Qualco UK retains its ISO 27001 accreditation

Qualco UK has retained its ISO 27001:2017 certification by The British Assessment Bureau, having first achieved it three years ago.

ISO 27001 is the internationally recognised framework which helps organisations manage and protect their information assets so that they remain safe and secure at all times.  By achieving this certification, Qualco has demonstrated its commitment to data protection and continuous improvement. This is a crucial standard for Qualco with recertification occurring every three years.

The ISO 27001 certification allows Qualco to have an independently verified framework to apply across its business processes which identify, manage and reduce risks to information security and considers not only IT but all business operations.

The requirements cover all aspects of the organisation including senior management commitment to information security, compliance with the GDPR and Data Protection Act, and a demonstrable approach to continual improvement of the system.

Victoria Oliver, Head of Compliance for Qualco UK, commented, “We are delighted to retain this ISO certification from the British Assessment Bureau. Qualco takes a proactive approach to security as data and our customers’ data is pivotal to what we do. As technology continues to grow and evolve in the financial services sector, we work to ensure that our information security controls remain safe and effective.” 

Bibby Financial Services expands global headquarters in Banbury

Independent financial services provider, Bibby Financial Services (BFS), has announced the expansion of its global headquarters in Banbury, North Oxfordshire, in line with its strategic growth plan.

First moving to Banbury Business Park in 2016, BFS has now relocated its Construction Finance and Export Finance divisions from Packington House, Horse Fair, to the refurbished Pembroke House offices in Adderbury.

Global Chief Executive of Bibby Financial Services, David Postings said: “We have long wanted to develop a global headquarters that would enable our operational teams and central support functions to work more closely, so I’m delighted that these plans have come to fruition.

“The expansion of our offices in Banbury reflect the business’s growth in recent years, and will undoubtedly help us to enhance the level of service for our clients, while increasing the well-being of our people.”

Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, commented: “We are very lucky to have a thriving economy with virtually no unemployment in our area. Bibby Financial Services’ decision to expand its Global Headquarters in Banbury sends a strong signal that North Oxfordshire is the place to do business. I am looking to visiting the new offices and meeting staff once they have settled in.”

In 2018, BFS was awarded 48th place in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For, the seventh time the business has featured in the top 100.

Over 300 employees in departments including Operations, HR, Learning and Development, Marketing and Communications, IT Services, Business Change, Finance, Risk and Strategy have moved to the new 17,000 sq. ft. site.

David Postings added: “Being a great place to work, attracting and retaining leading talent are a key elements of our success. Our expanded premises demonstrates our commitment to both our people and the Banbury area, and I look forward to welcoming our clients and business partners alike to Pembroke House over the coming months.”

Following a comprehensive fit-out, Pembroke House now includes Restaurant 1807, in reference to the year in which Liverpool entrepreneur, John Bibby, formed BFS’s parent company, the Bibby Line Group.

Today, BFS supports 10,500 SMEs in more than 300 industry sectors across Europe, North America and Asia. It has 18 regional offices in the UK, employing more than 900 people.

Less than a third of business payments were made on time in Q2

Research from Dun & Bradstreet reveals that UK businesses prompt payments deteriorated in in the three months to June (Q2). On average, less than a third (31.5%) of payments were made on time compared to 31.3% in the previous quarter. The average payment delay in the UK is around 15 days, two days higher than the European average.

Dun & Bradstreet’s UK Quarterly Industry Report shows a clear split by sector, with ‘Health/Education/Social’ and ‘Finance/Industry/Property’ recording the sharpest deterioration in payment performance (down by 1.7% and by 1.4% respectively quarter-to-quarter). However, more positive results were recorded for the Consumer Manufacturing sector which demonstrated the largest improvement, followed by the ‘Eating and Drinking’ (0.8%) and ‘Materials Processing/Mining’ (0.6%) sectors.

Late payments remain a significant problem for UK-based small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). On average, larger companies of 251 employees or more only paid 8.1% of their payments promptly, compared with smaller companies of 250 employees or less, which averaged at 25.7% for paying their suppliers on time.

