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As well as the issues of cultural and language differences, there are also challenges of positioning yourself successfully among competitors and marketing your brand so that it stands out. However, the main issue that you will have to address is that of your budget. It might be easier than ever to expand your business reach, but that doesn't mean that it comes without costs. Knowing the cost of international expansion makes it easier to get right, and keeps your business safer. If you're considering international expansion, remember to factor in the following expenses.

The Budget Big Three

There are going to be many costs to take into account, but the big three should be your priority. Make sure that you understand:

Take the time to understand how the big three work in your new geographies and your financial planning will be more realistic and much healthier. Never assume that everything is the same from country to country. In some nations, costs will even vary by municipality, so you’re going to need to dedicate some time to some serious and in-depth financial planning.

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Physical Requirements

While it is possible to start selling your product around the world from your existing office, many countries will require you to have a physical outlet in their country. Knowing the local laws and getting your premises organised before you even start to sell is essential. Renting a property can be a big cost so you need to know if it’s needed. You will also need to decide whether you’re going to hire local workers to run your international branch. That will mean knowing the laws regarding wages and working hours. Look for help from those that can assist you. Companies like INS Global can make sure that you have got your budgeting right when it comes to paying the right minimum wage in China, which can be made very complex very quickly due to different municipalities having different minimum wages. Always find people, services, and resources on the ground and you’ll make it easier to leverage your position in a new market.

Your Exit Plan

One of the main cost considerations that many first-time entrepreneurs overlook is the cost of closure. Not every new business expansion is going to be a success, and it’s not good practise to simply pack up and head elsewhere. A budgeted exit plan is essential, even if it’s something that you end up never needing. You might find in some countries that closing a business is a lot more expensive than opening one, so your research is going to be essential. The last thing that you want is to lose more money than expected through the exit process. That can affect your already established brand security at home, and that’s an unnecessary risk that can be avoided with some simple foresight.

From e-commerce companies that are working from a home office to mega-corporations extending their reach further than ever, accessing the global audience has never been easier. However, as with any business growth, there are inherent risks. Budget is going to be a major factor in terms of your success, so make sure that your research is robust and that you have the finances needed to cover every aspect of your predicted expenses. Get your bottom line right and your international growth will be safer, more natural, and more profitable.

It's best to look for other sources that can help you reach your business goals, so take a look below at some of the alternative methods of fundraising you can do.

Consider the Assistance from Angel Investors

These retired business gurus or successful entrepreneurs can be your ticket to salvation when you need funding. They are people who take a keen interest in your work and activities, making them huge supporters who want you to succeed and grow. Also, they can offer their advice and business expertise to make you a better player in the market.

Not your Average Loan 

When people think about loans, they consider personal or business ones, but no one would ever expect to get funding from your inheritance money. Some owners have a lot of money coming in but the probate process gets delayed and drags. That's why loans for heirs can be very appealing when you want quick funding for your startup or company. You get a considerable amount of the money entitled to you, and you can pay the debt off when the courts finally issue your money.

Have You Thought About Crowdfunding?

This is a good way to utilize the digital world to your benefit. There are several reputable platforms with different investors that can provide you with the money you need if your business activities pique their interest. Countless investors are on the lookout for decent companies that offer something special and useful to the community, so investing in your company can be beneficial for them, too.

So, if you are looking for such crowdfunding, arrange a Meeting of investors and venture capitalists at a club. This will be really fruitful for you

You Could Go for Factoring and Invoice Advances

This can be very handy when you find a provider that can front you some money on the invoices that you’ve already billed out; it's good for companies that constantly provide products and services to customers, and you will pay it back once your customers have paid the bill in full. It's a simple method that keeps your business running and projects operating without waiting for long periods of time for consumers to pay up.

Consider CDFI Assistance When Nothing Else Works

This stands for Community Development Finance Institutes. They are private financial organizations that deliver affordable lending options, making it very easy and advantageous for many businesses that are in need of quick funding to save them from tight situations. Many businesses don't get a chance to thrive or grow because of restricted money-raising methods, so this can be the answer to their capital needs to fund their business.

