Lightbulb Leadership Solutions On A Mission To Help Organisation’s Retain Talent With The Launch Of The Menopause Maze

Manchester-based Lightbulb Leadership Solutions has launched its ground-breaking Menopause Maze ™ programme to assist companies to improve how they handle this time of transition to retain their female talent.

Throughout menopause awareness month in October, it has become more apparent that this transition can have a huge effect on a woman’s mental and physical health, opportunities, and career choices.  With over 1 in 6 women in the workplace falling into the over 50+ age category and making up the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace, this presents a huge challenge for employers.

New statistics are showing that the lack of workplace support and development during menopause is causing women to take extended periods of time off work, pass on promotion opportunities and even resign.

Lightbulb Managing Director, Fiona McKay, has worked with organisation’s all over the world and has seen this scenario repeated time and again. This is why the Menopause Maze ™ programme was developed. It goes way beyond policies and procedures and gets to the root of the problem, equipping women, their managers and the entire organisations with an evidence-based approach and set of proven tools based on the findings of her research called ‘Why Feedback Holds Women Back’ and the supporting FeedbackFirst ™ formula.

Initially, the FeedbackFirst ™ formula was developed from Fiona McKay’s research to show to organisations the effect of gender-biased feedback in the workplace – how it feeds the gender pay gap, affects women’s opportunities to gain access to equal leadership roles and affects their earning and promotion opportunities.

Lightbulb’s research has shown that 60% of performance analysis contains criticism for men, but this figure increased to a staggering 91% for women. Women are more likely to be assessed on their personality rather than their performance and this holds them back at work. During menopause, where symptoms can potentially cause personality changes, it doubles the disadvantage for women.

Fiona commented “My new research shows that women working through menopause get the worst type of feedback that there is, and that’s no feedback at all.  This leads to them being overlooked, ignored, and discounted for development and promotion opportunities.  Companies need to get a grip on gender-biased feedback now if they want to retain talent, increase engagement, and improve top and bottom-line returns. And, if they are truly committed to workplaces with equal opportunities for men and women, now is the time for action.”

In addition to the Menopause Maze programme, Lightbulb is also launching its Menopause Maze Mentors training, which equips nominated individuals with a greater understanding of how menopause can affect work performance and help women and their managers to understand the importance of ridding the workplace of gender-biased feedback, so that women are not at a disadvantage, can forge ahead with their careers and be further supported in their wellbeing. In addition, they have also launched a Menopause Maze ™ brand standard which enables employers to be flag bearers of Lightbulb’s prestigious certification, showing to staff, new talent, suppliers, and prospects, that they provide a supportive and developmental approach to menopause across the whole of their organisation.

“Companies still have no idea of the effect and disadvantage that gender-biased feedback has on women.  Equally, they are missing out on unleashing the tremendous opportunity to retain, attract and develop female talent and by equipping women and their managers with our evidence-based methods they have the tools they need to succeed at speed, change conversations and ultimately improve commercial outcomes for women and their workplaces.”

Clearco signs first senior credit facility to help UK e-commerce founders meet rising inventory and supply chain costs

Clearco, the world’s largest e-commerce investor and the company revolutionizing the opportunities for founders to grow their businesses, today announced it had signed a £80M senior credit facility with Pollen Street Capital. The facility supports Clearco in providing fair and fast equity-free capital to UK e-commerce founders and is designed to help accelerate uptake in what has become the company’s second largest market outside of the US.

Clearco was established in 2015 and has provided more than £1.4bn of capital to over 5,500 small and medium businesses globally. The deal is the latest milestone on its journey to creating a diverse hub of growth products and services that effectively remove the barriers founders traditionally face, including providing growth capital in exchange for sharing future revenue. It is also Clearco’s first localized credit facility, representing a commitment to the UK as the company’s international growth continues to gather momentum.

“Clearco was created to make it fairer and easier for people to get the finance, data and guidance they need to accelerate the growth of their business. Today’s announcement is designed streamline the back end process and help to make our offering even more accessible to founders. It signals a new way of doing business for us as we expand globally, and means we can truly offer the most founder-friendly way forward,” explained Andrew D’Souza, Co-Founder and CEO of Clearco.

