Success at Any Cost? l Appsolutely Fabulous l Espionage as a Service l The Importance of a Leadership Brand
Grexit a Greek tragedy
Simon Gray, Managing Consultant, Crossbridge comments on the volatile situation following the Greek referendum results.
International Economic Turmoil As Greece and China head towards economic meltdowns, we examine how these could potentially affect the global economy.
Editorâ€™s Note Welcome to the July edition of Corporate Vision. This month we focus on the Greek crisis, how it will affect international economies, how the new deal has changed the situation and what this means for investors, as well as contributions from top names in the industry. We also analyse how China fits into the picture and how the economic meltdown taking place there could have international ramifications. Also in the spotlight is Flendr, a revolutionary new lending system which aims to break the taboo around money lending and change the system for the better. Our CEO profiles this month include Sharon ConstanĂ§on of Genius Methods and Valufin, Justin Forrest from Mindlink and Zahir Dehnadi and Bahman Nedaei of navabi GmbH, all giving us an insight into the world of high powered CEOs and their fascinating companies. Are apps taking over the corporate industry? We examine how they have infiltrated almost every sector and how innovative new apps are enabling businesses to connect with their customers and enhance sales. Turning our attention to payment methods, we examine contactless payments, how the technology is being rapidly being embraced by retailers, banks and customers alike and how it could impact on the wider payment business environment. This month, we also take a look at crime and corruption, with a fascinating feature on how espionage has become a commodity and another on how bribery and corruption can occur in large corporations. We hope you enjoy this issue!
Contents 4 News
9 CEO Profiles Sharon Constanรงon Justin Forrest Zahir Dehnadi, Bahman Nedaei; joint CEOs and co-founders of navabi GmbH
14 Strategy Is It Too Late to Disclose Tax Liability on Overseas Assets?
16 Industry Insight The Importance of a Leadership Brand Success at Any Cost: Corporate Dividends and the Proceeds of Crime Espionage as a Service International Economic Turmoil Grexit - a Greek Tragedy Appsolutely Fabulous
27 SME Flendr: A Revolution in Lending
30 Money Making No Contact
32 60-Second Interviews
Subscription TV Market says BT CEO John Petter has called for Ofcom to formally amend the scope of its Digital Communications Review to include paid for TV, claiming Sky has too much market share. The CEO of BT’s Consumer Division made the comment sin a statement on 10th July, following calls by Sky at the end of June for Ofcom to investigate BT for providing customers with poor service for their Openreach broadband. In the comments, made during a speech to the Broadcasting Press Guild, Petter made it clear that he felt Sky were creating a ‘smokescreen’ to obscure the real issue, which was their dominance in the pay TV market. BT, using data from Analysys Mason Pay-TV pricing and triple-play review in 2014, have stated that they believe ‘Sky pay TV customers are paying close to £50 a year more than the EU average for basic pay TV channels and potentially sums greater than £75 a year more if they opt for premium sports and movie packages’. Petter attributed this to a lack of competition in the pay TV market, using the broadband market as a contrast in light of the comments previously made by Sky. ‘Whereas in the energy market regulators have criticised the Big Six operators, in pay TV Sky has a 64 per cent share, so there is really only the Big One. Relative to EU averages Sky customers are paying around a half a billion pounds more per year for the basic packages of pay TV channels. Switching in pay TV is 50 per cent lower than the levels seen in broadband, so it is clear we just aren’t seeing the right levels of competition for Sky.’ Despite Sky’s alleged domination of the market Petter was also keen to emphasise that BT Sport, the firm’s subscription based sport channel, was still doing comparatively well stating that the channel had attracted ‘2.4 million viewers who weren’t previously viewing Sky Sports’, which he believed was proof that customers were either unwilling or unable to pay Sky’s prices for TV subscriptions. Petter finished his speech by urging Ofcom to ‘give the UK a competitive pay TV market that is fit for the next decade’.
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Global Tax Consultancy Firm Expands Services The deVere Group launches its new tax consultancy service. deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations has launched a new service, its standalone tax consultancy department. The firm, which operates in 100 countries and has more than $10bn under advice and management, says that the new division will focus on U.S., UK and international tax compliance and planning, specializing in UK and U.S. tax returns. The section will be headed by deVere Group’s Global Head of Tax, Neil Walker, who commented that the new tax consultancy division would be using an innovative approach to breathe new life into the industry. ‘deVere Tax Consultancy has been established to meet ongoing and growing demand from existing and potential deVere clients. Until now, few options were available in the marketplace to meet the specialist, U.S., UK, and/or globally-focused requirements our clients needed. With more and more individuals become internationally mobile, and the evolving UK and global tax, legislative and regulatory environments, a fresh approach was required. deVere Tax Consultancy is designed with today’s increasingly international individuals, and the new taxation landscapes, in mind.’
‘It’s incredibly exciting to join a robust global organisation that is dedicated to using its significant resources to enter into an expanding market. We’re committed to helping shape the international tax planning sector and further driving up industry standards’ he added. Walker was also keen to state that the new section of the firm would utilise the company’s vast experience to provide their clients with the best possible service. ‘deVere has sought out the very best technical tax capabilities available to address these developments and combines this with its global infrastructure to exceed clients’ tax expectations. Using our worldwide network, we devise, implement and manage innovative tax strategies that enable our clients to successfully navigate the complex tax systems and ensure they are fully compliant whilst taking full advantage of the allowances available to them to reduce their tax burdens.’
New White Paper Helps Banks Prepare for New Legislation Worksmart have issued a new white paper to help prepare financial institutions for the implementation of the Individual Accountability Regime.
The firm, which provides market leading software to financial services companies, has launched the paper help banks prepare for the upcoming Individual Accountability Regime, which involves tighter regulation of the staffing at banks. The paper offers help and advice on all the key areas that the Senior Management of banks will have to consider under the new legislation. This includes registering new and existing staff and creating a responsibility map, which will give an oversight of who is accountable for which activities under the new legislation. The final rules of the regime have now been published and banks have until March 2016 to make sure they are ready for the new legislation. Colin Fox, the Chief Executive Officer at Worksmart, made it clear that this new white paper would be vital for banks to ensure they have met the terms of the new legislation. ‘The introduction of the Indiviudal Accountability Regime will bring big changes in terms of how banks are managed and who is responsible for what. In addition, those who are in charge of banks will now be accountable for the all the actions of their staff and could potentially face prison if staff breach the rules. This legislation will affect nearly all staff at a bank, from the very newest employees to those in charge of deciding strategy. Managing oversight of these new rules is likely to be a complex and lengthy procedure but getting the right system in place for SMR will make line of sight easier to achieve when the certification regime comes into play. Our white paper gives clear guidance on exactly what is required under the legislation.’
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EVPs: A Talent Magnet? A new factsheet by Talentsmoothie is offering employers advice on how to use Employee Value Propositions to entice the best staff to join their workforce. HR consultancy firm Talentsmoothie, which offers organisational development consultancy that specialising in helping businesses attract top-level staff, has launched a free factsheet to help employees hire the very best staff by using and understanding Employee Value Propositions (EVPs). EVPs are the factors which contribute towards the appeal of working for a business, the mix of characteristics, benefits, and ways of working in an organisation. EVPs allow the firm to stand out amongst its competitors in the ever competitive job market. Research by the Corporate Leadership Council, entitled ‘Resourcing and Talent Planning 2015’, has recently highlighted the importance of EVP for businesses. According to the research, a well-executed EVP can: ‘Improve the commitment of new hires by up to 29%, Reduce new hire compensation premiums by up to 50% and Increase the likelihood of employees acting as advocates from an average of 24% to 47%’.
for London Taxis Hailo taxis has seen a marked increase in usage, making it one of the few winners from the London tube strike. The recent tube strike has caused serious problems for London commuters, but one firm has seen the good side of the crisis with stranded commuters causing them an increase in business. Hailo Taxis, a taxi firm which specialises in transporting business commuters, had an average estimated time for cabs to arrive of four minutes, one second on the day of the Tube strike. During that week registration for the taxi firm’s services also increased by 174% in comparison to an average week. The strike, which occurred for 24 hours on 8th July, was caused by trade union action following a dispute over Transport for London’s proposal to offer 24-hour tube services on the weekends.
Justine James, the founder of Talentsmoothie, was keen to establish that the factsheet will have big implications for firms to use EVP to their advantage and to understand how to utilise it to its full potential. ‘Most organisations encounter two main problems when it comes to their EVP. Firstly, they struggle to differentiate themselves from their competition. Differentiation is crucial if an organisation is to stand out from the ‘sea of sameness’ that characterises some sectors. Secondly, their branding is appealing, but it does not accurately reflect the reality. An effective EVP enables an organisation to stand out as different, but it also ensures that the ‘packaging’ reflects the ‘contents’. All too often people join organisations tempted by the ‘branding’ and are disappointed when they experience the reality. You know when you’ve got it right – you become a magnet for talent, and have engaged and motivated employees.’ The factsheet, offered for free on Talentsmoothie’s website, contains definitions and explanations of what EVPs are as well as a case study, diagrams and visual aids to help business understand and maximise the impact of their EVP. The full factsheet is available here.
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The firm’s Chief Marketing Officer, Gary Bramall, was eager to promote the firm’s reliability and convince against the turmoil that the tube strike caused. ‘Our aim is to help people get around London, no matter what. Tube strikes are disruptive for everyone and we want to be here for Londoners and help get them from A to B in the quickest and easiest way possible. As with previous strikes, we are experiencing higher demand for cabs - more than that of New Year’s Eve. We’re doing our best to ensure our fleet of 15,000 trusted black cab drivers are available to help our customers navigate around London. The best way for customers to ensure peace of mind commuting to work and attending meetings is to use Hailo pre-book during the strike.’