Managing your finances can be a little tricky, but with the right mindset and the willingness to find better and reliable sources for funding, you can make a huge difference in your company's success. You can't just sit there and wait for your company to crumble; choose the right path for you and get the best funding that suits your needs and goals.

It’s estimated that 81% of finance teams are currently undergoing finance transformation, yet research by Gartner reveals that seven out of 10 finance transformations fail.

This article, authored by Laura Timms, Product Strategy Manager at MHR Analytics, based on the new finance analytics guide from MHR Analytics, will reveal the benefits of adopting analytics to supercharge your efforts and help ensure that your finance transformation is a successful one.

Finance strategy that’s aligned with future business needs

Transformation is more than simply hitting a financial goal. It’s about being able to respond to the current and future needs of the organisation – something that can only be achieved when finance is connected to the wider business.

Unfortunately, with all of the demand that finance teams receive, it can be easy to fail to recognise how financial activity translates into everyday business.

This can lead teams working introspectively, which can quickly translate into silos, with poor communication of information, lower levels productivity and consequently a less valuable finance team.

To prevent this from happening, the financial strategy needs to be aligned with activity across the business, and analytics provides the platform to do exactly that.

Using a data warehouse, data from across the organisation can be synced to give finance teams real-time insights into how changes in one area of the business will impact the course of action they take.

This means that finance teams are able to steer away from getting caught up in metrics like historical spend and industry benchmarks, and are instead grounded in how the finance strategy relates to the unique needs of their business.

Using a data warehouse, data from across the organisation can be synced to give finance teams real-time insights into how changes in one area of the business will impact the course of action they take.

  1. Focus on high-value tasks

According to Gartner, 56% of companies are in the evaluation phase of adopting AI to automate accounting & finance processes. By 2020 it’s estimated that 31% of companies will have actually implemented this into their business and 26% in “operating” mode, where AI is actively used in accounting & finance processes.

But what does this mean for finance transformation?

Well, AI technology is providing a platform that is changing the role of finance teams at a rapid pace. Through automating tedious financial processes, finance teams no longer have to spend their time buried in spreadsheets.

Everything from cash disbursement, revenue management and general accounting could be automated through leveraging analytics – in fact, it’s estimated that up to 40% of financial activity could be automated, and another 17% mostly automated.

Research goes on to reveal that for an accounting team with 40 full-time employees, with an average salary of £60,000 would save around 25,000 hours and nearly £72,000 that would have otherwise been wasted on team members carrying out repetitive tasks.

This time saved can instead be spent on higher-value tasks that facilitate business transformation and allow finance to act as a trusted strategic partner to the business.

  1. Understand where to allocate resources

Sometimes it can feel like finance are caught in the middle, with demands left, right and centre of the business. And with eloquent justifications from each department explaining why their project should be prioritised, it can leave finance teams stretched under the pressure to please everyone.

Analytics works to hand back the power to finance teams.

Through interactive dashboards that display performance across the business, finance teams are able to easily identify the key value drivers of financial growth.

This means that they’re able to present stakeholders with “the facts” and justify financial activity, only spending resources on activities that generate the most financial value, whilst cutting unnecessary costs.

On top of this, finance teams can look internally to see what they’re spending their own time and resources on. This can help them to define their list of roles and responsibilities as a department to ensure that they don’t get caught up in low-value tasks.

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  1. Make faster, more reliable decisions

At the core of any finance transformation is the need to adapt finance practices to meet increasing business demand.

Despite this, many finance teams are still relying on outdated methods to carry out financial processes.

Relying on spreadsheets to communicate and understand what’s going on in the wider business is a common theme amongst finance, but using manual methods alone leaves room for human error.  In fact, research shows that nearly 90% of spreadsheets contain errors, and this can make it tricky to make decisions with confidence.

This approach also means that teams are often forced to spend hours analysing data and pulling reports. This can lead to lags in getting all-important insights, which delays decision making and can result in “in hindsight” discussions with stakeholders.

Analytics works to streamline financial processes to provide teams with fast and accurate insights at the touch of a button. Through real-time data and automation of once tedious processes, teams can see bumps in the road way in advance and have greater confidence in their decisions.

