Finance Monthly. Editor’s Note Dear Readers, Welcome to another insightful edition of Finance Monthly. As we navigate through these tumultuous economic times, our aim remains constant: to provide you with thought-provoking content, expert analyses, and a deeper understanding of the financial landscape to empower you to make informed decisions. Tracing Treasures: I-OnAsia Interview This month, our front cover feature delves into the world of Asset Tracing with an exclusive interview with I-OnAsia, a company at the forefront of unveiling hidden treasures and uncovering financial trails. As global economies experience shifts, asset tracing has become an indispensable tool for businesses and individuals. Our exclusive interview with I-OnAsia’s Oliver Laurence (Managing Partner) discusses innovative approaches and state-of-the-art technology revolutionising the sector and setting new benchmarks. Navigating the Cash Flow Crunch Cash is king, and managing it efficiently is critical, especially when economic uncertainties abound. Our in-depth article dissects the cash flow crunch, providing actionable insights and strategies to help businesses stay afloat, optimise working capital, and foster resilience in adversity. Investing in a Recession: Strategies for Success A recession might seem like a time to tighten the purse strings, but it also presents unique investment opportunities. In this edition, we delve into the nuances of investing in a recession, providing you with a comprehensive guide on identifying lucrative ventures, managing risks, and ensuring your portfolio is recession-proof. Managing Risk in Business: A Comprehensive Approach Risk is an inherent part of the business landscape. Managing it effectively is crucial for survival and success. We present a thorough exploration of risk management strategies, showcasing expert opinion and innovative solutions to help your business confidently mitigate risks and navigate uncertainties. We hope this edition of Finance Monthly sparks thoughtful conversations, ignites new ideas, and inspires you to forge ahead with financial acumen and foresight. Mark Palmer Editor email@example.com Follow us on Instagram Financemonthly Find us on Facebook Finance Monthly Stay Connected www.linkedin.com/finance-monthly Tweet us @Finance_Monthly Universal Media Ltd PO Box 17858, Tamworth, B77 9QG United Kingdom 0044 (0) 1543 255 537 Copyright 2023 Published by Universal Media Ltd The views expressed in the articles within Finance Monthly are the contributors’ own, nothing within the announcements or articles should be construed as a profit forecast. All rights reserved. Material contained within this publication is not to be reproduced in whole or part without the prior permission of Finance Monthly. Circulation details can be found at www.finance-monthly.com Monthly Finance 3
Finance Monthly. Contents 4 CONTENTS THE MONTHLY ROUND-UP News You Can’t Afford to Miss 6. FRONT COVER FEATURE 20. UNMASKING SHADOWS Exposing Hidden Assets Globally Inside the High-Tech Investigations with I-On Asia
Finance Monthly. 5 Contents 60. Chess’ Acquisition of CyberLab Newable Compliance Invests in OJ Health & Safety Solutions Octavius Infrastructure Acquires R&W 74. TRANSACTION REPORTS 76. 78. How to Protect Your Investments BUSINESS 26. 30. 36. 42. INVESTMENT How to Protect Your Investments Delving into REIT Investments 60. 64. 30. 10 Ways Start-Ups Can Raise Capital for Gains SPECIAL FEATURE Finance Monthly Deal Makers of the Year Awards Winner: Börge Seeger - Partner and Head of the Life Sciences Group at Neuwerk 68. Challenges Every SME Must Overcome 10 Ways Start-Ups Can Raise Capital for Growth How Invoice Factoring Works The Cash Flow Crunch Ignore Cash Flow Issues at Your Peril BANKING & FINANCIAL SERVICES Managing Risk in Banking & Finance Interview with Chizubel Egwudo, Founder and CEO of The Risk of You Home Loan Schemes Homeowners Could be Sitting on Inheritance Tax ‘Time Bomb’ Warn Lawyers 52. 56. 52. Managing Risk in Banking & Finance Interview with Chizubel Egwudo, Founder and CEO of The Risk of You
Finance Monthly. 6 THE MONTHLY ROUND-UP News You Can’t Afford to Miss The Monthly Round-Up QUARTERLY ONS STATS SHOWING A DECREASE IN M&A TRANSACTIONS IN Q2 Chris Goodgame, Managing Director in Alvarez and Marsal’s Transaction Advisory practice commented: “This morning’s data showing a marginal decrease in cross-border and domestic M&A activity, with 58 transactions fewer than the 508 in Q1, suggests that doubts about the economy may still linger, despite inflation beginning to ease. Valuation dislocations, higher debt financing costs and growing risk aversion amid an uncertain outlook have hampered dealmaking activity following last year’s slump, and larger transactions remain few and far between. These complex and higher-stake deals demand alignment between several different parties and a level of conviction from buyers that is currently lacking in the market, which has already led to several failed processes. Looking ahead to the rest of the year, it remains unclear whether an uptick in deal flow will materialise in the coming months. The market is seemingly waiting for a catalyst to restart activity, the key question being what this catalyst is. However, there are indeed some signs of improvement on the macroeconomic front, with inflation beginning to stabilise suggesting the end of the rate hiking cycle is in sight. It remains to be seen whether this will be sufficient to release the pent-up demand for M&A that has been building over the past nine to twelve months.”