The Key to Success? Greek Strong Client Relationships, Entrance says Baker & McKenzie partner
Speaking for the London School of Business and Finance’s Great Minds Live series, Robert West stated that dedication to clients was vital to global success. West, partner at the multinational law firm Baker & McKenzie, made his comments to a group of law students as part of the LSBF Great Minds Series, which aims to provide students with insight and inspiration through a series of video interviews with leading business and political leaders, designed to promote debate on a variety of subjects including education, employability, entrepreneurship and the economy. The event is unique because it allows students to discuss and interact with the speakers. West, who has worked for Baker & McKenzie for the last 30 years, made his comments in light of the firm’s international success, which has seen it grow from humble beginnings in Chicago in 1949 into a global presence in the law industry which operates 77 offices in nearly 50 countries. Baker & McKenzie have seen the importance of the English legal system in their expansion plans and their London office is their largest. West made it clear in his comments that the most vital global growth strategy was to go where your customers go. ‘We follow our clients around the world, practicing local law in different cities. We deliver services to clients on a global basis.’
‘No other law firm is as broadly spread geographically as we are. We have a very global organisation, with 11,000 people worldwide. Our strength in English law, which is still the most important legal system for international business, is one of the reasons we’ve been able to grow as much as we have’ he added. The law firm has been revolutionary in many ways, for example when it became the first major international law firm to have a female leader when it appointed Christine Lagarde “Madame Chairman” in 1999. ‘Historically there is no doubt that the profession was slow to adapt to a career development structure that benefitted female lawyers as well as male lawyers. That is changing now but the profession can still do more’ West stated on the subject, making it clear that while companies such as his own have been working hard to tackle gender inequality, the entire sector must do more in order to achieve real change. He was also keen to make it clear that his firm hired an equal number of male and female recruits. Customers are not the only high priority for the firm, with West keen to emphasise how vital the firm’s staff are to their global growth. ‘It is very important that we have top quality local lawyers, as well as our own staff and partners, in all of our offices.’
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Money transfer service reports large increase in money transferred into Greece as UK users send help to relatives and friends in the country. As bank restrictions in Greece cause problems for residents, it seems UK consumers are sending money over to help, with the world’s first free money transfer service stating that they have seen an 18% increase in such transfers over the last two weeks. Xendpay.com, which operates in 173 countries and 43 currencies, stated that they believed this increase was due to an increase in UK consumers sending money back home to support their family and friends as restrictions to money-flow remain tight. The Greek government has extended Bank closures and the $60 daily limit on cash machine withdrawals until today as the crisis talk continue, leaving Greek citizens with a distinct lack of cash and an uncertain financial future. Xendpay has transferred over $5billion since it began in 2012, making it the fastest growing money transfer service in the UK. The firm cites the UK as ‘the highest source of remittance outflow in the EU’, making them potentially a key source of financial help for Greek citizens as the crisis deepens.
How Leicestershire is Shaping the Fashion World A delegation of Leicestershire textile businesses is heading to London to showcase its products to a national audience and highlight the region’s contribution to the industry.
Leicestershire Textiles Hub and 12 companies from the city and county will be exhibiting at a national event called Meet the Manufacturer which celebrates fashion and textiles products made in the UK. Currently, one in five garments manufactured in the UK is made in the city and county contributing £590 million to the economy. The Textiles Hub hopes the event, which will be attended by major retailers and buyers, can provide a platform to increase this figure and attract household names to source locally. The two-day event, organised by Make it British, will also feature a fashion show of Leicestershire products in front of an audience of buyers and press and include a keynote speech by Corin Crane, director of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership. Abdul Bathin, the Hub’s programme manager, said: “Leicestershire is an important UK manufacturing centre and the textiles industry is showing encouraging signs of growth.
He said: “It’s a chance to network with other manufacturers, form collaborations and leverage different business opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise. “Hopefully the outcome will be a stronger collaborative offering from Leicestershire.” The event will also see the Textiles Hub distributing a directory showcasing Leicestershire businesses while fashion and celebrity stylist, Zoe Lem, who is from the county, will be styling a selection of clothing and accessories made in the region. Kate Hills, founder and CEO of Make it British, which organises the event, said: “We’re very excited about the partnership with the Leicestershire Textiles Hub. “Their philosophy mirrors ours, to reinvigorate the textiles industry and provide information, inspiration and innovation around British manufacturing. “
“This is a great opportunity to showcase the manufacturing capabilities in the region to key buyers and designers from all over the UK.” Mr Crane added: “With 20% of garment manufacturing done in Leicestershire, we are a significant player in the market and play a vital role in the future of this industry. “Through the Textiles Hub there has been a real momentum gathering within the textiles industry and we hope to build on this excellent work by showing the UK that our local businesses are national leaders in this economic resurgence.” A number of Leicestershire businesses, from a variety of disciplines, will be exhibiting at the event including knitwear, leather and hosiery producers, labels manufacturers and machinery suppliers. These include Mowbray Leather Goods, Elite Labels, Eurorose, 019 Group, Insanity Clothing, Pamela Mann, K Stevens, Fine Knits UK, MTEX Technologies, Jack Masters, Prototype 2 and Soabar. Ben de Zille Butler, operations director at Zero One Nine based in Thurmaston, said the event will be a good opportunity to meet with key buyers.
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Leicestershire Textiles Hub, funded by the European Social Fund, supports local textile manufacturers by promoting the sector and helping businesses to grow and take advantage of new ideas, skills and technology. It is estimated that Leicestershire is responsible for 20 per cent of the UK’s garment manufacturing with an annual turnover of around £560 million. The ‘Meet the Manufacturer’ conference and trade show will take place on June 3 and 4 at the Tobacco Dock, London Docklands. The event is organised by ‘Make it British’ whose founder and CEO is Kate Hills. Leicestershire Textiles Hub will be located at R2/Q1.
Sharon Constançon Sharon Constançon is the CEO of a number of companies including Valufin Ltd. and Genius Methods Ltd. Valufin is a top independent foreign exchange advice service. Genius Methods provides tailored board evaluations, Board level training, mentoring and coaching. Valufin is the second generation of Constançon Currencies, a business she started from scratch in 1988 specifically to provide the first customer orientated foreign exchange outsourced service. Her company grew until it encompassed 350 clients and was floated on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. After a ten year non-competition condition, Sharon went on to create Valufin in 2009, providing her expertise to support organisations in managing their foreign exchange (forex) risk in an effective and appropriate manner for their business. Sharon developed the software which supported Constançon Currencies to deliver the Valufin solutions. Technology has allowed her to ensure that her forex management philosophy is encompassed within the portfolio management logic, allowing her to delegate to her colleagues whilst ensuring that each customer’s needs are correctly serviced.
Although the two firms operate within two distinct disciplines, they provide Sharon with a wide range of business insight which allows her to engage in various aspects of business management. By working within the management teams of some businesses and at Board level with others, Sharon has a two pronged insight into how both people and governance work in various industries. This allows her to provide her clients with the best possible service specifically tailored to their individual needs. As well as focusing on customer care, Sharon takes her responsibilities as an employer very seriously. She is keen on personal development and believes that ‘the fastest way an individual can grow in terms of their career is to work full-time and to study part-time’. She is willing to fund any relevant study her staff wish to undertake to support their personal development.
The indirect competitors with Valufin do not have the access to customers’ information in the way Valufin is able to as an independent adviser, as they are unlikely to have the business experience and are not always able to understand the needs of the companies they serve. This can often be owing to the fact that they have only analysed the markets, rather than the business needs of the company. At Valufin Sharon always ensures that customer needs are fully understood in the context of both the numbers and the business needs. This knowledge, combined with market information, enables Valufin to provide a bespoke service aligned to a particular business and its trading. In addition to Valufin, Sharon is also the CEO of Genius Methods, a company that specialises in Board evaluations for a wide variety of firms ranging from FTSE 100 to SMEs, including family and public sector organisations. Genius Methods helps its clients in becoming more effective as a strategic leadership team, as well as improving their communications, behaviours and decision-making. This involves reviewing the Board and evaluating its governance and its people to determine key areas for improvement, and then providing tailored advice to support creating more efficient, decisive and harmonious Board room communication. Sharon, who describes her business strategy as ‘very human’, sees the central importance of putting her customers first. Although both Valufin and Genius Methods have little customer cross-over, they both benefit from Sharon’s singular dedication to her customers.
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As a keen proponent of further education, Sharon publishes papers and gives lectures and presentations ranging from universities to subject specific training projects. She believes having to think on your feet facing a talented group teaches her as much as it teaches the students, thereby expanding her own knowledge and views. In the future, Sharon sees significant expansion for both businesses whilst at the same time ensuring that her personal, customer centred, methodology, which differentiates her companies from their competitors, is maintained and fostered as a central pillar and USP – Sharon’s reason for “getting up in the morning”.
Justin Forrest Justin Forrest is the CEO of MindLink, a three-year-old technology firm that specialises in enterprise collaboration and chat.
Justin Forrest is the CEO of MindLink, which he refers to as ‘WhatsApp for the enterprise’. Justin joined MindLink only recently from NetOTC, a start-up business focused on the clearing of exotic derivatives of which he was managing director. He has cultivated over twenty-five years’ of experience in the financial markets and with an emphasis on finance and technology. Justin was part of a team that founded QuIC Financial Technologies in 2003, a venture-backed start-up company providing financial organisations with risk analytics solutions. The firm gave Justin experience of starting a company and driving growth in a business still in its early stages of development. Justin steered the firm through the financial crisis in 2008 and helped raise venture capital in excess of $20m for the firm in two separate funding rounds. The firm was acquired by Markit in 2011, following which Justin led their global analytics team for three years. Prior to this Justin held senior positions in various influential financial and technical institutions including Algorithmics, NatWest and RBS Global Financial Markets and IBM. At MindLink he replaces Joseph Do, who founded the company in April 2011 and will now move upwards in the company to take his place as the Chairman of the MindLink board.