Sources:

https://emtemp.gcom.cloud/ngw/globalassets/en/finance/documents/trends/cfo-journal-new-digital-workforce.pdf

https://www.gartner.com/en/confirmation/finance/trends/new-digital-workforce

https://emtemp.gcom.cloud/ngw/globalassets/en/finance/documents/insights/hallmarks-of-winning-finance-transformations.pdf

https://www.gartner.com/en/confirmation/finance/insights/finance-transformation

https://emtemp.gcom.cloud/ngw/globalassets/en/finance/documents/insights/defining-the-scope-of-fpa-analytic-support.pdf

https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Deloitte-Analytics/dttl-analytics-us-da-3minFinanceAnalytics.pdf

[2] https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/new-technology-new-rules-reimagining-the-modern-finance-workforce

https://www.blackline.com/blog/account-reconciliations/3-audit-benefits/?ite=1192&ito=1771&itq=b820f4c8-2db4-44be-bdbf-1230cc9fa177&itx%5Bidio%5D=522393

[1] https://emtemp.gcom.cloud/ngw/globalassets/en/finance/documents/trends/cfo-journal-new-digital-workforce.pdf

[3] https://www2.deloitte.com/gr/en/pages/finance-transformation/topics/finance-transformation.html

https://openviewpartners.com/blog/finance-transformation-the-art-of-getting-more-from-your-finance-team/#.XSxsDuhKiUk

https://www.gartner.com/en/finance/insights/finance-transformation

The Financial Institutions Sentiment Survey, now in its fourth year, canvassed the views of more than 100 senior decision makers at a broad range of organisations – from global banks and insurers to intermediaries, investors and asset managers – to explore the key themes shaping their sector.

The report found that more than half of firms (58%) are expecting growth in the UK economy to slow down in the next 12 months – twice as many as held that view in 2018 (29%). Two-thirds of them (67%) expect domestic growth in the coming year to be weaker than G7 peers.

These views were broadly mirrored in respondents’ expectations for the UK financial services sector with 55% forecasting that growth would deteriorate during the year ahead, up from 27% in 2018.

Similarly, most senior executives (54%) said they have become less optimistic about the future of their industry in the past 12 months, up from 40% in 2018.

Meanwhile, two-fifths of firms (40%) expect their own revenues to increase – albeit down from 64% last year – with only 17% seeing income falling next year.

More than half of firms feel they are prepared for the UK’s departure from the EU, with 59% stating they are ready for a ‘no deal’ Brexit with little or no dependency on a transition period and no further extension.

The remainder of firms surveyed are dependent to some extent on a transition period to complete their contingency planning, with almost a third (29%) saying that they have a limited dependency and 12% saying that they have a significant dependency.

Despite the focus these preparations require, the sector continues to invest in the UK, with a third (31%) expecting investment to increase during the year ahead (compared to 24% in 2018). Only 10% of respondents forecast a reduction in investment in their UK business over the next 12 months.

Top risks identified

The three most significant risks cited by survey respondents remained unchanged on last year, with the UK’s departure from the EU top (58%), followed by economic uncertainty (36%), and new regulation (31%).

Significantly, the risk posed by cybercrime (29%) has leapt from eighth place to fourth since 2018.

Last year 46% of respondents said one of their firm’s top three technology investment strategies for 2018 was to improve cybersecurity, behind improving customer satisfaction (49%) and reducing operating costs (48%). In 2019, cybersecurity moves to top of the tech agenda and with greater prominence – 70% are now prioritising it as an area for investment.

Robina Barker Bennett, Managing Director, Head of Financial Institutions, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The past year has presented many challenges for businesses. Against a backdrop of on-going global economic turbulence, it is unsurprising that sentiment among financial institutions towards the sector and the wider economy is lower than in previous years.

“That said, the responses to this survey show the sector’s resilience during difficult times and it is especially encouraging to see that firms plan to continue investing in the UK.

“In 2019, firms are arguably more dependent than ever on technology. With this rapid advancement, the risks from cybercrime are increasing, placing extra pressure on financial institutions to change the way they operate.”

