Financial sector should perform penetration tests on its own according to EU regulation DORA

Frankfurt – In 2022, the weekly number of cyberattacks in the financial industry averaged 1,131 attacks – a 52 percent increase in one year, according to Check Point Research figures. More than two-thirds of large institutions were affected by at least one cyberattack, not including successfully prevented attacks and unreported cases. The EU regulation “Digital operational resilience for the financial sector and amending regulations” (EU Regulation 2022/2254 – DORA for short) gives the industry a uniform legal standard to mitigate vulnerability to ICT disruptions and cyber threats along the entire value chain. A critical feature of the regulation is regular testing. At least once a year, systems must undergo testing for different threat scenarios. Shifting responsibility to third parties – ICT service providers, in other words – is viewed critically. “BaFin explicitly states that the focus on multi-client service providers – i.e., firms acting for several companies – implies risks for the overall market. Banks should therefore urgently try to carry out measures such as the required penetration test independently to identify risks,” says Rainer M. Richter, IT expert and Vice President EMEA & APAC at

Autonomous penetration testing for the financial industry

With NodeZero, the company has developed a technology that performs real attack scenarios on the entire IT infrastructure via autonomous penetration tests.’s technology operates via a cloud platform that complies with data protection regulations and is hosted in Germany for Europe. It can be run independently of an external service provider or a professional pentester at any time and as often as desired during ongoing daily business. This not only uncovers vulnerabilities, but also checks the effectiveness of the existing protection mechanisms – hardware and software. The user guidance is geared to the needs of IT departments and gives IT teams, CIOs, CISOs and administrators a detailed analysis of attack paths with evidence of exploitation and prioritized corrective actions. To conclude the proven “find, fix and verify” methodology, a 1-click verification can then be used to test the correction made for success. Based on the findings from the test, preventive measures can be specified for each individual institution. These start with the recognition of threats and extend to the regulation of backup measures.

Time is running out

For banks that have already implemented the regulatory requirements in advance, there is no reason to panic. The situation is different for institutions that have paid little attention to the topic so far: “It is to be expected that a massive wave of inquiries will come to service providers in the coming months. As a result, what already means enormous lead times for professional services will then become even worse and will be almost impossible to implement in compliance with the law. This is another reason for implementing a penetration test concept within the bank,” explains Rainer M. Richter of His company, which specializes in autonomous penetration tests with a cloud solution, is already seeing a significant increase in requests from the financial sector – “the pressure of suffering is high, both financially and in terms of capacity,” says the IT expert. With, smaller institutions also have the option of performing threat-oriented penetration tests (TLPT) themselves.

FRP welcomes former Eversheds CFO as new non-executive director

FRP has announced the appointment of Kathryn Fleming as a non-executive director with immediate effect.

Kathryn, who will sit on FRP’s management board, brings extensive commercial and operational experience to the role, alongside significant knowledge of strategy, finance, transformation, technology, and global operations within professional services firms.

A chartered management accountant, Kathryn is currently chief financial officer of Control Risks Group, a global risk management consultancy. She is a member of both its board and executive committee and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the financial performance and strategy across the group’s worldwide operations.

Kathryn also sits as a non-executive board member on Seerist Inc, a SaaS-based provider of augmented analytics technology. Prior to this, she held senior executive roles at leading professional service firms, including as CFO at law firms Osborne Clarke and Eversheds, and held senior finance positions at Marks and Spencer, Johnson Controls and BT.

Kathryn’s appointment comes following another period of progress for FRP, which grew its headcount by more than 50 people in its last financial year, an 11 per cent uplift, whilst also investing across all areas of the business.

FRP currently employs more than 570 people across its network of 27 offices in England, Scotland and Cyprus, including 79 partners.

Having become AIM-listed in 2020, FRP has rolled out a series of new office openings at key locations in recent years – including sites in Southampton, Cambridge, and Glasgow – as well as strengthening its corporate finance and forensic services teams through the acquisition of Spectrum and Walton Dodge Forensic. In 2022, FRP’s office network was strengthened further with the strategic acquisition of BridgeShield Asset Management, bringing FRP’s Leigh-on Sea office to its UK footprint, the firm’s second location in Essex. FRP also acquired a business in Cyprus, in December 2022.

Commenting on Kathryn’s appointment, Geoff Rowley, chief executive officer at FRP, said: “We are thrilled to be welcoming Kathryn to the board and management of FRP.

“Having held various high-profile leadership positions across fast-paced, global businesses, Kathryn brings extensive commercial and financial expertise gained over a 30-year career. Her counsel will contribute positively to the ongoing growth and expansion of the firm, and we look forward to working alongside her.”

