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

Integrated Solutions to the Media & Entertainment Industry

Only the most inspiring, forward-thinking and dedicated of Chief Executive Officers achieve CEO of the Year status from CEO Monthly. Meherezad Dastoor is part of this elite group and has been integral in driving Media Lounge to demonstrate great things for the sector. Here we take a closer look at the business and at the pioneering work of its CEO.

International media and entertainment agency Media Lounge is the home of bespoke experiences that engage, captivate and inspire audiences across global markets. The team offer solutions to businesses operating in the media and entertainment sector, customising a strategy for each client offering a bespoke service in order to achieve maximum results. Service areas include but are not limited to media consultancy, advertising, public relations, events management, media production, embedded marketing services and sponsorship management. Meherezad Dastoor and his team, work as an integral part of each client’s core team to determine the correct strategy and execution plans to meet and exceed expectations. With offices in Abu Dhabi, New York, London and Singapore, the Media Lounge team and network of consultants have a combined experience of more than 30 years across global markets ensuring that businesses are in safe hands when they come to this innovative advisory firm for assistance.

Meherezad Dastoor is a highly skilled media professional with in-depth knowledge of market trends, business practices and trade laws in the media industry. Through his dedication, commitment to client service and his thirst for client success Meherezad has been able to drive great things for the business. The results-driven Chief Executive Officer goes above and beyond for clients crafting solutions tailor made to each brand and each client. Client satisfaction is vital to Meherezad and his team and regular check points with each client are essential to him in ensuring complete satisfaction with the results achieved, delivering real value is a must and client commitment is key in ensuring great results.

Truly great CEOs can only become so through their inspiration and guidance to others. Businesses will only grow and succeed if those at the helm are able to drive their desires and their aspirations throughout their workforce. Meherezad is a great example of how a committed and innovative approach to business can be passed down to inspire team members into achieving great things. His hands-on approach to clients allows others to watch a master at work so to speak and learn from his negotiation and networking skills and how his willingness to dive into work head on is key to his success.

2021 will undoubtedly be a key year for Meherezad Dastoor and his team at Media Lounge, we look forward to hearing more of the successes of this brand and its dynamic leader.

For more information, please visit www.medialounge.ae

Emerging Luxury Travel Trends in the Post-Covid World

After more than a year of changing travel restrictions and many still safely in quarantine, global lockdowns are only improving the appetite for adventure as local staycations boom in popularity. Many key travel destinations remain off-limits to those seeking the thrill of a new journey, so those grounded are left to discover inspiration locally, but are nonetheless setting travel plans for the future. Yet, forecasting the future, one of the more likely outcomes of the global pandemic is how it will change travel altogether.

One consequence so far has been the shutdown on international tourism, which is a major industry for many established and emerging countries that rely on the annual influx of travellers from afar. Whilst it seems uncertain how the future of travel might unravel, many will no doubt look to maximise their experiences through thoughtful adventure, while minimising the risks involved.

Affluent travellers, who relish in the luxury of new and foreign cultures, will likely crave more meaningful and purposeful (as well as sustainable) experiences from their journeys. The future of luxury travel will change, but with safety as a key priority, just as these experiences are likely to become even more personal. From quiet getaways, or family and group travel, to weekend city stays, what will be the big trends? Importantly, what will travel look like in the future?

Local Communities Will Matter More

From the quiet solitude of a balmy beach, to the freedom of a mountain range, uncharted locales far and wide can enchant us. In the past, travel felt interchangeable with tourism. But, looking ahead, those jet-setting beyond their country may find more solace and retreat in local settings.

As global lockdowns compelled many to live and thrive on the resources form their local communities, this role of this will only grow. In travel forums and blogs alike, the theme of supporting local business is quickly becoming a larger, more international force. Many travellers want to bypass the trap of mass tourism, which is typically busy and crowded, and settle for slower, more meditative, journeys through lesser known, local parts of a country.

Re-Focus On Quality 

There was, perhaps, a time when the quality – not the quantity – of travel prevailed. Yet, as jet-setting become more available, at lower costs, the focus on multiple trips and, sometimes, destinations became the new norm. This has allowed mass tourism to flourish economically and gain a reputation for convenience over exploration.

A new focus on quality will mean that travellers prioritise travel as a passion project, carefully research and opting to journey to locations that resonate, and excite, personally. With so many quartered to their homes, travellers have had spare time to rethink bucket-lists and reprioritise their most desired destinations. There will likely be a boom in the years to come from travellers with an appetite for more personal, meditative experiences from their journeys. The reliable industry of tourism is unlikely to remain the only popular travel trend once the market reopens.

Sustainability Is Key 

One of the few, albeit key, positives from the global pandemic was the revival of sustainability as a popular theme. The environmental bounce-back caused by grounded flights, limited traffic congestion, and emptied streets, has brought wildlife back into focus.

With many confined to their backyards, the clear blue skies overhead and the chirpy birdsong will have likely warmed many into the lullaby of sustainability. Many have converted into more conscious green citizens aware of the roles of the natural world in their travel habits. Many predict travel will become a form of advocacy – those who travel will likely demand more responsibility from policies, peoples and places they come into contact with.

The arrival of green hotels and other wilder accommodation alternatives, such as geodome glamping, is likely to establish a new favourite trend. Travel accommodations will play more of a role in the natural world around them – whether you’re looking at Cumrbia’s deep night skies, or the long blue oceans from the cliffsides along the Italian Riviera.

Travel For Isolation

It may seem like many will travel to escape isolation. Yet, isolation during the pandemic has enabled many travellers to reflect and meditate on their goals. Whether it’s about reprioritising bucket-lists, or opting to become a more concerned global citizen, travel and isolation can both become helpful resources in helping to address personal goals.

From mountaintop retreats, to riverside hideaways, holiday and travel destinations will become more personal, thoughtful and stimulating. This quiet space can help many refresh recharge, and more thoughtfully absorb their travels. Whether it’s from a boutique hotel, a bed and breakfast, or a stately countryside manor, the places we go have the power to change us.

The article was produced in collaboration with Elvetham Hotel, a historic country house hotel set in 35 acres of beautiful gardens in Hook, Hampshire. Offering hotel accommodation, superb business meeting facilities, The Elvetham is the perfect venue for conferences, corporate training, team building and activity days, as well as private dining and weddings of any size.

How Connectivity Is Set to Transform Employee Experiences

The correlation between employee satisfaction and customer experience is well-established. The happier your people are, the more committed and motivated they will be to go the extra mile for your customers.

Leading businesses are implementing initiatives to improve employee satisfaction including:

  • Flexible working options
  • Training and opportunities for progression
  • Additional benefits like healthcare packages and hospitality discounts
  • Increasing workplace connectivity

The final item might be surprising. But in today’s digital age, there’s no getting away from the fact that employees need suitable connectivity options. Whether they need it for their job role or for personal reasons, it’s now a necessity.

Providing suitable connectivity in an office-based workplace is fairly straightforward. But businesses in the transport sector, particularly railway, must look at more innovative options. Implementing WiFi connectivity will improve your employee experiences – here’s why.

An increase in productivity

Thanks to the improved mobility afforded by business technology advancements, your people can work anytime, anywhere. They can access all their work-related apps on their mobiles, which will increase their productivity. An EIU study found productivity increased by 16% when employees connected mobile devices to the staff WiFi.

Historically, it has been difficult to contact staff who primarily work on your fleet of trains. Not anymore. With collaboration applications available on mobile devices, you can reach them much easier. They can also change their status to do not disturb to reflect when they’re busy. Your conductor doesn’t want to receive a call when they’re inspecting tickets, after all.

Feeling more connected

As a railway provider, you have a high number of frontline, customer-facing staff. This is the group of employees most at risk of feeling disconnected from your company and culture. In fact, a Workplace study found that 17% of frontline workers never communicate with head office. The study also showed 54% of those workers feel disconnected from their business. That’s why it’s important to help them stay connected with their office colleagues.

The Workplace study found that, when frontline workers are equipped with collaboration platforms, they communicate more with head office. 17% drops to 8%, making those workers feel more connected with the business.

Another way to keep your people connected is via your company intranet. If they can use your train’s WiFi to check in on your company news, they’ll always be up-to-date. Not knowing what your organisation is up to is a leading cause of disengagement.

Feeling trusted = satisfaction

One downside to advances in business technology is the license it gives some organisations to spy on their people. Even if your business doesn’t do this, employees might worry that you do.

Fostering a culture of trust will put your people at ease. By letting them know you won’t be snooping on them or disciplining them for looking at their phone, they’ll be much happier. Everybody needs a break at work and sometimes, the best way to relax is to look at cat memes on the internet.

But people also use their mobile phones to manage many aspects of their life these days. When an employee is looking at their phone, they might be booking an urgent GP appointment, responding to a message from their child’s school or something else important.

The happiness of your workforce directly correlates with your customer satisfaction. This is especially important in the railway sector, which is struggling to keep passengers happy. In today’s modern world, internet connectivity is embedded in every area of our lives. We carry out personal tasks online, use social media to stay in touch, and even relax by surfing the web. That’s why improving your business’ connectivity will make your workforce and, in turn, your customers, happier.

Sovereign Reshapes Middle East Management to Deliver a Focus on Growth in the Region

Nicholas Cully, who also sits on the Group Board of the Sovereign Group as Sales Director, stepped down as Managing Director of Sovereign’s Dubai office after five years in the role and over a decade in the Emirate

Sovereign Middle East, one of the largest independent corporate and trust service providers in the world, today announced changes to the boards of its Dubai, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia offices that are designed to deliver a focus on growth in the region and to meet the high level of business generation that this entails.

Nicholas Cully, who also sits on the Group Board of the Sovereign Group as Sales Director, stepped down as Managing Director of Sovereign’s Dubai office after five years in the role and over a decade in the Emirate. He will be relocating to Zug, Switzerland, in March 2021, where he will concentrate on developing business in Central Europe and on managing the Group’s global sales efforts in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia. He will remain on the boards in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Dubai and will continue to oversee the Middle East with regular trips to the region.

Simon Gordon, currently a Director in Dubai and Bahrain, has been promoted to the position of Managing Director of Sovereign’s Dubai office. After seven years with the company and three years in a Sales Director role at Sovereign Dubai, Simon is well placed to take the business forward and will be ably supported by an experienced board.

Paul Arnold has also been appointed as Managing Director of Sovereign’s new Saudi Arabia office in Riyadh, from where he will lead Sovereign’s ‘Saudi Expansion Plan’. Paul has been working in the Gulf region for 14 years and joined the Sovereign Group over three years ago as Head of New Market Development based in Dubai.

Further changes include the appointments of Zana Jablan Mousa to the Board of our Dubai office and Philip Gilboy to the Board of our Bahrain office. Zana heads up the Onshore Team in Dubai, where she advises her clients on corporate structuring and on UAE regulatory matters, while Philip is Legal Counsel for the Sovereign Middle East Region. Both appointees will put their highly-valued expertise at the service of the respective boards.

Sovereign set up its first Middle East office in 1997 in Dubai and is extremely proud of what it has achieved in the Gulf region. The company now has four offices – Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia – with a total headcount that now exceeds 50 and looks forward to assisting clients, new and old, for many years to come.

Self-employed Workers Estimated to Contribute £125 Billion to Drive the UK’s Economic Recovery

  • Self-employed and side-hustler movement continues to thrive despite challenges caused by COVID-19

  • Over 55s are leading the way in starting new businesses or side hustles during the pandemic

  • By choosing a challenger banking, newly formed businesses are more likely to grow

Research released on Monday by Mettle, the NatWest-backed business account, using YouGov’s platform, estimates that the UK’s growing self-employed and side hustler movement will contribute an estimated £125 billion in turnover to the UK’s economic recovery in 2021. Furthermore, small and medium-sized businesses (with 1-49 employees) are estimated to contribute approximately £310.46 billion.

Pre-pandemic in 2019, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found over 1.1 million people were either employed in two jobs or self-employed in addition to having another job. COVID-19 has only accelerated this and the growth of the self-employed and side hustler movement, with changes in employment and lifestyles pushing more people to work for themselves than ever before – either through choice or out of necessity of being furloughed or made redundant. The population of self-employed workers in the UK now sits at over five million, making up 15% of the UK’s workforce.

Around 25% of all UK adults now consider themselves to be a side hustler, according to Henley Business School. Having ‘a side hustle’ in addition to a full-time job (from freelance design work, to a passion such as wedding photography), has for the first time for many, become a necessity to supplement income.

Mettle’s research surveyed 2,194 self-employed workers to uncover the role of this segment in boosting the UK economy, the barriers they faced when starting their venture, and the role of banking organisations in helping them thrive.

According to the research, the most popular motivation for going solo was the flexibility and freedom it provided (57%), followed by their desire for a change in work/life balance (38%), and wanting more meaning and purpose in their life (24%).. Those aged 55 and over are leading the way when it comes to self-employment, with 38% of limited companies and side hustles formed post-March 2020 having been established by that age group.

The rapidly expanding self-employed and liquid workforce movement is being supported by a rise in challenger banking solutions that provide online products and services. The majority (83%) of respondents who use challenger bank services and feel supported by them, felt this was because of the ability to do everything virtually, their bank’s ability to get things done quickly (61%) and the fact that their innovative technology and products are more compatible with their business needs (51%).

Compounding this, the COVID-19 pandemic is making the challenge of running a business or side hustle even more difficult. 57% of those surveyed are not looking to expand their business or side hustle or enter a new sector in 2021, with over a quarter of respondents specifically not looking to expand (29%) citing the UK’s economic uncertainty as the reason why. More than ever solutions like Mettle are of utmost importance to help this audience to manage their finances, and to support their maintenance, growth and contribution toward the UK’s economic recovery.

Marieke Flament, CEO of Mettle, commented: “More people are choosing to start or create something of their own than ever before due to changing lifestyles, personal circumstances, or fulfilling a personal ambition. This research highlights the importance of this growing movement for the UK’s economic recovery in 2021 – particularly amongst the over 55 age group.

“The smallest end of the SME market has historically been underserved in terms of business banking, with the majority of incumbent institutions focusing on large commercial customers and corporates. This made it difficult for small business owners to get set up quickly, get paid and tax ready. We champion self-employed workers and side hustlers and are dedicated to building our product to serve them and their needs.

“As the UK looks to rebound from the economic damage caused by COVID-19, it’s absolutely vital that this segment has access to the support and services it needs to thrive. Mettle’s position within NatWest means we can facilitate this. We leverage the experience and risk knowledge of NatWest, but we also operate like a start-up, so we can move at pace and offer a product that enables self-employed and side hustlers to start, run and grow their businesses successfully.

“Banking doesn’t need to be complex, and we think new small business owners, self-employed workers and side hustlers should be able to rely on their bank to help them easily navigate day-to-day processes as they focus on overcoming the macro-economic hurdles outside of their control.”

A Leadership Shift for 2021

By Stevan Jackson, Vistage Private Advisory Group Chair, West Midlands


“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it
.” President Dwight D Eisenhower

 

There are as many definitions of leadership as there are commentators on the subject, but the quote from ‘Ike’ is one of the most succinct.  Much is made of the nature/nurture argument, about whether leaders are born or made.  The most obvious answer is that some people find leadership a more natural state of mind than others but that doesn’t necessarily make them better leaders than those who must work at it a bit more. History is littered with examples of charismatic leaders who have led their followers to an outcome that has been neither what they wanted or needed. There is no black art in leadership, it can be learned, practised, and polished by anyone who is prepared to make the effort, as with any other aspect of our professional life. Never has that been more obvious to the current generation of business leaders.

What this pandemic has done is remind us that we live in a world where uncertainty is permanent. COVID-19 has required business leaders to adapt to leading in different ways that demand certain skills and approaches. In my Vistage practice, I see leaders responding daily to the challenge of leading their teams in new ways. Considering the importance of employee engagement on business outcomes, leaders must invest in their leadership knowledge and skills to get the best of out of their teams. That has always been true and is not confined to the exceedingly difficult challenge we face.

Here are seven areas that every business leader could focus on to improve performance:

1. Model the way

To model the way, leaders need to be clear about their personal values and philosophy and express them in a way that leaves no doubt about what they believe in. Exemplary leaders set a personal example for others by their attitude and behaviours. They always deliver on their promises and commitments and live the values they champion.

2. Inspire a shared vision

Effective leaders create a compelling vision – where we are going and how we are going to get there together – that people can buy into and use to guide their attitudes and behaviours.  Through inspiring vision, leaders can challenge others to transcend the status quo, visualise positive outcomes in the future, communicate them to other team members and play a full role in achieving the company’s desired outcomes.

3. Challenge the process

Challenging the process means being curious, willing to change the status quo and step into the unknown.  It includes being willing to innovate, grow and improve. Exemplary leaders are like pioneers – they experiment and try new things. They are willing to take calculated risks and are not afraid to fail – from which comes learning and improvement. 

4. Show empathy

If employees feel that leaders care about them, they will be more engaged and more inclined to give of their best. Outstanding leaders are highly effective at building trust within their teams by showing empathy and promoting collaboration. Teamwork and cooperation come from listening closely to diverse points of view and treating others with dignity and respect. Empathetic leaders encourage their people to make informed choices and then support the decisions their teams make. Empathetic leaders create an environment where people can feel good about their work and understand how it contributes to the greater community. A survey of 15,000 business leaders by Development Dimensions International found a link between enhanced empathy and leadership performance.

5. Care about your people (and show it)

Research in the UK has found that “stress, depression or anxiety” were responsible for 44% of all cases of work-related ill health and more than half of all working days lost. There is evidence that these issues are exacerbated in times of crisis, which is why effective leaders make it a priority to encourage and promote the physical and mental wellbeing of their staff. This can include simple actions such as ringing isolated employees regularly and asking, ‘how are you – what can I do to help?’  Focussing on employee wellbeing can create an engaged and healthy workforce. In companies with this culture, employees tend to enjoy better relationships with their bosses, higher personal wellbeing, and more job satisfaction.

6. Celebrate success

It is natural for people to want support and for their work to be recognised.  Effective leaders are highly attentive to this need and are willing to give praise to people for a job well done. Using authentic celebrations and rituals to show appreciation and encouragement to others is essential and can lead to improved collective identity and community spirit.

7. Communicate, communicate, communicate

The key to effective team-working is communication – especially with a dispersed workforce. In that regard, team meetings to agree objectives, to expose disagreements and resolve them by open discussion are essential. These are real hallmarks of effectiveness. This is a good point at which to reflect on how often do you participate in team meetings and how well led are those team meetings?  Even teams that hold regular meetings will achieve little if there is too great a power gradient between the leader/s and members of the team. Effective leaders will allow themselves to be challenged and respond in a constructive way to contribute to the personal development of their team members and for the sake of business improvement and better outcomes.

There is unwavering pressure on leaders to figure everything out alone and uncertain times call for agile leaders. That’s why Vistage are proud to provide a platform where high-performing business leaders can safely talk about their challenges, fears, questions, and opportunities with peers and make better decision; grow their business and have a better work-life balance. After all, “not one of us is as clever as all of us”. In this pandemic, that could be the difference between thriving or just surviving. For more information about Vistage please contact me at [email protected] 

What You Need To Consider When Choosing A Gritting Service

gritting

Winter weather can have a significant impact on a business’s operations and profitability. This is why it is so important for any business that may be impacted by ice or snow to have a reliable, competent gritting service on their contact list.

Here are a few things that you should consider when choosing a gritting service.

What Kind Of Services Will You Need?

You should have a list of requirements in mind when choosing a gritting service. Make a list of areas you will need gritting such as car parks, unadopted or private roads, pavements and cycle paths. This will help you narrow down your search to businesses with the skills and expertise to deal with your specific business needs.

You could also consider your budget, as you will need to weigh the cost of gritting with the benefits. It is important not to prioritise money over safety, but it is still worth trying to find the best deal you can while not compromising on quality.

Testimonials

When researching a gritting service, it is essential to look into online reviews to see what their track record looks like. Reviews and testimonials can be incredibly helpful to get an idea of how they operate as a business and what their customer service looks like.

You could ask around local businesses to see which gritting services they use, as this is the easiest way to get first hand recommendations. You could also do an online search of review aggregators like Google and Trustpilot to see what the overall experience is like for a customer.

Qualifications

You should ensure that any gritting service you use is qualified to carry out the work required of them. This includes looking into the types of vehicle a gritting company uses. While there are no set qualifications for gritting services to look for, you could check your local council’s website to see what kind of standards they use when providing gritting services. This can help you to get an idea of how a gritting service should operate and the type of expertise is needed

It would be best to look for a company that provides regular training for their staff on winter safety to ensure that you are placing your gritting needs in the safest possible hands.

Experience

When choosing a gritting service, you will want to ensure that they have proper experience dealing with the kind of gritting needs your business will have. If your company has a private car park for customers and staff, then you should ensure that the gritting service you use has experience in car park gritting. This is especially important for business owners as you may be liable any damage caused to cars in a car park you are responsible for.

Choosing a gritting service with many years of experience in gritting commercial property and car parks will be invaluable for ensuring that your business has the best possible service. Have a look at Gritting Works for an idea of the expert, professional service you should be looking for.

Size Of Operation

If there is snow or ice forecast, you will want to be sure that the gritting service you choose will be available as soon as you need it. This means that you should look into the size of the business that you are considering using. If it is a small business with only one or two vehicles, you may end up waiting for your gritting services, which is not ideal in bad weather.

Ideally, you will want to find a business with a decent size team and fleet at their disposal. Every minute counts when it comes to gritting, as snow and ice can accumulate quickly over the winter months. Having a bigger team available to you will give you the peace of mind you need to ensure that your business’s gritting needs will be met promptly.

Consider Pre-Emptive Action

You may wish to ensure that the gritting business you choose has the option to use pre-emptive gritting. Getting your gritting done early will help to prevent ice from forming and sticking. While ice can be dealt with after it has formed, it is often advisable to ensure that you have gritting carried out before you expect freezing conditions. A few hours before is usually the best time to grit to prevent ice.

Conclusion

Finding a trustworthy gritting service can and should involve a lot of research. Gritting is a vital element of health and safety for your business and is essential to help you operate in extreme weather. Use a combination of factors to determine the company you will use, including experience, qualifications and recommendations. Ultimately you know what your business will need from its gritting service so you should always be discerning when making decisions.

More Efficiency for UK Transport as Mandata Grows Into Freight Exchange

In June last year, Mandata Group acquired Returnloads.net the UK’s leading freight exchange provider helping manufacturers, shippers, and distributors find new transport suppliers, as well as enabling transport operators to expand their networks and find new work.
 
Mandata Group provides Transport Management Software (TMS) solutions to road transport operators helping them control their transport operations more effectively and increase productivity.
 
The acquisition brings something totally new to the road transport sector giving operators the ability to expand their networks to find new customers and suppliers using Returnloads.net and then to execute that work more efficiently using Mandata TMS.   
 
Steve Spark, CRO of Mandata Group explains that collaboration is a key theme for the road transport sector today and the combination offers exciting opportunities moving forward.   “Our customers have told us that they need to be able to work more effectively with their customers and subcontractors.  They need help to win new work and to expand their own supply chains to get work done when they do not have capacity in their own fleet” adds Steve.
 
“Returnloads.net gives us a fantastic platform from where we can build out our collaboration proposition.   We have exciting plans to invest further in the platform both as a stand-alone proposition and how we integrate the platform with Mandata Group transport management solutions.”
 
Customers who use Returnloads.net to find new work, can expect to see enhancements to the existing platform that will help them promote their services more effectively by highlighting aspects of their service.  Customers who use the website to find new suppliers will benefit from a much improved search engine allowing them to focus on things that are important to them, such as customer ratings, industry accreditations and memberships, helping them to validate who they work with.
 
Mandata TMS customers who want to find new suppliers will be able to publish loads quickly and easily on Returnloads.net. If they already subscribe to the platform to find new work, then they can easily bring the new work back into TMS to get the job done, while providing real time updates back to their customers through in Returnloads.net.”
 
Chris Wall, Client Services Director at Mandata explains: “The acquisition of Returnloads.net really compliments the work Mandata has done on launching the Subbie Portal earlier this year.”
 
