved theatre fanbase to the art form that it loved when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. As the aggregator of recorded live theatre, BroadwayHD is the technological innovator for the restoration and digital transformation of the industry.

Over the five years since it launched, the impact and reach of BroadwayHD has been widespread and significant. The global appetite for the platform is rapidly growing, and in the past year, subscriber numbers have tripled while the service is viewed in 124 countries across the world. It has helped promote unfamiliar or obscure shows by offering a global platform while enabling lesser-known producers and actors the opportunity to capitalise on an additional revenue stream. In addition, since 2015 the average age of a Broadway ticket buyer has dropped for the first time since 2000, indicating that BroadwayHD is having a positive impact and knock-on effect on audience members booking tickets to live shows.

Giving back to the theatre community is a core mission of BroadwayHD. BroadwayHD is a member of the Broadway League, which means that in addition to being a theatre streaming company, it is a service business to the Broadway industry. With Broadway potentially dark until late 2021, fans are eager to view shows from the comfort of their own home. BroadwayHD is the global aggregator of authorised, professional captures of Broadway and Broadway calibre shows, and as a result, the platform is supporting this worldwide demand and reminding ticket buyers to stay connected and support the reopening efforts. BroadwayHD has been working with various charity organisations with watch parties, affiliate programmes and other efforts to support artists even before the pandemic.

In a ground-breaking first for the industry, in 2016 BroadwayHD partnered with the Roundabout Theatre Company and broke the Guinness World Record for the first Broadway show to be live-streamed. The historic performance of She Loves Me was viewed live in real-time by audiences in over 84 countries across the world. On the day She Loves Me was trending on both Facebook and Twitter, while media and customer testimonials praised and lauded the live-streamed production. BroadwayHD has partnered with other theatres to live stream productions and has plans to live stream an opening night on Broadway in the future.

BroadwayHD is amplifying the work of underrepresented artists to a worldwide audience through their Trailblazers category, a monthly curated playlist that highlights marginalised members of the theatre community, such as women, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) and the LGBTQ+ community, to help increase the visibility of their work. These curated playlists are tailored to the time of year. For example, to honour Women’s History Month, the catalogue featured the works of female theatre-makers. Show-stopping performances included an all-female Shakespeare Trilogy, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, A Night with Janis Joplin, Ann, Driving Ms. Daisy and more. Authentic storytelling through digital captures of stage productions inspires others to follow the trailblazers’ footsteps, creating a more diverse group of theatre makers and audience.

BroadwayHD also has an educational distribution arm, ensuring the platform is available for schools and colleges to access at a significant discount. By utilising its extensive catalogue, students can study a full range of stage shows and backstage documentaries that highlight the intricacies of a production behind the scenes. Through BroadwayHD’s educational partnership, 4 million students have access to the service across 95 countries with ongoing layers of content and schools being added to the distribution network.

The visionaries behind BroadwayHD are partners Bonnie Comley and Stewart F. Lane. It should come as no surprise that this married power couple have prominent theatre careers as a background. Lane is co-owner of the legendary Palace Theatre on Broadway and Comley is a former entertainment reporter for Nightlife TV on The Travel Channel. They have been awarded the highest honours in theatre including nine Tony Awards, two Oliviers and multiple other awards. They will tell you that their first love and passion is for the live stage experience and sharing that experience with others was the impetus for BroadwayHD. As a native New Yorker, Lane started going to Broadway as a child but Comley never saw a Broadway show until after college. Earlier in their relationship, she dubbed him “Mr. Broadway” for his deep knowledge of theatre and he subsequently wrote three theatre history books with her encouragement. Together they married her TV background with his theatre background to form BroadwayHD, a perfect blend of theatre on screen.

Under the leadership of Comley and Lane, BroadwayHD’s extensive catalogue of pre COVID-19 recordings and their commitment to their customers to promote and preserve live theatre, will undoubtedly play a part in the recovery of the theatre industry and its subsequent impact on the national economy. In future, if audiences cannot get to a live theatre production, BroadwayHD will continue to bring streaming theatre to them. The formula is a win-win for the future health of Broadway and for global audiences who will never have the opportunity to step inside a Broadway theatre.

How an Accountant Can Be Beneficial for Your Business

Behind every successful business is a dedicated workforce that works tirelessly under the leadership of a great business person. However, supporting the leader in making some of the big decisions for the company, in particular decisions regarding finance, is an expert accountant. Having an accountant devoted to handling the finances of the company, from organising payroll, minimising business tax and controlling other overhead tasks.

Although those who have established a business may possess the talent for running that company, their knowledge and experience around accounting and handling accounts might be limited. Aside from the lack of experience, they also have limited time to handle the accounts of their business.

As a business continues to rise, bringing in new talent and opportunities, it becomes increasingly clear the importance of hiring an accountant to handle the accountants for the company. Aside from freeing up time, an accountant can bring to the company a range of extra skills.

If you are a business owner considering investing in hiring an accountant, here are some of the benefits that will come with bringing the extra support on board.

Time Saving Resource

With a growing business comes limited time to complete other tasks, such as handling the accounts. As the owner, your priorities lie more with trying to generate more business for the firm, as well as complete projects you currently have, than dealing with paperwork.

Having an accountant who has an in-depth understanding of the rules, regulation and deadlines surrounding tax laws, in addition to knowing the format HM Revenue and Customs requires like the back of their hand, will save you an incredible amount of time. This time you can use it for other aspects such as ensuring the business is running as efficiently as possible.

Support In Company Growth

As you look to start expanding your company, having a good accountant on your side will provide you with wisdom and be an excellent source for advice in helping you to develop your business going forward. A glance at an accounting firm’s website, check n-accounting.co.uk for example, and you will see the level of dedication they are willing to put into helping your company achieve your business goals.

Investing in an accountant for your business means that they will develop a deep understanding of the ins and outs of your company, supporting your firm’s goals and taking pride when it succeeds.

Fountain Of Knowledge

In addition to being an accountant, they are also business advisers who bring with them a plethora of knowledge and experience after working with other companies in a vast range of sectors. Throughout their years of working, accountants will have seen and solved numerous problems and challenges – some of which your business will also experience. Your account will use this wealth of knowledge to provide you with an unbiased opinion on any ideas you have regarding the company, as well as warn you of possible risks that can occur or potential opportunities that arise.

Whilst all businesses are aiming to achieve success within their respected industry, each company and how they operate is different. When searching for an accountant to help you achieve your business goals, share your vision with them about the firm’s future, and what you hope to achieve in the years to come. In building this relationship with your accountant, you can form a solid foundation that both of you can work on to accomplish the goals you have set for your business.

Employees: This Is How Tax Fraud Affects your Background Check in 2021

Paying taxes and filing returns is an important civic responsibility. While some employers may fail to make a background check on tax fraud, you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of the law. Tax fraud occurs when you knowingly forge information on tax returns to limit tax accountability.

Employers play essential roles in the growth of an organization. For this reason, an employer would be scared to hire someone who falsifies their tax returns. Lying about vital government requirements tells so much about an employee’s character.

Here’s how tax fraud can affect an employment background check in the year 2021:

We Believe What We Perceive

From the words of Allen Brown, a director of internal audit in Louisiana Community College, “People believe what they perceive.” For this reason, employers are vigilant. Senior personnel organizations grow to be part of the company’s image. When employers look for the next good hire, they make a background check to hire the right people. With the right staff, an organization’s assurance to attain its goals is boosted.

A Gauge for Trust

Most employers would want to know an employee’s past to gauge their trust. For instance, if an employer discovers tax fraud in potential employees’ past, they might not get hired. While it is exhausting to make background checks, it is disappointing to hire employers prone to fraud. It’s hard to leave essential aspects of your business to an employee you don’t trust.

Fine or Imprisonment

Tax fraud accumulating to large amounts of money may call for fines or imprisonment. As employers make background checks, they can locate felonies. In such cases, employers may report. When convicted, an individual attracts a fine of about $100,000 or gets imprisoned. Besides, tax frauds draw different penalties according to the law.

Common ways Taxpayers Fail to File Tax

Amid looking for job opportunities and being caught in other life struggles, we may fail as taxpayers. But do not fret like Nikki Giovanni confirms, “Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts.” To avoid a repeat of taxpayer mistakes while job hunting, find here the common ways you might have failed as a taxpayer when filing taxes:

  • Reporting less income. Whether willful or not, failing to report all your income is an offense.  Frequently observed with freelancers who mostly fail to trace some invoices.
  • Over-estimated non-cash aid. Benevolent aid might be complex to value. For instance, the pricing of a $700 donation is $7,000. You’re likely to file incorrect returns when you fail to identify the correct pricing.
  • Increasing other federal tax deductions cost. Accidentally, you may overestimate the deduction cost, for example, education expenses sponsored by your job or medical expenses.
  • Forget to file taxes. Like mentioned earlier, sometimes life gets busy. Filing taxes is the last thing on your mind. By the time you realize it, the tax day is gone. You end up attracting penalties on your account.
  • Present half-truths about business expenses. In cases where employees have properties apart from those provided by the employer. When using such items during working periods, present the correct percentage. For instance, using your work car personally should be separated from when it is for work. Half-truths affect your tax file.

What Meet the Requirements for a Fraudulent Tax Activity

As a taxpayer or employee, you might want to know the requirements for a fraudulent tax activity:

  • Leave out taxable income or knowingly underreporting. It’s considered fraud to leave out essential information concerning your payment.
  • Keeping double financial records. Having two financial records means you have something to hide, and this is fraud.
  • Concealing or relocating assets or taxable income. Hiding or changing some aspects of your taxable income is a fraudulent tax activity.
  • Personal expenses as business expenses. As revealed earlier, using company properties for your gain and claiming to be business expenditure is tax fraud.
  • Claiming fake or overestimated deductions on a return. From charitable donations to overrated travel expenses

Who Gets Imprisoned for Tax Evasion?

A countless number of people get scared of the federal government when audits finish. But don’t freak out; a handful of people end up in jail for tax evasion. For instance, in 2015 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) prosecuted only 1,330 people out of 150 million people.

Consequently, tax evasion cases followed through on by the IRS include people who fail to file a required tax return and misreport income or deductions on tax returns. Fortunately, for people who are unable to pay taxes, the IRS never chases them. But woe unto those who hide properties they can use to pay accumulated taxes.

Fraud tax activities are costly to the government. Tax fraud or tax negligence has caused a gap in dues collected. The recruiting procedure, especially in money matters, requires a keen background check by employers.

Investing in Yourself

At the end of the day, if you want to become an expert in business, that means that you’re going to be spending a lot of time making investments. Some of these investments may seem obvious: You’ll have to invest in equipment, real estate, and employees. Some investments, however, are more important and less obvious than others. Leading the way among them, you’re going to have to invest real time and money in yourself. Your mind may automatically default to investing in how you look and act, and yes, that is important. However, investing in your own skillset and education are truly vital to your business success. Here are a few ways that this is the case.

Invest in your education

There is very little doubt about it, the most important investment you can make is in your education. To that end, getting a formal education can be the difference between success or failure in the business field. A formal education may involve a variety of different options, including a formal, four-year degree. However, the knowledge you learn here can be absolutely critical. In some cases, you’re literally going to have to borrow money in order to make this investment.

Public and private student loans can help make your formal education a reality. When searching for a loan, make sure to find a loan that best meets your financial needs. This can mean a few things such as how are the interest rates, what are its repayment options, and do they gel with your potential financial situation. Also, if interest rates drop later, will you be able to refinance the loan down the road.

 

Self-Improvement Courses & Learning

Self-improvement courses or readings can take a lot of different forms. There are courses, like those of Dale Carnegie or other business leaders, that can teach you vital interpersonal skills. There are also books, podcasts, and more, all of which can potentially teach you interpersonal skills that you will need to be successful in the business world. Sometimes, this investment means hundreds or thousands of dollars. Other times, it may just involve reading and the time that reading takes. Regardless, make this investment. You’ll be surprised at what you learn.

 

Experience

Experience cannot be bought, but it can be learned. As such, if you want to become a business success, ask yourself this very important question: How can you gain experience that will give you a leg up on your potential competition? If you are truly willing to work hard and start at the bottom, identify an internship that can give you the advantage you need. Offer your services – for free – at the business of your choice, making sure that this is a business that can teach you the skills that you need to get ahead.

Remember, the work you do during this internship or volunteer period may not seem like much or be particularly glamorous, but that’s okay. Instead, observe. See what your coworkers are doing and learn the techniques that they use in order to keep their business going and be successful. At a good internship, odds are that you will learn more with what you see than what you do.

How to Use Tech to Your Advantage When Trading Stocks

If you want to get into the world of investing through the medium of stock trading, you will discover that there are a plethora of tools to help you do so correctly. Learning how to trade correctly can help you to mitigate some of the risk that naturally comes when trading. The right tools can help you to reach the next level above that, so you can trade your stocks as successfully as possible, even if you are not a full-time trader.

What to Know About Trading Stocks

There is a common misconception that various pieces of technology and certain tools will make trading stocks easier to manage. This just is not the case. No matter what you choose to use for your trading, there is going to be a certain level of risk with it that you need to look after.

In general, it is recommended that you never invest more than you can afford to lose. The stock market can be very unpredictable and you have to make sure that you account for this when selecting your stocks.

At the same time, you also need to make sure that you are undertaking adequate research to ensure that you are not approaching the buying and selling of stocks blindly. The more knowledge you have, the easier it will be for you to navigate the markets. This holds true whether you hold thousands of stocks or just a few.

If you do want to buy stocks and try out this form of investment, you need to make sure that you are buying from a legitimate source. Whether you will be in control of your trading yourself or you are entrusting things to a broker, make sure that you understand how the full process works.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the ways we can use technology to trade stocks more successfully.

Research

One of the primary ways that we can use technology to manage our stocks is through research. There are so many different sources out there that you can turn to if you want to learn a little more about the world of stocks, or if you want to do some in-depth research to find out where you should be turning to get the best tips.

Once upon a time, you would have to head out to buy a newspaper to get this information. Many would have checked the financial section as part of their daily browse. Nowadays, there are lots of websites that you can turn to if you want to know more. From news sites to independent blogs devoted to just the stock market, you will be able to find out so much about the world of investing from the touch of a button.

This can make browsing for this information much easier to handle. Track down a couple of sites that you find easy to read and interpret, and make sure you check them regularly. With this information being available to browse online whenever you choose, you are going to be able to access it whenever is easiest for you. You can also then check whenever it suits you best – whether you want to devote part of your day to actively managing your stocks or you just want to have a quick look when in a queue or waiting for public transport.

Staying in the Loop

This ability to stay switch on extends far beyond research. If you rely purely on what you are able to find yourself, there is a good chance that you will miss out on many opportunities that could turn the stock market to your advantage. Therefore, technology can also be used to help you stay in the loop when it comes to some of the biggest tips that could benefit your portfolio.

When you have found your preferred sites for selecting these tips, make sure you put some push notification in place so that you can get alerts on your phone when something happens. You can often do this for both news sites where you might get tips from but also from any apps that you use to manage your investments.

Make sure that you include all stocks that you might currently be trading in, as you do not want to miss out on tips or information about them. You can also set up more general alerts – in case, for example, something was to affect the entire stock market – or you could keep a watch on some stocks that have caught your eye so you know precisely when to dive in and claim them.

Managing Your Investment

There are so many different apps and platforms out there now that could help you to manage your stocks and investment. Therefore, it is important to consider the type of investing that you plan to do so you can find the best tool to help you with it. If you are only wanting to invest here and there and manage your stocks casually, opting for a complicated software that analyses global stocks and delivers reports packed with detail might be more than you were looking for.

If you are a beginner in the world of trading, you are in luck. There are lots of good apps with low levels of maintenance needed that can nevertheless lead to some great opportunities if you are able to reel them in. Look for apps that are specifically constructed for beginners. They will give you all of the tools that you need to be able to effectively manage your first few investments.

Looking for options with robo-advisors can be good here. These are apps powered by AI. You can select the different types of business that you might be interested in investing in. Then, the robo-advisors will take your credit and invest it in the best options around these parameters. If you want to invest ethically and put your money to good usage, a tool such as this might be highly beneficial for you.

There are also apps that will round up your transactions to the nearest pound and invest that little bit into something. For example, if you spend £3.81 in a shop, £4 will leave your bank account as the remaining 19p will be invested by the app. For those who want to take a few small steps into the world of investing, technology is there to guide you through these initial stages.

Quick Changes

Those more at home in the world of trading will also find lots of tools that they can make use of at the upper level. Since trading happens 24/7, anyone who wishes to log in and put some work in means that they will be able to do so whenever they please. Whereas a fully trading cycle might have once been handled by a professional working for you, and could have taken several days to complete, you might be able to complete the entire cycle yourself in just a matter of minutes.

Of course, this style of trading can be a little risky, but it can also produce some great results for those who want to try them. If you want to take more of an active role in the management of your stocks, there are several platforms that will allow you to do so more easily.

Trading is what you make of it. If you wish it to be very fast, trading stocks with quick turnarounds to build your profits rapidly, you can do so. You can also choose to take a more measured and calculated approach – watching the markets for precisely the right time to strike. Whatever you prefer, you can guarantee that there will be a tool out there which will let you do so.

Find What’s Right for You

There are so many different tools out there for traders of all abilities and experiences. The digital age means that we are able to get the tailored support that we need at the push of a button. If you are searching for more support in your trading, you will be able to find it online. There are so many different tools out there, and each one could benefit you in a slightly different way.

Though trading stocks can seem difficult to those on the outside, and they do come with a certain level of risk that needs to be managed and mitigated as much as possible. There are some fantastic opportunities open to those who are willing to do what it takes to learn more about the world of stocks. If you want to get involved with trading stocks, you are going to need to find the technology to pest support you. It could be something as simple as enabling push notification, or it could be an investment platform that will handle everything for you. No matter what, you need to make sure that you find the best technology to help manage your investing and stock needs.

The Ever-Shifting Relationship Between Tech & Business Practices

Business and technology go hand in hand nowadays. From large international enterprises to small local businesses, technology has infiltrated just about every aspect of the business world. As consumers become more reliant on their devices to carry out their day-to-day tasks and we become even more connected, the relationship between business and technology will continue to evolve.

Technology has completely transformed the business world in recent years ago. It’s not that long ago that social media was free of advertising, employees punched cards to clock in and consumers were still nervous about buying online. The incredible growth of technology in the last decade or so has allowed many businesses to operate more efficiently than ever before, improve the customer experience, manage their staff with greater ease and offer a new and exciting customer experience.

Let’s take a look at how the technology has impacted business practices and will continue to reshape the business landscape.

 

Staff Management

Modern technology has had a huge impact on staff management procedures. While in the past, employee records would be kept in paper files, stored in rooms crowded with filing cabinets, nowadays specific staff management and scheduling software are used to keep track of employees. Try a free time clock app to see how effective these solutions can be for streamlining your staff management processes.

 

Operational Costs

In years gone by, establishing a company was an expensive venture that required you to lease a commercial space, fit out the space, hire staff and buy all the equipment you needed to operate before you ever thought bout advertising, suppliers or any other business costs. With the advent of e-commerce, many business owners have been able to eliminate virtually all of these costs.

For those companies still operating with heavy overheads, technology and business software can help to automate many tasks that otherwise would need to be handled by additional in-house staff or an expensive third-party provider. Tasks such as payroll, accounting, social media management, logistics and even customer communications can all be automated using technology to streamline your business processes.

 

Information Security

As mentioned above, employee records, along with financial, client, and operational records were typically stored in filing cabinet filled back rooms in offices around the world. While a locked door would keep prying eyes out, it didn’t help if there was a flood, fire or natural disaster that could destroy all of your business records in an instant. With cloud-based storage, business owners can now ensure that their important business records are always kept safe and secure. Using this technology business owners can also access important data from anywhere in the world, 24/7 instead of having to physically visit the business premises.

 

Better Communications

Effective communication has been at the core of successful businesses since the dawn of the capitalist world. While phone, fax and mail were the chosen mediums in the past, they were certainly with limitations. Nowadays, live video conferencing with clients on the other side of the world is possible with the swipe of a finger. You can transfer documents to clients in a few seconds and you can track every aspect of the supply chain with meticulous detail from one end to the next. Technology has connected the world in a way that many people never imagined possible and that influence has been embraced in the business world.

 

As Technology Continues To Evolve So Too Will The Business Landscape

Technology has already changed so much about how we do business. As technology continues to evolve over the coming years, we can expect tech to have even more of an impact on how businesses operate from day-to-day, as well as influencing consumer behaviours and buying trends. Where it will end, who knows, but where the direction tech and business are headed together is definitely exciting.

Should Companies Add Bitcoin To Their Balance Sheet?

There’s no denying that Bitcoin has come a long way over the last decade. The cryptocurrency that used to be regarded as the outsider, which people seemed to believe was exclusively used by people working in basements for transactions that they didn’t want anyone to know about, has become so mainstream that everyone from high schoolers to their grandparents could probably give you a fair approximation of what it is and how it works. 

However, despite Bitcoin’s increasing presence in pop culture and regular coverage in the news (how often does a week go by without some kind of story about what Bitcoin is doing?), there is still a lot of hesitancy and mistrust out there. Some of this is based on understandable concerns, and some of this is based on outdated preconceptions. Whatever the reason, the question of whether companies should add Bitcoin to their balance sheets continues to be asked. Here are a few things that you should consider if you’re one of the companies facing this question.

Bitcoin Is Not As Complicated As You Might Think
As we mentioned, there is a far greater understanding of how Bitcoin works and the opportunities it presents than there has been in the past. It is of course crucially important that you have a firm handle on it if you are thinking of adding it to your balance sheet, but this notion of it being some kind of impenetrable mystery is far from the truth. You will need to do your due diligence when it comes to research, of course, but the information is out there. 

Bitcoin Is Not Going Anywhere
One of the biggest myths surrounding Bitcoin, and all the cryptocurrencies on the market, is the idea that this is some kind of flash in the pan. A fad that a few people have got very excited about that will never have any real impact. Well, anyone who has been keeping that storyline going is starting to look a little behind the times, as Bitcoin has only solidified its status in the marketplace. 

As more and more big corporations show their very public interest in crypto, it’s only going to be more commonplace in portfolios across all industries. Now, you can buy Bitcoins on a range of different platforms that compare the best prices at that very moment, with everything from gift cards to online bank transfers. You can even purchase BTC in bulk. Paxful is a great example of a Bitcoin trading platform that helps you stay on top of every fluctuation.

Bitcoin Has Broken Through In All Sectors
This ties into the above points, but one of the most important things to consider if you’re thinking about adding Bitcoin to your balance sheet is the fact that more and more people are using it in all walks of life. Whether it was Morgan Stanley becoming the first major US bank to offer its clients Bitcoin funds access, Tesla and Time Magazine adding BTC to their balance sheets, or small business traders on Etsy and other sites accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment, it is fast becoming something that people are not only familiar with but will actually expect. 

While the value of Bitcoin has always been volatile and almost certainly will continue to be, it’s also going to continue to be an increasingly important market force for a long time to come.

HMRC splashes a quarter of a million training staff to be hackers

HM Revenue & Customs has spent £262,251 on cyber security training for its staff over the two most recent financial years, according to official figures. This data was obtained and analysed under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act by the Parliament Street think tank.

The FOI response from HMRC revealed that £150,456 was spent on security training in FY 19-20, compared to £111,795 in the most recent financial year. This equated to 80 training enrolments in FY 20-21, and 69 in FY 19-20 for staffers operating in the Chief Digital and Information Officer Group – however, all HMRC staff (approx. 9,500 according to the FOI response) were made to complete a compulsory course on ‘Phishing attacks’, which was free of charge.

The most popular security training course amongst staffers in the Chief Digital and Information Officer Group was to become certified in the Art of Hacking, which saw 12 attendants for a cost of £15,978.

The most expensive security training course in FY 20-21, which was not available in FY 19-20, was a residential course to become a Certified Cloud Security Professional. This cost £34,103 to train seven staffers.

Additionally, 11 staffers went on a six-day bootcamp to become a Certified Information Systems Security Professional, two trained to become certified in Ethical Hacking, and nine enrolled in an ‘introduction to Cyber Security’ course.

HMRC is one of the most impersonated organisations in the UK for cyber scams, it was even revealed that Covid-19 has sparked a 73% surge in HMRC-branded phishing scams. According to experts in the cyber security field, HMRC should be commended for their investment in continued training for all staff.

Security expert Edward Blake, Area Vice President EMEA, Absolute Software said:

“Organisations which handle large volumes of personal financial information like HMRC are a top target for cyber criminals, so ensuring staff are fully trained with the latest cyber skills is essential to prevent a potential data breach.

With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many employees to work from home, it’s also critical that organisations like HMRC ensure they have complete visibility into the security standards across all devices such as laptops, to ensure encryption is turned on and cyber protection is in place for each and every employee.

It’s also important that organisations can track, freeze and wipe lost or stolen devices, in the event of loss or theft, to keep taxpayer data completely safe from outsider threats.”

Cyber specialist Tim Sadler, CEO, Tessian said:

“Security training plays an extremely important role, but it needs to be more than just a compulsory, one-off session if the learnings are going to stick. As companies invest heavily in security training, they must ensure that the programmes resonate and help employees think twice before clicking on a scam. 

“It’s telling that staff were most interested in a training course on the art of hacking. Research shows that people learn best when training is relevant and contextual, so educating staff on the ways they could be targeted in phishing emails and teaching them the techniques that cybercriminals use to trick them, is a really effective way of raising awareness of threats and helping people to realise they are being scammed. It’s a shift away from how training has traditionally been delivered, but it’ll drive lasting behavioural changes as a result.”

IPOs at dawn: The good, the bad & the ugly

Despite a challenging near year and a half for the world’s economy, Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) have increased globally. A flood of cash into the market coupled with a raft of selloffs have presented an opportunity for many businesses to capitalise. And while many IPOs have garnered success, some have disappointed, and others have just been downright ugly. Here is our list of the good, bad and ugly recent IPOs. 

The Good  

Despite tepid US-China relations, XPeng Motors, the Alibaba-backed electric vehicle (EV) auto brand launched one of the biggest IPOs of the year in August 2020; a quickly crowding mobility space. Although predicting the sale of 85 million shares at between $11 and $13 USD, the brand sold 99.7 million shares at $15 USD and closed at just over $21 USD in one day. But what has made this IPO, and others such as XPeng competitor Li Auto so successful? 

The first is clearly the financial state, business outlook and potential returns. And rightfully so. 

However, one aspect that’s often overlooked for the success of IPOs is brand positioning. One quick look at XPeng’s branding and you’ll quickly notice that it is not an EV brand focused solely on the environmental advantages of moving away from fossil fuel-powered machines. In fact, it screams innovation, high performance, technology, design; all of the attributes the true car-lover seeks. Where other brands show family day trips with happy children driving through the countryside, XPeng shows its P7 drifting around the racetrack.  

XPeng sees the direction the world is going. That the days of petrol and diesel-powered engines are numbered. That battery technology is perpetually evolving, and infrastructure is becoming more common. However, more importantly, they realise that while environmental responsibility is on their customers minds, it may not be the sole reason they choose this brand. 

Our recent research uncovered that new parents who would consider buying an EV, would do so for multiple reasons beyond the environment. While of course you will never convince every car enthusiast that a silent engine is as powerful and fun as combustion, it’s likely the next generation of drivers will be happy with the powerfully quiet. 

Whether XPeng will be able to challenge Tesla in the US market or not remains to be seen. But this brand has defiantly thrown down the gauntlet to other EV brands looking to challenge in this space. 

  

The Bad

GoHealth (the medicare-focused health insurance marketplace) had an IPO that hit with a bang when it raised $914m USD in July 2020. However, the celebrations were short-lived as the value dropped. It’s hard to pinpoint where this IPO went wrong when you look at how Lemonade, the general insurer, performed since its IPO. The financials appear to be sound with total revenue up by 72% by September of last year. The brand is solid and based on what feels like an authentic purpose; to improve access to healthcare in America. But is it uniquely different? It’s hard to see how GoHealth improves access more than many other competitors in the field. With a boost to the market from the recently signed American Rescue Plan, competition is fierce.  

Whatever the reasons for this underwhelming performance post-IPO, GoHealth’s story appears to be far from over, and the brand needs to find its true differentiator to stand out in the future. 

  

The Ugly  

When a group of independent day traders on Reddit began to buy up one of the worst performing stocks, it drove the price to unexpected heights. It also uncovered a hole in the system never before exploited. While hedge funds were caught out on a short by Redditors, caught in the middle of the drama was online broker Robinhood, known for its desire to democratise the market. 

Facing the impossible decision of either going out of business or pausing the ability of customers to buy Gamestop stock, the Robinhood brand took a major hit. With a plan to IPO later this year, how much damage this has caused the brand remains to be seen. However, it must be believed that by going against its brand purpose, many loyal customers and brand advocates will not support the brand as they once did, likely having a severe effect on the prospects for the IPO. 

For a brand that had likely seen its platform used in a way it had not initially intended, a decision was forced on the leadership to try and steer a course to save the company. The question that remains is does the brand have the resilience to weather another storm of ‘democratised’ investors.  

More recently still, Deliveroo has been guilty of a particularly ugly IPO launch with CNN reporting that: “London’s biggest IPO since 2011 was an unmitigated disaster. The stock plunged when trading started on Wednesday, and the shares eventually closed 26% below their listing price, wiping almost £2 billion ($2.8 billion) off Deliveroo’s initial market capitalization. The stock lost another 1.9% on Thursday. The opening day performance marks the worst London debut for a major IPO in at least two decades, according to data provider Dealogic. One of the company’s bankers told the Financial Times that it was “the worst IPO in London’s history.”

Why was this? Well, a host of reasons were offered, including pricing, timing, uncertain business prospects, concerns over how the company treats workers and increased regulatory risks facing gig economy companies. Indeed, it’s yet further proof that a company’s brand and the success of its IPO launch are inextricably linked. Success in these trying times is possible – but it’s not without its potential pitfalls.

Why Small Businesses Should Diversify Their Payment Options

Running a business is not easy. Aside from making sure that their ventures remain afloat during these turbulent times, small business owners also need to worry about how they can innovate their business practices, maintain customer retention, and find the resources for expansion.