Kathryn Fleming, non-executive director at FRP, added: “I am excited to be joining the board of FRP. The firm has a strong track record of delivering revenue, profit and team growth and I look forward to being part of the next stage of its evolution.”

PSR sets out changes to its fees structure for 2023/24

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has been reviewing its fees structure, which has been in place since 2018, to ensure it remains appropriate in the current payments landscape.

Following consultation, the PSR is introducing two main changes to the way its regulatory fees are allocated. These are:

  • Move smaller firms outside of its fees, to simplify and save costs.
  • A special project fee where payment system operators with a for-profit business model are charged for work related to or arising from their designation. For instance, this could include making sure an appropriate regulatory framework is agreed.

Kate Fitzgerald, the PSR’s Head of Policy, said: “When a payment system is designated for our regulation, it’s crucial to make sure we regulate it in a way that promotes innovation and competition, balanced with strong safeguards so that people and businesses are protected.

“Making these changes to our fees rules will reduce the burden on smaller firms and fill an important gap in recovering the costs involved with this designation work and overall help ensure we can continue to regulate effectively and efficiently.”

These new fees rules will come into force on 28 April 2023.

Paysend presents Short Film, Uncovering Financial Inclusion Challenges in Latin America

Online series spotlights the challenges Latin Americans face due to minimal access of financial services within the region.

Paysend, the international payments platform and card-to-card pioneer, today released a short film produced by for them by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions, to uncover the challenges surrounding financial inclusion in Latin America. This short film is titled, “The Virtual Bank Card Boosting Wellbeing”, and follows the financial challenges faced by Latin Americans due to minimal access to basic financial services in the region.

“Through this film, we aim to increase awareness and understanding of the daily challenges that many people in Latin America face due to the lack of access to financial services and the importance of remittances,” said Jairo Riveros, Managing Director, Paysend. “Coupled with our Mastercard partnership, the film will enable us to engage with a global audience and provide valuable insights on financial education and inclusion.”

With 70% of the Latin American population being unbanked, millions of people rely on remittances from family members abroad for basic necessities like housing and food. To address this issue head on, Paysend introduced Paysend Libre in November 2022.

Paysend Libre allows unbanked users in Guatemala and soon other countries in Latin America to receive remittances from the U.S. instantly to a Paysend virtual Mastercard digital card. The virtual card is ready to use in minutes, allowing the millions of people that rely on funds from family members abroad to access their money safely and simply.

“On a purely operational level, financial inclusion involves access and continued use of formal financial services for everyone, regardless of where they live. Yet, in its deepest implications, it contributes to eradicating poverty, ending inequality, promoting employment and industry, and is a guarantee of independence, among other important goals, for women entrepreneurs,” said David Goldschmidt, Vice President, Transfer Solutions, Mastercard Latin America and Caribbean. “Advancing financial inclusion is not something that should be done; it is something that must be done. We are proud to partner with Paysend on this important mission and look forward to driving further progress together.”

Seven benefits of effective workplace communication

Businesses have been told how effective communication has a direct impact on the company’s bottom line and can lead to success through increased productivity, teamwork, loyalty and stronger client relationships.

Experts at TelephoneSystems.Cloud are urging leaders to not downplay the benefits of effective communication and its impact on business success.

Credit – Pexels

Good communication is the backbone of all effective business models and is the key to grow profits, productivity and loyalty amongst clients and employees.

Strong client relations are key to business growth – but will only strengthen under honest conversations where teams can bring a strong level of trust which will be respected both ways.

Productivity will also progress with effective communications as employees working in an environment where they feel comfortable to ask questions and access useful information will want to perform better.

Good communications also promote loyalty amongst team members and clients – letting others in on important conversations will let them feel more valued and connected to the business and their work.

Juliet Moran, founder of TelephoneSystems.Cloud said: “It seems too simple, but the way we talk to one another is the most essential piece to improving the growth of your business.

“It’s the only way to improve employee and brand loyalty, encourage innovative ideas and turn disagreements into constructive proposals.

“These conversations will also create strong teamwork throughout the day as well as a trusting and comfortable environment for employees. In turn, those who spend their time in a transparent and honest workplace will feel more valued and connected to the business, bringing growth and profits to the company.

“Bad communications in the workplace is the silent killer for most businesses. It’s the backbone of company growth and success amongst employees at work so it’s essential for managers to invest in creating effective communications amongst all members of their team.”

TelephoneSystem.Cloud’s seven benefits of effective communication

  1. Teamwork

Strong team bonds often rely solely on good relationships amongst all members. Leadership within a team is key to promote direct yet clear and well-meaning communication with all other collaborators. Comprehensive and transparent communication will only strengthen team relationships and work output.

  1. Client relationships

Successful interactions with clients is essential to the growth of businesses. Customers will always respect open and honest communication to build a strong level of trust which will go both ways. Communication will build confidence for client’s which in turn will open up more space for new ideas and thus more opportunities.