MindLink is a software aimed at solving business problems related to security, integration and compliance in corporate sector. The software works in conjunction with the Microsoft Link on-premise, which it sits on top of the program, providing additional functionality as well as making the platform mobile, allowing users to work on all major forms of mobile device including android powered mobiles and tablets, as well as devices not supported by Microsoft such as Apple and Linux devices. The company has two main growth aims, one of which is revenue, the other being shareholder value, both of which Justin is working towards increasing. The firm is also looking to expand its product significantly with the launch of a new cloud-based realisation of its software, which will be provided as a freemium service with advanced functionality sold on a premium basis. A trial version of this software has been available for some time in a limited form, however the full unveiling of this new service will occur in September of this year. This new product will provide the same solutions as the on-premise version of the software, which will allow the firm to reach new customers who do not use Microsoft Link or prefer to use outsourced hosting capabilities.
Justin feels that his previous business experience is heavily applicable to his work with MindLink, which at three years old has already experienced its startup phase and is well into the early stages of growth. Justin is keen to emphasise that he has been bought into MindLink to drive growth using his previous business experience.
By expanding into offering a cloud-based product the firm is also moving itself further into line with its competitors. Although the product does have unique features which set it apart from other similar software products, including some of its security functions as well as its API and mobile capabilities, it is far from the only product in the market.
‘This is an early stage growth company so some of the principals and requirements here will be similar. A significant market share for this product is finance, they tend to be early adopters, and they have clear business needs for this technology and this capability. We are very focused on that and we do have a number of customers in that space already’.
Some of the firm’s major competitors include Slack, which offers integrated communication software and HipChat which supports a variety of different computing platforms. Both these firms already have products which are cloud-based.
However, MindLink is not solely aimed at the financial sector and has a number of customers in environments as varied as government, police forces, utilities and other corporate business. The product itself is not business specific and therefore lends itself to application in a diverse number of industries.
The new cloud-based version of the software will also provide MindLink with the means to interact with their customers. This interaction is varied, from notices apprising them of new features for the application to providing them with technical support, allowing for real-time interactive solutions to customer queries and issues.
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Justin, however, is grateful for his competitors and feels that they are a useful part of the challenge. ‘Competitors are a good thing because they define the market for you and proves there is a need.’ ‘We spend a lot of time making sure our solutions are up to specification with the latest technologies and software patches, and part of what we are doing is providing a secure environment, more so than perhaps others in this space’ Justin added, placing heavy emphasis on the focus that MindLink puts onto user satisfaction. Further on, Justin is keen to grow MindLink by expanding on their existing sales using the new technology to generate revenue. Growing the firm’s online community is also a key part of the business’s long term growth plan, again using the new software as the backbone of this. Justin believes that the new software will give customers ‘a better and more fulfilling experience’ of the product and will also attract new users for the MindLink solution.
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Europe’s Leading Curator for plus Size Fashion They say that when you have a strong kernel of a business idea you must nourish the seeds with love, care and understanding in order to help your business ideas flourish, and grow. This philosophy came naturally to Zahir Dehnadi and Bahman Nedaei, co-founders and joint CEOs of navabi (www.navabi.co.uk), a global leader in premium plus size fashion. The online retailer stocks its range of more than 100 designer brands including their own flagship navabi collection, and was first European retailer to exclusively stock plus size model Ashley Graham’s eponymous lingerie collection. The idea for navabi – currently one of Europe’s leading online fashion retailers for plus size fashion - came partly naturally to both founders, and partly as a natural progression of wanting to develop a new retail model equipped to grow. Bahman says that although he came from a strong retailing family heritage, with several generations of the family involved in the fashion industry, he was less interested in fashion and more interested by the converging worlds of technology and ’fast fashion’. It was in the family owned fashion boutique in Aachen, Germany, that Bahman found the ideal field to fuel his ecommerce passion. Instead of just helping out, he turned his aunt’s business inside out and established an eBay store for online clothing, and thus navabi was born. Since this time, navabi has grown to become the only European premium e-tailer and online merchant for plus size women with offices in both the UK and Germany. As Zahir says ‘We encourage our buying teams to work with brands in persuading them to stop ignoring plus-sizes and embrace the fact that curvier women are keen for high-end fashion too. Size 0 is nothing to aim for; we should democratise fashion and take the size dimension out of it. However, the actions of navabi alone is not enough.’ With a dearth of brands available, Bahman and Zahir determined that the company should launch two own brands, Isolde Roth and Manon Baptiste, and this too would prove a disruptive concept. Rather than produce collections in advance as per industry standard practise, a made-to-order concept was followed. As a result capital is not tied up, the business is not left with stock at the end of the season and best sellers can be replenished. A unique concept amongst online retailers is that it cuts down significantly on supply chain demands. Today these two
brands account for over 25 per cent of the business. June saw the launch of a third consumer brand for the company, the navabi collection. Navabi has now clearly established itself as one of the leading curator of premium plus size fashion. This year sees it stake its claim to being the leading premium plus size brand with a successful soft launch of their navabi collection for spring/summer and a high profile launch for the autumn collection. As the brand progresses, so too has its backing. The company completed a further €25 million funding round earlier in the year lead by venture capital backers Bauer Venture Partners, Index Ventures and others, in order to continue recruiting more senior talent such as own-brand designers to the brand’s London offices. The funding will also be used for developing navabi’s own product offer, including its own label brands, which already account for a quarter of the company’s sales targets, as well as for establishing more presence in fast-moving retail markets. The online retailer now stocks a broad selection of more than 100 brands including designer collections from Elena Miro and Anna Scholz, and leading LA-based denim brand James Jeans. The company’s founders are clear: they wish to not only change fashion for the better, but make plus size women feel accepted as a community at the premium end. They have established key brand partnerships with influential plus-size models and brand advocates, and love finding ways to push boundaries further. But who do they most admire as visionary fashion business leaders who have come before them? Both founders say they admire fashion pioneer Coco Chanel when it comes to being someone who was unwilling to bend to conventional rules to what’s currently in fashion. As Chanel most famously said “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street; fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” And where would both Bahman and Zahir like to see navabi grow to next? Both founders agree that they wish to permanently change the face of premium fashion for e-based businesses. First, it will be by making plus size women recognised as viable consumers, but it will be followed through by consistently placing innovation at the heart of everything they do.
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15 Is It Too Late to Disclose Tax Liability on Overseas Assets? John Cassidy, Tax Investigations Partner at Crowe Clark Whitehill, discusses the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility.
Strategy: Is It Too Late to Disclose Tax Liability on Overseas Assets?
Is It Too Late to Disclose Tax Liability on Overseas Assets? John Cassidy, Tax Investigations Partner at Crowe Clark Whitehill, discusses the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility. As the recent furore over offshore banking and tax evasion indicates, HMRC has already received a huge amount of data about UK residents with offshore bank accounts under a tax agreements with countries such as Switzerland. It may be, therefore, that those with undisclosed overseas assets are already on the HMRC radar. If not, the recent media coverage is spurring HMRC into action which will no doubt lead to severe action, including criminal prosecutions, against selected individuals. New proposals were also announced by HMRC the day after the 2015 Budget, including a â€˜strict liabilityâ€™ rule whereby a person with undeclared finances will be deemed to have committed a criminal offence without any need for HMRC to prove that they deliberately did not report offshore income that is taxable. On top of that, HMRC also announced plans for far harsher penalties based on a percentage of the total balance held in the account rather than a percentage of only the tax arising. However, if you act quickly you can make use of the agreement between HMRC and Liechtenstein - the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility, or LDF, which caters perfectly for these circumstances. Despite having no past connection to Liechtenstein, if you now create a presence there (such as a bank account) you can use the LDF to square matters away with HMRC once and for all. The LDF is complicated but, in a nutshell, once you are registered to use it there is a guarantee of no prosecution for past tax misdemeanours. There is also a unique element not available in any other disclosure facility known as the Composite Rate Option which can be very beneficial in certain circumstances. Under normal tax rules, HMRC can go back up to 20 years and levy tax, interest and penalties accordingly. Given the much higher interest rates 20 years ago, the interest for the first few years may well be more than the tax. Under the LDF, HMRC only goes back to 1999, with no tax charged on anything before then. The penalty is also relatively low, being 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the tax liabilities for most of the period in question, which is much less than would be otherwise expected. The LDF is also far less stressful than a serious HMRC investigation as most of the investigation work is undertaken for you and presented to HMRC by a tax advisor. HMRC takes a back seat during that time. In the 2015 Budget it was announced that the LDF will close at the end of 2015, which is earlier than what was previously stated. It will not be replaced by anything as beneficial, so the main message is that you should act now before being challenged by HMRC. An experienced tax investigations practitioner will be able to guide you smoothly through the LDF process.
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Industry Insight 17 The Importance of a Leadership Brand Rita Trehan, Consultant and Chief Capacity Officer of Rita Trehan LLC discusses how firms can use leadership branding to empower their workforce and drive forward growth.
18 Success at any cost? Corporate dividends and the proceeds of crime Ian Hargreaves, Partner and Fraud, Investigations and Corporate Crime specialist and Dan Burbeary, Managing Associate in the Investigations, Fraud and Compliance team with global law firm, King& Wood Mallesons LLP, examine corruption and bribery in large corporations.
