The two-day conference will be held at the innovative Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and will also host the hotly contested Fintech Awards London 2023.
In addition to providing attendees with a wealth of opportunities for learning and networking in the sector, Fintech Week London's shrewd choice of location will allow privileged access to the fintech elite of the UK's first city. The venue's amenities include numerous breakout areas, open-plan and private suites, and a broad range of experience ctivities that will include stadium tours and 'The Dare Skywalk', the UK's only controlled descent from a stadium roof.
Topics to be addressed during the conference will include world economic challenges, the growing presence of embedded frinance solutions, the ever-increasing importance of fintech as a social good and the impact that cryptocurrencies have on our daily lives. Leading experts and speakers will address these issues and more across an ambitious programme of talks.S Speakers hail from leading fintechs, banks, regulators, private equity firms, investment and media companies, with major players and challengers all receiving representation.
Confirmed speakers include:
The event's full programme and list of speakers will be revealed shortly. Information on booking a place at the event, or becoming a partner, is available on the Fintech Week London website.
After the unprecedented frenzy of the past two years in the property market, 2022 dawned amid expectations of a period of relative calm. Instead, the UK housing market as a whole has significantly out-performed any such predictions of settling down.
Indeed, the UK housing market recorded its strongest start to a year since 2005, according to Nationwide, with annual house price growth rising to 11.2%. And while the wider market’s headline-generating buoyancy may have overshadowed Prime Central London’s (PCL) stoic resilience, 2021 marked something of a return to form for the capital’s most prestigious postcodes. Knight Frank reported six consecutive months of PCL price growth – the first such extended growth since the Brexit referendum. In turn, Savills has predicted 8% growth in PCL for 2022, alongside an impressive 23.9% growth for the next five years.
With travel restrictions easing and the race for space continuing to drive up demand, London’s prime property market is well placed to become a buyers’ playground, with a few emerging trends likely to spell the difference between modest and accelerating growth.
The desire for more space driven by changing lifestyle priorities, which was so prevalent throughout the pandemic, is set to continue causing ripples at the very top end of the property market. Data from Savills showed the average value of prime property across London increased by 3.2% in 2021, more than double the 1.2% seen during 2020. However, their data shows the strongest performing market over the past 18 months has been larger homes in prime west London, with the price of a six or more bedroom house rising by 10.4% during the past year and by 15.1% since March 2020.
Further, the estate agent recorded 522 £5m-plus sales across the capital in 2021, the highest number for any year since 2013. The total value of these transactions was £5.54 billion, 48.1% higher than in 2020, a strong indication that confidence in London’s most prestigious postcodes remains strong. With stock levels remaining low, this is likely to accelerate the market’s recovery.
Looking ahead, the city pied-à-terre is also expected to have a revival over the next few months as high-earning professionals make their way back to the office, which could also drive up prices.
Given the undeniable influence of the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) holiday on property demand, and the need to raise funds for a wider economic recovery, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that further reform to the system of property tax could be on the horizon.
It’s worth noting that prior to the last Autumn Budget, there was considerable anticipation for changes to the SDLT surcharge on second home purchases – from 3% to 4%. Naturally, this could have some consequences for transaction volumes and interest levels in the prime market, with buyers facing higher prices at the point of purchase.
Indeed, a recent study commissioned by Butterfield Mortgages Limited, taking in the views of more than 1,000 UK homeowners, revealed a majority (58%) felt SDLT to be an outdated mode of tax and hoped to see reform.
Another trend that is likely to influence PCL property – though less directly – is rising interest rates. Following a sustained period of historic low rates, the Bank of England has started increasing interest in line with growing inflation pressure across the economy. Most recently, they were hiked from 0.25% to 0.5%, with further increases anticipated throughout this year.
Consequently, buyers will be wary of the spiralling cost of financing a purchase. While lenders, particularly in the premium end of the market, can be agile in adapting their offering to circumstantial change, this could have an impact on buyers’ spending power and restrict the volume of transactional activity.
Naturally, given global travel restrictions implemented throughout the pandemic, there has been limited potential for international investors to invest in the UK. Now, as travel corridors have broadened, we should anticipate a return of international investment – and in the best case, a release of bottlenecked demand which could further intensify transactional activity across the upper echelons of the London market.
Furthermore, the London market remains distinct in the eyes of investors, having retained its global reputation as a safe destination for property investment capital. Knight Frank, for instance, have labelled the capital as an opportune ‘global city’, with ripe conditions for significant economic growth in the future. As such PCL holds an innate advantage, which could prove lucrative and beneficial if the market itself retains its attractive investment conditions.
