Pro-Remain ParcelHero Says White Paper ‘Surprisingly Good News for British Exporters’

The strongly pro-Remain export parcels company ParcelHero say today’s Brexit Government White Paper has much to recommend it for UK exporters and importers to the EU – though it could endanger many e-commerce service businesses.

The news that the Government’s new Brexit White Paper explicitly supports a common rule book for trade in goods with the European Union has been welcomed by the European export specialist ParcelHero.

ParcelHero said there was a surprising amount to welcome in the detail of today’s White Paper, for businesses and individuals shipping regularly to EU countries. Says ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT: ‘The phased introduction of a new Facilitated Customs Arrangement, that would remove the need for customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU, as if they were a combined customs territory, is a hugely sensible and pragmatic approach.’

David continues: ‘We’ve not tried to hide our fears over the imposition of new tariffs and red tape at EU borders. The White Paper’s aim of establishing a new free trade area, maintaining a common rulebook for goods, covering only those rules necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border, seems sound common sense.’

Says David: ‘We agree that a free trade area for goods would avoid friction at EU borders and ensure both sides meet their commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland. The Government says the plans “will protect the uniquely integrated supply chains and ‘just-in-time’ processes that have developed across the UK and the EU over the last 40 years”; and if this can really be achieved, it will be an excellent result.’

However, ParcelHero does have significant reservations about the loss of free access between the EU and UK to online services. Says David ‘Many of our customers engage in regular e-commerce with EU businesses and citizens. The new paper specifically says there will be new arrangements on digital trade, including e-commerce, recognising that the UK and the EU will not have current levels of access to each other’s markets. This could be a major loss of access to lucrative markets for some of Britain’s world leading e-commerce businesses.’

However, ParcelHero concluded by saying: ‘All along we have recognised the pro-Brexit argument for wider trade agreements beyond the EU and agree the plans will enable the UK to control its own tariffs for trade with the rest of the world, becoming operational in stages as both sides complete the necessary preparations.’

Brexit White Paper plans on insolvency are welcome – R3

Commenting on the Government’s Brexit White Paper, published earlier today, Duncan Swift, vice-president of insolvency and restructuring trade body R3, says:

“It’s encouraging to see the Government take post-Brexit cross-border insolvency issues seriously, and we welcome both the commitment to seek a new agreement with the EU on civil judicial cooperation, and the specific inclusion of insolvency in any such deal.

“Under the current framework, UK insolvency judgments and procedures are automatically recognised across the EU, and vice versa. This makes it relatively quick and cost effective to resolve insolvencies when assets and insolvent companies are spread across Europe. It helps in all sorts of cases, from dealing with the insolvency of a major multinational corporation to hunting down assets squirreled away overseas by a fraudster. Failure to replicate the current set-up post-Brexit would make it much harder to resolve cross-border insolvencies from the UK.

“Without a deal, post-insolvency returns to creditors would be hurt, it would be harder to rescue businesses and jobs, it would be harder to tackle cross-border fraud, and the costs of cross-border insolvency procedures would go up. All this would have a very negative impact on the UK’s reputation as a place to invest, lend, and trade.

“We look forward to working with the Government to ensure any deal meets the needs of the insolvency and restructuring profession and, crucially, UK creditors and other stakeholders affected by insolvency.”

Callcredit becomes TransUnion as brand integration begins

Callcredit, the UK’s second largest credit referencing agency, has today announced the change of its brand name to TransUnion, after being acquired by the leading global risk and information solutions provider in a £1 billion deal last month (19 June).

As a phased integration process begins, UK businesses and consumers will start to become familiar with TransUnion, which already has a presence in over 30 countries worldwide. The company will be referred to as ‘TransUnion, formerly Callcredit’ during the initial stage, as reflected in the logo, moving to simply TransUnion later this year.

Integrating into one brand is part of the strategy to maximise the combined international presence of TransUnion and Callcredit, and to drive enhanced value to businesses and consumers in the UK. It will also make it easier for companies when it comes to doing business, both domestically and internationally, by providing access to greater expertise across global markets.

