Aman Gill joins Bibby Financial Services as Head of Trade Services

Bibby Financial Services (BFS) has appointed Aman Gill as Head of Trade Services as it looks to offer additional support to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) trading domestically and overseas.

Joining BFS with almost 11 years’ experience in the financial services sector, Aman has held a range of senior positions in financial services, supporting SMEs, middle market and corporate businesses.

Mostly recently, he held the position of Regional Sales Director at IGF Group. Aman’s role as Head of Trade Services is his third at BFS – with previous experience garnered as a Technical Manager and Relationship Manager. He started his career as a Relationship Support Manager at Barclays Corporate.

In his new role at BFS, Aman will focus on supporting the Trade Finance team with structuring bespoke funding arrangements to provide SMEs with the working capital they need. Aman will also work to develop BFS’s product range, to provide SMEs with more choice.

Speaking of his appointment, Aman said: “BFS is a market leading independent funder. It is innovative in its approach, and has a high calibre of professionals within the business that I look forward to working with.

“As Head of Trade Services, I am keen to develop BFS’s Trade Finance offering and support more businesses as they expand internationally.”

Phil Tobin, Managing Director of Trade Finance at Bibby Financial Services, said: “Now, more than ever, importing and exporting businesses have an important role to play in the UK’s future economic success. Having access to funding, as well as the right global expertise and experience, is crucial to this.

“We’re pleased that Aman is joining our expanding Trade Finance team as we grow our support for businesses trading overseas.”

TransUnion Completes Acquisition of Callcredit

TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) announced today that it has completed the acquisition of Callcredit Information Group, Ltd., the second largest and fastest growing consumer credit bureau in the U.K., for approximately £1 billion, or approximately $1.4 billion.

Founded in 2000, Callcredit is a U.K.-based information solutions company that, like TransUnion, provides data, analytics and technology solutions to help businesses and consumers make informed decisions. With a strong record of growth and innovation in both core credit and emerging solutions, Callcredit has achieved strong market success in the U.K.

“We are pleased to have received regulatory approval to acquire Callcredit, and we look forward to beginning the integration of the two businesses,” said Jim Peck, TransUnion’s president and chief executive officer. “It’s clear that the combination of our respective assets will drive value to our investors, customers and consumers in both the United Kingdom and across global markets TransUnion serves.”

TransUnion will provide updated full year 2018 guidance, including Callcredit and other recently completed acquisitions, as part of its second quarter 2018 earnings release. Given the size of the Callcredit acquisition, certain of the non-GAAP supplemental financial measures we provide as a basis for comparing operating results across periods, such as adjusted net income and adjusted diluted EPS, will exclude Callcredit’s integration-related costs going forward.

TransUnion previously announced that it had agreed to acquire Callcredit on April 20, 2018, and received regulatory approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the U.K. on June 12, 2018. RBC Capital Markets acted as lead M&A advisor. Deutsche Bank acted as lead financing arranger along with RBC Capital Markets, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Capital One who acted as joint arrangers. Citigroup and Deutsche Bank also advised on the transaction. Legal advisor was Sidley Austin, LLP.

Leading anti-money laundering firm SmartSearch launches fully integrated app

Anti-money laundering (AML) pioneers SmartSearch has launched a fully integrated app to allow AML checks to be carried out remotely.

SmartSearch’s world-leading AML verification platform is used by more than 3,000 businesses across the world. Now, thanks to the new app, all registered users have access to the same system on their iPhone, Android or tablets at no extra cost.

SmartAML is able to electronically verify all documents remotely, with the same capabilities as the full SmartSearch verification platform. This means users can carry out instant AML checks when they are in a client’s home or office and receive the results to their handheld device in seconds.

The app reads the name, full address and date of birth from the driving license, all the user has to add is their title (Mr, Mrs, Miss, etc) and press send. SmartAML then validates the information against the credit reference databases and automatically screens the person against worldwide sanction and PEP watch-lists which contain around 2.5 million data subjects.

The results are delivered back to the user in seconds with a green tick or a red cross. The search outcome details are then automatically uploaded into the full SmartSearch system back at the office for the rare occasions that enhanced due diligence needs to be performed.

The new client’s customer record will then be monitored either daily, weekly or monthly dependent on the client’s risk policies, for any changes to sanction and PEP watch-lists.

If the individual that the user wants to check has no driving license, they can input their name and address into their mobile device for the same checks to be carried out.

This latest development in SmartSearch’s award-winning AML platform comes at no additional costs – all current and future users will automatically have access to SmartAML.

Martin Cheek, Managing Director at SmartSearch said: “With the ever-increasing presence and risk of forged identity documents the introduction of electronic verification has brought with it confidence and certainty to AML compliance.

