Finance sector ‘wide open’ to cyber-attack boom due to rise in remote working, experts warn

The finance sector is in danger of a surge in cyber-attacks due to a sharp rise in staff using unsecured networks for work, experts have warned.

Employees are increasingly using unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots while working, leaving businesses “extremely vulnerable” to hackers, they fear.

Leading national business group The Federation of Small Business (FSB) and UK cyber security specialist Linten Technologies said the emergence of remote working and the convenience of public networks made cyber-breaches “incredibly simple” to achieve.

“You are never far from an unsecured network – whether at a hotel, café, train station or airport,” says Robert Downes, FSB development manager for Greater Manchester.

“Combine that with remote working pushing more financial service employees onto unsecured networks, and the concern is businesses across the UK are leaving themselves wide open to cybercrime.

“Many employees just don’t realise just how risky public Wi-Fi access points are, but they are very easily hacked and make using them a no-no. The simple analogy I’ve heard from experts before is that if you found an open bottle of beer on the bar on a night out, you wouldn’t dream of drinking it just because it’s there. The same goes for free Wi-Fi.”

PwC’s Remote Work Survey revealed 61% of CFOs in the financial sector were planning to make remote working “permanent for roles that allow it”, while the number of worldwidepublic Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to reach 628 million in 2023.

The financial services industry is one of the most vulnerable – and targeted – industries for cybercrime through unsecured networks.

In 2018, financial services industry incurred the most cybercrime costs at £16million ($18.3 m).

On average, a financial services employee has access to nearly 11m files the day they walk in the door. For large organisations, employees have access to 20m files.

In 2020, IBM published a report stating that the average cost of a financial services data breach is now £5m ($5.85m).

“The risk to financial services companies is huge,” says Steven Allan, CEO and founder of Manchester-headquartered IT services provider Linten Technologies.

“With 44% of UK adults believing that public Wi-Fi is ‘safe’, the use of unsecured networks is literally giving cybercriminals the keys to the kingdom.

“A staggering 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. So, the first thing businesses need to do is educate employees about the dangers of unsecured networks.

“We advise our clients that it is safer to hotspot from your phone using mobile data, than join an unsecured network if you’re out and about.

“Another simple security measure to adopt is multifactor authentication (MFA). This is vital for any good cyber security plan, yet only 46% of SMEs have implemented the technology.

“Use a trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. By using a VPN when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, you’ll be encrypting all of your data that passes through the network.

“The cost of being proactive and prepared is significantly cheaper than dealing with the aftermath of an attack.”

Data breaches cost SMEs an average of nearly £2.6m ($3m) per incident, according to a recent IBM Data Breach Report.

“Only visit websites with a HTTPS connection as this will ensure that you are browsing on trustworthy and secure website,” Allan added.

“Turn off sharing on your device. This will ensure that the things you usually connect to or share on a secure network aren’t discoverable.

“Ensure you have the relevant security infrastructure in place, such as an antivirus to ensure that you are protected against viruses and malware.”

Financial institutions’ sentiment towards the economy deteriorates but outlook for own sector proves more optimistic

UK financial institutions’ outlook for the economy has deteriorated this year with 7% believing that UK economic growth will improve in the next 12 months, compared to 88% in 2021.

The biggest contributors to their outlook are record levels of inflation (70%), the cost-of-living crisis (63%) and heightened geopolitical tensions (30%).

The findings are included in Lloyds Bank’s seventh annual Financial Institutions Sentiment Survey, which gathers views from major banks, asset and wealth management firms, insurers and intermediaries across the UK.

However, firms’ outlook for their own sector was more optimistic. While 12% believe the financial services sector’s growth will improve in the next year, the majority (51%) still expect growth to remain broadly unchanged against a backdrop of economic uncertainty.

Financial services firms are using their strong position to support customers.

More than half (53%) of firms have taken steps to address the impact of inflation on customers, including through changes to products and services (25%), the provision of non-financial support and guidance (20%) and more flexible payment and repayment terms (17%).

UK financial institutions also want the government to focus on making the sector more competitive internationally through the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which was introduced to Parliament in July.

When asked which part of the Bill should be prioritised, updating regulation to ensure a greater focus on growth and global competitiveness was firms’ most popular (59%) response.

Adrian Walkling, head of financial services at Lloyds Bank Corporate and Institutional Banking, said: “Our survey shows that many firms believe the UK now has a unique opportunity to enhance its position as a world leader in financial services.