19 Espionage as a Service by Stuart Poole-Robb
20 International Economic Turmoil As Greece and China head towards economic meltdowns we examine how these could potentially affect the global economy.
24 Grexit - A Greek Tragedy Simon Gray, Managing Consultant, Crossbridge comments on the volatile situation following the Greek referendum results.
26 Appsolutely Fabulous Mobile Apps have begun to take over, with businesses increasingly using them as vital ways to reach customers.
Industry Insight: The Importance of a Leadership Brand
The Importance of a Leadership Brand Rita Trehan, Consultant and Chief Capacity Officer of Rita Trehan LLC discusses how firms can use leadership branding to empower their workforce and drive forward growth.
There is nothing more powerful in a marketplace than branding. The word gets bandied about a bit too much lately, though. Individuals have a brand, companies have a brand and even dogs on Instagram seem to have a brand! If I asked you to recount your company’s brand, you could tell me everything about it: the logo, the corporate mission, vision, and values, the corporate motto, even the color scheme that permeates from your packaging down to your letterhead and office décor. It’s essential that any employee can identify the business’s brand.
Google is famously known for their corporate credo, “You can make money without doing evil,” which was a sentiment created by independent academics Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they created the technology giant during their Stanford PhD program. The resulting corporate culture is elegant and simple in its approach: hire top-notch people, pay them well, and inspire and reward creative problem solving by focusing on how they can be of service to their users. As a result, their turnover is practically non-existent, and their Class-A employees are sought the world over.
However, do they know what your Leadership Brand is?
Delta Airlines’ Rules of the Road sets forth an expectation that their employees should know their business code so they can use that knowledge to solve their customers’ problems, a core value they like to call “servant leadership.” They encourage courage and optimism, and empower their leadership to take the initiative to meet the clients’ needs. Delta’s extensive leadership development and talent management programs are part of their leadership brand, and are so successful they’ve been known to teach other companies how to incorporate it into their own talent programs.
A Leadership Brand is the evolution of a company’s credo in action with its employees. It takes your mission statement down to each individual leader within the company and sets an expectation of excellence. It’s the corporate brand statement in action, and it can be one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. The examples of strong leadership branding are easy to spot: Google, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Facebook, and Delta Airlines are just a few. When you see those brands in your mind’s eye, the fortitude of a strong company comes to mind, but a tinge of envy might cross your mind as you consider what it must be like to work there. You wouldn’t be alone: every one of the companies listed are in the top 10 desired employers for recent business and technology graduates, and they remain at the top of the heap for seasoned candidates as well. All of these companies are visions of powerful leadership branding: trustworthy products, champions of innovation, empowered management teams, and an emphasis on creative leadership and problem solving. Each of these companies have created guiding principles for how their leaders will do what is best for the company in accordance with the company mission, but they take it one step further by placing their clients and shareholders at the center of all decision making. They’re driven to meet and/or exceed customer and investor expectations. They work to inspire trust, admiration, and brand loyalty. They know that empowered, creative problem solvers will make the right decision for all involved, and they’re right. While all of these companies share the common thread of a strong leadership brand, each does it in a very different way.
The components of a strong leadership brand are easy to spot. The first trait is a focus on developing such a strong team of talent around their corporate mission that one departure won’t topple the entire structure. A focus on developing the core group of leaders ensures longevity around the corporate mission. Second, managers must internally emulate external high expectations of corporate performance: they need to be as driven for results as the market would demand and should be evaluated against these principles. Third, there is a focus on development of the breadth and depth of skills that ensure well-rounded, critical and creative thinkers. Finally, there must be constant evaluation of the leadership brand. If it’s not delivering results to reach the firm’s goals then it must be fine-tuned. If you don’t think the creation of this line item is important, you need only look at the rate of failure for businesses globally to see how important it really is. Employees who are stifled creatively and feel suffocated by corporate credos that are antiquated and show lack of agility will soon depart or drive the company into the ground, clutching to rigid guidelines that render them useless in the face of a fast-pace, customer-driven marketplace. The companies that survive understand that a corporate vision will only
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succeed if everyone feels empowered to rise to the guiding set of principles the company has set forth. That is the power of a strong leadership brand. The most important aspect of this is the focus on this section of corporate culture, your staff. Your designated commanders will surprise you with incredible ingenuity, profit-driven creativity, and fantastic performance if they know the guidelines in which they have to work. Hiring becomes much easier when others outside your company see your people in action, engaged and empowered around a centralized theme that attracts like-minded individuals. Investors will be able to sell your brand for you, clients will trust and engage with your goods and services. You cannot succeed without it, and whether you craft it internally or work with a consulting practice to create it, it’s one of the most important things you will ever do for your business. A leadership brand is, quite frankly, how you will build corporate agility and success. Building a strong leadership brand will allow you to set forth your vision, and then watch as others evangelize your guiding principles for you beyond your wildest dreams.
Industry Insight: Success at Any Cost?
Success at Any Cost? Corporate Dividends and the Proceeds of Crime
Ian Hargreaves, Partner and Fraud, Investigations and Corporate Crime specialist and Dan Burbeary, Managing Associate in the Investigations, Fraud and Compliance team with global law firm, King& Wood Mallesons LLP, examine corruption and bribery in large corporations.
Many multinational corporations which operate in the UK have overseas subsidiaries, and expect to receive increasing returns from those operations when business is booming. The ultimate parent company will also be expected to reward its own shareholders by paying out dividends, which can include repatriated returns from overseas subsidiaries. Unfortunately, the old adage that if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true still rings true. Recent corruption probes into some of the world’s best known corporations and organisations, including FIFA, football’s global governing body, have placed problems caused by endemic bribery and corruption squarely back in the global spotlight. Whilst corporations tend, understandably, to focus on the risks of criminal liability resulting from bribery and corruption, particularly for directors and senior officers (who can face personal prosecution), the payment of bribes to secure contracts or other business advantages can also have significant financial consequences over and above the obvious criminal penalties associated with the bribe itself. Individuals or corporate entities who have had nothing to do with the original bribery offence might be expected to have asked questions about the profits that were derived as a result, and may therefore be seen to have been complicit in allowing money to be laundered, by way of a dividend payment or other financial benefit, or face civil action if they are deemed to have received the proceeds of crime. This article looks at the civil powers available to the UK Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (“POCA”) to recover payments it considers to be derived from criminal activity. It also considers some other risks faced by corporations and their senior officers when subsidiaries are found to have obtained business through the payment of bribes. The statutory regime The statutory basis for the SFO’s civil powers to recover the proceeds of crime is set out in Part 5 of POCA.
Investigating agencies, including the SFO and the Crown Prosecution Service, can apply to the High Court of England and Wales (or the Court of Session in Scotland) for a civil recovery order compelling a defendant, or other third parties, to pay over property that represents the proceeds of criminal conduct. If the SFO can establish, on the balance of probabilities (i.e. to the civil standard of proof), that profits have resulted from corrupt corporate activities, no matter where that conduct has taken place, then those profits are deemed to have been made as a result of “unlawful conduct” and constitute “recoverable property”. Applications for a civil recovery order brought under Part 5 of POCA are not criminal proceedings, and are not dependant on criminal proceedings also being brought. They are actions against property, as opposed to particular individuals or corporate entities. A dividend can amount to “recoverable property” if it is possible to trace payments received under, for example, a contract obtained by bribes through to the payment of the dividend. Other risks The introduction of the UK Bribery Act 2010 means both corporate entities, and their senior officers, face serious criminal consequences if found to have offered, paid or received bribes, or if (in the case of commercial organisations) they have failed to prevent bribery being carried out on their behalf and did not have adequate systems in place to mitigate such risks. In addition, the anti-money laundering regime introduced by POCA and related legislation means that parent companies and investors must take steps to satisfy themselves as to the probity of the business operations of their subsidiaries or portfolio companies. If they do not, then there is a risk that a parent company whose subsidiaries (or an investor whose portfolio companies) pay bribes to obtain business, and which receives the benefit of that business - such as in the form of dividends - could commit a criminal anti-money laundering offence. In extreme cases, the parent company or investor could itself be deemed to have
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been involved in money laundering if it has received the proceeds of crime. Even if the parent company or investor has not directly colluded in money laundering with the corrupt parties, there is a risk they might be held to have had some knowledge or suspicion of money laundering, such that a failure to report that knowledge or suspicion would itself amount to an anti-money laundering offence, with potentially serious consequences for those working in regulated professions and/or the designated money laundering reporting officer/s in any organisation. Although the UK Bribery Act does not demand notification to the authorities of knowledge or suspicion of bribes being paid or received a corporate entity or investor will have no alternative but to report to the National Crime Agency the transfer or receipt of proceeds of crime, failure to do so being a criminal offence in its own right. What does the future hold? Several campaigning bodies have warned the SFO to use its criminal powers rather than fall back on deals with corporates through Deferred Prosecution Agreements. However, it seems inevitable the SFO will continue to use its substantial civil powers to claw back profits of corrupt activity from shareholders and other third parties who may have had nothing to do with, and no knowledge of, the bribes in question, as a supplement, or even a cost-effective alternative, to full blown criminal investigations and prosecutions. Investors, in the meantime, should ensure they truly know the source of their investment returns, or risk losing them altogether.
Industry Insight: Espionage as a Service
Espionage as a Service Stuart Poole-Robb, Chief Executive of the security, business intelligence and cyber security adviser, the KCS Group Europe, examines espionage as a commodity in today’s online society.