David Neenan, international president at TransUnion commented: “We’re delighted to introduce the TransUnion brand to the UK today. Migrating the Callcredit business name to TransUnion will allow us to fully leverage the benefits that the integration brings and enable us to deliver even more to our customers in the UK and across the global markets that TransUnion serves.

“Together we’re a great match; Callcredit’s values and solutions are completely aligned to TransUnion’s mission of using information for good, so bringing the brands together marks the next milestone on our integration journey. However, during this time of change, our priority remains on continuing to deliver the excellent level of service and insight which Callcredit’s customers have grown to expect.”

New report reveals employee mindset on financial, physical, mental wellbeing – and how it impacts employers

Employers are not grasping the depth of concern staff feel about their financial, physical and mental health, according to new research from Neyber into the mindset of UK employees. Two of the three biggest issues for employees were money-related. Thirty percent cite financial worries as the biggest concern, retirement provision came third at 24% and health is the second biggest worry, slightly more, at 25%.

Employers, however, think employees worry about entirely different issues. They believe that work/life balance is their employees’ most pressing concern (44%), followed by workload (33%).

Staff concerns are understandable. Since last year, there has been a significant increase of those affected by financial worries – up from 58% to 63%, as well as those with less than one month’s savings – up from 24% to 32%. Fourteen percent say they have zero savings.

The DNA of Financial Wellbeing, Book One, highlights the views of 10,000 UK employees and 580 employers and shows the impact of individual wellbeing and the toll it takes in the workplace. This is the third annual report commissioned by financial wellbeing company, Neyber.

Stress and strain – the impact at work

Thousands of employees reported how financial worries are impacting them. Thirty-five percent have felt stressed, 33% felt anxious, 26% lost sleep and 20% felt depressed.

Both employers and employees are largely aware that these issues impact work behaviour. Forty-five percent of employees and 69% of employers feel that employee financial pressure impacts their job performance. Sixty percent of employees said that money worries change their behaviour. This rises to 72% under the age of 34.

For the first time, the survey asked respondents about mental illness. Sixty-two percent of employees have either had a mental health issue (18%) or know someone that has (45%).

Heidi Allan, Head of Employee Wellbeing at Neyber, said:

“Our physical, mental and financial health are all interlinked. If employees feel less confident in their finances, this has a knock on effect on other areas of their lives.

“This year’s findings show areas of positivity and deep concern for employers. For instance, we asked employees whether they feel that their employers care about certain aspects of their wellbeing. Career and personal development (73%), later life/retirement provision (66%) and overall wellbeing (65%) all scored highly by employees.

“Yet, when it comes to financial health, only 50% said their company cares. This is less than those who think their employer cares about their mental health (62%), physical health (60%) or later life and retirement provision (66%).”

Jonathan Hollow, Financial Capabilty, Strategy and Innovation at Money Advice Service, said:

“Currently about 28.7 million working age adults in the UK are not satisfied with their finances1. No wonder – we live lives of ever-increasing financial complexity. We must deal with busy lives and the complexities of major financial decisions, as well as key life events such as bereavement, buying a home or nearing retirement.

“Every employer should care about the findings in this report. A growing body of evidence shows that anxiety about finances leads to poorer mental, physical and social wellbeing, and that this affects attendance and performance at work. When your workforce suffers, your business can suffer too.”

The survey also showed:

Financial worries are top of mind for all age groups – until the age of 55 when they worry about later life.
It takes until the age of 65 to be more likely to be worried about physical health – although ‘not worried’ is in the top three for the first time at this age for 24% of respondents.
A salary of at least £40k is when financial worries are not the biggest worry.
The top four things people feel happy about are their living arrangements (81%), social lives (81%) and overall wellbeing and mental health (joint 78%).

Equifax, first CRA to sign Women in Finance Charter

Equifax, the consumer and business insights expert, has become the first credit reference agency (CRA) to sign the Women in Finance Charter.