“We have been offering clients our award-winning automated system for seven years now, and are really pleased to be able to take our technology to the next level with SmartAML.

“By enabling our clients to perform exactly the same comprehensive checks on their customers whether they are in the office or out in the marketplace, we have given them much more freedom and flexibility, so they can concentrate on spending more time serving their clients rather than being caught up in compliance red tape.”

Why should being vulnerable have to mean being worse off?

In 2017, one in five clients of StepChange Debt Charity had an additional vulnerability (such as illness), on top of their problem debt. New analysis from the charity now shows that they tend to be in a notably worse financial position than other clients. This underpins the importance of the financial sector’s current focus on vulnerability, and cements the charity’s view that better safety nets are needed to prevent vulnerable people from suffering disproportionate difficulty.

There are many reasons for vulnerability, according to the new analysis in Breaking the Link: a closer look at vulnerable people in debt. Among the charity’s vulnerable clients, the overwhelmingly most common reason was mental health difficulty (43%), followed by physical disability (4.7%), cancer (4.6%), and poor health (4.1%).

Debt problems are closely associated with certain forms of vulnerability, especially illness. 77% of clients with a terminal illness, and 68% of clients with cancer, cited illness as the main cause of their debt problems. Among those with mental health issues, 40% said illness was the main reason for their debt. Two in five vulnerable clients overall said that the main reason for them falling into debt was illness.

However, vulnerability can derive from situations, as well as personal characteristics – bereavement, relationship breakdown, poor treatment by firms and many other features could all make someone vulnerable at certain times, even if the vulnerability is temporary.

Vulnerable clients were significantly more likely than other clients to have a net household income of under £10,000, and significantly less likely to have a net household income over £20,000. 45% of vulnerable clients had a deficit budget (with less money coming in than going out), even after budgeting advice, compared with 30% of clients as a whole.

Over two thirds of vulnerable clients were receiving benefits, compared with half of those clients without a vulnerability. Yet their benefits were less likely to prevent them facing a budget shortfall, with 40% facing a deficit budget compared with 37% of those clients without a vulnerability in receipt of benefits.

Vulnerable clients were more likely than other clients to be in arrears on household bills such as rent, utilities, or council tax. And they spent an average of 70% of their income on essential household bills and food, compared with 65% among other clients.

Commenting on the findings, StepChange Debt Charity chief executive Phil Andrew said: “Among our clients, those who are vulnerable typically show higher levels of financial distress – but that shouldn’t be inevitable. While there has been progress, it’s clear that the finance sector, regulators and the debt advice sector could all still do more to help break the link between being vulnerable and being significantly worse off. There are questions, too, for Government. With mounting evidence that vulnerable people are not always being adequately supported in their times of need – including the DWP’s own recent survey on the impact on claimants of Universal Credit – it is only reasonable to ask whether changes to the welfare system are creating too many negative and stressful impacts on people who are least in a position to deal with them.”

New report reveals where personal data is compromised online

A new collaborative report, released today (Tuesday 19 June) by Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, and Forensic Pathways, an internationally recognised organisation operating at the forefront of digital forensics, highlights that alongside the dark web, the surface web plays an integral role in the selling of personal information.

The new research reveals that personal data is being sold on the surface web via forums and is available through online shops, which are accessible via normal search engines. Furthermore, the findings also show that those selling the data give some individuals’ data away for free by using it as an advert to display what information can be purchased.

In a sample of 30,000 victims of identity fraud, almost a third (8,646) were found on the surface web using name, date of birth, email and/or telephone number, with the majority of those identified on a social media platform. Over two-thirds (69%) of individuals were found on Facebook, with 38% on both Facebook and LinkedIn. Individuals aged 61 years and over were found to have a smaller social media presence; they were, however, more likely to have had an account compromised through a data breach.

Once again, as highlighted by last year’s Who are the victims of identity fraud? report, launched jointly with LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, victims that are company directors are more likely to be identifiable from their social media presence and public director registers. This is particularly the case when the correspondence address is the same as a company director’s home address. 76% of company directors had their home address as their correspondence address and in some cases this related to dissolved companies.