“The Subbie Portal gives Mandata TMS customers the ability to allocate loads to members of their existing supply chain who are not users of Mandata TMS themselves.   Sub-contractors can provide real time job updates, ETA’s and PODs straight back into Mandata TMS, removing the long-standing problem of a lack of visibility on loads once they get handed over to a sub-contractor.”
 
“In developing the Subbie Portal and acquiring Returnloads.net we are giving Mandata customers the ability to find new customers and win more new work if they want to. This means they can work in a more integrated way with their existing supply chain network and expand their network by finding new sub-contractor partners.   We are basically giving our TMS customers the ability to create their own networks,” added Chris.
 
Steve Spark goes on to say “being successful is harder than it has ever been for transport operators right now.   This is the first phase of our plans to help our customers work in a more collaborative and integrated way with their customers and suppliers.  We have some really exciting plans for how we will expand that offer which we will be communicating during 2021.”

8 Home Decor Trends for 2021 in the UK

3. Cottagecore

Cottagecore is a home decor style that originated on the internet bringing romanticised barnyard and countryside aesthetics. Not only does it concentrate on the aspects of nature, but it also includes activities like craft-making, pottery, and gardening. 

Cottagecore designs often feature rustic and earthy colour palettes, such as green and brown, combined with simplistic yet elegant decorations, fixtures, and furniture. The main idea of Cottagecore aesthetic is to bring the outdoors indoors. 

 
4. More Natural Light

As more people spend indoors, many will find ways to conserve energy. For this reason, glass doors, roof windows and skylights are becoming more popular. Not only do they brighten up areas in your home, but they also help save a few from electricity bills. 

Painting parts of the house with white can also complement natural lighting. Since light paint colours reflect more light, it makes areas brighter and cleaner. Adding furniture pieces that complement the pale colour scheme balances it out and makes it livelier.

5. Home Office

Many people are starting to work from home, making the home office a necessary design choice for many homeowners. This trend will continue for as long as people work indoors. 

Even if you don’t have a large or dedicated area to work with, you can still set up a home office. You have the freedom to choose how to design it, but many experts recommend focusing on an aesthetic that encourages you to be creative and productive.

Unparalleled Expertise

Ginball Digital Marketing uses award-winning digital transformation, digital marketing, and social media strategies to help entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized businesses across North America to achieve growth. Led by digital marketing expert, best-selling author, entrepreneur and founder, Jean Ginzburg, Ginball uses a unique solution model centered on audience trends, results-driven delivery, and superior customer service. We take a closer look at how Ginball has guided thousands of businesses to achieve consistent, sustainable positive growth.

Based in Colorado, Ginball Digital Marketing is a leading provider of solutions in digital transformation, marketing, and social media strategies delivered in a holistic approach to create business growth.

Founder and CEO Jean Ginzburg is an award-winning entrepreneur, best-selling author, and digital marketing expert who has more than a decade of experience in the industry, serving clients, collaborating with partners, and managing strategies. “We employ a holistic approach and proprietary strategy that facilitates communication and a thorough understanding of our clients’ businesses,” says Jean Ginzburg. “Based on our analysis of the products/services and current strategies of our clients, the Ginball team is able to craft client-specific recommendations and solutions designed to increase our clients’ ROI.”

Since its inception, Ginball has worked with hundreds of businesses. The firm’s clientele ranged from novice solopreneurs to well-established small and mid-sized businesses ready to accelerate their growth. The firm works primarily in the tech, SaaS and software verticals in the $10MM to $50MM revenue range. Ginball has become an expert in creating customer journeys for tech firms who are ready to take their brands to the next level! Just in the last couple of years, Ginball Digital Marketing took on a tech company in the B2B software industry which was grossing around $2.5MM per year and with the marketing strategies implemented, the tech company grew to over $10MM in revenue.

Ginball is experienced and proficient in creating unique strategies tailored to its clients and their business models. The firm’s comprehensive service offerings, including content strategy, marketing messaging, social media, video marketing, paid media & paid social, and marketing automation, can be used in concert with each other to create a complete marketing strategy that fulfils each of the requirements a client may have. Whether they wish to lead a webinar for a higher priced-point information product or create a sales funnel for an e-commerce business, Ginball has the resources and expertise to realize these strategies for its clients.

As social media becomes an increasingly dominant feature of marketing strategies and campaigns, Ginball is uniquely positioned to offer its clients insights into the ways to capitalize on the newest platform. Whether clients are looking to increase visibility or engagement to see growth in paying customers or revenue, Ginball is able to provide carefully planned digital and social strategies that have delivered significant results for hundreds of Ginball’s clients.

Moreover, as a nimble leader in the space, Ginball is able to provide services and insights less readily available to the bigger marketing consultancies, such as the latest in online audience trends, best digital strategies, and superior customer service. This unparalleled expertise, applied to digital and social media strategies, produces fast results even for Ginball’s larger clients, which are typically slower to adopt these key strategies.

Ginball is able to deploy its simple yet effective methods in digital marketing to achieve visible and successful growth in relatively short timescales. With its forward-thinking approach to marketing, allowing the firm to adopt and adapt to new and incoming platforms quickly, Ginball has already become one of the leaders of the North American digital marketing industry. We look forward to seeing the firm’s continued rise to success over the months and years ahead.

For more information, please contact Jean Ginzburg at www.ginball.co

Businesses Get Creative to Survive During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic turned the business world upside down with no warning. Many people had to shut down their shops temporarily, while others never reopened. Some companies continue to set examples and inspire others to adapt on the fly. These are a few of the most popular ways businesses get creative to survive during the pandemic.

They Learned to Livestream

Companies from all different industries rely on live events to pull in new and returning customers. Some business owners found ways to move smaller events outdoors with socially distanced seating, but the general public still shies away from mass gatherings. That’s when the world of livestreaming opened for people beyond influencers, vloggers and gamers.

Popular livestream platforms work with small businesses and large corporations to create an online platform for all kinds of events. People can stream performances and even auctions to continue their usual services without encouraging public gatherings.

They Converted Production Lines

The pandemic spiked unemployment to nearly 15% in April of 2020. Consumers stopped spending like they used to and prioritized the essentials. It led to a shortage of things like toilet paper and hand sanitizer, which inspired businesses to get creative in new ways.

Distilleries and brewing companies began making hand sanitizer with whatever alcohol wasn’t in their main product lines. It gave people access to what would keep them healthy when traditional stores were out. The ingenuity opened new possibilities for existing companies and kept them open during the most challenging times of the early pandemic months.

They Added Curbside Pickup

Other businesses added contactless curbside pickup to keep the lights on. Although people ordered retail products, restaurants mainly benefited from this new service. It’s something that’s likely going to stick around after vaccines provide herd immunity because people enjoy the convenience of getting whatever they want on the fly.

They Installed Plexiglass Barriers

Masks are still an entry requirement, but business owners listened to the experts to protect their staff and clients even further. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended plastic sneeze guard installation in high contact areas. These plexiglass barriers shield everyone from particles that escape masks so there’s less risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Places like banks, grocery stores and office spaces benefit from this extra precaution. Finding ways to install them for long-term use requires a little of that creativity that helps businesses survive during the pandemic.

They Reinvisioned Their Cleaning Routines

Cleaning routines became more crucial than ever after the pandemic began. They remain the first line of defense even today. Many businesses opened earlier and closed later to give employees time for more extensive cleaning standards. Adjusted hours make it easier to pay close attention to high-contact areas and ensure a sanitized environment that keeps everyone safe.

Creative Business Moves Pay Off

Businesses have to get creative to survive during the pandemic, but these strategies have proven successful in numerous industries. Putting sanitation first and finding new ways to perform services while keeping distanced make it easier to navigate the world while COVID-19 remains a threat.

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.

Qatar Becomes First Middle East Country to Launch a Joint CISI & QFMA Digital Learning Solution

The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) has announced a ground-breaking project whereby it has developed an Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) assessment with the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA), the Qatari capital markets regulator.

With 45,000 members globally, the CISI is the not-for-profit global professional body for those working in the wealth management, financial planning and capital market sectors. A strategic cooperation has been in place between the CISI and QFMA since 2007 when an educational and a QFMA licensing program was devised to enhance the qualification standards in the Qatar financial services market.

This AML/CFT project is an extension of that cooperation. Its launch will confirm Qatar as the first country in the Middle East to implement a country wide, digital, AML/CFT assessment, with a unique reporting function, as part of QFMA efforts to combat the causes of financial crime in the Qatar capital market.

The CISI and QFMA have developed an AML/CFT digital learning assessment, in English and Arabic, for professionals working within the Qatar capital market, the aim of which will be to enhance the AML/CFT awareness. The successful completion of the e-learning module will be well recognized in the QFMA’s licensing process.

The assessment will be available for public and concerned professionals. It will be read and accessed on any mainstream mobile, tablet or laptop, the aim being to disseminate knowledge and improve money-laundering and terrorism financing detection throughout the capital market in specific and the financial sector in general.

The QFMA will have full access to the results of an individual’s professional assessment to monitor the AML/CFT compliance across the country. 

Simon Culhane, Chartered FCSI, CISI CEO said: “We are delighted and honoured to be working with the QFMA on this important project to ensure sound training and competence standards for those working in the financial services domain in the Qatari capital market. The aim of the program is to help increase the effectiveness of all staff to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism, enabling the financial sector in Qatar to be at the forefront of combating money laundering and terrorism financing.

“In addition, owing to Covid-19 restrictions, many staff are working from home. Employers globally have experienced how effective online systems can be for productivity, with particular benefits for the e-learning process.”

Nasser Ahmad Al Shaibi (left) QFMA CEO, said: “QFMA’s cooperation with the CISI, as the first Capital Market Regulator in the Middle East joining the Institute in this project, reflects QFMA’s keenness and commitment towards promoting the awareness and the specialized technical learning of those involved in the financial market, through providing a digital platform to disseminate knowledge about combatting money-laundering and  financing of terrorism, and enhancing AML/CFT compliance oversight, in addition to supporting the national efforts aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the Qatar capital market AML/CFT.

“QFMA attaches great importance to the educational and awareness aspect of professionals in the capital market, and for concerned and interested ones in Qatar, especially regarding AML/CFT, considering its key role in ensuring the ongoing development of the financial sector and investor protection.”

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

Original Innovative Marketing And PR Solutions

Headquartered in the greater Seattle area, Three Girls Media, Inc. is a marketing and public relations agency working with businesses in all industries locally and worldwide. Following her success with CEO Monthly, we got in touch with Erika Taylor Montgomery to find out more.


Raising brand awareness and name recognition through traditional and digital tactics, Three Girls Media is committed to providing world-class marketing and PR services for its clients. Going into further detail, Erika begins by providing us with a brief overview of the firm, offering more insight into the diverse range of clients they serve.

“Here at Three Girls Media, we offer our clients a wide range of marketing & public relations services. Included on this extensive list is strategic social media management, advertising and content creation such as blogging, search engine optimisation (SEO), compelling email marketing campaigns, engaging website design and build, media relations, branding and much more.”

“While providing top-notch customer service, rather than relying on cookie cutter packages or hefty monthly retainers, we design a one-of-a-kind marketing or public relations campaign with each business’ specific goals and budget in mind. Naturally, we serve clients in all industries from food, fashion and finance to hospitality, gaming, the medical industry, pets, non-profits and anything else you can imagine.”

Creating unique marketing content for different brands is typically how the firm likes to differentiate themselves from the crowd.

“Every piece of marketing content we create is solely for one particular business,” Erika highlights. “From blog articles and social media updates, to e-newsletters and website copy, we craft marketing materials exclusively for your brand with marketing goals, target consumers, voice, a client’s industry, and budget all taken into account. While many firms automate generic social media updates and blog articles, or purchase them from generic content mills, we learn about what makes your business special and create custom marketing content, updates and articles that showcase your brand’s unique personality and voice. All of the content we create is 100% original and designed specifically for your business.”

Since launching in 2005, the agency has rapidly expanded to become a dynamic team trusted by clients worldwide. Although its staff have been instrumental in the firm’s success, Erika believes it’s important the team maintain a healthy work/life balance.

“Three Girls Media doesn’t just talk about work/life balance, we also live it. Whether that means office dogs barking occasionally, flexible schedules to allow for other commitments or kids at staff meetings now and then, each member of our marketing team is encouraged to make the allowances they need for a happy and healthy life.”

From developing strategies to executing tactics, the firm’s talented crew are crucial to the success of every customer it serves, as Erika points out.

“The Three Girls Media team is integral to the success of each campaign that we engage in. Thanks to their dedication and creative skills, we are able to continue satisfying our clientele and meet their demands.”

Having worked as a remote agency for the last 13 years, the firm were well prepared for working life following the outbreak of COVID-19.

“Prior to the pandemic, all of our team members were working from home anyway so we haven’t been affected in the way many others have.”

Bringing the interview to a close, Erika signs off by revealing how the firm plans to expand not only the team at Three Girls Media, but also their client base and the services they offer.

“Although we are always on the lookout for new team members who want to be part of a fun and close-knit unit, we have a strong mentorship programme which allows us to promote from within.”

“Looking ahead to what the future holds, we will continue to grow our client base, revenue and team while expanding into local, state and federal government contracting which is very exciting. Having already received our certification as a women-owned small business, we’re also excited to have just been certified to work with the federal government.”

For more information, please contact Erika Taylor Montgomery at www.threegirlsmedia.com

Are You in Hong Kong? Here’s why You Need An Offshore Bank Account

Home to many financial institutions, Hong Kong has long been recognised as a prime location for financial services. But amid the anti-government protests in 2019, there has been concern regarding the growth of the city’s economy, slumping Hong Kong into a long recession. While optimists believe the turbulence will subside and banks will recover, others see key growth pillars including finance, trade and tourism weakening further. This has been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing people indoors as well as the closure of shops and restaurants, sending retail sales in a downward spiral. 

Essentially, there is concern that the city is losing stability, business and consumer confidence. And with the prospect of more unrest, many top investors are either reducing their Hong Kong exposure or taking steps to ensure they can withdraw their assets in an instant. Another option for Hong Kong residents to secure their assets is by transferring funds out of the city and into an offshore bank account.

OFFSHORE BANKING

Offshore banking involves opening an account in a foreign jurisdiction to the one in which you reside. They can be held in a variety of currencies and tend to feature everything you would get from a standard current account, including online and mobile banking. Furthermore, offshore banks offer debit cards to access your funds from any ATM in the world, and you can transact in multiple currencies, which is particularly beneficial for those wanting to avoid costly exchange rate charges.

THE BENEFITS

As well as better banking stability, an offshore bank account could provide Hong Kong residents with favourable tax advantages and higher interest earnings. Even if you do not wish to transfer your funds from your existing account, you could open one up alongside your existing bank account. This will diversify your assets and minimise your risk of tax reforms, depending on your chosen jurisdiction and bank.  

Ultimately, the benefits of offshore banking will vary depending on individual circumstance. So be sure to do your research and seek professional advice to find the right jurisdiction for your bespoke needs. 

HERE TO HELP

Whether you require a single personal Offshore Bank Account or Corporate Offshore banking for your business, Turner Little can help you arrange an offshore account regardless of where you call home. For trusted advice tailored to you and your, speak to a member of our experienced team today. 

New Government Figures Show 35% of UK Importers are Struggling at Borders & Northern Ireland Trade is Collapsing, Says ParcelHero

The latest ONS economy report highlights soaring problems at Customs and a crisis developing in Northern Ireland trade, warns the international delivery expert ParcelHero.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) economy figures show businesses are reporting spiralling Brexit challenges. Doubt has also been cast on the viability of the Northern Ireland protocol, says the international delivery expert ParcelHero. Transport costs, border disruption and customs duties problems soared in the two-week period between 24 January and 7 February.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says the new figures highlight the full impact of Brexit on businesses.

Says David: ‘The ONS report, UK exporters and importers increasingly likely to face challenges, shows a sharp escalation in Brexit problems. They increased markedly in the two weeks from 25 January to 7 February compared to the preceding fortnight, 11-24 January:

Border disruption
  • 35% of businesses experienced importing challenges because of disruption at the UK borders. That’s up dramatically from the 25% of importers reporting challenges in the previous two weeks.
  • Similarly, 25% of exporters recorded disruption at borders, compared to just 19% reporting disruption in the preceding fortnight.
 
Transport costs
  • 34% of businesses experienced exporting challenges because of a rise in transportation costs. That’s up significantly from the 25% experiencing transport cost issues in the previous two-week period.
  • 30% experienced importing challenges because of a change in transport costs. Again, this is up significantly from the previous two weeks’ figure of 28%.
Customs duties
  • 26% of businesses experienced exporting challenges because of customs duties or levies, a big jump from the 16% of exporters reporting issues in the previous two-week period.
  • Likewise, 26% experienced importing challenges because of customs fees in the fortnight between 25 January – 7 February, compared to 16% in the preceding two weeks.

‘Perhaps even more concerning, in terms of both trade and politics, are the escalating problems experienced by those shipping goods to Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Protocol is in danger of unraveling entirely if these trends continue.

‘A massive 44% of retailers and wholesalers reported the volume of goods they shipped to Northern Ireland decreased in the latest two-week period, compared to the previous fortnight. 31.5% of manufacturers reported their export volumes to Northern Ireland fell during the latest period. Of all businesses who had sent, or intended to send, goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in the last two weeks, 38% reported sending fewer goods.

‘These problems will only escalate as a waiver on customs declarations on parcels sent from the rest of the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland runs out on 31 March, and certification requirements ramp-up on supermarket goods in April. The Government urgently needs to renegotiate these deadlines with the EU.

‘It’s not as if these issues were unpredictable. As long ago as 2016, our pre-referendum report, “Delivering Brexit: The true cost of leaving the EU”, predicted SMEs would face Brexit costs of around £163k in the first year and a typical rise of 30% on the price of items purchased in the EU that had components originating outside Europe.

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

Better Laboratories for Better Lives

Leading the evolution in central laboratory services since 2002, LabConnect provides extensive capabilities through a network of laboratories and industry-leading support services, including routine and specialized laboratory testing, sample tracking custom collection kits, sample management, data management, and biorepository and scientific support resources. Situated in Tennessee, USA, but operating on a global scale, LabConnect is on a mission to improve lives by improving central laboratory management services. Thanks to their visionary business model, LabConnect is leading a positive revolution within the sector.

Based in Tennessee, USA, LabConnect is the preeminent provider of central laboratory support services for analytically and logistically complex studies such as immuno-oncology, cell and gene therapies, and rare & orphan diseases. Offering world-class capabilities across a network of laboratories, LabConnect offers unique and innovative services that are designed to accommodate the increasingly specific and challenging requirements of modern-day clinical trials.

LabConnect’s comprehensive selection of services includes routine and specialized testing, real-time sample tracking, data integration, biorepository, sample processing, and specialized, scientific functional outsourcing. These services have been used all across the world by a broad spectrum of clients within the life sciences, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, who use the services to assist researchers in the management of clinical trials.

With the largest network of qualified laboratories in the world, LabConnect offers services that are equipped with cutting edge sample tracking technology and the most extensive list of tests available on the market from one location. As a result, the organization has been able to offer vital Covid-19 testing throughout the last few months, as well as data integration and a recently expanded biorepository.

Known across the industries for their flexibility and versatility to tailor their services to meet individual project needs, LabConnect is on a mission to be the central lab of choice for investigative sites and sponsors, owing to their ambition to better lives across the globe by improving central laboratory management services.

Whilst the needs of the industry have become increasingly analytical and logistically complex, the organization relies on a visionary business model that focuses on the continuous development of innovative solutions that facilitate global execution and delivery of reliable and timely data. LabConnect is growing at a significant rate which far surpasses that of its competitors, in correlation with the increased number and complexity of clinical trials. This includes creating greater scalability in services and capabilities, and, as they support clinical studies in approximately seventy countries, LabConnect has also become reliant on the use of technology and establishment of strong service delivery partnerships to meet the ongoing growth.

Key to the culture of LabConnect is therefore collaboration, both internally and externally. Amongst its core values is the establishment of close, lasting and mutual beneficial relationships with all stakeholders, including fellow employees, clients and vendors. The team reaches their audience through a profitable combination of outreach through business development and multi-channel marketing efforts. In addition, LabConnect invests heavily in its ability to understand and anticipate the needs of stakeholders, treating each one with respect and appreciation and striving to understand the impact of their actions and decisions so as to deliver a positive experience and productive outcome for all.

Whilst the company’s ground-breaking business model may be a primary factor in LabConnect’s success, the innovation that is central to the model would not be possible without the staff who work extremely hard to realize the full potential of their enterprise, which in turn facilitates its rapid growth. As a service-based organization, the staff plays an integral role in its success and potential candidates are recruited with this knowledge in mind through LabConnect’s two inhouse recruiters. It is vital that employees understand the importance of their work to clients’ clinical studies and, by extent, the wellbeing of patients whom these products will one day help.

Predominantly, personal and company success is the result of good communication and as such, LabConnect maintains a collaborative spirit, seeking clarity and brevity in their communications as they work towards a shared goal. LabConnect’s other core values include both personal and company awareness, in which the firm creates candid self-assessments and regularly examines their own strengths and weaknesses to identify areas in which they can improve. The team seeks regular feedback from customers, relying on their strong communication skills to find out how they can best serve their clientele and learn what they can from their competitors.

This also enables LabConnect to learn from one another so as to understand innovations and apply them with creativity to face challenges and acquire solutions. Mistakes are always likely to be made, particularly in an environment that is constantly pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new ways to improve. LabConnect’s team of creative individuals therefore use their positive attitudes and desire to exceed expectations of stakeholders to find innovative solutions that surpass the benchmarks of their industry.

In order to serve their industry and the wider community to an even higher standard, LabConnect has recently partnered its research professionals with the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine (ARM), a non-profit organization that supports the development of safe and effective regenerative medicines and advanced therapies worldwide. Fundamentally, ARM is an international network of businesses of varying sizes, non-profit research institutions, patient organizations and other sector stakeholders dedicated to bettering regenerative medicine on a global scale and sharing LabConnect’s vision to improve patient wellbeing. 

Driven by innovation and exceptional client satisfaction, LabConnect continues to grow at a significant rate, by refining their delivery model and business process to evolve and better serve their customers. For instance, LabConnect recently acquired the software rights for SampleGISTICSTM, a sample tracking pen technology that will enable better customization of the tracking and forecasting capabilities and serve a key industry need that currently remains unmet.

With active recruitment under way and full exploration of technological capabilities at the fore of LabConnect’s current mission, the organization is making plans for the expansion of its geographic presence, which will support global growth and enable even greater consistency for clinical studies around the world. Meanwhile, the LabConnect team will continue to research and launch even more innovative solutions, particularly focusing on those that will boost their productivity and offer improved, more comprehensive client services. With almost two decades behind them and many more ahead, it is clear that LabConnect is achieving what it set out to do, and improving lives by making real, positive difference in central laboratory management services.

For more information, please contact Jaimy McCarthy at www.labconnect.com

How to Build Credit the Right Way

People say that money makes the world go round, but the truth is that good credit provides you with the most opportunities. Building credit can be a challenge if you don’t have any previous history. However, it’s an essential part of life and can simplify many situations.

Keep reading to learn three methods of building credit the right way.

1. Open a Credit Card

Most people know that opening a credit card will influence their overall score and history. However, they don’t know how to maximize it for their own benefit. Here are three factors to consider.

Choosing a Secure Credit Card

There are many credit cards available on the market, but it’s essential to know the difference between secured and unsecured cards. Simply put, secured cards require an upfront deposit that minimizes the risk for the issuer. With a secured card, you can build your credit without risking going into debt. They’re typically much easier to obtain an unsecured card — making them a good option for anyone with limited credit history. The only downside is that your deposit creates a cap for your spending limit.

Getting a Co-Signer

If you’d like to have an unsecured card and don’t have a credit history, you can consider getting a co-signer. This person would agree to take on your debt if you default on paying. If they have good credit, then you’re more likely to get approved. The downside is that most major credit card companies do not allow for co-signers. You’ll need to research your options if you’d like to take this approach.

Making Regular Payments

To build good credit, you’ll want to make regular payments regardless of the card type. It’s always best to pay off the debt in full. Keep in mind that late payments can cause additional interest and penalty charges to accrue. Additionally, your payment timeliness influences your score.