Payment options are one aspect of your business that can greatly affect your customers, operations, and profits. The impact of diversifying your business’ payment options goes beyond the ordering and checkout process; it can significantly benefit your business and consumers alike. In this post, we’ve listed the top reasons why you should consider diversifying your small business’ payment options.

You make the checkout process easier for your customers

If your business has an ecommerce website, it’s important to simplify complicated processes in order to entice customers to shop. One such process that you need to simplify is the checkout process. By offering a diverse set of payment options, you make it easier and more convenient for your customers to buy from your online store. If you limit your customers’ payment options, they might feel frustrated, cornered, and choose to support your competitors instead.

Your customers are more likely to go through with their purchase

A survey by the Baymard Institute notes that at least 70% of online shoppers close a webpage without making a purchase. For small businesses that rely heavily on their online sales, this is a massive loss of potential revenue.

Many customers abandon their cart due to the lack of payment options. For this reason, it’s important to diversify your payment options as your customers are more likely to follow through with a purchase if their preferred payment method is offered by your ecommerce landing page.

You give your customers the chance to earn rebates and rewards

A lot of people apply for credit and debit cards due to the number of rebates and rewards that they can potentially earn. As seen in the benefits from Petal Card, users can earn 1% cashback on every purchase made using their card. What’s more, they can increase their cashback percentage to 1.5% if they pay on time. Other credit cards, such as the HSBC Premier World Elite, allow users to accumulate points that they can convert into airline miles. On top of that, cardholders also have access to 850 airport lounges and unlimited Wi-Fi access from Boingo. By including alternative payment options that offer rewards such as debit or credit cards, you can better encourage your customers to spend their hard-earned cash on your business.

You allow your business to reach a wider customer base

When you have an ecommerce business, you can target customers beyond your local area. By listing your business online, you get the chance to reach customers from all over the country and even in other continents. However, you have to remember that other localities and countries have their general preferred payment options as well. What you have on your website might not be available in other locations, so be sure to include as many payment options as you can — whether it’s digital wallets such as Cash App and PayPal, or cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

All in all, diversifying your payment options encourages your customers to support your business and allows your company to cater to a wider audience. In these trying times, it’s important to do all you can to help your business flourish — and diversifying your payment options can help do that.

Beyond Bitcoin hype, can blockchain transform financial services?

The UK financial industry faces a wave of disruption. Customers are demanding digital, personalised and seamless client experiences. Meanwhile, regulators are driving best practice around data security and industry professionalism to ensure clients’ prized assets are kept in safe hands.

On top of that, CEOs and business leaders must consider the impact of game-changing technology. Blockchain is fast coming out of the industry shadows; the global coronavirus pandemic has seen an explosion of interest in the technology, as bitcoin’s parabolic price movements have hit the headlines.

Even the Bank of England (BoE) is responding to the technology’s potential for mass appeal. The BoE and the Treasury have announced they are exploring the potential for a central bank digital currency. Sitting alongside cash and bank deposits, it could be used by businesses and households. The BoE recognise we are in a “period of significant change in money and payments” and are consulting widely with industry stakeholders.

Blockchain’s ascent can also been seen in how it has become a strategic imperative for businesses. In 2018, Gartner found that just 8% of CIOs were considering blockchain as part of their short-term roadmap, but by 2020 55% of respondents to a survey by Deloitte viewed blockchain as a top-five strategic priority. This emergence may well have far-reaching implications for the financial services industry.  

Injecting value into the chain

As seen in industries such as transport, retail, agriculture and logistics, digital technologies (APIs, cloud, mobile, AI) can be hugely disruptive when coupled with the right product vision – and this is the same with blockchain.  But to date, the financial services industry has lagged other industries in embracing such technology. To overcome this challenge, we believe businesses must collaborate with other visionary companies and industry bodies to re-awaken the potential for financial services.

We are already seeing strategic partnerships breaking new ground with third-party organisations building applications and services around financial institutions by using open APIs.  This will help drive the pace of change in the financial services sector.

Blockchain could also play a starring role in this evolution and many technologists look to bitcoin as evidence of its transformative potential. But there are good reasons why financial services has lagged other industries in the blockchain stakes.

A fundamental point is how you can operate in financial services where trusted 3rd parties have been essential factors for centuries.  Blockchain works well for moving data or ‘inventory’. However, where you are transacting cash for a product, settlement banks, clearing houses and registrars have always played an integral role.  It is difficult, in the near term, to see this changing. Instead, we see blockchain injecting value into the chain by speeding up processing, rather than re-inventing the wheel.

For example, we are supporters of TURN (TISA Universal Reporting Network), a recently launched industry blockchain solution, which will provide value-add services such as data collection, validation and aggregation, for asset managers, platforms, wealth managers and distribution businesses. The overall aim of this alliance is to help more businesses enhance market compliance, reduce regulatory and operational costs, and provide better outcomes to clients.

Prior to this, we saw the Utility Settlement Coin initiative tokenise fiat currencies on a blockchain to solve the ‘cash on a ledger’ problem. This could potentially have a transformative impact on the post-trade process. The idea was born in 2015 as an opportunity to facilitate payment and settlement for institutional markets using blockchain. Underpinning the initiative was a desire to collaborate with central banks, with guaranteed convertibility into fiat currency at par.

System of distrust

It is also important to separate cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin from blockchain – the technology that underpins those cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, initially seen as a decentralised global currency, now appears to have been rebadged as a store of digital value. Blockchain, on the other hand, is a much broader proposition with tremendous potential. 

At a basic level, blockchain is a subset of distributed ledger technologies. It makes use of sophisticated cryptography, distributed computing and consensus mechanisms. The technology is motivated by a critical question: how can we trust that the information in a database is accurate?  

Standard database technologies rely on a ‘universally trusted authority’. We can only trust the information if we also trust the authority, but we typically have no transparency over how the authority might manipulate the data in the background. This imbalance of power between the trusted authority and the data consumer can cause real harm. The accounting scandals of the early 2000s, for instance, were possible only because companies were able to opaquely manipulate the information they provided to consumers and investors.

From the early 1980s, researchers recognised that the explosion of IT adoption posed significant risks to society along these lines. Blockchain has its roots in a strand of technological research which explicitly sought to decentralise away from ‘universally trusted authorities’ towards ‘mutually suspicious’ stakeholders. Instead of relying on one authority as a source of truth, blockchain provides a system of record which has checks and balances built into it that enable different versions of the truth to be reconciled transparently. As such, its strength lies in the fact that the network is not controlled by one source, but by mutual negotiation between different sources.  

Indeed, blockchain is driven entirely by the concept of distrust. Blocks of information are distributed across a peer-to-peer network in which peers are programmed inherently to distrust one another. Every interaction on the blockchain requires that peers reconcile their respective versions of the truth with one another and, where discrepancies arise, resolve those discrepancies via a mutually agreed algorithm. 

Collaboration is fintech’s future 

It follows from this that if businesses focus their efforts on building private blockchains, this is tantamount to recentralising control over the network back into the hands of a single authority, thereby undermining its biggest strength. 

The financial services industry has taken its next step on the path to transparency and accountability in the form of open banking, the Senior Managers’ Regime, MiFID II and GDPR. The sceptical decentralised model offered by Blockchain offers the opportunity for a further leap forwards with respect to transparency and decentralisation in financial services.

As such, the applications of blockchain offering the greatest gains in financial services will come from collaboration between organisations to build more open, transparent infrastructure for the trading of financial instruments, wealth platform offerings and banking. The organisations that move first in this direction may have the opportunity to build customer trust on the back of radical transparency.

The API community is also underpinned by trust – and this is why blockchain could be an essential element of connectivity in an API stack. Blockchain APIs will be used to transfer value and an even greater spectrum of options to customers – while enhancing security and transparency.  

The financial services and platform industry is beginning to understand the true value and potentially seismic impact of blockchain technology to generate new revenue, improve end-user experience, increase speed of transactions and build the trust of customers. Over the next decade, we believe blockchain will become intrinsic to the fabric of the entire fintech eco-system by injecting new value.

Innovators In Technology

Procon Analytics, an Irvine, California-based firm serving North America, integrates a multitude of building blocks into powerful, reliable, scalable, and flexible tools that they deploy as digital enablers to benefit specific market segments.

“Breaking our business model down to its simplest form, we connect things over the Internet,” explains company CEO, Brian Boling. “It sounds easy, but the complexities of connectivity, data extraction, and analysis are formidable. No matter how much hardware innovation, code development, problem solving, and innovative solutions we manage, the customer only becomes loyal to our company once we deliver actionable information that solves burning problems in their business.”

Procon Analytics is a connected-car technology company that enables automotive dealers to more-effectively manage their inventory, their batteries, the test drives, protect financed collateral and more. At the same time, their service improves the overall customer experience in vehicle ownership. This solution has been proven to create more loyal customers and increase dealer profits.

Boling and Bill Cheney, Managing Partner and CTO of the company, have focused their skills and experience in the connected-car marketplace. Their goal is to provide dealers and lenders a “one-stop-shop” for digital marketing and information solutions.

“Dealers need new digital marketing tools that tether the drivers to the dealer long term,” Boling said. “We not only create new tools for our platform, but we also bridge the gap between existing tools in use in the marketplace. We are also working on new integrations with embedded vehicle technology – integrations that improve our ability to send consumers back into the dealership for service and to purchase their next vehicle.”

Procon Analytics operates two subsidiaries: Advantage GPS, LLC and Connected Dealer Services, LLC. Advantage GPS deploys platform elements, both hardware and software, to deliver risk-mitigation services for automotive finance professionals in the subprime vehicle marketplace. Its proven automotive finance expertise has resulted in the most-sophisticated hardware and Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that assists finance professionals, both subprime finance companies and BHPH dealers, in optimizing finance portfolio performance.

The Advantage GPS analytics platform provides high-level and vehicle-specific, granular oversight of a lender’s automotive finance portfolio. Its powerful AI toolset allows for faster, more-informed collections decisions and assists with future funding decisions.

Connected Dealers Services (CDS) deploys platform elements to provide digital marketing solutions to automotive retail dealerships, specifically addressing value throughout a vehicle’s lifecycle. The company’s solution is sold through an Agent Channel and a handful of distributor partners. Its solution includes a suite of dealer-facing features, such as inventory management and service scheduling tools, as well as a sell-through service that car buyers use to monitor vehicle health, while staying connected with their selling dealership. The company has a hands-on, formalized training program and partners with its agents’ clients to assist onboarding and implementation.

Automotive OEM manufacturers understand the value and importance of IoT, but have yet to fully leverage its value to their dealer partners and consumers. It is here where Procon Analytics can and will continue to drive value.

Cheney said that there are now billions of physical device connections around the world that share data via the Internet. Moving forward through the roll out of 5G technology, the world will experience ever higher speeds and lower latency. This will lead to the true rise of smart cities, self-driving vehicles, and smart houses. Procon Analytics will play a lead role in deploying new 5G solutions to its partners, clients, and end-users.

The team at Procon Analytics has a keen understanding of automotive IoT technologies. The vast amounts of data collected via sensors, devices, and cloud-based platforms have resulted in dozens of proprietary innovations that connect automakers, their dealer partners, and consumers in extraordinarily valuable ways. All solutions are on 4G platforms that are 5G ready, as the 5G infrastructures fall into place.

“Dealers and lenders have a singular focus, and that is selling and servicing vehicles,” Cheney said.
“Our job is to collect data throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle and use that information to solve problems, so that dealers can fulfil that purpose more efficiently and with less risk,” Cheney said.

Those same sensors and information can be used to enhance a customer’s experience with their vehicle, especially regarding proper maintenance and safety, Cheney added. When drivers, manufacturers, dealers, finance professionals, and automotive service providers have more, better organized, timely information on the use and health of each vehicle, this leads to more sales and greater profitability.

Procon Analytics spends a lot of time searching for and hiring industry leaders and experts to lead the effort for each segment. It looks for a specific set of skills when recruiting, and this typically involves a combination of familiarity with technology and automotive retailing.

“We may manage technology,” Boling said, “but we are all about people. Our people are what have made us a leader in the industry. This people-centric approach starts from the top. Bill and I decided early in the formation of the company that everyone would be an owner. So, like Southwest Airlines, each of our employees has ownership in the company and therefore they show more ownership and responsibility when delivering their services and ideas. We are all constantly asking how our solutions can improve the lives of our employees, customers, partners, and the communities we serve.”

The Procon Analytics’ team has a deep bench of professionals that includes creators and authors of IoT patents, innovators of new mass-market distribution channels, all led by a visionary innovator whose privately-held firm was the first private automotive aftermarket company to deploy more than 1 million connected devices – right behind Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.

In the future, Cheney and the team at Procon Analytics predict that 5G technology and AI will dramatically change the IoT industry in numerous and unforeseen ways. As a result, the company is working tirelessly to be at the forefront of this amazing new technology sector.

Scams to be aware of as a professional

There are numerous opportunities to grow in the business world. You might start a company or look for the best places to invest money, but opportunities aren’t always what they seem to be. These are the most common scams to be aware of as a professional, so you don’t lose money on the road to success.

1. Sellers Offer False References

Franchise businesses are a popular revenue source for entrepreneurs because they’re easier to start than a new company. You’ll get a ready-made business with operating processes and branding in place. Scammers know how many people want in on a franchise location, so they make the process even sweeter by offering false references.

After discussing the down payment and monthly fees, you’ll receive a disclosure document that reveals any previous purchasers. Reviewing how much the business cost other owners will show if the company is a good investment, but check the purchase history closely.

A scammer could offer a list of references to appear legitimate. The purchase history will include those references if they’re real. If they aren’t in the document, you’re likely dealing with a scammer.

 

2. Employers Don’t Need Deposits

Recruiting a new employee costs an average of $20,283, which doesn’t include the fee percentage of outsourced recruiters. If you’re looking for a new professional opportunity and a potential employer requires a deposit to secure your job, they aren’t thinking about those costs.

Legitimate jobs don’t need any upfront payments to hire anyone. The company will budget for the hiring fees instead of placing them on candidates. Any company that requires a deposit at the end of their hiring process is likely a sham for scammers who don’t have a real job to offer.

 

3. Timeshares Could Have Financial Consequences

Timeshares can be a great investment opportunity if you’re aware of the possible financial consequences. You’ll pay into a permanent vacation home, which is a significant benefit for anyone who might travel to that specific destination frequently for work. 

However, you could have to pay for an exit package and security fees if you need to get out of your contract without a professional team negotiating on your behalf. Consider the financial stability of your long-term future and compare contracts before settling on any investment property.

 

4. Businesses May Be Fake

Anyone can create a website and make a business look real. If a company owner or representative reaches out to you with an opportunity for employment or an investment, look them up in the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The BBB began in 1912 to build and advance marketplace trust through their free directory. It includes all legitimate businesses and charities that pass their accreditation process. They must pass the BBB’s eight principles for business integrity and history, so you’ll find more trustworthy companies through the BBB’s directory.

 

5. Multi-Level Marketing Doesn’t Pay Off

Multi-level marketing (MLM) organizations will reach out via direct message on social media and offer a substantial income for selling their products. The trick is that you have to buy the products to sell them and many people never find any buyers. Although a few people can make MLM opportunities work, they mostly trap people with overpriced goods that the market doesn’t actually want.

 

Watch for Common Scams

These are the most common scams to be aware of as a professional, so keep an eye out. You’ll watch your back, do your research and find more room for growth by avoiding pitfalls like these.

78% of comms leaders say protecting their brand’s reputation is unmanageable

New research has found that brand protection is an impossible job for more than three-quarters (78%) of comms leaders due to the increasing number of reputational threats they have to battle, including internal threats from current employees.

The survey of comms leaders at major UK companies, commissioned by crisis simulation platform provider Conducttr, found that employee activism is perceived as the second biggest threat to their organisation’s brand reputation, after cyber attack. In fact, half (50%) of all professionals in the sector say that one of their biggest fears regarding reputation is the potential for an employee to devalue it. These fears are not unfounded, with almost two-thirds (65%) of professionals having to deal with a crisis driven by employee activism previously.

Outsider threats have additionally compounded these fears, with almost all (93%) of comms leaders agreeing that consumers are savvier about the power they wield over brands, revealing that employees and the general public are now more aware of the influence they can have on a brand’s reputation and are subsequently holding them to account on perceived missteps.

Despite cancel culture existing as a newer reputational threat, more than half (52%) admitted having to deal with a crisis around this growing trend, while the emergence of fake news and disinformation via online platforms is facilitating further threat opportunities, with almost a third of comms professionals (31%) regarding them as a challenge.

New avenues for attacks on business reputation are proving to be a barrier to addressing new threats, with 43% noting difficulties managing deep fakes and social media. Additionally, 33% report a lack of understanding of newer threats, impacting on their inability to respond to risks quickly and effectively.

The combination of these factors is having a significant impact on the working lives of comms professionals. Respondents were almost unanimous (95%) in acknowledging that consumer empowerment and activism on social media meant that more time was being spent on managing brand reputation, while 71% said that the pressure and stress on their job role had increased.

Robert Pratten, Founder and CEO of Conducttr, commented, “For comms professionals, there is an urgent need to increase experience of managing these new threats to build confidence and reduce stress. This is best done in a safe, simulated environment that can reproduce these “next generation” reputational threats and their consequences in a realistic way. Far better to do this in a simulation than experience it for the first time in real life.”

Download the full report here.

Jack Of All Trades

Jacksoft Commerce Automation is a pioneering firm of Regtech and Computer Auditing Experts situated in Taipei, Taiwan. Specialists in IT and auditing services for businesses of all shapes and sizes, Jacksoft provides market-leading automated solutions and world-class training to its clients, giving them the tools to efficiently maintain compliance, so that they can focus on growing the successes of their business. We take a closer look at Jacksoft and its innovative offering following the firm’s success in being crowned the Most Innovative Computer Auditing Technology Firm 2021 – Taiwan.

The first of its kind in Taiwan, Jacksoft Commerce Automation is a professional technical service company specialising in Computer Audit, Regtech and Enterprise Risk Management. Named after the Master of Contemporary Management, Jack Welch, and serving domestic Top 100 companies across a range of markets, global Fortune 500 companies, government units and international financial holding companies, Jacksoft is committed to facilitating the successes of its clients. Acting as a trusted partner, Jacksoft helps to add value, reduce IT investment cost and make teams and businesses more automated, and therefore more efficient and more profitable.

Jacksoft is empowered by strong research and development teams that have been supported for several years by the assistance and research grants of institutions including the Incubation Center of the SME Administration of the Taiwanese Ministry of Economic Affairs, the National Science Council, Taiwan, and the Department of Commerce. With their support, the team at Jacksoft has been able to develop, produce, and distribute commerce automation solutions to more than a thousand clients across Asia.

Ultimately, Jacksoft’s solutions have been designed to respond to the increasing pressures on executives to make quick yet well-informed decisions in business operations that have also become more complex, and in accordance with regulatory requirements that are continuously evolving. Combining profound business analytics with immediate reporting has enabled Jacksoft to build Continuous Audit Applications, cutting-edge solutions that independently run ongoing examinations of the transactional data at the core of its users’ businesses, to identify areas of unforeseen risk, potential internal control exposures, and automatically act upon opportunities to enhance operations.

The Jacksoft Toolkits for Auditors (JTK), the company’s flagship product, is a simple yet powerful and intelligent example of the Continuous Auditing Platform, which manages ACL scripts and ‘audit robots’, and automatically generates reports on the test results found. Jacksoft’s audit robots, better known as JBOT, have been developed by the team and launched across a vast selection of industries, each designed with unique international regulations in mind.

Thanks to the automated processes and risk warnings of JTK, audit teams are able to handle their audit issues more efficiently, browsing the report and risk analyses easily on an online platform that is accessible on a PC and phone. The platform features a handy dashboard, which stakeholders can also view, making communications about business strategies even easier.

With a range of Continuous Audit Applications now available for SAP ERP, Oracle ERP and Oracle DB, Jacksoft has created comprehensive solutions, all designed to make the examination of analytics and implementation of strategies easier. Whether clients are looking for services within a Purchase to Pay, Order to Cash, or Manufacturing cycle within its SAP ERP or Oracle ERP data systems, or for solutions in Patch Management, Security Monitoring, Access Control, or Auditing Log Files in their Oracle DB systems, Jacksoft builds bespoke solutions that work for their clients. Jacksoft is also able to offer its clients a range of OEM and ODM solutions within its services in the development of ACL Scripts and Continuous Audit Platforms, which take into account three major factors: the cost of development, time to market, and profession of development.

Jacksoft enhances its bespoke offering by going above and beyond to make the implementation and integration of its solutions into the operations of its clients seamless. JTK, for instance, is rolled out in three simple steps that begin with System Configuration, followed by Continuous Auditing, and finish with Audit Report Analytics. With the support of the Jacksoft team and its commitment to supporting and customising the applications of their businesses, clients are able to focus on the bigger picture matters, such as getting products to market as quickly and effectively as possible.

It is therefore crucial for Jacksoft to maintain the high standards of its team of IT and computer auditing professionals, which is now known across Taiwan and beyond for professional and innovative attributes, and a company culture that is more like a family than a staff of colleagues. Many in the Jacksoft team have been recruited from the thirty-five universities that Jacksoft has partnered with across the length and breadth of Taiwan, and exhibit the results of Jacksoft’s exceptional Computer Auditing Education Program that have been introduced in these institutions.

A certified training programme of the International Computer Auditing Education Association (ICAEA) Canada, Jacksoft offers a variety of professional certification programs that are designed to establish and improve industry competency standards. Candidates can enrol in one of three certificate designations: the JACKSOFT Certified CAATs Practitioner (JCCP) designation, which is a personal, professional certification of competence that is granted to individuals who meet the requirements of the certification program, and concludes with an examination to confirm an understanding and comprehension of CAATs Common Body of Knowledge; the Certified ERP Audit Professional (CEAP) designation, which is an expert-level, highly skilled computer auditing professional certification; and the ACL Certified Data Analyst (ACDA) designation, an advanced-level computer auditing professional certification. The ACDA sets the industry benchmark for technical proficiency and professional expertise in using ACL software and its certification evaluates and recognises the ability to integrate ACL technology into financial analyses and business processes, assuring senior management of their employees’ abilities to maximise the full potential of their organisation’s ACL investment.

Offering both cutting-edge automation products and industry-leading education programs as a pioneering organisation of an industry that remains relatively unexplored within Taiwan has been instrumental in positioning Jacksoft as the leader of its market. Having been consistently praised by its clients for its exceptional performance, values, and offering, and now being recognised as the Most Innovative Computer Auditing Technology Firm 2021 of Taiwan, Jacksoft is able to look ahead with great optimism about the future, as it continues to pave the way in modern technology and computer auditing solutions.

For more information, please contact Sherry Huang at www.jacksoft.com.tw

Hybrid Working Could Lead to Discrimination and Lack of Diversity Warns Firm Of Business Psychologists

Over a year has passed since the pandemic struck the world, killing millions and restricting hundreds of thousands in the UK to working from home. During these extraordinary times, inequality and discrimination issues have come under the spotlight – triggering riots and social movements. Many corporates have embraced their responsibilities and committed themselves to change within their organisations, under the watchful eye of employees, clients, and the public.

However, jump forward to restrictions lifting in the UK, and businesses are at grave risk of undermining all this hard work with the very hybrid working practices that they hope will enhance the working environment.
Leading Cambridge firm of business psychologists, OE Cam, is urging businesses to consider the unintended impact of hybrid working. Their modelling suggests that planned policies will likely lead to greater discrimination and a lack of diversity within organisations in the UK and offices worldwide.

The very flexibility to work from home that is being welcomed by employees may inadvertently lead to those who choose this option suffering detrimental impact to their careers by missing out on opportunities.

OE Cam’s insights into hybrid working – published in a journal launched this month – has revealed that organisations could face having to backtrack on diversity initiatives that have taken decades to put in place. Diversity & Inclusion policies – that ensure women, the disabled, parents, older workers and culturally diverse employees have equal opportunities in the workplace – could be seriously undermined. Business performance will quickly follow.

The team of organisation consultants and psychologists at OE Cam has explored how businesses will be affected as they move to a hybrid working model. The formation of ‘in-groups’ and ‘out-groups’, something that has been noticed by organisations during remote working, will be even more prominent in a hybrid workforce.

‘Present privilege’ means that those in the workplace are more likely to be involved in spontaneous discussions in the office and have better access to the boss – meaning that they are more front of mind for that promotion.
Those working remotely, who may potentially include greater numbers of working mothers, the disabled and minority groups, will be left at a disadvantage, finding themselves a part of the ‘out-group’. Over time this could lead to them becoming unnoticed, left without a voice, the ability to contribute or progress.

Martyn Sakol, Managing Partner at OE Cam, explains: “I saw first-hand in a meeting I observed, how remote workers became disadvantaged over their physically present colleagues. A team was considering a significant deal. It adjourned for a planned break. Those who were working remotely logged off to take a comfort break alone, while those in the office continued group conversations. When the meeting resumed, it became glaringly apparent that the opinions on how to shape the deal had changed amongst the office-based team; their new stance did not reflect conversations that had included any remote participants. It was apparent at this point that the implications to businesses worldwide could be hugely damaging.

“The issue for any organisation now is to reduce the effects of out-groups. Businesses must be mindful of which employees are the ones most likely to wish to work remotely most of the time. Experts believe that there are certain groups this will include: those with caring responsibilities, parents (with more mums choosing, or even feeling obliged, to work remotely over dads), disabled employees – for whom the commute can be more difficult – and older generation workers, hoping to improve their work-life balance.

“To prevent these staff from losing their voice, their ability to contribute effectively to the business and their chance of promotion, firms must take active steps. This is not something that will just ‘work itself out’ as teams become accustomed to hybrid working.”

Age imbalance between city-dwelling young staff and commuting senior managers will also create challenges. The experts warn that offices could become playgrounds for young, inexperienced employees working without hands-on managerial support. The lack of experience, guidance and support from experienced peers will lead to weaker employee development, affecting complex decision making, creativity and collaboration. Those inexperienced, professionals may unknowingly use their ‘present privilege’ to shape the business and create a new culture that is misrepresentative, and potentially destructive, reversing a company’s progress by decades.

Mr. Sakol continues: “Hybrid offers huge advantages, but the risks must not be underestimated. Business leaders must take note of all the impacts and consider the complexities to ensure they cover all bases for all employees. No-one should be compromising their career by choosing to work from home more. No business should lose the value of their team’s inputs, because they have not been given equal ability to make an impact.”

OE Cam recommends that organisations engage their management teams now to consider the complexities and understand the effect hybrid can have on their operations. OE Cam’s modelling and simulation programmes have already identified unexpected issues and solutions to them.

For further information on the complexities of hybrid working, ‘The OE’ – the journal containing the report’s findings, can be downloaded free of charge on the OE Cam website.

Cybersecurity failure among 4 most threatening short-term global risks in 2021

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2021 Global Risk Perception Survey, cybersecurity failure ranks as the fourth most threatening short-term global risk, singled out by 39% of the respondents. With personal data becoming a driving force of the fourth industrial revolution, ethical approach and responsible data management are among the goals of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

SASB Materiality Map’s data show that customer privacy and data security issues are likely to be a relevant CSR issue for more than half of the companies operating in the software & IT service industry. Enterprises are responsible for keeping their clients’ and contractors’ data safe, in addition to securing their own corporate information.

Today, data is a product of economic activity and the material for further growth. Private information, however, is a part of everyone’s identity, and no measures can be too strict in trying to protect it. Appropriate and robust security measures should be every company’s commitment to society.

Employees lack digital literacy

In 2021, global cybercrime is estimated to cause $11.4 million of damage per minute. In an interconnected and digital world, collected data is no longer a simple asset and requires appropriate measures and a company’s social responsibility to secure it.

While growing reliance on digital tools and network connections bring progress, not everyone benefits equally. Socially responsible businesses should be also aware of those unable to keep up with the change. For instance, there are 1.9 million households in the UK without internet access, and many rely solely on pay-as-you-go services.

Despite the pandemic having proved the majority’s ability to telework, the WEF’s Global Threats Report has also found that a worrying 60% of adults lacked basic digital skills when schools and workplaces shifted to remote work. With 85% of companies planning to accelerate the digitization of the workplace, indifference might aggravate the situation.

“Digital literacy is a key skill in today’s transforming world, contributing to growth and economic development. Cybersecurity issues also have a role to play, as people lacking digital knowledge are vulnerable to social engineering attacks and other forms of scams,” says Juta Gurinaviciute, the CTO at NordVPN Teams.

Data privacy is only one part of the story, as 23% of countries censor or ban independent news, limiting their citizens’ access to digital resources and preventing them from political action. In such scenarios, cybersecurity tools, such as VPNs, help those oppressed overcome the restrictions and drive change.

Cybersecurity at the core of every company’s resilience strategy

With more regulations put to action, people are becoming conscious about the data that corporations gather. They can now question the misuse of information, and authorities have more power to investigate those cases.

Enterprises now must comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and other rulings in a set of countries, but the deliberate initiative of data transparency contributes to the company’s CSR and builds customer trust.

“If security is perceived as a social imperative, by protecting data businesses will contribute to the overall information hygiene. Malicious actors, leveraging vulnerabilities and people’s ignorance, shouldn’t only be treated as criminals, but as a social issue as well. By protecting clients’ data as strictly as their own intelligence, companies will contribute to the safety of cyberspace,” comments NordVPN Teams’ CTO.

More than half of chief information security officers (CISOs) plan to implement cybersecurity into every business decision they make. No doubt it will soon find its way into CSR manifestos.

To accelerate change, organizations can integrate cybersecurity goals among other objectives and measure them accordingly. By making cybersecurity one of the KPIs, companies can contribute to the thriving digital economy and build common resilience.

Inventory & Natural Disasters: How Businesses Can Prepare

Inventory & Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and fires can wreak havoc on businesses and product supply chains. It’s difficult to predict when these catastrophic events will occur. Yet it’s still possible to safeguard your business and its inventory against them to a degree. The key is to reposition your inventory in a way that allows you to respond rapidly and efficiently when natural disasters strike.