Data shows that almost half of those working in Britain have financial worries (40%) and this is linked closely with stress and depression.

The research by Salary Finance, a financial wellbeing solutions provider, surveyed over 10,000 British workers. Of the group with financial worries, a huge 73% reported to suffer with stress, and 46% with depression. Overall the data showed stress levels were 380% higher and depression levels 490% higher than those who did not have financial worries.

And of those that earned more than £100,000 per annum, over half (55%) stated they suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, and 53% stated they suffered from depression.

Anxiety and panic attacks have a fourfold higher occurrence among working people with money troubles. Sleepless nights were also reported nine times more frequently, while 41% of those surveyed admitted that their quality of work was affected by unease about the state of their finances.

The data also revealed that the nation’s financial situation is a concern - with 18.6 million working people in the UK (53%) lacking financial resilience and 11 million regularly running out of money between paydays.

Asesh Sarkar, CEO at Salary Finance, said: “As April is National Stress Awareness Month, we wanted to further highlight the issue of financial stress and the impact this can have on people – particularly in the workplace. This added level of stress is something that employers need to address by removing the taboo of talking about money worries in the workplace.

“It is not a matter to be taken lightly, but interestingly is something that people are happy to share with their employers. In our research 77% of respondents said they trust their employer to treat their financial situation as confidential. This puts employers in a great position to really help their staff become more financially stable and therefore happier in their everyday lives.”

The findings also reflected on how this impacts people during the working day. The group with financial worries were shown as eight times less likely to finish their daily tasks, and almost six times more likely to report troubled relationships with co-workers.

They also take 1.5 days a year off work due to their financial stress and are more likely to be looking for a new job. This can have a great impact on employers in turn. A recent Harvard Kennedy School study reported that the cost of losing an employee is between 16-20% of annual salary.

The overall impact on British business is estimated at £39-51 billion annually, equating to almost 2.4% of UK GDP. This is greater than the budget for defence and more than half the education budget.

Asesh added: “We are passionate about the role that employers can play in helping staff get their finances in shape. 

“Employers are in a unique position to provide support, through financial education, salary-deducted savings, advances and loans, to help employees increase their financial fitness and ultimately improve their financial wellbeing. The added dividend for businesses comes in the form of a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.”

(Source: Salary Finance)

The UK has long been a top destination for investors, having received over £4.5bn of investment into technology companies within the last 3 years. However, with Brexit on the horizon, there is a discussion about how the UK can maintain its attractiveness to foreign and domestic investors after leaving the European Union.

Ana Bencic, Founder and CEO of NextHash, comments on how UK-based, high-growth companies can maintain their appeal to investors in a post-Brexit Britain:

"It is clear that in the UK currently, there is no slowdown in appetite for the investment opportunities that exist, especially in the fast-growing tech sector, but there are questions about whether this will continue after Britain has left the European Union. The UK's abundance of high-growth businesses, particularly those in the technology sector including FinTech, require vital growth finance in the next five years and with the current funding gap, how will these businesses thrive in post-Brexit Britain?

“Blockchain investment platforms can help make global growth finance for scaling technology businesses more transparent and easier to access. Both individual and institutional traders will be able to engage more with blockchain technology-backed trading, where the businesses are backed by a Digital Security Offering and there is greater potential to make rapid returns on their investments than the traditional venture capital route. When this is adopted into the mainstream, it will revolutionise the way businesses will access scale-up finance, how investors will access these companies, and how illiquid shares can be traded into liquid capital in ways never imagined before. As Britain prepares for Brexit, new forms of investment could be crucial for these scaling businesses as well as global investors who want to maintain access to the UK marketplace."

(Source: NextHash)

Here Ramesh Ramani, Cognizant Head of Banking & Financial Services, argues that for banks to remain relevant in a context of regulatory pressure and intense competition, during an era when experience is overtaking trust as a key differentiator, they have three options: become a multiservice provider; go beyond banking to become part of people’s lives; or find a niche segment.

So what are the Steps to unlocking future banking growth?