Commenting on the results, Markus Kuger, Senior Economist at Dun and Bradstreet said: “What is perhaps most worrying from the data is the sheer volume of late payments UK-based companies are having to contend with, not least as a result of weaker retail sales and the uncertainty of the impact of Brexit on businesses. Although there is legislation in place to assist small businesses with their struggle against late payments, the majority of the time they take no action for fear of alienating their larger customers. Late payments affect businesses across the sectors and of all sizes and give rise to tighter financial conditions and higher administrative, transaction and financial. With continued uncertainty for the foreseeable future, it is likely that we will see further deterioration in prompt payments due to rising headwinds triggered by the Brexit vote.”

Rates reforms will fail without modernisation drive

Scottish Government plans to introduce more frequent business rate revaluations will fail without a modernisation drive, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The small business campaign group has urged Ministers to deliver a reformed system ahead of the next Scottish Parliament elections.

In an official response to a consultation on proposed business rates legislation, the FSB warns the Scottish Government that the delivery of a more modern and user-friendly tax system looks unlikely without Ministers providing leadership and resources.

Andrew McRae, the FSB’s Scotland policy chair, said: “Tens of thousands of Scottish smaller firms get a leg up thanks to the Scottish Government’s Small Business Bonus scheme. But even those in receipt of this help can find the rates system bureaucratic and old-fashioned.

“We urged Ministers to introduce more frequent revaluations, so that firms’ bills better reflect market conditions. But for that to work, we need the system to purr, rather than creak. In our view, a more modern system would pay dividends for both the taxpayer and the state.”

The next business rates revaluation in Scotland will take place in 2022. FSB has urged Ministers to deliver a modern rates system a year ahead of the next Scottish Parliament elections in 2021.

Andrew McRae said: “What we’ll need to see alongside these new laws are Ministers dragging the system into the 21st century. That means a new national digital interface to pay your bill and apply for help. That means bodies involved in the system working in harmony. That means the provision of intelligible information about how your bill is calculated to ratepayers.”

In its submission, FSB argues that a new digital rates interface could integrate with the Scottish planning and licensing systems. Further, the small business body strongly supports Scottish Government moves to introduce new rates help for firms renovating or improving property.

Andrew McRae said: “Scottish Ministers have shown an appetite for reform with the introduction of their new Business Growth Accelerator. But they can’t stop there. While FSB supports many of these legislative changes, they must be matched with the grit to succeed.”

Impact of ‘no deal’ Brexit on insolvency “deeply concerning” – R3

The potential impact of a ‘no deal’ Brexit on cross-border insolvency cases, as set out by the Government in a just-published technical note, is deeply concerning, says insolvency and restructuring trade body R3.

Commenting, Stuart Frith, R3 president, says: “We would be deeply concerned about the impact of a ‘no deal’ on the UK’s insolvency and restructuring framework. The strength of the UK’s insolvency and restructuring framework partially depends on its pan-European reach. At the moment, EU regulations mean UK insolvency and restructuring procedures and judgments are automatically recognised across the EU – and vice versa. A loss of this recognition, as would happen in a ‘no deal’ situation, would be bad news for UK businesses and creditors.

“Reciprocal automatic recognition means it’s relatively quick and cost effective to retrieve the assets of insolvent UK-based companies or individuals wherever those assets are in the EU. It means the insolvencies of companies with a presence across the EU can be dealt with through one insolvency procedure rather than several. This keeps costs down and increases the chances of business rescue, which, in turn, boosts returns to creditors.

“If the current EU-UK insolvency framework is not preserved post-Brexit then it will become much more expensive and difficult to resolve UK and EU insolvency cases where UK-EU cross-border work is required.

“This will jeopardise creditor returns, business and job rescue, lending and investment, and it will damage the UK’s reputation as a place to do business.