Inventory that’s been properly repositioned can help disaster-stricken businesses and their communities in many ways. It can provide third-party responders with valuable support when they assist community members in need. A well-positioned inventory can readily supply front-line responders with healthcare supplies, clothing, food, water, and other essential aid when it’s needed the most.

Read on as we discuss how to reposition your business’s inventory in a way that improves your ability to respond to natural disasters.

Natural Disaster Rates on the Rise

The climate crisis and the advent of global warming are placing an increased strain on our planet. This strain has led to a rise in the incidence of natural disasters, which will continue to become more frequent in the future. A report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) highlights the facts that global warming is not directly causing natural disasters. But it’s increasing their frequency and severity.

The report shows an undeniable increase in the incidence of natural disasters since the 1960s. It notes that the percentage of disasters linked to climate change rose from 76% in 2000 to 83% by the 2010s. The IFRC is urging businesses, communities, and societies to get their priorities straight. And to use forecast science to respond quickly to disasters and effectively localize their approaches to address these trends.

Yusen Ye et al. from the National Natural Science Foundation of China have noted that efficient management of disaster relief inventory is essential to responding effectively to sudden-onset natural disasters.

Another survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Management focused on 600 businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found that three-quarters of the businesses in question experienced operational disruptions due to the outbreak. 31% of respondents noted they were dealing with the disruptions by turning down or delaying orders.

Penn State associate professor of business logistics Dr. B. Novack says that natural disasters have localized, temporary effects on business supply chains. Global occurrences like pandemics have more widespread effects than localized disasters such as tornadoes and floods, and they lead to increased demand for necessary suppliers, which strains suppliers of these products. Repositioning inventory enables businesses to better respond to natural disasters and meet the demand for essential goods during times of crisis.

The Importance of Preparation

Considering the numerous studies confirming that natural disasters will become more commonplace in the future, businesses shouldn’t get surprised by their occurrence. Instead, they should ensure that they’re as well-prepared as possible to act quickly when they do take place.

Your preparation process should prompt you to consider as many potential risk factors as possible, and to alert logistics to reposition inventory potentially affected by a wide range of disasters. Businesses in the manufacturing industry may need to move their entire supply chains to avoid losing valuable inventory. You can plan ahead for disasters using a business plan or crisis plan template that details your individual procedures and needs.

It’s not possible to relocate entire warehouses or manufacturing plants. But you can store many of the assets stored within these facilities elsewhere, even if only temporarily. Retail giants like Target and Walmart adopt this approach when their stores are at risk of natural disasters affecting them. Once they have predicted the severity of the hit, a store will take, the brands will reposition their inventory. To do this, they’ll move essential products to safer locations until such time that retrieval is safe.

These locations also provide easy access for first responders and communities struck by storms, tornadoes, and other catastrophic events. Other businesses may increase their inventory of emergency stock like batteries, flashlights, medical kits, tools and rain gear ahead of a disaster. This lowers their risk of running out of essential items during times of need.

What the Research Says

Research from Penn State Smeal College of Business suggests that your business can improve its inventory allocation by repositioning products that are already deployed. You can reduce your disaster response costs by up to one-fifth by improving how your business coordinates and stores stockpiled inventory. You can then use these savings to purchase additional supplies without affecting your budget.

The Penn State team came to these conclusions after studying the systems that NGOs and government organizations use to manage their own disaster inventory on a global scale. Their research led them to use data-based optimization procedures to develop a new set of metrics. These metrics allow businesses and humanitarian organizations to assess the quality of their warehouse inventory allocation.

Adopting this approach allows organizations to make more informed inventory repositioning decisions and implement better disaster preparedness training protocols.

Prioritizing Disaster Relief

When repositioning your inventory to respond to natural disasters, experts recommend focusing on positioning items that will be in high demand at times of crisis. Tinned food, non-perishables, sanitary and medical equipment, and building supplies are all prime examples. These essential items are then in places that make it easy and cost-effective to meet community demands.

During the earlier months of the COVID-19 pandemic, people flocked to local stores to panic-buy large quantities of sanitizer, toilet paper, and face masks. The demand for these items boomed, and businesses that were able to supply major retailers rapidly repositioned inventory at the closest storage warehouses in response.

Coordinating Disaster Relief Protocols

Another crucial step in any business’s disaster response plan is to coordinate relief protocols with the nearest secure warehouses not affected by the disaster at hand. You may wish to consider building up inventory to cover potential situations of high demand. Especially if your relief supplies are in warehouses in high-risk areas.

It’s important to estimate how much relief supply a group or community affected by a disaster may need. Your calculations will be based on response time thresholds and available stock volumes. Once you’ve identified how much relief supply is required, you can begin to draw up an inventory repositioning response plan. This plan must protect your company’s assets and allow you to support affected survivors as well.

The Takeaway

Natural disasters are a fact of life, and it pays to prepare for them. Especially if you operate a brick and mortar business that supplies essential goods.

Strategically repositioning your inventory will allow you to respond to natural disasters quickly by anticipating the needs of affected groups, protecting your stock from damage, and offering valuable aid to those in need.

Intelligent proliferation: Using AI effectively

AI is everywhere. In ecommerce and digital marketing in particular, it’s likely you’re using AI to support your activities, whether you’re aware of it or not.

In most cases, AI supported practices are a great benefit to the business. They enable improved efficiency, a reduced administrative burden and help create more effective campaigns and services.

But Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, a UK provider of proprietary software for digital marketing and ecommerce solutions, believes businesses could be getting more out of their use of AI. In this piece, he explains how businesses can use intelligent proliferation to their advantage and really stand out from the crowd.

Today, just about every business that has some online activity benefits from AI. Whether that’s how they appear in search engines or their social media reach, for example, AI is practically everywhere.

Generally, it works in the background and requires little input from the business, while offering some valuable internal benefits, including greater efficiency, fewer administrative tasks and more successful campaigns and services.

But with it increasingly being integrated into just about every digital tool, it’s no longer the case that AI can be used as a differentiator or a way to stand out from the competition. However, that’s not to say it can’t be.

In order to really reap the rewards of AI and place your business leaps and bounds ahead of the crowd, it’s time to start taking a more proactive approach.

Now, this might sound counterintuitive. After all, AI is supposed to relieve some of the effort and input required from you. And while that isn’t entirely wrong, no matter how much technology advances, we are all still human. And humans require some element of emotional connection with brands in order for them to create successful engagement and interactions.

Ultimately, businesses need to find the perfect balance between artificial and emotional intelligence. Activities and decisions should be supported by both technology to make life easier, and human judgement, in order for output to be received well by customers.

And this has never been more important than in the current market.

The multichannel model

Online business is thriving. The number of digitally transformed companiesonline sales, ecommerce channels and engagement platforms are increasing. And businesses and consumers are adapting.

The pandemic has encouraged more to embrace the shift. But as physical retail and face to face business opens back up, the multichannel model will no doubt become the new normal. However, as well as increasing workloads for management, challenges will also exist in creating cohesive and high-quality customer experiences.

But AI integration does offer a remedy. For instance, commerce solutions provide retailers with a single, centralised platform on which they can combine activity across all sales and logistics channels, both digital and offline.  

Data from all areas of the business, including supply chain, sales channels and end user experience is then available in one place. This rich data is often much more valuable due to its quality and quantity, and by leveraging AI’s ability to analyse such data, you can turn it into invaluable business insight. When translated into digestible reports, such as trends and benchmarks, you can really optimise both the business’s potential and your customers’ experiences.

This takes a lot of the guess work out of the equation, ensuring the output is just as high quality as the input, and providing an informed basis in order to justify decisions.

But, your business is yours for a reason. It’s likely you have knowledge, expertise and experience in your industry, things that AI can’t, and shouldn’t, replace. Put simply, if you don’t maintain your core data, such as product attributes and tracking information, in a timely and accurate manner, then you can’t expect AI to make sense of your mess.

Artificial vs emotional intelligence

Although data driven trends and patterns are important when making business decisions, consumers cannot be simplified to a mere statistic. Rather, their emotions and intrinsic behaviours are better understood by humans.

Therefore, business owners and employees play a vital role in interpreting such data and trends, applying their sense and experiences to really comprehend what their customers want and why. And then using this to make better business decisions.

It comes down to striking a balance between the benefits offered by AI and our own emotional judgements. This way, we can create more personal and positive brand experiences that encourage engagement.

For instance, over recent months this might have involved digital marketing campaigns that are sensitive to the current global situation, yet delivered at a time and place the data has shown you your customers will receive it.  

Or, perhaps a chatbot service that utilises AI to collect basic information from a user, then passes them onto a real customer service representative who can help resolve the issue in a more friendly and sensitive manner. While the business benefits from greater efficiency, wasting fewer human resources in the initial stages of the interaction, the customer still gets the personable service they so often need and prefer.

But AI is advancing at an incredible rate. It might not be long before the technology begins to understand more complex human behaviours through verbal or written cues for example, and it will be time to readjust our practices again. However, until then, human judgement remains pivotal, even in an increasingly digital world. 

Taking Technology To The Next Level

As technology has evolved over the years, so too have the ways in which that technology is used. More and more innovations are happening on a daily basis, and the world is moving at a faster pace than ever before towards greater implementation of technology. At the heart of that pace is Scale Computing, a firm which has been crowned the Most Innovative Edge Computing Solutions Firm – 2021. With technology playing such a vital part in corporate life now that businesses have all been affected by COVID -19, we take a closer look at the exceptional solutions offered by Scale Computing.

Since being formed back in 2007, the work of Scale Computing has focused largely on cementing its position as a leader in the relatively new area of edge computing, virtualization, and hyper-converged solutions for customers all over the globe. These areas of computing and technology are still emerging and evolving in the world today, but they are being pioneered by some of the world’s most innovative and ingenious companies. Scale Computing is one such company. It has been responsible for designing, developing, engineering, and creating one of the world’s leading IT infrastructure platforms that allows organizations of all shapes and sizes the ability to do more with less. From its inception, the team of CEO Jeff Ready set to simplify IT whilst revolutionizing the virtualization market. The result was Scale Computing, and it is outstanding.

One of the greatest successes that the firm has achieved throughout its lifetime has been the Scale Computing HC3® software. This innovative invention eliminates the need for traditional virtualization software, disaster recovery software, servers, and shared storage. Instead of having all of these as separate pieces of software that are distinct from one another, the HC3® software from Scale Computing replaces them with a fully integrated and highly available system for running applications. Using the firm’s patented HyperCore™ technology, the HC3® platform from Scale Computing is one of self-healing, and is able to automatically identify, mitigate, and correct problems within an IT infrastructure in real-time. Not only is this innovation of the highest quality, but it is also functional and purposeful, contributing to the smooth running of day-to-day services rather than being innovation for innovation’s own sake.

The HC3® software enables applications to achieve maximum uptime, even when local IT resources and staff are scarce. It takes the power and puts it into the technology’s own digital hands, meaning that real-life staff members and workers are freed up to deal with more pressing issues as and when they arise. This innovation makes the HC3® software and platform simple for IT departments to both manage and administer. No matter the industry that a client works in, it is imperative that they have technology and infrastructure that is easy to use, boasts high availability, and has a valuable total cost of ownership. HC3® from Scale Computing delivers these services in abundance, making it the ideal infrastructure platform for everyone from distributed enterprises, to global retailers and SMEs alike.

Implementing this HC3® software and platform is one thing, but taking care of it is another thing entirely. Whether a client has just come on board with Scale Computing, or has been a valued client for a long time, there are services on hand to help make sure that the implementation of HC3® is both swift and smooth. There is both the ScaleCare Support and the ScaleCare Professional Services team that are on hand to offer a wide variety of expertise, insight, and assistance to accelerate the HC3® software implementation. Having this breadth and depth of experience and knowledge on hand can seriously help a client unlock the full benefits and potential of their new system, as well as give clients the confidence and peace of mind that their HC3® solution is secured and protected.

To put it in relatively simple terms, the excellence of Scale Computing lies in its edge computing intelligence and knowledge. Edge computing is a distributed and open IT architecture or infrastructure that features decentralised processing power, thereby enabling mobile computing and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. In edge computing, rather than being transmitted to a data centre, data is processed by a device itself or by a local computer or server. With so much focus on expansion, global digitalisation, and the rapid expansion of technological centres all around the world, Scale Computing is very much putting the power back in the hands of its clients.

Ultimately, the world of technology is moving faster than ever before and the work of Scale Computing is helping client organisations of all shapes and sizes take control of their technology once again. Edge computing, virtualization, and hyper-converged solutions are sure to become infinitely more commonplace in the future, even more so than they are presently. Scale Computing is an outstanding business that is focused on the future of technology. Through that focus, the firm delivers success for its clients in ways that they could only have ever imagined before.

For further information, please contact Johan Pellicaan, at www.scalecomputing.com

Dogecoin is the new GameStop – Are investors going to get burned?

Dogecoin has become the new GameStop, with frenzied trading potentially going to deliver a bloody nose to novice investors, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

The warning from Nigel Green, the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as the market capitalisation of Dogecoin hit almost $45 billion on Friday, and its price has risen by 400% in the last seven days.

The memecoin was created in 2013 as a joke, poking fun at the rise of established digital assets such as Bitcoin. Dogecoin was inspired by the popular Doge meme, which offers the image of a Shiba Inu looking sideways at the camera with raised eyebrows.

Mr Green says: “Dogecoin is the new GameStop. The out-of-favour bricks and mortar videogame retailer rocked Wall Street in January when a group of small-scale mainly inexperienced investors, led by a frenzy on Reddit, sparked a historic short squeeze where they drove up its stock prices.

“This week, since Reddit lifted its ban on the discussion of three cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin – activist investors and also some celebrity investors on social media have been urging others to invest their cash into Dogecoin – their new pet populist bandwagon.

“In the same way that the GameStop frenzy was pitched as a battle-play of ‘Wall Street versus The Little Guy’, Dogecoin is being pitched as a battle-play against the well-established crypto giants like Bitcoin.

“But this is not typically the way reasoned, savvy investors should strategise to create and build their portfolios in order to reach their financial goals.

“We can expect many novice retail investors – who may not have the financial resilience needed – to get burned in the Dogecoin frenzy – in the same way they did with the GameStop one.”

The deVere CEO says that investors should avoid being drawn into the hysteria driven by social media and look at the fundamentals of the different cryptocurrencies.

“It’s very hard to compare Dogecoin with the likes of Bitcoin, which runs on ground-breaking tech and has a limited supply giving it scarcity value, amongst other valuable attributes; and Ethereum, which is solving real-world issues and providing in-demand business solutions. For these reasons, amongst others, they are attracting huge institutional investment.”

“Whereas we can assume that many people have been buying Dogecoin, not because they think it has any real value, but because they hope others will get FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out), jack the price up, and then they can sell off and make a quick profit.”

Mr Green reiterates a message he gave in January at the height of the GameStop mania.

“If you do want the thrill or novelty of chasing big gains led by activists on social media, you really should make sure that you have a sound, diversified, long-term financial strategy established in place first,” he affirms.

3 Tax Tips for Non-Profits

3 Tax Tips for Non-Profits

The UK government allows charities, aka non-profits, to use quite a few tax exemptions and benefits to minimise their total due tax amount every year. However, in order to really take advantage of those benefits as a non-profit organisation, the administrative heads should be well aware of what they are in the first place, and which ones their particular organisation qualifies for availing. If you oversee a charity, we have three crucial tax tips to help you with just that.

No Taxation for Charitable Work: Learn What Qualifies

The biggest tax benefit for non-profits is the fact that they do not need to pay any taxes on a large portion of their income and/or profits at all, as long as that portion is being spent on charitable expenditures. Below, we have listed the expenditures which are considered as charitable by the British government, and would thus be exempted from taxation under the present tax laws governing non-profit organisations:

  • Donation money
  • Interest earned on any type of legally authorised investment
  • Trading profits
  • Capital gains from selling or disposing of stocks, real estate and any other assets
  • Income from renting out property
  • Money used for buying property, which will then be used for a charitable cause

Non-Profits Still Have to Pay Taxes: Learn What Does Not Qualify for Tax Exemption

Even though a big portion of their income and profits are exempt from taxes when used for (qualifying) charitable causes, even non-profit organisations must pay their due taxes in time. Below, you will find a complete list of income and profits that do not qualify for tax exemption, even when the organisation is a charity:

  • The amount is taxable if the non-profit is receiving dividends from British companies formed before 6th of April, 2016
  • Real estate development and associated profits are not exempt from taxation
  • Most purchases made by non-profits are subject to the standard 20% VAT, just like everyone else
  • Cooking gas, fuel (not car fuel) and electricity expenses for charitable accommodation facilities and caretaking facilities can be paid after adding only 5% VAT to the billed amount
  • The above is only applicable if the charitable facility consumes less than or equal to 1,000KW hours of electricity per month

Hire Tax Accountants with Experience in Non-Profit Taxation Laws

The few pointers we have here for you should be able to help you in maximising benefits that the government has in place for non-profit organisations. However, these are by no means comprehensive, meaning that there is still a lot more to learn. That is where tax accountants  like Azets come in. Just mention that you are looking for help with filing taxes as a non-profit organisation, and a tax accountant can arrange a meeting with one of their specialists who cater to the needs of non-profits and other charitable organisations.

Note that community amateur sports clubs, or CASCs also qualify for tax relief, but they are not the same as non-profits. This means that the laws regulating taxation and tax exemption for such organisations are quite different. Be sure to register yourself in the right category, or the entire claim for tax relief might be rejected. It is possible to refile your taxes, but the chances of getting all the exemptions diminish if your first attempt fails. Work with a professional tax consultant to avoid making any such mistakes to begin with.

ICO issued fines of £42million last year

Fines handed out for breaches of Data Protection Act (DPA) and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations Act (PECR).

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a number of final civil monetary penalties in 2020, totalling £42,416,000. The reasons for the fines included breaches of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA).

The data, contained in the ICO’s ‘work to recover fines’ report and analysed by the Parliament Street Think Tank, reveals a catalogue of fines issued across a variety of sectors.

The analysis shows the scale of the fines highlights the severity of the problem. A total of 17 penalties were issued last year according to official figures. The largest fine was given to British Airways in the transport and leisure sector on 16th October 2020 at a total of £20,000,000 for a breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA). This is followed by a fine of £18,400,000, issued to Marriott International Inc on 30th October 2020, also for a breach of the DPA.

The next largest was to Ticketmaster LTD, with a fine totalling £1,250,000 for data breaches on 13th November 2020. Then, DSG Retail Ltd, CRDNN Limited and Cathay Pacific all received fines totalling £500,000.

Additionally, CRDNN was with a £500,000 fine on 2nd March 2021 for breaches of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

The industry hit with the biggest fines was marketing with nine fines in total issued, followed by three fines issued to firms in the transport and leisure sector.

Additionally, the ICO issued three court orders for winding-up upon petitions in 2020. Trusted Futures Ltd received a penalty amount of £70,000, Superior Style Home Improvements received a penalty fee of £150,000 and Alistar Green Legal Services Ltd received a penalty fee of £90,000. All three organisations were given court orders in 2020.

Additionally, there were eight directors disqualified following ICO enforcement action in 2020. These directors have been disqualified for a number of years for conduct while acting for various companies.

Charlie Smith, Consultant Solutions Engineer, Barracuda Networks comments:

“In today’s digital working environment, data security, recovery and protection is of vital importance. Unfortunately, it has become apparent that many business owners, workers and consumers are not aware of the need for backup and recovery services for their email service providers. Our own research even revealed that 40% of Office 365 users believe that Microsoft provides everything they need to protect their data and software.

“Whilst Office 365 does offer some level of security, even Microsoft suggests using a third party backup to ensure that data is fully protected and retrievable. Without it, organisations can be left prone to accidental data loss and even ransomware attacks.

“Thus moving forward, organisations should invest in a third-party data backup solution that runs in the cloud, to enable seamless, efficient and comprehensive backup of data on a granular level – allowing lost, stolen or misplaced data to be restored without delay.”

2 Easy Ways to Start Investing

Investing your money is the most reliable and effective way to create wealth over time and secure your future financial needs. This is why a lot of financial advisors would tell you to start while you’re young to witness solid returns. It’s placing your money in an investment vehicle today to receive more money in the future.

Investing and Compounding

For a lot of people, the term ‘investing’ may conjure up images projected by the media. Because of these misconceptions, investing may seem like an intimidating undertaking. Although this may be partly true, especially if you’re a new investor, investing doesn’t have to be a fearful ordeal.

As a newbie in the landscape, it would be best to understand and take your time immersing yourself in its many facets. You may do research about how the system works, subscribe to the best investment newsletters to get the latest stock news, download a stock trading application to learn integral investing lessons, or even work with a financial advisor. Knowing how it operates can help you understand the concepts and principles, which allows you to reap the rewards fully in the future.  

Today, with so many different options, investing for beginners is more straightforward, direct, and easy to navigate than ever before. If you perform your research, you should be well on your journey to a robust and secure financial future.

As mentioned, investing comes in many different forms and facets. In simpler terms, investing is a way to allow money to work for you. The goal is to commit money into the market or any investment channel to grow your money through compounding.

Compounding is the ability of an asset to produce earnings. This then will be used to reinvest and further generate more returns. To get you started, below are two easy ways to begin investing.

1. Work with a Robo-Advisor

If you have higher risk tolerance and want an algorithm to make investment choices for you, tapping robo advisory services may be ideal for your financial health. This is particularly applicable if your goal is long-term wealth-building while, at the same time, worrying less about the stock fluctuations or any economic slopes.

A robo-advisor is a digital service aid offered by a brokerage to help you formulate an investment plan that meets both your risk tolerance and financial targets. After identifying your goal and risk tolerance through a set of personal queries, your robo-advisor can invest your money in a highly-diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds to achieve your goals. It is programmed to maximize your ROI while ensuring that your risk level is non-threatening to your current financial status.

A robo-advisor provides the benefits of stock investing; however, it doesn’t require you to exert effort in examining and choosing personal investments.

Nonetheless, before you get too excited to reach out to these digital finance companies, you need to know that the potential downside of robo-advisors is their cost. These may charge an annual fee used to understand algorithms, rebalance your portfolio, and enhance it for taxes. Most robo-advisors require investors to pay USD$500 or less to start investing.

Although you can avoid paying the robo-advisor fees by approaching investments as a DIY project, take note that it will take a lot of time, research, responsibility, and, perhaps, prior investing experience. There’s no easy way to delve into the world of long-term investing. For this reason, majority of new and seasoned investors look at robo-advisory consultancy as worth the money, time, and energy.

2. Examine Your Investment Vehicles

As you start investing, your strategy should be tailored according to your saving goals and the period you’ve allocated to reach that goal. While there a lot of investment options to choose from, you need to be responsible and understand how much risk each carries. To guide you, here are the most popular investment channels:

Stocks

A stock is a share of ownership in a single business. These are also known as equities. Depending on the company or even the type of industry, stocks are bought for a price ranging from single digits to a thousand dollars.

Ultimately, investing in stocks is applicable if you aim for a long-term savings plan. For instance, if your goal is to allocate money for your retirement, then stock investment can help you grow your money to cater to your future financial needs.

To note, stocks can vary in different forms. Investing in single stocks is more convenient as this helps you take charge of selling your stocks. You can control the timing of your gains or even losses. Creating a diversified portfolio out of a plethora of individual stocks is great. However, it may take time and a lot of research.

Hence, for some investors, an excellent way to invest in stocks is through low-cost stock mutual funds or exchange-traded funds. Mutual funds allow you to purchase and gather small parts of various stocks in one transaction.

Bonds 

A bond is a loan to a company or public entity that agrees to pay you back in a fixed number of years. As time passes by, you acquire interest from the loan they’ve made. For this reason, this investment option is less risky and is recommended for short-term savings, about five years, because you got a clear idea of when you’ll be paid back and how much you’ll earn.

The Significance of Identifying Your Risk Tolerance

Once you have adequate money to gamble, you can start investing. However, before you start putting in your hard-earned money, you need to initially ask yourself how you would approach the process. There are a lot of investment options available at your disposal because there’s no universal approach or alternative when it comes to investing. The best way to invest money is through whichever way works best for you.

Moreover, know that investing involves risk. Whenever you’re not holding your money in a savings account, there will be a threat of loss. The stock market can go up and down. Hence, you need to identify your risk tolerance. With some investments, the risk is low, while in others, it’s high.

Final Thoughts

Investing in stocks while you’re still young means you have decades to ride out the risk of market fluctuations. Consequently, this will provide you with more time for your money to compound.  With this, start now, even if you have to start small.

Anywhere365® Awarded Most Innovative Cloud-Based Contact Centre Platform 2021

Recognized by Gartner, Certified by Microsoft

We are happy to announce Anywhere365® as this year’s winner of the Global Excellence Award for the Most Innovative Cloud-Based Contact Centre Platform. Anywhere365® is a leading omnichannel dialogue management and cloud contact centre platform, native to Microsoft Teams. Over 1800 global enterprise companies use their flagship product, Dialogue Cloud.

In the 2020 Magic Quadrant report for cloud contact centres, Gartner honorably mentioned Anywhere365® as a vendor to watch. And on top of that Microsoft Corporation announced Anywhere365® as the world’s first official certified Connected Contact Centre for Microsoft Teams.

Journey with Microsoft

Anywhere365®, since its beginning, has built its solutions almost exclusively to Microsoft platforms like Lync and Skype for Business, and now Teams. The COVID-19 pandemic spiked the use of Microsoft Teams in the triple digits and Anywhere365® saw their business grow almost as hard. While the transition from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams has been tough at times, Anywhere365® has followed their journey with Microsoft, focusing on delivering a state-of-the-art Microsoft Teams contact center application.

‘It is not about the contact centre’
Surprisingly though, the winner of the Most Innovative Cloud-Based Contact Centre Platform 2021 is actually not about the contact centre. The company has embraced an enterprise-broad vision that goes beyond the contact center, which they call Dialogue Management. Anywhere365® believe and have proven in many global enterprises that the way forward for enterprise communication and customer engagement is not growing your contact centre. Founder and CEO, Gijs Geurts said: “It is about growing the intelligence in your business communications, so that you can reduce your unnecessary dialogues in every channel and every handler, whether they are human or AI driven.”

Enterprise Dialogue Management approach

“The difference between the contact centre approach and the Dialogue Management approach is that we believe that everyone in an organization is part of any dialogue. That is possible with a unified communications and collaboration platform like Microsoft Teams,” said Geurts. “With a large proportion of businesses using Microsoft Teams, there’s no reason for a business to maintain two versions of presence, one for agents and one for enterprise users. Anywhere365® doesn’t introduce the concept of agent presence; we leverage Microsoft Teams presence for our users.”

Voice, chat, email, social media, video or bots: Anywhere365® lets you engage your customers effortlessly across communications channels. At any time and from anywhere. There is real-time text-to-text, speech-to-text and text-to-speech processing and translation in place for over a dozen languages.

Direct Routing and AI

Anywhere365® AI voice bots and chat bots can handle routine requests, leaving more complex dialogues to live agents. Or any other Microsoft Teams user in the organization. The routing can be based on numbers, agent skills, geography, CRM data, VIP customer routing and many more. The CRM data, context and history of the dialogue always moves with the customer, ensuring customers enjoy first contact resolution of their issues.

What’s also great is that Anywhere365® supports a myriad of desktop environments, allowing agents and supervisors to access customer data, monitor service levels and easily transfer interactions from a single pane of glass. There are over 30 CRM integrations in place. From Salesforce and Bullhorn to Microsoft Dynamics, SAP C4C and even ServiceNow for IT helpdesks. This means that the workforce doesn’t have to switch between different point solutions, allowing for faster call handling, saving costly time and over-delivering to the customer’s expectation.

What we’ve also found, was that, due to the robust, highly scalable and extremely flexible implementation, Anywhere365® has been built to easily incorporate future business requirements without significant additional overhead.

Track, monitor and measure performance

Of course, Anywhere365® lets you record, measure and analyze agent performance and effectiveness, and benchmark them against their peers to continually improve customer service. But tracking your Contact Centre Success won’t cut it, Anywhere365® states. CEO Geurts: “Your contact centre can be very successful, but your customers can still be upset. Customer dialogues simply don’t always end in the contact centre.”

Anywhere365® lets businesses report on customer dialogues from initial contact to final resolution across the entire enterprise, not just the contact centre. Comprehensive business intelligence tools detect dialogue patterns, capacity bottlenecks or compliance violations and help to positively impact business workflows, improve customer service and streamline operations. If you wish to find out more, please visit anywhere365.io

Beacon for Biotech Success!

Science is moving at a remarkable rate, and no area more so than that of Biotech. This branch of the applied sciences sees specialists harnessing the potential that nature has to offer to benefit mankind. A leader is in this research is the team at Dyna Biotech. As one of India’s leading biotech equipment manufacturers, with years of success behind them, we thought we’d take a closer look to find out more.

Since 2013, the team at Dyna Biotech has been leading the field when it comes to the creation of biotech equipment. In a pioneering sector, companies need a manufacturer that they can rely on to deliver equally pioneering resources. That’s the team have always aimed to deliver and is what they excel at.

The firm was started by Mr. Vinodkumar Patil, a qualified microbiologist and an exceptional engineer. It’s this combination of skill and ability that has allowed him to develop Dyna Biotech to the extraordinary high standard it holds today. It was not just his academic talent that led to Dyna Biotech, however. Over the years, Mr. Patil has taken on increasing responsibilities at a number of firms, including Lupin, B. Braun Biotech (Germany), Sartorius, Shantha Biotech (Sanofigroup company) and Serum Institute.

When Mr. Patil established the firm, it was with this immense knowledge of the field in mind. His aim with Dyna Biotech, however, was to act specifically as a gamechanger within India’s biotech industry. There was a great deal of potential for growth in the sector, but this was hampered by a lack of knowledge, resources, and the ability of firms to scale quickly. With expertise in antibiotics production, steroid biotransformation, cell culture, vaccine process development, production, scale-up, optimization, validation and product launch, he knew he could start his own business and quickly bring it up to speed with the key players in the global market.

The priority in those early days was to create a company with the ability to adopt innovative technologies quickly and allow India a foothold on the industry. This, Mr. Patil has achieved with astonishing success. The country has moved forward rapidly over the last seven years, with Dyna Biotech providing an enviable benchmark for quality in the industry at large. Mr. Patil’s firm has proven capable of delivering a wide range of Biotechnology and Biopharma equipment, tackling the complex steps of manufacturing, validation, installation and service without fuss or delay. Clients have often complimented the team on their ability to deliver truly astonishing results.