HM Treasury has today announced that the total number of charter signatories is now 272. The charter asks financial services companies to commit to actions to prepare their female talent for leadership positions, in order to build a more balanced, diverse and fair industry.
Signing the charter, Equifax pledges to promote gender diversity by:

· Having senior executive sponsorship and leadership, with responsibility and accountability for gender diversity and inclusion
· Setting internal targets for gender diversity in senior management positions
· Publishing progress annually against these targets
· Working to ensure the pay of senior executives is linked to delivery against these internal targets

John Garside, HR Director – Europe at Equifax Ltd, says: “A diverse, balanced workforce is good for our team, our customers, and our long term business development. We want Equifax to be a company that attracts talented people and provides the right environment for them to thrive, develop and reach senior roles in our business. We’re committed to being open, transparent and importantly accountable in our equality and diversity approach. Signing the charter is an important part of our people strategy and reinforces our drive to make Equifax an employer of choice.”

UK financial services firms overconfident about cybersecurity defences

Despite the growth in data breaches, senior executives at UK firms think their cybersecurity protection is top-notch, according to a new survey conducted by research and consultancy firm Ovum for Silicon Valley analytics firm FICO. Three out of four executives from UK firms said their firm was better prepared than their competitors, and 43 percent said their firm was a top performer. While this overconfidence was seen across the eight regions surveyed, Canada was the only country where more respondents (44 percent) said they were a top performer for cybersecurity protection.

Among British industries, financial services firms were the most confident of all —55 percent said their firm was a top performer, and 41 percent said their firm was above average. Telecommunications providers were second, with 42 percent calling their firm a top performer. The least confident — or most realistic — respondents were in retail and ecommerce, where 38 percent said their firm is a top performer, and just 19 percent said they were above average.

Despite this confidence, only 36 percent of organisations are carrying out more than a point-in-time assessment of what their cybersecurity risk is.

“The grave risk posed to our privacy and security demands that firms take an honest view of their protection,” said Steve Hadaway, FICO general manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “These numbers suggest that many firms just don’t understand how they compare to their competitors, and that could lead to a lack of investment. When we review firms’ cybersecurity risk with our FICO Enterprise Security Score, I can tell you that most firms are not above average.”

“IT leaders have greater funding than ever to protect organisations from the continuously evolving threat landscape and meet complex compliance demands,” said Maxine Holt, research director at Ovum. “These same IT leaders are undoubtedly keen to believe that the money being spent provides their organisation with a better security posture than any other – but the rapid pace of investment, often in point solutions, rarely takes an organisation-wide view of security.”

Ovum conducted the survey for FICO through telephone interviews with 500 senior executives, mostly from the IT function, in businesses from the UK, the US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, India, Finland, Norway, Sweden and South Africa. Respondents represented firms in financial services, telecommunications, retail and ecommerce, and power and utilities.

Half of all back-office processes to be automated within a decade

More than two fifths (41 per cent) of finance back-office processes could be automated in the next five years, a new study from global customer services provider Arvato CRM Solutions and management consulting firm A.T Kearney has found.

According to the new report, 41 per cent of finance back-office processes are set to be performed by robots by 2023, with this figure rising to 53 per cent within the next 10 years.

Implementation of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is set to significantly boost firms’ productivity and efficiency, as bots are 20 times faster than humans with a 10 per cent lower error rate. Subsequently, companies that adopt this technology, could potentially receive an ROI of between 300 and 1,000 per cent over a three-year period.

It’s also predicted that the widespread roll-out of RPA solutions will result in an annual compound market growth of 50 per cent, with the global market set to be worth $5billion by 2020.

New developments

The research also predicts that by 2023, RPA, with the help of cognitive capabilities, will be able to make automated decisions, and by 2028 robots will be able to carry out most back-office processes independently with minimal human intervention.

The new report, named ‘Robotic Process Automation: The impact of RPA on finance back-office processes’, interviewed more than 20 technology partners and players in the field of RPA, gathering together their view on the trends and developments within the sector.

Ben Warren, vice president of Digital Transformation at Arvato CRM, Global BPS, said: “RPA will revolutionize the finance back-office, as the new technology is more accurate, efficient and can work for longer hours, depending on demand.