2. Apply for a Loan

When the situation calls for it, loans are extremely beneficial. They typically have lower interest rates than credit cards and can allow an individual to purchase something outside of their savings range. Many loans are also known as good debt because they help a person pursue investments that improve their life. They also influence credit and can help build a long-standing history.

From this standpoint, it would be worthwhile to make a significant purchase or investment using a loan. These purchases encourage natural credit building. Keep in mind that you should only borrow as much money as your feel comfortable paying back. Defaulting on a loan will damage your score, so it’s worth setting up an automatic repayment program.

3. Become an Authorized User

One of the easiest ways to build safe credit is by becoming an authorized user on another’s account. When added, you gain access to their available funds and earn a credit history without liability. Unlike co-signing, if the other person stops paying, you are not responsible for covering their fees. However, it’s beneficial to choose someone who pays their bills on time and is financially stable, so their account does not negatively affect your score.

Be Patient

You can use these three ways to grow your credit and check the results using annual score reports. Good scores allow you to get lower interest rates on future loans and credit cards and improves your chances of getting approved. Building credit takes time, but it pays off in the long run.

How to Effectively Use Direct Mail at Each Stage of Your Customers’ Journey

Direct mail is quickly becoming a rejuvenated form of targeted marketing, as one of the most effective ways to communicate with your customers and prospects today. A recent survey showed that 84 per cent of professional marketers believe that direct mail improves advertising campaign performance.

Like online marketing strategies, direct mail can also be used to target customers on each stage of their buying journey – from brand discovery to retaining satisfied customers. Furthermore, with 56 per cent of people believing that print advertising is more trustworthy, businesses may consider it a far superior way to contact prospects.

Here, we look at the four stages of your customer’s buying journey and how you can use direct mail to progress their buying intentions and remain loyal to your business.

Awareness stage

At the beginning stage in your customer’s journey, they’re discovering that they have a problem and will be searching for the solution.

Fortunately, your business is the best solution to their problem. Unfortunately, the customer may not even know that your business exists. This is the perfect opportunity to use a direct mail service to introduce yourself to customers and raise awareness of your business.

Direct mail is an incredibly effective way to provide customers with information about your business, especially in comparison to most digital marketing techniques. Research shows that direct mail can be more influential than online techniques. For example, while 94 per cent of people engage with physical mail, only 20 per cent of emails are opened. Furthermore, 41 per cent of direct mail deliveries persuaded people to continue their research into the business that had posted to them.

It’s important to get the awareness stage of your customer’s journey right – your job is to create the foundations of a long-lasting loyalty between the business and the customer.

During this step, you should remember to not be too assertive – give the customer the information that they need with a small call to action. This should arguably be a small push to visit your website. Did you know that 64 per cent of people have visited a website because of direct mail they have received? Therefore, you should send mail out frequently. It’s important to maintain exposure, particularly during this early stage where you’re trying to raise awareness for your company. Targeting a smaller pool of people more frequently will be more effective than a larger pool of people once.

The utility of your mail is important when in the awareness stage, so making your mail less advertorial is key. For example, tips and tricks relating to your business will establish your organisation as helpful and authoritative. For example, a landscaper may send out gardening tips, or a gym may produce ideas on how to stay healthy.

Consideration stage

When your customer reaches the consideration stage, they’ve realised what their problem is and are beginning to research what exactly can be done to fix it. The customer knows your business, but now they want to know about your products and services and how your business can benefit them.

This is the stage where your customers want relevant information. Direct mail can help save them the research.

When using direct mail during the consideration stage you must provide relevancy. This is your opportunity to demonstrate how you can solve the problem through your product or services. How can a landscaper create the perfect garden space? How specifically can a gym help you to get healthy?

According to one survey, 53 per cent of people believe that the communication that is relevant to their needs is the most influential form of communication. You’re asking customers to take considerations seriously during this stage.

You can make this stage effective through several different campaign methods with direct mail, including the use of coupons to drive customers to return to your website. Personalised mail is also essential to show that you appreciate customers for their interest in your business.

Conversion stage

At this stage in the customer’s journey, they’re ready to decide on what to buy and who to buy it from. Your job is to ensure that the customer knows that you are the best option above all the competition.

To achieve this, you must guarantee that your customer knows that you can fulfil their needs. This stage requires you to be more assured and assertive, highlighting exactly what you can do, how you will do it, and the cost of your product or service.

With direct mail, you can tailor your marketing to target products and services to the people you know are more inclined to accept your offers. Therefore, it’s important to remind people that you are a trustworthy business. Highlighting strong reviews and affiliations with certified organisations remind people that your service or product will achieve what you promise.

Retention stage

After you have secured your customer, the next phase of this journey is to ensure that they will return to your business in the future. The customer will reflect on their experience with your product or service and measure how resolved they feel with what your business has achieved.

It’s important to remain engaged with your past customers. Research shows that after one purchase, consumers have a 27 per cent chance of returning to your store. Beyond this, three-time customers are 54 per cent likely to continue returning.

This retention can be achieved through direct mail by maintaining contact with your customers. Direct mail is a non-invasive way to communicate with customers after they’ve finished their buyer’s journey.

Customer loyalty can be created by creating mail that appeals to individuals. Throughout the buyer’s journey, you will have understood how your customers operate. When did they buy? Which offers best appealed to customers? Using this information with your direct mail strategy is essential to encourage customers to return to your business.

Posting direct mail with these offers during periods when you know customers are more likely to engage with your content. By using their name on the letterhead or envelope, for example, direct mail can create the impression that your business is providing individual members with exclusive offers.

Direct mail is unique in that it allows you to track your customers on every stage of the buyer’s journey. Understanding how your customer will react to your direct mail at each stage is also important, as you allow your brand to grow with their needs and awareness of your product and services. If you want to grow your business and its effectiveness in reaching customers, direct mail is an essential move towards reaching customers at every stage in their journey.

Perfect Wine Pairings for Valentine’s Day, according to an expert

Steak and Dauphinoise Potatoes

What to drink with steak depends on the cut of the steak and how it is cooked. Traditionally, steaks are paired with red wines, and for good reason. The right red wines have both tannins and alcohol that can help bring out the richness of the steak. Although we cannot have a restaurant-style cut of ribeye, we can sear it at home and pair it with Lukasz’s suggestions:

“Just the mention of this dish makes me dream about a juicy medium-rare cut of ribeye at Hawksmoor restaurant. Although this sadly cannot happen this Valentine’s Day, I do have two great suggestions for a home-cooked meal.

First, the Mondavi family’s Napa Valley Continuum 2013 forms an excellent partner to steak. Its layered tannic structure binds with the meat’s proteins, highlighting the wine’s generous blackcurrant and cassis aromas that are seasoned with blackcurrant leaves and charcoal mineral flavours.  Another great option is Porseleinberg Syrah from Swartland region of South Africa. The vines here are grown on blueschist soils that brings a mineral intensity to the wine, which balances with the blueberry and red berry flavours and earthy, black pepper notes. I recommend decanting for an hour before your meal so that the wine’s body and texture perfectly harmonises with your preferred cut.”

Oysters

White wine, sparkling or still, is the classic pairing with oysters. The high acidity and naturally crisp style pairs perfectly with fresh seafood. So that we avoid pairing our oysters with a wine that is heavily oaky or tannic, Lukasz provides his light sparkling wine suggestion which won’t overwhelm the dish:

“A classic aphrodisiac, this dish deserves something extraordinary, and I can’t imagine anything more suitable that the 2008 Comtes de Champagne by Taittinger. The 2008 vintage is deservedly regarded as exceptional. Its punchy pure citrus fruit alongside a mineral freshness forms a perfect marriage with the saline, seawater flavours in the oysters.  There may be many fish in the sea, but there is only one 2008 Comtes de Champagne!”

Growth in Health and Med-tech Industry Set to Accelerate as Regional Demand for Service Provision Rises

A new Covid Response Report (CRR), produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the digital health platform Altibbi, explores the rapid development and uptake of medical and health technology across four MENA markets in 2020, while considering the major part that further innovation will play in driving economic recovery in the region.

The report tracks the investment made by all four countries in health care provision in recent years which, while varying in terms of funds allocated and inflows, bolstered their efforts to contain the virus when it arrived and care for patients.

It looks, in particular, at the broad range of tech-led medical and health services introduced by each market, which proved crucial in the pandemic by making alternative, remote solutions available and reducing the overall pressure on traditional systems.

Key examples included e-health and telemedicine options, which were key in delivering vital public health information and facilitating remote consultations, thereby helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Subscribers will also find coverage of the medical and health technology industry’s potential for growth in areas such as medical record digitalisation, which is expected to gain momentum in line with demand for integrated health care systems, telemedicine and automation.

The report explores Altibbi’s growth story, tracking its expansion and the steps it took to continue operating throughout the pandemic, when demand for services – both established and new – rose sharply. It also looks in detail at the firm’s collaborative projects with the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which enabled them to continue delivering their health care provision through telehealth consultations and Covid-19 information hotlines, alongside other services, in a challenging environment.

Jalil Allabadi, Founder and CEO, Altibbi, said that having enabled governments to provide essential health information and medical services remotely when Covid-19 arrived, new technologies were now expected to play an even greater role in post-pandemic health care, driven forward by changing demographics, rising levels of internet use and pressure on current systems.

“Approximately 400m people in the Arab world are still without access to essential medical services, while the proportion of the MENA population aged over 65 is rising. At the same time, an estimated 70% of doctor visits are considered to be unnecessary,” he said. “Technological tools in various forms, ranging from telemedicine to apps, will play a critical part in meeting demand for health information and medical care, at a time when governments are keeping a close eye on their budgets.”

Karine Loehman, OBG’s Managing Director for Africa, said that unlike key areas of the global economy, technology-enabled health services had performed strongly during the pandemic, with health-tech companies able to tap into the disruption to doing business.

“The outlook for the sector is bright, with industry players already focused on developing solutions that will help to fill vacuums in quality and infrastructure,” he said. “From a regional perspective, all four study countries are expected to exhibit strong GDP per capita growth going forward, pointing to promising prospects for higher purchasing power and telehealth spending.”

Full Steam Ahead!

Operation excellence is the key factor in the success of ENGIE – Tihama Power Generation Company. Working under the aegis of the ENGIE Group, the Company is a power and steam generating company with 4 power and steam cogeneration plants in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. The cogeneration plants are all located within the boundaries of Saudi Aramco fuel processing facilities and are essential for Saudi Aramco process. The success of the team is due in no small part to the work of Eric Maka, named CEO of the Year, 2020 – The United Arab Emirates in CEO Monthly. We take a closer look to find out more.

ENGIE – Tihama Power Generation Company, one of the leading power and steam generating companies in Saudi Arabia, was established in 2003 to provide electrical power and process steam to four of Saudi Aramco’s refineries and gas plants in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Its continued success is a credit not only to the team who have made it such a critical part of Saudi Aramco’s infrastructure and the company’s partner, , but to visionary CEO Eric Maka.

Mr. Maka’s career with ENGIE started in 1995, when he was hired by Tractebel to supervise the construction of power and desalination projects in Belgium, Luxembourg, Singapore, Turkey, Kingdom of Bahrain and Sultanate of Oman. In 2011, ENGIE Group appointed him as SVP Asset Management (Construction) for South Asia, Middle East & Africa region based in Dubai. With eleven sites under construction, the task was not easy, but he proved crucial to the mission’s success. All projects were completed on time and within budget, including many with considerable cost underruns. Having managed such an astonishing achievement, Mr. Maka was promoted to act as head of construction, working his way through the firm to Head of Asset Management for KSA & Kuwait and finally to his current position as CEO of ENGIE – Tihama Power Generation Company.

In 2018 Mr Maka joined ENGIE – Tihama Power Generation Company from a corporate environment and has adapted extremely well to a challenging O&M environment with a demanding client. For the last two and a half years, he has guided the firm through a unique set of circumstances, ensuring that it thrives regardless. He took a more hands-on approach and reorganized of the head office reporting lines. He inspired the whole team to become the benchmark company for all the ENGIE assets in the region. He improved stakeholder engagement and communications, especially with its client Saudi Aramco giving extra care to their satisfaction. In addition to being empowered to represent the Company with authorities, regulatory agencies, lenders, banks and professional organisations, Mr. Maka has been involved in securing the future of the Company.

Of course, the role of CEO for this company is no small task. The 170-strong team ensures that Saudi Aramco is provided with 1,645 MW of electrical power and 6.3 Million Pounds per Hour of process steam for four of its refineries at Uthmaniyah, Shedgum, Ras Tanura and Ju’aymah.

The Company operates four electricity and steam co-generation power plants using General Electric frame seven gas turbines with associated steam generating industrial boilers under a 20-year Energy Conversion Agreement with Saudi Aramco. Needless to say, the ENGIE Group as a whole is fascinated by the potential that Saudi Arabia holds, and has put a great deal of time and effort into making the most of it. ENGIE currently provides 10% of the Kingdom’s power capacity and 11% of its desalinated water capacity and has achieved notable growth in Saudi Arabia, building its assets and project value to USD 8 billion. ENGIE plans to invest in assets and projects worth an additional USD 6 billion in the next 5 years. 

Under Mr. Maka’s expert leadership, ENGIE – Tihama Power Generation has maintained its status as a multicultural equal-opportunity employer, with more than 67% of its workforce being Saudi Nationals. Part of the work that Mr. Maka has been engaged with has revolved around the promotion of a safe company culture and an environment where good industrial practices can flourish. In short, Mr. Maka is not just a leader, but an ambassador for cultural change, where continuous improvement and a strong drive towards operational excellence is key.

Perhaps the biggest sign of Mr. Maka’s success with operational excellence is the certification that the company now operates under. The team is proud to achieve the ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 certifications, the ISO 55001 Asset Management Certification as well as holding NEBOSH Golden Safety Award-2014-2015-2018-2019-2020 for their impeccable standards.

When it comes to managing energy companies, it’s worth paying attention to how Mr. Maka has secured success for the ENGIE Group. Instead of coming in and making a stance, his work has revolved around ensuring that all stakeholders in the region feel comfortable with his methods. It’s a consistent approach that has brought major success to the region, and is one of the many reasons why the ENGIE Group as a whole must be one to watch for the foreseeable future.

For more information, contact: [email protected] or visit www.tihamapower.com

The UK’s Housing Association: What It Brings to the Economy

The UK’s housing association is a group of non-profit organisations which build and manage houses for rent. For example, if you reported a radiator not working, they would manage this and send someone out to repair it. Profit generated through renting property is put back into the business to continue developing affordable property.

Housing associations can be focused upon specific demographics, for example, those with disabilities. While housing associations have been previously thought of as an option for those on a lower income, now, there is a growing need for them due to increasing housing prices.  Renting from these organisations is becoming a reasonable option for young people looking to get on the property ladder. Not only are they affordable, but they can also offer many financial schemes to aid purchasing a property for those who might not be accepted on a mortgage application.

COVID-19 and the growing need for affordable housing

While many industries were hit badly by COVID-19, there was a boom in social housing in an attempt to curb long council housing waiting lists. 100,000 new rental homes would not only house those on the growing list but would contribute £14.5 billion to the UK economy. The government’s Affordable Homes Programme is a scheme designed to allocate taxpayer money for affordable housing. Homes England are investing £7.39 billion from April 2021 to develop 130,000 homes outside of London by March 2026.

Sadly, many underprivileged households have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Forecasts show that those applying to be on housing waiting lists could increase two-fold to two million households this year due to the negative fallout of a devastating pandemic. Affordable, high-quality housing developments can be targeted to communities in need across the country, helping build both the local and national economy.

Councillor David Renard, Local Government Association spokesperson, said: “With the number of people on council housing waiting lists set to double, it is absolutely vital that we build more housing for social rent. Building 100,000 social homes for rent a year would bring significant social and economic benefits, from tackling our housing crisis and reducing rising levels of homelessness to wiping millions off welfare bills and improving people’s health and wellbeing while alleviating the pressure on health and social care. 

“We are urging the government in the Spending Review to give councils the powers to get building at scale again and deliver a housing programme that can play a central role in the national recovery from coronavirus.”  

Helping stimulate the economy

While families are struggling to enter the private housing market, businesses have had their own challenges, too. The UK Government has set a target of building 300,000 homes a year, which would mean huge projects and contracts for construction firms.

Developing social housing will generate value from public money by stimulating the economy through a variety of ways. Housing associations need to externally hire other consultants, for example, architects, engineers, and contractors. This generates additional work for local businesses in the area – each pound spent in housing development will grow the economy by more than a pound. For example, the construction industry has been hit hard by lockdown and social distancing regulations, with reports from the Office for National Statistics reporting that the construction industry had the lowest level of employment since 2013. Housing associations hiring construction are embedded in communities across the UK, which would give local businesses the boost they need.

Additionally, housing associations may also have a branch to sell private housing at normal market prices. The profits then go directly back to affordable housing rather than to shareholders. This helps continue the much-needed cycle of building more affordable housing in the local area.

Making affordable rent available for those who would be housed inadequately if they had to rely on the private sector keeps rent under a certain amount. This prevents tenants from being exploited. It also gives them more financial freedom to spend and stimulate the economy further.

Benefits to the wider economy

Investing in social housing can directly benefit the Treasury. The more money invested to support the development of social housing, the lower the expenditure on housing benefits. This exists at around £25bn. If more people can rent social housing at a lower cost of rent, fewer people are forced to rent in the private sector at a higher cost.

Increased investment in social housing also reduces the housing market’s current volatility by stabilising the UK’s housing market.

Like any industry, social housing will face challenges. However, the industry has the power to help stimulate the economy from a disappointing year.

Wealth & Finance Magazine Announces the Winners of the 2020 Artificial Intelligence Awards

United Kingdom, 2021- Wealth & Finance magazine has announced the winners of the 2020 Artificial Intelligence Awards.

This year’s programme marks a continuation of the extraordinarily successful inaugural awards. From software developers working on next generation tech, to the firms that utilise best in class options to deliver exceptional results, this programme has sought to distinguish those who are working hard to define future of an industry just realising its full potential.

Awards Coordinator Jessie Wilson took a moment to congratulate the winners: “Artificial Intelligence remains a powerful tool indeed for those looking to capitalise on the possibilities of technology to enhance established industries. The Artificial Intelligence Awards were created to showcase the firms that are making extraordinary strides in the arena, and look set to hone best practices. Congratulations to everyone, and I wish you all a wonderful and productive year ahead.”

To learn more about our deserving award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best” in AI, please visit the Wealth & Finance website (http://www.wealthandfinance-news.com/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

Notes to editors.

About Wealth & Finance International

Wealth & Finance International is a quarterly publication dedicated to delivering high quality informative and up-to-the-minute global business content. It is published by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting.

Developed by a highly skilled team of writers, editors, business insiders and regional industry experts, Wealth & Finance International reports from every corner of the globe to give readers the inside track on the need-to-know news and issues affecting banking, finance, regulation, risk and wealth management in their region.

Building the Case for Construction Offices in 2021

The past year has been difficult for construction workers. Between the first national lockdown and increasing social distancing regulations, construction output has been hit dramatically. In fact, the fall in output was the largest since records began in January 2010. Construction work has been allowed to continue in the following national lockdowns in Scotland and England. However, while some workers are required to be on-site to complete work, such as labourers and site managers, other key roles in construction could work remotely. These roles may include engineers, surveyors, and architects.

But while the end of the pandemic is in sight, remote working capabilities may remain, even after social distancing restrictions are eased. Leaders within the construction industry worry that this will affect the sector’s recovery post-pandemic. After all, construction workers excel through collaboration.

One construction company, Taylor Wimpey, emphasises the importance of staying safe when returning to work, but why onsite work should be a priority when restrictions are further eased. One analyst, William Ryder said: “The risk of a prolonged recession, falling house prices and sales volumes is still heightened, and we know how quickly that combination can demolish profits for housebuilders.”

While Taylor Wimpey reminds us that their “first priority is always the health and safety of our customers, employees, sub-contractors and suppliers.” They, like others in the construction industry, recognise the damage that lockdowns have had on the sector and the economy. Therefore, returning to work when it is safe to do so is essential.

The suitability of remote working in construction

According to one employee experience index, 49 per cent of people working in UK construction and engineering had no experience of working from home before the pandemic. Furthermore, 91 per cent of those who have remote working experience would usually work from home for only one day or less per week.

Add this to the fact that only 32 per cent of home-workers have a dedicated working space at home, the evidence creates a clear determination: the construction industry is not suitable for remote working conditions.

While the construction industry evaded the compulsory closing of non-essential businesses during the second and third national lockdown in England, social distancing regulations and expectations of who can work on-site remain. The guidance prioritises those who cannot work from home. In construction and engineering, this may be limited to labourers and infrequent visits from engineers when on-site reviews must be completed.

However, while working from home has been possible during the pandemic, there is little motivation to maintain this culture. Construction must remain focussed on safety and quality, which can only be achieved through in-person assessment.

Making space a priority

Despite the vaccine rollout, experts agree that social distancing will continue for the majority of 2021. However, as construction workers continue to return to sites, these regulations must be adhered to. As a consequence, additional working space is essential.

While this space can be employed as a temporary measure, container hire is often the first port of call for site managers looking for portable and easy shelter for workers. As an office, the space is versatile, allowing engineers to review plans and make appropriate amendments in the vicinity of the construction work. Office spaces are valuable for collaboration, and with a variety of roles on construction, office space is central in curating innovative decisions which can help improve the quality of work, regulate safety on site, and help reduce costs.

Working from home prevents this collaborative effort. While objectives such as CAD and steel detailing may be compatible with remote working, doing this in isolation prevents co-workers and other departments from contributing to the planning stage.

Recovering the work

There is a consensus among construction workers that normal working circumstances should return as soon as possible to help the sector recover. The Office for National Statistics states that while construction output has achieved a seventh consecutive month of growth and has finally recovered to meet pre-pandemic levels, aspects of the sector such as new work still 3.1 per cent below output in February 2020. This represents £282 million of output in the sector. New public housing construction, which requires efficient processes, is still 22.1 per cent below its pre-pandemic level. There is a clear need for normal work processes to resume.

Continuing into 2021, a clear majority of construction businesses do not intend to maintain remote working capabilities. According to the ONS, only 5.5 per cent of construction businesses want a permanent increase of home working, as opposed to 83.5 who do not want remote working to increase after the pandemic. 11 per cent of businesses were not sure.

While the construction sector makes it clear that remote working should be avoided in the future, only one in five businesses show any real desire to increase these capabilities. Business leaders have proved that attending the workplace is best for productivity and output.

While all industries have taken a hit during the past year, confidence in construction is at risk of not returning to its full potential unless appropriate action is taken. Resuming normal working conditions is essential and doing this while adhering to social distancing and health guidelines is important. Accommodating as many workers back into construction sites and offices may be the saving factor for the sector.

Driving Creativity and Innovation

Situated in Southfield, Michigan, Banks & Company is a full-service management consultancy firm focused on the management of issues and relationships, strategy around a data-driven approach using advanced analytics and innovation that speaks to technology and creative solutions to address complex problems. After receiving his award with CEO Monthly, we caught up with Lloyd Banks to find out more.

Since 2013, Banks & Company has worked alongside municipalities, corporations and non-profits delivering strategies, resource development and coalition building solutions. To start, Lloyd offers more insight into the values of the firm and some of its specialisms.

“Collectively, we aim to provide the highest integrity and credible global solutions to thought leaders that will drive creativity and innovation throughout the organisation. At all times, it is our goal to meet and exceed client expectations. Since we were founded, no major changes have occurred to the business, but the statements have broadened to be more encompassing of who and what we represent as a company. As the operator of a full-service public affairs company, we are experts in government relations, lobbying services, public relations, and marketing for other organisations.”

In the field of management consulting, Banks & Company regularly come up against a number of similar competitors in the region. However, as Lloyd goes on to explain, the firm like to act as problem solvers to retain the business of some of its clients.

“Naturally, our approach has always been about helping an organisation see how we can solve their problems. Firstly, we seek to understand the problem before then demonstrating how our services can help immediately in a short-term way. With the help of our dedicated team, we have a process that ensures a very efficient onboarding process. Weekly client check-ins, regular client activity reporting, budget tracking and quarterly reviews also help ensure objectives are being met. But, ultimately our most unique selling point is the fact we are proactive, and we anticipate needs to enhance relationships through government relations and so forth.”