What started in 2013 as a goal of providing predictive and personalized systems saw the team quickly move into the niche of developing highly specialized automated fermentor, bioreactor manufacturing. This ability has remained key to the brand ever since, with Dyna Biotech products able to achieve more output at fermentation and better yields in the downstream processing. This success comes from an approach which sees the team constantly and deliberately trying to improve every aspect of the system. The team reinforce their dedication to all through continual product and process improvement.

The mission of Dyna Biotech has always been clear, namely to make strategic investments in research and development that will benefit clients. These investments see the teams existing range of products constantly expanding, not just in terms of new products, but in new applications. This ensures that the team is constantly moving forward, in line with its pioneering promise. The ability to deliver such an impressive product portfolio is why clients continue to turn to the team with their own complex needs.

Of course, in the business world, the promise of a pioneering approach is not enough to secure success. Under Mr. Patil’s care, the firm has ensured that it applies a commercial aspect to its approach. Clients are supported through a comprehensive customer service program, while the team have a commitment to deliver the product on time. This commitment is essential to the success of Dyna Biotech, and is why so many clients continue to turn to the firm when they require assistance.

When the team at Dyna Biotech take on a project, it must go through many phases before the production process can begin. The first of these, understandably, is research and development. While the team have already created a system of constant improvement, the needs of the individual client guide this stage throughout the development process. A highly experienced and motivated team are on hand to ensure that new products meet every single need that a client has. The research and development team target their years of expertise at every problem, finding innovative ways to ensure that systems meet the requirements of every application.

Often, this involves building on work that has already been done with highly automated machines in the field of biotechnology and microbiology. Dyna Biotech has an exceptional track record when it comes to new ideas generation, new product development, dedication in the field and value additions in product. The team are equally adept when it comes to designing new biotech facilities or modifying existing facilities to meet the needs of a growing business.

The process of development is always ongoing, even when products move into the manufacturing stage. This research can be carried onto later projects, or new equipment batches requested by the client. The nature of the manufacturing process at Dyna Biotech means that each product is not only bespoke, but often has no previous testing undertaken. Clients can rest easy, knowing that a key part of their equipment list is supported with documentation that includes Design Qualification (DQ), Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification(OQ), Factory Acceptance Test (FAT), Site Acceptance Test (SAT) and Performance Qualification (PQ) Test. This high level of accreditation is why people keep coming back to what Dyna Biotech has to offer.

Finally, when all is complete and installed in its new home, the Dyna Biotech team don’t see their job as complete. A comprehensive service and support system has been established to ensure that the new equipment meets the necessary requirements. Like all aspects of Dyna Biotech, it is built on a system of qualified and experienced personnel who are available around the clock to ensure that your biotech operation is not slowed down. The team understand that their equipment is often a vital, and unique, part of a firm’s operations and any fault can lead to spoiled work and an incredible backlog of work. The service engineers employed by Dyna Biotech provide process trouble shooting, automation updates, process expert visits and consultancy services to guarantee the smooth running of every system.

The success of Dyna Biotech is a credit to the hardworking team, led forward by Mr. Patil. His ambition is why the firm has thrived over the years, with innovation and revolution at the core of the company. As standards continue to escalate, and the ambition of biotechnology continues to increase, the need for firms like Dyna Biotech to rise to the challenge is clear. Fortunately, it’s something that this team every time with considerable aplomb.

Seven Post-Pandemic Office Tech Trends to Look Out For

Last year, Global workspace specialists Instant Offices predicted a tech breakthrough in the commercial real estate industry would be one of the most significant workplace changes to come about in a post-COVID world.  Today, they are seeing first-hand how sectors are using technology to make the workplace safer and more hygienic. 

As the pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, the need for a new way of working is also affected. With that in mind, John Williams, Head of Marketing at Instant Offices reveals the top seven Proptech trends that aim to keep employee safe in a post-COVID office: 

High tech wellness checks

Employees must be screened for symptoms before entering their workplace to ensure that they aren’t contagious. Many teams now complete a quick health survey via a mobile app on their way into the office so that they can be effectively screened before arrival.  

Touch- free & Voice enabled tech

COVID-19 has caused a surge in voice technology adoption. According to an Adobe Voice Survey, 86% of people said that voice tech would make the office more sanitary, while 77% expected to use this tech more frequently in the next year. Movement-activated doors allow workers to enter and exit spaces without touching anything. Voice-enabled devices and appliances help to reduce physical contact dramatically.

Air Filtration

Did you know that around 75% of the air inside an office is recirculated indoor air? Businesses can effectively improve air quality and cleanliness at work by properly installing (and maintaining) their existing HVAC and filtration systems. However, some are going a step further with cutting-edge innovations like UV light purification technology.

Social Distancing Sensors

Office layouts are changing to accommodate social distancing, with one-way circulation patterns in the hallways and workstations spaced further apart. For example, sensors can monitor occupancy and send alerts when too many people are together in a space.

Automated Cleaning

From UV light treatments to self-cleaning surfaces for high-traffic points around the office, companies now have a wealth of germ-busting technology to choose from. A study by AJIC,  found that high-energy UVC light reduced live Coronavirus on laboratory surfaces by 99.7% in just 30 seconds

Enhanced Cybersecurity

While much of the new tech we’ve mentioned aims to mitigate the threat of infection, other innovations are addressing the increased security risk that comes with remote working. According to Gartner, 52% of compliance leaders in 2020 said that third-party cybersecurity breaches were their biggest concern due to remote work since the COVID outbreak.

Remote Collaboration Platforms

Statista reported that between Q4 2019 and March 2020, the UK saw a 24% increase in Hangouts Meet downloads, a 20% increase in Zoom downloads and a 13% increase in Microsoft Teams downloads. Businesses are adapting by implementing systems where employees can reserve a conference room or desk space quickly and easily online.

Businesses are adapting by implementing systems where employees can reserve a conference room or desk space quickly and easily online. Many in-office meeting spaces are being repurposed and the overall design of the office shifts to allow for better social distancing.

Are law firms being proactive enough when it comes to cyber security?

Lockdown working has exposed the gaps in cyber security practices in many law firms. With hackers looking for a pay day, it’s never too late to become cyber proactive. Guy Lloyd at CySure explains why cyber security doesn’t need to be complex, costly or confusing.

Law firms are privy to a huge amount of sensitive client data and handle vast amounts of money in daily transactions, mostly conducted online. Whilst many firms have ticked what they think are the right boxes in terms of cyber security, the number of cyber threats targeting law firms tells a different tale. A recent cyber security review published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) reported that three quarters (i]) of the firms visited and interviewed said they had been the target of a cyberattack. The remaining quarter of firms reported that cybercriminals had directly targeted their clients during a legal transaction.

In the digital age, a law firm without cyber security measures is an easy target for hackers looking for victims. To highlight the significant risk to law firms, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) published its first report into the cyber threat to the UK legal sector (ii). The challenge for many firms is that security is not a core area of business and it can be a struggle to justify the cost of hiring security expertise. So, what can law firms do to protect their reputations as well as their client’s confidential data and money?

1. Understand your risk – to reduce exposure to cybercrime, it’s important to understand the risks your firm is facing and develop controls, process and policies to mitigate them. It needs to be clear to all employees who is the person responsible for the cybercrime defence policy at the firm and what processes and controls are in place. When the worst-case scenario happens, it’s vital that employees know what to do and who to contact. The eye of the storm is not the moment to be trying to work out who is doing what.

2. Take ownership – the SRA report highlighted that 75% of firms questioned predominantly relied on help from commercial IT specialists. Whilst security service providers can be a source of valuable expertise, firms should beware of becoming completely reliant on their guidance. This point was underlined in the SRA report by legal firms that had received poor advice from third-party providers, which ultimately left them exposed to fraudsters. Managing and defining risk has to be owned by the company as a whole and understood by the leadership team – it can’t be outsourced. No one else will know your business with the same depth of knowledge or care about it as much as you.

3. Build a security aware culture – the ability to prevent and mitigate cybercrime depends on everyone within a firm having a good level of awareness about cyber security. Having knowledgeable and empowered staff is the first and best line of defence against cybercrime. Creating a culture that mirrors good cyber hygiene relies upon having effective policies and controls in place. Cybercriminal try to trick their victims into making mistakes but if employees are trained on common scams to look out for, such as phishing emails and rogue websites, your firm will already have a head start.

4. Understand your responsibility to securing data – if your practice collects, stores or uses EU citizens’ personal data it is subject to GDPR. To be GDPR compliant there must be basic data security controls in place such as those specified by the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) Cyber Essentials policy. Law firms cannot afford to be naïve or negligent about their data responsibility due to the confidential and highly personal data they store. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has produced a checklist to help companies understand their responsibilities (iii). If there are doubts about your firm’s ability to adhere to GDPR’s ‘security principle’, now is the time to act.

5. Be prepared – the undeniable fact is the legal sector is an attractive prospect to hackers and statistically legal firms are highly likely to be targeted. Preparation is key and this is where Cyber Essentials (CE) certification is invaluable. CE is the National Cyber Security Centre’s assurance product aimed to help protect UK organisations from the most common cyber threats. The scheme sets out basic technical controls for organisations to use which are then annually assessed. It also lays the foundation to developing policies and procedures to mitigate against threats that can impact business operations. Market forces have a way of punishing businesses who fail to prepare. Act now and demonstrate commitment to cyber security by achieving CE certification.

Can you afford to be a sitting duck?
Cyber criminals have no morals or ethics, attacks are not personal, although it can feel that way when it’s your firm that is facing the aftermath of an attack. Cybercrime is mostly financially motivated as hackers want a quick pay day and seek out easy targets. Don’t be a sitting duck. No firm is too small to be a target or to mount a defence against cybercrime. CE certification will put you on the right path to implementing cyber security controls. Being CE compliant is said to mitigate 80% of the risks faced by businesses such as phishing, malware infections, social engineering attacks and hacking. However, should the worse happen, CE will aid in the ability to respond to a cyberattack and resume business operations.

Getting started can seem daunting but achieving certification doesn’t have to be. Using an online cyber security policy management system that incorporates GDPR and Cyber Essentials is a simple and cost-effective way to achieve certification. Look out for a solution that can carry out a gap analysis and underline the areas that your business should focus on. Taking these steps can go a long way to protect against common attacks. It’s also a far more effective strategy than closing your eyes, crossing your fingers and hoping that your firm won’t be the next victim.

Driving Global Developments

Employing overseas staff is always a challenge. Many companies simply don’t know the difficulties involved and while the internet has proven to be an incredible resource, it can be overwhelming in the information it provides. A solution was needed, one which could act as an overall platform for business, offering the essential tools and resources required to enable smooth business operations.

The solution is Expandopedia. Although the team is headquartered in Chicago, they have provided a revolution for the labor marker internationally. Where once firms would have had to look to local HR providers for knowledge, Expandopedia offers a cheap, accurate perspective on the region direct to an organization. The nature of the firm means that businesses can have the insights, tools and support businesses need to execute a global strategy quickly and confidently.

Building such an effective platform has involved creating a network of professionals who are experts in the HR field. This means that Expandopedia is powered by HR experts, local accountants, lawyers, employment advisors, analysts, HR professionals and labor law researchers. What unites this disparate group of people is a passion for partnering with businesses to encourage them to grow and thrive in a global market. Without this commitment to collaboration, it’s unlikely that the team would have been able to make such a big impact in such a short amount of time.

When businesses turn to Expandopedia, they gain access to thousands of useful documents, including global HR templates and guides in local languages and English. This paperwork is the first step to ensuring that an employer has the tools for every stage of the employee lifecycle. This approach goes even further in the USA where the differences between state borders can create new and interesting challenges for business. Having the resources to take a truly local approach is a major benefit to take on Expandopedia as a platform.

As a highly regarded source when it comes to legal matters, Expandopedia is also the first port of call for those who are looking for vias. The team have collated and verified the information involved in work and borders to explain simply and effectively what needs to be done to ensure all work is done legally and to everyone’s satisfaction.

As a platform that looks at the labor market from an international perspective, it makes sense that the team takes the time to source the latest global news, currency conversion and stock market alongside its other responsibilities. This information is invaluable to many businesses, offering context and understanding that will help to guide decisions for individual organizations.

Each business will have different requirements when it comes to exploring international HR solutions, which is why Expandopedia has a variety of different packages on offer for clients. Clients can subscribe to the Basic, Premium or Enterprise packages, each providing a way forward that fits the needs of any company.

As companies progress through the packages, they find themselves able to access more information to help their business progress. The Premium Package opens the door to an expert who is on hand to provide sector- and region-specific support, while the Enterprise Package provides a dedicated account manager. These employees are chosen to meet your every need, ensuring that your time with Expandopedia is as good as possible. Each part of Expandopedia, from advice givers to HR templates is designed to flow smoothly from one place to another. As such, the team have been able to achieve some truly amazing results incredibly quickly.

The nature of Expandopedia means that it is still finding its footing within the labor market. Many do not know that it exists, but those who do have become incredibly loyal very quickly. It’s easy to see why. The solution that Expandopedia offers is specifically designed to be used by businesses. As time goes on, the team hope that this loyalty will allow for further expansion of the firm’s aims and ambitions.

The heart of the firm naturally lies with its talented team, from CEO, Rick Hammell, to Jennifer Lowe, the Editor in Chief and comprehensive network of HR experts, local accountants, lawyers, employment advisors, analysts, HR professionals and labor law researchers. Everyone shares the same passion for labor and ensuring that businesses are able to find the right people to help them expand.

When Expandopedia launched in 2020, it was in a world that was forced to change rapidly. This change applied to every industry on an international scale as the global pandemic took hold. Now that there are vaccines out there and the world of business is moving out of survival mode, it’s likely that more and more people will be looking to Expandopedia for what it can offer.

The benefits of a business intelligence solution in this climate are obvious. The future is looking more stable, but travel will still be difficult for months, maybe years to come. This has created enormous challenges for those organizations that do businesses in other countries, with employees used to traveling huge distances. For those firms that have previously thrived on the potential of global mobility, recent events have forced them to think more locally.

A Business Intelligence solution supports businesses by providing the data that need to avoid costly mistakes and ensure compliance. With a strong network of professionals in HR to support each step, it’s much easier to stay on top of things. Having access to a network also allows companies to work on their own, drawing on what support they need as opposed to what support they are given without choice.

Of course, the job market has changed considerably since the first lockdowns were implemented, and some economies have responded more effectively than others. It’s a clear sign of the way in which businesses must diversify their operations in order to survive a crisis in the future. If the local economy is suffering, there must be another place able to offset that loss.

Expandopedia can play a key role in this growth, offering the business intelligence solution that makes it easy to compare and contrast the benefits of working in different countries. The costs of working in one country versus another are not always easy to see, with factors such as wages, bonuses, paid leave, vacation time and employee taxes to consider to name but a few. When it comes to seeing what over one hundred and fifty countries have to offer, Expandopedia makes it easy, allowing businesses to thrive before the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it comes to expanding your business, Expandopedia is the way to go. The team has worked tirelessly to develop a product that will help business to recover in the light of unprecedented events. With a year of success just behind them, they’re sure to see many triumphs for the foreseeable future. 

Ingenious Insurance From Matrix Team

For almost twenty years, Matrix Insurance & Reinsurance Brokers has been providing its clients with the most comprehensive insurance and reinsurance solutions, both as a sole business and now as part of the Howden Broking group in 2020. Last year, we at Acquisition International recognised the firm by awarding it the title of Best Insurance & Reinsurance Brokers 2020 – Europe & Africa in the Worldwide Finance Awards 2020. Join us now as we reflect on why the firm has been so successful and what it delivers to clients in terms of exceptional insurance and reinsurance solutions.

The story of Matrix Insurance & Reinsurance Brokers first began back in 2003, when the firm first opened its office doors in Greece. Since, it has grown to become an integral part of the Howden Brokers group, and also become the leading independent broker in Greece, with more than ninety in-house experts at the offices in Athens, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, and Crete. The journey was only just beginning back in 2003, and was quickly followed by the launch of Howden Matrix Cyprus in 2005, which was headquartered and located in the capital city of Cyprus, Nicosia. Based there was a team that comprised of seven brokers and three actuaries, with each one specialising in structure reinsurance solutions, actuarial services, and analytics. Howden Matrix Cyprus today remains one of the top three reinsurance brokers in the local market, and dominates the market share that is available on Cyprus. Spreading out further and further over time, 2014 would see the establishment of Howden Matrix South Africa, which would aim to serve the majority of clients across the entire continent. Based in Johannesburg, this team comprises of fourteen insurance and actuarial specialist professionals.

With teams in Cyprus, Greece, and South Africa, Matrix was well-placed to serve a great many clients before Howden Group came along. Yet, the pair of these outstanding business has given the other something they didn’t have before. Matrix gave Howden a way into the markets across Greece, Cyprus, and Africa, whilst Howden enabled Matrix to have a foothold in Britain and more mainland Europe. Howden Group itself was a perfect partner for Matrix, and the two have flourished since becoming one back in the first half of 2020. Founded in London back in 1994, Howden Group has grown to become the largest international insurance broker that is headquartered outside of the United States.

Howden Group is a truly multinational business, and one that seeks to bring its clients specialist advice in more than ninety territories across Europe and Africa. Across every client and in every bit of service delivered to clients, there is a steadfast and unwavering commitment to independence that gives staff the freedom to deliver whatever the clients need at that time. Howden Group always seeks to take care of its staff and ensure that they have everything they could ever need to succeed. Staff are encouraged to thrive in their roles, as well as take an active role in being a core part of the company. Around eight hundred of the employees at present are shareholders, but there are plans in place to ramp up that number to ensure that one in every three staff members is a shareholder.

Involving clients in this way ensures that there is something noticeably different about the culture at Howden Matrix. Everyone is given a voice, their ideas are embraced, efforts are rewarded, and meritocracy is real and tangible. Having all of these is one thing, but having them all in an environment where people enjoy their work and have fun is a true sign of the firm’s excellence and commitment to employees. Howden Matrix puts people first, valuing and looking after people at every turn. Ultimately, the client also benefits from this people-first culture. They are able to have all the benefits of working with a large global broker, whilst also being able to have the speedy innovation and local know-how of a small independent firm. Howden Matrix is an outstanding firm, and deserves every success as it continues to deliver insurance and reinsurance excellence to clients across Europe and Africa alike.

For further information, please contact Marina Drakatou at www.howdengroup.com/gr-en

Stylish Café Is Home To Tempting Treats

A small café that has made itself a thriving part of a vibrant local ecosystem, Temptations is a community favourite for both its menu and its attitude. We unearth the luxury of this local watering hole that has earned the title of Most Outstanding Café, 2020 – Islington.

An exemplary café based in Islington on Highbury Corner, Temptations café is a small business that has garnered a lot of notoriety in the local area for its great service and products. With a modern looking façade and a welcoming exterior, it has floor to ceiling glass windows that make up the shopfront, allowing customers a great view of the vibrant streets of London outside. Its clean and well-designed interior provides a solace from the hustle and bustle, and a blackboard on one wall displays a colourful mural to greet customers. Its designs on the mural and menu boards all contribute to cultivating an atmosphere of fun, giving it an eclectic feel.

Temptations keeps regular opening hours from Monday to Friday, including some public holidays, and attracts plenty of custom from local regulars and passers-by. The testimonials of these customers keep Temptations a well-established part of the high street, and with many reviews online leaving nothing but glowing commendations, its efforts have been successful. It takes great pride in its menu being diverse and wide-ranging, from soups to other hot dishes like chilli con carne or Moroccan chicken tagine, all of which are home-made from scratch. Temptations also offers different specials every day such as slow roast pork and apple buns. As though that weren’t enough to satisfy customers, the café also serves gluten free options and caters to allergies and dietary needs with efficiency and empathy. Its customers can also expect to find that the coffee is exemplary, and a key focus of its business model.

With a motto of ‘independent café, independent spirit’, it is important to Temptations that the atmosphere is just as excellent as the products. It works hard to create a friendly ambience for its customers to enjoy, and all its staff are dedicated to accomplishing this by way of quick and charismatic service. Each member of staff strives for standards of excellence when serving Temptations’ customers, greeting each person with a smile and always being up to chat about items on the menu. ‘I’d much rather go here than the other chains nearby,’ one review says, and the hard work of the team ensures that many in Islington feel the same way.

It also offers the option of ordering group platters for workplace lunches to collect from the store, and this has put it in excellent standing with surrounding businesses that need to cater for their clients, even last minute. A local Water Studio that operates directly opposite the café has used its services multiple times to provide food for the meetings it holds on its premises, and found the products have been ‘top notch’ every time. With so many café establishments in London, it can be hard to stand out. Yet, Temptations’ attitude towards the community and its own excellence has ensured that it does.

This café also comes highly recommended for the reasonable nature of its prices. Operating in London, many businesses struggle to keep price points down when the cost of rent is so high, but Temptations is dedicated to ensuring this aspect of its business remains intact. Being a lunch and drinks provider, its customers can partake in the respite it provides without breaking the bank. Further to this, after 4pm, it serves all food at a 50% discount. It also offers its customers free Wi-Fi and wireless phone charging to allow its clients to work on their projects or answer emails whilst they relax. Temptations is also a big believer in corporate social responsibility – in the past, to show this, it has held Macmillan coffee mornings, serving coffee, tea, and cake for the cost of a pay-what-you-feel donation. These allow it to give back to the local community and be a force for good. You can keep up with this café’s news and developments through its social media sites, and very soon, its upcoming rebranded website.

For further information, please contact Nilesh Bhudia at www.temptationscafe.co.uk

One year on – what has lockdown done for UK’s tech sector

1 in 10 job roles advertised in the UK were tech-related during the pandemic – and by summer 2021 will reach 100,000 job vacancies per month.

The tech sector boasts an agile workforce that embraces new digital solutions before other sectors, and as a result showed its ability to adapt amid the global crisis.

Consequently, it fared well compared to many other labour markets and showed good recovery as 2020 ended – with hiring levels broadly matching monthly year-on-year levels.

As we emerge slowly out of lockdown and Brexit-plans roll on; Tom Chambers – Associate Director of Technology & Growth at Robert Walters outlines what we can expect to see from the country’s most steadiest industry whether the year ahead will continue to hold much promise for the sector.

Remote Working

The rise of remote working was 2020’s ongoing theme – with the tech industry playing a key role in ensuring this transition was largely seamless. In fact, according to a Robert Walters poll at the beginning of the first lockdown 71% of professionals in the UK stated that their transition to remote working was immediate and seamless, and a further 19% stating that the transition happened within just a few days.

Remote working accelerated a trend away from large, centralised servers towards dispersed edge networks  — strategically dispersed networks of servers that collect and store data – meaning less of a journey to an end user; better efficiency, speed, and latency; and increasing opportunities for those involved in the developing 5G ecosystem.

Typically one-step ahead of workplace trends, the number of vacancies for permanently remote-based professionals within tech rose from 1.1% in 2019 to 8.7% in 2020.

A Well Funded Machine

One of the shining lights of British industry, the technology sector has grown significantly over the last five years, as have levels of investment within it.

Despite the destabilising effects of Brexit and the pandemic, Britain remains the leading country in Europe in receipt of venture capital (VC) funding. In addition, more British tech scaleups – companies with annual growth of 20% in the past three years – broke through the £10m+ turnover mark, up 37% year-on-year. 

London in silo, a global impact-tech hub, attracted 3.1 times more funding into its purpose-driven tech companies compared to Europe as a whole – up 800% since 2015 . 

Cambridge and Bristol, meanwhile, are forging their own paths. In the past year Bristol has received more than $500m in VC funding – ahead of Dublin, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Milan – making it the 15th ranked city in Europe.

Cambridge, for its part, is increasingly gaining a reputation as Britain’s Silicon Valley – with the biotech sector attracting much investment.

Tom comments: “There are concerns however for the parts of the country without such levels of funding. And while the British government made commitments around tech investment in its November spending review, it focused more on skills and infrastructure instead of grants and loans for start-ups.

“For example in Wales, the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) provided it with around £375m per year. This financing played a key part in creating Cardiff’s now-flourishing tech hub. However, the country is now experienced the greatest year-on-year drop in tech recruitment compared with any region in England — falling 47.8% in relation to 2019.

“With Britain now out of the EU, the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund is due to step in this year – but to what degree is still unclear.”

Security Remains A Concern

Up until the emergence of the pandemic, digital security was gradually becoming more prominent in the minds of company bosses. Over a third of technology companies experienced at least one cybersecurity incident between 2019 and 2020, and more than 85% had a dedicated cybersecurity team or leader.

However, although the pandemic accelerated digitalisation across much of Britain during 2020, the urgency with which many firms rolled these solutions out was not matched with better, robust security protocols.

Instances of online fraud grew in lockstep as 47% of Britons  worked remotely during the pandemic. There were 65,000 attempted cyber security attacks on SME’s daily during the pandemic, with around 4,500 of these being successful per day. According to Robert Walters research, data breaches cost a company £2.48m per instance – with 44% of customers stating that they’d never use a company again if their data was breached.

Tom comments: “Reports of hackers accessing Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine documents and cyber-attacks on AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 research further exposed these vulnerabilities and magnified their potential cost. This had an impact on the industry’s labour market as digital security suddenly became a priority for businesses around the country.”

Consistent with these findings, professional vacancies for IT and cyber-security specialists in the last calendar year increased by 7.6% year-on-year.

Tom adds: “While IT security remains a small part of the technology industry, it is likely to continue to grow in size and importance. The Telecommunications (Security) Bill announced in November 2020  gives the British government new powers to impose security standards.

“As 5G gradually rolls out, the bill will require businesses to follow rigid protocols which is likely to increase investment (and demand for specialists) in this field.”

Job Creation Rife

1. Developers:

Recruitment for developers and software engineers across Britain’s largest firms also experienced year-on-year growth, with particular demand for experts in solutions for mobile devices.

Vacancies for specialists in iOS and Android software development were up 71.4% and 60.3%, respectively, compared to 2019 — indicative of how attention spans are predominantly now focused on what people hold in their palms.

2. Programming:

Meanwhile, demand for Python and SQL experts, critical for businesses interested in maintaining good and clean data (a prerequisite for them to benefit properly from the wide-ranging potential of artificial intelligence) rose 12.1% and 21.1%, respectively, year-on-year.

In contrast, hiring levels for PHP (-29.8%) and JavaScript (-47.8%) specialists experienced the deepest year-on-year falls – with early predictions being that hiring will return in this area as the market recovers.

3. Artificial Intelligence

Tom comments: “Artificial intelligence (AI) is also likely to continue to grow both as a sector in IT and a department in businesses.  As it becomes more prevalent, VCs will identify this as a key area of investment.”

An anticipated knock-on effect will be scaleups hiring AI and machine learning engineers  in 2021 and — more generally across the industry — demand for data scientists will increase.

TOP AI HIRING COMPANIES IN UK

Company

2019 job vacancies

2020 job vacancies

ARM

53

27

Amazon

20

31

IQVIA

17

16

Twitter

15

18

Microsoft

19

4

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

5

23

AstraZeneca

16

13

Apple

11

8

Deloitte

15

1

Babylon Health

13

1

DeepMind

16

3

Facebook

5

14

MathWorks

11

2

Amadeus Capital Partners

9

2

AIG

9

3

BenevolentAI

11

2

PWC

2

6

GSK

1

10

Samsung Electronics

3

4

Talent Shortage

Tom comments: “The UK’s tech sector continues to grow at 3 times the rate of the rest of the economy, creating exciting jobs that require a range of skills and talent – but the UK is still facing a major digital skills shortage. With this struggle for businesses to recruit suitable candidates, salaries have been pushed up by 15% year-on year.”

To counter the talent shortage the tech sector has the highest proportion of non-UK nationals working in it that the rest if the UK economy. With Brexit underway, there is concern that salaries may rise further if visas for specialists are only easily obtainable by the largest corporations.

Tom adds: “One thing is for certain, technology is getting society through the pandemic – allowing people to stay in touch with friends and family and providing welcome escapes from what has been unfolding over the last months.”

In a sign that the industry believes in the growth potential of the sector, money was not an object when recruiting during the pandemic with the number of senior contract and interim vacancies rising from 6.9% in 2019 to 13.6% in 2020 – with some CISO positions being able to command as much as £2,000 per day.

Click here to view all of the latest reports in the Robert Walters Technology Insight Series – in partnership with Vacancysoft. For more technology analysis from Tom Chambers see YouTube link.

Changing the Game

Outdoor equipment must stand up to the most rigorous of conditions, not only competing with the stresses that nature provides, but the strain of continual use by fitness fanatics and children. Recognised as the Most Outstanding Outdoor Fitness Gym & Playground Equipment Manufacturer – 2020, KOOCHIE GLOBAL has achieved great things. We look more closely at the firm to find out more.

KOOCHIE is a brand that can be seen across the world, renowned as a trendsetter within the playground equipment and outdoor fitness industry. In a market where safety and durability is key, this is a company that has made its name in thinking beyond the simple provision of fitness & playground equipment. In every product, the brand has worked tirelessly to incorporate a unique multi sensorial dimension that is specifically designed to facilitate behavioural, cognitive and motor development. As well as addressing the social and emotional aspects of child development, KOOCHIE is a company that goes one step beyond in the pursuit of excellence.

“The dream from the very beginning was not to make a playground system like no other, but to offer a total solution to customers. This solution would holistically include, meeting international standards of safety, quality, aesthetics, product life, design, planning and of course project execution” says Roben DASS, the Founder, Chairman & Managing Director of the brand. This dream has worked to redefine and achieve a new balance between these qualities, with a mission that remains the same to this day thus putting the brand on a global map.

This decision has guided KOOCHIE to its current success, establishing a distinct identity that really differentiates the brand from its competitors. Many have come to see the brand as the first choice for their needs, with medium to large residential projects making up the majority of the market. This means that the team’s much-vaunted equipment can be found in public parks, schools, camping sites, malls, clubs, hotels and resorts to name but a few locations.