Small businesses in the UK have increasingly turned to challenger banks and alternative finance platforms, as traditional high street lenders have withdrawn from providing loans. These new providers now account for up to 50% of all financing for small and medium enterprises in Britain.

One of the factors driving Clearco’s uptake in the UK has been its unique ability to fuel entrepreneurship and opportunity outside of traditional networks and regions. Using an AI-powered algorithm, Clearco plugs into the apps that power e-commerce businesses to make a decision on financing of £10,000 to £10M within 24 hours. Because the company uses AI to automate its decision making process it is removing bias. Clearco funded eight times as many companies headed by female founders as traditional VC firms and 70% of its UK investments are in businesses outside of London.

“We are excited to partner with an innovative business such as Clearco and to become their first funding partner in the UK. This investment aligns strongly with Pollen Street’s commitment to investments that drive positive impact. Clearco is funding growing, productive businesses across the UK while removing bias out of investment decisions, thus changing the face of entrepreneurship in the UK and beyond,” said Michael Katramados, Partner, Pollen Street Capital.

DLA Piper partners with Game Changer Performance to deliver innovative health and fitness challenge for clients

DLA Piper has partnered with human performance specialists Game Changer Performance (GCP) to deliver a unique challenge for clients during the autumn months, focused on supporting their health and fitness.

With lawyers located in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, DLA Piper has offices and clients across the UK. Health & Performance experts GCP will be working 1:1 via their digital coaching platform to provide bespoke health and fitness programmes for the infrastructure clients who have signed up for the autumn challenge.

As well as having access to their own world class performance coach, DLA Piper’s clients will be able to: integrate their fitness wearables and apps so their coach can monitor physical activity, access bespoke workouts tailored each week for their individual needs with guidance from GCP’s comprehensive exercise video library, track their nutrition each day to ensure they are fuelling correctly, access a range of related health and fitness content to support their challenge each week and celebrate and share their successes via a group chat function.

The culmination of the challenge in December will see the clients attend a performance day at the Football Association’s National Football Centre, St George’s Park (SGP). The day will revolve around GCP’s multi-disciplinary team of human performance specialists, including physiotherapists, physical performance coaches, nutritionists and psychologists providing a range of workshops and 1:1s for the clients to engage with, focused on lifestyle, mindset and movement.

GCP’s Performance Coach Matthew Jones said, “This is a fantastic initiative by DLA to provide something meaningful and impactful for their clients. Getting access to high quality health and fitness support can be challenging as there is so much misinformation out there. By partnering with us at GCP, DLA can cut out the noise and confidently ensure that the programmes and guidance our team provides are of the highest quality for its clients.

“Our experience in working with professional athletes and teams shows that we are trusted to provide high quality human performance services to people whose profession depends on being at the peak of physical and mental performance. In working with DLA’s clients we will provide the exact same level of service and care to them to ensure that we are supporting their lifestyle, mindset and movement across the coming months; supporting both their physical and mental health. We’ve really enjoyed getting to know the team at DLA and we look forward to working with them and their clients over the next few months.”

DLA Piper Partner and International Head of Infrastructure Funds, Alison Fagan said, “We are always keen to engage with clients and to do so in innovative ways, so partnering with GCP to deliver a wellness based, team building initiative on a remote platform was a fabulous opportunity for us. We are all looking forward to jumping into the programme with our clients in the infrastructure industry and meeting at the end of the challenge at St George’s Park (a world class facility) to celebrate our success! We hope that this is the start of a really exciting engagement with our client base and something that we can expand in the future.”

Lantern agrees to acquire vulnerable customer management company Sonex Financial

Lantern, the Leeds-based leading player in the speciality finance debt purchase market, has agreed terms to acquire Sonex Financial, as it continues to deepen and broaden its offer in the UK market.

Based in Llanelli, West Wales, Sonex is an award winning and longstanding operator with a particular specialism working with vulnerable customers. Its clients include several of the Big Six energy companies in the UK, to which Sonex provides vulnerable customer-focused engagement and management services.