Based on the findings in this report, Cifas and Forensic Pathways have put forward a number of recommendations, including:

· Deactivate and delete old profiles on social media sites that you no longer use. Keep track of your digital footprints. If a profile was created ten years ago, there may be personal information currently available for a fraudster to use that you’re are not aware of or you have forgotten about.
· Social media platforms should consider automatically setting a profile to the highest security settings available. It should be an ‘opt-in’ approach for individuals to share personal information, giving them the ability to select what information they choose to reveal.
· Minimise the data you display publicly online. Take a second before adding information to your profile and question how necessary it is to make this information public. The more personal information you reveal, the more comprehensive a picture a fraudster can create to impersonate you.
· Owners of forums should monitor and manage them more strictly. This report shows that forums are being used, not for their intended purpose, but for the selling of personal data. Creators of forums should monitor them regularly and there should be sufficient channels to report abuse.
· Organisations should consider the transparency and proportionality of publicly available data. Further research should be conducted into the balance between transparency and proportionality of publicly available data.

Deborah Leary, CEO Forensic Pathways, said: “The findings are eye-opening. This report not only demonstrates the vulnerabilities of personal data held on surface web platforms, but also highlights the pressing need to monitor these with more vigour. It also reminds us that although illegal activity occurs on the dark web, it is also prevalent on the surface web, where the selling of personal data through forums and online shops is clearly evident. We welcome further collaboration from all industries and sectors in the fight against identity fraud.”

Sandra Peaston, Director of Insight, Cifas, said: “As individuals, we can take steps to protect our identities online, including deleting old profiles and minimising the data we publicly reveal online. For those who want to promote themselves, either professionally or personally, the real dilemma is whether this promotion outweighs the risks of revealing personal sensitive data.

“With identity fraud reaching record levels in recent years, more personal information available online, and increasing numbers of data breaches, the protection of personal data must be viewed as a collective responsibility. Everyone should play their part, from social media platforms taking more responsibility around security settings, to organisations prioritising the security of personal data.”

Saxo Payments Banking Circle VP of Marketing appointed to the Executive Board of the European Women Payments Network

Miranda McLean, VP of Marketing at ground-breaking financial utility, Saxo Payments Banking Circle since its launch, has been appointed to the Executive Board of the European Women Payments Network.

The European Women Payments Network (EWPN), is focused on championing the skills and expertise of women in the burgeoning FinTech and payments sectors. In particular, through mentorship, leadership programmes, networking events and workshops, EWPN is providing the opportunity for women to learn, network, share and celebrate their achievements.

The appointment of Miranda McLean to the Executive Board signals the EWPN’s ambition to further extend its reach and influence throughout the European business community.

‘”The FinTech sector is, itself, breaking new ground and challenging the status quo”, explained Miranda McLean. “It therefore makes sense for those working in this sector to advocate diversity and inclusiveness – and for women to lead that cause.

“I am tremendously excited to have been appointed to the Executive Board and look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to extend the reach and influence of the EWPN.”

Miranda McLean has built a considerable reputation for developing and executing successful marketing strategies for a wide range of financial services businesses over more than two decades. Starting her career at Thomson Financial, she has also held senior positions at Reuters, Standard and Poor, Lexis Nexis, Equifax and Ukash. In 2015 she was appointed by payments start-up, Saxo Payments, to create the brand identity and marketing strategy which has taken the cross border financial utility to a multi-million dollar business in less than three years.

As a highly motivated marketer, Miranda believes barriers to opportunity only exist if vision is blinkered. She has committed to self-development and improvement at every stage of her career to build a wealth of experience in global and European brand development, execution and management. She aims to bring that enthusiasm and energy to her new role at EWPN.

Martha Mghendi-Fisher, Founder of the European Women Payments Network added: “Since our formation in 2015, we have focused on building a strong network of women working in the sector who can share their experiences to help others to progress their careers. Now we want to take the Network to the next level of influence and Miranda McLean’s experience in the field of marketing will be invaluable to hone our messages and extend our reach.”

Arbuthnot Latham & Co., Ltd. Partners with Xactium to Enhance Risk Management Capabilities

In response to continued growth in and diversification of the business, Arbuthnot Latham has chosen to implement the Xactium Risk management system across the organisation.

Xactium will enhance Arbuthnot’s existing risk management capabilities, supporting standardisation of risks and providing real-time risk monitoring and reporting capabilities.

Aidan Brock, Head of Risk at Arbuthnot Latham & Co explains: “We are always looking for ways to improve how we manage risks within the Bank and Xactium provides us with a flexible, user friendly and intuitive solution that will support us in managing risks in a more consistent and proactive way across the business”

Andy Evans, CEO and Founder of Xactium adds: “We are delighted to announce Arbuthnot as our newest Financial Services customer and we look forward to working with them to ensure timely implementation of our solution across their organisation. Our team will be on-hand to provide the necessary training and support to ensure the transition period is as smooth as possible.”