Today, banks are no longer just competing with each other. The BigTech firms are nipping at their heels, trying to gain market share within the financial services industry. For example, both Google and Facebook have already secured e-money licences. And, according to Crunchbase, there are now over 12,000 fintechs operating globally, with new entrants such as N26, the branchless digital bank offering a paperless sign-up process that can be completed on a smartphone, with identification verified by a video or selfie, which is building a large customer base rapidly. As digital banks such as Monzo report less than one-tenth the cost of servicing a retail account compared to a large traditional bank, these fintechs, built on technology from the outset, are undoubtedly luring away previously loyal customers and revenue through their ability to offer a more digital customer experience.

Trust is no longer the holy grail and experience has taken over

Customer experience has now become the most important differentiator. Where trust was once hailed as the holy grail for banking institutions with customers sticking with their bank for long periods – indeed, sometimes their entire lives – this is no longer the case. Trust and legacy are diminishing over time as younger consumers, brought up in a world surrounded by the BigTechs, increasingly look for speed and convenience. There are, however, notable instances of big-name banks being early adopters, using technology to streamline their operations, improve customer experience and enhance their offering. For example, in Spain, BBVA has developed an app feature called Bconomy, which helps customers set goals, save money and track their progress. The app makes suggestions about how to save money and compares prices on things like utilities and groceries. Idea Bank in Poland makes its products available on the go with branches and co-working spaces on commuter trains. These Idea Bank cars feature desks and conference spaces, plus free office supplies, Wi-Fi and coffee.

It is clear that banks are aware they need to change their strategy to remain relevant. To survive in the evolving banking landscape, banking institutions have three options:

  1. Become a “multiservice provider” – as profit margins decrease with new entrants coming into the market, banks must consider partnering with the new digital players to ensure they remain an important element of the banking ecosystem. If it is done right, an ecosystem with fintechs need not cause them to lose or dilute their relationships with customers – nor come at the expense of their bottom line. Many fintechs are now offering flexible partnership options that include white-labelling services. And, if done correctly, a partnership with a fintech can bring multiple benefits. For example, ING and Santander have white-labelled Kabbage’s automated SME lending platform and integrated it into their product portfolios.
  2. Go beyond banking to become part of people’s lives – banks should transform their customer experience, and one way is to make themselves integral to their customer’s lives. For example, besides supplying a mortgage to a family that has just moved into the area, a bank could become their hub for the move, offering them advice on the best schools for their children as well as providing information on local amenities.
  3. Find a niche segment – banks today are trying to be everything to everyone, which is causing their innovation to stall. Those identifying a market niche will have the best chance of survival in the digital era. We are already seeing examples of household names in the banking world, such as Credit Suisse and Barclays becoming more selective about areas they want to be in to differentiate themselves.

New regulations continue to shake up the landscape

Even as little as three years ago, one could argue that banks still held some form of advantage over new players due to the vast amounts of customer data they held, giving them unrivalled access to consumer spending patterns. However, with new regulations, such as Open Banking, forcing financial institutions to make their data available, this data ceases to give them the competitive advantage it once did.

However, these regulations are certainly improving the landscape. For consumers, it means they can more easily pick and choose banks for different purposes by managing all accounts and payments in one centralised place. For example, taking advantage of the UK's new Open Banking environment, ING Bank has developed Yolt, a free mobile app which allows users to centralise their finances and manage their money with different banks for different financial services in one place. And, in theory, this improved access to payment information and spending data will lead to better banking products that offer more efficient service to consumers.

As the use and implementation of technology continues to change the banking landscape, we can expect a dramatic change in the sector within the next five years. A decade ago, many investment banking leaders thought it was ridiculous to suggest that software would run and complete their research analysis whilst today, many are almost entirely reliant on automation and AI to provide thorough and fast analysis. The question is, which banks will recognise and take advantage of the market changes ahead? Only time will tell.

More than three-quarters (80%) of bankers believe challenger banks are an increased threat to their business, while almost one-third (30%) believe they will be the single most disruptive threat in 2019. The survey, commissioned by fintech provider Fraedom, found that in response the challenger bank threat, bankers expect their organisations to invest heavily in updating legacy systems (44%) and new technology (26%) in 2019.