The acquisition by Lantern deepens its existing specialism and strong reputation for working with vulnerable customers, while expanding its market footprint into the utilities sector in particular. Following investment from financial services investor Copper Street Capital and rebranding as Lantern in 2018, the business has grown significantly, adding clients in the retail and banking sectors.

In total, Lantern now manages c3.5 million accounts. The company’s modern, bespoke approach provides a single customer view for each customer, which helps create sustainable repayment plans across multiple debts over appropriate lengths of time, with single communications creating a unique and appropriate customer journey.

Following the acquisition, Sonex’s existing management team will remain in place, with Co-founder and Director Stefan Russell moving to the position of Managing Director and reporting into Lantern Group CEO, Denise Crossley.

Commenting on the acquisition of Sonex, Denise Crossley, Group CEO of Lantern said: “Today represents an exciting and logical next step in growing and deepening our business. We’ve long admired Sonex’s capabilities, particularly its track record working in the utilities sector. I’m excited to welcome Stefan and his team into the Lantern family and look forward to seeing the impact of their work on our continued growth.

“Our industry has long talked about vulnerable customers, but I’ve always believed it’s more appropriate to talk about customers in vulnerable circumstances, be that a window cleaner who breaks their leg and takes time off work, or a family which suddenly faces a change in income or health. At Lantern this view informs our entire approach, whether that’s the conversations we have with customers or the sustainable repayment plans we design to help them move out of those circumstances. I know Stefan shares a similar view and I’m excited to see how we develop our offer together.”

Stefan Russell, Managing Director of Sonex, added: “We are delighted to announce the acquisition of Sonex by the Lantern group. Both Denise and I have a shared vision on the treatment of Vulnerable Customers and the synergies between both companies meant Lantern and Sonex was an ideal partnership.

“This acquisition will support Sonex in meeting the demands of our existing clients as well as open avenues into new sectors. Similarly, I believe Sonex will bring significant energy sector experience to the Lantern portfolio.”

The acquisition of Sonex is subject to final approval by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Back in the office and struggling to concentrate? Here are six ways to boost your productivity levels

Now that workers are back in the office, some people may be finding it difficult to concentrate in this environment after working from home for so long – but how can you fix this?

Below, experts at Office Furniture Online give their top tips on how you can improve your productivity levels in the office.

Temperature

As many people who work in an office will know, the thermostat is a never-ending battle – one minute it’s too hot and the next too cold. Shivering, sweating or constantly thinking about how hot or cold you feel can be a major distraction.

It’s crucial that the room is comfortable for everyone. Therefore, make sure there are plenty of fans during the summer and adequate sources of heat during the winter.

Lighting

A well-lit office is essential to allow employees to carry out their everyday tasks. Natural light is the best as this can help improve mood, happiness, and well-being.

If you do have to use artificial lighting, really take your time choosing as bad lighting can lead to fatigue, headaches, and even eyestrain.

Drinks and Snacks

Ensuring staff are hydrated and energised will help to keep them well-fuelled throughout the day. Healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts are always a great option.

Storage and Cleanliness

Storage and cleanliness pretty much go hand-in-hand and thanks to the likes of Marie Kondo, organisation and decluttering have become popular.

An organised office can increase your focus and improve productivity, so clutter must be kept to a minimum. Keep things neat and tidy by having adequate storage such as cupboards and filing cabinets.

Similarly, maintaining a clean environment is just as important. Not only is it essential for hygiene and sanitary reasons, particularly at the moment, but a clean office can help prevent the spread of germs and reduce the likelihood of people becoming ill.

Workspace

No one likes an uncomfortable chair, plus the wrong seating position could lead to bad posture which could affect your health. Ergonomic chairs are ideal for promoting a healthy seating position and preventing back and neck strain.

Along with seating, desks and work surfaces should also be considered. Ensure the shape of the desk fits your needs and provides you with enough space to work efficiently. You may also want to consider

Designated Areas

Splitting the workspace into specific areas for work, breaks, and meetings can not only create a more organised office but could also lead to improved employee focus.

If you have an open-plan office, you might want to look at placing some meeting pods to create a private space for team catch-ups.