Espionage as a tradecraft dates back to days of Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth I’s spymaster, in the Sixteenth Century. But the widespread of adoption of the Internet is rapidly transforming this centuries’ old industry. Espionage as a Service (EaaS) is now being offered to corporations and to national governments as hackers try and monetize the data they have stolen from corporate data systems. Intellectual property theft in the US alone is estimated to cost companies a staggering US$300 billion a year. Nevertheless, the scale of international corporate espionage is about to mushroom as cyber criminals start to discover that gaining access to the right information can be more lucrative than stealing. On May 16 of this year, Tianjin University Professor Hao Zhang was arrested upon entry into the United States from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in connection with an indictment charging a total of six individuals with economic espionage and theft of trade secrets in a long-running effort to obtain US trade secrets for the benefit of universities and companies controlled by the Chinese government. Previously, Zhang had conducted research and development on thin-film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) technology, used in the production of radio-frequency filters, at a Southern Californian university with funding from US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Zhang subsequently accepted employment as an FBAR engineer with Skyworks Solutions in Massachusetts. Some of the allegedly stolen trade secrets belong to Skyworks. “Sensitive technology developed by U.S. companies in Silicon Valley and throughout California continues to be vulnerable to coordinated and complex efforts sponsored by foreign governments to steal that technology,” said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. “Combating economic espionage and trade secret theft remains one of the top priorities of this Office.”
tive organised criminal gang (OGC) targeting defence and telecommunications companies. Nicknamed “Pitty Tiger”, the OCG has been identified by Airbus as “a for-hire hacker group - small, stealthy, with a limited budget and resources who favour a small number of high-value targets”. The fact that these appear to be highly targeted attacks directed at organisations working in the defence industry has, however, lulled many chief executives in non-related industries into a state of false security. There is a widespread misconception that companies not directly involved in defence contracts are of little interest to foreign governments. Many organisations in other industries, however, have clients or partner organisations that are of interest to hackers working on behalf of foreign governments. For example, a European utilities provider, wrongly convinced it had little data worth stealing, was appalled to discover that its leaky IT system had been used as a back door to gain entry into one of its customers’ databases by Chinese State actors. The customer happened to be a nuclear contractor for the defence industry. Other types of organisation that have been targeted by State actors in the pay of powers such as China include the healthcare sector. Intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic believe that State actors are stealing health care records and other personal data of key government and defence contractor workers in order to gain access to sensitive data. Once they have amassed enough data on key individuals they can use this profile to compose fake emails requesting passwords in order to gain access to the entire system. Another strategy is to amass enough personal data to blackmail workers in key sectors into revealing passwords and log-in details.
Giant aircraft manufacturer Boeing has also been targeted by EaaS hackers. Last year, a Grand Jury indicted Su Bin, a Chinese businessman with residency in Canada, on five felony charges including conspiracy to steal trade secrets and to illegally export defence articles related to the Boeing C-17, F-22 and F-35 aircraft.
But espionage on the part of foreign governments is only a part of the picture. In the digital age, many companies’ chief asset is their data and that has now become a prime target for OCGs. The longstanding head of the Vienna Stock Exchange, Michael Buhl, recently said that the future will be data sales between corporations rather than traditional takeovers. OCGs have not been slow to realise that corporate has a high resale value.
A report by aerospace giant Airbus, “Eye of the Tiger”, also details the exports of a relatively small but innova-
Sometimes, the hackers steal data such as product design, business strategies and customer records in
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order to sell it to the target organisation’s competitors. Other OCGs simply prefer to auction the sensitive data on the Dark Web, the term for illicit encrypted websites that sell services ranging from drug dealing to murder. However, a more recent trend is that of hackers trying to legitimise the stolen data by disguising it as legitimate market research before selling on to the target organisation’s competitors. This is a process known as ‘data laundering’. As many corporations are often willing to buy competitive intelligence without asking too many questions or querying its origins, this is an easy move for those selling EaaS to make. With more ways of monetising stolen data starting to materialise, it is essential that all organisations, even those who may mistakenly believe they have little data worth stealing, should take immediate steps to safeguard their IT systems. They should also take the precaution of carrying out research to see how much of their data may already have been leaked and put up for sale. For this purpose, it is essential that the company use the services of a professional adviser with access to embedded sources within the Dark Web.
Industry Insight: International Economic Turmoil
International Economic Turmoil
As Greece and China head towards economic meltdowns we examine how these could potentially affect the global economy. China and Greece have dominated headlines in recent weeks, for all the wrong reasons. Greece recently voted ‘no’ to austerity measures proposed by its main creditor, the International Monetary Fund, with influence from the German government. Although the country has not voted to remove itself from the Euro and an agreement of austerity measures has just been agreed to, there are still major economic issues for the country. Meanwhile China has seen a colossal fluctuation in its stock markets, with the government interference leading to major rises in the economy which has also seen huge falls over the recent weeks. The Greek crisis offers numerous issues for global economy, as the country not only has massive debts but is also in danger of leaving the Euro, which could have immense repercussions both for them and the countries that still use the currency. Greece was dealt a further blow when, following the ‘no’ referendum vote, the country’s finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, resigned his post, leaving Greece even more adrift. Ian Forrest, Investment Research Analyst at The Share Centre, made it clear that the new deal struck today is not the end of the road for Greece and that more improvements will need to occur. ‘Investors should note that the terms of the deal are far stricter than the bailout proposal which was roundly rejected by the Greeks in the recent referendum, especially in the areas of tax and pensions. There are numerous hurdles ahead for the Greek government, which strongly suggest that the reprieve for the markets may only be temporary. The deal will need to be approved by the Greek parliament by Wednesday, as well as by the French and German parliaments in due course.’
Jaisal Pastakia, the Investment Manager at Heartwood Investment Management, was keen to point out that the Greek turmoil has far-reaching implications. ‘Outside of Greece, the broader European recovery continues. In particular, credit trends have turned positive and domestic demand is strengthening. Labour market conditions are tightening and this is starting to feed into real wage growth, particularly in Germany. There is also growing evidence of a recovering property sector in countries hard hit by the sovereign debt crisis in 2011 – Spain and Ireland, most notably. The risk, of course, is that negative sentiment surrounding Greece feeds into economic data, but for now the broader growth trajectory remains stable.’ These other countries may have chosen to pull away from the Euro if Greece had, with anti-austerity movements holding a lot of sway with voters in Spain and Portugal who are keen to avoid austere budgets. Numerous nations leaving the Euro could have had vast implications for the currency, as well as the economic health of Europe in general. However there is still a long way to go for the Eurozone creditor nations and the recovery of their money despite the new agreement. Michael Stanes, the Investment Director of Heartwood Investment Management, believes that creditor nations will struggle to come up with a solution that allows them to reclaim their money. ‘Some form of debt restructuring appears inevitable longer term, but European creditor nations will have the job of persuading their national parliaments to share the burden of liabilities across the eurozone region. The European Union continues to struggle with reconciling an economic union absent a political union to preserve national sovereignty among member states. The mutualisation of eurozone debt has been talked about since the euro sovereign crisis erupted four years ago, but we are a long way from seeing this concept become a reality. That makes
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the task all the harder for the ECB, a rules-based institution which has been caught in the maelstrom of keeping the Greek banks afloat and implementing creditors’ demands.’ Whilst Greece and Europe face economic meltdown, with little hope of the creditor nations recouping their money in full and many nations facing economic peril no matter what course of action they choose, China is also facing serious economic issues which could potentially worsen the Eurozone’s precarious predicament. The Chinese markets lost around 30% of their value since mid-June in early July. Chinese investors use a herd mentality which means that investors tend to move together, meaning that trends tend to be bigger in the Chinese market than in others, but these huge fluctuations are both worrying and frightening for the international markets. James Fattal from the financial news website Investing.com, made it clear that this has prompted rapid action from the Chinese government. ‘The recent slide prompted policymakers in Beijing to provide fresh support measures to boost liquidity and calm investors.’ This stock market crash in China is being viewed more as a lack of trust in the policy setters than anything else, with Chinese investors growing increasingly paranoid about their investments, leading to the government propping up the ailing stock market with drastic support measures. These have so far been successful, with figures showing the composite market closed up at around 4.5% on 10th July. Overall, an economic collapse in either economy could trigger an epic fallout, with each having the potential to cause collapse in the other. Finding are positive for now, with China seemingly bouncing back and Greece looking set to remain in the Euro provided conditions are met, but both China and Greece are still in a precarious financial situation which could turn at any moment.
Industry Insight: International Economic Turmoil
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Industry Insight: International Economic Turmoil
What Will Greece’s Resolution Mean for Investors? As Greece and the Eurozone meet an agreement, Ian Forrest, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, explains what it could mean for investors. ‘After a long weekend of negotiations and an allnight session on Sunday, Eurozone leaders finally agreed a deal on Greece. This will avert the risk of the country going bankrupt, the collapse of the Greek banking system and an exit from the euro - at least for the moment. Investors should note that the terms of the deal are far stricter than the bailout proposal which was roundly rejected by the Greeks in the recent referendum, especially in the areas of tax and pensions. There are numerous hurdles ahead for the Greek government, which strongly suggest that the reprieve for the markets may only be temporary. The deal will need to be approved by the Greek parliament by Wednesday, as well as by the French and German parliaments in due course. The news today was welcomed by investors since it suggests that the Greek government is willing to make compromises and the sceptical nations in the Eurozone are prepared to give Greece another chance. We continue to believe that investors holding a diverse range of blue chip stocks for the long term should be relatively unaffected and may even see opportunities as the market volatility continues.’