  1. Loyalty

Promoting transparent conversations amongst others in the business will lead team members to feel more valued and loyal to their work. Without effective communication from leaders, team members won’t feel as valued or connected to the company making them more likely to stray away from their work in search of more honest discussions.

  1. Productivity

Communication will quickly boost productivity as those who have a complete and explicit understanding of their job roles fuelled by effective communication will be much more likely to yield stronger outputs. Employees who work in a space with readily available information will in turn take care with their responsibilities and perform with more energy.

  1. Innovation and engagement

Workers who are in an environment with effective communication between other team members, no matter how senior they are, will feel comfortable sharing all kinds of ideas with their colleagues. Creating a space where employees feel safe to discuss proposals will fuel innovation and encourage others to also share and engage with the group.

  1. Trust

Setting a positive example of trust, open and transparent conversations in the workplace is the best example to show employees. Businesses will quickly fail to continue to grow without gaining the trust of all team members first. Genuine and honest communication will match a trustworthy business environment and workforce.

  1. Resolves issues

Feel comfortable at work as the result of effective communication will help teams to resolve and even avoid any conflict both internally and with clients. Being respectful, listening with intent and actively helping others who bring up issues will turn any brewing disagreements into constructive conversations to boost business success.

Are savings rates predicting a recession?

One-year savings rates are paying more than 5 year. When short-dated bonds pay a greater rate of interest than long-dated bonds this is called an inverted yield curve. An inverted yield curve is traditionally a predictor of recession.

Source: Moneyfacts (these are gross rates)

12m market leading rate

24m market leading rate

36m market leading rate

60m market leading rate






Emma Wall, head of savings, Hargreaves Lansdown said: “The best rate for a 12 month savings account is higher now than that of a 5-year fixed rate savings account according to Moneyfacts data. This is great news for savers only wanting to lock their money away for a short period – but if flips interest rate logic on its head. Normally, the longer the term the better the rate, you’re compensated for your loyalty.

“The yield curve normally plots low for one-year fixed rate, ticking upwards from bottom left to top right. This shape usually indicates that we are in a period of economic expansion, optimism abounds. An inverted yield curve is a line that sweeps downwards – top left to bottom right, and indicates the opposite, a period of economic contraction – a recession. A flat line usually means change is afoot! Currently plotting the best savings rate for one, two, three and five year accounts the line sits somewhere between all three, trending slightly down towards the five year.

“This indicates economic uncertainty – the outlook for how the Bank of England will next act on rates is mixed. In the meantime, it is an opportunity to snap up attractive short-term rates. Savers looking to make their money work harder can use a savings aggregator such as HL Active Savings to compare rates and make deposits more easily – at no cost.”

Paradigm’s Consumer Duty video series focuses on the four outcomes firms must address

Paradigm, the mortgage, protection and compliance services proposition, has today launched its latest video providing further information and guidance for intermediaries on preparing for the FCA’s Consumer Duty.

The eighth in its ‘Consumer Duty On Film’ series, the latest video – hosted by Paradigm’s Head of Consultancy, Graeme Stewart – sees him joined by Paradigm’s Director of Mortgages, Richard Howes, and Director of Protection, Mike Allison, to discuss the four outcomes of Consumer Duty.

Under the Consumer Duty’s overarching Principle that, ‘A firm must act to deliver good outcomes for retail clients’ are four key outcomes which firms must comply with: Products and Services, Price and Value, Consumer Understanding and Consumer Support.

The four most recent ‘Paradigm on Film’ videos look in detail at each of the four outcomes and explain how firms can address these within their business and processes. The videos also cover off the key questions the FCA has suggested firms ask themselves such as:

  • Has the firm specified the target market of its products and services to the level of granularity necessary?
  • How can firms deliver proper support to customers, no matter what communication channel they are using, to ensure their support is effective in meeting the customer’s needs?
  • Can the firm demonstrate its products and services are fair value for different groups of consumers, including those in vulnerable circumstances or with protected characteristics?
  • How is the firm testing the effectiveness of its communications, and how is it acting on the results?

The video is relevant to the entire advisory community, including both mortgage and protection firms as well as investment and pension professionals.

All of the videos are now available to view at Paradigm’s Consumer Duty Support hub, which provides a host of information and resources, including a Consumer Duty eBook guide for financial services firms featuring articles from the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries and the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders’ Association.

Each face-to-face event Paradigm is holding ahead of the July deadline will specifically cover the Consumer Duty with those who attend able to ask questions around their own individual plans as well as any other matters related to the implementation of the Consumer Duty.