“With challenger banks setting themselves apart by offering innovative technology platforms, commercial banks are now realising they must invest in key areas in order to counter this threat. This was also echoed by our survey which found other disruptive influences in 2019 to be digitalisation (36%) and consumerisation of technology (36%)” said Kyle Ferguson, CEO, Fraedom.

This comes as almost half (46%) of respondents perceive legacy systems to be the biggest barriers to the growth of commercial banks, while 32% cite it’s the pressure to save money.

With investing in new technology high on the agenda for commercial banks, the survey found that over half (53%) of respondents believe AI and Machine Learning will be the technologies to have the biggest impact on commercial banking in 2019.

“It is clear to see that challenger banks are a disruptive force within the sector. Through the use of innovative technology, these banks have plugged a gap left by established retail banks,  and are acting as a stark warning to banks within the commercial space which remains open to similar disruption,” added Ferguson. “If commercial banks are to compete, they must become more agile and adopt new technology platforms suited to changing needs of businesses, or risk being left behind.”

(Source: Fraedom)

Nearly 50% of 2017’s Initial Coin Offerings are currently failing, and one serious factor in this lack of success comes from the lack of trust in a business. Investing in ICOs is risky. Little regulation results in a vulnerability to fraud, and is putting off people from contributing - and rightly so, why would you want to just throw away money?

With that said, ICOs can prove an incredible investment opportunity, with huge potential for growth starting at the pre-sale; and if a potential contributor has trust in a project, there is absolutely no reason for them not to invest.

So how can you earn investors’ trust? This week Tomislav Matic, CEO of Crypto Future, provides Finance Monthly with his top five ways to incite trust in potential investors.

1. Be transparent

One key factor in convincing others of your legitimacy is through being as transparent as possible. Of course, not every detail can be given away, but letting potential contributors understand the inner workings of your company can go a long way to showing them all the work being put into your ICO.

Being transparent develops a unique relationship with investors. Show them you align with legal compliance - you could even go as far as showing off clips of on-site testing; whatever it takes to show the world that you are genuine in your efforts, working hard to make this project a success - it goes much further than you might think.

2. Go social

On average, people spend 116 minutes of their day on social media - just under two hours checking what other people are doing. Only a fool would miss out on this opportunity for both exposure, and a chance to involve future contributors.

Use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter - and other social media sites too - to give people regular updates on product details, blog posts, interviews, information; anything you can think of. Frequent updates through a channel that people will be checking regardless go a long way to making investors feel involved in the progression of the project, connected and valued - that extra insight only helps towards bridging that relationship.

3. Introduce your team

By now, contributors feel the platform is safe, they know the inner workings of your product, and they feel involved with the project; it’s time to show them the team behind it. It’s all well and good having a brilliant product, but if you’ve got someone running the ICO who isn’t capable of delivering it, how can an investor trust it?

Roll out the blogs, the interviews, the Q&As, and get their social media accounts active too. Does your CEO have an incredible track record of getting ICOs off the ground? Shout about it. And an inexperienced leadership team isn’t necessarily a bad thing either - you just need to show to contributors why they are in the position they hold.

4. Create an extensive whitepaper

Not everyone will go through the entire whitepaper from front to back, but having a detailed outline of everything to do with your project gives contributors access to any specific information they might need.

Having a strong, comprehensive whitepaper in place allows investors to complete their due diligence at their own leisure. It’s a recurring theme: access to information. The more access, the more allowance you give for trust to blossom.

5. Outlining a clearly defined roadmap

Actions speak louder than words, but if you’re showing future contributors exactly what you’re planning and how you’re going to implement that plan, and then following through on it, there is absolutely no reason for them to believe that you can’t continue in that vein.

Outlining your strategy is a brilliant way of proving that you follow up on promises, and if you can do it before the ICO even starts, even with the smallest steps, investors will be more inclined to put their faith in you once the sale has kicked off.

Building trust is by no means easy, but it is incredibly vital to aiding your ICO’s success. It can without doubt be the difference between an ICO that hits the ground running, and one that flops completely.