“This can consequently help drive revenue for a business, streamlining processes and allowing employees to spend more time on higher value tasks.

“But although the benefits of automation can be great, it’s important that firms understand that to successfully utilize the technology they will need to invest.

“A full analysis of end-to-end systems and redesign of existing processes will be initially required, and companies will need to regularly review their processes as technology continues to evolve and develop over the coming decade.”

Dr. Florian Dickgreber, partner at A.T Kearney and co-author of the study, said: “Having transformed manufacturing, bots are now set to change processes in the service sector.

“We expect RPA, the automation of structured business processes, to take over more than half of all back-office processes over the next five to 10 years.”

Second edition of book “Happy Customers Faster Cash U.S. Edition” published

Selling on open account terms is a common business practice in the United States and in many other countries. Business people often take it for granted that customers will pay their invoices on time, but in reality that is not always the case. This may result in cash flow problems and potentially putting pressure on the relationship with customers. Talking to customers about late payments can be uncomfortable for many business people, either because they don’t like to talk about the subject with their customers or they don’t feel secure how to do that effectively without harming the customer relationship. In “Happy Customers Faster Cash United States 2nd Edition” the authors address these issues in a practical manner based on many years of experience in the field.

“Happy Customers Faster Cash U.S. 2nd Edition” provides the reader practical insights and examples helping him/her getting paid on time and simultaneously work on maintaining and building a good relationship with the customer. The authors combined insights from sales, account management, credit management and service management, which offers the reader an integrated view and practical information that can be applied in any organization.

“Happy Customers Faster Cash U.S. 2nd Edition” is written for both the new and seasoned credit professionals as well as small and medium sized business owners, who already do or are planning to do business in the United States.

The second edition is completely updated and contains the following information:

· The full core edition of “Happy Customers Faster Cash”

· A new chapter on measuring credit performance

· Credit management in the U.S.

· U.S. business culture and communication in credit management in the U.S.

· Useful links

For more detailed information about the book, corporate edition and training please visit www.happycustomers-fastercash.com. The paperback version of Happy Customers Faster Cash U.S. 2nd Edition is available on Amazon.

Barclays launches £100,000 unsecured lending, as new research shows the value of faster finance to SMEs

Barclays has launched £100,000 unsecured lending – doubling its maximum for unsecured business loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from £50,000 to £100,000.

The bank has also identified more than 40,000 SME clients, from dentists to manufacturers, that could be eligible for the higher levels of lending, which because it is unsecured could be in their accounts within days.

The move will help SMEs get faster access to finance and seize opportunities they might otherwise miss out on if lending decisions are not made quickly enough. It also means business owners will not have to use their business premises or home as security.
The expansion of unsecured lending adds to Barclays’ already class-leading unsecured lending offering, whereby 250,000 Barclays SME clients can see pre-assessed lending limits of up to £25,000 via mobile and online banking, which they can apply for digitally, often receiving the cash that day. It is more than 40,000 of these businesses that have been identified as eligible to apply for up to £100,000.

New research today also highlights the importance of access to finance. Barclays’ survey of more than 1,100 SME business owners shows just how vital speed is in today’s environment, with almost one in five (18%) of those surveyed that have used a bank loan (and 9% overall) saying they have lost out in the past because they could not get a loan or funding fast enough.

The research also found that over one in ten (11%) of surveyed business owners said they’d be more likely to apply for a loan if they could get a decision within 24 hours, while 16% of those that have used a bank loan (and 9% overall) said the time it takes to get a loan puts them off applying.

The respondents were also hesitant to offer their home as security, with almost half (47%) saying they would be deterred from taking a substantial loan out against their home, and nearly one in three (31%) saying they would rather pay a slightly higher interest rate than have to use their home as security.

Unsecured lending differs from lending where the loan is secured against assets such as a business premises or the owner’s home. It is far faster for firms as it does not require land or property valuations and other steps that slow the process down. Applicants for Barclays unsecured lending will typically be able to get a decision within 24 hours, and have the money in their account within five working days.

The additional lending could not just help individual companies, but also boost the wider economy. For example, nearly a quarter (23%) of business owners surveyed said that if they were given a £100,000 loan, they would hire more staff.