Paradigm’s team of consultants offer bespoke consultancy support and guidance on the Consumer Duty tailored to individual firms’ requirements and are adept at preparing firms for regulatory changes.

Graeme Stewart, Head of Consultancy at Paradigm, commented: “The four outcomes of the FCA’s Consumer Duty rules are all hugely important for advisory firms given that is what they are advising upon and delivering to their clients, so this video session should be of interest to all stakeholders.

“Again, we look at the specific questions the FCA asks firms to ask of themselves and our aim here is to help them work through what they already have in place, and also what else they need to do, or change, in order to satisfy the regulator in this area.

“There are now eight videos in this series of ‘Consumer Duty on Film’ videos, and we would urge firms to watch them in order, because we are also learning more about the outcomes and what is required of firms as we work through them. Our understanding, and therefore our support and guidance, is evolving with each one and that will continue to shape the information and support we put out to firms in the lead up to the July deadline.”

Comments on today’s ONS retail sales figures for March

“The 0.9% decline in retail sales volumes in March was unsurprising as the sustained inflationary environment continues to leave consumers cautious about spending across food and non-food retail. Increasing food prices are forcing consumers to make choices to buy less as they pay more. The recent period of poor weather has also put many off from buying their spring-summer wardrobe and other non-discretionary items.

“However there may be a light at the end of the tunnel as the ‘three-month’ trajectory indicates that sales volumes rose in the three months to March 2023, the first quarterly  rise since August 2021. As we enter spring, the Easter holidays and the various bank holiday weekends, should continue to drive food sales, however retailers must remain cautious with how sustainable this is as household disposable income continues to be squeezed.

“Data from EY’s Future Consumer Index shows an enhanced focus on value and utility – meaning cost isn’t always the defining factor when making a purchase. Retailers should take this into consideration when developing their value proposition. They will need to navigate a tight balance between rising costs and deciding how far they continue to pass on price increases without impacting the top line. Now more than ever having a clear strategy on the value proposition that delivers on what consumers want is critical. In an environment of slow volume growth, working capital and range/pricing decisions remain the most important considerations for retailers.”

Silvia Rindone, EY UK&I Retail Lead

Essex law firm sponsors local LGBTQ+ Rugby team

Birkett Long is pleased to announce its support of Colchester Kings RFC, East Anglia’s first gay and inclusive rugby team, as kit sponsor.

Established in June 2022, the team aims to give queer people and their allies a safe space to participate in team sports whilst eliminating homophobia and transphobia in rugby by reducing barriers to join in team sports. This ambition leads them to support the LGBTQ+ community by promoting inclusion and participation in a welcoming and friendly environment.

The partnership is an organic one for Birkett Long, as Colchester Kings’ values of equality, diversity and inclusion reflect the firm’s own values.

Community is at the heart of Birkett Long, which has a history of actively supporting the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to running a number of LGBTQ+ focused webinars and publishing regular blogs focused on helping those in the community tackle legal issues that affect them, the firm has a high profile presence at local Pride events every year. You will always see employees cheering on the Kings and handing out crowns at Kings matches…whatever the weather!

The commitment is demonstrable and ingrained at every level as a number of the firm’s staff completed LGBTQ+ awareness training for businesses offered by local charity The OutHouse. The Divorce and Family team also witness signatures on statutory declarations for gender recognition certificates for free.

Birkett Long’s Head of Marketing, Jennie Skingsley, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to support the Colchester Kings Rugby team and are so proud to see our logo on the team kit at matches. We understand what it means to the players to put on the kit and we’re right there with them. It’s a vital part of showing our commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year – we don’t just put a rainbow on our website for Pride month!”

Samuel Biscoe, Chairperson of Colchester Kings Rugby team said: “We’re delighted to have Birkett Long as a sponsor for our inaugural year. Having a local firm that is visibly engaged in our community is really important to us and we’re delighted with the support that they have given us since we established the team last year. We look forward to a long and engaging partnership as the club enters the International Gay Rugby league this September.”

Will the BoE now take its foot off the interest rate accelerator? – comment on inflation

“As ever we waited with baited-breath for the latest inflation figures, any news that may mean the Bank of England takes its foot off the interest rate accelerator would be good for the housing market.  So, the news today, coupled with the fact that GDP is still not in decline, could well be the catalyst we have all been hoping for.

“The country is holding its head above water and confidence appears to be returning.  Despite the lull at the beginning of the year the housing market has been picking up in recent weeks with the usual springtime boost, and more lenders are revising rates every day.  There is no doubt that affordability is a worry for many households and lenders will be working around the age old of dilemma of continuing to meet lending targets versus more defaults down the line.  Being prepared for both scenarios is a juggling act, but one that every lender needs to have systems and people in place to deal with.”

Adam Oldfield, chief revenue officer at Phoebus Software