The process starts early, and requires a huge amount of time and effort - much like building trust face to face - but the rewards are tremendous.

Phil Sugden, Director at flexible workspace solutions provider, Portal Group, discusses below how the Managed Office Solutions concept has reduced the risk of capital expenditure for fast-growing companies when relocating offices.

In a rapidly evolving market place, businesses are often growing at an entirely unpredictable rate. While growth is one of the most highly valued characteristics of any successful organisation, it often causes logistical and financial challenges when relocating to a larger workspace under the traditional office lease and the serviced model.

Businesses that opt for the traditional lease model are highly restricted in terms of flexibility, fit out and capital expenditure, thus limiting future developments and changes. While the serviced model offers more flexibility, businesses still face limitations on how they can use the office environment to reflect their brand.

Selecting an integrated service offering, such as Managed Office Solutions (MOS), offers a ‘third way’ for businesses to relocate to larger premises. Using MOS, offices are tailored to the client’s exact needs with the added advantages of risk mitigation, the removal of capex requirements and contract terms to meet business planning horizons.

The typical challenge for a small business that has outgrown its existing premises is finding and setting up an alternative location with access to high-calibre talent in a short space of time. In addition, extensive lease lengths can restrict SMEs from finding a new workspace that is wholly suited to their growth strategy.

Historically, companies opting for the traditional lease model have committed to the security of lengthy 10, 15 or even 20 year leases. As business plans often change several times over lengthy lease terms, this certainty has come at a critical price of flexibility in an often volatile economic climate.

The contract lengths for MOS, however, typically range from 3-5 years and therefore enable companies that require a high number of workstations, to more closely align their accommodation requirements with their actual business needs, allowing them to expand or downsize as required.

When expanding under the traditional office lease, businesses are required to self-source and invest substantial capital expenditure in what would be a large, ‘from-scratch’ project. Outsourcing fit-out and facilities management providers when relocating offices can be a costly and time-consuming process.

In addition, the exit fees and dilapidation costs can present even the most well-established businesses with a weighty unnecessary expenditure at the end of a lease.

As a result, small to medium sized businesses are now viewing their office space requirements as a strategic component of their business plan, and thus opting for more flexible leasing options at a fixed price, with no additional costs.

Leases are rapidly becoming an outdated concept, and under more flexible workspace contracts such as Managed Office Solutions (MOS), agreements can be negotiated so they are based on inclusive managed contracts that are priced on a per workstation basis with no capital expenditure or risk.

By having a single cost for the property, facilities management, fit out and ongoing management, flexible methods like MOS remove what can be considerable associated upfront capital expenditure costs, while allowing business funds to be utilised more effectively on operational costs for the property itself.

Simply put, the new wave of shared offices options are allowing SMEs to not only access all the services they need at a cost-certain price, but to work within a flexible financial model that actively encourages their individual development and culture.

The UK’s passion for innovation means it is now seen as a global leader in the development of financial services that are powered by prepaid technology, according to data released by Prepaid International Forum (PIF).

PIF, the not-for-profit trade body representing the prepaid sector, reports that the percentage of UK adults using tech-based financial services has risen to 42% (up from 14% in 2015). The UK is at the forefront of this growing market in Europe, ahead of Spain (37%) and Germany (35%). The UK is third globally to only China (69%) and India (52%).

Fueling this growth in the UK is prepaid, which has become a driving force for the fintech companies who are rapidly transforming the way we pay and get paid. The prepaid sector in Europe is growing faster than anywhere else in the world (up 18% since 2014 compared to just 6% growth in the US) is now worth $131bn*.

Experts believe that the UK’s passion for innovation may help to offset the potential negative effects of a no-deal Brexit, should UK financial service providers lose its right of automatic access to EU markets.

Diane Brocklebank, spokesperson for PIF, says: “The UK is a globally significant player in the creation of prepaid-enabled financial services with consumers keen to adopt new and innovative services and a growing industry of experts with the knowledge needed to develop such products and bring them to market.