“Whatever framework of UK-EU regulatory co-operation the government opts for, if competitiveness remains a focus, alongside consumer protections and other vital priorities, I’m confident that our sector will continue to support economic prosperity across the UK.”

Adrian Walkling added: “The UK is navigating another challenging period, so it’s not surprising to see financial institutions’ economic outlook worsen after recovering in 2021.

“What’s clear, however, is that despite this difficult climate, firms are on a relatively confident footing. The sector remains one of the UK’s biggest employers and will continue to invest, lend and innovate to keep the economy moving forward.”

The Business Continuity Emergency

2021 marked a dramatic step change in global climate conditions, with a significant increase in the incidence and severity of extreme weather events resulting in flooding, hurricanes and heatwaves across the globe. The UK and Europe experienced the hottest summers on record during the past three years. This year’s extreme, record-breaking heatwave in July took the UK climate beyond 40 degrees Celsius, and posed serious threats to UK infrastructure.

This ongoing and accelerating trend is now sadly locked into the Earth’s system for decades to come. In Western Europe, heatwaves are increasing in frequency, at about three times faster, and in intensity, four times faster, than in other midlatitude regions according to a recent study. This is having a knock-on impact for business, as evidenced by July’s West London data centre outages for Google and Oracle Cloud and heatwave related IT issues for NHS Trusts. The need for C-suites to consider climate-related events as a serious risk to business continuity can no longer be seen as a problem of the future.

But climate related events are not the only threat on the C-suites agenda right now. The ongoing energy crisis and reports of potential blackouts later this year and into early next year pose an imminent threat to business continuity and spark the need for urgent action and planning to maintain operational resilience.

The Cost of Inaction

For organisations globally, whether it is caused by extreme weather events or geopolitically fuelled energy crises blackouts, the threat to business continuity is significant and growing. Be it a blackout, or even the complete destruction of IT infrastructure, the costs of redundancy of power and systems cannot be underestimated.

In a recent survey, 91% of organisations associated a single hour of downtime to more than £300,000 in damages — an estimation that only continues to rise, and which spells out not just revenue loss but business closure for the vast majority. A loss of data for ten days has driven many otherwise robust businesses to bankruptcy in recent years. Therefore, the predictions of a reasonable worst-case scenario potentially resulting in a UK wide four-day blackout this winter is a serious threat not only to business continuity, but the entire organisation.

Today, to sidestep the devastating impact of data loss and protect your critical applications from unplanned downtime, having a disaster recovery plan in place is a fundamental necessity that could mean the difference between survival or closure. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) enables organisations to replicate all IT workloads and applications from public or private clouds, for both virtual and physical environments at a highly effective price point.

It takes just one incident to cripple an organisation. So, a tested business continuity plan is a vital step to ensuring the long-term viability for your business.

Future Proofing with Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery is a critical area of IT infrastructure security, which seeks to cover critical applications and data from the impact of unpredictable events like hardware failure, cybercrime, and natural disasters. It enables businesses to maintain data and vital functions when such incidents occur.

It is important to sync disaster recovery plans to your business’ requirements. In protecting mission-critical functions, IT leaders must assess and factor in how much data could be lost, as well as the eventual impact and cost to both the business and clients. It includes replicating IT workloads and applications for both physical and virtual environments. Many businesses can choose to begin the process by looking at the planning and implementation practices in the cloud and enlisting a cloud service provider from the outset.

Preparing your Business for Disaster Events

From design through to implementation, businesses should look for an experienced disaster recovery partner that provides an end-to-end service, capabilities and support and, as priority, a flexible and individual solution to meet the specific recovery requirements of the business.

Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) enables organisations to replicate all IT workloads and applications from public or private clouds, for both virtual and physical environments. Built-in security and data protection can be customised according to business requirements and the specific geographical conditions. Legacy systems must also be factored in, with partners that can provide guidance on whether it is preferable to relocate to the cloud, or to collocate. The right partner will look to model your environment, to ensure application performance requirements are met before DRaaS deployment.

Simple cloud management that provides detailed security, compliance performance updates and billing information is also critical. Therefore, organisations should look for a platform that provides unified management, control and visibility across all applications and resources. Additionally, a platform that can deliver seamless integration and experience across software solutions like Veeam and VMware, as well as comprehensive security and, critically, compliance directly into your console.