“The insolvency and restructuring framework is there to provide businesses, lenders, and investors with the confidence that, in the event of an insolvency, they will see at least some of their money back. Adding barriers to this process where a UK company has a presence in the EU would damage confidence in trading with, lending to, and investing in that company.

“The Government has repeatedly outlined a desire to seek a post-Brexit agreement which closely reflects the principles of mutual cooperation that exist under the current EU framework. This is welcome and R3 is happy to support the Government’s pursuit of its objective.

“In the event of a ‘no deal’, it’s important that the Government takes steps to improve the domestic insolvency framework in order to maintain its international competitiveness. The Government has just published plans to deliver a package of major insolvency reforms first proposed in 2016, but the timetable for introducing them is not clear. Introducing the reforms would be a good step towards mitigating some of the problems which the loss of automatic recognition might cause.”

Interest Rates: 74% decrease in tracker mortgage interest following August rate rise

There was a sharp fall in the number of consumers shopping for tracker mortgages in August following the rise in interest rates, new analysis from Experian has revealed. On August 2, the Bank of England (BoE) made the cost of borrowing more expensive when it raised the Base rate to 0.75%, its highest level since March 2009.

Data from Experian shows that just 10% of those shopping for mortgages throughout August were looking at tracker deals, down from more than a third (38%) in July. Interest in fixed-term deals remains high, with 38% looking at those products, up from 36% in July.The figures suggest that the rise in Base Rate put-off potential home buyers from viewing a tracker deal as an attractive option for their home loan.

Research from Experian revealed that the latest rise will add around £400 a year in mortgage payments to those with on tracker and standard variable rate (SVR) deals, based on a 20-year, £250,000 loan.
In August, the company announced it would be offering mortgage eligibility to customers, giving potential home owners the opportunity to find out which mortgages they are likely to be accepted for and how much they could borrow, based on lenders’ criteria.

Meanwhile, further analysis of data from Experian found that consumers looking to get away for the summer have been looking to borrow more than £4,000 to fund their holiday.

Consumers shopping in May, June and July have been looking to borrow £4,305 on average in order to pay for their summer break.

Amir Goshtai, managing director of Experian Marketplace & Affinity, said: “The fall in searches for tracker mortgages suggests people are nervous about further rate rises, so are instead looking at fixed deals to given themselves more certainty. “We hope that our mortgage eligibility feature will help people more quickly decide more quickly what the right mortgage is for them, particularly when so many people are still on standard variable rate mortgages and could be paying significantly less.”

Regulation, innovation and emigration: LinkedIn data shows how the recession and Brexit have changed financial services

Ten years on from the onset of the global financial crisis, LinkedIn has analysed data from its 25million UK members to build a comprehensive picture of the evolution of financial services roles.

The data reveals how regulation, developments in technology and the EU Referendum vote have been key drivers impacting where and how people work in the sector.

Above all, there’s good news for jobs: since a low in hiring activity in the summer of 2016, coinciding with the Brexit vote, hiring in financial services has been slowly but steadily increasing. LinkedIn’s data shows that the hiring rate in July 2018 was up 8% compared to July 2017.

The latest LinkedIn UK Workforce Report includes LinkedIn’s data as well as findings from a ‘Recruiter Sentiment’ survey of over 600 HR professionals across the UK. It identifies three trends:

Financial services hiring more workers from other sectors, responding to regulation and technical change.

Automation and regulation have led to changes to job roles in financial services. Looking at the top five job roles being hired for, sales and customer facing roles have experienced the biggest decline in new hires during the past five years. Meanwhile, demand for new hires in legal and software roles has increased.

British financial services firms are also becoming more diverse in terms of career background and finding new sources of talent. The percentage of new hires from other finance companies has dropped by 7.1% since 2013. Hires from professional services firms are up 25.3% over the same period and, coinciding with the increase in demand for more technical skills, the percentage of new hires from Software and IT services is up 18.1%.

Emerging technologies are driving demand for new skills, but supply is lacking.

