BFS appoints new Commercial Director for Europe and Asia

Bibby Financial Services (BFS) has appointed Paul Stack as Commercial Director for Europe and Asia.

Paul started his new role on 1 August and will oversee product, pricing and commercial strategy implementation across the regions, reporting into Richard Carter, CEO for Europe and Asia.

Paul joined BFS in April 2015 as UK Product Director, tasked with driving the development, management and innovation of the UK product portfolio. Following his success in the UK, Paul’s remit was extended in 2017 when he became Global Product Director.

Prior to his appointment at BFS, Paul spent over 20 years as a Commercial Development leader with The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), comprising senior leadership roles across Europe, North America and Asia.

Richard Carter, CEO – Europe & Asia, said: “Paul’s contribution to the product and marketing teams during his time as Global Product Director has helped develop BFS as a market leader, supporting the business in growing its product portfolio to include ABL, Stock Finance and Foreign Exchange.

“He has a demonstrable track record of leading strategic success and growth across the SME and Corporate sectors, and there is no doubt that he brings with him both the enthusiasm and experience of doing business internationally to help him to succeed in this role.”

Commenting on his appointment, Paul Stack said: “Since joining BFS in 2015, the business has gone from strength-to-strength. Today we’re a truly global financial services provider, supporting the growth of more than 10,000 businesses and I look forward to contributing to BFS’s success throughout Europe and Asia over years to come.”

Paying by card? You’re less likely to remember the amount paid

Accurately remembering how much money you spend depends on whether you pay by card or cash. Research by the University of Cologne and the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt has shown that the recall accuracy regarding the amount spent is lower for payments by card than it is for payments by cash.

Researchers Dr. Rufina Gafeeva, Prof. Dr. Erik Hoelzl and Prof. Dr. Holger Roschk carried out a field study to determine recall accuracy in relation to recently made payments. By gathering data in cafeterias at a German university during the summers of 2015 and 2016, they analyzed interviews with 496 students that were conducted immediately after the act of paying.

“We were able to show that individuals who pay by card have a less accurate recall of the amount paid than individuals who settle their bill with cash”, the authors summarize, who say that the results are relevant for the financial wellbeing of everyone. “A precise recollection of past spending has an effect on the willingness to spend money in the future.”

Smart cards are multifunctional and may also include further non-payment functions such as bonus programs or user identification. These functions play a critical role: “Individuals who use the non-payment functions of the multifunctional card are less likely to remember the transaction details accurately.” Moreover, this multifunctionality also applies to other digital devices such as smartphones or smart watches which can integrate the payment function with other non-payment functions.

“To heighten our awareness, we need designs that separate the payment function from other functions, or that visualise the act of spending money, such as immediate payment information or transaction summaries.”

These findings were published in the Journal Marketing Letters.

Summer late payment epidemic hits majority of UK’s small businesses

More than three in five small businesses (63%) are dealing with late payment issues – and the smallest businesses are those most at risk of dealing with non-payment – according to new research from Hitachi Capital Business Finance.

With reports that 50,000 SMEs a year close their doors as a result of late payment – and with calls for legislation to protect Britain’s SME community – Hitachi Capital’s new research looked to quantify the seriousness of the late payment epidemic across UK regions and sectors. A representative sample of 1,201 business decision makers were asked to report on the invoices they had sent customers and suppliers that were due for payment at the start of June 2018.

Only three in ten small businesses (30%) said all their invoices had been paid on time.

63% were dealing with late payment: 48% of respondents reported having invoices paid a week late, 46% had invoices paid a month late and 35% said they were having to wait for more than a month to have some invoices settled in full.

Alarmingly, 29% of business leaders surveyed were dealing with non-payment issues from their clients and customers.

Who is most affected by late payment?

Smallest businesses on the edge
The old chestnut of the big firms paying small firms late appears to ring true and for small ventures it could be more than just a short-term cash flow issue. Hitachi’s research found that the smallest businesses (those with an annual turnover or less than £1 million) were those most at risk of serious non-payment. They were most likely to have invoices paid more than a month late (26%) and most likely to have bad debt risks from non-payment (25%). In total 20% of the UK’s smallest businesses said they were living with non-payment for 20% of their invoices.

Sectors most affected by late payment
The sector most affected by late payment was manufacturing, followed by small businesses in the legal sector – a sector where one might expect customers to pay on time. In contrast, decision makers in hospitality and agriculture reported the lowest levels of late payment.