Regarding the internal culture in place, much of the firm’s success can be attributed to the dedication and commitment of its staff members, which Lloyd is keen to highlight.

“The company culture here is a vibrant one with everyone full of energy, possessing can-do attitude and a spirit of entrepreneurship. The team are a critical part of the client delivery model. Without the support of my team, I would not be as successful. The entrepreneurial approach and attitudes of those working for Banks has allowed us to satisfy the demands of our clients.”

Similarly, in recruitment we look for individuals who will fit into the firm’s culture as Lloyd goes on to explain. “Recruitment is a very strategic process and to make sure we find the right kind of talent we cast the net as wide as possible. Additionally, we like to focus our network on referrals.”

Finally, Lloyd discusses the challenges the firm has faced in recent years before outlining some of its plans for 2021 and beyond. “Many challenges are not always respected in your hometown. Having been working on strategy to open up other markets, it makes sense for me to go in this direction as it is my goal to be a global player in the public affairs space. Currently, the industry is great and there is plenty of work for everyone, the challenge however is location, and it is important to expand.

“Looking ahead, I want to grow and be positioned as a thought leader in the industry. Naturally, my success and elevation will have a direct impact on my company and team members. The more recognition I receive, the more opportunities I will have for my company. Not only do I plan to run and operate a multimillion-dollar company, but I also want my team members to have a huge stake in that financially. In five years, I plan to be operating successfully in at least two more markets while on the path of doing international work.”

‘Normal’ Bank Lending to SMEs Down 10% Last Year As Banks Focus On CBLIS & BBLS Loan

The outstanding value of non-emergency lending by banks to SMEs has dropped by 10% from £168bn in December 2019 to £152bn in December 2020, shows new research from ACP Altenburg Advisory, the debt advisory specialist.

ACP Altenburg Advisory says the research shows that once CBILS and BBLS loan schemes come to an end, SME businesses are likely to struggle to obtain finance from banks which is not partly or fully underwritten by the Government.

Total CBILS and BBLS lending to SMEs has ballooned from £4bn in April 2020, to a total of nearly £61bn that has been lent by December 2020*.

Once the CBILS and BBLS schemes come to an end, ACP Altenburg Advisory says banks may have limited appetite to lend and increase their exposure to the SME sector any further, given the significant increase in overall SME lending over the past 12 months when including the emergency lending.

Many banks are already reducing non-emergency lending to new to bank business customers. As CBILS and BBLS loans are underwritten by the Government, banks have been able to offer better terms for those loans than for ‘business as usual’ lends, which do not provide lenders with the same safety net.

ACP Altenburg Advisory says, therefore, alternative lenders are likely to be sought after in the coming months as SMEs find it more difficult to obtain finance from traditional lenders.

Will Senbanjo, Partner at ACP Altenburg Advisory, says: “CBILS and BBLS loans have dominated banks’ lending activities to such an extent that they have limited capacity to write normal loans to SMEs. This means that businesses looking to grow may struggle to obtain the funds they need.”

“SMEs looking to raise additional funds for growth in the months ahead may need to look at the alternative options, such as asset-based lending or alternative lender funding. Alternative lenders are open for business and are keen to deploy capital to well-managed businesses that have strong growth potential.”

Debt advisers can be crucial in helping a business to obtain the right funding package to fit their business needs. Advisers can help a business understand and explore the various funding options open to them, and then help them present their business to the most appropriate lenders in the right way.

*Based on data from the Bank of England and the British Business Bank. SMEs are defined as businesses with less than £25m turnover.

EU Business News Q1 2021

Welcome to the Q1 edition of EU Business News Magazine, a quarterly publication devoted to providing you with all of the latest news, features and insightful pieces from across the European Union.

Over the last few years, the conversation surrounding climate change has increased with both younger and older generations coming together to find ways to be more sustainable in their day to day lives. Within the pages of EU Business News’ first issue for 2021, we have found a number of businesses who are also playing their part in the fight to create a greener future.

From a German company developing sustainable solutions for water to meet diverse customer needs, to a manufacturer of sustainable LED lighting promoting a switch to environmentally friendly and economical lighting technologies– this issue celebrates the accomplishments of those who are contributing to the fight against climate change.

For now, we hope that you enjoy reading this insightful issue of EU Business News and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Roots vs Risk: How Companies Can Effectively Create a New Culture and Customer-base

It’s common for brands to become stagnant, rooted in their ways and too set on a specific course which restricts their ability to adapt to change. It is the classic example of the “That’s the way we do things around here” mentality.

But over time, competition increases, markets develop and consumer needs shift. Consequently, very few industries have remained static over the past year let alone the last decade, which has created an urgent need for businesses to evolve.  

This notion is backed by Matthew Hayes, Managing Director of Champions (UK) plc, a strategy-led growth agency in the brand, digital and communications space. In this piece, he explains how digging up a business’ roots can actually help sow the seeds for a successful future.

Letting go of your roots

Resistance to change is one of the greatest barriers to a business’s long-term success. This resistance is often the result of a business becoming too attached to its roots, which can sometimes be so deep that they begin to act as an anchor, weighing the business down rather than enabling its growth.

These roots can be categorised as values, goals and characteristics of a business that define how it operates, the messages it communicates, the way in which it conveys them, as well as how consumers perceive the brand.

But as times change, it is common for business roots to become outdated and unsuitable for the current commercial climate. And as a result, businesses begin to face difficulties in keeping customers engaged and in turn, achieving a profitable financial return. To see this in practice, we only need to look at the demise of some the biggest named brands in recent times.

For example, the Arcadia Group is one of the latest victims of digital transformation, a trend that has been gradually impacting the retail space in recent years, and that has only accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The digital shift has been led due to the need to meet changing consumer expectations and behaviours, with online sales are increasing year on year, and even more customers are expected to be shopping with a digital-first perspective following the pandemic and its related disruption.

Instead of responding to the change in the market and embracing online opportunities, businesses operating as part of Arcadia Group continued to do things as they had always done. And it was this lack of focus on their digital offering, particularly when compared to competitors such as PrettyLittleThing, boohoo and Asos, that ultimately resulted in their commercial downturn. 

Although not so great for the individuals effected in the process, the case offers other businesses a vital lesson in the importance of letting go of outdated roots and adapting to change.

Taking a risk

But due to the deep-rooted nature of such characteristics, there is a perceived risk involved with letting them go. It’s understandable as it will no doubt involve a significant change to business as usual. But, any risks can be mitigated if businesses take a strategic approach in their decision to make change.   

For instance, by undertaking branding exercises, such as a brand audit and the formalisation of a value proposition, stakeholders can gain an in-depth understanding of the business’s current position, its offering and their consumers’ expectations, through the creation of audience personas and its market via detailed industry insights and competitor analysis. From here, there will be a clear view of which aspects are not appropriate for the current commercial landscape, and where there will be opportunity to enjoy the fruits of your labour once change has been implemented. 

Once a new proposition has been established in theory, it then needs a detailed project plan to role it out in a practice, combined with an effective communications strategy. Taking a look at an example from our own experience. We rebranded Delta Global, a packaging provider for luxury retailers that, at the time, was doing great things with regard to innovation, technology and sustainability but was failing from a branding perspective to communicate its capabilities in those areas.

Our branding exercises helped to redefine the business’s values, creating a four pillar model that communicates them much more clearly. Formed of innovation, sustainability, luxury and ecommerce, clients and stakeholders can now, at a glance, understand exactly what the business does and how it does it.

And to ensure the business and its position only benefited from the activity, it was complemented with a robust communications strategy. This gained the brand exposure in industry-leading titles, including Forbes, WWD and The Sunday Times, as well as a greater presence across social media channels.

This helped mitigate the risk of unsuccessful change through use of effective communication targeted at new audiences, existing customers and internal stakeholders, who now understand the new direction but also be on board with it.

Is change always necessary?

In short, no. Change for the sake of change can actually be just as damaging to a brand as staying consistent. This is because sometimes, the deep-rooted characteristics of the business form a vital part of the audience’s understanding of the brand and its offering.

This might include family-run business values or branding elements that are connected to the location a business was founded in, for example. Often, it’s unlikely that these elements will be hindering the business’s growth potential, but are instead, adding value to it by acting as a USP and differentiating it from the competition.

However, in these cases, while the message does not need to change, the way in which it is communicated might, as often, it is the methods of message delivery that become outdated. For example, this might mean making better use of online marketing channels such as social media, content creation, SEO and email promotions to support both online and offline activities.

It’s all about making well thought out changes in order to remain relevant, rather than constantly altering your messages and offerings, which could actually cause confusion and disconnect between the brand and its consumers.

Ultimately, businesses need a solid footing upon which they can build on. But while these foundations are important for business growth, like a tree’s roots, some often go off at a tangent and become stuck in the past, anchoring the brand to where it used to be rather than allowing it to move forward into the future.  

Put simply, if you don’t evolve, you die.

China Post Global Outlines Positive Outlook For China and Most Appealing Sectors For Investors

  • Structural changes in China have a bigger impact on Chinese equities than the macro outlook
  • The consumer discretionary sector is the top pick

Investment Manager China Post Global, which promotes a family of innovative Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) providing access to commodities and emerging markets through its brand Market Access, remains positive in its outlook for China.

Zhixiao Wu, Chief Economist at China Post Global said: “Various data confirms that China’s growth momentum is being sustained on both the production and demand side, and global growth momentum is expected to pick up after the introduction of a Covid-19 vaccine.

“One key indicator that policy makers watch is the growth of fixed asset investment in the higher-end manufacturing sector, whose recovery was interrupted by the pandemic, but whose subsequent growth has been quite rapid. Another key indicator, employment, has overshot the policy target as well.

“China Post Global says structural development matters more than the macro-outlook for Chinese equities and potential changes here could provide a real boost.”

It says Technology, Media and Telecom (TMT) names are still favoured by Chinese government policy, but their share performance may come under pressure if economic growth is not as remarkable as their stretched valuations suggest.

It believes the Healthcare sector is likely to remain expensive, and warns electric vehicle and semiconductor companies, many of which are still favoured by both market and policy, have expensive valuations, even when considering the distortion from the pandemic.

It says Consumer Staples are seeing strong momentum again, as the market prefers certainty.

China Post Global believe growth, as well as earnings, will remain upbeat in the coming quarters. However, the PBoC’s monetary policy will not be as supportive as before, thus market volatility may elevate as a result. The combination of buoyant growth expectation and gradually tightening monetary policy stance suggest a low volatility portfolio of China A shares is advisable for 21Q1.

MRO & Aircraft Interiors Middle East Exhibition Set for June 2021

The joint organisers of MRO Middle East & Aircraft Interiors Middle East (AIME), Aviation Week Network/Informa and Tarsus Group, today announced new dates for the region’s premier Interiors, Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul exhibition, that will now take place from 15th – 16th June 2021 at DWTC, Dubai.

The exhibition, initially planned for March this year, was postponed to take into consideration the health and safety of exhibitors and visitors, as well as travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the international attendees.

“We remain committed to the stakeholders, exhibitors and visitors while prioritizing everyone’s wellbeing,” said Tim Hawes, Managing Director of Tarsus Aerospace. “We have been continually monitoring the developments on travel restrictions from governments around the world in recent weeks. After very careful consideration of the situation and taking into account invaluable feedback from our exhibitors and stakeholders we believe the decision to move the exhibition is in the best interests of the health and safety of our exhibitors, visitors, contractors and staff.”

“After a recent hiatus in industry events and the significant impact on the commercial aviation industry from the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibition will provide an important platform for recovery, allowing for the community to discuss solutions to the new challenges we face, share new industry trends and well as showcase the latest technologies,” said Lydia Janow, Managing Director/Events at Aviation Week Network.

By attending MRO Middle East & Aircraft Interiors Middle East, organizations will have the chance to display their latest products and services to airlines, MROs, OEMs, lessors, suppliers and aircraft interior specialists.

“With the increased vaccination schedules implemented in key markets and the strength of Dubai’s recovery, we believe that moving the exhibition to June 2021 will allow us to deliver a quality event for everyone,” added Mr Hawes.

The upcoming editions of MRO Middle East & AIME will host engaging features including access to hours of free show floor content.  The 2021 event will include seminars, workshops and product demonstrations along with a pre-arranged meetings program to facilitate connections and networking between visitors and exhibitors. In addition, the Airline Buyers Programme will allow attendees to meet and network with regional and global airlines.

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.”

Innovative Investment Services from Sterling Chairman

Qatar not only possesses the distinction of being one of the world’s fastest growing economies, but it is also a highly successful example of a diversifying, robust market with ever-expanding infrastructure. It is in this nation blessed with remarkable economic development that Investment House has made its name. A regulated investment banking firm, Investment House offers the whole spectrum of investment advisory services for corporate entities and individuals like. The firm is led by Managing Director Mr. Mohammed Bin Ahmed Al-Suwaidi, who is this month’s recipient of the title of Chairman of the Year, 2020. Join us as we find out more about the firm and the man responsible for its success.


Led by the visionary leader HH The Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and under the wise counsel of HH the Father Emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar has prospered and risen to a position of great distinction and honour on the global stage. It is against this backdrop of huge success that Investment House has established itself as one of the leading investment banking services in Qatar. Since the firm’s inception in 2001, Investment House has become an active partner in contributing to Qatar’s ongoing story of success and unprecedented growth. Growth has also been a key factor in the success experienced and achieved by Investment House itself. The growth of the company has been built on a bedrock of the values, the wise recommendations, and the valuable advice of Mr Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi, who is behind this successful story. His contribution and strategic vision helped Investment House to move to the next level, and emerge as one of the major players in the investment sphere both locally and regionally.


Today, Investment House is an outstanding Qatari regulated investment banking firm, offering the whole spectrum of investment advisory services for corporate entities and individuals. Its services range from investment banking and real estate investments, to M&A advisory services, private equity, asset management, and brokerage services. The mission of Investment House is to offer innovative and valuable investment solutions to its clients in all local, regional, and international markets through a competitive investment and financial services portfolio in accordance with the principles of Islamic Shariah. The values of integrity, excellence, trust, and commitment also lead the work that the firm does. Investment House upholds the highest standards of professionalism, credibility, and transparency in all aspects of the work carried out.


Investment House is also committed to excellence at every level. The firm is dedicated and devoted to delivering unparalleled excellence in providing investment banking solutions, and developing asset and wealth management services and products that meet the ambitions of the investors. The firm’s unwavering commitment to its customers is founded on the high standards of trust that drives all the interactions. What stands the firm apart from the competition is being one of only two regulated investment firms licenced by the Qatar Central Bank. Investment House also boasts flexibility in providing investment solutions and investor products to every client. The service delivery model means that Investment House listens to clients’ needs, and then tailors funds and investment structures.


Clients take many forms at Investment House, but include family offices, HNWIs, corporate entities, and governmental institutions. Investment House also offered its financial advisory services to Power Bank LLC, a new international bank established in the Qatar Financial Centre, which aims to be a major global investment bank focused on the energy sector.. Power Bank was founded and led is promoted and led by Mr Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Suwaidi, the founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors, as well as being a prominent regional and well-known banker who has more than thirty five years of accumulated experience in the banking sector.


Ensuring that executive-level and top-level relationships are as strong as they can possibly be is the recipient of the title of Chairman of the Year 2020, Mr Mohammed Bin Ahmed Al-Suwaidi. Joining Investment House in early 2020, Mr Al-Suwaidi has one of the most impeccable track records as a business leader, which is strengthened and compounded by more than thirty years of progressive and diverse experience. Drawing on every ounce of his experience, expertise, and understanding, Mr Al-Suwaidi delivers exceptional service to every client that he works with, or whom Investment House partners with.


Al-Suwaidi’s key competencies span the various sectors of finance, investment, people management and development. His background is well-supported by high-level qualifications, training, and skills gained and developed throughout a career that has been built over the course of more than four decades. Having gained no small amount of hands-on experience in providing wise leadership to companies under his care, Mr Al-Suwaidi is undoubtedly one of the best-placed individuals to lead Investment House to new success.


Positioning Investment House in the local market may not have been in the beginning of the firm’s existence, given that it was then the only investment firm licenced by the Qatar Central Bank that is not part of a banking group in Qatar. The firm’s competitors rely on their banking customer base, network, and contacts, whereas Investment House required a lot of time and energy to gain the trust and confidence of customers and investors.


The assets under management at Investment House have grown circa four times in less than one year, and the customer and investors base has also grown by two times in the same period. Though there have been challenges, the firm’s expertise and experience, as well as Mr Al-Suwaidi’s leadership, have seen it become a leader within the industry.


Looking to the future, the firm is planning to offer a large panel of thematic funds, both locally and regionally. Global and local REIT funds are expected to be offered in the market in the second half of 2021, and the company also has access to off-market real estate opportunities in Qatar and in some European countries. Investment House is intending to launch in second quarter of 2021 its first dedicated real estate fund in co-management with one of the leading real estate funds and asset managers in Europe. It is an exciting time for the firm and for Mr Al-Suwaidi as he oversees this new period of growth and success. Both the firm and its Chairman are outstanding, and the success that has been achieved is fully deserved.

For more information, please visit: www.invhouse.com/en 

Luxury Homes in the Safe Haven of a Tropical Paradise

Following a tumultuous year of Covid lockdowns and political instability, could building luxury homes in remote, scenic paradises become more popular? We speak to Roderick Anderson of Costa Rica-based SARCO Architects on the lure of high-end tropical “safe havens”.

There’s no doubt that during a year of uncertainty, lockdowns and a global pandemic, most people have dreamed of escaping in body and mind to a tropical paradise.

These unprecedented times are turning remote, luxury holiday homes into something more akin to a sanctuary and safe haven – to escape from harsh realities to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

Roderick Anderson, owner of SARCO Architects – the only multi award-winning design-build architecture company in Costa Rica – is optimistic that the events of 2020 could eventually prove beneficial to remote countries, like Costa Rica.

“With the current situation around COVID, and with the current political and social ambiance in the United States, I see a distinct growth in highnet-worth individuals deciding to own property abroad, either for part-time or to permanently move to a location where they can feel safe and away from “everything”,” says Roderick.

“The unquestionable natural beauty of Costa Rica’s coastlines provides an ideal setting for these individuals. Costa Rica is even blessed with having a strategic location that allows easy access from many international hubs and provides stability and confidence for international investors.

“In the luxury residence sector, I foresee an increase in the amount of people that will set their eyes on Costa Rica as an ideal destination to own a luxury second home, far away from large city living.”

SARCO Architects is a long-established and respected boutique family business based in San Jose that was founded in 1972 by Roderick’s father, Heubert. Roderick now runs the company with his wife, and both understand their clients’ refined and unique needs as they are both architects.

“At SARCO Architects, we help exclusive, high-net-worth international customers who want great design and attention to detail in their home in Costa Rica,” explains Roderick. “For our clients, discretion and privacy are especially important.

“We use technology, virtual reality and visuals, along with premium project management and constant communication to provide our clients with an easy and enjoyable design and construction experience for their luxury homes in paradise.

“We are famous for taking clients from thinking they won’t find a quality, truly professional architect, to building their new dream home easily from thousands of miles away. Our clients are exclusive individuals who demand the best quality and service for their projects.”

Projects are designed and built to exceed expectations with unique attention to detail using Building Information Modelling (BIM) and impeccable customer service. The 3D modelling is central to the company’s work, along with its SARCO System that is supported by 20 years of construction experience plus the knowledge and practicality of a Master Builder.

The company’s ethos revolves around better technology leading to better construction. Most of the homes SARCO Architects build are in Costa Rica’s coastal areas, such as Guanacaste. It means that proper design is essential to reduce energy consumption in these tropical locations.
The firm prides itself on building environmentally-responsible projects, paying careful attention to ecological features to protect the biodiversity and beautiful surroundings.

Architects even use 3D software to generate accurate energy consumption reports in the pre-construction phase. That’s because over 70% of the energy expense of a large home is driven by the architectural design.

“The home’s solar orientation, shading, size and location of windows, and specification of materials that keep the heat out are all design elements we optimise to reduce future energy costs and a home’s carbon footprint,” explains Roderick.

“We believe having the technology to measure a design’s efficiency before construction begins is essential to eco-friendly design.”

How We’ve Found Self-Empowerment Through Beauty During the Pandemic

Getting ready to go out seems like a long-forgotten memory. Establishing a beauty routine, putting on makeup, and selecting that perfect outfit that is sure to impress others – it’s been a while since beauty has taken such a performative nature. Despite this, many of us have found our beauty regimes to be more important than ever this year, and beauty has evolved into a tool of self-empowerment.

Starting from scratch

This year, we’ve had to make-do. Many people found this challenging, especially at the beginning of the pandemic when salons, hairdressers, and other sacred houses of beauty shut their doors for the first time. After a while, however, many of us leaned into this new way of doing things; lockdown haircuts reigned supreme—after analysing Google search data, we can see that searches for “how to cut your hair” rocketed in late March—and people took the opportunity to become home manicure experts. This shift away from sole reliance on others for our beauty needs has brought with it a certain sense of empowerment. Lockdown also served as a great time to mix up your beauty routine and try something a little different. 

Imperfections? They make us unique 

In addition, lockdown has helped us realise that everyone’s different and we shouldn’t just try and accept our imperfections, we should celebrate them. Easier said than done, of course, but lockdown has given people everywhere an opportunity to give the makeup a break and get used to feeling good in their own skin. Fashion and beauty Instagrammer, @mynameisbekki put it well in a recent post, when she said:

“These days, applying makeup has become a self-care step, savoured for the days where I need a motivational boost on another morning of working from home. However, I’ve learnt to love my skin with product and without – barefaced with all of my bumps, blemishes and blotchiness for the world (ok, colleagues on Zoom) to see.”

It may have taken a global pandemic, but as a society, we’re learning to be more relaxed about beauty standards and not being too harsh on ourselves. Through this, many people are not only learning to accept their flaws but coming to love them. Like Bekki, people everywhere are embracing the world of beauty through a new lens, one that allows people to experiment with makeup and beauty, finding what works for them and engaging with beauty practices not because it will look good to others, but because it will feel great for themselves.    

Finding mindfulness in beauty

For many, beauty has become about so much more than just looking good. The routine when it comes to skincare, makeup, hair treatments, and even picking out an outfit for the day ahead can, for many, become a form of mindfulness. During a year when pretty much everything else that we consider ‘normal’ has been flipped upside down, the stable routine of beauty has been incredibly grounding for many. This applies to both old beauty routines and new ones – comfort can be found in performing your regular beauty routines at the same time each day, while empowerment and enjoyment can be found in trying something new. For many, beauty routines offer an element of self-control and can make a huge difference in how they mentally prepare for the day ahead.

Dermatologist and psychiatrist Evan Rieder, MD, says that: “I think beauty and skin-care routines are a form of mindfulness for many of us and give us the experience of getting in touch with the moment.” He goes on to explain that: “So much of what we do has been lost due to the pandemic, so beauty self-reliability, while born out of necessity, gives us a sense of control over our lives, a greater sense of purpose, and the power to know that we are capable of providing these well-being promoting activities on our own.” For people everywhere, this mindfulness has been more necessary than ever while navigating 2020.

With our relationship with beauty evolving into something more empowering and healthy, it’s exciting to imagine what the post-pandemic world will bring. Hopefully, we can take these lessons of empowerment and self-acceptance forward, feeling comfortable in our own skin enough to go out into the world without makeup or pick the designer bikini that we really want to wear, not the one that we think we should wear for others. Empowerment, positivity, and self-love are the main feelings that we should be taking away from our relationship with beauty during the pandemic. 

International Employers Urged to Act to Ensure Employees are Fully Covered for Healthcare Post-Brexit

Towergate Health & Protection is urging employers to act now to ensure employees are fully covered for healthcare now Britain has left the EU. 

Sarah Dennis, Head of International at Towergate Health & Protection, explains: “In-country expertise is now essential for any international employer with staff in Europe. If employers do not have this capability within their company, then it is vital to gain access to specialist advice and information, particularly regarding something as important as health and wellbeing.”

Brexit challenges

Among the challenges of Brexit is the importance of international employers complying with the differing mandatory requirements for benefits and healthcare across up to 30 different countries.