Finance Monthly. 7 The Monthly Round-Up HORIZON NEWS HUGE WIN FOR UK R&D SYSTEM, SAYS NCUB NCUB welcomes the news that the UK looks set to rejoin the Horizon Europe after two years of absence post-Brexit. Commenting on the news, Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) said: “NCUB welcomes the Government’s imminent success in agreeing continued association to Horizon Europe. Investing in global research partnerships is critical to maximise UK universities and business’ ability to lead projects, generate high-impact outputs and realise a range of economic, health, environmental and social benefits for the UK.” Marshall continued: “The UK will benefit hugely from its association with Horizon Europe and the returns are significant. Indeed, for every €1 spent, the direct and indirect economic effects produce €11. The UK is particularly well placed to capture a disproportionate share of the economic value that Horizon generates due to the strength and diversity of our research base and our many innovative businesses. Association also sends an important and positive signal to businesses undertaking research and development in the UK. It helps make the UK the best place in the world to invest in research.” Marshall concluded: “This is a hugely positive step forward for UK research and development. However, the battle is not yet won. We are now calling on the UK Government and the European Commission to finalise arrangements as soon as possible. Only then will UK researchers once again play a leading role in delivering important projects through Horizon Europe.” The Bank of England has decided to pause interest rates. This follows the Federal Reserve decision yesterday to pause interest rates. The decision to pause rates follows recent official inflation data when the rate of price rises came in lower than expected. Core UK inflation – which excludes energy, food, alcohol, and tobacco – fell by more than expected, from 6.9% in July to 6.2% in August. The current rate of inflation is 6.7% with the BOE target rate set at 2%. MPC voted by a majority of 5–4 to maintain Bank Rate at 5.25% UK GDP is estimated to have declined by 0.5% in July CPI inflation is expected to fall significantly. Next decision due date: Next due: 2 November 2023. BANK OF ENGLAND HOLD INTEREST RATES AT 5.25%
8 Finance Monthly. The Monthly Round-Up DEALMAKING EXPECTATIONS MIXED AMIDST ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY, BUT PRIVATE EQUITY NOTABLY BULLISH 43% of dealmakers expect the level of European M&A activity to drop in the next 12 months, though a sizable minority (35%) are forecasting an increase, with those working in private equity notably more optimistic, according to global law firm CMS’ 2024 European M&A Outlook published today in association with financial data firm Mergermarket. This stands in stark contrast to last year’s predictions when 73% forecasted an increase in M&A activity. The landscape of European M&A activity in 2023 has been marked by a confluence of factors, including higher inflation, rising interest rates and an uncertain economic outlook. These challenges resulted in a 47% decrease in deal value in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year (falling from €596 billion to €316 billion), although transaction volumes experienced only moderate declines resulting in a 12% drop from 2022 (falling from 8,635 to 7,608 deals). Overall, the M&A environment for this year is characterised by a prevalence of smaller transactions – a departure from the trend observed in 2021 and 2022. M&A EXPECTATIONS HAVE MODERATED AND DIVERGED Against an increasingly challenging macroeconomic background, just 35% of dealmakers expect the level of European M&A activity over the next year to rise, down from 73% this time last year, whilst 43% are anticipating a fall. A divergence has emerged, with private equity dealmakers notably more optimistic than their corporate counterparts. Just 24% of private equity respondents expect European M&A to fall, compared to 49% of corporates surveyed. DECREASED RISK APPETITE The report states that a key contributor to this shift is the decreased risk appetite amongst acquirers, which has been further exacerbated by heightened financing costs and cautious lending practices. The aftermath of bank collapses both in the United States and Europe in early 2023 has introduced an additional layer of apprehension amongst market players. In response to persistent inflation, interest rates have undergone multiple increases across Europe, the US and the UK. Most notably, 48% of dealmakers say that inflation and interest rate pressures will be the biggest obstacles to dealmaking over the next 12 months. However, a downward trend in inflation since the beginning of the year has alleviated concerns about a potential regional recession. Louise Wallace, Global Head of the CMS Corporate/M&A Group, said: “After heady post-pandemic activity, European M&A has started to feel the effects of a changed macroeconomic environment. In 2021 and even in 2022, as Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year pushed inflation to levels not seen in decades, deal volumes still broke records and aggregate value figures remained higher than before the pandemic. However, we are now seeing M&A activity across Europe starting to reflect the more challenging macroeconomic backdrop.” Nevertheless, the European Commission’s recent upgrade of the European Union’s GDP projections, forecasting 1% growth for 2023 and 1.7% for 2024, provides a glimmer of optimism in an otherwise uncertain economic climate. Whilst projections for M&A activity over the next year remain mixed, with private equity firms showing more optimism than corporate counterparts, a significant proportion of industry professionals anticipate active participation in the M&A market. This suggests a healthy volume of activity in the near term. Notably, as valuations stabilise throughout 2023, the stage appears set for increased agreement between buyers and sellers in the medium term. ESG SCRUTINY WILL CREATE NEW DEAL OPPORTUNITIES 64% of dealmakers believe that ESG and climate change-related regula-