Of course, some people were unconvinced of the need for a new international standard for their playgrounds, with many tired and potentially dangerous sites seen as acceptable. The work of KOOCHIE has gone a long way to transforming how people see playgrounds, having a major effect on the industry. This work was painstakingly done through workshops and seminars, each designed not to sell KOOCHIE products but to educate stakeholders on the importance of testing and certification for children’s play & outdoor fitness areas. The result, however, has been an industry transformed and receptive to what KOOCHIE has to offer, even forcing competition to step up their standards and product offerings.

As the team provide a total solution, this means that each project is treated on individually, with its own set of unique advantages and challenges. From consultation to design, from manufacture to installation and final sign off, the team are engaged with the entire process. Clients are always approached directly, with full support given by the company’s fully trained marketing team.

The success of the firm comes entirely from the passion with which its leadership and team approaches each job. All team members are delighted to work alongside stakeholders in the production of the ideal site for gym and park equipment. “We are proud to have become one of the most specified brands by leading architects and designers in many markets today. The brand is well established and is considered to be a trend setter in our industry – with this recognition comes a huge responsibility that we continually need to live up to” says Roben.

With a history of innovation and higher standards, it can be of little surprise that KOOCHIE is still spending money researching new technologies and innovations. The business is continuously expanding, offering exciting new product lines as well as a brandnew production facility. This will mark the company’s ninth. Looking forward, the firm intends to penetrate more global markets, such as North and Central America, as well as the EMEA regions.

KOOCHIE has been responsive for a market transformed, pushing up international standards that guarantee the safety of all users. This
would be a success in and of itself, but the team have gone on to find impressive achievements in the construction of these new parks and playgrounds. With such a determination to achieve something new, KOOCHIE is set to continue its path of success for years to come.

Winds of Change

Change management is defined as the holistic application of a structured process and set of tools to lead the human side of change. It’s a way of ensuring that businesses today are able to meet the needs and requirements of tomorrow. The challenge, of course, is that change is not something that can just be implemented. People involved in the organization of an enterprise must be engaged and allowed time to adapt to ensure total success.

When clients turn to the team at Faculta, they want help from an organization which is committed to the concept of change management. The team have managed to help numerous companies through the trials of transformation that have allowed companies to grow with greater ease, speed and economy. Some businesses have taken steps to reduce the human element involved, reducing the unpredictability factors at play. With Change Management, and the Faculta team, companies can foster more successful human organizations that make change a competitive advantage.

Of course, companies look to implement change management systems to optimize the results of their work, but the team at Faculta have found that their approach highlights productivity increase, valuable talent permanence, better results in terms of finance, labor and organization when it comes to time and budget and the ultimate demonstration of the People Dependent ROI. This last factor is the return on investment that depends on people in any change initiative.

To be an effective force within a business, the Faculta team know that a company’s change management methods must be guided by the desired change and the attributes of the organization. This means that each plan must be bespoke, guided by the experiences of other successes.
Finding out how effective an organization is at change management, and to determine what resources need to be put into making it thoroughly effective, is now easier than ever thanks to the Faculta online assessment. This quick and straightforward questionnaire collates all the necessary information and informs people how prepared they are to effectively manage changes from an organizational, resources, competencies and structural perspective.

From this information, it often becomes clear that what is required is a partner moving forward. To make effective change, it’s not worth hiring in a team who will work within the existing formulation, it pays to have an equal who has the potential to speak honestly about what is available. The team at Faculta have a long history of expertise in aligning themselves with the characteristics, times, resources and requirements needed for both a project of change within an enterprise and for ensuring that the organization itself is able to change too. 

The team have offices in Mexico City, Santiago de Chile and Madrid Spain, serving the Mexican Republic, Central America, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Spain. It’s an extraordinary geographic range which reflects the universal approach with which they can approach businesses. It’s not easy to find an organization that is ideally equipped to handle change, as has been proven by the complex circumstances of 2020.

This guidance is done through a variety of methods, designed to introduce change management activities within organizational change initiatives. To support businesses through every step, the team provide a comprehensive mix of workshops that can be both virtual and faceto-face. By teaching the core principles of change management, businesses are able to easily apply and adapt techniques where appropriate. Encouraging customization at every stage increases the chance of a business achieving the expected results.

Often, this work is a step too far for companies, as many simply do not have the structure or resources to face changes in an effective way. That is why the team are always on hand to ensure that their clients can make the steady progress that guarantees future success.

For some projects, the Faculta Change Management Project Support system is not quite right, and so the Change Management Deployment Support must be provided. In this case, a Faculta expert is sent directly to the business to work one-on-one with a business implementation leader. This bespoke approach allows companies to bring together the leadership of an organization and create viable strategies that cultivate effective change. Throughout either method, the individual is placed at the center of the change, allowing for as painless a development of an organization as possible.

Change is not easy, but by taking into account the needs of the people at the heart of that change, it can become that little bit easier. The work
of a business like Faculta is invaluable to firms that want to remain agile in these turbulent times. It’s little wonder that today, there are thousands of organizations around the world using the techniques that this team teaches. It’s because they work incredibly well and make an enormous difference to the overall success of a business.

Restructuring options for financially-distressed employers

Whilst support has been made available by the Government to assist employers, the pandemic has still seen huge numbers of job losses. The pain has been felt in all sectors. Retail, leisure and hospitality have all been hit very, very hard. Weakened demand in other sectors has accelerated their need to reconsider their staffing needs. From Topshop to Jaguar Land Rover to Pizza Express, employers have been losing employees in extraordinary numbers. And it’s not just high-profile, multi-site organisations that are suffering. Many smaller businesses are also facing financial uncertainty at best.

It is a sad fact that, sometimes, losing some staff has to form part of a company’s rescue plans. But there are restructuring approaches that will allow some employees to be retained. However, if directors know or should know that their company is insolvent or that it is probable that their company will become insolvent, they owe a duty to put creditors’ interests first. Whilst that does not necessarily prevent them from attempting rescue, it does require detailed consideration of the merits of any proposed action, looked at from creditors’ perspective. Saving jobs might not be in creditors’ interests.

So, what restructuring options are available for directors to consider in the hope of rescuing their companies’ businesses? There is a hierarchy of potentials that might be explored, ranging from informal arrangements with creditors to support cashflow to the entry into formal insolvency regimes, with all the attendant consequences.

In the first category, “live side” action might include:

  • Restructuring borrowing. Directors could approach lenders, asking them to relax covenants. It might be worth looking at the market to see what other lenders might be offering better terms, although directors ought to be cautious about borrowing more money where there is a risk of the company being unable to repay existing facilities, let alone new ones. Directors who know or should know that repayment will never be made could find themselves facing personal liability.
  • Increasing the amount of cash in the company (and thereby reducing borrowing) by reviewing payment terms – both for payments in and out. Do debtors pay late? Does the company pay early? Can extended payment terms be agreed with creditors? But exceeding agreed payment terms risks enforcement action by creditors starting court proceedings or – subject to the current restrictions – presenting a winding up petition.
  • Agreeing time to pay agreements with the Revenue. This implies commercial insolvency, however, because the debt is due but cannot be paid on time.
  • Seeking stakeholder support. Those who might be interested in the company’s survival are its trading partners (who themselves might well be under financial pressure) and its investors. In a smaller company, the directors themselves are likely to be the shareholders; they will need to decide whether they want to put more money into the business.
  • Taking advantage of governmental support options, for as long as they remain available. The Government is asking for power (to last until April 2022) to make temporary amendments to modify the impact of corporate insolvency provisions. It is not clear what amendments might be made. There might be a further extension of the current relaxations and modifications but it would not be wise to assume that. Directors should consider now what financial state their companies will be in once governmental support ends – and how they might respond.

In the second tier in the hierarchy are more formal arrangements where the company remains under the directors’ control and which could provide much-needed breathing space or protection whilst a company’s fortunes improve. These might be:

  • The well-known but sometimes controversial company voluntary arrangement (CVA). The company proposes a compromise with creditors (paying a certain percentage of debts due). If they approve the proposal, creditors are bound by the terms of the CVA and cannot take their own independent action against the company. CVAs can be quite sophisticated and usually last a number of months or years; the Company must comply throughout with the obligations imposed on it.
  • A moratorium, as introduced by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. This is a breathing-space arrangement, which is supervised by a “monitor”. They must consider that it is possible to rescue the company and they must remain of that view for the moratorium to continue. It gives the company an initial 20 days’ protection; the period can be extended by up to one year. In this scenario, it has to be accepted that the company is or probably will become insolvent.
  • A restructuring plan under Part 26A of the Companies Act 2006. This is a concept that was proposed by Government in 2018 and given effect by CIGA. It is a pre-requisite that the company is facing financial difficulty; the purpose of the plan must be the resolution of that difficulty. If certain conditions are met, the court has the power to sanction the plan despite the objection of a class of creditor (the so-called cross-class cram down). If there has been an earlier moratorium, some creditors might have an effective veto.

In the third tier are the formal insolvency regimes, administration and liquidation. In an administration, if there is a sale of the company’s business and assets then some jobs might well be saved; employees should automatically transfer to the purchaser. But if there is no sale or if the company goes into liquidation, then job losses are likely inevitable.

Finally, directors in these situations will benefit from specialist professional advice. Full and frank instructions should be given to the advisors. Directors ought to keep records of what the advisors are told, the advice received and the steps taken.

Preparing your brand for the incoming wave of M&As

Our world is in flux. And although collectively, we are facing many challenges right now, there are myriad opportunities growing in tandem. As many organisations restructure in an effort to weather the current climate, we will inevitably see Europe follow in the steps of the United States and witness an increase in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures.  

With only 674 deals in 2020 – the lowest since the financial crisis of 2008 – lower interest rates, available funding, and a host of organisations looking either for domination or survival, 2021 is likely to be one of the busiest M&A years for some time. To help prepare marketers for the upcoming wave, here are five tips to help drive success for any M&A. 

  

Reverse engineer 

It’s important to look to the future and understand what will yield the most return. Look ahead and ask yourself, will there be a need to quickly restructure a combined brand portfolio, and what are the options for achieving that? Getting the possible brand options down on paper and evaluating the potential trade-offs quickly holds immense value.  

Early dialogue with peers and leaders can lead to fruitful insights. Consider what an optimised brand portfolio can do for the organisation. This approach will reduce time wasting on less relevant strategies and help teams align at speed and focus on what is possible. 

  

Evaluate your brand assets 

Looking to the future is only the first step. It’s important to evaluate what from the past can be let go. Build an inventory of all brand-related assets. This will give brand leaders the opportunity to focus their attention on the assets that can serve multiple purposes, stretch the furthest, and contribute the most to brand success. Every asset must be assessed for the strategic value it brings.

This inventory will allow brand leaders to streamline the most valuable assets and focus attention on what will bring the most return. By implementing through stages, leading with priority assets will allow you to introduce secondary assets over time. 

  

Lead with Purpose 

If Covid-19 has taught brand leaders anything it’s the importance of purpose. Purpose is your north star and can provide a filter for all decision-making within your business. Uncovering and activating your purpose can help guide large-scale as well as smaller decisions. 

M&As are complex and uncertain, but they also provide a moment of clarity to ask important questions on why your company exists, who it serves, and what impact it can have on the world.   

Clear messaging on company aspirations and principles will offer stakeholders a point of alignment. Injecting your purpose into every unit or division will provide a red thread that runs throughout the business, informing all initiatives from customer and employee value propositions, to experience design and marketing. It will also act as a roadmap for integrating new acquisitions. 

  

Adopt full transparency 

Transparency leads to trust, and one way to ensure transparency is by developing your brand as a collaborative and creative engagement. Open the process. Integrate employees and customers into the programme and embrace their desire to be part of this change.  

Transparency generates additional benefits too. Brand teams get a fact base that will offer valuable insights they may otherwise not have noticed. Rapid and open-loop feedback will also provide confidence in decision-making. 

Involving stakeholders in the process of brand development will ensure they feel listened to, givem them confidence that the new company is built around their needs. 

Create brand co-authors, not bystanders. 

  

Maintain agility 

The importance of brand in the M&A process is now being recognised by CEOs and as a result, marketers now more often have a seat at the decision-making table. Maintaining this position will mean demonstrating the capability to work at deal speed. 

Where teams once ran activities in logical sequence, they now need to be run in parallel, and in days not months.

Experience and expertise matter when all eyes are on brand. Ensure your team is comfortable with agile processes and can successfully operate at high speed. Support teams in their drive for agility and allow quick decision-making. 

Moving forward 

The wave of corporate transactions heading for Europe in 2021 will present an opportunity to create lasting value. It’s not just an opportunity for the business, but also for brand leaders to define a new future for their discipline.  

Launching a new brand is no mean feat, and to do so successfully deserves plaudits. But it is just the beginning of the brand building journey that can help to future-proof your business. 

Sight and Sound Success

The value of the audio-visual market has increased dramatically over the last few years. Companies in every industry have taken on the amazing potential of this technology, which has led to the rise of companies specializing in this field. The most impressive is Secret Screen, which has been named Most Outstanding Audio-Visual Integration Specialists, 2021 – Portugal in the Global Excellence Awards. We take a closer look at the firm to find out more.

Since 2010, SecretScreen have been leading the way when it comes to integration of audio-visuals into various projects across different industries. The team works across various sectors to support businesses in the expansion of their organizations and ensure clear communication in every aspect.

Being only ten years old, the firm has been able to take an agile and practical approach to the audio-visuals sector. The sector is one that is constantly changing to meet its new needs and perpetually improve technologies. As a result, their dynamic approach has ensured that they can not only meet the needs of businesses as they are today, but that they can do so for the foreseeable future.

The focus of the firm on visual communication and interaction technologies means that they can provide specialized services for no matter what the business. Developing skills in this area has proven to be tremendously useful for the company, allowing them to provide comprehensive support to organizations. The team have become renowned for being able to create a bespoke solution that best suits the specific needs of the firm.

Of course, much of this success comes from an approach that puts research and development first and foremost. The team is always investigating new technologies and ways of working that can help businesses to thrive in the digital world. This research is guided by a careful analysis not only of a user’s needs, but the problems that they face. By considering all of these facts, Secret Screen has been able to play a key part in the design of computer systems that are able to integrate impressive technologies.

The team is also a highly respected consultancy when it comes to equipment, software and other information technologies as well as audio-visual and multimedia communication systems. This consultancy work has allowed the team to take on new and exciting roles across various organizations. Sometimes, they handle the training and marketing of a product, while at others they are able to take on positions as representatives of national and international brands.

It’s easy to realize the incredible value that the team at SecretScreen have in the international marketplace. The team is frequently called upon to provide services, technical assistance and property maintenance contracts on behalf of clients, which include not only the assembly, but the installation of goods on a project.

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate the highly reactive and proactive approach the team takes is through their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This unique situation has shaken many businesses and forced them to reconsider how they operate. For the team at SecretScreen the crisis has presented them with the opportunity to create new and exciting solutions to the increasing challenges of being audio-visuals.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, SecretScreen focussed all efforts into its entrepreneur side developing a solution that would fit into this new reality. It all started with a MUPI with a sanitizer dispenser and temperature control. Having designed both the electronics and software, almost all ideas became possible and as soon as a feature got released a new feature was being developed. Being an AV integrator at its core, they realized the potential of their MUPI and integrated a touch screen and thermal printer to incorporate their queue system. Also, the MUPI is a great form of visual communication that allows a personalized content exposure. As with all technology, only the future can tell what will come next.

For those who have had to adapt to the challenges of homeworking, there are several innovations that the team can offer, designed specifically to assist in the adaptation of working to a new remote working reality. This embraces one of the principles that the team values the most, namely that new challenges require new and exciting solutions.

We have seen over the last few years how the rising star that is the audio-visuals industry has had an enormous impact on the world at large. Few have been more involved in its development than the team at SecretScreen. We celebrate their impressive achievements in these difficult times and look forward to explore the new projects and the impact that the company provides, not only to other business but also to the market.

For more information, please visit www.secretscreen.pt

Advancing the Four Pillars of Market Intelligence

When it comes to understanding vulnerabilities and predicting shifts in today’s markets, data forms a major part in the decision-making process for most enterprises. Applying that data accurately and effectively is not always easy, but the leading-edge team at Proactive Worldwide offers advanced solutions to help businesses on an international scale.

Since 1995, Proactive Worldwide (PWW) has evolved from a two-person operation into one of the world’s leading research, and consulting firms that have engaged with clients in over 47 countries to date in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Proactive Worldwide specializes in providing actionable intelligence in four distinct areas—competitive intelligence, market intelligence, strategic intelligence, and customer intelligence—that enable its client partners to move their businesses forward with confidence.

PWW’s team of doctorate-level analysts and researchers engage with organizations to turn unique challenges into opportunities, using best-practice forensic methodology and award-winning, AI-enabled innovations. In business for over 25 years, PWW offers a complete, and consequently more accurate, perspective that helps its client partners support key planning and investment decisions, mitigate risk, and confirm or disprove long-held business assumptions.

Harvesting evidence-based data, developing actionable insights and enabling better strategic decisions, PWW’s deep bench of researchers, analysts and in-house industry specialists are central to the firm’s success. Within the competitive intelligence sphere, Proactive Worldwide engages the largest number of Ph.D./doctoral researchers working in the field today. PWW’s competitive, market, customer, and strategic intelligence experts have firsthand industry knowledge in the following: healthcare, pharma, biotech and medical devices; CGI and retail; manufacturing and industrial; financial services; transportation; and technology. These Analysts bring a vast store of knowledge and an insider’s view that adds tremendous value to each engagement, including CI function development, virtual wargaming, CI training, and scenario planning, which can be of immense benefit when it comes to helping clients improve competitive standing. PWW’s sterling reputation for engaging top research talents, with experience in the corporate world, make what Proactive Worldwide offers to its clients truly unique.

PWW’s advanced, tools-driven secondary research and proprietary human source databases both complement and fuel this expertise, allowing the team to maintain a razor-sharp focus on investigative discovery and forensic analysis to get to the heart of its clients’ corporate and competitive health. Unlike most CI consultants, PWW’s advanced PWWDiscovery™ research methodology breaks through the constraints of traditional market research, expanding the concept of decision support services by linking evidence-based market and competitor intelligence and customer insights with strategy development and implementation. Overlaying this rich intelligence with PWW’s years of target industry and subject matter expertise, the firm’s clients gain a three-dimensional picture on which to create an achievable vision for the future.

PWWDiscovery™ has been the launchpad for several of PWW’s new cutting-edge tools in primary and secondary research offering real-time accuracy. Examples include customer intelligence/voice-of-customer innovations and groundbreaking AI advancements in survey design. Others include PWW’s Insights Hub market intelligence software platform, and Profile360™, a rapid-response CI service to help enterprises gauge the impact of COVID-19 on their business. PWW’s most successful innovations are a direct result of collaborative research and development to improve how teams gather, disseminate, and draw conclusions from data. 

Much of PWW’s longevity is its ability to clearly define project scope, accurately convey deliverables, and demonstrate how this information will benefit the client in pragmatic terms. This experience has been crucial in successfully conveying the practical benefits of intelligence gathering and managing client expectations. PWW’s four intelligence disciplines are based on realistic project goals that clients understand—what market research really entails, what can be delivered, when it can be delivered, and how much it will cost.

Proactive Worldwide is continuing with its evolution of decision support services interlinking evidence-based market intelligence, competitor intelligence, and customer insights with strategy development and implementation. The COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark on ways PWW conducts competitive intelligence research. Virtual wargaming engagements that give remote-working leadership teams in different time zones the capability to test out ideas and scenarios without putting themselves at risk are here to stay. We celebrate their success, and look forward to seeing what happens next with this outstanding firm.

For further details, please contact Kelley Loiacono at www.proactiveworldwide.com

Care By the Sea

So much more than simply a domiciliary care agency, Overington Care does not merely assist people to live an independent life in their own homes, it also has a strong focus on the mental wellbeing of its clients and its staff. Founder and owner, Nichola, tells us more about her approach and what it means for the community.

Overington Care provides care in the community to support people to remain living independently as they would like in their own homes.

The company was created in 2013 by Nichola Overington, who had more than 28 years of experience in the health and social care sector, after she decided there was an opportunity to create a service that would rival existing care agencies by offering a higher standard of care.

Today, Overington Care provides care to adults over 18 years of age with dementia and learning disabilities and has gained an excellent reputation in the community, being rated ‘outstanding’ under Well Led due to the support it offers clients and employees.

“At Overington Care, we believe that if people can be supported to live well and feel valued as individuals by us listening to what is important, then this will promote the individual’s self-esteem and confidence,” Nichola explains as the organisation’s key ethos. “In turn, we have exceptionally happy clients, employees we retain and, as a direct result, the company is growing.”

Nichola is committed to investing in her staff first and foremost, through dedicated training and time spent making them feel valued. She is an advocate of promoting team building and is proud to say that all her staff members go above and beyond for their clients.

“No one individual at Overington Care is better than the next colleague,” Nichola enthuses. “I can honestly say Overington Care would not exist if it was not for the amazing work all the Health Care Assistants do in supporting all clients, but also their colleagues, constantly working together as a team, supporting each other and learning from one another, to become better versions of ourselves and be the very best we can be.”

There is a system in place where colleagues are in constant contact with one another every single day to ensure they are there to support, advise and liaise with each other whenever and wherever it might be needed. This open culture is useful for all staff and has an end goal of reflection and learning as team members move forward.

As Overington Care has grown, Nichola and the team have created a hub for the community – this being a free service for all community members where they can visit, take advantage of complementary hot drinks, cakes and biscuits, and participate in activities should they wish to do so, such as having their hair done or enjoying a foot spa.

This free service was originally due for a March 2020 launch, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions it brought, the launch is now on hold, with the hope that it may be able to go ahead from Easter 2021.

“This service is all about supporting lonely people in our community so that they feel they have somewhere they can come and feel included, thus reducing the feeling of isolation and helping support them in their mental health journey,” says Nichola.

With regards to the future, Nichola envisions more of the same fantastic work that Overington Care is known for, with the same goals of supporting clients and employee’s mental health, creating an outstanding working environment for staff, and to assist and aid all clients in the community to the best of its abilities.

For further information, please contact Nichola Overington at www.overingtoncareltd.co.uk

Leading Logistics Provider

The importance of a smooth supply chain cannot be ignored in this day and age. A good supply chain doesn’t just revolve around moving products from one place to another but building lasting relationships. This approach is why the team at Digistics has been named Most Outstanding Supply Chain Solutions Provider 2020 – South Africa in Acquisition International’s Global Excellence Awards. We took a closer look to discover more about how the firm achieved such an impressive accolade.

For the last twenty-four years, the team at Digistics have been committed to putting together and executing a reliable supply chain on behalf of its clients. Moving products from A to B is only part of the team’s business strategy, with a focus on customer service that is second to none. When the Digistics team get involved, they go above and beyond to ensure that they achieve total success.

The work that Digistics does is not completed in isolation. It is done in partnership with their customers, and their customer’s business. The success of the firm is measured in the success of this execution. The team approach their clients with a collaborative approach, knowing that both sides will find enormous benefit in simply working together. When Digistics works on a project, it is not simply about the procurement and movement of product, but the delivering of smart insights through collaboration. This holistic approach, based on data, enables the supply chain to straddle multiple stakeholders.

Because of the team’s exceptional experience in the field, they have been able to act as the Lead Logistics Provider for numerous clients. Their capacity to cope with the difficulties inherent in traversing a customer’s unique environments and needs is why they are in such high demand. Once they are able to take account of the demand planning, the Digistics team are able to take a customer’s entire inventory, from protein to produce to packaged items, and deliver it to a distribution centre where specialised orders can be constructed. These can be designed to recur on a regular basis, meeting client needs with ease.

Of course, no supply chain is the same every time, and the team at Digistics provide customers with the ability to modify orders before the final delivery is made. This ensures that businesses can operate at maximum efficiency. To smooth the process, the team use the integrated Control Tower management of warehousing, transportation and delivery execution on behalf of customers. When combined with a customer portal that is designed to process orders easily and effectively, it’s a system that has proven time and time again to be incredibly effective in its operation.

To keep things running smoothly, Digistics has expanded across the length and breadth of South Africa, with seven distribution centres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Bloemfontein. These multi-temperature facilities are designed to be state-of-the-art, able to handle whatever is required. This includes being fully compliant with all food safety standards and regulations. The food safety management system run by the team at Digistics carries full FSSC accreditation, which is why so many people trust the team to handle their supply chain.

Despite the challenges inherent in the supply chain process, the team at Digistics have proven themselves to be worthy partners for clients. The team’s implementation of powerful technology has created the modern form of integrated logistics on which the best systems operate. Instead of focusing on one aspect of the supply chain, these systems allow the team to take a holistic approach, allowing costs to be reduced, reliability increased and better overall service. With this collaborative custom solution, bespoke fitted to suit the needs of the client, businesses have a partner who can react swiftly to the changing demands of the marketplace, giving them an overall advantage.

The technology is not just limited to the systems that keep things moving. From voice operated warehouses to timely information from dispatch, sophisticated gadgets form the heart of what Digistics has to offer. Perhaps what is most important is that the firm don’t just use technology for technology’s sake. It’s a deliberate choice that is designed to help the customer as much as possible. Maintaining the balance between the warring demands of these systems is not always easy, but the team have managed to find new ways of cutting costs, saving time while ensuring that the team can continue to deliver a service that is truly exceptional.

It’s easy to see why so many have turned to Digistics for support in maintaining a strong supply chain. The team have been proud to implement standardised processes throughout every level of the company. It ensures a strong continuity that treats every client with fairness and respect. Reliability is key to the team’s offering, because it ensures that their clients can focus on the needs of their own customers. Instead of worrying about what is on offer, the team ensures that they can deliver what is needed when it is needed.

This means adapting quickly in a crisis, because failure is not an option for Digistics customers. If it means collecting an emergency order when a supplier cannot deliver or preparing something special for the customer within the hour, this is a team that always goes above and beyond to ensure that no one is left before. Adapting to the unexpected and the unknown is never easy, but it’s just another way in which the team excel.

Ensuring that deliveries are available for final drop off is one challenge but working around the needs of the customer is paramount when it comes to completing a delivery. The team know to schedule deliveries before and after peak times, sending some form of notification prior to arrival to prepare the customer’s staff for the arrival. These steps are small but make an enormous difference to the speed with which an operation can be completed. It goes without saying that this is another way the team have found to provide the exceptional service that the team are renowned for.

Of course, for many businesses now, the future is one that focuses on sustainability. Will we still have a planet left to live on? For the team at Digistics, the road to a greener future is not easily taken. That said, they have made the effort to start forging this new path. Their routing software builds in efficiencies where possible to reduce empty kilometres travelled. Nothing is off-limits when it comes to reducing the impact of the business anywhere on their network. It’s a credit to the team’s tenacious focus on building a more sustainable, ethical, and responsible future.

It’s easy to see why people turn to Digistics for their services. They provide a crucial service that makes a real difference to the success of a business. With a focus on ensuring that their customers are satisfied, the team have been able to ensure that the supply chain thrives.

For more information, please contact Renier Du Preez at www.digistics.co.za 

International Women’s Day: More Women Than Ever Are Thriving in Previously Male Dominated Industries

Women now take up 26% of STEM employees, specifically Mathematics and Physical Science Sectors, a remarkable shift that can help inspire women looking at non-traditional career paths. Plus, with women in the UK 38% more likely to go to university than men; female students are starting to take on more traditionally male subjects such as engineering and computer science. 

Women are moving in and paving the way for traditionally male-dominated industries, with the representation of women rising across the UK workforce increasing along with a rise in female entrepreneurs over the last few years. This International Women’s Day Fresh Student Living has undergone research to discover what areas women are thriving in and paving the way for women in future.

Women in the UK are now beginning to gain confidence in their academic abilities, allowing them to pursue high education ambitions.  The number of students studying law has been steadily increasing for years, with more than double the number of female law students than men who have accepted a place to study law in 2019 -2020.

Here is a list of sectors women are dominating, along with the percentage of women employed:

Health & Social Work

78%

Education

70%

Accommodation & Food Service

54%

Real Estate

53%

Public Administration & Defense

52%

The gender pay gap has also decreased; in 2020, women were paid an average of 6.5% less than men, compared to 12.1% for full-time workers in 2015.

Tackling stereotypes will encourage women to enter more male-dominated subjects and industries later in life. Three essential tips for tackling these stereotypes are:

1. Get to them early – A lack of skills and confidence are a reason for opting out of typically ‘male subjects’; by changing this perception early and offering hands-on learning, young girls can start to feel confident in their abilities. 

2. Bust the Stereotypes – Dispel any myths and misconceptions that dissuade young girls from studying ‘male’ subjects in school.

3. Female role models – Young girls can be put off STEM and IT careers due to so few role models. Mentorship is a vital role in setting females on a path to confidence and success. 

 

Here are some great initiatives to get more women in tech:

CoderDojo – A volunteer-led computer programming club for people aged 7-17.

Girls Who Code – A popular US non-profit organisation that runs summer programs teaching programming skills to high school girls.

I Wish – This Irish initiative hopes to encourage more female students to study STEM subjects.

WISE – A UK non-profit organisation aiming to increase women’s presence in STEM jobs from today’s rate of 13% to 30% by 2020.

Girls in Tech – A global network that aims to boost the visibility of women in tech by hosting events and providing employment resources.

Women make up 67% of our team here at Fresh, and 63% of our senior management team at Director level are women. We look forward to seeing even more women dominate within the property industry!

Forget GameStop, gamification is the real investing revolution

No industry has been shielded from the disruptive legacy of the coronavirus pandemic.  The impact on the financial world was sensationally underlined in the US, when a swathe of retail investors sought to bring down eminent hedge funds by bidding up the beleaguered GameStop stock. 

As rumours continue to swirl around which stock will be targeted next by so-called investment vigilantes, the incident has broad implications for financial services. For the UK’s wealth industry and its guardians, the key question is whether this trend will blow across the Atlantic – and how could this impact the next generation of investors seeking to ensure a healthy and robust financial future.  

Behind the David and Goliath headlines, are some trends that the wealth industry must acknowledge, and consider deeply, the potential consequences. 