Finally, a simplified recovery strategy and capability, that enables the business to restore from backups and replicate data to another secure cloud, is essential. This will enable the organisation to trigger a live ‘failover’ in their environment when disaster hits. Here, a multi-cloud strategy and a provider that optimises network flexibility is the best option, as it will enable continued network access for end users during a failover event or network downtime. Beyond this, multi-layered security that can be purpose-selected across the recovery environment and can be directly integrated into your console for ease of use and visibility, will enable authentication, identification of vulnerabilities, encryption and security threats, and easy on-demand reporting.

Incidents Can Happen Any Time – Day or Night

A final point to consider when selecting a disaster recovery partner is whether they provide robust around-the-clock support engineers. From on-boarding to ongoing operations and, should the worst happen, failover, it is essential to have access to an experienced team who can guide you every step of the way, resolving issues quickly and with minimum impact to business.

With the newly mandated climate related disclosure now moving to the top of the boardroom agenda in the UK, demonstrating this capability will become the yardstick by which clients measure partners, and a fundamental premise of future business success.

Just 1 in 5 female students are considering a career in the data industry

Only one fifth of women studying at degree level are currently thinking about pursuing a career working in data, a new study from Experian has revealed.

The research, which surveyed 1,204 UK consumers in education, found that most female students are put off because the don’t think they have the right set of skills, with nearly half (48 per cent) suggesting they’d ruled out this career path due to a lack of confidence with science or maths.

To raise awareness of the opportunities available to students of all backgrounds, Experian has partnered with The Data inspiration Group to support its Digdata initiative, a programme of bite-sized, virtual work-experience challenges, live online career panels and classroom resources. Digdata is designed for all students in secondary and tertiary education, as well as teaching staff and career leaders.

Promisingly, Experian’s survey showed that there is appetite amongst younger female students to learn more about careers in data. Over two fifths (46 per cent) of young women studying at further education level (such as A-Levels) say the curriculum should be updated so students learn how data and maths can address some of society’s major challenges, such as the climate crisis.

Many female university students also see the benefits of a career working in data. Among those definitely open to pursuing tech as a career path, 36 per cent think that such jobs may pay more, while 30 per cent say they have been inspired by someone they know working in the field.

However, education institutions and companies still clearly need to do more. Only 31 per cent of women at degree level have noticed ads for data-related roles on social media.

Rachel Duncan, Chief People Officer at Experian UK&I, said: “The world is changing rapidly, and data is at the heart of this transformation. Career paths across a wide spectrum, from fashion design to sports coaching, finance, and marketing, now require an element of data engineering expertise. Demand for ‘data professionals’ has tripled in last five years alone.

“Despite this trend, there are still barriers to overcome and government, education institutions and businesses need to work together to develop key skills and raise awareness about how a career working with data can offer a great career path for young people, from all backgrounds.

“The UK has an opportunity to be a world leader in data. By working on projects like Digdata we hope to be able to build confidence, enhance skills and generate more diversity in our workforce, embracing the opportunities that our digital economy presents and developing the next generation of talent.”

Rachel Keane, Founder and Chief Data Inspirer at Digdata, said: “In line with the government plan to ‘level up’ UK employment opportunities, coupled with the national shortage of data professionals, The Data Inspiration Group and the Digdata programme aims to help students upskill and develop their competency.

“As data teams increase their roles and influence, the skills they are looking for in prospective employees go beyond numeracy. The industry needs creative problem solvers, inquisitive thinkers, and good communicators – skills that are transferable from all curriculum subjects and that are relevant to multiple industry sectors.

“We want students from all backgrounds and academic abilities know that a career in data is a choice available to them.”

CSS Training Academy closes in on 400 successful graduates

Countrywide Surveying Services (CSS), one of the leading suppliers of valuation panel management services, has announced that a further 13 trainees have successfully graduated as AssocRICS surveyors to take the total number passing through the Countrywide Training Academy to almost 400.

Led by Sam Holton, Head of Trainee Development at Countrywide Surveying Services, assisted by Sarah Chalmers-Stevens and Richard Bennett, this represents another successful batch of trainees. The trainees have come from all different professional backgrounds to bring a diverse range of knowledge and expertise to the business.

With the increased number of submission windows now introduced by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), CSS are submitting candidates every quarter enabling the business to extend their trainee programme and increase the number of trainees employed. CSS are currently recruiting for the next intake of trainees who are due to start in November.

Matthew Cumber, managing director of Countrywide Surveying Services, said: “Our training academy really is the foundation of CSS and it continues to go from strength to strength in terms of attracting the best quality applicants and in developing a training programme which arms trainees with the best possible chance of forging a highly successful career within the surveying sector.