9 Finance Monthly. The Monthly Round-Up tion in Europe will create dealmaking opportunities, with 93% stating that ESG considerations constitute a significant element of their organisation’s due diligence. Indeed, 85% expect greater ESG scrutiny in M&A deals over the next three years. DEAL DRIVERS Similar to findings from last year’s survey, dealmakers continue to identify undervalued targets (36%) and turnaround opportunities (35%) as the primary catalysts driving M&A activity in Europe for the upcoming year. This trend is hardly unexpected, considering the decline in valuations of public companies over the past 18 months. THRIVING SECTORS More than a third of dealmakers predict the TMT sector (37%) and the energy sector (36%) will experience the most significant surge in dealmaking across Europe. In contrast, 42% believe that the pharmaceuticals, medical and biotech (PMB) sectors will exhibit the slowest growth. Whilst 68% of dealmakers favoured the TMT sector as one of their top two choices in the previous year, the recent decline might partially stem from the notable revaluation of technology stocks over the past 12 to 18 months. However, the enduring prominence of the TMT sector underscores investors’ unwavering confidence in future expansion and companies’ need to acquire technology as various industries continue to emphasise digital transformation. An illustrative instance of this trend emerged in the first half of 2023, with Deutsche Börse’s €4 billion acquisition of Danish data provider SimCorp – a venture that highlights the exchange group’s pursuit of reinforcing its data analytics prowess for the newly established investment management solutions arm. REGIONAL DIFFERENCES Expectations for M&A activity across various European regions have undergone significant shifts compared to the previous year. Looking ahead to the next 12 months, dealmakers project a noteworthy surge in dealmaking within the UK and Ireland, which now holds the foremost position on the list by a considerable margin, with nearly half (47%) of respondents placing it in their top two preferences. In contrast, the UK and Ireland occupied the sixth spot last year, amassing merely 19% of the top-two votes. Iberia and Benelux jointly claim the second spot, with 29% of decision-makers ranking them amongst the top two regions for projected M&A growth in the upcoming year. Conversely, the regions of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) (38%) and Italy (30%) represent the areas where the largest subsets of dealmakers expect the slowest growth in M&A activity. As the European M&A landscape continues to evolve, industry stakeholders remain vigilant in navigating these shifting dynamics, aiming to seize opportunities whilst effectively managing challenges. The path forward necessitates a delicate balance between economic conditions, regulatory developments and evolving market sentiments. Dr Malte Bruhns, Global Head of the CMS Corporate/M&A Group, added: “Higher inflation costs and a more uncertain economic outlook have made buyers more prudent about the price that they are prepared to pay for businesses, whilst sellers have yet to adjust their expectations. That being said, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for European M&A over the medium and long term, including a continued appetite for TMT deals, strong inbound investment and the growth of private capital in Europe, which will keep deals moving along.” European M&A Trends 2019 - Q2 2023 Number of deals Deal value EURm
10 Finance Monthly. The Monthly Round-Up JOHN LEWIS FINANCE APPOINTS ANDY PIGGOTT AS DIRECTOR OF CREDIT AND BANKING Andy Piggott has joined John Lewis Finance as Director of Credit and Banking. He will be responsible for the Credit and Banking division, which comprises the John Lewis Partnership Card, point-of-salecredit (interest free and interest bearing credit), travel money, and investments. Andy was most recently the Chief Product Officer at TransUnion UK. Prior to this, he worked for Metro Bank, TSB, and Lloyds Banking Group, in a variety of product leadership roles across current accounts, credit cards, loans, mortgages, and insurance. Amir Goshtai, Director of John Lewis Finance, said: “We’re delighted that Andy has joined us. He brings a wealth of experience from across the banking sector, as well as huge energy and enthusiasm for growing our business. “He joins at a really important time to maximise the opportunity to help our customers with their day-to-day and long term financial needs.” Andy Piggott said: “The trust and reputation of the John Lewis brand, combined with the vision that Amir and the team have for the financial services business provide a strong and enviable foundation from which to build. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck-in and helping take the business to the next level.” John Lewis Finance reported revenue growth of 4.3% at John Lewis Partnership’s half year results for 2023/24. Home Insurance policies are up nearly 20% vs last year, Pet Insurance sold 30% more policies vs last year, and the Partnership Credit Card grew customer numbers by 9% and issued over £30 million in vouchers to Partnership Card Customers over the period. John Lewis Finance offers the Partnership Credit Card; pet, home, and car insurance; foreign currency exchange; point-ofsale-credit; savings and investments; and money transfer services.