Ian Rand, Chief Executive of Barclays Business Banking, says: “Many people think taking a business loan is stressful, or are put off by the perceived bureaucracy and time involved. At Barclays, we are tackling this head-on, making small business lending faster, simpler and easier.

“Importantly, a business loan is a type of finance that can really transform a brilliant, hard-working company, allowing it to scale up and serve more people. Removing barriers to such investment is good for firms across the country, and for the economy.

“Furthermore, speed of access to finance can be vital in today’s environment. Business moves very fast, and firms can access larger opportunities at short notice thanks to digital communication.

“Unsecured lending can also be particularly useful for certain types of business. This includes nimble firms that achieve high growth rates without owning premises that would serve as security for a loan, or those led by young entrepreneurs who have a successful business but are yet to buy a home that could serve as security.”

Both the pre-assessed lending up to £25,000 and the expansion of unsecured lending can make taking a business loan easier – an important benefit for business owners. In the survey, more than one in ten respondents overall (13%), and approximately a quarter (24%) that have used a bank loan, said applying for a business loan is more stressful than getting married or buying a home.

In addition, Barclays is increasing the maximum unsecured overdraft for business lending from £25,000 to £50,000, helping firms take on larger projects or deal with unexpected increases in business, for example.

When Barclays asked SME business owners coverage what they would do with £100,000 of business lending, the top five answers were:
Purchase new equipment or machinery: 34%
Improve or increase branding/marketing: 32%
Diversify the business (e.g. open in a new market; add a product/service): 31%
Hire more staff: 23%
Get new premises :14%

1 in 5 British adults has had an outstanding credit card balance for at least six months

One-in-five (22%) British adults have had an outstanding credit card balance for at least six months, including the 4% of British adults who have had an outstanding balance for over five years, according to a survey of over 2,000 British adults by insolvency trade body R3.
The research, part of a long-running survey of Britain’s personal finances by R3 and ComRes, also found that, of the 34% of British adults currently worried about their level of debt, 49% are worried about their credit card debt – by far the most common cause of concern of the types of debt tested.

Mark Sands, chair of insolvency trade body R3’s Personal Insolvency Committee, says: “With low interest rates, lengthy interest-free periods, and a poor period of real wage growth, credit cards have become a necessary crutch for some households.

“The problem is that credit card debt can be so easy to accumulate. Contactless payments and automatic minimum repayments can make it easy to lose track of spending and the total amount owed.

“When taking on any new debt, including a credit card, it’s very important to have a plan for how to repay it. Taking on more debt or continually putting off repayments is not the answer and will only make existing financial situations worse. Credit cards aren’t a long-term solution for serious financial difficulties, but they can be treated like that.

“For many, credit card debt is affordable. Interest-free periods and transferable balances can help make things manageable. But, it is very easy to be caught out or for small balances to snowball. Where people have outstanding balances which are several years old, you worry about whether that debt can actually ever be repaid.”

Notably, the 25-44 year old age group is the most likely to have a credit card with an outstanding balance. 44% of those in this age group have an outstanding balance, compared to 26% of over-55 year olds (the least likely group to have a credit card with an outstanding balance).

Mark Sands adds: “With a chance of Bank of England base rate rises over the next year or so, which underpin the rates at which commercial lenders price their lending, credit card borrowers may find themselves in for a shock. A significant chunk of the adult population has never experienced base rates higher than 0.5%.”

The research also shows that, of the 34% of British adults who say they often or sometimes struggle to payday, 27% say they struggle because of making credit card repayments.

Mark Sands says: “While credit cards can be a quick fix for financial problems, they can store up problems for later. It’s really important that anyone worried about their debt, or struggling with their finances, speaks to a qualified and regulated expert about their options.”

The proportion of people with debt worries who are worried about credit card debt dwarves the proportion of people with worries about other types of debt. While almost half (49%) of the 34% of British adults worried about their current debt are worried about credit card debt, overdrafts worry just 20%, followed by mortgage repayments and bank loans (each 15%), and student loans(11%).