Regional late payment hotspots
Regionally, small businesses in London were most affected by late payment (70%), followed by those in the South East (67%) and both the East and West Midlands (67% respectively). The urban heartlands of London and the North West were also the regions where small businesses were most likely to be facing non-payment issues (36% and 33% respectively).

Millennial entrepreneurs
In the digital age with a new generation of young people starting up their own businesses, the Hitachi Capital Business Finance research revealed that younger bosses were more likely to be experiencing late payment issues. 70% of small business decision makers under the age of 35 reported late payment issues with some invoices (70%) compared to 61% of those aged 55 or over. A sign perhaps that despite advances in technology and immediate payments that the problem of late payment could in fact be getting worse.

Gavin Wraith-Carter, Managing Director at Hitachi Capital Business Finance, commented: “At a critical moment in the economic cycle we need to ensure that small businesses continue to be the engine room to our country’s growth and prosperity. Late payment directly threatens this. We estimate there is around £50 billion of cash locked up in late payments and this disproportionately affects the small business community, not to mention the valuable time and resources small business divert from the production line to needlessly chasing late payments. It’s time for change and we fully support policy changes that protect the welfare and economic growth of small businesses – and by implication – the country at large.”

Experian launches powerful analytics solution to help businesses harness the benefits of big data

Experian has launched a new analytics solution in the UK to help organisations make fast, reliable decisions with deeper insight than ever before. Experian Ascend Analytics on Demand is an integrated data and analytics platform which offers cutting-edge insights to businesses of all sizes.

The UK launch follows a successful introduction in North America. Ascend allows Experian’s clients to access a full range of Experian’s anonymised trended data, delivering results securely in real time in a range of formats to suit the user’s preference.

Enabled by open-source technology, the platform allows users to build their own predictive models to develop business strategies, including machine learning and Artificial Intelligence techniques, and make decisions.

The Ascend launch marks the first time this level of tailored self-service and instant analysis has been available to in-house analytics teams.

Tom Blacksell, Managing Director of B2B at Experian, said: “Businesses must be able to call upon and understand a range of data assets to compete in today’s economy. Ascend brings the very latest in analytical innovation to help them turn vast quantities of data into actionable insights. Leading in turn to more accurate and well-informed decisions, and ultimately bringing better services to market, more quickly, and increasing their revenues.”

Experian’s combination of data, technology and analytics helps businesses unlock insights and take decisive actions in the moments that matter. Bringing unique scale, speed and intelligence that deliver the best results for both businesses and their customers.

Ascend is an integral part of a suite of market leading Experian innovations, all of which will accelerate the ability of UK businesses to harness the full potential of big data.

Experian Ascend Analytics on Demand is being rolled out across UK&I and EMEA in the Autumn. Organisations can register interest here.

The launch comes as research shows organisations are struggling to extract the full potential of the data available to them despite the variety of advanced analytics available. Experian’s Business Review found only one in three businesses currently use advanced analytics techniques and technologies to develop a deeper, more meaningful understanding of their data.

Just 29% combine both traditional and non-traditional data sources to gather more insight. Two in five businesses still rely on instinct and subjective opinion to make decisions.

However, 78% of organisations have made investments in advanced analytics to ensure they can deliver better business outcomes, while 71% plan to enhance analytics capabilities in the next 12 months – making it one of the biggest priorities overall.

Experian’s Credit Search Barometer reveals latest trends on consumer spending habits

A third of loan searches carried out through Experian’s comparison services are for debt consolidation loans, new analysis has revealed.

These type of loans can help consumers with outstanding debts from various lenders to roll their monthly payments into one to reduce their costs.

And latest figures from Experian show that 33%* of all loans searched for in the last two years are for debt consolidation loans, as consumers try and take more control over their finances.

On average, shoppers are looking to borrow £11,000 over five years. Typically, these consumers are 37 years old, and have an average Experian Credit Score of 749.

This score is in the “good” band category and indicates that while these consumers have taken on debts through their 30s, they have been able to meet their monthly repayments and sustain a healthy credit history.

Meanwhile analysis of the type of mortgages potential buyers are looking for shows a jump in consumers shopping for fixed-term deals.

A third (33%)** of searches carried out in July were for fixed-term deals, up from 27% in June and 24% in May.

The trend suggests that potential homeowners have been looking to tie themselves in to a fixed deal to protect themselves from an increase in interest rates and mortgage payments, with the Bank of England recently raising interest rates to 0.75% .