11 Finance Monthly. The Monthly Round-Up TISE ANNOUNCES RECORD TURNOVER FOR H1 2023 The International Stock Exchange (TISE) has announced record turnover for the first half of 2023. The International Stock Exchange Group Limited has released its latest Interim Report which shows that turnover for the Group increased 7.0% to a record £5.2 million for the six months ended 30 June 2023. During the period, posttax profit and earnings per share increased year on year and matched the records set for the first half of 2021. Anderson Whamond, Chair of the Group, said: “I am extremely pleased to report record turnover for the first half of 2023, despite the unsettled macro-economic conditions. Profit after tax and basic earnings per share also both increased compared to a year previously and matched the records set over the same period in 2021. We continue to invest in the execution of our strategy to scale up and diversify our core bond market proposition and introduce new, innovative products and services. We have made significant progress, including the launch of our unique private markets offering, TISE Private Markets, which represents a major landmark in the diversification of the Group’s business and revenues.” In the year to the end of June, there were 375 securities listed on TISE, which represented a 23% decrease on the same period in 2022. However, there was an 8.5% rise year on year in the total number of securities on TISE’s Official List, which reached a record 4,140 at 30 June 2023. There was continued diversification in both geographical origin and product type across TISE’s Qualified Investor Bond Market (QIBM). The UK remained the largest single source of new business but nearly 25% of all securities listed on QIBM originated in the EU, with the remaining listings coming from other international locations, including Australia, Canada, Colombia and the US. Private equity debt securities, high yield bonds and securitisations remained the core products listed, although TISE also established market share in Collateralised Loan Obligations (CLOs), reflecting international regulatory changes as well as underscoring the competitiveness of the Exchange’s proposition. TISE has also launched its new private markets offering, TISE Private Markets, and onboarded the first client company, Blue Diamond Limited. TISE Private Markets provides unlisted companies with a dedicated marketplace through which they can access an integrated set of tailored electronic solutions, including trading, settlement and registry management. In July, following several commercial leadership roles within financial services, London-based Alex Taylor joined TISE to lead the business development and sales activity for TISE Private Markets. Cees Vermaas, CEO of the Group, said: “Delivering further growth in the size and value of our market in the face of continued macro-economic headwinds demonstrates the strength of the business during what is our 25th anniversary year. With a market-leading bond listing proposition, we maintained our market leader position in specific segments, diversified our product base and expanded our geographical reach. I am also delighted that we have launched our new private markets offering, TISE Private Markets, and onboarded our first client company, Blue Diamond Limited. This is an exciting development which lays the foundations for a further expansion of the services which we offer in the future.”
12 Finance Monthly. The Monthly Round-Up WORKERS IN BANKING SECTOR HAPPIEST IN THE UK Employees working in banking have the highest levels of job satisfaction, according to new research, with 75% of staff prepared to recommend their company to a friend. Banking ranked above the legal and education sectors for overall employee happiness, despite its reputation as an industry with high pressure and a poor work-life balance. The research, conducted by equity management platform Vestd, compared businesses across a range of sectors, looking at CEO approval ratings and “recommend to a friend” scores on Glassdoor, as well as average employee tenure according to LinkedIn. Its data shows 84% of workers in the banking sector approve of their CEO, and staff stayed with their employer for more than six years on average. Explaining the findings, Ifty Nasir, CEO of Vestd, said that keeping workers happy was “just the start” for business leaders. He said: “Feeling happy in your job is a massive part of your general wellbeing and employers are increasingly aware of the importance of staff satisfaction, but happiness should be just the start. “Taking employee happiness to the next level and generating employee engagement, where staff are highly motivated and genuinely invested in their company’s success, can have a huge impact on the bottom line. “Engaged staff are significantly more likely to be more productive and contribute to a positive workplace culture - key ingredients for any growing company.” Also in the top five of the happiest workers are those in the insurance and automotive sectors. While logistics workers sat at the bottom of the table with only 48% of staff prepared to recommend their company to a friend and only 59% approved of their CEO. The travel sector was second from bottom with just 58% of workers recommending their company and 64% rating their CEO. The recruitment industry had the lowest employee tenure with workers staying on average three years. SECTOR CEO APPROVAL RATING (% BASED ON GLASSDOOR) RECOMMEND TO A FRIEND SCORE (% BASED ON GLASSDOOR) MEDIAN EMPLOYEE TENURE (IN YEARS, BASED ON LINKEDIN) BANKING 84% 75% 6.2 LEGAL 85% 71% 4.5 EDUCATION 73% 73% 4.9 INSURANCE 73% 65% 5.9 AUTOMOTIVE 76% 65% 5.3 IT 80% 71% 4.2 FINANCIAL SERVICES 76% 71% 4.5 RECRUITMENT 82% 75% 3.3 MANUFACTURING 70% 64% 5.5 UTILITIES 75% 62% 5.1