Bank of England’s warning on 0% credit card deals signals growing concern

Following the Bank of England’s recent letter warning about the growing risks attached to the provision of 0% credit card balance transfer offers,

Daoud Fakhri, Principal Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on what this means for credit card providers: ‘‘For the second time this year, the Bank of England has warned lenders about making unrealistic assumptions about their 0% credit card balance transfer portfolios. The Prudential Regulation Authority sent out a letter on 6 June warning that some credit card providers with high exposure to the 0% balance transfer market may be guilty of overly optimistic assumptions about customer retention rates, thus impacting on calculations of Effective Interest Rate (EIR) income.

‘‘Virgin Money, currently the subject of a takeover bid by CYGB, has made an aggressive play in the balance transfer market – it currently offers a 36 month 0% deal, one of the longest on the market – and consequently has an above-average reliance on EIR as an income source. This will leave it more vulnerable than most, should customers reduce their debt exposure more quickly than expected.

‘‘However, this is an issue for the whole industry, and credit card providers would be well advised to act on the PRAs advice to review their EIR assumptions and consider applying interest income-at-risk limits. Should the economy continue to underperform, consumers are likely to become increasingly risk-averse and reduce their indebtedness. Consequently, providers that have been banking on a given level of interest income will have to contend with a significant shortfall.’’

Experian ‘one of most innovative companies in the world’

Experian® has been named among the top 100 most innovative companies in the world for the fifth year in a row by Forbes magazine. In the publication’s eighth annual list of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies,” Experian climbed to the rank of 57th and was amongst the top 10 most innovative companies headquartered in Europe.

Technology, innovation and new sources of data are fusing to create an unprecedented number of new ways to solve pressing business and consumer challenges. This accolade underscores Experian’s commitment to innovation, and using the power of data and technology to transform lives, businesses and economies for the better.

“It is an honour to be recognised for innovation for the fifth year running,” said Brian Cassin, CEO, Experian. “We have created a culture of continuous innovation focused on opportunities for businesses and consumers in today’s digital and data economy.”

Experian has jumped up 40 places in this year’s ranking, placing it alongside some of the world’s leading technology companies including Tesla, Netflix and Amazon. Forbes’ ranking identifies firms that investors believe to be innovative at present, and that will continue to achieve profitable new growth through innovation in the future. This recognition demonstrates investors’ confidence in Experian’s ability to innovate both today and in the years ahead.

New survey reveals that 30% of businesses don’t have a social media policy

A survey conducted by leading regional law firm Howes Percival has revealed that 30% of businesses surveyed did not have a social media policy – potentially leaving them exposed to reputational damage, disclosure of confidential information and inappropriate or harmful content or behaviour.

The survey of 220 business leaders, representing a broad range of sectors and size of organisation, ranging from companies with a turn-over of less than £1m to global players with a significant sector presence nationally and internationally, was designed to examine the way in which businesses engage with social media.

LinkedIn and Twitter are the most used platforms for businesses and organisations, with the majority (86%) having a presence on LinkedIn and just over three quarters using Twitter. Creating a brand identity, positive brand associations, and raising brand awareness were the predominant reasons for businesses’ social media presence.

In addition to building and raising brand awareness (49%), other core reasons businesses gave for maintaining a social media presence included improving communication and interaction with key audiences (21%), tracking competitors (10%) and increasing web traffic (9%). Only 40% of respondents said they participate in discussion groups for their sector on social media.

The survey also questioned companies about their ‘go to social media’. The most used sites were LinkedIn (89%), Twitter (54%), Facebook (37%), Google+ (16%) and YouTube (11%).

Worryingly, 4% of the organisations surveyed admitted to having a significant issue with the misuse of social media and/or the internet in their business.

Commenting on the research findings, Edward Lee, Howes Percival Partner and corporate law expert said, “Regardless of the industry you operate in or whether your business is a multi-national or a one-man band, social media offers a great opportunity for companies to establish and promote their brands and products. With millions of subscribers, they’re also an effective platform to connect with customers.

“While social media is undoubtedly a great marketing tool, inappropriate use by employees can cause real problems. We were concerned to see that nearly a third of companies don’t have a social media policy to help guard against potentially damaging postings or online behaviour, such as harassment, by employees. Thankfully, most companies said they haven’t experienced any significant problems with their employees’ online behaviour, but a small minority had. Anecdotal evidence from our survey suggests that distractions caused by social media usage by employees, especially Facebook, while at work is a major concern for some businesses.”

Edward Lee continued, “To help avoid social media pitfalls, companies should put in place a written social media policy. This should be clearly communicated to staff and should outline if, and how, internet use is limited during working time and using company computers. Sanctions for breaching confidentially online, or posting material which could damage the company’s reputation, or making offensive or discriminatory comments, should also be included.”