Amir Goshtai, Managing Director, Experian Marketplace & Affinity, said: “The latest look at our data reveals that even consumers who are able to service their various debts are looking to take even more control and roll their monthly payments into one to reduce their costs. The rise in those looking at fixed-term mortgages indicates people have been reacting to the speculation of a potential rate rise. If and when there are further rises is yet to be seen, but in the meantime a priority for homeowners should be to take some simple steps to plan ahead.”

Rise in inflation shows pressure on squeezed households remains

The Office for National Statistics has today published its latest UK consumer price inflation figures. The figures show the Consumer Prices Index was at 2.5 percent in July 2018, up from 2.4 percent in June 2018, the first rise since November 2017.

Figures published today also show that regulated rail fares are also likely to increase by 3.2 percent.

Jane Tully, director of external affairs at the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “This first rise since November shows that the pressure on household finances continues and offers little respite for those people with already squeezed budgets.

“And with the recent interest rate rise and a likely increase in transport costs on the horizon many households are facing a combination of budget challenges.

“From what we hear at National Debtline, one small increase in costs can be all it takes to push some households into difficulty.

“I would encourage anyone struggling to cope to contact National Debtline or another free debt advice agency as soon as possible.”

Major revision of international standard for auditing management systems

BSI, the business standards company, has published the revised international standard for auditing management systems, BS EN ISO 19011:2018. The document provides comprehensive guidance on all types of audits, whether internal or external. It covers everything from the management of an audit programme, to the planning and conducting of audits, and the competence of audit teams.

ISO 19011 is applicable to all organizations that need to plan and conduct internal or external audits of management systems, with guidance that can be used by large audit teams or scaled down for smaller organizations wishing to learn more about how to effectively audit their own management systems.

The main differences between the 2018 edition and the previous edition are:

Addition of the risk-based approach to the principles of auditing
Expansion of the guidance on managing an audit programme, including audit programme risk
Expansion of the guidance on conducting an audit, particularly the section on audit planning
Expansion of the generic competence requirements for auditors
Adjustment of terminology to reflect the process and not the form it takes (e.g. ‘reporting’ rather than ‘report’)
Removal of the competence requirements for auditing specific management system disciplines
Expansion of guidance on auditing new concepts such as context, leadership and commitment, virtual audits, compliance and supply chain

Anne Hayes, Head of Governance and Resilience at BSI, said: “Audits are integral to the effective use of management systems and play an important role in identifying improvements for the business. ISO 19011 provides comprehensive guidance for any organization wishing to audit professionally and effectively for the good of their business.”

Second charge mortgage repossessions fall in Q2 2018

New figures released today by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) show that the number of second charge mortgage repossessions in Q2 2018 was 38, 2.6% lower than in the same quarter in 2017.

The annual rate of second charge mortgage repossessions (as a percentage of average outstanding agreements) in the twelve months to June 2018 was 0.09%.

Commenting on the figures, Geraldine Kilkelly, Head of Research and Chief Economist at the FLA, said:

“The latest figures show that the number of second charge mortgage repossessions remained low in the second quarter, and market expectations are for this to continue in the second half of 2018.

“If a customer is concerned about meeting payments they should speak to their lender as soon as possible to find a solution.”

Consumer car finance new business volumes up by 3% in June

New figures released today by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) show that point of sale (POS) consumer new car finance business volumes grew by 1% in June, compared with the same month in 2017, while the value of new business was up by 9%.
The percentage of private new car sales financed by FLA members through the POS was 89.5% in the twelve months to June.

In the POS consumer used car finance market, new business was up 4% by volume and 11% by value in June, compared with the same month in 2017.

Commenting on the figures, Geraldine Kilkelly, Head of Research and Chief Economist at the FLA, said: “The point of sale consumer car finance market reported new business volumes up in the first half of 2018 by 4% compared with the same period in 2017. This was in line with expectations, with a modest fall in consumer new car finance volumes offset by single-digit new business growth in the consumer used car finance market.”

Consumer finance up by 9% in June

New figures released today by the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) show consumer finance new business grew in June by 9%, compared with the same month last year.

Credit card and personal loan new business together grew by 10% compared with June 2017, while retail store and online credit new business increased by 5%. Second charge mortgage new business fell 6% by value and 3% by volume over the same period.

Commenting on the figures, Geraldine Kilkelly, Head of Research and Chief Economist at the FLA, said: “The latest figures for consumer finance new business continued to reflect wider economic trends, with the World Cup and hot weather providing a further boost to retail sales.

“FLA members’ share of the UK consumer credit market held steady in the twelve months to June at 35.9%.