NATWEST GROUP TEAMS UP WITH AWS TO HARNESS THE POWER OF GENERATIVE AI NatWest Group has today announced that it is expanding its collaboration with Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence (AI) – including AWS’s generative AI solutions — to more rapidly drive toward its goal of helping 10 million people manage their financial wellbeing per year by the end of 2027. The move recognises that harnessing the power of responsible and ethical AI use will be essential to achieving the bank’s commitment to help customers manage their financial wellbeing by providing personalised support — whether that’s for buying a home, saving for the future, learning critical money management skills or setting up and growing a business. It is doing this using personalised engagement tools, such as the NatWest Digital Financial Health Check, and the recently extended Know Your Credit Score service — available to anyone in the UK. Data scientists and engineers from NatWest Group will work closely with specialist teams from the newly launched $100 million AWS Generative AI Innovation Center to co-create responsible AI products on top of foundation models (FMs) available through Amazon Bedrock. Scott Marcar, NatWest Group, Group Chief Information Officer said: “This is an exciting chapter in our journey to deliver sustainable growth through deep, lasting relationships with each of the 19 million customers we serve. We’ve chosen to build on our existing strategic relationship with AWS and develop AI-powered financial products with a trusted collaborator who understands how we work with data at scale to keep our customers safe and secure.” The move recognises the strength of our vision, our people, and our data capability. Ultimately, it will allow us to better support and protect our customers across the bank by leveraging the reliability, security and scalability of generative AI.” “This is the latest evolution of our long-standing collaboration with NatWest Group to make it easier and faster to generate data-driven insights and deploy tailored financial solutions at scale,” said Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of Databases, Analytics, and Machine Learning at AWS. “Using Amazon SageMaker, NatWest Group is already creating secure, personalized customer journeys with machine learning. Leveraging new generative AI capabilities like Amazon Bedrock will further enable the bank to deliver the personalised support that customers want and need to meet all their financial goals.” Working with AWS, NatWest Group developed AI models that help the bank detect if customers might be in the process of being scammed. By analysing customers’ behaviours with AI, the bank can spot unusual payments patterns earlier, enabling them to intervene more quickly and reduce financial loss. Combining AWS’s leading data, analytics, machine learning, and generative AI capabilities with the bank’s 300 years of financial services experience will result in tailored banking experiences that deliver personalised communications, financial education, products, and services to NatWest Group’s customers. Finance Monthly. The Monthly Round-Up 13
Finance Monthly. The Monthly Round-Up 14 Charlie Huggins, Manager of the ‘Quality Shares Portfolio’ at Wealth Club, commented: “Inflation moderated again in August and came in lower than expected, partly due to an easing of food and non-alcoholic beverage prices. This is very welcome news for consumers and the Bank of England alike and will reinforce the sense that UK interest rates are close to peaking. The reopening of supply chains, falling logistics costs and greater caution from businesses with their hiring and spending plans are all helping to tame the flames of inflation. The heat also seems be coming out of food prices which rose by a much more palatable 0.3% between July and August, down from a rise of 1.5% between the same two months a year ago. This cost of the weekly shop is a key barometer of conINFLATION MODERATES AGAIN IN AUGUST, WELCOME RELIEF FOR BANK OF ENGLAND sumer sentiment so this is excellent news. Moderating inflation is also good news for homeowners and first time buyers, with mortgage rates coming down in recent weeks. With these latest inflation figures, the prospect of further cuts to the cost of borrowing in the coming weeks has increased. We are not yet out of the woods. Wages are rising rapidly, sterling still remains weak and oil prices are going up. All of these things have potential to cause further inflationary headaches for the Bank of England. For now though, the trend is in the right direction. While price rises are still much higher than anyone would like, there is no longer a sense that inflation is out of control.” PAYSAFE AND EIGHTCAP PARTNER TO OFFER JOINT EMBEDDED WALLET SOLUTION Paysafe (NYSE: PSFE), a leading payments platform, and Eightcap, a global retail trading provider, are excited to announce the strengthening of their partnership through the introduction of an innovative Embedded Trading Wallet solution. This strategic collaboration aims to provide a joint embedded finance solution for Eightcap and Paysafe’s shared partners and merchants. Eightcap and Paysafe first established a successful payments partnership in 2016, with Paysafe providing a wide range of payment options for Eightcap global traders including digital wallets like Skrill and NETELLER, as well as various local payment methods. Expanding on this collaboration, the newly introduced Embedded Trading Wallet utilizes Paysafe’s digital wallet infrastructure and Eightcap’s trading technology. This innovative solution allows partners to offer a white-label, plug-and-play trading and payment wallet for their retail traders, making it easier and more convenient for them to engage in trading activities from every corner of the globe. The Embedded Trading Wallet, hosted within Paysafe and Eightcap’s combined global licensing framework, brings together compliance expertise, and payments and trading capabilities to offer partners a seamless and secure trading wallet, empowering them to offer their customers a convenient, secure and reliable trading and digital wallet solution. Eightcap, a global leader in retail derivatives trading, stands out in the industry with its unique B2B embedded trading API, which allows partners to seamlessly offer over 1,000 tradable instruments in Stocks, Indices, Crypto, FX, and Commodities. “We’re delighted to be embarking on this strategic partnership with Eightcap and facilitating its embedded trading wallet solution through white labelling our products and services,” said Micah Kershner, SVP of Crypto and Digital Assets at Paysafe. “Embedded finance is the future, and we believe this solution will revolutionise the trader’s experience.” Patrick Murphy, Director of UK at Eightcap, commented, “We are extremely excited to be entering into this new phase of our partnership. This solution will enable unparalleled payment capabilities for our global partners and traders.”