Beyond the immediate consequences of 2008, other forces have been at work, notably the growth of the UK as a fintech hub. The Recruiter Sentiment survey showed that over half (51%) of UK recruiters have seen an increase in demand from financial services businesses to hire candidates with Artificial Intelligence (AI) skills over the past five years, a 49% increase in demand for cryptocurrency skills and 46% for blockchain.

However, when it comes to hiring candidates with these emerging tech skills in financial services, 55% of UK recruiters and hiring managers are struggling to fill roles according to the Recruiter Sentiment survey, saying there are a greater number of jobs than available candidates with the right skills. This is most acute in the Midlands, where 63% say they can’t find the right employees.

With the rise of fintech, traditional first choice employers have lost some of their appeal: with 32% of UK recruiters and hiring managers saying that traditional banks are now less attractive to candidates.

Less migration into the UK is seeing a greater share of finance jobs filled by UK educated workers.

The third key factor in the changing face of UK finance has been migration. As LinkedIn data and official statistics have shown, migration from the EU and the rest of the world has declined, and finance has seen an impact.

UK educated workers have taken a larger share of new financial services hires in recent years, but it’s not a straightforward case of fewer professionals arriving from abroad.

The number of new hires in the financial services sector educated in the UK is rising, from 76.4% in 2013, compared to 78.6% in 2017. At the same time, the share of UK-based financial services workers receiving their first university degree in the EU has fallen (from 14.4% in 2013-14 to 12.4% in 2017-18).

Josh Graff, UK Country Manager at LinkedIn, comments: “The financial services sector has reinvented itself since the crash. The pace and scale of change has been tremendous and is reflected in the huge demand for emerging tech skills and increasing competition for talent from disruptors. It’s good to see that the industry is adapting by looking for new sources of talent outside of itself, but business leaders also need to think about how the current workforce can be retained and upskilled in order to keep up with the pace of change.”

Graff continues: “Over the last five years, the UK financial services industry has become a less attractive proposition for international professionals, and this accelerated after the Brexit vote. With an ever-growing skills gap, this should be a warning sign for the UK’s financial services industry and its ability to continue serving as a growth engine for the UK economy. It’s crucial that we attract and retain talent from elsewhere in the world in order to bring new skills and knowledge to such a vital part of the UK workforce.”

The LinkedIn Workforce Report is designed to provide members, businesses and policymakers with evidence-based insights into the changing shape of the UK workforce. This month the report includes the results of an independent ‘Recruiter Sentiment’ survey that gauges UK-based in-house and agency recruiters’ confidence in their ability to fill available roles.

Cybereason Announces its Newest Customer V12 Retail Finance

Cybereason, creators of the leading cybersecurity AI Hunting Platform, today announced that V12 Retail Finance, one of the leading retail finance providers, is now a customer.

V12 Retail Finance provides retail point of sale finance for more than 2,000 retailers in the UK through its innovative online platform. It has seen significant growth over the past 5 years, expanding its Cardiff based workforce from 30 to 220 staff and growing approved loans to almost £750m in the last 12 months.

“Cybereason’s unique, innovative and easy-to-use solution is unlike others on the market and its innovative approach is one of the biggest reasons why we chose to use its AI Hunting Platform,” said Matt Hatton, IT Director at V12 Retail Finance. “Our employees, customers and partners are connecting multiple devices from disparate locations to our network making it a challenge to protect our business. Cybereason is the only company we spoke to that has the ability to meet our security challenges as we continue our rapid growth.”

“V12 Retail Finance has joined our growing list of international customers and we couldn’t be happier as we continue our EMEA expansion,” said Sam Schofield, Regional Vice President, Cybereason. “V12 sees the value in our award-winning AI Hunting Platform and our ability to stop increasingly sophisticated threat actors. Relying on yesterday’s technologies will not get the job done, and we’re excited to see our approach and perseverance recognized by V12.”

Cybereason is one of the fastest growing technology companies in the world. Founded in 2012 by Div and co-founders Yossi Naar and Yonatan Striem-Amit, Cybereason has exploded from a three-person team to more than 350 employees globally.