While Britain was part of the EU, certain globally mobile employees were covered under local policies but, since Brexit, employers now need to look at each country individually to understand their specific requirements.

For example, in Germany critical illness cover, income protection, and life assurance are all covered within private medical insurance (PMI). But for employees in other countries, employers would have to purchase these elements of cover separately, to ensure employees are fully protected.

Passports between the EU and the UK have now ended, as has the transition period. This means that for those based outside of the EU, which now includes those in the UK, the European Economic Area (EEA) countries must now each be treated as individual countries. To make matters more challenging, there are 30 different countries in the EEA, and 27 in the European Union (EU).

Expert requirements

Employers of international staff cannot be experts in the benefits and healthcare policies available in every single country, but some of the requirements are mandatory and companies must comply. It is also important for companies to be able to benchmark, not only against other companies, but against other countries now too, and expert assistance is often required.  

In-country expertise and local knowledge of each different country can be a great support for companies with employees throughout Europe. Not every employer will have an expert on-the-ground in every country of the EU, and beyond, so it’s important they work with specialist advisers who can provide this access. 

Access to local insurers, independent advisers and specialists in specific areas of health and wellbeing can help ensure employers comply with local stipulations, and that employees have the support they need. It also means that health and wellbeing programmes can be fully customised, not only by company and employee, but also by the country or countries in which they may be working. 

Being able to access local healthcare for globally mobilised employees means that everyone can be fully covered to meet the exact requirements of the host nation. 

Sarah Dennis concludes: “Even the ability to provide local healthcare cover using the native language is a huge advantage to employers. If a member of staff becomes ill while working abroad, as an employer, you want to know that they will be fully covered and will get all the assistance and care that they need. Sadly, people all too often do not consider the full repercussions until they are in the situation of needing support for their health and wellbeing such as medical assistance. Therefore, we are urging employers to act now to ensure all international employees are fully covered.”

Bitcoin, Dogecoin Hit All-time Highs Driven By Elon Musk – But How To Choose An Exchange?

Bitcoin was driven to new record highs on Tuesday morning – trading above $48,000 – as investors continue to pile in on the news that Tesla bought $1.5bn worth of the cryptocurrency.

A filing with the U.S. financial regulator on Monday reveals that the electric car company run by the world’s richest person, Elon Musk, has made the massive purchase of the digital asset which has jumped more than 300% in a year.

The surge in the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, including Dogecoin – which was also fuelled by an endorsement by Musk on Twitter over the weekend – comes as digital currencies become mainstream due to soaring interest from both retail and institutional investors, increasing levels of mass adoption, and as global interest rates remain at historic lows.

But how does a new crypto investor choose a platform on which to buy, sell, hold and exchange?

Nigel Green, an influential cryptocurrency expert and CEO of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations, says there are five fundamentals.

He says: “More and more people are wanting to invest into cryptocurrencies, knowing that they are the future of money.

“But many, even those who have extensive knowledge of the stock market, have concerns about selecting the right cryptocurrency exchange.

“The total capitalisation of the cryptocurrency market is now an estimated $1.2 trillion, but it is still lightly regulated. This means that it’s vital that investors know what to look for in an exchange.”

He continues: “There are five fundamentals for your checklist.

“First, security. The system of a private exchange for saving consumer documents as well as funds should be as decentralised as possible as if it’s all on a couple of web servers, that makes them easy hacking targets.

“Investors should also look for a system that utilises two-step verification throughout login, such as a password, and also quick-expiring codes received through the app.

“Avoid exchanges which offer cheap trade costs or services but are based in areas around the world where investor security is weak.

“In addition, investors ought to assess exchanges as well as the businesses behind them as they would certainly do with any other organisation that they would depend on to protect their money.”

“Second, costs. Some exchanges are proficient at addressing costs in advance, while others hide them. Go for the exchanges that are upfront and transparent.

“Third, simplicity and ease of use. Take into account that you’re not always going to trade from your desktop. In fact, finding an exchange that focuses on ‘on-the-move’ trading via a secure app is often a better option.

“Fourth, dependability. Does the exchange run efficiently when trading quantity is high, or when the currencies rate is see-sawing? Some exchanges are notorious for their system accidents and trading stops.

Fifth, client service. Make sure an exchange has a chat or fast communication service integrated.”

Mr Green concludes: “Whilst Elon Musk’s Tesla, and other institutional investors, including PayPal amongst others, will have teams of crypto experts behind them, retail investors can also get involved.

“Investing in cryptocurrencies remains highly speculative and it is not for everyone – but one of the keys to success would be selecting the right crypto exchange.”

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.

5 Tips to Figure Out If A Tech Company on the Stock Market Is An Ethical Investment

These days people trading on the stock market want more than just a strong financial return. They’re increasingly opting for investments that will also have a positive societal impact.

The coronavirus pandemic showed us even established tech companies can suffer downturns in the short term. Apple, a tech behemoth, was left reeling with Chinese manufacturing hubs were temporarily shut down last year.

In the longer term, however, technology stocks remain a first choice for many investors. Historically, they’ve dominated global stock markets and continue to grow a remarkable area.

Even during the downward spiral of the pandemic, tech stocks such as Zoom and Microsoft soared in value as an influx of people started working from home. The question for many investors now is: how can one find profitable investments without supporting unethical activity?

Growth of tech stocks

According to investment advisers Morningstar, technology stocks account for 24.2% of the top 500 stocks in the United States. Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet (which owns Google) dominate the market, with a combined value of more than US $4 trillion

Tech stocks also take centre stage in Australia. We’ve seen the rapid rise of “buy now, pay later” companies such as Australian-owned Afterpay and Zip.

At the same time, we’ve seen an increase in the number of Australians moving to ethical superannuation funds and ethically- managed investment schemes. The latter lets investors contribute money (to be managed by professionals fund managers) which is pooled for investment to produce collective gain.

It’s estimated indirect investment through these schemes has increased by 79% over the past six years.

What is ethical investing?

While ethical investing is a broad concept, it can be understood simply as putting your money towards something that helps improve the world. This can range from companies that advocate for animal rights, to those aiming to limit the societal prevalence of gambling, alcohol or tobacco.

Although there is no strict definition of ethical investment in Australia, many managed funds seek accreditation by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia. The “ethical” aspect can be grouped into three broad categories:

  1. Environmental – such as developing clean technology or engaging in carbon-neutral manufacturing
  2. Social – such as supporting innovative technology, reducing social harms such as poverty or gambling, boosting  gender equality, protecting human and consumer rights or supporting animal welfare.
  3. Corporate governance – such as being anti-corruption, promoting healthy employee relations or institutional transparency.

As investors we must be very careful about the fine print of the companies we invest in. For example, accreditation guidelines dictate that a managed investment fund excluding companies with “significant” ties to fossil fuels could still include one that earns up to a certain amount of revenue from fossil fuels.

So while investment manager AMP Capital is accredited, it can still include companies from earning up to 10% of their revenue from fossil fuel distribution and services.

The terms ‘ethical’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ are sometimes used interchangeably when referring to environmentally-responsible investing.

5 tips for ethical tech investment

Many technology stocks are well place for ethical investment and you can choose to invest on your own, or indirectly via a managed investment fund. In either case, you should do some basic homework first.

1. Monitor the fund or company to ensure standards are maintained 

For a company to be listed with Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) it has to be publicly listed. It is therefore required to submit an annual audit report (audited by third-party auditors) to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), as per the Corporations Act 2001.

You can also contact the ASIC for further information about a company listed on the ASX. The equivalent body for American companies is the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

If a company backtracks on the very ethical standards that prompted your initial investing, you should consider withdrawing your investment.

2. Stay updated on reported ethical breaches

Reputable news reports are useful on this front. Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet are recurring names in reports about unethical practices in the tech sector.

While you can access plenty information about a tech company from its own website and distribution channels, this is usually embellished and/or handpicked by the company itself. Make sure your information comes from diverse sources.

3. Consider how employees rate the company and why

Keep in mind a technology company might be environmentally ethical but still fall down on other issues, such as gender pay parity, for instance. It’s important to listen to employees’ claims about a company’s internal workings as such insight may otherwise be unavailable

There are a number of independent sites reporting on corporate culture ratings, including Glassdoor.

4. Assess the environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) score

One benefit of investing in large to medium-sized tech companies is the ability to analyse their ESG score, issued by agencies such as Refinitiv. This score reflects how well the company adheres to ethical practice across environmental, social and corporate governance-related matters.

5. Watch out for buzzwords

If you’re looking to invest in clean technology, watch out for buzzwords used in company reports. These are terms which at face value may seem to align with your own ethical investment values, without actually delivering.

For instance, “carbon net zero” and “carbon neutral” are not the same thing. This is an important distinction to consider if you’re wanting to make environmentally-responsible investments. 

Reaching For The Top Spot

Headquartered in London, Carrhae Capital is an independent investment partnership, which aims to deliver high quality risk-adjusted returns derived from investing in publicly listed companies operating within Emerging Markets. Since the firm’s inception, the team at Carrhae have enjoyed a meteoric rise to success, thanks to its award-winning leader Ali Akay who recently received the accolade CEO of the Year, 2020 – the United Kingdom. We profiled both Carrhae and Ali to discover more about the extraordinary accomplishment they have achieved over the last decade.

Carrhae Capital is a London-based boutique emerging markets asset manager, which oversees in excess of US$ 550 million across hedge fund and long only equity products. The firm was founded in 2011 by Ali Akay, following a successful investment career as a portfolio manager at SAC, HBK and Goldman Sachs Principle Strategies.

Named after a famous historic battle between the Roman Republic and the Parthian Empire in 53 BC, the lessons learned from this encounter are applied by Ali Akay when investing in distant emerging markets and serve as a reminder of the risks of investing without thorough knowledge; “proceed with humility and caution, always keeping our ears to the ground for sage local advice.”

With this investment philosophy in mind, in the long-run Carrhae aspires to be a top-tier investment in its clients’ portfolios, whichever product they select. Carrhae’s investment approach has led to its hedge fund winning numerous awards for its performance in its class, and the returns of the long only equity product being in the top percentile amongst its peer group.

As emerging markets continue to increase their role in financial and economic activity and businesses become more international, Carrhae’s products should be setup to outperform. Encouraged by the increasing opportunity set for the firm and the pedigree of its investment team, Aziz joined in 2019 as CEO to focus on business development, executing its marketing business plan and strengthening the firm’s client relationships. However, his association with the firm goes back to its inception, when he supported the founding team in raising its initial capital while working at Goldman Sachs.

Being a seasoned financial professional he draws on his extensive experience and relationships accumulated at bulge bracket investment banks, hedge funds, as well as private equity investment experience to enhance the awareness of the firm, its products and its team to both investors and high calibre talent.

The success of a boutique asset management firm is driven not only by its ability to provide a superior investment proposition, but also ensure its clients receive the highest standards of service delivered by a proficient interface. In servicing and prospecting clients, it is becoming ever-more important to provide deeply transparent data and analytics to better evaluate each product’s value addition and its appropriateness. As CEO, Aziz emulates the diligence, integrity, humility and collaboration of Carrhae’s investment team to build trusted relationships, provide a high-level of service and effectively represent its products and information.

Looking ahead to what the future holds, both Aziz and the team at Carrhae will continue to exceed the expectations of clients, as they works towards their goal of being a -tier investment in their clients’ portfolios in the years to come.

For more information, please contat Aziz Faqir at www.carrhaecap.com 

Why Diversity Is the Key to 2021

By Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity In Leadership

There is an increased appetite for real change following one of the most divisive and difficult years in decades. It has never been so important to get inclusion and diversity of race, gender, sexual orientation, physical disability and social differences right. Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity In Leadership, tells us ten reasons why diversity is so vital and may well be the key to healthier times in 2021.

  1. DIVERSITY INCREASES AWARENESS AND CURIOSITY. Learning about, recognising and respecting your own and other cultures enables us to understand different perspectives and gives greater insight into varying attitudes and beliefs.  Foster curiosity to fight against ignorance and prejudice.  Encourage your team to be courageous; be curious, practise active listening and demonstrate empathy for a different way of thinking and show them exactly how that is done.
  1. DIVERSITY PROMOTES INDIVIDUALITY. Culturally rich environments teach us that everyone is unique, and we differ not just because of our race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities, religion, socio-economic status etc., but because of our life experience and personality. And all of those differences are what make us interesting. When we celebrate our differences, it is easier to find commonality and create a more accepting environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves.
  1. DIVERSITY CREATES A HEALTHIER ENVIRONMENT. A workplace lacking in diversity and inclusion will detrimentally affect mental health and have a direct causal relationship with feelings of resentment, anxiety, anger and injustice.  A business not only has to prime the engine with a diverse mix of good promotion candidates but must ensure they have a truly equal opportunity for promotions, not just once but all the way to the executive suite for a healthy, diverse workplace.
  1. DIVERSITY IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS. Responsible, resilient workplaces embrace inclusion, diversity and equality, having a direct positive effect on productivity in the workplace, helping businesses and employees By aligning business objectives with the meeting of human needs, companies can tap into powerful ways to facilitate change. As McKinsey’s have noted, diverse companies are far more likely to outperform their less diverse peers.
  1. DIVERSITY PROMOTES NEW THINKING. A diverse group of people are more likely to have ideas which are distinct from each other, and diverse viewpoints allow for more creative solutions to problems. Recent research suggests that diverse companies make better, bolder decisions and are more likely radically to innovate. As a result they can gain a competitive edge by anticipating such things as trends in consumer demand and consumption.
  1. DIVERSITY UNITES US. Diversity brings society together and unites a range of perspectives, encourages inclusivity and equality, and promotes harmony and unity. Diversity creates space for us to gain awareness, educate, integrate, evolve and include.
  1. DIVERSITY LEADS TO BETTER UNDERSTANDING. ‘Othering’ is the process whereby negative characteristics are attributed to someone because they are deemed different and are labelled as not fitting in. The opposite to that is wanting to learn about someone else’s differences to educate ourselves and to reduce our unconscious biases.
  1. DIVERSITY PREVENTS BULLYING. Successful diverse environments promote inclusivity and help prevent social problems such as bullying. Power differentials are a breeding ground for othering and bullying. Active, genuine inclusion is the most effective way of eliminating dysfunctional, power-play and bullying behaviour.
  1. DIVERSITY REDUCES STEREOTYPES. Understanding, accepting and embracing people’s differences will reduce stereotyping – a critical threat to diversity. Stereotyping can be unconscious (known as an unconscious bias), whereby we type cast because of assumptions or generalisations about someone which relate to their differences from others. Check yourself and your team for unconscious biases by encouraging self-awareness.
  1. DIVERSITY PROMOTES RESPECT – The more time spent interacting with people different to us, the stronger our understanding, acceptance and relationships become, and ultimately our respect for one another. A visible commitment to diversity and inclusion during the crisis is also likely to strengthen a company’s global image.

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. 

EDreams ODIGEO Inspires with AI & Technological Innovation

Serving more than seventeen million customers per year across five brands and forty-five markets, the work of eDreams ODIGEO, one of the largest e-commerce businesses in Europe, is truly outstanding.

Overseeing and understanding all of the work done is no easy feat, and that job falls upon the shoulders of CEO Dana Dunne. An inspiring leader and a keen businessman, Mr Dunne is featured in this issue of CEO Monthly having won the title of CEO of the Year, 2020 – the United Kingdom.  

The five leading brands of eDreams ODIGEO are Opodo, eDreams, Go Voyages, Travellink, and Liligo, and each have been instrumental in ushering in a new era of travel as the one-stop-shop that offers the widest choice of travel products and services to savvy customers. Technology is empowering consumers to take greater levels of control over every aspect of their lives, including how they travel. eDreams ODIGEO puts this technology to work on behalf of consumers, creating tailored travel plans so that customers can get the best prices at their greatest convenience. Currently, the business provides access to over 274,000 different flight routes and more than 2.1 million hotels across the globe, allowing for a multitude of booking combinations that cannot be found on any other platform.

At the head of the business is CEO Dana Dunne, an impressive businessman who has steered eDreams ODIGEO into a new era of success with his sage guidance and expert decision-making.

Mr Dunne has been CEO of eDreams ODIGEO since January 2015, having originally joined the firm back in 2012. What Mr Dunne brings to the table, besides strong leadership, is a real blend of technology and travel expertise that builds on his previous position of Chief Commercial Officer at easyJet. Before that, he was at AOL for four years as both Chief Executive of AOL Europe and Head of Company Transformation. Mr Dunne’s wealth of experience and expertise has no doubt played a key role in the continued success of eDreams ODIGEO, with the firm’s technological expertise in particular differentiating the business from others in the industry.

Alongside an unparalleled offering of content and leadership within the emerging world of artificial intelligence, eDreams ODIGEO outshines the competition. The company’s complex algorithms currently make over 48 billion predictions every day to anticipate traveller needs and offer the ultimate breadth of choice to customers.

It is clear that the firm is leading in technological innovation within its sector, and Mr Dunne’s leadership has been a crucial factor. A key example of the business’ thought leadership is the creation of Prime, a truly revolutionary product that is the very first subscription programme in the travel industry. Prime is hugely valuable not only to the business of eDreams ODIGEO, but also to the firm’s customers and business partners as it allows for a deeper customer relationship, garnering loyalty. Technological insights have long been a staple of Mr Dunne’s experience, and this latest innovation truly shows that. Another example is a recently launched AI-powered travel trends service which is currently being utilised across the globe by tourism boards, policy makers and local governments.

Like many businesses, eDreams ODIGEO has had to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic; a challenge that Mr Dunne has faced head on. His focus during these unprecedented times has been on three key areas: the teams, the customers, and the business. The business’ remote working programme has been a success throughout the last year, keeping teams engaged and highly motivated despite the challenging external environment. On the customers side, the pandemic has forced many travel providers to alter or cancel their services entirely. eDreams ODIGEO, however, leveraged its tech capabilities once again to quickly launch an enhanced version of its self-service online tool so that customers could easily manage their own bookings, including changes and cancellations, without having to call the firm.

Ultimately, it is Mr Dunne’s leadership as CEO along with the business’ fantastic workforce that has seen eDreams ODIGEO navigate the pandemic in the best way possible and emerge stronger from it. The business entered the pandemic with high levels of liquidity and a strong balance sheet and have managed to keep a strong cash position throughout this period.

Flexibility and agility are core to Dunne’s plans for the business in the future, with Mr Dunne believing that businesses that cannot fold this into their offering will struggle to remain relevant in 2021 and beyond. In the meantime, as COVID-19 continues to be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future, Mr Dunne will continue to lead with clarity and conviction.

For more information, please contact Dana Dunne at eDreams ODIGEO via www.edreamsodigeo.com

For business enquiries, please visit: https://www.edreamsodigeo.com/partnership/

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.

Timeless Designs

Ami Austin Interior Design is an award-winning full-service interior design firm located in Memphis, Tennessee. Known for a sophisticated and intriguing style, Ami Austin combines profound insights with a passion for inimitable design to create memorable interiors for residential and commercial projects. We spoke to principal designer and President Ami Austin to find out more.

Established in 2004, Ami Austin Interior Design is a full-service interior design firm in Memphis, Tennessee that is recognized across the US as an award-winning purveyor of sophisticated and intriguing interiors.

Ami Austin, President and principal designer of the firm, boasts versatility and skill in transforming homes, offices and commercial

spaces into designs tailored to suit the function of the space and the visions of her clients. Her wealth of design knowledge and portfolio of unique, beautiful and functional designs has made her a leading representative of the US luxury home market, also working on multi-family developments, historical home renovations and many corporate designs.

“We love the diversity all of these projects bring and the challenges to be creative in so many markets and design endeavors,” Ami tells us. “We are happy to also take our place in the communities we work in to support the arts and charitable endeavors when we can, as a part of giving back and staying connected to the good work these organizations do. We are overjoyed by the chance to work with so many wonderful and accomplished clients.”

Ami takes full responsibility for every design plan she works on and oversees the progress of each project on a daily basis, personally attending and finalizing all installations ready to be revealed to the client. She is supported by her inhouse team who are responsible for the day to day logistics and liaison with contractors once a project reaches the execution phase. Ami’s fulltime project manager is a vital member of the team, overseeing every little detail to ensure the project runs smoothly and every element of their clients’ vision is realized.

As such, communication is key, both internally and externally; “We endeavor to work with the best possible, trade associates, contractors and fabricators to bring the design concept to the highest standard for our clients,” says Ami.

“We are representing the client at all times and working to ensure the plan is executed as our clients had imagined the project from the beginning.” As such, Ami and her team work closely with their clients and contractors to ensure that the final products stay true to the client’s desired outcomes. The initial stages of the Ami Austin process therefore include drawing up a contract between the firm, clients and contractors, to ensure every party is happy with the goal and how they are going to achieve the client’s dream home or office space.

Ami is always looking at how she can improve her service offering to clients, whether it is her own range of furniture and products or in customer service. At the moment, technology and its advancement are taking precedence in the field of interior design as its benefits in efficiency and effectivity become increasingly apparent. Ami and her team are using technology to continue making the creation of dream homes even easier and more enjoyable, beginning with the creation of an online store and select project engagements for clients who are not looking for complete interior design services, but just seeking guidance locally or nationally.

Consequently, the future is looking bright for Ami Austin, even despite the ongoing pandemic. Their projects are largely continuing to progress, if at a slower rate due to pressures and issues with production and transportation. Fortunately, most of the upholstery products used by the firm are sourced in the US, but for those clients seeking materials from further afield, progress has slowed down considerably.

However, Ami considers herself very fortunate to have a loyal and understanding clientele who continue to offer their support in unprecedented times such as these. Her clients are able to look forward to the realization of their beautiful projects in the near future, thanks to their trusted partner in Ami Austin.

Key Role Earmarked for Travel & Tourism in Saudi Arabia’s Economic Rebound

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to boost airport capacity as part of a broader bid to make tourism and logistics new engines of growth, are mapped out in a new Covid Response Report (CRR), prepared by the Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with Saudi Ground Services (SGS).

The CRR provides in-depth analysis of the Kingdom’s response to the pandemic in an easy-to-navigate and accessible format, highlighting key data in infographics relating to the country’s socio-economic landscape.

The report lays out the increases in passenger numbers witnessed at Saudi Arabia’s airport terminals prior to the suspension of international flights due to Covid-19, as the push to boost trade and attract more visitors gained pace.

It also considers the significance of the decision to lift all restrictions on air, land and sea transport on January 1, 2021, which is expected to play a major part in accelerating recovery across the Kingdom’s aviation industry and support long-term growth in travel.

Topical issues explored in the CRR included the move to bring the private sector on board to modernise operations at domestic and international gateways, and the role earmarked for digitalisation in enhancing ground services.

In addition, subscribers will find an analysis of SGS’s growth story, which has mirrored the expansion of the wider aviation sector, and the company’s decision to tap new revenue streams by introducing additional services during the pandemic. OBG’s coverage also considers the post-pandemic opportunities for both SGS and other players, which are expected as a result of the capacity increases planned for many of KSA’s gateways.

The report includes a wide-ranging interview with Fahad Cynndy, CEO at SGS, in which he highlights the increased focus in the industry on last-mile delivery services and opportunities for strategic partnerships.

“While Covid-19 has impacted flight operations, it has actually, cautiously speaking, advanced collaborative efforts between industry stakeholders to add value and diversify revenue streams,” he told OBG. “Essentially, there is a need to offer barrier-free entry for new players in the aviation industry; we aim to fill that gap by connecting airport operators, airlines and passengers through our services platform,” he added.

Jana Treeck, OBG’s Managing Director for the Middle East, said that firm fiscal foundations, successful efforts to control the pandemic, and an ongoing diversification drive meant that Saudi Arabia was well-placed to make a swift economic recovery after a challenging year, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasting growth of 3.1% for the Kingdom in 2021 – the highest among GCC countries.

“Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries in the world to approve the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine – a move in early December that followed on from a widespread testing regime, which was instrumental in keeping the country’s case-fatality rate among the lowest in the world,” Treeck said. “Looking ahead, the introduction of the vaccination programme is expected to pave the way for a resumption in day-to-day life, including heightened activity across the travel and tourism industry.”

The Rise Of The Property Developer: Why Auctions Are Enjoying More Use

The Rise Of The Property Developer

Auctions are places that are rife with opportunity, particularly where property is concerned.