“It’s always a proud moment to see our trainees graduate as this is not an easy journey. They have all worked incredibly hard and embraced the challenge wholeheartedly. A special mention and big thank you also goes out to the mentors who have dedicated their time onsite to the trainees development.”

Just 1 in 5 female students are considering a career in the data industry

Only one fifth of women studying at degree level are currently thinking about pursuing a career working in data, a new study from Experian has revealed.

The research, which surveyed 1,204 UK consumers in education, found that most female students are put off because the don’t think they have the right set of skills, with nearly half (48 per cent) suggesting they’d ruled out this career path due to a lack of confidence with science or maths.

To raise awareness of the opportunities available to students of all backgrounds, Experian has partnered with The Data inspiration Group to support its Digdata initiative, a programme of bite-sized, virtual work-experience challenges, live online career panels and classroom resources. Digdata is designed for all students in secondary and tertiary education, as well as teaching staff and career leaders.

Promisingly, Experian’s survey showed that there is appetite amongst younger female students to learn more about careers in data. Over two fifths (46 per cent) of young women studying at further education level (such as A-Levels) say the curriculum should be updated so students learn how data and maths can address some of society’s major challenges, such as the climate crisis.

Many female university students also see the benefits of a career working in data. Among those definitely open to pursuing tech as a career path, 36 per cent think that such jobs may pay more, while 30 per cent say they have been inspired by someone they know working in the field.

However, education institutions and companies still clearly need to do more. Only 31 per cent of women at degree level have noticed ads for data-related roles on social media.

Rachel Duncan, Chief People Officer at Experian UK&I, said: “The world is changing rapidly, and data is at the heart of this transformation. Career paths across a wide spectrum, from fashion design to sports coaching, finance, and marketing, now require an element of data engineering expertise. Demand for ‘data professionals’ has tripled in last five years alone.

“Despite this trend, there are still barriers to overcome and government, education institutions and businesses need to work together to develop key skills and raise awareness about how a career working with data can offer a great career path for young people, from all backgrounds.

“The UK has an opportunity to be a world leader in data. By working on projects like Digdata we hope to be able to build confidence, enhance skills and generate more diversity in our workforce, embracing the opportunities that our digital economy presents and developing the next generation of talent.”

Rachel Keane, Founder and Chief Data Inspirer at Digdata, said: “In line with the government plan to ‘level up’ UK employment opportunities, coupled with the national shortage of data professionals, The Data Inspiration Group and the Digdata programme aims to help students upskill and develop their competency.

“As data teams increase their roles and influence, the skills they are looking for in prospective employees go beyond numeracy. The industry needs creative problem solvers, inquisitive thinkers, and good communicators – skills that are transferable from all curriculum subjects and that are relevant to multiple industry sectors.

“We want students from all backgrounds and academic abilities know that a career in data is a choice available to them.”

The Importance of Digital Resilience in an Uncertain World

Today we live in a ‘VUCA’ world full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. As enterprise leaders make plans to ensure the business is ready for whatever the future brings, they face multiple challenges on every level.

As a result, many organisations are talking about how to make their business more ‘digitally resilient’. This is about understanding the true relationship between the technology that we are now all so dependent upon and IT risk. Over the past decade, the world has witnessed massive digital transformation; the net result is more interconnected systems, a larger business ecosystem and an even greater reliance on internet communications. Employees now access work from anywhere via mobile devices, and servers that were once on-premises now exist in the cloud.

Therefore, enterprise organisations’ daily dependence on technology is not only all-encompassing, but also growing deeper and even more fundamental to its operations. There is no way of slowing this continuing digital transformation.

Nearly Five Billion Internet Users

To put this into context, in January 2022 there were 4.95 billion internet users, according to DataReportal. More people online means higher demand for network bandwidth, agility, flexibility, and security. Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic proved that a virtual workplace is possible.

However, it has also highlighted that a work-from-home setup is not always ideal from a security perspective. Many enterprise organisations are opting for a hybrid model and adapting their workplace, not only for health reasons but also for efficiency and cost reduction benefits.

Keen to understand the impact of all the challenges enterprise organisations now face, we commissioned research at the start of 2022, which investigated various issues around digital resilience, cloud adoption, security and how enterprises were planning to work both now and in the future.

We surveyed over 2,500 organisations from a variety of vertical markets including financial services, education, government, gaming, utilities, healthcare and retail and eCommerce. It was interesting to see how the different sectors are evolving and to compare both the similarities and the differences.

What Are Enterprises Most Concerned About?