Betting for brokerages 

As Tesla visionary Elon Musk appeared to suggest in a recent Tweet, this situation was inevitable. Ultra-low rates, asset prices removed from fundamental reality, a technology enabled hyper-acceleration in the democratisation of investor platforms and the growth of chatrooms created the backdrop for a group of amateur day traders to take on investment titans. 

The pandemic has seen retail investing surge. A key underlying driver of this trend is that millennials have had more time and have begun to take ownership of their financial future. The other phenomenon is that due to a dearth of live fixtures, sports-betters have been switching to day trading.  

Alarmingly, we have seen a correlation in the decline of sport betting versus a rise in new retail share accounts. This has injected an elevated level of animal spirit to US markets. During the pandemic apps like Robinhood, Webill and Sofi have taken on millions of new accounts in the US. To illustrate the investing frenzy, as the GameStop story unfolded, Robinhood had more than 600,000 people download its app on Friday, according to JMP Securities.  

The other complicating factor is the business model operated by Robinhood and others. Payment for order flow is a system where a brokerage firm receives money for directing orders to specific parties for trade execution. This is banned in the UK due to the conflicts of interest that it can create but it is still allowed in the US.  Payment for order flow creates a potential lack of transparency, but also, as options/derivatives can be far more lucrative for trading firms, there is the potential for retail investors to be pushed in the direction of sophisticated products where they aren’t aligned to the investment goals.

This is best highlighted by the increasing interest in risky products like CFDs or “contract for differences” amongst retail investors, which has been likened to gambling rather than investing. A review of some platforms that offer CFDs to investors show them disclosing statutory warnings that 67-78% per cent of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs.

Education and access  

These complicated trades give clients the option to buy or sell securities at predetermined prices. By nature, this is more speculative — and gives retail investors the ability to use leverage, which can deliver more upside, but also potentially big losses. 

This brings us to a crucial point. Should the democratisation of investing just be about access? At WBS, we are supporting platforms to expand their investment universes, but we believe without education, access is not itself enough to ensure financial well-being. True investor democratisation is about leveraging financial instruments such as ETFs and fractional shares to invest early and often, time in the market is almost always more profitable than timing the market – but alongside this new architecture, the industry and the regulatory bodies also have a moral responsibility to ensure that investors are adequately safeguarded.  

While GameStop appeared to pit the person on the street versus hedge funds, the reality is that behind any chatroom or blog could be a scheme to manipulate the market. The most important thing is that the retail investor population is protected, and that the industry continues to use newer and smarter tools to support that goal.

Gamification over Gaming 

Over in the UK, we should welcome platforms that encourage long-term saving such as Hargreaves Lansdown. The firm has reported a surge in new accounts during the pandemic. The rise of younger investors pushed the average age of its platform users down from 54 in 2012, to 47.  

This is the beginning of a seismic generational shift and wealth transfer. But alongside the established platforms, there is a wave of digital investment platforms, such as Digital Money Box and Wealthify who are encouraging investors to invest early and often through low-cost liquid instruments that are easy to understand and are diversified.  

However, we need to draw a clear line between gamification and gaming or gamifying. Some platforms have been accused of “gaming” investing and not putting in place proper controls to safeguard inexperienced investors. But there are plenty of platforms trying to support long-term investing through gamification and nudges – powerful tools which we believe will be the real investing revolution for millennials. 

Gamification is when investors interact with their personal financial objectives with an investment firm’s game-based applications. This method can use incentives to reward engagement and harness techniques in the form of interactive games to encourage clients to work toward their respective investment goals. In this scenario, behaviour might be mapped via a virtual reality simulation to illustrate benefits for saver. This type of aid enables savers and investors to visualise the rewards of the investing both time and money in their financial goals – and creates a wired emotional response to flex their saving muscles. 

In improving the world’s financial literacy, the industry should not push for risky investment strategies like day trading – in the new frontier for retail investing the only game in town should be gamification for long term success.

Unlocking The Potential

Since their inception, SNAK has been dedicated to helping organizations solve their toughest challenges and realize their greatest ambitions. During the foundation of the company, the firm decided to build SNAK around three core values: engaging with customers throughout their life cycle, sustainability and people who demonstrate respect, integrity and teaming. Regardless of how much the firm expands, these core values will forever remain a focal point of the business.

In today’s era, many firm’s are operating in world of competency, where it is difficult to manage the customer’s requirement and to understand their challenging business areas. SNAK unlocks the potential by providing a dedicated team who work with customer to understand the problem and deliver the results as per customer requirement. However, their services do not just end there. SNAK is constantly in touch with their customers for their feedback on a regular basis, as well as communicating with them frequently to resolve any challenges they face.

In addition to this, through their various services lines, the team at SNAK are able to offer a number of solutions which include; enterprise resource planning (ERP) , document management system (DMS), customer relationship management (CRM), customer experience solution, mobility solution, e-Commerce solution and artificial intelligence solution to name but a few.

For many businesses, it is the underlying value of what an organization is able to deliver to their clients, that provides a meaning to both its stakeholders and employees. This undivided attention helps to create a path and offer guidance for the future, as well creates commitment, enthusiasm and inspiration from all parties involved. This approach to service is just one of the many ways in which SNAK has been able to accumulate not only years of success, but also a loyal and expanding client base.

Many of the clients the firm works with operate within multiple sectors such as Healthcare, Automotive, Manufacturing and Retail to name a few. At SNAK, the firm have a marketing and sales team who undertake thorough research into their customers, to ensure that they can find a solution that is perfectly tailored for their problems.

It is not just the marketing and sales team which go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction is delivered, SNAK also has a devoted team of individuals working in operations, delivery and HR doing everything in their power to exceed their clients’ expectations. Each member of the team is supported to help them achieve not only their clients’ goals, but also their own personal ones. SNAK has cultivated an open and transparent culture within the business, which has proven to help create a productive workforce.

With plans to expand their footprint globally, SNAK is searching for talented individuals and strong partners who can bring their soul in company and support in helping to achieve the milestones of the company.

A significant portion of the work that SNAK provides can be incredibly useful to countless business across the globe. Whilst their current base is in India, the firm already have helped a number of businesses in the Netherlands and the team hopes that they can further expand their reach in Europe in the years to come. It is an exciting time for SNAK as they put plans into motion to expand the business and we can not wait to see what one of the best IT software development companies operating in India achieves in the years to come.

Contact Details:

Contact: SNAK Media Team

Company: SNAK India Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/snakindiaconsultancy

Twitter: @SNAK_INDIA

Email: [email protected]

Web Address: www.snakindia.com

Health and Wealth

It goes without saying that larger companies tend to have more resources. Big organizations can provide incredible levels of support thanks to their size, but this does not mean that smaller enterprises should miss out. The value of a committed pharmacy benefit management system cannot be overstated, and the solution presented by the team at VativoRx is one which opens the doors of this incredible service to an entirely new audience.

The team at VativoRx believe that you shouldn’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to enjoy the advantages of a dedicated pharmacy benefits management program. Their solution is designed to innovate within the market, serving middle market companies, Third Party Administrators, Hospice Organizations, small and large employer groups, government, and HMOs. The nature of this incredible system is such that each organization can customize their solution to meet their specific needs. No two organizations are the same, from what it offers to what its members need, and so having this level of flexibility is vital for success.

The VativoRx program offers far more than simply a benefits processor. It actively designs and manages prescription benefit programs that provides cost savings to an organization on formulary and non-formulary drugs. Sophisticated design ensures that it can accommodate patients with advanced formulary and distribution options, delivering services through technologically superior systems. The promise for every group that uses the team’s astonishing services is that their work will combine fiduciary responsibility, and sensitivity to ensure members of the organization will be comforted and confident that they are receiving the best results possible.

No one wants a system that sacrifices care for cost-efficiency, so every stage of the design process for VativoRx has been carefully designed to provide the perfect balance between the two factors. The duty of care that you undertake on behalf of your employees is carried forward to the team at VativoRx. Of course, the main reason for embracing the potential of VativoRx is to provide access to drugs at a major discount, but the VativoRx team have gone far beyond that endeavor. They have created a program that is capable of delivering an extensive clinical program that supports the management of a company’s prescription benefit with a wide range proactive and innovative solutions.

As a management solution, the team have taken the time to ensure that everyone is engaged within the healthcare process, offering a holistic approach that is to be celebrated. From patient to pharmacist, VativoRx makes it much easier to deliver the best outcomes that address the specific challenges facing clients. From formulary management to drug utilization review to medication therapy management, the team have taken the time to ensure that their customers are first and foremost every step of the way.

Being able to guide the way in which claims are managed is a major benefit to working with the VativoRx systems. The team’s innovative approach embraces flexibility, with the opportunity to accommodate virtually any benefit configuration or ad-hoc modification with speed and accuracy. Working in an ad-hoc manner allows the platform to reflect the challenges of real life. Many programs simply cannot handle the unpredictable, and health can often prove incredibly erratic in its nature.

With a near infinite number of point-of-sale solutions, instantaneous online formulary, benefit and eligibility management and flexible control over the entire spectrum of pharmacy benefit options, this is a solution that is designed to be used by businesses of any and every sort, as opposed to specialists. Like every aspect of the platform, it opens doors to opportunity as opposed to closing them.

To ensure that clients are always satisfied with the service they get, the team have taken the time to constantly reach out and ensure that they keep in touch with their needs. The team have developed two industry-leading communications channels in order to remain in effective contact. The first is the team’s member portal. This provides ongoing and updated access to general drug information, corporate communications and related industry news. For those who want to know a little more about VativoRx, it also contains a hub for frequently asked questions, contact information and a comprehensive selfservice section.

The other option available is the VativoRX Mobile App. This provides members with the same useful information on the go, simplifying their participation in health management through their prescription benefits. Because the app is in the hands of members, they can establish their profiles, identifying themselves as eligible for various options where appropriate. This empowers individuals to take responsibility and control of their own health where appropriate.

The aim of VativoRx is not to shut the door on health, but to open up brand new opportunities for people, for organizations and for people everywhere. The aim of VativoRx has always been to make it easier for people to understand and manage their benefits, and to work out a way to be healthy that doesn’t cost the Earth. The continued success of this platform shows how effective the team have proven to be.

Home Away From Home

Ghana is rapidly growing into a major country on the international stage. with the region’s expansion unquestionable, the importance of its capital city continues to increase. Accra has much to commend it, including the delightful @Home Boutique Hostel & Suites. Recognised in Acquisition International’s Global Excellence Awards as Most Accommodating Short-Stay Hotel, 2021 – Accra, we thought we’d take a closer look at what this stunning home from home has to offer its guests.

What does it mean to find that perfect place to stay? Is it a place filled with luxuries, where someone can be pampered and treated like royalty? Is it somewhere quiet and tranquil, where guests can sit back, relax and watch the world go by? Is it somewhere in the heart of the city, ideally placed to act as a base of operations that is second to none? For guests coming to Accra for the first time, @Home Boutique Hostel acts as all three.

A little under a mile and a half away from Independence Square, the welcoming walls of @Home Boutique Hostel offer a pleasant sanctuary from a weary world. The team aim to offer service that is truly unique in the area, effortlessly blending B&B Hostel accommodation with high class saloon and spa services. For those who are miles away from home, the team see this as no reason why you can’t find a way of living that suits your specific needs.

For many guests, their time at @Home Boutique Hostel begins at the airport. The team know that after a long trip, the last time someone wants to do is search for where they are sleeping that night. As such, @Home Boutique Hostel offers a much used and highly valued airport shuttle service. It’s not just a courtesy from the team, but an essential service that acts as a welcome to Accra for those who have just arrived.

Walking through the doors, guests are often amazed at exactly what is on offer. Wi-Fi is available throughout the property, and every room comes fitted with air conditioning and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. This ensures the ultimate in comfort during a guest’s stay. The building boasts an impressive terrace, and a garden, so visitors can watch the world go by or relax in serene safety on the grounds. For those who want to embrace a little more pampering and self-reflection, a Jacuzzi and wellness area is available for use and had proven to be highly popular over the years.

When it comes to breakfast, the team offer a service that is unparalleled in Accra. Food is not only delicious, but of immense variety. Local specialities and a continental breakfast can be enjoyed at the restaurant. The choice that is available changes daily to ensure the highest quality. Guests choose what they eat from an astonishing menu that reflects some of the best that Accra has to offer, selected by some of its most discerning citizens.

Of course, no one would want to visit this amazing location without seeing some of the sights. For the price, the team at @Home Boutique Hostel is one of the best situated places to stay in the city. The property is just ten minutes’ drive to the Arts Centre, Accra Sports Stadium, Osu Castle, Makola, Accra City Centre, James Town, Ministries and a mere five minutes’ drive to the La Beach. There are many hotels in Accra which charge far more, while offering significantly less in the way of not only services, but ease of access to all of these marvellous icons of Ghana’s history.

Of course, people don’t just keep turning to this impressive hotel because of its impressive services and the staff don’t aim so highly simply because they are told to. They gain this determination from a way of thinking that puts others first in every respect. The team do their best at every stage to ensure that their guests are comfortable and happy when they come to stay. If things go wrong, they approach the challenge with a laugh and a smile that sees everything right. Those who stay are not just visitors, they’re friends who will come back again and again.

This, then, is the secret behind the incredible success seen by the team at @Home Boutique Hostel. It’s not just another place to stay, but a home from home that tries in every respect to be just that. The approach is one that is calm, friendly, and welcoming, and never pushes the boundaries into outright formality. With such success in Acquisition International’s Global Excellence Awards, we’re sure to see this firm thrive for the foreseeable future.

For more information, please contact Margaret Amoako.

Global Excellence 2020

Our Global Excellence Awards are an annual programme which has been designed by our in-house research team. Launched to recognise and reward the firms and individuals whose sustained outstanding performance has seen them leading the way in their industry.

Honouring these top performers is done through a rigorous and in-depth selection process from our in-house awards specialists. The team left no stone unturned to ensure that every one of our chosen firms was selected based on proven performance over the past 12 months, guaranteeing that all award recipients were chosen purely on merit and can take pride in the knowledge that they truly deserve their place among this year’s esteemed winners.

Disability-related tribunal cases increase 133% over past five years – making it one of the most prevalent types of workplace discrimination

Disability-related tribunal cases have increased 133% over the past five years, making it the second most prevalent type of workplace discrimination, new research shows.

Through the analysis of Ministry of Justice (MOJ) data, health and safety training specialist DeltaNet International uncovered the top reasons people take their company to an employment tribunal. 

It found sexual orientation discrimination cases to have increased by 165% over the past five years, followed by disability discrimination cases with 8,094 claims in 2019/2020 – up from 3,470 in 2015/2016. When looking at last year alone, there were more disability-related tribunal cases compared to any other type of workplace discrimination.

In a third of cases (33%), disability discrimination cases are resolved via mediation between the employer and employee. Compared to 2015/2016, fewer cases are also labelled as ‘unsuccessful at hearing’.

The 8 Best Coworking Spaces for Tech Startups

Startup companies in the information technology sector need space to collaborate and innovate. In-person and remote meetings require a specialized office, but new businesses may not be able to invest in a permanent location. These are the best eight coworking spaces for tech startups because they include everything a company needs without a traditional lease.

1. SOMACentral (California)

Tech startups will find a collaborative environment in SOMACentral’s three California locations. Employees close to Menlo Park, Townsend Street and Sacramento street can work in a private office or secluded desk. The SOMACentral founders created their offices to serve technology and creative teams, so professionals can find the supplies and space they need for their specific projects.

 

2. Galvanize (U.S.)

Anyone looking to refine their coding skills and work away from home for the day can check out Galvanize. This coworking company built locations across the country to train students via immersive boot camps and give them rentable spaces to work. Flexible memberships work from month to month so everyone has the freedom to work wherever and whenever they want.

 

3. HackerLab (California)

HackerLab’s Sacramento location has everything tech startups need to work in an affordable office space. Their private offices eliminate distractions and increase productivity, even if employees only use their premium desks.

 

4. TechHub (Worldwide)

When people rent a coworking space in one of TechHub’s worldwide offices, they’ll be among similarly skilled people. The company only rents to people employed in the tech industry so experts can collaborate with leaders and innovators in real time without a third party introducing them.

 

5. TechSpace (U.S.)

Located on both coasts and in the central U.S., TechSpace has offices in major business hubs. Public transportation makes them easy to access and flexible leasing terms ensure that they’re easier to work with. After people use their collaborative furniture to streamline projects while staying comfortable, it’s easy to see why this company has some of the best coworking spaces for tech startups.

6. Plexal (London)

After the 2012 London Olympics moved out of town, Plexal converted their media center into its coworking space. Within its mini-city of workshop spaces, technology labs and an indoor park, startups will find amenities and resources designed exclusively for the tech world.

 

7. Workhaus (Toronto)

Workhaus has multiple office spaces within downtown Toronto for tech startups. There’s plenty of space for individuals and growing companies, plus in-house events available to renters who want to learn more about the entrepreneurial world.

8. The Hive Central (Hong Kong)

Fintech startups will find a home in The Hive Central. This coworking company’s Hong Kong headquarters has affordable spaces for employees to tackle projects. It also has special programs available, such as prototyping designers and videography studios so startups don’t have to outsource to launch products or services.

 

Find Coworking Spaces for Tech Startups

These eight coworking spaces for tech startups make it simple to find a physical location to work anywhere in the world. Business owners and employees can meet, grow and learn more about their field without ever signing a long-term lease for a permanent office that doesn’t include unique spaces and perks like these companies do.

Revolutionising Medical Training

Established in 2017, Fusetec is a cutting-edge additive manufacturing company utilising the latest 3D technologies. Following the firm’s well-deserved success in Acquisition International’s Global Excellence Award 2020, we caught up with CEO Mark Roe to find out more about one most innovative additive companies operating in the industry today.

Located in Adelaide, Fusetec is revolutionising medical training using advanced additive manufacturing of human body parts for use as teaching aids during surgical training. To start, Mark provides a brief overview of the firm and offers more insight into its clientele.

“Fusetec manufactures fully operable, anatomically accurate, human body parts by segmenting CT and MRI scans of actual patients to recreate anatomies and pathological conditions of a subject through 3D printing, thereby enabling medical professionals to understand the practical complexities associated with the patient under study. Naturally, this allows residents and surgeons to rehearse new or complex procedures by practicing on models.

“In addition to this, actual footage obtained from a real-world operation can be viewed, providing surgeons a comparative assessment of both scenarios. The major benefit deriving from this training methodology is the elimination of cadavers and the dangers associated with such practices. The firm enables medical students, surgical residents, and even fully skilled surgeons to keep up to date with their training practices by utilising 3D printing technologies to reproduce anatomically accurate medical training devices with pathologies.”

In a world where 4.4 per cent of all surgical cases end up in fatality within 30 days, Fusetec are committed to changing lives through technology. Moreover, as Mark goes on to explain, the merits of additive manufacturing techniques are what inspired him to establish the company in the first place.

“Naturally, I wanted to bring some of the most promising additive manufacturing technologies to Australia, but buying commercial technology and offering a bureau service is ultimately a recipe for disaster. If you are buying off-the-shelf technology, there is nothing stopping competitors from doing the same. So, in my pursuit of a more beneficial business model, I discovered a hidden problem in the medical sector, how do surgeons train while avoiding the complexities associated with cadavers? The difficulty of the problem at hand invigorated us to take up the challenge head-on, bringing together a team of the most skilled professionals in the additive manufacturing, engineering, anatomy, and IT industries.”

In an attempt to offer a unique selling point, Fusetec like to keep its clients in suspense until the end of their videos as Mark points out.

“While promoting our products, we typically refrain from revealing to the surgeons that the body parts shown in the video are advanced manufactured anatomies until the end. Surgeons are generally flabbergasted, when it is revealed they have been viewing manufactured, life-like designed intricacies of pathologies and not the dissection of living tissue.”

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has caused catastrophic disruption to all market sectors, however despite the pandemic halting the progress of its operations, the firm has still managed to prosper during these difficult and uncertain times thanks to its technological strengths as Mark explains further.

“Fusetec put on its thinking cap and repurposed our first sinus surgical training products into a COVID-19 swab training model. Partnering with the head of ENT, Associate Professor Alkis Psaltis at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, we filmed a swab training video and personal protection equipment (PPE) training video, which has circulated around the globe. Additionally, we also responded to a call from the South Australian government, seeking local companies to manufacture PPE. Now, we are a proud manufacturer of face shields. Through our team’s creativity and will to accept new challenges, we have been able to keep the lights on and aid our frontline workers.”

Finally, Mark discusses the firm’s future prospects and outlines some of its plans for 2021 and beyond. “In response to our new reality, we will continue to support Master Surgeons teaching dissections via webinars. This has obviously never been done before, but we have the technology and capability to manufacture human body parts without the risk of harmful bacteria. Within the next decade, we believe it may be possible to manufacture human organs for transplant and every aspect of our learning will get us one step closer to this quantum leap forward in healthcare.”

For more information, please contact Mark Roe at www.fusetec.com.au

How to Understand Stock Market Basics

The stock market can be a profitable and exciting way to diversify your income and investments. It can also be a bottomless pit of confusion. Even if you have decided to hire a professional to trade on your behalf you will still want to be knowledgeable about the market on a basic level so that you can both understand your money moves and have your expectations managed along the way. It can be overwhelming thinking that you must understand every detail about the market to be able to enter it. Instead start slow and familiarize yourself with the fundamentals that are applicable to all types of participants.

Beginner Analysis

The stock market is comprised of exchanges that bring buyers and sellers together and it acts as the market for the sharing of those stocks. However, this market is unlike the market you are used to, walk in business is not permitted here. As an individual trader you will be represented by a broker, live or online. You are still at the helm of the decision making but your broker is the one handling the exchanges on your behalf.

If you hire a professional, then they will handle the specifics of your goals and utilize technical analysis as it specifically relates to your bottom line. As you develop and grow your portfolio though you should want to participate in the process through information seeking practices. For example, you might often hear that the market is up, or the market is down, but flesh that out one step further and you will learn that those terms refer to one of the major market indexes. And that market indexes are what track the performance of a group of stocks.

Market Types

On a basic level it will be a major benefit to any beginner to be familiar with both bull, and bear markets, and the difference between them. While these names may represent animals, you are familiar with that does not mean that you know all you need to. The bear was selected as the symbol to represent a market to be fearful of. A bear market means that stock prices are falling across several of the major indexes. When bear markets hit and investors being to pull back it can sometimes signal that the economy may do so as well.

The bull was chosen to represent a market indicative of a little more confidence. Typically bull markets are a signal of economic growth, and last longer than bear markets do. Having a working knowledge of these types can help you to remain steady emotionally during bear markets and hopeful during bull markets.

The differences between a market crash and a market correction also deserve your attention. Corrections refer to downward trends that happen when the market drops below a certain percentage. Where a crash refers to a more sudden and significant drop. Understanding these basics can help you to not make rash decisions during times of downward trends. If you are investing for the long-term doing nothing is often the best strategy when the market fluctuates in an undesirable fashion.

Personalized Legal Services

Scroggins Law Group PLLC is a family law boutique based in Dallas, Texas, set apart from their competitors through outstanding legal achievements and client-focused representation. Led by the well-renowned and board-certified attorney, Mark Scroggins, the firm seeks to deliver excellent legal services with the high standard of customer service that their clients deserve.

Situated in Dallas, Texas and serving families throughout North Texas and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Scroggins Law Group PLLC is a boutique family law firm committed to providing representation to individuals involved in divorce, child custody, enforcements, modifications and other family law matters.

When Mark Scroggins, Founder of SLG and board-certified attorney in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, established SLG, he did so with a vision to provide a high-end, ‘concierge’ service in the representation of divorce, child custody and family law clients. By prioritizing quality over quantity and choosing not to take as many cases on as their competitors do, SLG is able to provide the high levels of conscientious, personalized legal services that makes them unique.

This is compounded by the firm’s ingenious approach to delivering legal services. SLG’s team of attorneys are bold, creative and recruited for their ability to think outside the box when creating solutions for even the most complex legal issues presented to them by their clients. Often, this means not taking the most aggressive and direct route but thinking laterally to find a solution that is beneficial to all parties involved. As Mark explains, “The solution to every problem is not a hammer. We believe in ‘walking softly and carrying a big stick.’” It’s a unique approach to legal services, but it’s one that has been consistently proven to serve clients well.

Moreover, the complexity of family law lies in the fact it is the intersection of so many different areas of the law, meaning that to represent individuals in legal matters within this field requires strong knowledge and practical experience in many other different specialties as well. Expertise is also required in other fields outside of the law and as such, every day SGL relies heavily on its extensive network of experts in psychology, psychiatry, pediatrics, accounting, forensic accounting, business valuation, real estate, oil and gas, and much more besides. Only through collaboration with these experts in a vast selection of fields is SGL able to deliver its award-winning, comprehensive services.

Consequently, Mark is vocal of his pride in the SGL team, who he considers to be the backbone of the firm. “I am so proud of our paralegals. They have the most client contact of any group in the firm as they are handling the majority of the day to day issues that clients are faced with, such as propounding discovery, responding to discovery, document review and organization.” As the first point of contact for the rest of the firm, SGL’s team of paralegals are representatives of the professional yet approachable culture of the firm, which guarantees effective outcomes delivered with personal service.

The majority of SGL’s clients involved in marital property division matters are C-level executives, entrepreneurs and business owners with substantial assets that require the employment of additional experts, such as forensic accountants or business valuation experts who will properly assess separate property and community property issues, as well as the values of businesses within the community estate. SGL also deals with individuals and families, dealing with each client with the same, high level of respect, conscientiousness and transparency throughout the whole process.

Mark himself has practiced family law throughout the state of Texas for over twenty-five years, earning his reputation as an experienced, effective and aggressive trial attorney with sound understanding of business matters that equips him well in dealing with all aspects of family law. Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Mark is counted among the less than 2% of lawyers in Texas to have this certification, which has only helped build his strong reputation amongst executives, professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs for his dynamic style and unparalleled expertise in family law and business litigation matters.

Mark’s unique background in cutting-edge litigation technology is effectively utilized by SGL to increase the benefits offered to the firm’s litigation clients. It is also used by Mark himself, who predominantly deals in contentious or high-stakes family law litigation cases for his high net worth and business owner clients, which involve child custody or complex property issues. It is in these cases that Mark truly thrives, being able to demonstrate his prowess and use his superior insights and aggressive approach to overcome challenges posed to his clients by ruthless or unruly opponents, in order to deliver his clients’ desired outcomes.

Mark has published works and articles in several journals and papers throughout his career, including the Texas Lawyer, and has also spoken at length about litigation technology before numerous organizations and corporate clients.

In recognition of his many years of work for clients and his sector, Mark has been the proud recipient of awards and accolades prior to receiving AI’s Leading Child Custody and Complex Property Dispute Litigator of the Year, Texas. Mark is also among those who make up less than 5% of attorneys in the State of Texas to be selected to the list of Texas Super Lawyers by Thompson Reuters, 2014 – 2020, and was also selected as a member of the Nation’s Top One Percent by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015 and 2016.

In that same period, Mark was also rated 10 Best by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys™ in 2015 and 2016 and in 2003, he was featured in Vogue Magazine among the Top Lawyers for Women in Texas. Mark is also the proud member of numerous professional associations and memberships, including the Texas Bar Foundation, in which he is a Fellow. This prestigious foundation can only be joined through invitation and includes less than 1% of all attorneys in the state of Texas.

It is therefore unsurprising that Mark has led SGL to high levels of success and national acclaim. Growing and developing the firm is taken very seriously by Mark and his colleagues, and the recruitment of new talent is based heavily on the firm’s culture. Whilst intellectual ability is of course vital, SGL knows the value of unity and teamwork in leveraging success, and only candidates who feel like the right fit for the business from the start are considered.

Rarely has the strength of the SGL team felt more important than in 2020 and amidst the challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, with some people working remotely, some in the office, the firm has been able to pull through an undoubtedly tricky period and look forward to a bright future of continued success. Mark is looking forward to that point when he and his team can reunite to have more in-person interaction and celebrate their successful growth together.

For more information, please contact Mark Scroggins at scrogginslawgroup.com

The Pros and Cons of Running an Amazon FBA Business

Since the beginning of the global pandemic that has swept the globe, the world of retail has been flipped on its head. Brick and mortar stores have felt the impact of social distancing and lockdowns, while online stores have reported unprecedented amounts of growth.

eCommerce itself had been growing at a steady rate for the last few years, with technology rapidly developing to cater to the increased customer demands. Instant gratification started becoming more achievable for customers as eCommerce operations became more evolved and refined.

As the industry expanded, so did the options that came with it, allowing smaller businesses to enter the realm easily and more affordably. Concepts like drop-shipping and Amazon FBA have allowed parties to enter the market that simply would not have been able to in the past.

So, if you are one of these, and are looking to join the world of eCommerce, we thought we would take a look at Amazon FBA and how you can use it to grow your business. We will be delving into the benefits and challenges of Amazon FBA and give you some guidance on how to use it to expand your business.  

 

What is an Amazon FBA Business?

Let’s kick off with what an Amazon FBA business actually is. “FBA” stands for Fulfilment By Amazon and essentially means that Amazon will handle the logistics and warehousing of your products.

You simply need to have a product to sell, market it, and then send it off to Amazon for them to store it and get it delivered. This means that you will not need to worry about the storage and delivery of the products, rather, the actual sales part of it.

Amazon will handle the picking, packing, shipping, and tracking of your order, as well as the reverse logistics, or return if necessary.

This solution will allow you to use the time and resources usually used for fulfillment to scale your start-up to where you want it to be. You can then decide on the strategic trajectory of your business. You can either grow your business to a point where you can manage the fulfillment yourself or sell your Amazon business for a profit and look into a new venture. 

Amazon businesses can be highly profitable, and if you do the right research, you will be able to find the right resources to assist with the sale.

The Pros of an Amazon FBA Business

As you can imagine, there are a number of benefits that come with conducting business where experienced professionals take care of your fulfillment. In order to understand them better, we broke them down.

Streamlined Fulfilment Processes

This is clearly one of the most obvious benefits, but if you have ever managed an eCommerce store and had to manage the fulfillment and last-mile delivery of the products, you will know what a headache it can be.

Amazon handles everything from storage to picking and packaging and getting it to your customer. They also manage some of the communication with the customer during the last-mile delivery, which means that you simply need to ensure its arrival, manage any problems and focus on retargeting.