In November last year, property auctions surged in popularity, with sales and engagement figures soaring through the roof. People have been clamouring to try their luck and view what’s on offer with a sharp eagerness, becoming hardened property developers in the process and training their eye to golden opportunity.

But what are the perks of being a full-time property developer? Well, let’s explore the appeal of this pursuit down below.

Flipped Properties

Auctions are a great place to try your hand and clinch an incredible deal.

A common yet insightful tactic that property developers use is to buy the worst house on the best street, ‘flipping’ the property for a substantial profit. This refers to securing a property, refurbishing it, and selling it on. The Guardian reported that one in 40 homes bought were sold again in less than a year as of November 2020, which illustrates just how popular this process can be. With a better scope for a strong profit margin, a host of other possibilities come to the fore.

For example, the properties in question can be resold, rented out, or used as holiday lets depending on the destination. Obviously, developers stand to make a lot of money in this line of work, and soon enough many of them have a lucrative property portfolio at their feet.

Immediate Satisfaction

Property auctions are fast and agile, granting immediate satisfaction.

Things move along speedily at auction. When buying anything on the day, people want the funds then and there, which means a cheaper deal is guaranteed. There’s no waiting or negotiation that comes with the real estate property chain. Much of what you find as a property developer is below the market value for the sake of immediacy. So long as you have the cash to hand, your prospects can quite literally change on a dime.

This is where bridging finance comes in, allowing people to buy a new home before selling their current one. Therefore, as a property developer, you can use your properties as security on your loan.  Consult Enness Global to learn more about bridging finance. Their services will help you learn how to embolden your property portfolio and move from one property to the next seamlessly. Better yet, their brokers are multilingual, helping you with all your needs whether the auctioned properties are at home or overseas.

Ease and Efficiency

Setbacks don’t sting for too long with property developers at auctions.

This is because, at some point in the proceedings, another property will surface that could reignite your interest and passion for what you’re doing. There’s always a plethora of offerings available, with guide prices and catalogues featuring to help you make more informed choices. In the end, each disappointment is a minor setback, and rarely stews in the soul for long. There are no dead ends.

When you have won your property, the deal is done there and then. This prevents things like being gazumped in a residential context, whereby somebody sweeps in at the eleventh hour, makes a better offer for a property you love before you have signed, and snags it from you. At auction, the dust settles as soon as the bidding is over, giving you peace of mind moving forward.

This is the right way to apply false eyelashes according to a Make Up Artist

False eyelashes are an effortless glam addition to any makeup look. The art of application can be tricky to master but practise makes perfect once you know how. False eyelashes are popular because they can give the illusion of bigger eyes and a dramatic look, even if you’re not wearing a full face of makeup, they can take your eyes to another level. Strip eyelashes are the most common and easier to apply on your own. They give a striking look whilst individual eyelashes can provide a more natural finish. Strip lashes are the most popular choice of false eyelash enhancements and can be extremely quick and easy to apply.

Any rogue application can be easily avoided with accuracy. To reveal the only way to apply false eyelashes, expert makeup artist at FalseEyelashes.co.uk, Saffron Hughes, shares her secrets.

1. Makeup first

Your falsies should be the last step in your makeup routine. If you apply them first, you might end up with eyeshadow or powder fall out on top of them which can cause irritation and rubbing. To begin, you should have already applied your face and eye make-up. It is also much trickier to do your make up once you’ve applied your eyelashes.

 

2. Choose the right eyelash set for your eye type

Before gluing, always take your lashes and place them on your eyes to see how they fit. In the case that they are too wide or long you can carefully trim off a few hairs until you’re happy with the length. Alternatively, you can choose a strip set that is made for your eye type. It is important that your eyelashes suit and enhance your particular eye shape. If you wear contact lenses or have sensitive eyes, you might prefer an invisible or ultra-lightweight lash band, these are much lighter on the eye and feel more comfortable.

One of the most common eye shapes is hooded eyes, this means that you have more skin above your crease and most of your upper lid is hidden when your eyes are open. For this shape, avoid dramatic styles as these will close the eyes up. Instead select one that has increased length in the centre as well as heavier volume to create the illusion of a larger looking eye, such as these from Doll Beauty. It is easy to establish your eye type via this simple guide.

 

3. Apply eyeliner

No matter which style you choose, a good tip for hiding the base of your lashes is to line your upper lash line with black eyeliner. Apply your liner as you usually would, no more or no less, before and after application. Make sure that you use liquid or gel eyeliner as a pencil eyeliner can cause you to drag across the top edge of your eyelash band causing it to move and readjust. If you struggle making a straight line with liquid liner, gel can be applied with a brush making it a little easier.

 

4. Loosen the spine of the lash strip

Eyelash strips tend to be straighter than our eyes when we first take them of the box. Before application you need fit the curvature of your lash line by softening up the strip up first. Doing this beforehand will eliminate the risk of the inner and outer corners popping up after gluing them down. A great tip is to wrap the strip either around your little finger or a makeup brush for around a minute before gluing.

 

5. Wait after applying glue

Make sure to use a good quality adhesive, strip lash adhesives are designed to hold your lashes in place for approximately one day or two. When your eyelashes are ready for application, take the glue and apply a small thin layer along the strip part of the lash. Try to ensure that you apply as little and finely as possible. A popular mistake people make is not waiting, after applying the glue wait around a minute so that the glue is ‘tacky’ and is less likely to slide around. Importantly, don’t blow the glue to hurry the process along as this can cause germs to enter your eye.

 

6. Look downward into a mirror to apply

The goal of application is to have the beginning of the lash strip lining up with where your natural lashes start. Using whichever works best for you, tweezers or lash applicator, place the middle of the strip in the centre of your eye and lightly touch on either side along your lash line. Push the strip down in place for a few seconds whilst the glue sets and secures the lashes. Once everything is set in place, you can use your fingers to make sure your natural and false lashes are blended.

To do this right the first time, the trick is to place your mirror under your face near to a perpendicular angle and look down. This will make your eyelid extend and leaves more room for you to get the eyelash on top of your natural ones.

7. Apply mascara to bond to your own eyelashes

After the glue has set and your eyelashes have fixed their place, apply some mascara to bond everything together. Make sure to not to apply endless coats but just enough to mix the lashes together for a sharp finish.

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.

5G Will Change the Internet for Everyone

5G internet networks, which were launched in Israel in September and should be widespread here in 2-4 years, will accelerate the digital transformations that are shaping the global economy, said Alon Berman, General Manager of Ericsson Israel.

5G refers to the latest (5th) generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks, launched less than two years ago.

The technology will dramatically increase internet speed and latency (the time between a user action and the response), as well as improved reliability and network security that will enable a whole new generation of consumer and commercial possibilities.

Globally, there are now some 200 million 5G users in 50 countries around the world, Berman said. The United States, China and South Korea are the most advanced, with adoption growing in Europe now as well. Some 300 mobiles devices, notably the iPhone 12, are currently equipped to connect to a 5G network, he said.

5G download speeds can range from two to ten times as fast as on the 4G networks that most people currently use, depending on how the network is deployed. Market studies in South Korea have shown that this leads users to consume twice as much data, Berman said.

Improved latency means that interactive activities like online gaming, flying drones, or operating machinery will respond much more smoothly, as the time it takes for data to travel will be less than half of current norms. Greater performance will also open up consumer experiences like virtual reality and interactive engagement in live events.

Industries across the spectrum will benefit from enhanced connectivity, as well, as 5G will provide the backbone for full interactivity between different machines. Berman gave the examples of automotive assembly line where augmented reality can test products and manufacturing equipment can receive preventative maintenance automatically. In shipping ports, incoming containers will be directed to the right storage facilities automatically.

In hospitals, 5G will allow patient data to be shared throughout devices without the security concerns of WiFi networks. and consumer devices will communicate with each other through an internet of things that could eventually see a million devices per square kilometre connected.   

In Israel, the ~Communications Ministry officially launched 5G in September, with the three major networks – Pelephone, Partner and Hot – each deploying about 250 5G antennae around the country, in addition to the 2000-2500 4G antennae each one has. Berman noted that 4G networks were also upgraded in the past year as well, so many smartphone users have noticed improved speeds on their 4G devices as well.

“5G is just in its initial phases,” Berman said. “The Communications Ministry has set out a 5-year plan for full deployment, and it will probably be 2-4 years until we see adoption start to mature here.”

That can’t come soon enough, because the Startup Nation’s internet speeds currently rank poorly by global standards. Even after the 4G improvements, mobile download speeds are currently about 30 Megabytes per second (Mbps), while the global average is about 50 Mbps, Berman said. That ranks Israel number 73 in the world. For broadband internet speeds, Israel ranks 30th in the world.

Israel actually has the cheapest mobile internet service in the world, thanks to reforms implemented a decade ago to increase competition in the field. However, the high competition is now one of the factors holding the country’s development back.

“With internet packages costing as little as NIS 30  a month and cutthroat competition, providers are financially challenged, and it is harder for them to invest heavily in upgrading networks, even if the Communications Ministry incentivizes them heavily. While Cellcom was allowed to acquire Golan Telecom last summer, a merger offer between Hot and Partner was rejected for fear of harming competition in the field. “It would be wise for the Communications Ministry to allow another merger,” Berman said. “The more internet infrastructure is developed in a country, the more it develops the economy as a whole.”

Currently, Partner and Hot offer 5G packages starting at NIS 60, and Pelephone offers a NIS 50 plan, with about 4-5 different 5G-supported devices available for sale. Berman noted market research showing that about half of global consumers were willing to pay about 10% more for 5G services. Some networks around the world are offering 5G for the same price as 4G, while others are making it available with premium packages only. 

“Covid has made it even more clear that internet is a necessity for everyone, and that speed is really important,” Berman said. “5G will provide a giant leap for consumers and businesses in all industries, allowing huge improvements in data delivery that will change the way business is done.” 

 

‘Zombie’ Stored Will Plague High Streets for Months, Warns ParcelHero

‘Zombie’ stores – whose name and online business have been taken over but whose physical stores remain half-alive while stocks are cleared – could hasten the death of the High Street, warns the home delivery expert ParcelHero.

The e-commerce delivery expert ParcelHero is warning that ‘zombie’ stores will haunt UK High Streets this year. It fears that shops such as Debenhams, Burtons and Dorothy Perkins could be revived as soulless versions of their former selves following lockdown.

Over the last few weeks, many of Britain’s former favourite retailers have been snapped up by e-commerce giants Boohoo and ASOS, who have only bought the brand and online businesses. Those physical shops whose stock was not bought as part of the takeovers will be left to wind down, effectively feeding off other High Street shops by undercutting them to clear stocks before their final closures.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, warns that over 560 stores will eventually close as their brands move online only. This is due to ASOS’ purchase of Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT plus Boohoo’s buyout of Debenhams and potential takeover of Burtons, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis.

‘It’s a horror story for Britain’s High Street. The twist at the end of the tale is that some of these stores will come back to life after lockdown ends but their souls will have gone as their futures move online. Instead, these ‘zombie’ stores are likely to undercut local retailers because of the need to clear remaining stocks. This can only further injure other businesses on the High Street.

‘The administrator of Debenhams, FRP Advisory, has already announced: ‘Once Debenhams stores are able to reopen stock liquidation can continue in stores, the website will be operated by boohoo. The closing down sale will continue in stores for several weeks until the stock liquidation is completed and the value of this stock will be retained for creditors. Regrettably, all the UK stores will then be permanently closed.’

‘It’s not only Debenhams’ physical stores that are likely to be reanimated for a while. Burtons, Dorothy Perkins and Wallis shops may also reopen as ‘zombie’ stores after lockdown, especially if they are also purchased by Boohoo. The online giant did not purchase Debenhams’ remaining stock as part of its takeover deal, nor did it buy the assets of previous brands it has snapped up such as Coast and Karen Millen. These stores were forced to remain open while the remaining stock was sold.

‘In contrast, ASOS paid an extra £65 million for current and pre-ordered stock at Topshop and its other newly acquired brands, and it now seems unlikely these stores will ever reopen, even for a closing down sale.

‘Those “undead” town centre stores that do reopen, such as Debenhams, will be staffed by many of the 25,000 workers who know their jobs are going once this wave of closures ends. They are unlikely to be fully focused on customer service. It’s a retail nightmare.

‘‘Even when this wave of closures is over, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security. Other big, High Street names are also being snapped up by online-only retailers. For example, Evans is also leaving a plus-sized hole in the High Street after being bought by Australian e-commerce experts City Chic. The new owner says it will continue the business only online and that the remaining stores will be closed “in due course”.

‘ParcelHero has been warning about the dangers of a shift to ‘pureplay’ online-only stores for some time. We believe a balanced ‘brick-and-click’ approach will be best for retailers and shoppers alike. ParcelHero’s influential report ‘2030: Death of the High Street’ has been discussed in Parliament. It reveals that, unless retailers develop an omnichannel approach that embraces both online and physical store sales, the High Street as we know it will reach a dead-end by 2030.

Read the full report at: https://www.parcelhero.com/blog/news-updates/2030-dead-end-for-the-high-street

Handshake Calls on Industry to Shake Up Graduate Recruitment Market and Close Digital Divide

Urgent changes are needed in the graduate recruitment sector in order to boost social mobility and close the pervasive digital divide.

That’s according to a new report launched today from Handshake, the early career network and career management platform. The Bringing Humanity Back to Graduate Recruitment report shows how outdated legacy careers technologies at universities are, creating obstacles to diversify graduate recruitment pipelines and exacerbating existing digital divides.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means those entering the jobs market are being let down by virtual technologies that often miss the point of the experiences they seek to recreate – creating authentic connection. The report finds that as a result, students are struggling to create the connections they need to navigate these economically turbulent times. 

With reduced connections brokered by their university, “Digitally disadvantaged” students from working class backgrounds, and without the digital professional networks of the family and friends, are more likely to be left behind. This further decreases their chances of quality employment in 2021 and places a handbrake on social mobility. While digital networks and virtual recruitment practices are currently necessary, mobile-first solutions were found to be key for this group, as while laptop access may be limited, 98% in the 16-24 age group own a smartphone. Yet, many university careers service offerings aren’t mobile-optimised. 

Instead of targeted provision, the abrupt shift to digital recruitment has meant increased reliance on traditional professional networking sites that don’t cater to the needs of new entrants to the jobs market. As a result, recent graduates have ended up disconnected from established career networks. As of October 2020, six in ten (59.9%) of LinkedIn users worldwide fell within the 25-34 bracket, in comparison to only 20.3% of users within the 18-24 bracket. 

Digital exclusion has also hit employers, with smaller businesses lacking access to tools such as applicant tracking systems, email marketing tools and video conferencing licenses. This is despite SMEs playing a key role in economic recovery, making up 34% of all open roles and 48% of all job postings in 2020.

University careers services in 2021 face immense challenges, and the report recommends an urgent review of existing university systems, which in failing to evolve, have created barriers to students and employers connection.

The facilitation of peer to peer connections and improved access for digitally disadvantaged students all need to be taken into consideration when helping graduates build their career prospects. 

The changing role of careers fairs could prove to be a key component here. In-person careers fairs have almost entirely been replaced in the past year, and were heavily bound by geographical and budget constraints prior to that. What now constitutes the lasting role of a virtual fair needs to be established, moving well beyond the inadequate PDF and webinar that has been a mainstay since the pandemic, to a model that uses insight on the students and employers attending to create meaningful connections.

David Shull, UK Country Founder & Head of Operations from Handshake, comments: “The current uncertain economic climate means that professional connections and career support are more important than ever for students and graduates. The key to tackling social injustice and levelling the playing field is improving social capital, or in other words, helping young people from all backgrounds forge meaningful connections, almost certainly driven by tech they can easily access and use.

“While the list of issues presented by the pandemic is a long one, it really should be a priority for the early careers sector to engage head on with the obstacles being faced by recent graduates and students about to enter the jobs market. The scale of these challenges mean technology must be a cornerstone of the university response. The outcome otherwise will be a further increase in the divide between social groups and more young people left behind.” 

To access the full Bringing Humanity Back to Graduate Recruitment report and sign up for a webinar with the latest insights, updates, and best practices, visit the Handshake website.

Tonic Worldwide’s Research Division ‘GIPSI’ Unveils a Report Highlighting Positive Sentiment of 2021 for UAE

Tonic Worldwide, a UAE based digital first creative agency and GIPSI have released a report and identified five factors highlighting the positive sentiments of 2021 for UAE.  These factors cover economy, healthcare, tourism, women and celebrations.  The report highlights how UAE has won hearts and enjoyed positive sentiment not only from Emiratis but also from global audiences.

Dubai became a torch bearer of UAE’s buzzing Travel & Tourism scene in 2020, becoming one of the most preferred travel destinations globally. This led to good performance and created positive sentiment around the UAE’s economy. For women empowerment, the future looks limitless to UAE women, with the government’s continuous support.  UAE has led the way in celebrations and kept the festive spirit high throughout 2020. What’s more, there was a noticeable excitement around 2021 Dubai Shopping festival.

GIPSI applied its ‘Deep Listening’ methodology to arrive at unique insights. The data sources are multiple for the ‘Deep Listening’ Method and  goes beyond digital conversations and maps the data with interests and searches, coupled with unique HI perspectives giving actionable insights.

Here are the insights from the report:

  • Resilient economy and promising outlook in 2020 

GIPSI observed: 

  • 49% + search trends for “Growth of GDP” in UAE, with consistent positive sentiment for UAE economy vis-a-vis consistent negative sentiment for world economy throughout 2020
  • Global conversations on “Government measures” in the UAE harbours 3x more positive sentiment 5x more negative sentiment as compared to USA.
  • 83% increase in “Job opportunities” and related searches, with top Hospitality and Airlines as a result of Hospitality and Airlines companies embarking on hiring sprees. 
  • UAE goes beyond just an Oil-Economy, with 575.6K conversations and 13.8M engagement, including service sector, health, infrastructure, and business
  • Sustainability first measures creates a positive aura for UAE economy with 24.3K conversations, 222.6K engagement.GIPSI shares its implication: 

Ride the good performance and positive sentiment around the UAE economy and be a part of this good news.

  • Prompt healthcare in 2020

The positive sentiment around the UAE’s Healthcare measures taken during 2020, formed a strong backbone for a reliable UAE.


GIPSI observed:

  • Global conversations on Hospitals, Medicine and related topics showcase 2x more negative sentiment compared to UAE.
  • UAE government’s contribution to vaccine adoption and distribution, consistent care and the promise of world-class safety to Global citizens garners 1.3M conversations, 45M engagement, overall positive engagement 
  • 10 million meals, immeasurable goodwill at a global scale: 
  • This gesture of goodwill by government recognized globally for its positive impact with over 42.1K conversations, 789.5K engagement

GIPSI shares its implication: 

The trust and the confidence in healthcare makes for a willing consumer who is ready to engage and indulge. 

  • Preferred travel & tourism destination in 2020

Dubai became a torch bearer of UAE’s buzzing Travel & Tourism scene, becoming one of the most preferred travel destinations globally.

GIPSI observed: 

  • UAE immerses in Travel with a surge in “Hotel bookings” since April, while the world hesitates –  + 175% UAE search trends since April 
  • Emiratis revive their need for travel and getaways with a nearly 4X interest surge in “Vacation” since Apr’20, showcasing quick recovery.
  • 7K conversations on Dubai Travel; #visitdubai trends globally, and emerges as the top preference
  • UAE further leads the way in Trade and Tourism due to the rich cultural events, arts and sports, according to conversations across the world: 302.3K conversations, 21M engagement

GIPSI shares its implication: 

Make the most of the first movers’ advantage on T&T and participate in the positive momentum

  • Unstoppable UAE women in 2020 

The world is celebrating the new liberal UAE laws – especially related to Women.

GIPSI observed:

  • 227K+ global engagement: On conversations about women’s rights, celebrating personal freedom.
  • 25K+ global engagement on global conversations for equal pay reform in the UAE, contributing to the sentiment of #equalpay #uaelaws and the UN recognised Gender Equality Index positively.
  • 6K conversations and 2.6M engagement regarding celebration and recognition of Women leaders. 
  • Emirati Women’s day sees 78%+ positive sentiment, about women empowerment and the future looks limitless to UAE women, with the government’s support.

GIPSI shares its implication: 

Including women in the strategy should be a norm in marketing

  • Uninterrupted UAE celebrations in 2020: 

UAE led the way in celebrations and kept the festive spirit high throughout 2020 despite of all the challenges.

GIPSI observed:

  • 351K+ conversations on UAE festivities, with Ramadan, Diwali, UAE National Day and Christmas celebrations at the forefront. 
  • UAE’s New Year celebration with a safety filter has higher Celebration Quotient (CQ) vs the USA, with the former having almost 2x positive sentiment in comparison. 
  • Dubai shopping festival gets bigger this year, having Instagram content on the hashtag #MYDSF 50K+ updates and potential reach over the past 3 months on the topic globally: 2.4B
  • 49th UAE National Day witnessed nationwide excitement and celebrations: 277K+ key hashtag mentions, and 131K engagement.
  • Worldwide anticipation and expectations for Expo 2020, happening in 2021 on the rise:  565K+ key hashtag mentions, 89K+ conversations, 878K engagement.

GIPSI shares its implication: 

Audiences kept the optimism quotient high by discussing events, celebrations and festivities

Recession Proof Sales Tips to Boost Business Growth in 2021

Selling in a global pandemic is no easy task, not least when businesses have been battling against the odds for almost a year. However skilled sales people are taking a proven approach to tackling the challenging sales climate, and – perhaps surprisingly for some – it doesn’t involve shouting about the bells and whistles of their product or service.

Tony Hughes, CEO at leading specialists in sales, communications and negotiations training and pioneers of the world-famous SPIN® Selling, Huthwaite International, reveals how the most successful sales people are boosting business growth by taking stock of the lessons of 2020 and teaming this with proven methodologies, to step away from feature selling and focus on adding real value for clients in 2021.

Stop talking and start listening

Last year, people were overwhelmed with content, more so than ever before. The worse thing a sales person can do is to add to the noise. If you want to stand out in a crowded market, don’t be just another business shouting their way through the pandemic – stop talking and start listening to your customer’s needs.

Forget the script you have in mind about the bells and whistles, advantages and USPs of your product or service, and starting thinking about who you are talking to and what they might need so you can ask the right questions – invite them to tell you more. Find out how they’ve dealt with the crisis, how they’ve been impacted – show that you really want to help them find solutions to the actual problems they’re facing now.

As sales people we are naturally passionate about our offering, but this passion can often stand in the way of effective sales methods. Showing clients you’re passionate about them and their concerns will help you to break through the noise and provide a relevant product or service that they will really value.

Have a plan

Of course, the most effective salespeople enter a pitch already knowing what those all-important client needs are. By preparing in advance, conducting research and planning to meet the needs of your clients, you can position yourself as a problem solver and build credibility quickly.

By giving yourself the time to do your research and fully explore the wants and needs of the both the individuals and organisation you are working with, you’ll ensure you consider all the factors that will impact your client’s market both today and in the future.

Be prepared to be adaptable

Despite the all-important plan, it’s also essential to try to stay ahead of the game and anticipate what might happen. In acknowledging to the customer that you’re aware their Buying Cycle™ will inevitably change during this turbulent time, your understanding and flexibility helps them to see you as trustworthy. Offering to be patient yet keeping in touch regularly will help to build a solid relationship overtime.

Being adaptable doesn’t mean being unprepared, it’s about anticipating changes and issues before your customer highlights them to you. After almost a year of the pandemic, clients will not just be wanting adaptability they will be expecting it.

Ensure constant and consistent communications

We know how easy it is to be all consumed by your own worries and stresses during a crisis, and your customers will feel exactly the same. Increasing your communication with a client is the best way to nurture the relationship. Whether it’s internal, to customers or to third parties this communication is reassuring and helps keep spirits and motivations high.

When people don’t feel informed, they tend to panic which stops them from focusing and prioritising. Keep conversations clear and consistent. If the advice and updates are confusing and provide conflicting opinions and frequent changes in direction, confidence will be damaged or lost completely. Many businesses were so focused on their external communications in 2020 and looking as though the pandemic hadn’t affected them, they forgot to communicate internally. Ensure everyone, both inside and outside your organisation understands your business and current position so all customer touch points are unified in their message.