Mark Taylor, Managing Director at Office Furniture Online, adds: “Offices have most definitely become busier again over recent months. Whilst this is great to see, working from home may have made it more difficult to become settled and concentrate in the office environment again.

“As employees spend the majority of their day in the office it’s important to create a productive environment which will benefit not only the people but in turn the business too. Therefore, we hope our top tips can help people make the most of their workday.”

Making Green Finance Mainstream – FLA launches its recommendations to scale up green lending

The Finance & Leasing Association (FLA) is today launching its manifesto, Making Green Finance Mainstream, which highlights the need for a Green Finance Wholesale Guarantee to help scale up green lending in support of Net Zero.

With the vast majority of consumers and businesses already supportive of the Net Zero effort, the main obstacle to increasing the uptake of green goods is cost. Lender involvement is therefore crucial to the Government’s plans as finance will often the only way to put green options within reach – but the price of that finance needs to be to affordable, competitive and comparable to non-green options to make it a viable choice for most users.

The problem is the elevated risk attached to many green goods – they are new to the market and pricing their lifespan, depreciation or obsolescence can be difficult. Ordinarily, this risk would diminish over time as the market develops, but as lenders are working to the Government’s timeframe for Net Zero – which requires green lending to increase now in both scale and pace – then the Government needs to share some of that risk in the interim.

We are therefore recommending a Green Finance Wholesale Guarantee that would run from 2022 – 2026, providing cover for funders of both consumer and business lenders on a portfolio basis. If operated on the same semi-commercial basis as the British Business Bank’s ENABLE scheme, with a similarly low rate of non-performing portfolios, the Green Finance Wholesale Guarantee programme could even generate a modest profit for Government.

Stephen Haddrill, Director of the FLA, said: “While the vast majority of consumers and businesses are fully behind the Government’s green agenda, monthly budgets and bottom lines will make pragmatists of even the most environmentally aware.

“The success or failure of the Government’s Net Zero ambitions will depend on the availability of finance that is affordable, competitive and comparable to non-green options. That in turn makes the Green Finance Wholesale Guarantee a vital requirement to scale up green lending.”

ESG confusion will hamper business growth and environmental and societal change, says RSM UK

New research reveals that business leaders are not familiar with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). For those who are, nearly a quarter (24 per cent) are not making any attempt to measure the potential impact that their ESG goals might have on the environment or society, and in turn the benefits a robust ESG approach could have on business and society.

The survey by leading audit, tax and consulting firm RSM UK revealed that almost half (44 per cent) of the 416 UK middle market business leaders (defined as companies with a turnover between £10m and £750m or financial institutions with assets under management of £200m to £7.5bn) questioned are unfamiliar with ESG.

The research comes as the UK Government prepares to publish findings from a consultation launched earlier this year proposing mandatory ESG reporting in line with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). The new rules, expected to come into force from 2022, will make ESG reporting mandatory for all private UK companies and LLPs with more than 500 employees and turnover greater than £500m, along with all publicly quoted UK companies.

Over half the business leaders familiar with ESG (56 per cent) are attempting or have attempted to measure the impact of their ESG programme. However, over three fifths of businesses who have an ESG strategy in place, the range of standards and frameworks that these businesses are using is extensive and difficult to navigate – creating a complex and inconsistent picture when comparing what organisations say about themselves.

Mark Taylor, regional managing partner at RSM UK, said: ‘ESG is about responsible business. Being out of tune with the net zero carbon agenda and social responsibility is not a viable option. It’s now a clear business imperative as reticence or inactivity in this space could have very real impacts on future growth, as customers, employees, investors and other key stakeholders increasingly demand strong ESG credentials.

‘However, the whole area is complicated and covers a wide range of issues. It’s difficult to define, difficult to know how best to engage and sometimes difficult to measure, despite there being no lack of standards. In fact, the number of different frameworks across the globe actually adds to the complexity as businesses can effectively pick and choose aspects which they report on making benchmarking across organisations very difficult. Without a clear, unified approach to standards, it is easy for businesses to be in the dark on what to focus on and how best to measure impact.