Finance Monthly. The Monthly Round-Up Broken String Biosciences (“Broken String”), a genomics company building a technology platform to drive the development of cell and gene therapies that are safer by design, today announced that it has closed a $15 million Series A investment round, co-led by Illumina Ventures and Mérieux Equity Partners, with contributions from HERAN Partners, and existing investors Tencent and Dieter von Holtzbrinck Ventures (DvH Ventures). As part of the round, Yoann Bonnamour, Mérieux Equity Partners, and Arnaud Autret, Illumina Ventures, join the Company’s Board of Directors. The Series A funding will be used to develop Broken String’s Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)-based DNA break mapping platform, INDUCE-seq™, into a scalable ‘Platform as a Service’ (PaaS) offering and to expand its capabilities beyond gene editing, broadening its go-to-market strategy and driving commercial traction. The investment also supports the Company’s ongoing growth, including recruitment for its UK team based at the Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge, and the establishment of a US office. The progress of cell and gene therapies based on genome editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, requires stringent pre-clinical assessments of off-target editing events. INDUCE-seq enables researchers to assess the specificity of genome editing tools and evaluate the associated off-target genetic outcomes. The platform technology addresses the limitations of existing gene editing off-target measurement approaches; leveraging a novel polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-free approach to directly measure and quantify DNA double-strand breaks using NGS (1). It provides data-driven, actionable insights across the discovery, pre-clinical and clinical development stages to unlock new therapeutic targets within the genome and to advance gene editing programs. Felix Dobbs, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Broken String Biosciences, commented: “Our vision is a future where cell and gene therapies are safer, more efficient, and affordable for patients. Operating at the intersection of biology, bioinformatics and data science, our INDUCE-seq platform offers an unbiased, end-to-end solution that expedites the measurement and assessment of off-target gene editing during therapeutic development. This provides essential information required to progress therapeutic programs that leverage gene editing and mitigate potential risks that can result in later-stage clinical failures. By developing a deployable PaaS offering, we have the opportunity to provide the cell and gene therapy community with this much-needed solution and achieve rapid BROKEN STRING BIOSCIENCES CLOSES $15M SERIES A FUNDING ROUND market growth.” He continued: “The support Broken String has received from leading life science and genomics investors demonstrates the potential of our technology and its ability to deliver on the therapeutic promise of gene editing.” Arnaud Autret, PhD, Principal at Illumina Ventures, said: “The clinical progression of cell and gene therapies is held back by off-target safety concerns – we recognize the power of Broken String Biosciences’ technology to drive advances in safer genome editing, genome biology and genetic toxicology, and optimize drug development programs. The platform has the potential to become the gold-standard solution for measuring off-target gene editing.” Yoann Bonnamour, Investment Manager at Mérieux Equity Partners, commented: “The gene therapy market, and the essential off-target assessment technology alongside it, is a rapidly growing opportunity. Broken String Biosciences’ team has the technical expertise and resources, paired with its strong connection with a world-leading genomics research institute, to drive this platform forward and transform the way gene editing programs are designed and developed.” Raf Roelands, Investment Director at HERAN Partners, added: “Broken String Biosciences’ INDUCE-seq technology platform is a game-changing innovation for the characterization of off-target genome breaks. The team has made impressive progress since its seed funding round in 2021, successfully demonstrating that the platform addresses the market’s needs and generates repeat revenues across a portfolio of partners. This new funding will enable the technology to be developed and delivered in a format that meets the needs of all customers, ideally positioning the Company for significant growth.” V Felix Dobbs 15
16 Finance Monthly. The Monthly Round-Up The latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show that inheritance tax receipts increased to £3.2 billion in the five months from April 2023 to August 2023. This is a £300 million increase from the same period in the previous year, and continues the upwards trend over the last decade. One in every 25 estates pay inheritance tax, but the freeze on inheritance tax thresholds, decades of house price increases and high inflation are bringing more and more estates above the threshold. For those that are paying this death tax, Wealth Club calculations suggest the average bill could increase to just over £234,000 this 2023/24 tax year. This is a 11% increase from the £214,000 average paid just three years ago. Inheritance tax is typically paid at a rate of 40% over certain thresholds, although you can pass on money IHT free to your spouse or civil partner, who will then also inherit your allowance for when they pass away. The main threshold is the nil-rate band and applies to the vast majority of people in the UK, enabling up to £325,000 of an estate to be passed on without having to pay any IHT. That has been unchanged since INHERITANCE TAX RECEIPTS REACH £3.2 BILLION FROM APRIL TO AUGUST 2023, UP £300 MILLION FROM THE SAME PERIOD A YEAR EARLIER 2009. However, there is also a Residence Nil Rate band worth £175,000 which allows most people to pass on a family home more tax efficiently to direct descendants, although this tapers for estates over £2 million and is not available at all for estates over £2.35 million. Nicholas Hyett, Investment Manager at Wealth Club said: “The Treasury raked in an extra £300 million from inheritance tax from April to August 2023, compared to the same period a year earlier. This increase is being fuelled by years of soaring house prices and frozen allowances. While just 4% of estates pay inheritance tax at the moment, given the nil-rate and residence nilrate bands have been frozen for years people with more regular incomes and average value homes will end up getting caught out by this most hated of taxes. Moreover, with the government’s wallet under pressure from all angles, there’s unlikely to be any respite soon. The good news is that there are still lots of legitimate ways to pass on money free of inheritance tax, which is why inheritance tax is referred to as a ‘voluntary tax’ in some circles.” Those concerned about inheritance tax should consider; Giving money away early. Gifts taken out of regular income, which are not deemed to affect the giver’s standard of living, are inheritance tax free on day one – as are certain smaller gifts. Timing is key as you can give unlimited amounts away but typically these take seven years to be completely inheritance tax free. Of course, once you give away the money you’ve lost control. If you need it back for an emergency, that’s not an option. Investing in companies that qualify for Business Relief. These are typically inheritance tax free after two years. Investing in unquoted businesses can be risky, however, unlike giving the money away, you retain control. Investing in an AIM ISA. ISAs are not inheritance tax free. When you pass away, your loved ones could miss out on 40% of your hard-earned cash. AIM ISAs are a popular way around this. They are riskier but after two years they could be IHT free.”