“In a global sector, the UK stands out as being a key market and one that should retain its prized status even if it loses its financial passporting rights as a result of a no-deal Brexit.”

The UK’s status in prepaid is significant as it is a sector that is growing much faster than other financial services. In Europe, the 18.6% growth in prepaid since 2014, compares to just 7.8% growth in consumer debit and 5.8% growth in consumer credit markets*.

Diane Brocklebank, continues: “Prepaid and Fintech are the areas where people looking to invest in financial service businesses are seeing the most potential. This is being driven by increased dissatisfaction with mainstream financial services and a desire for greater innovation and flexibility, particularly amongst consumers looking for lower costs and fees as well as smartphone accessible products.

“The UK’s status as a global player is therefore crucial to it continuing to be seen as a key market for such investment. To maintain this, it must continue to be a positive environment for innovation with a supportive regulatory environment and strong skills base.”

(Source: PIF)

This week Finance Monthly benefits from expert insight into the financial world, with a close look at the development of fintechs and the increasing need for these to come together for the sake of progress. Here Ian Stone, CEO of Vuealta, describes some of the challenges ahead, and the solutions that are already possible.

Between 2010 and 2015, the financial services industry changed drastically. In just those five years, four of today’s most successful fintech companies were launched; namely Stripe, Revolut, Starling Bank and Monzo. These launches all had one thing in common; putting the customer at the centre of the operation, untied to legacy or history. Fast forward and the fintech industry is coming of age, with the UK’s fintech sector alone attracting £1.34 billion of venture capital funding in 2017, and new companies launching into market every day.

Scaling up

This success means that the challenge these companies now face is one of scale. To keep moving forward, they need to be able to expand and scale up quickly and easily to support their growing customer bases. They need to do this at the same time as maintaining the flawless, fully-digitised customer service that they have become synonymous for. No easy feat.

How they play this growth period is therefore vital. They need to be fast in making decisions and flexible enough to adapt to the constant changes that are now part and parcel of today’s market. That means arming themselves with the tools and information that will help them achieve that.

A new age of planning

The key is in the planning. As digital companies, fintechs already benefit from high levels of flexibility and adaptability. These traits must also be reflected in how they approach their business planning if they stand a chance of still being relevant five years down the road. A recent survey by Ernst & Young revealed that a third of UK fintech companies believe that they’re likely to IPO in that timeframe – a clear demonstration of the rewards that can be reaped from staying successful. What will set the successes apart from the failures is connectivity. A more connected company with a more connected approach to how it plans will be more successful.

Realising a connected approach to planning

By connecting their people, processes and data, fintech companies will be able to more accurately forecast their revenue, costs and liquidity on a monthly if not weekly or daily basis. They’ll be able to model and digest significant variations in activity and resources, as well as changes in operating models and growth scenarios.

Holding information in different siloes makes it almost impossible for a business to have an accurate view of where money is being spent, meaning the value of forecasts are limited. For those looking to scale up their operations, both from a size and geography point of view, these forecast insights are invaluable. Expansion is an expensive business, so using the company’s data, connecting it and breaking down those silos to make more informed, accurate decisions will help ensure that they don’t burn through valuable capital.

It will also help them stay nimble. This is a period of significant change, with new regulations, political fluctuations affecting currency rates, access to skills and trade deals, amongst other things. The future is unclear so staying nimble means having a clear view and plan for what multiple futures could look like. By having a holistic view of how the entire business is performing and then using that data to forecast where it is likely to be in one, three, ten years’ time, the future becomes much more predictable and achievable. Suddenly, a fintech company can start making decisions now that before may have seemed too risky.

When implemented properly at both a technological and an organisational level, connected planning provides an intuitive map of how decisions ripple through an entire organisation. That is only possible with a real-time overview of the business and the ability to quickly understand the impact of any market changes. This is a critical point for fintech companies.

The competition is growing and although the larger banks will never be able to match new fintechs in terms of agility, they have experience, big customer bases and money on their side. Taking a more connected approach to how fintechs plan will be key to success. Only with a clear view of how the business is performing and scenarios for when that performance is jeopardised, will these companies cement their place in the future of finance.

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