‘As the powerhouse of the UK economy, middle market businesses have a real opportunity to embrace the key principals of ESG to strengthen their organisations and make a real difference to climate change and how business contributes to society. Oversight bodies and government need to play their part by providing the clear guidance business needs in order to most effectively and usefully report on progress.’

The survey was the fourth in The Real Economy series of topical quarterly surveys focusing on the middle market as the powerhouse of the UK economy. The Real Economy is the first authoritative source of economic data from this crucial area of the UK business market, sharing insight and perspective for the wider economy.

Property Development Financing Boom: Residential real estate funding bucks trend and grows by 7% during pandemic

The latest research from the real estate debt advisory specialists, Sirius Property Finance, reveals that despite overall real estate lending totals declining in the pandemic year of 2020, the proportion of lending that focussed purely on the financing of new residential developments has increased.

Overall real estate lending in the UK was down by 23% in the pandemic year, falling from £43.64 billion in 2019 to £33.60 billion in 2020, a direct result of COVID-19’s impact on the industry and wider economy.

Despite this decline, lending that focussed purely on the financing of new real estate developments, rather than that focussed, for example, on mortgaging existing property, increased.

In 2019, new development financing lending totalled £8.7 billion. In 2020, this rose to £9.3 billion, an increase of 6.9%.

2020 also saw development financing increase with regard to the total share it accounted for of overall real estate lending.

2019’s total development financing of £8.7 billion accounted for 19.9% of that year’s overall industry lending, while 2020’s £9.3 billion accounted for 27.7% of the total.

As a result, the slice of the pie attributed to finance development was 7.8% larger in 2020 than it was in 2019.

Managing Director of Sirius Property Finance, Nicholas Christofi, commented: “While the residential housing market has soared to new highs during the pandemic, it’s fair to say that commercial real estate has taken the brunt of COVID-19’s negative impact due to the spectre of working-from-home mothballing offices and numerous lockdowns curtailing the viability of high streets, bars, and eateries.

“However, the huge exception remains the residential real estate development funding space as we’ve seen this expand significantly despite hesitation in other areas of the industry. It’s been a difficult couple of years overall, but optimism is clearly in the air and lenders are increasingly more confident that financing new developments is a reliable and worthwhile investment.”

SRA publishes new anti-money laundering report

Work carried out to make sure solicitors keep criminals from using the profession to launder money has been detailed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in a new review.

The SRA has published its first professional supervisor report, a recent requirement placed on all supervisors by both the Money Laundering Regulations and guidance by the Office for Professional Body Anti-money laundering Supervision (OPBAS) and HM Treasury. It sets out work over the last 12 months to help firms make sure their processes are effective and followed properly. That includes action taken against those firms that failed to take their obligations seriously.

A total of 85 firm visits took place, offering guidance on issues such as tax advice (the definition of which was expanded by the regulations this year) with another 168 desk-based reviews taking place. The most common reason for non-compliance with the anti-money laundering regulations was not having a proper risk assessment in place for AML matters, while other issues included poor client due diligence and checks on the source of funds.

A failure of staff to follow procedures, inadequate training or supervision, and poor policies were other reasons for breaches of the regulations.

There were 273 reports of potential AML breaches made to the SRA. Twenty-nine enforcement actions resulted in total fines of £160,000 being issued. The SRA also made 39 suspicious activity reports (SARs) to the National Crime Agency.

Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA Board, said: ‘Money laundering allows some of the worst crimes in society to be profitable. Our commitment to stamping it out is clear.

‘I know from our discussions with local law societies that meeting their obligations is something that matters a lot to the profession. The overwhelming majority want to do the right thing, but there is still a small but nonetheless significant proportion of firms which are just not doing enough to prevent money laundering. As well as allowing criminals to profit from their actions, they undermine the trust consumers place in the profession, damaging confidence in the rule of law and the administration of justice.

‘We take our role as an AML supervisor very seriously, as this review of our work in 2020/21 demonstrates. I would urge all firms and solicitors to take the steps needed to meet their obligations.’

In its latest threat assessment, the National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that at least 70,000 people are engaged in serious organised crime in the UK, with upwards of £12bn in criminal cash generated annually.

The SRA’s report says that more than 6,500 firms are captured by the scope of the AML regulations, with the work of 23,430 relevant individuals specifically of interest.