What is more, they handle the returns and refunds, which can end up being a hefty cost for your company if you are a start-up.

 

Reduced Cart Abandonment

With Amazon handling your shipping, your customers are guaranteed to have lower, if not free, shipping fees with Amazon. The company offers vast discounts and in certain cases, free shipping due to the number of deliveries that do daily.

This, in turn, means a higher conversion rate for you. Shipping fees are one of the biggest causes of cart abandonment, with customers bouncing at the payment stages due to unexpected or high shipping costs. This can be avoided with Amazon providing the service at a discounted cost or no charge at all.

Increased Customer Communication

The modern customer is all about instant gratification, and this is when it comes to communication too. The customer wants to know where their product is, and they want to know now. If something goes wrong, they require instant assistance.

This is where it is helpful to have a partner like Amazon on hand. They provide tracking for the packages, as well as customer service centers that are open 24/7. In fact, Amazon is renowned for its customer services, so you will know that your customers are in good hands.

This doesn’t mean though that you should leave the customer purely in their hands post-checkout. Remember, you have a brand to uphold and customers to delight and surprise. So make sure you keep those communication channels open. Whether it be telephone, email, or online chatbots, give your customer the option.

Lexial Is A Leading Law Firm

Created in 2007, Lexial Law Firm is an international beacon of excellence within the two main fields of business immigration law, and international criminal and political law. With offices across continental Europe, there is much to admire about this firm, including the fact that it is home to Emmanuel Ruchat, this month’s winner of the title of Leading Specialist Immigration and Human Rights Lawyer of the Year, Belgium & France. Following Mr Ruchat’s success in the Acquisition International Leading Adviser 2020 supplement, we take a closer look at what he has to offer, and what makes Lexial such an outstanding law firm.

Strategically located with offices in Paris, Brussels, and Geneva, the work of Lexial is incredibly valuable for those involved in the worlds of international business and immigration, criminal and political law. As well as these, Lexial also works in the fields of business and employment, delivering outstanding services to every client that requires them. Since its inception, the firm’s aim has always been to assist its clients in a manner that puts the firm as close as possible to the problems themselves. In doing so, Lexial is able to provide a service that encompasses efficient and adapted solutions. Created and founded over thirteen years ago, the work of Lexial specialises in two main fields. The first field of competence that the firm can boast proficiency in is that of business immigration law, which is an assistance to international travellers looking to establish their company, as well as a number of other activities.

Many people travel internationally for work, and some people travel internationally to found a business in a country that is foreign to them. Establishing these companies, investing in them, developing a market share, working, and gaining a reputation for success is no easy feat. Particularly within the countries of France, Belgium, and Switzerland, this can be made easier with the help of Lexial. The firm takes on many different cases and develops solutions and services that clients can make use of when establishing their business as an immigrant. Quite a departure from the world of business immigration law is the second field of competence that Lexial boasts; international criminal and political law. The services provided here include extradition processes, criminal defence (notably of foreign political figures brought before Belgian and French courts), and European proceedings before the Court of Justice of European Union or the European Court of Human Rights.

Within these two strong fields of competence and service, there are a multitude of clients that Lexial works diligently to serve. Many of the clients that this exceptional law firm works with are generally nationals from non-European Union countries. They may be investors, starters, employers, or executives, but they all have one thing in common that unites them; they seek out the services of Lexial, rather than it being the other way around. Based on the word of mouth success that the firm has benefitted from, they are able to work in a way that enables clients to come to the firm when they need the service that it can provide for them. One of the core reasons that the firm has achieved such a sterling reputation within the industry is thanks to the hard work and dedication of its staff, one of whom has stood out in recent months; Mr Emmanuel Ruchat.

Mr Ruchat has been a lawyer since 1996, and draws on a wealth of experience that includes a business management degree, a master’s degree in business law, and an applied postgraduate degree in insurance and liability law. His experience and expertise gathered throughout the years has culminated in no small amount of success, and this recent achievement of the title of Leading Specialist Immigration and Human Rights Lawyer of the Year, Belgium & France is a fitting testament to his hard work. Year on year, Mr Ruchat has been classified as one of the best in the business of being a corporate immigration lawyer for self-employed and executive employees. He has authored a great many articles on these topics, where he draws on his experience being licensed to litigate at the Belgian Supreme Court in criminal law since February 2016. That same year also saw Mr Ruchat recognized by the Bar Association with the title of Specialist in Immigration Law and in Criminal Law.

Business immigration work often includes a large amount of paperwork and rough relationships alongside embassies, banks, and administrative authorities. Yet, this is a part of his work that Lexial team approaches with enthusiasm and dedication every day. Clients are often in a hurry, and this outstanding lawyer ensures that he and his team deliver success to every client. Despite the fact that it can a slow-moving process that has a lot of paperwork and relationship-building, this work enables him to have a direct line of communication to the client at all times. Lexial lawyers regularly talk every day with people all around the world, and enjoys the travel when it is permitted.

Surrounding himself with like-minded individuals, Mr Ruchat ensures that his team of lawyers know what is expected of them. The main qualities that are expected include endurance, creativity, a complete absence of naivety, self-governance, self-sufficiency, a very high level of French language skills, and a good level of English skills. This is not a role for people who need watching and telling what to do next; this is for people who do what they have to do, and can be left to their own devices. Working independently has been brought to the forefront in 2020 with the arrival of COVID-19. Yet, paradoxically, 2020 and its train of worldwide misfortunates was not so bad for the team at Lexial. Brexit send the firm new British clients who need to maintain contact with the European Union, Donald Trump sent the firm some of his fellow citizens who wanted to escape his possible re-election, and COVID-19 presented some opportunities to clients able to invest in the right ways.

Ultimately, Lexial serves many clients in many ways, but the excellence of the service is always front and centre. Clients can benefit from services that are delivered in a way that always puts them first, and gets them the results they want. Lexial and Mr Ruchat have spent years refining knowledge and expertise, and both are now in a place where they can make the most of these insights when working with clients from all over the world. The excellence is in abundance, and there is no shortage of quality legal prowess on show every day.

For more information, please contact Emmanuel Ruchant at www.lexial.eu

Outstanding Leadership in Oman

After becoming a Limited Liability company in 1987, MHD LLC has achieved phenomenal progress over the years and contributed largely to the economic growth, development, and all-around prosperity of Oman. With a wide variety of diverse business divisions, the firm offers products and services that cover automotive, tyres, batteries, computers, office automation, telecommunications, engineering products, oil and gas products, electronics and building materials. Offering this vast range of products and services, MHD LLC is proud to be associated with international brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover, McLaren, Volvo, MG, Ford, Michelin, Huawei, and Hitachi to name but a few. By building on its business strengths, the firm is looking at forging business collaboration with new business partners under the leadership of their leader Areej Mohsin Haider Darwish.

There are various factors which are attributable to the success of the business, but Areej is most certainly one of the key components. Areej’s father had the keen foresight to envisage the rapid economic development of Oman and the business opportunities that would emerge in the process, but Areej herself has steered the business to new heights on the ladder of success. Today, MHD LLC’s success is a culmination of leadership, planning, perseverance, foresight, and determination. Areej has seized opportunities and developed relationships over the years with business partners, and has instilled dedication and hard work in her employees.

Despite the importance of Areej’s role in the business, clients also play a pivotal role in any organization. The success and growth of an organization is dependent on its clients, as it is the steady stream of clients that increases the clientele and allows the business to prosper over a period of time. At MHD LLC, the firm values its clients immensely, and its relationship with them is not merely transactional, but a long-term one. Since MHD LLC deals with diverse products across different sectors, the firm caters to clients from all walks of life and offers a product for each type of client. Areej has helped her staff better understand the different types of client, and the firm is therefore better equipped to develop successful strategies.

Company culture reflects the organization and its people, and Areej has instilled the best kind of company culture at MHD LLC. Positive and affirming, the workplace culture at the business improves teamwork, raises morale, and increases both productivity and efficiency. The work culture also encourages open communication in a bid to make employees comfortable collaborating with their colleagues at all levels. Equal opportunities for all employees is something that Areej has also strived to implement, always valuing, motivating, and supporting them in their career growth. A content and motivated employee has a higher probability of making significant contributions to the organization. This cycle creates a positive influence on everybody involves, and paves the way to success of an organization.

For all the success that Areej has overseen, there have also been challenges that come with running any business. They are inevitable. However, staying ahead is important, and Areej has ensured that MHD LLC stays ahead in its field. The firm has faced challenges over the last few years, which vary from routine business matters, to the slowdown in economy due to low oil prices. This, coupled with intense competition, has made for a challenging time for the business. Yet, MHD LLC has managed to grow by being prudent, enhancing efficiencies, and diversifying its sources of revenue in line with the country’s vision and their values of focusing on community interests, employees, and customers.

Planning is key to any business, however. Planning for the future, though difficult, is essential to the success of any organization. It may be hard to predict what is coming next at any given time, but MHD LLC and Areej know that staying ahead is paramount for a successful future in business. For Areej, the business strategy will be to prepare itself for a future that is constantly evolving and changing, which necessitates a knowledgeable and expeditious future when considering changes in the business environment.

Looking to the future, MHD LLC is exploring and identifying new markets and additional revenue streams for it to become a part of. It is exploring possibilities regarding bringing new products and international brands to Oman, to meet the future needs of the market and to diversify their sources of revenue in line with the national vision for Oman. Diversifying will take the business into new territories and help build a bigger reach, but the focus will always remain on delivering value to clients by providing them with quality products and services from world-renowned brands. Keeping a tab on market trends and innovations happening around the world in existing and new sectors alike is crucial, and will help MHD LLC identify and venture into new opportunities that will help elevate its profile.

MHD LLC has progressed positively which is attributed to the astuteness and business acumen of Areej, who has slowly and surely become one of the finest and most influential women in business across Oman. As she aligns the MHD LLC vision with that of Oman’s national vision, Areej is one of the finest leaders operating within the region today.

Powerful Results

Marc J. Bern & Partners LLP is a firm of nationally recognized partners and attorneys who boast long and successful careers in handling high-profile and complex litigation cases across the United States. The firm specializes in mass torts, civil lawsuits involving many injured parties against one or a few defendants. Bern & Partners currently represents more than 5,000 boy scouts who have suffered abuse, 4,5000 railroad workers afflicted with cancer due to exposure to toxic chemicals at work, and 5,000 injured people exposed to contaminated water in Flint, Michigan.

Since its inception, Bern & Partners has been involved in cases that have resulted in excess of $3 billion in settlements and awards. The success of the firm lies in its combination of considerable manpower and resources that one would expect from a large law firm and its commitment to personal and conscientious service for clients. Each individual client is treated with respect and given the reassurance that the team at Bern & Partners will fight hard to achieve full compensation under the law.

Alongside the hard work, dedication and tirelessness of the attorneys and staff of Bern & Partners, the firm’s success rests in its compassion. Recognizing the strain of such taxing cases, from the stress and financial hardships to the injuries and injustice of the crimes itself on the lives of their clients and their families, Bern & Partners works hard to alleviate some of the pressures and help them through this difficult period.

With offices in Pennsylvania, California, Chicago, Puerto Rico, and headquarters in New York, Bern & Partners is able to represent plaintiffs all across the United States. Anyone who has been harmed as a result of negligence of others is eligible for the firm’s help, whether the defendant is an individual or large corporation, such as pharmaceutical companies or automobile manufacturers. From their first contact with the firm, clients receive friendly and professional service from the staff and are quickly assigned an attorney and paralegal who will best help them tackle their case. As such, every member of the Bern & Partners team plays a vital role, from the attorneys who develop leading legal theories and strategies to the staff who develop client relationships and maintain good-will with all non-legal personnel and vendors.

The firm is led by Founding Partner, Marc Jay Bern, whose prolific career spanning more than thirty-five years has earnt him national recognition and acclaim. Mr. Bern has led more than a hundred cases to a jury verdict throughout his career, also holding a successful record in the achievement of settlements of more than $1 million across hundreds of cases. His work with his firm has seen his close involvement in the 9/11 World Trade Center litigation and the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which was originally signed into law by President Barack Obama. 

He has represented thousands of injured victims from numerous defective drugs, such as DES, fen-phen, Risperdal and Trayslol among others, as well as many defective medical products like IVC filters, hip replacements and more. Mr. Bern has also led his firm in cases concerning FELA railroad litigation, personal injury cases, environmental litigation, and a multitude of other cases involving catastrophic harm or property damage.

Mr. Bern’s success as a litigator is born from his experience and tenacity in the courtroom, which enables him to be a forceful advocate for his clients with a reputation that extends across the United States. He is a member of the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum and has been featured in Who’s Who in American Law. Martindale-Hubbell has awarded Mr. Bern with its pre-eminent AV rating, ‘Highest Rating in Legal Ability and Ethical Standards’ for more than twenty consecutive years and in 2007, Lawdragon included him among its ranking of the ‘Top 500 Plaintiff Lawyers
in America’, in the same year that he was honorably selected to become a charter member of the Litigation Counsel of America. A year prior, Mr. Bern was designated as a New York Super Lawyer and has continued to be selected every year since. He has been selected as one of “America’s Premier Lawyers” by Fortune Magazine and named one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers. Mr. Bern also sits on the prestigious Board of Trustees of the New York City Police Museum.

A graduate of the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mr. Bern is admitted to practice before state courts in New York and Wisconsin and before the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. He has tried cases and argued legal issues in courtrooms all across the United States.

As a leading, nationally-recognized litigator, Mr. Bern has been invited to speak to a wide variety of organizations, including the Wisconsin Association for Justice, the Practicing Law Institute, the New York County Lawyers Association, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America on several topics within environmental law. He has appeared as a legal authority on Court TV, ABC, NBC and CBS, and he has also been interviewed for publications including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Forbes Magazine.

In 2020, like the rest of the world, Mr. Bern and his law firm faced their fair share of new and unforeseen challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Adapting to working from home, setting up remotely, digitizing practices and maintaining the workforce throughout the pandemic has been challenging, but now the firm is focusing on creating a safe working environment as teams return to the offices across the United States, ensuring everyone is safe and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Despite the disruption of the pandemic, Bern & Partners foresees a future of continued growth through proactive recruitment via word of mouth, interpersonal relationships and professional organizations and headhunters. The additions to the diverse firm will enhance the internal culture that is devoted to success at every level, encouraging each member of the team along their own journeys of personal and professional development. This facilitates a culture of independence and advancement based on individual and group merit, which in turn translates to a firm committed to serving its clients at the highest level and with the best service possible for many years to come.

Unrivalled Technical And Service Support

Established in 1946, Davis & Shirtliff Group is the leading supplier of water and energy related equipment in the area. The organisation regionally distributes high-quality equipment sourced from a number of industry leading companies from around the world as well as carrying out distribution, manufacture and assembly of various water related products under its own brand Dayliff.
Business activities are focused around seven product segments – Water Pumps, Boreholes, Swimming Pools, Water Treatment, Irrigation, Generators and Solar Equipment.

The Group is Kenya based and the Nairobi headquarters cover an area of 10,000m2, with extensive warehousing, manufacturing, training and administrative facilities from where products are efficiently distributed by the company’s own fleet of trucks. The firm also operates through a network of Kenyan branches as well as regional subsidiaries in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, South Sudan, DRC, Zimbabwe and an associate company in Ethiopia.

Josfrider Musima is Head of Marketing at Davis & Shirtliff. To begin, she goes into great detail about the firm’s mission and objectives. 

Josfrider elaborates to further explain that the firm’s key focus to simultaneously develop the business across all activity areas to ensure that no areas of weakness can potentially diminish organizational capacity.

“Customer relationships are also very important to us,” she highlights. “The quality focus has built great confidence in the brand which has created an excellent market reputation.”

With a total complement of more than 800 highly trained and professional staff, Davis & Shirtliff lays great emphasis on having the right people in terms of intellectual capacity, skillsets and commitment. A combination of careful recruitment, culture, remuneration, training and openness are embedded in the management philosophy as staff are the front face of the organisation and oversee the building and maintaining of customer relations. “Our customers are vast and varied and include homeowners, organisations, industries, Government institutions etc. We approach potential customers predominantly through advertising, but also word-of-mouth referrals and by directly approaching some prospective customers.”

Giving back to local communities has been a commitment of Davis & Shirtliff since its founding in 1946. Through Corporate Social Responsibility, it helps solve some of the most pressing challenges and unlock the potential of communities.

“Davis and Shirtliff is converging people, technology and resources to improve lives in Africa through cooperation and a resolve to find sustainable solutions to existing challenges,” says Josfrider. “We continue to deploy millions of shillings in both resources and time to address these challenges. Our goal is to achieve real impact on people, the communities they live in, the society and ultimately our planet to preserve it for future generations.”

Regarding the future, Josfrider tells us that, operationally, the focus will continue to be on the support functions of the supply chain and systems, both of which are so essential in a widely dispersed distribution business, and are areas of considerable competitive advantage, as they are difficult for competitors to replicate.

“As we move forward, technology is also a key area of focus as the world continues to change. Davis & Shirtliff is at the forefront in ensuring that it continues to embrace technology, adapting and changing often to cater for customers changing needs and preferences.”

Marvels in Medical Malpractice

Every practitioner of law aims to provide the ultimate service to their clients, but few have gone to the lengths of Mr. Awad when it comes to the complex field of personal injury and medical malpractice. In such a challenging area of law, where the stakes are incredibly high for the client, the best help that someone can give themselves is a lawyer who knows what they’re talking about.

Working for the prestigious Silberstein, Awad & Miklos law firm, Mr. Awad has found the ideal place from which to practise his particular set of unique skills. He gained his Juris Doctorate from the Albany Law School of Union University in 1981, but had already begun working at the firm which would become the career of a lifetime in 1980. The firm has gone onto extraordinary success, gaining the title of Nationally Certified Preeminent Law Firm in 1996. It retains this title to this day.

Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. has grown incredibly over the years, finding new and exciting ways of ensuring that its clients are able to find the modest to substantial monetary compensation that they deserve following their trials. Naturally, the approach of Mr. Awad leads the way for the firm, and it follows his lead when it comes to performance, service and ethics. This means that in challenging cases, which many issues of personal injury and medical malpractice are, clients know that they can be certain that their legal matters will be handled with compassion and efficiency.

The record of achievement that Mr. Awad has cultivated over the years is truly exceptional, and he is now able to draw on a health of different cases when a matter goes to trial. He has advocated on behalf of clients who have suffered under matters of medical malpractice, construction site injury, premise security, automobile accidents, municipal liability and unsafe products. These are not small cases. For the client, they can be lifechanging. This is only matched by the rewards that Mr. Awad has been able to gleam from the competition.

Some of the cases that Mr. Awad has fought have resulted in milliondollar recoveries for some lucky clients. This number now reaches to over forty clients over as many cases. It’s an impressive track record for anyone, and reflects well not only on Mr. Awad, but the rest of the firm too. This achievement has secured the highest jury and appellate award in a single year.

When considered the length of Mr. Awad’s career, it might seem obvious that he has been able to find places where he can achieve impressive results for his clients. What cannot be understated is his position as a record breaker in the field of medical malpractice and personal injury, however. He has achieved the largest verdict in history for failure to timely diagnose cervical cancer as well as the largest verdict in history in the field of medical malpractice when it came to cause of action recovery for blindness. These successes are not just impressive for New York, where he achieved the largest medical malpractice verdict in New York State, but it’s a success that is within the top ten of results across the whole of the United States. Mr. Awad’s achievements are not just state-wide, they’re nationwide in their reach.

When people think of Mr. Awad, they might not consider the impact he has. His inspiring presence at the heart of Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. has led to the firm’s other personal injury attorney’s success. The team never stops thinking of new and exciting ways to develop their persuasion methods, effectively holding big business, corporations, and CEOs accountable to their clients. Despite the challenges inherent in the field, it’s little wonder that they’ve achieved such success.

The demand for Mr. Awad’s services has been a consistent feature of his career, with clients in the private and public sector hoping to utilize his talents. He has held membership of the New York State Governor’s Medical Malpractice Task Force from 2007-2010, and sits as part of both the New York State Court of Appeals Judicial Screening and the Committee for Nassau and Suffolk Counties since 2006. His long and varied history of cases has allowed him a unique insight that has long since been regarded as invaluable by those who have utilized his services.

Such a long history of experience and success has obviously created a demand for his services as a teacher and lecturer. Mr. Awad has plenty of skill to pass down to the next generation of lawyers and attorneys, which is why he has spoken at the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, the National Crime Victim Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association and various local bar associations. He previously held a position at the New York State Judicial Institute between 2002 and 2006 as a Faculty Lecturer to the Judiciary.

For many, the work of an attorney is one where the lawyer is looking at their own profit margin, but the success of Mr. Awad and the team at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos P.C. shows how people can find attorneys who are working with their best interests at heart. We hope and expect to see the names of the team from Silberstein, Awad & Miklos P.C. amongst our leading advisors for years to come.

Finding Fantastic Franchise Opportunities

There can be little denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people feeling insecure and uncertain about what the future may hold in many areas of their lives. For some, they are worried about traveling and seeing friends or family. Others are worried about their job, or perhaps their lack of employment and the opportunities to get one during a national lockdown that has been forced by a virulent and highly transmissible disease. In this current economic and social climate, it can be hard to see positives and find new opportunities to get out of the rut of lacking employment opportunities, risk of layoffs, long-term unemployment outlooks, and competition in the workplace. The insecurity and uncertainty brought about by this period of pandemic-induced lockdown have led many people to rightfully re-evaluate their priorities and ask questions such as “Is this really what I want to be doing for the rest of my career?”. If the answer is no, there is a solution out there, just waiting to be seized upon. It comes in the form of Frannexus.

Frannexus is the brainchild of its outstanding CEO, Seth Lederman, and it functions as a leading franchise consultancy that has been founded by an entrepreneur for like-minded entrepreneurs. A selfconfessed entrepreneur. Seth founded Frannexus with a belief and passion that he could help people get into business for themselves, taking charge of their own professional lives and becoming their own boss. The overwhelming force of the pandemic and the national lockdowns that have happened worldwide have forced many people to seriously consider becoming their own boss and doing something different from what they have been doing for, potentially, a very long time. It is not surprising that many unhappy with the economy and their situations have considered business ownership. Not only is it great for the economy, but it is also a perfect opportunity for the potential business owner in question.

One of the strongest feelings that will often pull an individual towards leading a life of entrepreneurship is that they are tired of doing all the work while others reap the rewards and gain the plaudits. Seeing others claim the rewards after putting in all the hard work can be frustrating for many people. It’s enough to drive them to do something for themselves and work for their own reward. Starting a business can do many things for many people, from replacing lost or reduced income to providing relief from work burnout or giving flexibility in work-life balance that isn’t possible as an employee. There are many benefits to starting a business, and they are going to vary depending on a few variables.

Attaining the coveted status of a business owner is not as hard as it seems, and Frannexus is on hand to help clients achieve that dream. For professionals who crave the excitement that comes from waking up every morning ready to take on the world, looking to successful business people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Seth Lederman of Frannexus is the answer. Rather than continuing to chase a ghost, their next perfect boss, they can take control of their fortune. If they are unsatisfied in their professional lives and want to take the next step towards something radical and life-changing, then Frannexus can help. Lederman helps his clients achieve what they want to achieve from franchise ownership.

Seth’s Lederman’s consultative approach focuses on understanding the person he is working with. Including gaining an understanding of their personal, professional, and financial goals. He focuses on his clients’ experiences, skills, dreams, lifestyles, and financial goals. Armed with this knowledge and from this place of understanding, Seth seeks to surprise and delight his clients with franchise ownership opportunities that they might have otherwise let pass. These opportunities always strive to take advantage of the client’s skills and experiences and feed into their dreams and personal ambitions for themselves. He also ensures that these opportunities are a good match and that the clients might not have considered on their own.

What makes Frannexus so successful is the determination and the dedication of Seth at the business’s helm. His passion for helping people has long been a staple of his character, which has been apparent since the early days of his career. From early on in his professional working career, two things were apparent to Seth. Firstly, being an entrepreneur came naturally to him, and that was not an instinct he could fight. Secondly, he has always known that he wanted to be in the business of helping people. When he first started out working, Seth became a healthcare provider. However, it was not until he read a book by his mentor, Michael Gerber, that he completely transformed his professional and business life.

The book in question, The E-Myth, granted Seth the knowledge of turning his practice into an enterprise. From the book, he had learned how to grow organically and ensure that every decision he made was for his business’ betterment. Seth was able to apply the knowledge from the book into his practice and soon transform it into an enterprise, growing it ten times in just thirtysix months. Eventually, he was able to get himself into a position where he could work on the business rather than work in it. In turn, this allowed him the opportunity to pursue other passions and business ventures, which would inevitably lead to the creation and foundation of Frannexus. Today, Seth continues to apply that knowledge from his mentor and helps individuals ready to make a career change do the same as he did. Matching their unique talents and passions with a franchise business that works best for their lifestyle, he is an outstanding role model and a savvy businessman.

That matching process has undoubtedly made Frannexus a highly sought after leader within the world of franchise consultancy. Leading the industry is one thing, but maintaining that lead for quite some time while never losing the sense of successful consistency is another thing entirely. Much of Frannexus and Seth’s success comes down to its extensive matching process and unique franchise search approach. Frannexus consultants, including Seth, are advisors and collaborators rather than salespeople. They value the person and their wealth of experience, practical skills, and aspirations. Seth has carefully selected a team that shares his vision and passion for helping them become the best versions of themselves, waking up each morning to a work they adore and are ready to get stuck into.

Professional and dedicated in everything they do, the team at Frannexus is all about helping individuals get ready to make a career change. Specifically, the team helps clients explore franchise ownership as a career transition option or a diversification strategy for their investment portfolio by matching their unique talents and passions with a franchise business that works best for their lifestyle. Lederman and his team work with established professionals, usually with some management experience, find the freedom to work for themselves, freedom of time, and freedom to live the life they have always wanted to live.

The team follows Seth’s example, taking care of everything in a wholly professional and personable manner at all times. Frannexus consultants are, first and foremost, trusted advisors to the clients at all times. They are focused on understanding the clients’ various experiences, skills, dreams, lifestyles, hopes, ambitions, and financial goals to help them make an informed and wise investment decision. Everyone at Frannexus is collaborative, cohesive, and focused on what’s best for the client at all times. Their sole function is to help clients decide if franchising is right for them and uncover the right opportunities.

Ultimately, the work of Seth and the Frannexus team is more valuable now than ever before, with more people taking the time to re-evaluate what they are doing with their lives. When economic uncertainty and the anxiety caused by the pandemic has people reevaluating their path, Frannexus is working tirelessly to give people options for their professional independence. Franchise opportunities are out there, and Seth Lederman is one of the leading advisers and most respected franchise consultants out there. 

Reputation for Dedication

Despite being a well-established firm operating for almost half a century, MLMJ prides itself on staying at the cutting-edge of its sector, investing time and effort into ensuring that their services are always relevant and topical. The firm’s ability to do this is enhanced by the strength of its associates and leadership, which is headed by the Principal, Mr. Matthews.

Mr. Matthews is licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the state courts of Texas, the federal district courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., and the United States Supreme Court.

A graduate of the University of Texas and the University of Texas School of Law, Mr. Matthews began his career in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as a Patent Examiner and attended George Washington University Law School, concentrating on intellectual property related courses covering patent prosecution and litigation. He returned to Houston to join the patent law firm which soon became Pravel, Wilson and Matthews, before breaking away to begin his own firm in 1972, which focused on the litigation of intellectual property matters.

Throughout his prolific career, Mr. Matthews has served as lead counsel in many jury trials representing both plaintiffs and defendants throughout the United States and Western Europe, obtaining recoveries of $1 million, $10 million, and $50 million, including a jury verdict in excess of $350 million. During this time, he has litigated every type of intellectual property issue, including patent, trademark, trade dress, trade secret, and copyright cases, whilst also serving as a court-appointed special master over intellectual property issues. Mr. Matthews has also testified as an expert witness in numerous, highly technical business tort and patient litigation matters.

Mr. Matthews’ prolific career and national acclaim has earned him awards and notable positions throughout his career. He is a fellow member of the Houston Bar Association and a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Houston Bar Association, the Federal Circuit Bar, and the Fifth Circuit Bar. He is also active in the American Intellectual

Property Lawyers Association and the Houston Intellectual Property Lawyers Association. His long career that has garnered unparalleled experience and expertise has resulted in invitations to lecture at several bar and association meetings on the selection of juries for the trial of patent cases.

As MLMJ nears its fiftieth year of operation, Mr. Matthews says that he remains excited about the practice and its ability to continually deal with the ever-changing nature of the industry for the firm and its clients. We look forward to seeing the continued development and success of MLMJ for many years to come.

5 Tips For Relocating Your Business To Georgia

Whether it’s because of the GRAD program, the 6 percent corporate tax rate, or one of the many grants and loans available for business relocation, many businesses decide to move to Georgia. As when any business moves from one state to another, there are slight differences in the way things are done.  

A smooth, trouble-free relocation is essential for providing an uninterrupted service to your customers. To get the maximum benefit from your move but with minimum disruption to your business, you need to be aware of the key things you need to get absolutely right. With that in mind, here are the things you need to know when relocating your business to Georgia.

First of all, though, it has to be mentioned that you’ll be sharing your new home with some very big names. Georgia is also home to Google, NCR, UPS, General Mills, Boeing, and Home Depot, among many others. While you won’t exactly be rubbing shoulders with these giants, you may have competition when it comes to filling some of your top jobs.

However, Georgia’s well-educated young workforce should cater to whatever staffing requirements you have.

1. Finding your ideal location

This is #1 for a good reason. While mistakes in some of the other areas can be corrected later on, a poor choice of location can be impossible to rectify.

To decrease the chances of making this mistake, you need to have a very clear idea about what you want. Luckily, as you are relocating your business, you will already know what your business needs to operate well.

Relocating to Georgia means you may be able to benefit from the GRAD program though there are plenty of alternatives if your business is not reliant on any logistical links.

When you think of Georgia, the first place that springs to mind is Atlanta. You would be correct that it is very much the hub of the state from a logistics and administrative point of view, however, there are deepwater ports at Savannah and Brunswick in the south, which have large infrastructures.