Don’t Get Too Carried Away with the ‘A-GreekMent’, Warns deVere The new Greek bailout agreement is “a sticking plaster and simply kicks the can further down the road”, warns the chief executive of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations. The comments from Nigel Green, founder and Chief Executive of the deVere Group, come following Greece reaching an agreement with its creditors after 17 hour marathon negotiations. He says: ‘Something had to give. It couldn’t have gone on much longer and it is, of course, a positive step in the right direction that there is a so-called “a-Greek-ment”. However, no-one on either side should be popping any champagne corks just yet. This saga still has a long way to go. If Tspiras can push the tough reforms through the Greek parliament by Wednesday evening, he is only securing a bridging loan that will enable Greece to keep the bankruptcy wolves from the door until negotiations can start for a third bailout.’ He continues: ‘This crisis has caused fundamental damage to the Greek economy and financial system and those problems aren’t going away. Today’s agreement is a sticking plaster and kicks the can down the road. Capital controls are likely to remain and the new austerity measures will probably, at least in the short term, damage the already incredibly fragile economy even further. Greece’s membership of the Eurozone remains under an enormous question mark, not least because Greek debt needs to be dramatically restructured and there needs to be real commitment to modernise the Greek economy - and this, sadly, is looking unlikely to happen any time soon.’ The deVere CEO says despite the deal, the wider problems which cannot be ignored remain and the crisis is not over yet, ‘Trust has been shattered on almost every level in this crisis – between Greece and its creditors and, many would argue, now between the Greek leaders and the Greek electorate – 62 per cent of who explicitly rejected reforms in last Sunday’s referendum. Trust will be difficult to rebuild. The whole saga highlights how it is imperative that Euro leaders now urgently need to devise, implement and manage a new, more cohesive long-term plan if countries with different tax rates, pension rules and other financial and cultural elements are to share the same currency effectively.’
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Industry Insight: International Economic Turmoil
Equity Markets Are Lower On Greek Headline Risk But European Fundamentals
By Jaisal Pastakia, Investment Manager at Heartwood Investment Management
• European equity markets are falling in response to Greek political headline risks • The situation is fluid but we believe that the fundamental case for investing in European equities remains intact as the broader European recovery continues outside of Greece • While we are likely to see further market volatility, we would consider buying on market weakness depending on the outcome European equity markets have appreciated since December 2014, but have fallen 7% from the high achieved in mid-April (local currency) to the time of writing (06/18/15). Nervousness surrounding Greece’s financing crisis and the increasing expectation of a negative outcome have contributed to market volatility. We expect a Greek exit to be avoided, although we may see the imposition of capital controls. Nevertheless, at this time, sentiment appears to be driving markets and investors are seeing the breakdown of talks between Greece and its creditors as an opportunity for profit taking. On balance, we do not believe that headline events alter the fundamental case for investing in European equities at the current time, notwithstanding that the situation is fluid and we are monitoring developments closely. Political events are driving market weakness. The Greek government is refusing to negotiate on its ‘red lines’ (for example, achieving a primary surplus over the coming years and more flexibility around debt repayment) having been elected on an anti-austerity mandate. At the same time, the creditors (the IMF, European Commission and the European Central Bank –the ‘Troika’) are refusing to allow Greece to slip in terms of meeting its fiscal targets. In doing so, Europe’s political leaders run the risk of galvanising a broader anti-austerity movement in Spain and Portugal, where there are parliamentary elections later this year. However, beyond the political noise, we believe that there is less to fear with Greece than in 2011/2012. It is worth highlighting that two-thirds of the debt is held by public institutions (i.e. the Troika) and not private creditors. We also have more clarity about banks’ balance sheets in light of the Asset Quality Review and rigorous European Central Bank stress tests in 2014. Outside of Greece, the broader European recovery continues. In particular, credit trends have turned positive and domestic demand is strengthening. Labour
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market conditions are tightening and this is starting to feed into real wage growth, particularly in Germany. There is also growing evidence of a recovering property sector in countries hard hit by the sovereign debt crisis in 2011 – Spain and Ireland, most notably. The risk, of course, is that negative sentiment surrounding Greece feeds into economic data, but for now the broader growth trajectory remains stable. As the negotiations between Greece and its creditors proceed, we expect further market volatility. However, depending on the nature of the outcome, we would potentially consider buying on market weakness if the fundamentals remain supportive.
Industry Insight: Grexit - a Greek Tragedy
Grexit - a Greek Tragedy Simon Gray, Managing Consultant, Crossbridge comments on the volatile situation following the Greek referendum results.
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Industry Insight: Grexit - a Greek Tragedy The voice of the Greek proletariat cried ‘No!’ A decisive 61% of people voted against Europe’s austerity plan, yet a deal has been agreed between Greece and their creditors. Who has buckled and have the Greek people been ignored? The Greek government was always against the austerity imposed by Europe and the IMF; it was after all their outspoken opposition which gave them power. The creditors were being as stubborn and it seemed neither were likely to budge, so how do we find ourselves with a deal even later than the 11th hour, and importantly will this all be replayed again and again each time a deadline is pending for Greece? European Central bank (ECB) had already announced Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) for Greek banks after a request from the Greek Central Bank to increase available liquidity. Greek Banks are able to borrow more than usual from the ECB but at a higher rate to help support their liquidity as customers withdraw their funds. This is an enormous amount of liquidity for the banks that already have limited or no access to global liquidity and whose bond and equity values are the worst in Europe. What does it all mean? Most international banks have reduced completely or have extremely low exposure to Greece. Recent BIS statistics highlight the dramatic change in sentiment towards Greece over the last 4 years. For example, in 2010 French banks had an exposure of $15 billion to the Greek public sector; by the end of 2014, however, this had been reduced to just $20 million. Britain has also limited the exposure of their financial system to Greece, with only a handful of Greek banks operating in the UK. The ripples which will be felt should there be a Greek exit will not hurt the international community as greatly as they would have in 2012, but for Greece itself there is pain to be endured whatever the outcome. It’s fair to say that as the country’s financial system sat in limbo the damage was being done and nerves rattled around the markets. The shifting focus to other countries struggling to cope with mounting public debt may irrevocably spread the fear of multiple exits. Surging anti-austerity/ anti-euro movements might leverage on Greek developments, further radicalising their stances With Spain and Portugal both bracing themselves for elections in the coming months the political debate might become very loud, bringing about a prolonged period of uncertainty, does this deal give them a breather?. As we saw in 2008, a staggered approach and cherry picking of default prolonged the agony of the global economy, so again with the situation in Greece it has taken far too long to play out more damage has inevitably been done. As in 2012 we have begun to see again in recent months wider spread from the seemingly safe German bonds to southern European countries. Generally, European countries and the overall European economy are stronger than they were in 2012 but whether Europe is strong enough to handle an exiting country and the ripples it will create remains to be seen. The truth is, yet again we find ourselves in unchartered waters in terms of a solution to this problem. A new package has been agreed, but are the likes of Germany footing the bill for Greece and their stand on
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cuts? Is this the end? Who and when will be next and what will the landscape look like after a deal? Lots of questions remain left open, some will become clear in hours, some in days but if one thing is clear this will certainly not be the last we hear of Grexit and unfortunately Grimbo (limbo). Has enough been done to ensure EU strength? With the growing spread from the likes of Germany to that of Greece like we saw back in 2008 could more have been done to prevent this happening? What lessons from the banking sector collapse have not been learned and what can still be done to avoid future turmoil? A lot of burden has been directed at Greece and their stance on austerity as there was in 2008 towards Lehmans and their over leveraging and exposures to subprime, yet Greece’s economy did not fall apart overnight. The Lehman collapse was a combination of many factors but lack of regulatory supervision seemed to get the lightest of coverage despite the global and pioneering changes post the event re-designing not only oversight but the industry as a whole. Was Greece in a similar position? Markets and organisations had reduced exposure before much of the issue was in the public domain, so being part and active in the EU did they get the support and solidarity needed early on in identifying and acting to resolve – so like with Lehmans could this have been caught, and addressed years ago? At Crossbridge this is an extremely interesting situation for our clients and we feel there is huge focus and interest in the markets, FX, equity with ties, investment. These factors have already been priced into a worst case scenario, so will has rescue package rallied the markets? It is certainly clear to those in the financial services industry that a Grexit would have greatly damaged market sentiment and lead to a bout of risk aversion. It is not unforeseeable that we could witness an additional stock market correction of 10% to 15%, while at the same time those seeking quality would lead to a fall in core bond yields. On the money markets, excess liquidity remains important, probably even increasing on the back of the ECB’s action. When looking at the value and stability of the EURO, a potential decline would likely be facilitated in two ways: via a risk channel or a monetary policy channel. In terms of the former, the act of Greece leaving the EMU and the EURO being no longer irreversible would have been a clear negative for the currency, with investors likely assigning a higher risk to EURO denominated assets. Stepping up the pace of monthly purchases and increasing QE by the ECB would move the euro naturally lower on the basis of relatively looser monetary policy in relation to other central banks. There is no doubt that the direct impact of Grexit on the European economy would be less severe than one could have expected in the past. Ultimately banks will not be putting their models around the reverse the introduction of the EURO if Greece exits. Run and play books will also stay close to hand as they would be key to a smooth transition for banks and as we know unrest like this means opportunity for the hungry.
Industry Insight: Appsolutly Fabulous
Appsolutely Fabulous Mobile Apps have begun to take over, with businesses increasingly using them as vital ways to reach customers.