17 Finance Monthly. The Monthly Round-Up Cancer Support UK is delighted to announce its new partnership with global wellbeing consultancy The Wellbeing Project, which has been instrumental in creating healthy workplace cultures for over 15 years. With almost one million people of working age diagnosed with cancer, organisations increasingly need to be prepared to support those impacted whether directly or indirectly. The Wellbeing Project’s extensive experience in providing sustainable organisational wellbeing solutions makes them ideally placed to raise awareness of Cancer Support UK’s innovative Workplace Cancer Support Ambassador training programme. The Workplace Cancer Support Ambassador training provides a high-level introduction to cancer and cancer treatments and gives individuals in organisations the confidence and skills to support colleagues facing cancer. Commenting on the new partnership, Mark Guymer, Cancer Support UK’s CEO, said: “The Wellbeing Project’s passion for wellbeing in the workplace, aligns perfectly with our values and our determination to improve emotional support at work both for people facing a personal cancer diagnosis and those caring for loved ones with cancer. “It is absolutely key to have a deep understanding of human behaviour when working with people living with and beyond NATIONAL CANCER CHARITY CANCER SUPPORT UK PARTNERS WITH THE WELLBEING PROJECT cancer. As a cancer charity, we are experts in communicating about cancer and we are confident that, in choosing The Wellbeing Project as our partner, we will have a trusted and knowledgeable ally, who shares our commitment to delivering wellbeing solutions for businesses and their people.” The Wellbeing Project said: “We are looking forward to working with Cancer Support UK to deliver the Workplace Cancer Support Ambassador Training. This pioneering programme is based on a solid foundation of people’s actual lived experience, and we believe it has a vital role to play in creating workplaces where those who are facing cancer feel fully supported.” With at least 85% of employees saying how important it is for them to keep working after a cancer diagnosis, there is an urgent requirement for employers to understand the needs of colleagues affected by cancer and to support them appropriately. The half day Workplace Cancer Support Ambassador course addresses how to meet those needs. It explores both the physical and emotional side effects of cancer and cancer treatments and provides the necessary skills to have supportive conversations with individuals impacted by cancer. It also supports the Ambassadors themselves to prioritise their own wellbeing as they support others.
SHADOWS UNMASKING Exposing Hidden Assets Globally Finance Monthly recently spoke with Oliver Laurence, Managing Partner - EMEA and Australia at I-OnAsia, whose rich background in police work and government investigations offers a unique perspective to explore this field. His diverse experiences spanning fraud, money laundering, international love scams, and various financial crimes have culminated in a comprehensive understanding of illicit asset movements. As we navigate the complexities of modern financial transactions, technological evolution, and the use of tangible assets for hiding wealth, Mr. Laurence sheds light on the strategies and principles employed to unearth concealed assets and the challenges posed by the ever-evolving landscape of asset tracing. Oliver Laurence Managing Partner - EMEA and Australia at I-OnAsia, Front Cover Feature 20 Finance Monthly.
Mr Laurence, given your tenure with the Police and your involvement in government investigations, how have these experiences influenced your asset tracing techniques? Would you say that this distinctive background provides you with a competitive advantage at I-OnAsia? My government investigations work often spanned a wide range of criminal activities, including fraud, money laundering, international love scams, and other financial crimes. This diversity of exposure allowed for a comprehensive understanding of the myriad of ways individuals and entities try to hide or move assets illicitly. My career in law enforcement and governmental investigations provided me with advanced training and access to cuttingedge technology and tools not available to the public. This included specialised software, databases, and forensic techniques designed specifically for tracking assets and uncovering illicit financial activities. This has been a huge help moving into the private sector with I-OnAsia working all over the globe. Considering the reputation of I-OnAsia as a Chambers & Partners ranked leading investigations and intelligence firm operating now for more than 20 years, my background Finance Monthly. Front Cover Feature 21
The evolution of modern financial transactions and the introduction of new financial instruments, especially cryptocurrencies, have certainly added layers of complexity to the asset tracing process. “Cryptocurrencies operate on decentralised platforms, making them inherently resistant to control or regulation by central entities or governments. “ in police and government investigations has undoubtedly been seen as a competitive advantage to our clients, supporting our global team out of Hong Kong and New York. Is there such a thing as a typical asset tracing investigation? Do you employ a broad set of principles in each case? If so, what are they, and how did they come about? While every asset tracing investigation is unique, given the varying nature of cases we undertake at I-OnAsia, underlying assets, jurisdictions involved, and the methods used by entities to hide or move assets, there are some typical approaches and broad principles that can be applied. For me, it’s about starting with a thorough understanding of the client’s objectives and a review of all available information. This stage Front Cover Feature 22 Finance Monthly.