When it comes to digital transformation, one industry at the forefront is retail and eCommerce. Alongside the digitisation of business applications and internal processes, retail organisations have seen much of their in-store, consumer-facing business move online. The organisations that prioritise consumer-friendly, convenient online offerings are seeing an exponential growth in e-commerce sales, which grew between two and five times faster than before the pandemic.

It was interesting, therefore, when we asked retail and eCommerce respondents how concerned they are about the organisation’s digital resilience and readiness to cope with various challenges, they were most concerned about their agile development and DevOps capabilities (95%), and how they would support staff remotely (95.5%) as well as managing the move from IPv4 to Ipv6 (95%).

Supporting staff remotely was also a key concern for finance sector respondents (96%) when asked the same question. This sector is witnessing ever-growing competition as traditional banks compete against digital neobanks and try to keep pace with consumer demands.

This often means they are rushing to deploy new technologies that enable frictionless digital experiences and increase customer value. The has resulted in more application services, which has created a dramatic increase in the viable attack surface for hackers. It is no wonder that this sector said the optimisation of security tools for competitive advantage (97%) was a top concern.

Gaming and utilities respondents were both least concerned about remote access (89%). Education sector respondents were most concerned about future resilience and responsiveness to external changes (95%).

How Is This Affecting Networks?

Looking at the impact that the exponential growth in online services is having on network traffic, our research showed the gaming sector had the highest average growth of all verticals, reporting a 52.6% increase in traffic. The education sector also experienced high growth, at 49.8%, however the average growth was surprisingly low for retail respondents (41.1%).

This could be due to retailers having gradually been moving infrastructure online for several years, whereas education establishments have had to suddenly pivot to offering online services during the pandemic.

Digital resiliency is more than network uptime, and lost revenue isn’t the only price to pay. As more and more services have gone online, most industries handle large amounts of highly personal information, including payment details.

This data is a lucrative target for cybercriminals. In October 2021, UK supermarket giant, Tesco, was in the midst of an e-commerce spike that saw 1.3 million online orders per week when it suffered an attempted cyber-attack. The company recovered quickly, but the incident took down the company’s website and app for nearly 48 hours, which resulted in significant potential revenue loss and impacted its loyal buyers. Commentators highlighted that a similar period of downtime before the pandemic would have had significantly less impact, exemplifying the growing need for digital resiliency.

Security is clearly top of mind for all the verticals surveyed. However, when asked about their biggest concern when it comes to cyberthreats, ransomware scored highest for utilities at 14.5%. Any downtime in this industry could mean the lights literally going out. Loss of sensitive data was the highest concern for the gaming and education sectors (20.5% and 20% respectively).

Interestingly – and perhaps counterintuitively for a sector that risks the wrath of gamers when networks are disrupted – the gaming sector scored the impact on brand and reputation as its lowest concern out of all the sectors surveyed.

Automating In-Person Tasks

When asked what technologies respondents had implemented in the past 12 months, AI and machine learning were high across all the verticals but highest in government and retail and eCommerce. This is not surprising as both sectors look to automate in-person tasks with AI tools.

Growing businesses, particularly those expanding geographically, need to ensure that their IT infrastructure is flexible and able to cope with a hybrid workforce. Here, financial services and healthcare respondents predicted most of their workforce would return to the office, with only 12%, respectively, saying that the majority or all of their workforce would be remote. Overall, across all verticals, the preference was a return to the office with only 14% saying a minority or all of their workforce will work remotely.

As organisations prepare for the next wave of disruption, including responding to cyber-attacks, keeping the enterprise environment secure, and accommodating remote workers, digital resilience will be the watchword.

By Adrian Taylor, Regional VP at A10 Networks

Computershare Loan Services and The DPS support national youth homelessness charity Depaul UK for second year

Computershare Loan Services and The Deposit Protection Service (The DPS) have awarded £40,000 to national youth homelessness charity Depaul UK for the second year running.

The organisations said the donation would help the charity continue to tackle the root causes of homelessness and improve financial wellbeing among young people aged 16-25.

Nicola Harwood, Director of Prevention and Programmes at Depaul UK, said: “Another year of significant funding from Computershare will enable us to continue working with young people who are particularly vulnerable to becoming homeless.

“Young homeless people have complex needs that require a package of support to help them overcome a number of issues, including family breakdown, bereavement, mental health or a history of abuse.

“This substantial donation will help to provide our clients with the right tools and support to enable them to enter adulthood on more stable financial foundations.”