Apps have taken over not only technology, but in the business world. Originally simply downloadable products for smartphone and tablet users this software has grown steadily in recent years, now linking users to products and services and offering businesses a unique opportunity to connect with their customers. Recent research by Nielsen shows that app usage has grown steadily over the last three years, with the average amount of time spent using apps over a month saw a 63% rise between 2012 and 2014. The survey found that a key factor in the rise in app usage steamed from entertainment, with apps that were classed as entertainment and provided a gaming or entertainment function (even if they actually linked to businesses, brands or products) seeing a year on year rise of 13% between 2013 and 2014. Business have become attuned to this, with various companies offering game or entertainment-style apps which link back to their products in a bid to draw customers in. Many apps use traditional methods to gain revenue from apps, such as in-app purchases, advertising or charging customers to download the apps, but with as these apps become increasingly popular firms are using the software to link with their tangible products or services in creative and original ways. Apps are often linked to other products, such as TV shows, with shows such as CSI and channels such as ITV and the BBC linking content with their app content to engage with customers through their online devices in addition to traditional advertising. Disney has a range of mobile game apps called Imagicademy which link to their animated features.
The majority of these apps are aimed at young children, with research by Ofcom stating that in 2014 one in three children had their own tablet computer and 31% of children aged 5-15 owned a smartphone. However, brands aimed at a more adult audience have been using app technology to their advantage, with many products having QR scan codes on them which allow customers to take a picture of the QR code (a small square link similar to a barcode) and use an app which will link to their website. Customers have been keen to embrace QR codes because they are less laborious than typing in and searching for a website using traditional search engines. Many firms have also developed their online content into apps, such as Just Eat, a takeaway directory service which began online but expanded into an app as the software increased in popularity. Many shopping and retail service such as Next, Asos, Tesco and Game offer their customers discounts or additional deals and offers when they use their apps, as well as allowing them to purchase products on the move. Apps are even integrating into other services, with Apple recently launching their Apple Watch which allows users to view all the content from their phones (including using apps) on a wristwatch with a small square touchscreen, making apps even more portable. The increasing popularity of apps is provides businesses with the opportunity to interact with their customers in new ways, as well as offering the chance for firms to link their products with their web content, as the popularity of game-based apps increases. Also,
Build-A-Bear Workshop have also recently released a new range of plush toys, the Honey Girls, which act are the firmâ€™s first multi-media toy range which links to their online app, The free Honey Girls Studio app which allows users to create their very own music videos and photos using exclusive songs and images linked with the Honey Girls. The app also allows customers to access numerous product related content such as biographies, music videos, a music-video maker, and a selfie activity, as well as memory games and the ability to unlock special features.
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linking web content with apps allows businesses to increase their advertising and reach a broader spectrum of customers. Apps also provide retailers with the opportunity to make themselves more accessible to customers by providing apps which let users buy products on the move, which will increase sales dramatically as customers utilise the convince of using apps to purchase goods whilst on the move. As the market expands, so does the technology, with developers constantly inventing new ways to improve in-app marketing for businesses. A key example of this is push messaging or push notifications, which allows apps to contact customers who have downloaded their app whilst they are not using it, or are using another app. This allows businesses to engage with customers who are not currently active on their app and encourage them to return to it. Marketing tools such as this one have produce proven results, allowing businesses to interact with their customers within the app and encourage them to use it. Research by Localytics shows that 52% of people allow push messages and within this there was 88% higher engagement in push messaged apps, on average, for users who had enabled the service. As the app market increases, businesses would benefit greatly from utilising them as a key component of their marketing campaign, and unlike many traditional forms of advertising and marketing, the more creative companies are with apps the more customers will use them.
28 Flendr: A Revolution in Lending Flendr, a new lending system which enables sharing money through social circles, challenges the stigma around lending money to friends.
SME: Flendr: A Revolution in Lending
A Revolution in Lending Flendr, a new lending system which enables sharing money through social circles, challenges the stigma around lending money to friends.
28 Corporate Vision July 2015
SME: Flendr: A Revolution in Lending Money has always been a taboo topic, but Flendr, a new online platform which offers to act as a buffer between borrowers and their friends and family, aims to break it. Research conducted by the company shows that a third of British people would rather their social networks borrowed from them over payday or other lenders. The study of two thousand UK consumers showed that the older generations were the most affected by bad borrowing experiences, with 40% of people over the age of fifty five saying that they would not consider asking those closet to them for as much as £1. However the study also proved that consumers were open to lending and borrowing from friends and relatives, with 44% keen to support their family and friends financially and one in seven believing that borrowing money proves who their real friends are. Young people were particularly keen to embrace social borrowing, with 46% of participants aged between 16- 24 years old felt comfortable borrowing from and lending to friends and family. It is this attitude that Flendr is keen to harness. Unlike traditional forms of borrowing, Flendr does not have any money. Instead, the firm acts as a social platform, allowing people in need of money to appeal to numerous friends and family for help. They can set a self-imposed interest rate or simply ask for the money as a gift. Once money is paid to the asker, Flendr acts as the note-taker, keeping a record of who has been repaid and sending reminders if money is late, allowing friendships to remain intact and reducing the social awkwardness. Daniel Green, the firm’s CEO, is keen to establish that Flendr is like nothing the lending market has ever seen before, and that their biggest competitor in the industry is not banks, nor payday lenders, but people themselves. ‘I think our biggest competitor is actually the stigma of lending. Currently there is around £12.6 billion worth of lending that goes on between family and friends and I think that could be considerably greater if people were made to feel more comfortable about it. When it comes to friendship, the more we give and the more we share the closer our friendship becomes. For example, people are happy to share their time and their cars, as we’ve already seen on a number of websites. They’re even happy to share their house but sharing money, between friends has always been a little bit of a stigma and I think that in some ways is our biggest competitor. The beautiful thing about Flendr is that it takes away that sort of very personal problem that lending money can bring, because it simply puts a third party involved doing all of the reckoning and reminding.’ ‘And furthermore, what it does is it’s a third party platform, in other words a third party relationship, in the sense that Flendr does the note taking effectively, how much was lent or what was collected and when that’s required to be paid and does the reminding and therefore your friendship remains intact’, Green continued. Flendr’s revenue is generated by taking around 2% of the amount lent, which is taken after the money has been offered and is confirmed before the loan is confirmed. This contributes towards the running costs of the platform, and allows safer borrowing as it does not increase with time, allowing borrowers and lenders alike to feel safe and supported. Because the plat-
July 2015 Corporate Vision 29
form’s motivations in chasing individuals for payment are not financial, as the Flendr’s fee will already have been paid, users know that they are not in danger of repercussions from the platform and that it is their social conscience that needs appeasing. ‘Ultimately, unlike, let’s say a payday loan or a doorstep loan, we’re not going to send the bailiffs round and there’s no massive increasing interest charges’ Green added. The platform has other uses besides simply lending, with collections for gifts or even donations to help with projects accepted through Flendr. This provides users with a lot of scope to take the hassle out of social finance situations. Green uses the example of collecting money for gifts for teachers to demonstrate how the platform’s technology simplifies and transforms the situation. ‘Another feature that we’ve had a lot of success with is pledging. So let’s say you’re buying a gift for a teacher, because with the school holidays coming up we’ve got a lot of people doing that. What will happen is the organiser sets up the collection on Flendr and sends out a link for everyone to contribute. But it gets to the time of buying the present and some people won’t have paid so what should you do? Because 3 people haven’t paid and 7 have, do you not buy the gift, when the teacher’s about to leave? The answer is no you buy it yourself and then those 3 who haven’t got around to contributing are outstanding. Effectively, they are borrowing from the organiser, and Flendr will send out reminders as it would do for any loan’ So what’s next for Flendr? The firm is still in the very early stages of growth and is not fully launched in the UK, with Green referring to its current state as a ‘beta launch’, but the CEO has grand plans for the future of the platform. This includes collaborations with other social media platforms and expansion into the mobile technology market through integration with mobile payment systems. ‘From our perspective the first thing to do is launch fully in the UK. We have launched but it’s a very beta launch at the moment, we’ve had a lot of take up and interest which is exciting. We plan to roll out very quickly in the UK and we plan to look internationally but what we’re keen to do is link up with a lot of the mobile payment platforms that are coming in Zap and Apple Pay.’ He continued: ‘we’re creating APIs that basically link which makes it a lot easier for you to find your friends, so one can find your friends obviously through their contacts list but of course what you get is finding you friends through Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram etc. because obviously these are your close friends, you want to share photos with them, you want to share your life with them and you want to share your highs and your lows with them’. ‘I think Flendr is not only breaking the social barrier but I also think it’s going to link very much into how finance is changing, particularly with the advent of the smartphone’ added Green. These growth strategies offer a wealth of possibility for the fledgling Flendr, and with the recent negative media stories around unscrupulous payday lenders, this unique, friendship-focused platform may be just what the industry needs.
31 Making No Contact Visa reports that their European cardholders make one billion contactless payments in 12 months and the firm plans to roll out higher value payments across Europe, offering scope to businesses and a change for the market.
Money: Making No Contact
Making No Contact Visa reports that their European cardholders make one billion contactless payments in 12 months and the firm plans to roll out higher value payments across Europe, offering scope to businesses and a change for the market.