helps to determine the potential scale of the investigation and the assets in question. Gathering all relevant documents, which might include bank statements, property records, corporate records, contracts, and more. Analysing these can provide leads on the movement and location of assets or, of course, allow our team to start the investigation strongly with a good understanding of the subject and what we may or may not be looking for. Our heat seeker capability introduced a few years ago into our firm has allowed us to build a rapid global footprint of our targets both commercially and privately. No longer do we just look for bricks and mortar. Asset tracing has developed into so much more. Lifestyle patterns and access to liquidity are all huge clues and indicators as to one’s wealth and provide litigators and insolvency practitioners with a good idea of the subject person. How have the intricacies of modern financial transactions and instruments, such as cryptocurrencies, made asset tracing more challenging? The evolution of modern financial transactions and the introduction of new financial instruments, especially cryptocurrencies, have certainly added layers of complexity to the asset tracing process. Cryptocurrencies operate on decentralised platforms, making them inherently resistant to control or regulation by central entities or governments. This decentralisation can make it difficult for investigators to retrieve pertinent data or enforce traditional methods of asset recovery. Some cryptocurrencies, especially privacy coins like Monero or ZCash, prioritise user privacy, making transactions largely anonymous. While Bitcoin and many others operate on a pseudonymous basis (where users are identified by public keys rather than personal information), linking these public keys to realworld identities can be challenging. These are services that mix potentially identifiable or ‘tainted’ cryptocurrency funds with others, making the tracing of transactions far more complicated. While these complexities present challenges, they also offer opportunities. The immutable nature of blockchain, which underpins most cryptocurrencies, means that all transactions are recorded permanently. If investigators can decipher the information or link pseudonymous data to real-world identities, they can uncover detailed transaction histories. How has the evolution of technology, both as a tool for hiding and tracing assets, changed the landscape of asset tracing? The evolution of technology has significantly impacted the landscape of asset tracing, presenting both challenges and opportunities for investigators. Technology has been a double-edged sword, serving as a tool for obfuscating assets and, conversely, a means to unearth hidden assets with unprecedented efficacy. Advanced forensic tools can recover deleted data from devices, analyse digital trails, or even trace the origins of transactions on certain blockchain networks. The power of big data analytics, combined with artificial intelligence, allows investigators to sift through vast amounts of data quickly, spot patterns, and identify suspicious transactions. Finance Monthly. Front Cover Feature 23
Individuals seeking to hide or launder money often turn to tangible assets like real estate, art, and luxury goods. In essence, while technology has introduced new avenues for hiding assets, it has also empowered investigators with tools that, when used adeptly, can unravel even the most sophisticated concealment techniques. The landscape of asset tracing has, as a result, transformed into a high-tech game of cat and mouse, with both sides continuously evolving their strategies. How do individuals use real estate, art, or other tangible assets to hide their wealth? Are there particular “red flags” that suggest such methods? Individuals seeking to hide or launder money often turn to tangible assets like real estate, art, and luxury goods because they can be easier to cloud and offer value storage in something relatively stable. Here’s how these assets are commonly used: Individuals may purchase properties through shell companies, trusts, or other legal entities that mask the true owner’s identity. Purchasing real estate in foreign countries, especially those with strong property rights but weak anti-money laundering controls, can help hide assets. The art market often allows buyers and sellers to remain anonymous, especially at auctions. The value of art can be very subjective, allowing for over- or under-valuation, which can be a means to transfer or hide large sums of money. While the use of tangible assets for hiding wealth can be subtle, there are certain “red flags” or indicators that can suggest such methods, If properties or art pieces are frequently bought and sold, especially in a short timeframe, it might indicate an attempt to confuse the paper trail. Purchases that seem disproportionate to an individual’s known source of income or wealth can be suspicious. The use of multiple layers of corporations, trusts, or other entities, especially if they’re based in multiple jurisdictions, can be a sign of an attempt to hide the true ownership or origin of funds. Detecting and proving the illicit concealment of wealth requires a multifaceted approach, combining the scrutiny of financial transactions with a deep understanding of the behaviors and patterns associated with money laundering and asset hiding. How do you prioritise your tracing efforts when time is of the essence, such as impending bankruptcy or potential asset transfers? What immediate steps can be taken to prevent impending asset transfers? Identifying which assets are most vulnerable to being moved, hidden, or liquidated is always a priority for our global team, if you know they exist of course. If you don’t the search starts from the ground up. While real estate and tangible assets can be of high value, they usually take time to sell. Bank accounts, stock portfolios, and other liquid assets can be transferred quickly and if we know about them, they become our primary focus. Banking & Financial Services 24 Finance Monthly. Front Cover Feature
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Business 28. Challenges Every SME Must Overcome 10 Ways Start-Ups Can Raise Capital for Growth How Invoice Factoring Works The Cash Flow Crunch Ignore Cash Flow Issues at Your Peril 36. 40. 46.
Challenges EverySME Must Overcome Running a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) is not without its fair share of challenges. From financial management to human resources and marketing, SMEs face numerous obstacles that can make or break their success. It is crucial for SME owners and managers to recognize these problems and find effective solutions. In this article, we will explore the ten main problems that every SME needs to overcome and discuss ways to address them. Business Finance Monthly. 28