The past few years in property have underlined the importance of not trying to predict the future. Indeed, further headwinds such as unexpected changes to the tax system or the emergence of a new and restrictive variant of Covid-19 could impact the PCL market as dramatically as anything listed above. However, with all remaining well, the return of international investment and the ongoing race for space across prime addresses should prove crucial trends in keeping PCL’s recovery going strong.
About the author: Alpa Bhakta is the CEO of Butterfield Mortgages Limited, a London-based prime property mortgage provider with a particular focus on the needs of UK and international HNWIs.
Butterfield Mortgages is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN:119274).
Butterfield Mortgages Limited is part of the Butterfield Group and a subsidiary of The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited.
In London, the new hourly rate will stand at £11.05, while the new wage outside the capital will be £9.90.
The Living Wage Foundation, responsible for setting the rates, said that almost 9,000 employers in the UK now pay the wage which is higher than the statutory National Living Wage of £8.91 per hour for adults. This will increase to £9.50 in April 2022. Since the launch of the Living Wage Foundation’s campaign two decades ago, employees receiving the higher rate have benefited from over £1.6 billion in extra wages.
The foundation confirmed that new employers signing up to pay higher rates to staff include companies such as Fujitsu, Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon Homes, and Capita. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, over 3,000 employers have been accredited with the Living Wage Foundation. However, the foundation said that 4.8 million jobs in the UK still pay less than the Real Living Wage.
Having previously upped its earnings outlook on several occasions in recent months, CMC Markets has now said it expects its annual earnings to come in at between £250million to £280million, a significant decrease from a previous forecast of in excess of £330million.
By the afternoon in London, the company’s share price was down approximately 27% as it said that market volatility had eased from the extreme levels experienced at the height of the pandemic. The stock was at its lowest level in over a year.
In the year to March 2021, the company had recorded a net operating income close to £410 million alongside record profits as its clients traded more on market volatility.
In a statement, CMC Markets said: "Reduced volatility in markets has resulted in lower trading activity across both the newly acquired and existing cohort of clients. Similar trends have been seen across our non-leveraged and leveraged businesses."
London is a central hub for businesses from all industries. It is brimming with opportunities and potential investments. It is a cosmopolitan metropolis adored by both tourists and business owners. Every day there is a new opportunity waiting to be grasped by a business owner.
However, running a business is difficult. Trying to grow a business in London can have added pressure, especially as the competition is heightened compared to being in a smaller city. As a small business owner, you need to ensure that your time, and money, are being spent wisely to ensure that your company can grow. It can be challenging without the right guidance helping you along the way. This is why we have put together a few things you need to consider when trying to grow your business in London.
A partnership is often a joining of two people or businesses. All partners involved will share the risk and achievements of the partnership. They will also share the responsibilities and liabilities. The benefits of a partnership are the opportunity to reach new markets and interact with a wider audience.Being a small business in a big city has its challenges. However, partnering with a bigger, reputable company, opens the door to possibilities and opportunities that are too good to turn down.
Collaboration is a powerful business tool for companies, as it helps businesses to be innovative, grow, and increase their competitiveness on many levels. It can help your small business to climb the ladder as you work towards reaching your next goal.
When running a business, it is almost impossible to have a deep understanding of all the guidelines and regulations that come with each department. You may have a solid idea but there will always be small clauses that you might not have considered. As such, it is worth considering asking for help. For example, you may have a relatively firm understanding of accounting and the processes. However, being a small business owner, your time is limited. Accounting tasks can often be time-consuming as they need to be done properly the first time to avoid costly penalties. This is why hiring an external company to handle your accounts will be incredibly beneficial.
Being based in the capital, there is no shortage of accountants in London. Firms such as Azets will be on hand to help you with all things related to accounting within your business. In doing so, they have freed up your time to focus on thinking of new ideas and ways to help your business grow. They can also offer advice on what is possible with your current financial situation. In addition to this, you can rest assured knowing that there are no issues with the financial side of your business.
Regardless of the services your business offers or the industry you operate within, the chances are high of another company in London doing a similar job. This is why you should do research on the area and the market to see what has been successful in the past and what has failed. This will help you to avoid mistakes others have made and what has been successful in the market.
When choosing to do business in London, you are opening the door to potentially working with an incredibly talented group of individuals. London is more than just a city, it acts as a bridge between your business and a whole host of opportunities.
The best way to maximise being based in London is ensuring that you have covered all bases, from having the right support behind you, choosing the right location and ensuring that you have the resources available to help you grow. In doing so, you could see your business thrive in the vibrant city.