Be confident, not bullish

Confidence is a vital skill for any sales person, that said it’s important that this isn’t confused with (the archetypal, yet false) aggressive or bullish behaviour often associated with complex sales. This can be a challenge whilst communicating virtually, so be mindful of your online behaviours.

Being a confident sales person means harnessing and building a quiet, calm but unshakable belief in yourself, your company and your offering. This is important, as committing to a sale can often be overwhelming for buyers. Don’t forget to show your emotions as this kind of verbal behaviour also reveals something personal, which is likely to encourage trust within a conversation, making the customer more likely to be honest about their thought process.

Huthwaite’s research shows that up to 30% of sales are left open due to unaddressed concerns. By remaining confident in your product, you create an open environment for questions and issues to be raised and addressed in advance, helping to build a stronger relationship.

Safety over price

In hard times like those many businesses have faced over the last year, consider that people may be looking for safety over price. More often than not, businesses will not go for the cheapest option anyway as it can ring alarm bells

Customers want to know that someone is going to be around and they want to believe that they can feel safe in your hands. As we go through what is hopefully the final hurdle of this pandemic, businesses are looking forward and want to ensure they’re still around to see the back of it, their confidence in you as a safe option will help them to achieve that.

As businesses prepare to secure growth in 2021, it’s important that sales people focus on the issues their offering is resolving for customers. By meeting customer needs by offering tangible solutions, sales people can generate trust, demonstrate value and build stronger relationships for the future.

To discover how your business can benefit from investing in quality sales skills, visit: https://www.huthwaiteinternational.com/business-performance-solutions/sales-training/

Why People Are Going Gold As An Investment

Gold is one of the safest investments available, apart from a savings account. This is because of its stability, even in uncertain times. In the past, owning gold was quite controversial because of the worries surrounding its price fluctuation and potential instability. Now, however, more people choose to invest in gold as part of their overall assets because of its many benefits. For one, investing in precious metals is a good way to protect your savings.

When you hear about the benefits of investing in gold or buying gold products, most people associate it with investing in jewelry. While this is certainly a key component to any well-rounded portfolio, gold itself is a much broader asset. Gold can be used to buy or trade almost anything – bonds, mutual funds, stocks, commodities, and even estate. If you’re looking for a way to diversify your portfolio but are worried about your investments in gold being exposed to more risk than other assets, then look into investing in precious metals as a part of your portfolio.

Here’s why people are turning to gold as one of their investment options:

1. You Can Start Even With Only A Small Amount

One of the greatest advantages of investing in gold like Oxford Gold is that you don’t need to have a substantial amount of money to start. You can begin, even with only a small amount. Hence making it a very accessible option even for those with limited funds to start with at the moment.

Even if you start small, the key is for you to slowly increase your investment, so you can stabilize it in the long run.

2. It’s A Very Safe Investment

Gold is considered to be a safe investment. As an investment, it won’t lose its value unlike other stocks and bonds, which are very susceptible to the volatile market.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll encounter any problem with the value of this precious metal. You can easily earn a lot of money with your gold investment and even increase your wealth within a short time.

3. It’s A Stable Hedge Against An Unstable Market

Gold is one of the most stable assets that you can choose to invest in. Even when the stock market goes down, gold continues to retain its value. Therefore, you can consider it as a very safe investment choice.

The thing with gold is that it’s a very limited asset because it’s a precious metal. This stays the same, even if the demand does increase. Because of this, the price continues to go up. This situation makes it a very stable hedge against an unstable market.

4. It Gives You A Good Return On Investment

One of the other reasons why gold is also becoming a very popular investment form is that it guarantees a very good return on investment.

There are several factors that influence the rate of return that a precious piece of metal can offer. First, it’s very easy to mine and sell the metal. Second, it doesn’t require too much investment capital to start off with. You can simply start selling jewelry and coins to get started.

With these two factors alone, you can rely on a faster ROI. This means you can start paying back whatever capital you spent on your gold. The profits will also come in faster than expected. It can bring your financial status a sense of security.

5. It Protects Against Inflation And Economic Fluctuations

If there’s a dip in the value of currencies around the world, owning precious metals such as gold or silver is a great way to protect yourself against the fluctuations in the value of money.

Because of its value being tied to the U.S. dollar, precious metals are usually the safest investments out there. They don’t depreciate like other assets. This protects you against inflation, as you know the value of your gold investments stays stable, at least.

This makes gold a good form of long-term investment. You don’t have to worry about it losing its value over time. It’s something that can keep increasing in value on a regular basis, so you have great security in knowing they are protecting your wealth.

It also increases the likelihood that if you do sell your assets, you will receive a high enough amount to cover your losses, if you incur any. This can also help provide economic stability for you, particularly when you’re going through big changes, such as newly starting a business, for example.

6. It’s Easy To Diversify

The last benefit to investing in gold, in particular, is that they’re easy to diversify. There are so many different investments you can make with them. You can invest in fine gold jewelry, gold coins, ETFs, gold bars, bullion, and coins, for instance.

Gold bars are smaller than bullion coins and are less susceptible to theft. If you want a simple, low-risk investment, invest in gold bars. You can purchase them at banks or from online brokers, and you can store them in safety like a safety deposit box or a bank safe.

Diversification is a great way to increase the value of your investments and protect yourself in case of a crash. Investing in just one gold investment can diversify your portfolio significantly, and you don’t have to sell your holdings to take advantage of these diversified investments.
In the past, investors used to get along just fine without diversifying their portfolios. However, the world’s economy has changed, and most investors have had to deal with the global recession. It’s thereby imperative for investors to start diversifying their portfolios to protect themselves from these negative indicators.

Conclusion

Investing in gold is a very good choice for you, even if you’re a newbie investor. These reasons above are precisely why so many have gotten into investing in gold as their choice. The key is for you to just learn more about it and make sure that you understand everything there is for you to know about gold investing. You can learn so much more about it and comprehend it in totality, depending on your risk tolerance, liquidity, and risk level. In doing so, you know that you’re on the right path towards the proper way of investing in gold.

Investing Full Time: What You Need to Know

Do you dream of pursuing a career in investing but are unsure where to start?


Lets start with the basics

Investments. A broad term that can be used to describe the purchase of a large form of collateral, such as a house or other class of asset. Or smaller item investments can also be used to describe a luxury watch, a prime example of this is when an Air Force Vet purchased a ‘Cosmograph Daytona Oyster Rolex’ back in 1974 for $350, later to find out the exact model is now worth $700,000 in 2020. 

However big or small you want to start your investment journey, as long as you’re prepared to make a long-term commitment your life goals are achievable.

Although investing can increase your wealth whilst staying ahead of inflation, there are always risks involved with ANY investment – which is why it’s important to diversify your portfolio.

Putting this in simpler terms: increase your chances by dividing your capital into various opportunities covering diverse and alternative markets.

Do you need a minimum amount to invest with?

To become a retail investor you can start out with under £1000, which you can build on over time. Although most private equity or pre-IPO opportunities have a required minimum investment amount. The offering entity also have to ensure they have enough assets under management (AUM) to achieve their investment goals and cover overheads.

Broaden your horizons

If you’re a seasoned or more experienced investor, you may feel passionate about stocks and bonds, but have you considered private equity investment opportunities? These have outperformed the traditional investment asset classes this year.

In a FundRise report titled “Why Private Markets Outperform Traditional Publicly-Traded Stocks and Bonds” it concludes how the evidence strongly supports the view that an allocation of 15% or more of a portfolio to private [investments] leads to higher returns and should be taken seriously by all investors.

Be prepared for risk

All investments involve some degree of risk. If you intend to purchase securities – such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds – it’s important that you understand before you invest that you could lose some or all of your money. … The reward for taking on risk is the potential for a greater investment return.

Don’t sell at the first sign of profits!

It’s a wise tactic to allow your investments time to mature as they will likely continue to increase. It is however advised to exit a trade in decline as soon as you can. If you follow this rule, the money you make on your positive investments will far outpace any failed opportunities.

Keep your finger on the pulse

If you’re going to pursue a full-time career in investing you will need to access analytical industry insights and keep informed regarding new opportunities or evolving market conditions. Platforms such as Investopedia, Forbes, Bloomberg to name a few will keep you well informed.  

The more you learn, the more you earn…

Not only can you interact with digital platforms and even turn on your notifications to receive regular updates… reading some world-renowned books that feature some of the most successful entrepreneurs will help. Investment books are a key element of your personal development and can develop a money-making mindset.

Some of the most popular books for a guide to investment:

Rich Dad Poor Dad (1997) by Robert Kiyosaki

The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America

Beating the Street (1993) by Peter Lynch

The Intelligent Investor (1949) by Benjamin Graham

Think and Grow Rich (1937) by Napoleon Hill

If you want to invest, educating yourself is a key part of that process. To conclude, anyone can become an investor, starting small and begin progressing into new markets is always a good place to start.

Selecting Artwork That Complements Your Decor

When decorating a home, people tend to focus more on furniture and other decorative items while overlooking wall art. However, any home decor is never truly complete if it doesn’t include some beautiful artwork.

Generally speaking, walls shouldn’t just be all about paint or patterned wallpaper. Although they also add character to any interior, having amazing wall art prints can easily transform a dull wall space. It all really begins with finding the right statement art piece that represents your personality and complements your decor at the same time.

Selecting the perfect piece can be tricky especially since there are many wall art decorations to choose from. The good news is that you don’t have to be a world-renowned interior designer in order to choose your art. In fact, there are just a few things you need to consider so you can make your decisions easier. In this post, we are giving you the ultimate guide to help you select your artwork pieces successfully.

 
Choose by color

The first thing you need to consider when you are selecting artwork is its color scheme. This is important because you want the wall art decoration to blend perfectly with your decor while standing out at the same time.

In most cases, homeowners choose to follow the basic rule of thumb that refers to choosing an art piece matching the color palette of the room. For example, if the space is filled with vibrant and bold colors, people tend to choose an artwork that includes matching color tones. While this is perfectly acceptable, it isn’t the only way to go about picking art.

Sometimes it is better to opt for a piece that contrasts the colors of the living space. For example, if the color palette of your living room is rather neutral, then the best option would be to go for multicolored wall art to make it stand out in the room.

Pick the right size

Another thing you need to think about when choosing art is how much wall space you have available. This will further help you define the right size of your art piece so it won’t look out of order.

When it comes to picking the perfect size for your artwork, you should follow the general rule of aiming to fill about two-thirds of the wall space you have available. However, this rule may be broken especially if you are looking to create a gallery wall. In this case, you must think of all wall art as one unit and try to follow the rule as much as you can.

Bigger-sized artwork is always the safe way to go about it. You want your art piece to stand out but also blend in with your existing decor. Keep in mind that the frame of your artwork can also affect its overall size.

“The Modern Investor” Setting New Investment Rules


Retail investors have made quite an impact on the stock market recently, although several seasoned investors deem them as amateurs set to make wrong decisions and lose their wealth. Other experts believe modern investors are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

There is a lot of focus on addressing the modern investors, who are mostly millennials and became a more visible investor group in 2020 by investing heavily in tech stock, seeing the opportunity to hedge against the potential inflation and at the same time exploring alternative investment asset classes. Some seasoned investors are saying the modern investors are just chasing a trend and playing with fire, while others believe the cohort should be taken seriously.

Who is the modern investor?

Modern investors are predominantly millennials, both in age and spirit. Though most of them, especially in the US, have yet to acquire more wealth than their predecessors, baby-boomers, millennials are a growing power in the investment world, already influencing the current industry.

The driving force behind modern investors’ ability to change the industry is technology. From robo-advisors to gamification, tech-savvy investors are increasingly relying on and using apps and the internet. When once investing was a privilege accessible only to well-off citizens, now technology has made it only a few clicks away, presenting a plethora of opportunities to invest not only in the traditional assets like stocks or bonds, but also alternatives like arts, wine, loans, and others. 

Contrary to the general view, modern investors are well-informed. A survey by Accenture revealed that 90% of financial advisors believe their millennial clients are more aware about their investing options than they were five years ago, indicating that the interest and engagement in investing is nevertheless growing.

Alternative investments – crucial part of modern portfolio

Blackstone research on new investor behaviour also shows that alternative investments are rising in popularity as investors are seeking alternative investments to find yield, some for higher returns, or protection from rising rates, or a haven against market volatility.

As modern investment portfolio changes, adapting to potential market changes may require a search for new sources of funding. One of the growing alternative investment asset classes— popular with millennial investors—is investment in loans. Their biggest advantage is higher returns in comparison to passive income instruments, in addition to being a more predictable alternative to growth stocks. As a debt-based product, investment in loans is also less volatile.

“Modern investors have shown everyone in the past year that they are a force that needs to be taken seriously,” said Martins Sulte, CEO and Co-founder of Mintos, the leading alternative investment platform for investing in loans in Europe. “We have worked closely with this investor segment, with over 370 000 retail investors on our platform, who give us feedback that they turn to alternative investments, and investing in loans in particular, as a means to manage their savings or create them.”

Mr Sulte also added that modern investors are more prudent than the industry might think, seeing diversification and alternatives as a way to future-proof their portfolios. 

“We see a trend towards diversification even within our platform, which indicates that modern investors are not reckless as some make it out to be,” he said. “With pensions funds or bank accounts offering low savings rates, we see people search for better options and find passive investing as a solution for higher returns. While we cannot compare investing in loans to savings accounts at a bank due to both being entirely different forms of financial service and risks involved in any form of investing, we do understand and lately witness in greater amounts the interest for making money work much more for oneself.”

Conclusion

For many modern investors, especially those using trading apps, a retail portfolio may include a rather random selection of assets. That said, the retail investors are quick learners and are not as naive as some observers deem them to be. Undoubtedly, there are those that follow the trend, but the modern investors are making their moves and the market is responding accordingly. 

Can Global Innovation Competitions Help Unearth the Next Sustainability Solution?

Smoke rises between the houses from fuels being burned for cooking, threatening both the environment and human health through carbon dioxide emissions and indoor air pollution. Meanwhile, diapers that have not been properly disposed of are polluting waterways and sewage systems and become a potential source of disease. What do these two seemingly distinct problems have to do with one another? For starters, they are two of many hazards that the residents of Kibera – an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, and one of the largest settlements in Africa – have to live with everyday. But both also were seen as an opportunity by the founders of a Nairobi start-up called LeafyLife that aims to recycle used diapers to produce a cheap, sustainable and clean fuel.

Dennis Muguta, Melvin Kizito and Peter Gachanja, the founders of LeafyLife, had to overcome many challenged when bringing their invention to life. As in many other low- and middle-income countries, training, funding and support for budding entrepreneurs is not easily accessible. According to the latest report of the Global Innovation Index, with the exception of China, every one of the 30 countries leading in innovation is a high-income economy. In response to this need, large players in the worlds of economic and innovation, including the World Economic Forum and the European Union’s European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), have started initiatives to make innovation more diverse and support sustainability entrepreneurs, like LeafyLife, worldwide.

Global Sustainability Solutions

The ClimateLaunchPad competition, organised annually by EIT Climate-KIC, a public-private partnership funded by EIT, is one such initiative. Participants receive extensive coaching in entrepreneurship while the top 16 finalists also gain access to a business school for cleantech entrepreneurs, and developing start-ups receive mentorship, training and access to investors who help them turn into fully fledged cleantech businesses.

The founders of LeafyLife saw an opportunity for innovation in two hazards that the residents of Kibera face.

After winning the competition in 2019, the entrepreneurs at LeafyLife were able to secure funds, partners and collaborators to help them advance their invention. Diapers are complex waste, says Muguta – to be able to to produce a clean-burning fuel, they have to be cleaned and deconstructed into their building blocks, some of which can then be turned into a fuel gel. Chemists by trade, Muguta, Kizito and Gachanja welcomed the engineering help they received from their newly acquired collaborators.
“I would say all the partners that we have at this moment, is because of Climate Launchpad,” says Muguta. “The acceleration program that Climate Launchpad has been taking us through has equipped us with quite a lot of knowledge.”

Another initiative, UpLink, is a global platform aiming to discover breakthrough sustainability ideas. Hosted by the World Economic Forum, the platform crowdsources innovations by bringing together innovators, experts, investors and decision makers with the aim of working toward the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. UpLink launches challenges on different themes, such as ocean health and reforestation. After review by an expert committee, finalists receive mentoring, considertaion for investment opportunities and exposure on World Economic Forum platforms.

“One of the big vision aspects of UpLink is that we can do more to support underrepresented markets, geographies, segments,” says John Dutton, the head of UpLink. Half of the finalists of the first Ocean Solutions challenge came from emerging markets, he says. The winner in the “tackling ocean plastic” category was a Myanmar-based company called RecyGlo, which aims to provide a sustainable recycling and waste management system for Southeast Asia that includes waste collection, waste awareness training, recycling and waste auditing services. Through representation on the World Economic Forum, the company was able to get an introduction to the government in Indonesia and has set up offices in Singapore and Malaysia.

Obstacles to Innovation

While such programs are a promising way to surface ideas that otherwise might be missed, Soumitra Dutta, the founding editor of the Global Innovation Index, cautions that they cannot solve all the challenges low- and middle-income countries face when it comes to innovation. “I think the challenge in emerging markets is not that people don’t have ideas. People have ideas,” Dutta says. The challenge is the country context, the institutional environment, the whole infrastructure, the whole political, regulatory environment. All these things are not supportive, often.”

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 Has Covid Taught Investors

  • 44% of investors are now looking to back UK-based companies rather than global firms –  9,629,000

  • 45% of investors feel their ‘risk-appetite’ has increased due to Covid-19, as traditionally safe investments in big companies are no longer viable – 6,942,000

  • 27% of investors are looking to invest in sectors created by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as PPE, social distancing equipment and virtual solutions – 5,674,000

  • 19% of investors believe the coronavirus pandemic has opened more investment opportunities than it has closed – 6,278,000

Investing was one of the most unpredictable aspects of 2020 for anyone concerned with the market, whether that be a sophisticated portfolio or just a workplace pension. The stock market crash at the start of the lockdown and continued economic disruption has left many wondering what the future will hold, while soaring tech stocks have added further complexity to an ever changing market. But what has the Covid pandemic taught investors? 

The overall effect of this period has led investors to reconsider what they are doing with their investable assets. To understand this shift, SME investment specialist IW Capital has conducted nationally representative research to uncover the sentiments of the UK’s investors.

Look beyond the panic

Each period of disruption, like that felt last year, offers opportunity for companies to adapt quickly to the changing times and although there has been a lot of worry and negativity surrounding the new lockdown restrictions, we have to look to the positives with one of them being the roll out of the Covid vaccines. Working with both entrepreneurs and investors, there is a clear desire from the small business community for growth investment and to take a big step growth-wise this year. With a 12% increase in new businesses starting up during 2020 compared to 2019, 2021 is set to create some exciting investment opportunities for investors throughout the country.

The unexpected happens 

This year has taught us that the unexpected does happen. Investors need to look to the future and prepare for the unexpected to improve financial resilience. This could be by having liquid assets or a rainy-day fund you can use if investment values fall, which is particularly important if you’re drawing an income from investments. Having options for when the unexpected does occur should be part of any investors financial plan and is something that has been brought to the forefront for many as a result of the pandemic. 

Maintain a diverse portfolio

The Covid pandemic has had a far-reaching impact across a variety of sectors, however some industries have been affected far more than others, with travel and hospitality being forced to close for months at a time and unable to trade. In contrast, the pandemic has created opportunities for some sectors too, such as manufacturing and biotech. While a diverse portfolio will still have suffered volatility, it can help lessen the impact. Investing in a range of assets, industries and locations can help spread the risk. When one investment falls, another may perform better helping to create balance.

Don’t overreact to market volatility

When the pandemic first hit and the stock market plummeted, many investors began to panic and looked to sell shares in order to avoid potential future losses, but when investing, a long-term time frame and goal is so important. Short-term volatility is often smoothed out once you look at investment performance over a longer time frame. It can be frustrating to see that investment values fell in 2020, but when you look at performance over the last five years, for example, you’ll probably still see an upward trend.

Luke Davis, CEO of IW Capital:

“Investing and investing wisely has never been easy by any stretch but this year has been particularly difficult for investors at every level. 2020 demonstrated the value of long term investing and future planning. The stock market crash in March triggered a real halt in investment, and although the market hasn’t fully recovered, there has been strong growth since November and in places in the US share indexes are actually higher than the last year. 

“There have been winners and losers from each stage of the pandemic with sectors like travel feeling the true impact of the pandemic and others like online solutions seeing growth and opportunity in a time of financial turmoil. But, this is true of any world event and has forced investors to look to be more future facing.”

The Impact of COVID-19 on Modern Retailers

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the landscape of the retail sector. Social distancing regulations and civil anxiety surrounding the virus mean that physical stores do not offer the same browsing experience as we would usually expect. Meanwhile, a growing reliance on online shopping has been boosted by instructions to remain at home as much as possible.

The impact of COVID-19 and our new shopping behaviours have a profound effect on retailers. Changed buying experiences, falling and rising sales, and new consumer demands have defined an adverse year in retail. Here, we look at how customers and businesses have been affected by these changes.

Rising and falling sales

The Office for National Statistics points to eight key industries within the retail sector to define its overall performance since the start of the pandemic. Only two industries managed to increase their sales in the immediate months following lockdown. Unsurprisingly, these were food stores and non-store retailing (otherwise known as businesses which do not utilise a traditional brick-and-mortar location). All other industries within the retail sector saw their figures drop the most in April.

While most industries have since recovered and now show high sales figures when compared to February, two still fall behind their historic performance. Clothing and fuel saw sales drop by 67.6% and 60.7% respectively. This is significantly lower than the 22.2% drop the entire retail sector experienced. The latest figures indicate that the pandemic’s impact is still damaging. In October, clothing was still 13.8% below February sales. Fuel was still 8.8% down.

The reasons for these fallings are a consequence of reduced demand. Limited social activities reduced the need for new clothing. Working from home, furlough, and further travel restrictions also reduced the need for fuel.

However, there are some promising industries within the sector. Household goods now achieve sales 14.4% above what they achieved in February, despite falling 50.5% in April. In fact, this recovery is seen across the board. Total retail in October achieved 6.7% more sales than it did in February. This indicates that the sector should remain optimistic for a stimulating recovery and boost when restrictions are eased, and normal consumer behaviour resumes.

An online boost

During the initial national lockdown, non-essential stores closed to prioritise the public health crisis. Unsurprisingly, consumers became more reliant on online shopping services as reflected in the rise of none-store retailing sales. But the lockdown changed more than the shopping experience, the limitations on public activities changed the demand for some products and services. For example, where social activities were limited, exercise was encouraged. In-store clothing retailers felt the force of lockdown, but for online sport sales companies, sales saw a significant boost. Cycling saw an increased popularity during lockdown, with many searching for more isolated ways to exercise and commute to work. For example, Google searches for ‘mountain bikes’ increased by 522% between February and April in 2020.

One bike sales company, Leisure Lakes Bikes, shared how their online activity grew during the pandemic. Demand for bicycles increased. In fact, visits to their website increased by 295% between March and April — only one month. By May, visits to their website had increased by 580% compared to March. The appeal of cycling during the lockdown was strong.

Time on their website also increased. Between March and April, the average time spent on the website increased by 57%. This shows that consumers are spending longer online, researching products and showing a real intention of making a purchase. One consumer survey found that 55% of customers prefer to visit stores before buying online. COVID-19 is directly responsible for changing this consumer behaviour.

This example reflects changing customer demands and the impact of selling online. Recognising the retail landscape, offering a product which consumers need, and offering an unchallenging buying experience will allow modern retailers to benefit during this period of uncertainty.

Prioritising responsibility

The retail sector is adapting to the changing views of consumers. Customers look towards stores to provide a safe and COVID-secure environment through hand sanitation stations, social distancing recommendations, and PPE equipment and cleanliness among staff. However, the coronavirus pandemic has not just pointed towards an improved health awareness in businesses. Other aspects, including the environment and social contributions, are a focus of consumer choices.

The pandemic has created a sense of ‘mindful retail’. One consumer index suggests that during the pandemic, 55% of people are shopping in local stores in their community or are buying more locally sourced products.