Computershare said the donation will go towards Depaul’s national employability programme called “Steps to Success”, which equips young people with the skills and knowledge to secure and maintain education, training or meaningful employment.

The donation will also contribute to the organisation’s money management project, which helps young people better navigate their finances and benefits through financial literacy workshops and one-to-one conversations so they can improve their money management skills.

Andrew Jones, Chief Executive Officer at Computershare Loan Services, said: “Along with our sister organisation The DPS, we wanted to renew our significant support for a charity that is working to improve financial literacy and young people’s overall financial health during these difficult times.

“We are delighted to support Depaul which has shown unwavering commitment to some of the most vulnerable in society.”

Matt Trevett, Managing Director at The DPS, which is also part of the Computershare Group, said: “The DPS has consistently supported charities helping those experiencing housing and homelessness issues.

“We’re proud to continue to support the vital work Depaul carries out in this area.”

The DPS, the UK’s largest protector of rent deposits, has protected more than seven million rent securities since 2007 through its free and easy-to-use custodial scheme.

Computershare Loan Services is the UK’s largest third-party mortgage servicer, specialising in loan administration and large data management to help mortgage lenders and investors optimise their portfolios.

The DPS and Computershare Loan Services have together provided around half a million pounds to charities in these respective fields since 2014.

The DPS and Computershare Loan Services Charity Fund, which focuses on charities local to the organisations’ offices, is also set to make donations in Yorkshire, Derry, Bristol and Sunderland this year.

Specialist lender’s end of year results show loan book growth to £5.2bilion

Together, one of the UK’s leading specialist mortgage and secured loan providers for businesses and individuals has announced its results for the year to 30 June 2022.

The group, which is based in Cheadle, Greater Manchester, has seen a 30.8% increase in its net loan book from £4billion last year to £5.2billion.

Average monthly lending increased from £97.6million last year to £226.8million, a huge growth of 132.5%. The financial provider’s new lending exceeded £300million in May, growing to £304.1 in June. Overall, the group’s underlying profit before tax increased by 8.7%, from £149.7million to £162.7million.

Gerald Grimes, Group CEO Designate at Together said: “We’ve delivered another very strong performance this year; achieved in a controlled and sustainable way and in line with our strategy. “With the UK’s economic outlook becoming more uncertain, many more customers may find themselves underserved by mainstream lenders  and turning to specialist lenders such as ourselves to help solve problems and realise opportunities.

“Together remains well placed to help increasing numbers of customers to realise their ambitions and to play our part in supporting the UK economy.”

Mr Grimes also added that Together has “developed a comprehensive ESG strategy”, recognising the importance of the group’s environmental and social responsibilities and publishing the group’s first Sustainability Report setting out its approach to sustainability. Together has identified targets and measures for four key priority areas; our planet, our customers, our colleagues and our community, which are all underpinned by strong governance. In addition, Together has devised a Diversity and Inclusion strategy, committing to targets focused on gender, age, ethnicity and disability to be reached by 2026.

He added: “Overall, we continued to make great progress in implementing our strategic agenda to deliver transformational change, drive efficiency benefits and further enhance the experience for all our customers and create an agile and rapidly scalable platform to set the business up for the next phase of its growth.”

Redwood Bank achieves final goal in football event

A specialist bank has proved to be a winner on the football pitch as well as in the business arena after securing a final spot in a national football competition.

Letchworth-based Redwood Bank, which reported its first profit earlier this year, is celebrating after its five-a-side team scored a success.

Last year, the side was knocked out in the Business Fives Champions League semi-finals in Leicester, but came bouncing back this season to secure a spot in the National Final after a round-robin event in London.

Unfortunately, they were pipped to the London title by PGIM Investments who beat them 3-2.

Graham Reynolds, Redwood Bank’s Director of ESG, said: “Our guys have done an amazing job of reaching the National Final. In the last round in London, they even beat one team 11-1.

“They are showing the same skills on the pitch that we expect from everyone at Redwood Bank…determination, professionalism, commitment and passion.”

The national Business Fives brings together companies in a novel networking setting and helps raise money for charity at the same time. To date, £380,000 has been raised for UK organisations.

The Bank will now compete against 14 other qualifiers with a donation to its charity of the year, PoetsIN up for grabs.

Mr Reynolds said: “Activities like Business Fives are so important for the Bank to help demonstrate its responsibility to the community. The event provides a great opportunity for us to meet other business professionals, but it also means that our charity of the year receives a boost.

“We will now be encouraging the Redwood Bank family to get behind the players when they represent us in October’s finals.”