Bibby Financial Services announces new support for UK importers

Global financial services provider, Bibby Financial Services (BFS), has extended its Trade Finance proposition enabling UK importers to pay overseas suppliers in advance of goods being manufactured and shipped.

Under standard Trade Finance arrangements, suppliers are paid when title ownership is transferred from supplier to customer – ordinarily following shipping. BFS’s new prepayment feature facilitates deposits and full payments for international and domestic suppliers earlier in the trade process.

Managing Director of Trade Finance at BFS, Phil Tobin says the development will allow importers to consider a wider range of suppliers and ease cashflow pressure.

Phil said: “Offering prepayments and deposits in this way is unique and will enable importers to access funding to pay suppliers earlier in the cycle, alleviating cashflow pressure and enhancing their bargaining power.

“Critically, this will allow UK businesses the freedom to find new supply chains and to increase overseas trade at a time when many SMEs are considering how to protect profit margins amid the uncertainty of Brexit.”

According the IMF and the Bankers Association for Finance & Trade, over a quarter of global trade transactions (27%) involve cash-in-advance[i]. Through its enhanced service, BFS provides supplier deposits or full prepayment via ExWorks transactions.

Phil Tobin commented: “Many of our clients tell us that supply-chain relationships have changed since the referendum. Now, with just six months to go before the UK’s formal EU divorce, businesses need to be as versatile as possible to adapt to this changing environment.

“This development gives importers the option to work with international suppliers they may not have had access to before and can strengthen the relationships they have with existing suppliers. Furthermore, businesses will be able to negotiate early payment discounts with suppliers as a result of full or partial payment earlier in the trade cycle.”

The UK’s trade deficit narrowed to £1.86bn in June from £3.14bn in the previous month. Exports increased by 2.7 per cent to £52.41bn and imports rose by 0.2 per cent to £54.27bn.

Phil Tobin added: “While exporting undoubtedly presents growth opportunities for the UK, importing is an equally important form of international trade, which is often overlooked. Importing is a vital means of efficiency and growth for millions of businesses and supply chains throughout the world so it is critical that the public and private sector can do everything they can to support international trade, particularly given the backdrop of Brexit.”

Henry Howard Finance makes further senior appointments

Two new key appointments have been made at one of the UK’s leading independent funder, Henry Howard Finance to help support the independent funder’s continued growth.

Marie Dunkley and Charlie Ryley join the firm to strengthen its commitment to expanding its equipment finance offering.

Marie Dunkley, from Bristol, joins Henry Howard Finance as Head of Vendor, Hard Asset Finance, to create a new vendor-led asset finance stream from her role of UK sales director for construction, transport and industrial at DLL De Lage Landen.

Prior to this, Marie held senior roles at Hitachi Capital and GE Capital and has previously won the NSA Sales Director of the Year Award.

Ms Dunkley said: “I’m delighted to join Henry Howard Finance – the company’s forward-thinking approach, customer-centric ideals and growing own-book lending is an exciting journey that I’m keen to be part of as they establish a stronger presence in vendor asset finance.”

Charlie Ryley, from Cardiff, also joins Henry Howard Finance’s innovative vendor finance team as an account manager under the leadership of Gyles Thompson, after spending time in a role at Pinnacle Telecom (Wales) Ltd.

Mr Ryley said: “A major priority for Henry Howard Finance is to ensure all customers are provided with the best possible service. Previous roles have set me up well for that challenge and I’m really pleased to be joining such as innovative company that continually puts the customers first.”

Henry Howard Finance has supported more than 30,000 companies across the UK and recently celebrated a year-on-year increase of 50 per cent in own-book lending.

Commenting on the appointments, Mark Catton, CEO of Henry Howard Finance, said: “I am thrilled to be welcoming Marie and Charlie into our team. We continue to enjoy success across our markets and we are very pleased to have their experience to help us manage this growth and build high quality customer relationships.”