If your business is service-based, there are places like Alpharetta, which have growing populations that will provide a customer base for your business.

 

2. Get the right insurance

Unless your business employs government, farming, domestic, or railroads workers (which is unlikely), as well as all of your business insurance, Georgia law requires that you have Georgia workers comp coverage.

Georgia workers’ compensation insurance works in two ways. Firstly it provides medical benefits to employees if they suffer a work-related illness or injury. Secondly, in the event of a work-related injury or illness occurring, it reduces the amount of liability you face and so protects you as well.

You’ll need this if you have three or more regular employees (either full or part-time), although, given the cost involved of an injury to an employee at work, it could be wise to get some anyway.

 

3. Boost your workforce

Georgia has a civilian workforce of around 5 million people, so any of your staff that is not relocating with your business can be replaced. As mentioned above, Georgia typically has a well-educated young workforce, so your worries should be minimal unless you are looking to recruit in the main growth sectors.

The growth sectors in Georgia, as with many other states, are healthcare and technology. This means you may face the same recruitment challenges in Georgia as you did in your previous location. However, if your business is in logistics or hospitality, you will have your pick from a wide range of candidates.

However, many of these trends may be particular to Atlanta. There are variations across the state according to which industries were prevalent in the area in previous years.

4. Check for any financial assistance or low-rate loans

While you relocated to either expand your business or make it more cost-effective, moving your business to another state tends to not be cheap. One of the reasons you chose Georgia, however, may have been because of the various financial assistance programs they have for attracting new businesses.

You would almost certainly be able to benefit from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) and, dependant on your industry, the Strategic Industries Loan Program. You may also be eligible for help from Federal Grants for Research and Innovation, and if your business is eco-friendly (or has aspirations of becoming so), there are also Green Loans. You might also want to check your availability for Clean Energy Property Tax Credits.

Other funding is available via many local schemes trying to attract businesses that are not intending on relocating or starting up in Atlanta, which as the state’s capital and most densely populated area, tends to get the lion’s share of new businesses.

5. Explore your local client base for new customers

Finally, even if the location of your business does not matter to your customers because you provide a remote service as IT support, or if your business is based around e-commerce and you moved to Georgia for a logistical advantage, there will still be new customers to be found in a new area.

Reaching out to other businesses in your new location using social media, local advertisements, or leaflet drops will not only kick start your new network, but you will also attract new business from those that prefer to stay local, and you may be able to benefit from a few cut-price local services yourself.

An Innovation in Artificial Intelligence

The use of Big Data has become increasingly important in the last few years, with companies leveraging whatever information they can access to provide a better service to clients, customers and users. Of course, making the most of this information is the challenge to companies, and the team at AI.io has been at the forefront of this development.

Led by six-time CEO Terence Mills, AI.io has broadened the scope of AI to businesses and enterprises, developing new and exciting ways of using this technology in a range of different environments. While many companies are investigating new ways of exploring the framing of AI, able to process millions of data points in seconds, AI.io has specialized in applying this ability to specific circumstances. This combines what is known as Black Box AI and Apps to create White Box AI. White Box AI is the final product, the use of technology with a clear purpose. With the ability to be both private and protected, White box AI is able to create the understandable, explainable, and accountable results that are key to success.

The application of this process, therefore, has been vital to the success of AI.io. The team currently specialize in three different areas, drawing on the information that is available to offer customers results that cannot be found anywhere else. In healthcare, for example, the sheer amount of data available is overwhelming, with the need to ensure that it is collated carefully at the heart of the process. AI can be used to scan patient records and convert them into a machinereadable format. Currently, the team at AI.io have been able to hone this process to 95% recognition accuracy from a PDF. With so many healthcare facilities still using paper records, with the association costs of storage and difficulty in converting to digital, it’s little wonder that this service has become more and more popular.

The team have also proven themselves in the world of travel, teaming up with partners Priceline (now Booking.com), Google, and Wex to create a true industry first. Halo is the first AI driven intelligent chatbot and is set to be a revolution in the travel field, as it answers the difficulty of booking airfare and hotel, complete with virtual payments. While booking with the voice was once a process that stopped at the payment point, AI.io has developed a system that reshapes what AI can do by building relationships with travellers to identify patterns and trends, creating a personalized booking experience.

AI has potential applications in the entertainment industry too. The perfect example is Broadway shows. Investors have long struggled to settle on sure-fire hits in this arena, often wiping out thanks to decisions that only seem poor in hindsight. The use of AI can take all factors into account when considering if a production will be a success or not. Variables such as a show’s director, cast, theatre, time of year, music team and production team are all taken into account when making judgements. This represents a tremendous leap forward that could transform the industry. Between these three projects, bound by the latest in technological steps, is just a taste of what a business like AI.io can provide to businesses. It sets an amazing precedent for the future.

As businesses continue to push forward, it is essential that they find new ways of using new technology. AI is unique, in that it can be of immense benefit to enterprises at every stage of the business process. With an uncanny ability to find applications for AI, it’s no surprise that AI.io has quickly grown into one of the industry’s biggest success stories.

What Soft Skills Can Trading and Investing Give You

We hear and read a lot about what skills you need in order to succeed at investing. Everyone wants to know the secrets to success, and what skills they need to work on to be able to get there. But what about the benefits that trading can give you as a person and a professional?

Trading is not something that one can just take up and instantly be successful at. It requires the application of various different techniques, constant evaluation and analysis, and ongoing development of your strategy.

There are many hard and soft skills that can be obtained through learning how to trade and invest in various markets.

Research skills

First and foremost, in order to be a successful trader you need to know how to conduct thorough and appropriate research. Once you master this, it can be applied in other areas of your professional and personal life. As per a ResearchGate study, reading news articles and evaluating the sources and reliability of their claims, double-checking information, knowing where to go for the inside scoop – all of this will help you in your day to day life when engaging with other topics. Having good research skills will come in handy when you need to buy a house, in academic work, or if you want to figure out if what the news is telling you is the whole story.

 

How practice makes perfect

If you are new to trading, you will soon understand that there is an element of having to keep practicing your strategy and tweaking it accordingly in order to improve. This can take time but thankfully trading sites like Trade 360 provide a selection of tools that can help traders with this. An example of this is a demo account that allows traders to experiment with trades and strategies before, and during trading with real money. Other features, like being able to see how others are trading, and then using that to perfect your own strategy, are also extremely helpful.

 

Patience

Investing in the stock market or in a certain currency can teach you valuable lessons in patience. If you’re a medium or long-term investor, you are not looking to make quick returns on your portfolio. This means that you will ride out tumultuous times as well as times when your interests peak, in order to secure a better position in the future. It can be so tempting to cash in when something is doing really well or to give it up when you’ve lost out. But successful trading means you have to learn to be patient and stick to the strategy you made in the beginning, regardless of what happens.

 

Financial literacy

When you begin trading and investing in stocks, you will start to learn a number of new words. These terms, such as spread, indices, dividends, ask, spread, bull, bear, leverage, and margin, may have had different meanings to you before but are used widely in the markets. Not only will you recognise these words, but you will understand what they mean and how they are used. In addition to this, you will understand more about the way companies work, how currencies can be impacted by certain events, and the concepts of supply and demand. As Investopedia notes, financial literacy is important in protecting consumers and the public.

These qualities are not just things that will stand you in good stead as a trader, rather they are things you will learn and you can apply in other parts of your life. Learning to trade is a crash course in financial literacy, economics, and business, and, in today’s world, it’s a valuable skill to be able to boast of.

Changing the Appearance of Your Business: A Guide

With the new year in full swing and with the long-awaited vaccine on the horizon, it is safe to say that life as we know it will be upon us in no time! Many people use this time of year to make changes to certain aspects of their lives, and this is undoubtedly something that many business owners and budding entrepreneurs among us choose to do. If you find yourself in the position where you are considering how you can change your business’s appearance as we make our way further into the new year, then look no further! We have compiled a helpful guide for all those searching for new design tips and tricks, which will be effective. Read on for more!

Colour Schemes and Logo

This is essential for anything in the business world, as it helps to distinguish you as a brand and tell you apart from the competitors. Colour schemes and logos can tell a story while letting customers know essential details about you as a brand and business. Whether you have the colour scheme and logo the same or in contrasting colours to attract customers’ attention, the choice is entirely yours. By ensuring that they complement what services or products you are offering while informing the customers of your name and motto – if you have one – you are making sure that even by walking past your business, customers know who you are. What’s more, refreshing logos and colour schemes is something that customers notice, mainly if they have grown accustomed to your standard colours.

The Layout of Your Premises

While this point may not apply to all business owners out there, depending on the industry that you are in, it is undoubtedly essential. It should be noted for those who own a physical store and have displays of products and items within their stores. The display placement is probably not something that many think of, but this is certainly something that could be changed in the new year to shake up your business. Whether you move the layout of the displays or move where specific items are being displayed, each decision can impact your business and the way that customers view you and the products themselves. If you are uncertain how to change the layout of displays in your business effectively, visit CJ Retail Solutions which will allow you to see the varying options that are available for your store. 

It may undoubtedly appear like a monumental task, mainly if you are the owner of a large business or one with multiple shops in different locations. While this can seem like a challenging task to some, this is also an opportunity to further the design exploration you are embarking on; consider using different colour schemes in other stores while using the same logo. Customers will know that it is the same business, but a little different. More unique, should we say!

Aligning Your Startup Business Strategy with Success

Are you ready to take the plunge into starting your own company? This decision is only the beginning. There are still several steps between making the decision and launching, and skipping any of them can reduce the likelihood of your success. By organizing your finances, writing a business plan, and working with the right professionals, you will be better positioned to deal with anything unexpected that arises and outlast your competition.

 

Get Your Personal Finances in Order

First, you need to organize your personal finances. This will help ensure that you do not mix your business and personal accounts. It can also help you be clear about what you need to be able to pay yourself as a salary for the company to be viable. You should have a good sense of your personal spending and a budget, and you should try to pay down your debt right away. There are a number of strategies for reducing your debt even if you can’t entirely pay it off. For example, you can take out a personal loan to pay off credit card debt. The advantage of doing this is that the interest rates are often much lower for a personal loan than for your credit card. It only takes about a minute to see your different loan options.

 

Write a Business Plan

You need a business plan if you are going to seek investors or loans, but even if you are not, a plan can give you clarity as well as showing you where there could be gaps in your thinking that you need to shore up. There is no single way to write a plan, but there are certain issues everyone should address. You need to be able to write a clear mission statement and think about what you need to get started, including how much money you need. An operating budget should include what equipment you will need and whether you should to hire any staff or contract out some types of work. One of the most important elements is thinking about your marketing, both who your audience is and how you will reach them. You may want to do some surveys online and research your competition for this section of your plan.

Get Help

It’s important that you establish yourself as the appropriate type of entity. This affects your taxes and a number of other things, so you may want to start by visiting an attorney to discuss whether you should be a limited liability company, an S-corp or another type of business. Creating a relationship with an attorney also means you have someone to turn to when you have questions about contracts, zoning or other issues. Even if you are a partnership or a sole proprietor, you may want to consider hiring a bookkeeper and working with professionals in marketing and IT. Finally, you should look into the types of insurance you need to get, including protection in case of equipment damage or having to close your company for a period of time.

Why Remortgaging is a Game-changer For Modern Home-owners

In the UK, whilst the numbers can fluctuate, roughly 39,000 remortgages occur on a monthly basis. In fact, in the first quarter of 2019, almost 40% of property loans were remortgages – with good reason. Getting on the property ladder is usually one of the main financial goals we set ourselves. It can take time to build up the deposit, and negotiate the rates. However, once you’ve got that first set of keys and the mortgage payments start going out, it might feel like the interesting part is over.

The remortgage process is where that changes. When interest rates fall, it makes more sense to move your money into investments, or somewhere we can potentially accrue some real gains, rather than a savings account. Remortgaging works in a similar way, a chance to renegotiate the terms of your mortgage payments. Here’s why it might suit you to remortgage your home sooner, rather than later.

Cashing in

Generationally speaking, interest rates have really lost their shine. For all the benefits you’ll see from dropping your cash into savings, you could almost justify keeping it under your bed. An alternative to putting money away could be simply changing the goalposts of your monthly mortgage payments. There’s a chance to save thousands of pounds, entirely through switching from your current rate to a new one. The options available can often be numerous and it’s vital to understand all the details, so it’s worth checking out a remortgage comparison platform for a clearer breakdown of your choices. With options from over 90 lenders at Trussle, for example, the potential outcome could be better value for you and your home.

Unlocked potential

In the vast majority of cases, remortgaging doesn’t add any additional fees and usually, you can acquire valuations and legal packages free of charge. However, explore your options – some remortgaging deals can even include cash-back bonuses.

Remortgaging doesn’t apply in cases where your mortgage is no longer affordable, either. If you’ve built up some equity in your home or property, you can push money saved on a mortgage into any other pursuit you choose. Potentially, even improving the house itself!

Shorter terms

When life gives you lemons, cut your mortgage terms down. Often, our earning potential can change as we grow older. If your monthly budget improves, you can realistically shave several years off of a mortgage term by upping your contributions.  The goal of every mortgage is to be paid off in full, and remortgaging can bring about that day all the quicker. 

Remortgaging is the popular choice because it allows the home-owner to build equity on their own terms, in a manner that suits them. Our lives and the world can change quite a bit over the terms of a mortgage, and a monthly outgoing should fit a budget, not the other way around. The remortgaging process, like many financial instruments, can be shrouded in jargon and confusing language but it’s really quite simple. It’s about structuring a mortgage to suit you and your changing needs, and making sure your money is invested back into your life as you choose – and granting yourself new opportunities along the way.

Spotlight on Mike Lord, CEO of Stiltz Home Lifts

AI: Hi Mike, to start would you be able to give us a brief overview of Stiltz Home Lifts – what you do, who you work with? That sort of thing.

ML: We make a product called a Homelift which Stiltz was first to design. This is targeted at the older generation and allows people to move between floors easily as they get older.  People will either fit our lifts as they need this help, or we’ll install it as part of a home renovation and to future proof the house.  Our products are designed to be a stylish addition to someone’s home rather look like an afterthought and an eyesore.

AI: When did the company launch and how long have you been a part of it?

ML: We actually had our 10th Birthday recently in September!  I have been involved from very early in the Stiltz history starting in 2012 as a consultant helping the company get ready for investment, then investing and becoming Chairman in 2014, followed by a management buyout of 3 of the 4 founders in 2017 when I became CEO as well as Chairman working full time in the company from that point.

AI: What makes your company standout? What would you describe as something particularly noteworthy about Stiltz?

ML: Besides our products, which are world leading, Stiltz has been a fantastic growth story with turnover doubling in year on year over the first 5 years then continuing to grow at 50% for the next 4 years.  Astonishingly, 2020 still yielded double-digit growth despite the impacts COVID-19. Moreover, we have been on the Fastrack 100 fastest growing export companies 3 times, we are on the FT 1000 fastest growing European companies list for the last two years and recently won the Queens Award for exporters.  About 60% of our lifts are sold outside the UK with the USA being our biggest single export market.

AI: Companies invited to participate in our spotlight series are typically doing amazing things; revolutionising, innovating, automating, scaling, disrupting or modernising. Which of these most strikes a chord with you and why?

ML: I would like to think we tick 5 out of 6 of those boxes! Our market has traditionally been full of products which can be defined as “make do and mend”.  Our range of products has changed the way people can maintain the use of their homes as they get less mobile.  We have broken in to about 30 different international markets and changed the choice people have to make from a “disabled” to a lifestyle product.  We can fit in to people’s home where they want us to, not where they have to.  We have built a digital marketing platform which is scalable across the globe and got close to out customers so much more so than anyone else in our market.

AI: How many people are currently employed at Stiltz?

ML: We operate across 3 continents. In Europe, we employ around 150 people but currently recruiting a further 20 installation engineers and builders. In the USA, we have 25 people and over 100 in China growing probably to 140 by the middle of next year.

AI: What’s your mission statement?

ML: Democratising Homelifts – we want Homelifts to be a common appliance in an ever-growing group of the population from young couples who want to live in style to the older generation who want to stay in their family home and use it how they always have.

AI: How would you define your corporate culture?

ML: The business founders were Australian so we have tried to harness that Aussie competitiveness we see in sports with the laid back and welcoming atmosphere.  We have an employee acronym to show what people who work here can expect, which spells SMAC.  So yes, we like to SMAC our employees!  We want our employees to feel Secure whilst being Motivated.  We like to show we Appreciate our employees but want them to feel Challenged.

AI: What are they key challenges, in your opinion, facing your industry right now?

ML: Other than the obvious pandemic there aren’t really any big challenges.  Demographics and housing needs are the two big drivers, and these are all in our favour.

AI: And, finally, what do the next 12 months have in store for the company?

ML: Lots more growth!

Organisational security and the hidden risk

The security needs of businesses vary greatly dependent on the sector they are in. For example, the financial sector is generally more developed than others due to the potential risks associated with a security breach. Despite the varying requirements, each business’ broader approach to security should follow a similar format where vital assets – those that needs to be protected – are surrounded by several security layers.

This approach helps ensure that if the first or even second layer is breached, the asset is not compromised or put at risk. But too often security measures are not thought about holistically, with physical, cyber and personnel risks all considered individually when in fact they are intrinsically linked. Often, there are hidden risks that may not even have been considered.

Here, we’ll explore the rounded approach that MASS takes with both public sector and defence organisations, and how this can be applied to improving security within all facets of the private sector.

Physical security

The first and most obvious security consideration should always be physical access to the organisation’s building or site. Even in sectors where physical security is well established such as finance or data centres, it remains vital.

Identifying the perimeter is fundamental, due to the potential of distributed site facilities, linked remote assets and supply chains, the perimeter may not be as clear as initially thought. To achieve this, the use of scenario-based analysis actor personas, motivations and objectives can be invaluable for exposing how a business could be targeted and exploited.

This should include a review of the physical barriers that prevent access to the site and their role as a deterrent and detection method for hostile activity.

But security measures are only as secure as the people applying and adhering to them. Factors including staff making simple mistakes (such as wearing security badges in the street) or poor motivation of roving security staff or those monitoring CCTV can cause warning signs to be missed – and allow for future security breaches to slip through the gap.

 

Cyber security and the aging risk

The risk of cyber exploitation has grown considerably in recent years due to the financial and technical barriers to advanced cyber-attacks being reduced. For this reason, levels of cyber security must be taken to a new level and any existing measures continually scrutinised.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this issue to the fore, with homeworking and remote access highlighting the importance of cyber security, and also shining light on the risks posed by aging equipment and systems.

Throughout 2020 the challenges associated with using legacy data systems have been highlighted, and with increased traffic and offsite access the user experience has become slow and often with intermittent access. Legacy systems are also more challenging and expensive to protect.

The efficient transfer of business data from legacy systems onto a modern platform and data warehouse can not only help protect information more effectively from cyber threats but is also often a more effective use of resource when compared to protecting legacy systems.

To help mitigate network cyber risks, penetration testing regimes can be vital but tools like ‘CBEST’ only offer a snapshot in time and therefore have limitations. Frequent, lighter touch assessments enhanced by modern threat intelligence techniques are recommended in line with these tools as they offer a more dynamic view of vulnerabilities.

Consider insiders

Those who might misuse legitimate access to an organisation’s assets are known as insiders and are often overlooked. Many security controls are now so effective that exploiting those with legitimate access is one of the only ways to circumvent them. The right insider or team of insiders can overcome almost all security measures, while insider breaches have a disproportionately high business impact.

Insider cases are typically individuals who have had a personal vulnerability exploited or have become disgruntled with an employer, and it is a challenging area to address. That being said, security culture, employee wellbeing and employee sentiment are just some aspects that a business committed to its security should consider.

It’s also prudent to examine the wider supply chain. Many businesses rely on an interconnected network of suppliers which makes it difficult to pinpoint risk, so identifying ‘hot-spot’ areas allows them to filter complex information and establish risk effectively.

Changing times

If these layers of security are not considered collectively, some areas can fall through the cracks. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unforeseen impact on security, with some companies experiencing a change in working practices or accelerated growth. Yet their data is stored on legacy systems which unless addressed, are cyber-attacks just waiting to happen.

At MASS, our security experts consist of professionals with extensive experience in preventing security breaches and managing data from mission critical systems. We ensure our security analysis meets and exceeds industry best practice.

MASS has recently launched its Virtual Learning Environment allowing us to conduct Cyber Security Training remotely for whole organisations, individuals or management teams. For more information, please visit: https://www.mass.co.uk/what-we-do/mass-online-training/online-training-courses/

Building The Roads Of The Future

The Airolink group of companies was originally established in the Republic of Ireland, but has since grown all over the world with offices in Dublin, India, and the United Arab Emirates. Also in that time, the firm has grown to become one of the leading civil contractors in the United Arab Emirates. Now, it specialises in residential, commercial, hospitality, retail, education, roads, and infrastructure development, offering a complete package from land acquisition, design, and construction right the way through to completion. The expert team on hand at Airolink offers every project the benefits of quality, cost competitiveness, and the experience and a proven contractor. They make every effort to meet all the costs, schedule timings, and performance requirements for every contract it has ever been awarded, and this has seen the firm undertake a lot of projects with repeat clients.

At Airolink, the firm believes that time is money. In any business, the critical element to success is strategic business planning and decisive decision-making. This decisiveness in decision making, even amidst ambiguities, is what potentially converts efforts to results, and exactly what stands Airolink apart from its competitors and counterparts. Airolink is a sustainable business, with a healthy cashflow which allows it to undertake greater risks that its counterparts as well. When it comes to running a business, there are few that have the art of financial discipline more under control than this one. As far as project management is concerned, everyone at Airolink follows a very systematic approach, and spends lots of time effectively planning from day one.

Beginning at the conceptual stage, all possibilities are taken into consideration, with the technological, financial, and economic feasibility of each alternative being assessed and compared in order to select the best alternative that meets the needs of all stakeholders. This is the modus operandi of Airolink, and the team does not fluctuate from this. Following this process rigorously enables the expert to offer every project the benefit of quality, cost competitiveness, and the experience of a proven contractor that knows what it is doing at every stage.

Clients can hail from any industry or market, whether it be private, semi-governmental, or wholly governmental sectors. No matter the kind of client or sector that Airolink serves, it ensures that every project is programmed with respect to its completion. Once the project scope has been clearly defined and understood, a detailed engineering design will serve as the blueprint for construction, and a definitive cost estimate will serve as the baseline for cost control. Procurement and construction activities onsite are undertaken with careful planning and the utmost control, and procurement activities are carried out in a very systematic manner to ensure smooth delivery of materials onsite during execution. Post-construction, there is a brief DLP period which takes care of any snags, after which the complete handing over of the project is then undertaken.

Airolink is a relatively young company which does not have an organization inertia of any kind, enabling it to be open to changing industry and company dynamics on a whim. The firm believes in and encourages active participation of its employees in decision-making at various levels on a daily basis, in an effort to give team members a sense of inclusiveness within the organization as a whole. Also, as an established construction firm have multiple departments and employing thousands of people from a range of cultural backgrounds, Airolink makes every effort to break down the silos between departments and create awareness for unified goals.

6 Ways You Can Track Employee Hours Online

Employee tracking provides accurate logging of employee hours, giving smarter insights not only into projected labor costs but also into employee efficiency and productivity. Accurate employee hours allow employers to generate more accurate payroll numbers to ensure each employee gets paid according to the total hours rendered. Also, accurately tracking employee hours enable employers to comply to employment laws. But how can business owners accurately track employee hours?

In this article, you’ll learn the best ways to track employee hours online to help you make the best decision that will bring forth maximum benefits to your business and your employees. 

What Does Employee Hours Online Tracking Means?

You can now accurately track employee hours using web-based online tools, apps, and software programs, such as a time duration calculator, GPS employee tracker, biometrics, and internet browser tracking.

These tools are often integrated with payroll and employee management tools to ensure that employees get paid on time. Investing in these tools provides promising financial benefits for businesses because of cost-effective scheduling decisions. 

Ways to Track Employee Hours Online

Take a look at the best ways to track your employees’ hours online by reading below:

1. Spreadsheet Manual Entering of Employee Hours 

There are still employers who prefer manually entering employee hours on spreadsheets, most especially small and medium-sized businesses. These companies are not yet ready to migrate to an online system or the cloud. While this method may work best for them, it usually requires workarounds when interacting with other businesses and government authorities.

2. Using Wall-Mounted Card Swipes

These are the updated version of punch card systems. Traditional time keeping involves punching timecards. With wall-mounted car swiping, employees use their IDs to clock in and out, and the data is automatically transferred to a computer so employee hours are calculated for payroll employee attendance.

3. GPS Tracking or Geofencing

Choose this employee tracking tool to get more accurate data as to the number of hours an employee works than you would get with a simple mobile application.

Here are the important things to know about GPS tracking or geofencing: 

  • Setting up a geofence around your job sites is made possible with GPS tracking. 
  • The mobile time clock application sends notifications to employees upon arrival on the job site to clock in and to clock out if they need to leave the job site.
  • GPS tracking allows you to see where your field employees go during the day, verifying time on-site and en routes.
  • GPS and geofencing employee tracking usually require an upgraded software version of mobile device. So, it’s important to weight the benefits and hardware and software costs before you settle using it.

These are more sophisticated means of tracking your employees’ activities during work hours than the previous options. 

4. Browser Plug-in Tracking and URL Tracking

Employees who work heavily in front of computers, such as office workers and customer care representatives, can use this tool to track hours. Online timers and browser plug-ins are useful in determining total log time spent for a particular client or project. 

Browser plugin and URL tracking bring plenty of benefits, including the following:

  • Ensure that employees are getting paid doing their job and not visiting social networking or shopping sites to increase productivity in the workplace.
  • Employers can restrict employees from browsing websites not related to the job or inappropriate content, such as pornographic sites, using the online tool’s URL-blocking feature.
  • Employers can take screenshots during work hours to track employee activities too. These reports can be shared with employees to help them make smarter decisions as to how to effectively and efficiently use their work time.

This option is also easy to implement as it simply involves your employees adding a plugin to their computer, rather than you as the employer having to implement more personalized or physical means of tracking. 

5. Investing in Cloud-Hosted Software 

Today is the height of digital experience monitoring because of the current health crisis the world is facing. So, it’s the perfect time to migrate to cloud-based systems. Cloud-based employee tracking systems provide effective solutions to easily enter hours and quickly route time for approvals. With cloud-based systems, employee hours can be easily tracked to resolve regulatory issues and ensure accurate employee pay. 

In the past, companies spend much on hardware costs just to obtain accurate attendance records. But labor costs were still high due to various system loopholes. With cloud-hosted software programs, employers gain peace of mind knowing that their labor expenses are worth paying because of accurate data tracking. 

6. Biometrics

Large corporations use more advanced technologies, such as using retina and fingerprint scans, to keep their company secure. In addition to employee time tracking, biometric data have become essential requirement for companies needing to control access across different departments, buildings, and branches. 

How to Choose the Right Employee Tracking System for You

When choosing the best employee tracking system for your company, here are some tips you can apply:

1. Determine Your Readiness

While you’re fully aware of the benefits of cloud-based employee hours tracking systems, your employees might not be ready to migrate yet. It is best to take introduce changes gradually by holding trials and demos.

2. Consider Your Budget

Budgeting is crucial when applying new technologies in your business because reliable software programs and applications usually come with expensive price tag. Before you start searching for the right system to track employee hours, you have to set your budget without compromising your production or operational budget.

3. Check the Features And Benefits

It is important to take into account the employee tracking system’s features and benefits to fully maximize its use. You might not need all the bells and whistles and just prefer a simple and easy-to-use system for your small or medium-sized business. 

If you have a large company, it’s paramount to carry out more stringent features of tracking employee hours, given the large number of employees you have to manage. Take a look at the following important features and benefits of the best employee and productivity tracking systems available nowadays:

  • Straightforward Cloud Migration: It involves automated data transfer and seamless system integration.
  • Highly Secure: Encrypted and password protected employee tracking systems hosted by highly secured servers. 
  • User-Friendly Navigation Interface: Look for a system with easy-to-use menu, controls, and settings for office or field employee tracking.
Conclusion

You have just learned the different ways to track employee hours. If you’re still starting, you might want to use less complex and more affordable tracking system and then shift to a cloud and other advanced system later on. Choosing the right system for you includes preparing your employees for system changes, considering your budget, and taking into account the features and benefits they provide.

Ingenious IP Lawyer

The murky world of Intellectual Property is hotly contested, with many law firms handling portfolios on a client’s behalf. As we look once again to those lights of the legal profession, we turn to Santiago R. O’Conor, the Leading Intellectual Property Prosecution and Litigation Lawyer of the Year, Argentina in Acquisition International’s Leading Adviser 2020 awards.

O’Conor & Power Abogados was founded in 2013 by Santiago R. O’Conor, with the business built on the back of over thirty years of legal expertise. The aim was to provide the height of legal advice to clients, combining the ultimate in quality with a flexible and personalized service.
After working with many large IP Boutiques and Full Service Firms, Mr O’Conor saw the need for a firm that could offer a more precise service that was able to boast the same expertise as its competitors. Often the clients who turn to Mr O’Conor and his firm require needs that go beyond simple IP issues. Often, they require a lawyer who is able to include commercial needs that are directly related to this into their judgements. This is why Mr O’Conor has also built up experience in the commercialization of IP and related matters.

The clients that O’Conor & Power Abogados serve come from a broad selection, split between local businesses and business owners and foreign corporations and their associates. For the local businessman, O’Conor & Power Abogados is ideal for providing the necessary guidance and assistance that ensures their IP is protected, that this protection is enforced and that it can be commercialized in Argentina and internationally. This information is easily transferred to interests from foreign countries, and Mr O’Conor and his team are more than capable of guiding these organizations through the complicated system that will ensure their IP security.

As a while, the firm has been proud to handle clients operating in a number of different areas including food, winery, technology and telecommunications, pharmaceutical, entertainment, clothing and the textile industry. Needless to say, this breadth of knowledge puts both the firm and its clients in exceptional stead moving forward. Much of this is a credit to the lawyers, industrial property agents and select network of engineers and technical professionals who pull together to make O’Conor & Power Abogados the success it deserves to be.