YTS European Open Banking Outlook uncovers huge potential growth for open banking

Yolt Technology Services (YTS), one of Europe’s leading open banking providers, has today launched its inaugural European Open Banking Outlook (EOBO) revealing huge growth potential for open banking, with 40% of banking customers across Europe’s biggest markets not currently using any open banking solution. YTS also sets out how this potential can be unlocked.

The EOBO, produced in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) and experts from around Europe, tracks the progress of open banking across the continent’s six largest markets: Spain, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. YTS and CEBR commissioned Censuswide to survey nationally representative samples of more than 1,000 banking customers in each of these countries. Using four pillars:

  1. Openness – evaluates the degree to which relevant institutional and regulatory environments within each country support the open banking development.
  2. Availability – analyses how financial institutions have worked alongside third-party providers (TPPs) to enable customers to access open banking solution.
  3. Engagement – evaluates the extent to which bank customers in each country have made use of open banking.
  4. Impact – analyses the benefits that a range of open banking solutions have delivered to customers in each country, and the potential for wider use in the future.

The study also considers the different practical, operational, and cultural circumstances present in each market as important contextual factors for assessing the development of open banking.

Low adoption across all markets signifies huge growth potential

Over half of all respondents in both the UK (50.95%) and Germany (50.2%) are not using financial products or services facilitated by open banking. Spain has the smallest percentage of banking customer respondents not using open banking at all (23.5%) and attains the highest score for the Engagement pillar (86 out of 100), which may be due to the efforts made by some of the country’s largest banks to create and promote comprehensive open banking propositions, maybe in part due to historic screen scraping activities. It is evident there is much that banking and other financial services providers can learn from counterparts in countries where higher levels of engagement are already visible.

The growth potential for open banking across different markets is clear with 33% of banking customer respondents across six markets supportive of using open banking products and services in the future and 30% demanding to see more financial products and services that make use of open banking become more mainstream.

The Impact findings suggests wider adoption can be improved by education around the benefits of open banking and the security measures used to protect data and users. Most respondents (67%) say the ability to view transactions or savings across multiple accounts is ‘very useful’, but other benefits of open banking including the ability to group transaction, set saving objectives and share information for credit access, are less known among banking customers.

UK is leading in Openness and Availability, but Engagement and Impact are still low

When it comes to Openness, the UK has the highest overall score compared to other markets in Europe due to its supportive regulatory environment that stimulates innovation in banks and third-party providers (TPPs). The study reveals that only in the UK have policymakers and regulators extended the legal and regulatory foundation for open banking and created a framework based on cooperation. This includes the creation of the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) that plays an important role in encouraging collaboration across the banking industry to promote open banking, and a mandate from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on API connectivity that ought to be implemented by banks.

The UK also scored high in Availability due in large part to its dominance of TPP registrations. There are currently at least 274 active TPPs registered in the six countries studied for the Outlook report and 63% of them (173) are registered in the UK. The availability pillar also assesses the number of account aggregation services linking to the top four banks in each country. The average number of connections between each of the UK’s top four banks and TPPs offering account segregation services is 12.5 compared to 8.0 in Spain and 2.5 in both Germany and Italy.

Notable results also include the stark difference between the Openness and Availability pillars and the Engagement and Impact pillars in the UK. While there is genuine support and a proactive regulatory environment for open banking to flourish, progress has been slowed by scepticism from banking customers around the benefits of open banking.

Nicolas Weng Kan, Chief Executive Officer at YTS, comments: “Our findings reveal the need and growing appetite for open banking, but the variation in levels of understanding and adoption show that much more work needs to be done to help customers enjoy the full benefits of open banking-facilitated products and services. Recent months have showed the power and impact of digitalised services, and in the wider financial services sector these have largely emerged due to consumer demand. Our Impact pillar shows that the demand is also there for open banking, and it’s now up to the financial services industry to meet that demand.

“There will be huge commercial rewards for banks and technology providers able to play an active role in this process – while those that fail to do so risk losing market share, profits and, eventually, any relevance to the needs of the growing numbers of bank customers who are embracing open banking.”