In the same manner, 61% of consumers say they are making more environmentally friendly or sustainable choices when shopping. Even more, 89%, of these people intend to continue this habit when the crisis ends. This means that a majority of people intend to prioritise sustainability in the future through their shopping choices.

Retail businesses have responded to these changing behaviours, promising to ‘build back better’ in the future. While the pandemic may have impacted the affectability of sustainable strategies, there is a clear drive to improve the retail sector in the future in this respect. One study of the largest businesses in the retail sector shows this intention. Retail giants, including Dunelm, B&Q, and IKEA lead among companies which mention sustainability most through their social media and professional platforms. Measures may include recycling, limiting waste, and utilising renewable energy.

The retail sector has been irreversibly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Whether looking towards consumer behaviour, e-commerce rises, or company culture, retail businesses must reflect on their potential recovery in the future and understand how they can improve on their services going forward. As the pandemic recovery continues, businesses must adapt to the constantly changing landscape of retail.

Post Brexit Britain – International Marketing Laws That Could Be Introduced

For many of us, we thought it would never happen. For those that weren’t in this camp, chances are they were amongst those who simply put it to the back of their mind and forgot about it – yes, we’re talking about Brexit.

From sandwich confiscations to deliveries being halted at the border, the impacts of the UK’s exit from the EU is really beginning to be felt. In the marketing world, however, the continued rhetoric over the past number of years has been “business as usual”. Is this true, however?

The UK isn’t like any other country, in more ways than one. But how do their marketing laws differ? In order to find out, print specialists Where The Trade Buys travel north, east, and west, delving into various marketing legislation, in a bid to give some indication of what the UK might have in store in the coming months and years.

United States

The United States’ healthcare system is regularly at the forefront of the national media thanks to a lack of affordability. However, in the early ‘90s, a spate of infections and deaths at the fault of misleading hemophilic medication advertising brought about the introduction of strict laws. For companies in the US who are marketing healthcare products, a host of rules exist, to which, if they do not comply, they face significant penalisation.

Sweden

Head north to Sweden and it should come as no surprise that advertising techniques are carefully developed to link with programming schedules. They tug on the attention of the viewer, encouraging them to reach for their debit card and part with their hard-earned cash. Consider a holiday advert magically appearing during the interlude of Love Island, or Dominos and lager pop ups during half-time of the football — no, this wasn’t by chance.

Did you know that Sweden, as recently as the 90s, only had terrestrial state-owned television channels, which did not feature advertising? But as of 1991, the country began to see the harsh effects of this type of commercial programming.

 A Yale University study showed that children ate more unhealthy foods while watching cartoons with junk food adverts. Desperate to protect their younger generation, the Swedish government passed legislation which banned advertising directed at children under the age of 12. A decade after introducing the legislation, Sweden presented their findings to the European Union. The results linked a decrease in obesity within children directly to the ban on advertising. Sweden proposed that it be rolled out across the board — however, it was not picked up.

France

Marketing and alcohol have always had a rather ‘difficult’ relationship, shall we say. During the 1994–1995 Premier League football season, six of the 20 clubs all had alcohol brands as their major shirt sponsorship. Not one club has maintained the tradition, understanding the conflicting impacts presented. Everton being the last club to say bon voyage to their sponsor, Thai golden brew, Chang. France banned all alcohol advertisements on television and in cinemas. During any occasion in which alcohol advertisements are deemed appropriate, it must be accompanied by a warning regarding the dangers of consumption.

United Kingdom

And of course, here in Blighty. Back in 2007, England banned smoking indoors as the government tempted to quash mass respiratory problems and lung cancer. Back in 1965, the decision was made to limit the advertising of cigarettes on television. However, it wasn’t until forty years later, in 2005, that legislation was passed which completely eliminated tobacco advertising.

Philip Morris Inc., despite still backing F1 Ferrari, who own popular cigarette brand Marlboro, have not featured on a car since the 2007 season due to international advertising laws regarding tobacco.

After extensive debate between industry leaders, health campaigners, and politicians, legislation was finally laid down in January 2016 which banned branded cigarette boxes that were manufactured after May 2016 or sold after January 2017.

Marketing around the globe is difficult and varies considerably. However, what can we expect to see in marketed in a post-Brexit Britain?

A beginner’s guide to meditation and mindfulness

You might have heard of the word “mindfulness” alongside the benefits of meditation. Perhaps you’re never completely sure what is meant by this expression and you feel that it’s something for other people? If this is the case, you couldn’t be more wrong, everyone can reap the mental health benefits of meditation. The pace of your breath is related to your heartbeat and blood pressure. There’s a lot of physiological science behind this, but – essentially if we consciously slow down our breath rate, it makes the heart pump slower, which has a knock-on effect with your blood pressure and the levels of anxiety we feel. 

To show you how mindfulness could help you make your 2021 a better mental health year, the experts at SupportRoom have shared everything you need to know.

What is mindfulness?

You might be mistaken that mindfulness is about banging gongs and expressing yourself through the medium of dance. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Mindfulness is about learning to inhabit your thoughts, existing in the present moment, and developing a deep awareness of your actions and behaviours. 

You could say that mindfulness is a facility we’ve lost – the ability to become fully aware of where we are and of what we’re doing. Modern life bombards us with stimulation in the form of information, education, entertainment, and distraction. In short: most of us have lost our ability to be still. 

The reality of modern life

Perhaps you go out for the day. You visit a new town or go for a walk in the countryside. You see something wonderful, like a fantastic sunset or a striking building. What’s your first instinct? For many of us, our instant response is to take a picture and share it on Social Media. We see that beautiful sight through a digital screen, and we give the memory to our camera and followers. We capture the picture before we’ve had a chance to check in with how it makes us feel. We then move on to the next wonderful thing to capture and continue to remember the pixels, rather than the moment. 

Instant gratification

Depression and anxiety are at an all-time high in lockdown – poor mental health is the second most prevalent illness in the UK. There is a commonality in the need for instant gratification provided by the likes and comments we get from social media, with unsatisfying outcomes that affect our mental health. Instant gratification is a short-lived euphoric hit. And when the initial rush recedes, we’re left with an addictive need for more of the same, it’s unsustainable.

How mindfulness and meditation can help

Mindfulness is the most natural state of being. But we must relearn how to connect our thoughts to the present moment to access it. Many meditation techniques rely on the use of breath to bring us into the present moment. There is talk about the “emptying of the mind” but this is almost impossible. Every single breath is entirely unique, like each flame in a fire. It happens once and once only. And this is what we learn to recognise. There’s a saying in yoga that you aren’t allotted several days, hours, or minutes that we live; we’re prescribed a few breaths.

Ujjayi breathing

Stage 1 of Ujjayi pranayama (according to BKS Iyenger) is about recognition and becoming aware of your breath. Practice this awareness of the breath for as long as you like. Start with a minute or two, then extend the duration of your practice. 

  • Lay down on the floor – if you can, prop your back up with a bolster or some pillows. You can do this while sitting; if you do, sit as upright as you can.
  • Listen to the sound of your normal breathing. Notice the sound at the nostrils and within the throat and the chest. Observe that the in-breath sounds different to the out-breath.
  • Feel the breath as it touches the sinuses. The in-breath touches the inner, lower section of the sinuses, and the out-breath touches the upper, outer surfaces of the sinuses. 
  • As you breathe in, consciously inflate both lungs equally. Feel the rise of the ribcage and the expansion of the chest. 
  • As you exhale, consciously deflate both lungs equally. Feel the ribcage soften and gently fall. 
  • Listen to the sound of the breath and notice if it changes as you continue to practice. Aim for equal in-breaths and equal out-breaths. Notice that the out-breath brings quietness and calm to the front of the brain. 
  • Notice that the in-breath introduces energy into the blood. 

The only thing we CAN control is this moment now. So, next time you’re tempted to go instantly for your phone to capture the moment, resist it. Take deep breaths and drink it in instead. 

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.

Q1 2021

Welcome to the Q1 edition of APAC Insider Magazine, your quarterly source for all of the latest news and updates from across the Asia Pacific region.

We’ll say it here first: let this year be the year of change and innovation. While 2020 was a catalyst for change – the sort of change that is unexpected, swift and drastic – we now have the benefit of hindsight. To see the last twelve months for the chaos they were, and to better prepare for anything of the sort happening in the future. I’ve said it before, but change is necessary in business. Change is needed to grow, to adapt and to – eventually, thrive. We just prefer it to be on our own terms.

In the grand scheme of things, the APAC region has shown a remarkable perseverance and grit when it came to tackling the unique difficulties of the COVID pandemic. As other countries have struggled to establish a new equilibrium, the Asia-Pacific – in many cases- set the pace for returning to some semblance of normality. In this way, companies act as magnifiers of the very qualities that made this happen. Of excellent organisation, of adaptation and dynamism. It’s been impressive to witness.

It’s with all of this in mind that we published the Q1 issue of the magazine. Aware of the past difficulties, and optimistic of the future. With that, here’s to a better, more productive year ahead. See you in Q2!

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

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

What is flexible pay?

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

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

What employees needs it can address

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

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

The benefits it can generate for employers

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

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

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

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

How to roll it out in your business

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

So what are the initial requirements?

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

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

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

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

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

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!

How to Choose Between YouTube and Facebook for Video Ad Campaigns?

What happens when millions of bored people are stuck at home due to coronavirus lockdowns? One result is a boom in streaming services. Indeed, there’s never been a better time to consider video advertising.

Business sectors like e-commerce, health and fitness, home entertainment, home decor and remodeling, and online education are booming. Business and finance news sites are surging. And millions of new day traders are crowding into trading and investing apps that are easy to learn.

Marketers already know how important video ads can be for any brand’s marketing strategy. They have one of the highest conversion rates when it comes to reaching potential customers. Two of the most popular places for brands to run video ads are Facebook and YouTube.

Many marketers wonder which of these two platforms is the best for their brand. Which one will give the best return on investment? This article will weigh the pros and cons of running video ads on Facebook vs YouTube to help marketers decide which is best for their needs.

What Are Video Ads?

Video ads can appear in numerous places online including on social media and within streaming content. Brands are using video ads more now than ever before, as many marketers are discovering that video is one of the best ways to engage with potential and current clients.

Video ads can be different from television commercials. Many brands are making longer videos, which is only really possible on the internet. For example, more useful “how to” content that is only implicitly advertising is popular as opposed. Brands are also attempting to be more innovative in their online video ads, as consumers expect this online.

Types of Video Ads

There are several types of video ads, and the types can vary based on whether the ad is used in social media or streaming content.

Types of Social Media Video Ads

When used in social media, video ads can be placed within the main content or to the side. They can show up when users are scrolling or can remain static outside of the content. There are advantages and disadvantages to both of these placements. Users are more likely to notice an ad if it’s in their feed, but if it’s static, it’s in their frame longer.

Video ads in social media can also be played in three ways. First, they can require the user to click a play button. Second, they can autoplay as soon as the video player rolls onto the screen. And third, they can play if the user hovers a mouse over the player.

Types of Streaming Video Ads

In streaming video, ads can occur at several locations within the video. Some ads occur before the main media, while others come at the end. There are also video ads that are interspersed throughout the media, much like television commercials.

In certain streaming situations, ads can also stand alone from the main content. These ads may be on display elsewhere on the screen or on top of the main media. Users will have to click on these ads to view them.

Streaming video ads also have the option for skippable and non-skippable. With a skippable ad, the user can dismiss it after watching a set amount of time. Non-skippable ads must be watched, but are usually short — 15 seconds or less.

Pros and Cons of Facebook

With over 2.7 billion users, Facebook is a place where you can get your brand seen. Many users log on several times a day, giving you increased chances of visibility. There are a few ways you can go about setting up a Facebook marketing campaign.

Types of Facebook Video Ads

Facebook offers three types of video ads: (1) in-stream, (2) feed, and (3) stories. In-stream ads show during a video someone watches on Facebook. Feed ads show up in users’ news feeds as they’re scrolling. Stories ads are interspersed through other stories as the user progresses from one story to the next.

Pros of Using Facebook Video Ads

One of the advantages of using Facebook ads is just the sheer number of people who are on Facebook. Brands have a greater chance of being seen by as many people as possible. And it is all but certain that your target audience is well represented on Facebook regardless of who they are.

Related to this, Facebook offers marketers more options when it comes to targeting. It’s possible to target ads very narrowly and retarget the same people.

Cons of Using Facebook Video Ads

Facebook’s 2.7 billion users is a sign of the site’s appeal. But that also means that your ads are competing against a lot of other parts of the site for attention. Marketers have to be smart to stand out.

Facebook ads can be expensive. While they only charge if a user views a video, they count anything over three seconds as a view. Additionally, their cost-per-view is generally more expensive than YouTube.

Facebook ads are also a bit more difficult to navigate to make sure you’re reaching your target audience. Experienced marketers can have a lot of success because Facebook offers great control. But those who are new to video advertising may want to start with YouTube, as it’s more beginner-friendly.

There are over a billion hours of video watched each day on YouTube, so there are plenty of opportunities for you to get your brand in front of users. Many people start doing video ad campaigns on YouTube before moving into other platforms because they make it relatively easy to set up video ads.

Types of YouTube Video Ads

YouTube offers a good selection of video ad options. Display ads show up in the search results as an option when users are choosing a video. Within a video, there are bumper ads that users are required to watch before their video. There are also skippable and non-skippable ads and overlay ads that are shown over a video.

Pros of Using YouTube Video Ads

YouTube also has over 2 billion monthly logged-in users, meaning that brands have an extensive reach on the platform. Users can spend quite a bit of time on YouTube, meaning there are more opportunities to see ads.

Advertising on YouTube can be relatively cheap. The platform doesn’t charge for the first 30 seconds (or the length of the ad), so an ad only costs if a user chooses to watch it.

YouTube ads are targeted in conjunction with a user’s Google searches. This feature can potentially provide more data for narrow targeting.

Cons of Using YouTube Video Ads

As with Facebook, your video ads have a lot of competition for attention. It can be especially difficult to stand out in this crowd. Marketers have to work hard to differentiate their brand from others.

Historically, YouTube didn’t allow as much customization as Facebook. This is mostly untrue anymore. Marketers can now put calls to action on videos, for example. But there may be small things you want that do that YouTube doesn’t allow. Make sure you check first.

There can also be issues with targeting. While you can and should target using videos, YouTube allows its creators to tag their own content, meaning the tags aren’t always accurate.

Final Thoughts

While both Facebook and YouTube have their merits when it comes to video ad campaigns, overall it seems that YouTube is the better choice for people starting out. Video ads are cheaper. The platform is also user-friendly.

Just the same, Facebook has great features for targeting users and good options for ads. If you are experienced with video ads, they are worth considering.

And, of course, if you know your potential customers are primarily on one platform or the other, you really have no choice. You need to go where your customers are.

Virtuzone Becomes the First Company to Accept Bitcoin Payments for Business Setup in the UAE

By officially receiving Bitcoin as a form of payment, Virtuzone reinforces its position as a leader in business innovation, while making its company incorporation and business support services more accessible, affordable and convenient for entrepreneurs based in the UAE and overseas.

The UAE’s leading company formation specialists, Virtuzone, have announced that they now accept Bitcoin payments for business setup, becoming the first company in the industry to accept the world’s most popular and largest cryptocurrency based on market value.

By officially receiving Bitcoin as a form of payment, Virtuzone reinforces its position as a leader in business innovation, while making its company incorporation and business support services more accessible, affordable and convenient for entrepreneurs based in the UAE and overseas.

The strategic move also builds on Virtuzone’s aim to help accelerate the adoption and growth of digital technologies in the country, ultimately positioning the UAE as a borderless business hub.

Globally, Virtuzone is joining renowned companies such as Microsoft, Whole Foods and Home Depot in accepting Bitcoin as payment for their products and services.

Launched in 2009, Bitcoin is one of the most widely used cryptocurrencies in the world, registering more than 300,000 daily transactions in December 2020. Its value has also recently skyrocketed, reaching over USD 40,000 for a time.

“We are always working towards innovating the company formation process to make it easier, more seamless and efficient for entrepreneurs to set up their businesses here in the UAE, whether they are based in the Middle East or anywhere in the world. Accepting Bitcoin as payment is only one of the steps we are taking to continuously revolutionise how business setup is done in the country, adding significant value to our SME community and aiding the local economy,” said George Hojeige, CEO of Virtuzone.

New Year 2021

Happy New Year to all of our LUXlife readers. After a tumultuous 2020, we hope 2021 brings new hope and opportunity, especially for those businesses who have faced multiple challenges throughout the past year. In the spirit of positivity, our latest issue focuses on those in the luxury lifestyle industry who have persevered through the pandemic, achieving success in the most uncertain of times.

It is no surprise that many of our spotlighted businesses this month are in the luxury design and architecture industry. After all, this industry has been booming in business throughout the past year, as we have found ourselves in the comfort of our own home now more than ever; so transforming our safe havens has become a great priority.

One of these remarkable companies which has persisted through the last year is our cover feature, Ami Austin Interior Design, an award-winning interior design firm located in Memphis Tennessee. The company have been innovative in the face of the pandemic, by making the most of technology to create an online store and to continue select project engagements for clients seeking design guidance. Carrying on this success in the luxury home industry is Jane Hernon Interior Design, along with SARCO Architects, both designing and building luxury homes in scenic paradises.

Also within our latest issue, we take a look at SindiBaba who create beautifully handcrafted animal toys for babies, we profile 2020’s best cosmetic skin clinic and feature a company providing wine enthusiasts with the chance learn more about emerging fine wines. This is just some of what we have in store you for this month.

Here at LUXlife we hope you stay safe and well and have a wonderful new year ahead.

Keeping Your Team Connected and Beating Work From Home Fatigue

By March, most of the UK will have worked from home for a full year. For many this will have been completely out of the ordinary and a real shock to the system. Even after a year, for those without the setup or intention of working remotely, this will be having a real impact.

The working from home guidance has been reinforced with the introduction of a new lockdown. Some may have just been used to going back to the office and this news will come as a blow. For many, a clear boundary between work and home life will be increasingly difficult to maintain.

With ‘work from home fatigue’ now becoming a very real concept, Sam Hill, Head of People and Culture at BizSpace shares tips on how business leaders can help to combat this unique form of burnout in a very different type of workplace.

1. ENSURING THE PURPOSE OF WORK IS CLEAR 

Without any physical interaction and the reward from actually being in an office, it can be difficult to really nail down the reason for getting up and working from the next room – aside from the money. It is vital that every member of the team is aware of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, aside from simply logging the hours and getting through the day. Senior management, team leaders and line managers must be communicating this from the top down through the likes company-wide communication, keeping teams updated on business progress, any wins, challenges and opportunities. 

This communication then needs to filter down through the hierarchy with each level of the team being aware of how their work contributes to the overall goal of the company. No role in a team is obsolete and everyone contributes to the success of the overall goal and defining this purpose, more now than ever before, is vital to give your team a sense of purpose and being.

2. CREATE A HEALTHY CULTURE THROUGH GOOD COMMUNICATION

Maintaining good and open communication is a vital part of this strategy to managing the fatigue of working from home. The success of most businesses is rooted in the comms approach throughout. Many office workers across the country may be living alone, in shared accommodation or having to juggle the added pressures of being at home more often, like childcare for example. 

All of this can lead to feeling a sense of isolation from the team and the company, something that can come as a real shock to the system. While many won’t have a choice but to be working from home, team leaders could encourage the use of instant messaging like Slack and Google Chat. While daily huddles and weekly catch-ups with a line manager/mentor using a mixture of video and voice calls help to keep updated and on top of targets, with managers offering a steer and guidance. Keeping this constant open door to communication can replicate that feeling of being in the office where teams can so easily communicate and celebrate wins with each other. Offering that sense of gratification can go a long way to ensuring that the team feels valued while segregated. 

3. TRUST YOUR TEAM AND MEAN IT 

The traditional working hours are now no longer ‘normal’, with many of us now juggling responsibilities from home that we didn’t have to during the working day, like childcare etc. This can lead to a feeling of needing to prove that all work is being done, leading to overworking and in turn, burnout. Thousands of us are defined by the 9-5, taking lunch at the same time each day and having a physical presence in front of colleagues to prove we are actually working. At home, we don’t have this way of ‘proving’ ourselves externally. 

To combat this and prevent a team that is working over capacity, team leads must show that they trust their team, they can do this by being flexible and less formal, where meetings are required, keeping these streamlined and avoiding typical lunch hours or times early in the morning where some may be taking advantage of the new hours. Setting attainable and broad deadlines with a lot of notice will allow flexibility and give enough time to be met.

4. CLEAR DEADLINES AND PRIORITIES ARE IMPORTANT

When delegating work, be absolutely clear of the deadlines and what the top priorities are. For the more inexperienced members of the team, being in the office has a monumental impact on their progression and will allow them to pick up skills and lean on peers for guidance. As a team leader or manager, making workload priorities explicit from the offset and checking in once a week on progress can help to guide the workload without micromanaging and guide those that may need more of a steer.

5. ENCOURAGE MOVEMENT TO BRING THE TEAM TOGETHER

Taking a break from the dining room table or home office is key to keeping a clear and focussed mind throughout the day. Workers are likely to be spending more time at their screens with no need to leave the house, whereas heading out to get lunch is the norm when in an office setting. WIth longer nights, we must get the most out of the short amount of daylight we have. But how do you ensure your team is not neglecting their own need for fresh air and daylight?

Using instant messaging, a social chat can be an escape for many employees to talk about everything that isn’t work. Encouraging a weekly thread where the team can share photos of their week and something they have done might be a nice way to encourage people to do more other than stay in the house. Apps like Strava that track exercise can also be a great team building activity that encourages movement. Creating a leaderboard for the amount of miles each person logs in exercise outside should encourage competition amongst the team. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise either, so whether they’re walking or in a wheelchair, riding or running, it encourages the team to get outside and spend time away from the screen.

Conister Reports Record Lending

  • 2020 lending totals £131 million, surpassing 2019 by 7%

  • Conister has also received an additional allocation of £5 million from the British Business Bank to focus on resilient businesses seeking funding

  • Conister has lent £9 million through the British Business Bank’s BBLS

Conister Finance & Leasing Limited (“Conister”), part of Manx Financial Group PLC (AIM:MFX), today announces that it achieved record lending levels in 2020, by advancing deals totalling £131 million, representing a 7% increase on the total amount lent throughout 2019 (£122 million), by providing critical funding to small and medium sized enterprises (“SME”) as they navigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The growth in funding facilities can in part be attributed to Conister’s accreditation to various Government backed loan schemes to help support struggling businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (“CBILS”), Conister has advanced £9 million in vital funding across 35 loans and recently announced that it had applied for and received an additional allocation of £5 million to focus on resilient businesses still seeking funding.

Conister has consistently supported the Government’s financial assistance for UK businesses which it believes has been a crucial lifeline to many. In addition to the CBILS lending, Conister has advanced a further £9 million across 246 loans through the Bounce Back Loans Scheme (“BBLS”), against an initial allocation limit of £10 million. 

Douglas Grant, Managing Director of Conister, commented: “We must ensure that the financial security of businesses is protected to allow those that are sustainable to flourish in the future. Up to now, the BBLS and CBILS have performed a fundamental role in keeping many SMEs alive and acted as an important triage system to identify and support qualifying businesses needing credit. However, we believe that we have now passed this phase. Unfortunately, we must recognise that many businesses will not survive this pandemic, particularly if provided with an unsustainable debt burden. It is imperative for the future that we now focus on identifying and protecting our most resilient business sectors.”

“At Conister we have delivered upon all of our initial objectives. We had an allocation limit of £20 million for the CBILS and BBLS schemes and so far, we have lent £18 million, and we will fully allocate the remaining £2 million in the coming weeks. Without doubt, the scale of applications was enormous and so we applied for and received an additional allocation of £5 million for the CBILS scheme and we will focus lending this to robust business sectors that we believe will thrive in the future. Conister will continue to do all it can, working alongside Government and traditional lenders, to support British businesses.”

Jo Dyer, Portfolio Business Manager at First Business Securities, a recipient of a BBLS loan facility through Conister, said: “Conister showed the support and leadership we needed when we first received an increase in requests for payment holidays in April, leading to an ever more likely cash-flow problem. We were impressed with their speed and efficiency and their service won’t be forgotten in future.”