Contactless payments are increasing as customers embrace the time-saving technology according to Visa. The firm, which offers its payWave contactless payment service across 37 countries in Europe, found that Visa cardholders in Europe spent €1.6 billion using contactless technology in March 2015, which was a three-fold increase on the same time last year. The figures also show that the UK is the keenest country to embrace the technology, having 49.6 million contactless cards and 410,000 terminals. They are followed closely by France, which has 20.3 million cards, 405,000 terminals and Poland with 14.5 million cards, 354,000 terminals. Visa has announced that by 2020 all their point-of-sale terminals in Europe will accept contactless payments, highlighting the popularity of this payment method. Sandra Alzetta, Executive Director of Core Products at Visa Europe, stated that the popularity of contactless payment shows no signs of waning and new technologies will increase the use of this technology. ‘Contactless momentum continues to build as more and more people discover it’s often the quickest and most convenient way to pay for everyday things. Across Europe, usage levels have soared, with more than one billion contactless transactions made by Visa cardholders in the last 12 months alone. The popularity of contactless will only increase in future as we experience the next generation of digital payments, where the simplicity and convenience is extended to mobile and wearable NFC technology. We’re proud to have led the way in establishing contactless payments in Europe, and excited to be at the forefront as contactless payments become increasingly available to everyone.’
indicate that soon this limit could be raised again, or even abolished altogether as customer’s trust in the technology increases. Visa also plans to roll out higher value contactless payments across Europe which they state is ‘paving the way for mobile NFC payments, as banks and major companies launch mobile payment products throughout the rest of the year.’ This would have vast implications for retail firms and other businesses using electronic payment systems, as the increased trust consumer’s place in contactless technology could potentially lead to higher value products being purchased on it, leading to more companies embracing it and firms will be able to use the technology to offer customers further time savings.
last year as the technology gathers momentum and customers begin to trust contactless payment. The company cited Transport for London’s rollout of the technology across their services, which include the London Underground and Santander Cycles, as a key factor in this increase in use of the payment system, which provides further convenience to customers who want to use the technology to save themselves time when commuting. This highlights the fact that customers are embracing the payment system as a means of saving time and could have big implications for payments made in other industries where time is a key factor, such as car parking machines, quick pay checkouts at large retail outlets and the drive through sections of restaurants.
Increased trust in the service could potentially lead to firms using it on un-manned payment points such as vending machines and kiosks, as well as offering the service for larger purchases using a pin number, as is the current practise by Visa across Europe.
Currently the data cites the most common uses of the technology across Europe are for everyday purchases such as grocery shopping, meals at restaurants and convenience food and drink, highlighting that the technology is still primarily used for smaller purchases and that the technology is viewed as a convenience. As the limits for transactions grow however, there is room to expand the market for this technology into larger transactions such as buying clothing and gifts. As this occurs more retailers will be able to expand into the technology and consumers will grow to trust it further.
The credit card firm’s new data also reveals that customers in the UK are by far the biggest adopters of their contactless cards, with the firm stating that they were ‘spending more than €330 million in March alone by touch-to-pay’. There has also been a 37% increase in the use of the technology in the UK since
Contactless payments are not going away. These increases are a growing trend and the market still has space to expand, with many more uses for the technology and an increasing customer base suggesting that any business that take electronic card payment should embrace it.
Mobile payment products such as apps for paying for items could also increase the usage of this technology and would allow firms to launch easy app purchases which would offer customers further convenience.
Across Europe the firm’s data reveals that customers are also comfortable using contactless to pay for higher value items, such as the full weekly grocery shop. This occurred in countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain, where cardholders can use contactless to pay for transactions of any value by touching to pay and then entering their PIN on the terminal. Contactless payments in the UK are currently limited to a value of £20, but the UK Card’s Association has stated that by September of this year this limit will increase to £30. However, these results by Visa
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The 60 Seconds Interviews
1. Tell us about your business. A Head for PR is a professional and creative South West based public and media relations service taking a different approach to its customers. We help businesses get in front of their customers using creative PR campaigns to secure free editorial coverage across all media channels including national and regional newspapers, consumer and specialist magazines, broadcast and social media. Clients are delighted by the increased level of awareness that leads to more sales. 2. Who are your target clients? We work with a wide range of clients from both the public and private sectors. We are experts in helping tourism destinations generate more visitors by using the power of media to gain positive reviews in the press; we support start-up businesses by creating great stories around their products that are then reported on in the media; we create carefully crafted PR campaigns for business to business clients that result in more sales leads and business.
The 60 Seconds Interviews
3. What makes your business stand out? With a background in journalism we know what the media wants and how to work with journalists. We also take the time to listen to our clients and understand their business so we can create a PR strategy that really works for them and one which dovetails with their marketing plan. Our business model differs from other PR agencies as we don’t work out of expensive offices, but are a team of associates who are home-office based and offer a flexible and cost-effective service to our clients. 4. What’s difficulties has your business had to overcome? Cutbacks in the public sector have had a massive impact on tourism budgets. We want to work with private tourism providers who understand the necessity of promoting their business now that the traditional public sector funded destination marketing budgets have disappeared. It’s now more important than ever for privately owned business to market and PR themselves effectively. PR is a very clever tool that does not need to cost the earth. 5. What targets does your firm have? We want to continue to grow and I am interested in talking to experienced freelance PR practitioners who may be thinking of starting up a business and would like to come under the A Head for PR umbrella to deliver an outstanding service. 6. What’s your company’s biggest challenge? PR is a fast moving discipline and it’s essential to keep up to date with the ever-changing world of social media and creation of interesting, compelling content
32 Corporate Vision July 2015
The 60 Seconds Interviews that people want to read. 7. Who do you most admire in business industry and why? I admire geologist Angela Strank, First Woman Technology Vice President of Oils and Lubes at BP – not only did she grow up in my home town of Southendon-Sea but she has achieved extraordinary success in what is traditionally seen as a man’s world. Her portrait features in the ground-breaking project First Women which will be launched in 2018 – marking the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote. Name: Jane Adkins Company: A Head for PR Ltd Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web Address: www.aheadforpr.co.uk Address: Copper Beeches, 42 Granville Way, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 4AS Telephone: 01935 813114
transaction workloads. They are very cautious when dealing with a relatively small software supplier, thinking that we couldn’t possibly understand the demands placed on their applications. In fact, the opposite is true. We have experts who’ve worked on the largest business applications running in most of the big banks, on both sides of the Atlantic. We have to convince our customers of this.
4. What’s the biggest issue you have to face at the moment? We operate in a very noisy market. Marketing agencies, not surprisingly, are always trying to sound impressive and that can make it hard for clients to know who to trust and who to work with. We like to point out our high net promoter score of 57, as that’s not about what we think of ourselves, it’s what clients think of us.
5. What is your aim for your business? We’d like to be seen as the global supplier for complex COBOL requirements. We can’t write entire bespoke client applications because we don’t have the business knowledge but we can write the technical, tricky bits - like encryption, compression or interfaces to XML or JSON. It’s these tasks that would require huge up-front training costs for customers, only to be used once and then forgotten. Surely it makes more sense for us to train and write it once, properly, then sell it a thousand times.
There’s also a particular pressure in technology marketing to stay on top of new trends. We decided several years ago that making key investments in our digital capabilities was a priority, for example. That’s meant we’re now in a position where we can provide clients with a full range of very technically robust services.
6. What business/business person do you most admire and why? My former employer Ron Knights. He got me into this industry and explained to me one day that computers aren’t clever at all, they just don’t get bored. Name: Dave Overall Company: Redvers Consulting Ltd Email: email@example.com
1. What does your business do? Redvers Consulting provide off-the-shelf software products, written in pure COBOL, for COBOL applications running on any platform. The type of products we write are aimed at the technical end of the market, where the necessary in-house expertise may not be available. 2. Tell us a bit about your clients Our clients are primarily large financial institutions in Europe and North America, although we also have customers in many other business and geographical areas. 3. What differentiates you from other firms in your industry? In order to reach all COBOL platforms, all over the world, we sell our software in source code form. This means that our routines can be installed by our customers with just a site standard compile. Our own intellectual property is protected by our COBOL obfuscator (the Redvers Cloaking Device), which is also available as an off-the-shelf COBOL product – obfuscated, of course. 4. Tell us about the biggest challenge facing you at present Companies that still run COBOL applications tend to be the larger organisations in the world, with huge
5. What is your business’s primary aim? Growth over the next three-to-four years. Enigma is 21 years old but that doesn’t mean we’re any less ambitious. We want to continue growing, and broaden our service offerings to our clients. We have a goal to double the size of the business within the next three years. We’re moving into new and exciting areas such as building a new open source CMS called Lackey and integrating VR into our clients’ marketing strategies. 6. What would you say is your company’s biggest challenge? To excel at what we do requires a great team made up of people with very distinct skills and abilities. In order to keep pace with our plans to grow, continue to provide existing clients with works that excels, and to attract exciting new clients, we need to have the right people on board. That means hiring developers with great technical skills and experience of applying those skills in a business environment. It means making sure we have the brightest creative talent, so that we always delight clients with the approach we take. It also means attracting first-rate account handlers to nurture enviable client relationships. And once you’ve recruited a great team of people, you have to make sure you look after them – provide them with challenges that inspire them, and reward them not just materially but in the way you treat them too.
1. Give us an insight into your business We’re a b2b marketing agency that works mainly with technology businesses, here in the UK and globally. 2. Who do you predominantly work with? Our clients are predominantly in the technology sector. Some sell their products and services to consumers, and others sell to other businesses. There’s too many to list here, but here’s a few names that a lot of people should be familiar with: Hitachi, Sharp, Symantec, Worldpay, and Xerox. 3. What makes you unique? Everyone says they’re unique. That’s part of the challenge in the marketing world. I guess from my perspective what we aim to do is get under the skin of what our clients are trying to achieve with their business efforts and align ourselves with that. We’re only as good as the results we deliver, after all. The team at Enigma have a broad set of experiences and skills, which really helps too when it comes to finding creative solutions to client briefs.
July 2015 Corporate Vision 33
7. Tell us about which business/business person do you most admire and why? If I had to pick one, and that’s what you’ve asked me to do, I’d say Martin Sorrell. More than anyone else I can think of he’s raised the profile of our industry and shown how fundamental it is to building successful businesses. Name: Martin Simcock Company: Enigma Marketing Services Ltd Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web Address: http://www.enigma-marketing.co.uk/ Address: Enigma Marketing Services,