Alpa Bhakta, CEO of Butterfield Mortgages Limited, explains why the appeal of England's capital is not be underestimated.
Making such bold predictions about the lasting changes that will come about as a result of the Covid-19 crisis is problematic. Since early 2020, consumers and businesses have been confined in what they have been able to do due to health concerns, economic disruption and unprecedented levels of state-sanctioned social distancing measures. These have been truly unique circumstances, which means it is difficult to assert exactly how people will act when the threat from the virus abates. Returning to the initial point, then, I find the assertion that London is in the midst of a “mass exodus” hard to accept.
First and foremost, it would be wrong to assume there is a one-way direction of travel, with people and even businesses departing London. After all, people have left London in large numbers for decades. In fact, between 2009 and 2019, it is estimated that about 550,000 more Britons left London than moved to it. However, crucially, the population grew in this period thanks to both the higher birth rate within the Greater London area, and net migration to the city.
From families leaving London to find more spacious homes, to people retiring and looking for a quieter life outside of the city, there are many reasons that people would choose to leave. The rise of remote working, combined with the increased demand for properties that have gardens or spare rooms that can be home offices, might have contributed to more people considering life outside of London during the pandemic, but the numbers are not huge, nor is there nearly enough data suggest this will continue as Covid restrictions ease.
Hamptons’ data shows that London leavers purchased 73,950 homes outside the capital in 2020, which although slightly higher than the past four years, is not striking. The table above highlights that in spite of all that has been said, it was largely in keeping with annual averages.
In a recent interview, Tom Walker, a Schroders fund manager specialising in global cities, said: “The media is focussing on the people who are moving “away” from the city and not on those who are moving to the city, especially younger people. “So far, the data is telling us that those that are moving away are not moving very far, only to the suburbs. People understand that they cannot be too far from the city, both from a professional and personal point of view.”
It is a view that certainly mirrors our experiences throughout the pandemic. Our existing clients are showing little sign of wanting to sell or leave the capital, while London’s prime property has remained in demand among both domestic and international buyers. Research by Astons, the international experts on real estate, residency and citizenship through investment, has underlined that London remains one of the prime global real estate markets. Meanwhile, figures from Benham and Reeves have found that buyer interest in London’s £2 million-and-above properties has risen throughout 2021. Such data is indicative of London’s lasting appeal, pandemic or no pandemic. There is a long list of reasons that it lures in people from around the globe.
For one, the city is a prominent centre for business and commerce. Neither the pandemic nor Brexit has undermined that fact. Indeed, it recently recovered its place as Europe’s leading trading hub, while the latest Global Financial Centres Index ranked London as the second-best financial centre, behind New York. It boasts several world-leading universities (four in the top 50). Add to this its transparent legal system and strong tradition of rule of law. Then, of course, there are the thousands of cultural sites and activities, as well as the hospitality and leisure venues on offer.
When all these pull factors are combined, it is hard to see an exodus of people from London. People will leave the city - they always have and always will - and the pandemic might result in a slight uptick in these numbers. But the appeal of the capital, well established for centuries, is going to remain for decades to come.
Alpa Bhakta is the CEO of Butterfield Mortgages Limited. Part of Butterfield and a subsidiary of The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited. Butterfield Mortgages Limited is a London-based prime property mortgage provider with a particular focus on the needs of UK and international HNWIs.
The buyout group, which holds around £23.5 billion of assets under management across equity and debt funds, is set to offer out around 25% of its shares with a further 15% expected to become available through an over-allotment option.
The company is seeking to sell approximately £300m worth of new shares, whilst also selling some shares from existing shareholders - paving the way to a valuation of £2 billion. The flotation signifies a rare arrival in the public markets for a private equity firm and will position Bridgepoint alongside fellow London-listed organisation, 3i Group.
Bridgepoint’s flotation comes amidst a flurry of private equity deals as buyout groups swoop to acquire companies that have fallen on hard times during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in choosing to remain in London for the listing, Bridgepoint has placed itself as the latest significant arrival helping to bolster the capital’s financial reputation.
Despite the challenges posed by both the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, the London Stock Exchange recorded its best start to the year for welcoming IPOs since 2007, despite not all flotations performing as well as initially expected, like in the case of Deliveroo.
Buoyed by prestigious listings from the takeaway food firm, consumer review platform Trustpilot, web security firm Darktrace, and many more smaller firms on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) made the beginning of 2021 a boom period for London.
Financial services firm EY has found that 12 IPOs raised £5.2 billion on the LSE in Q1 of 2021, while another eight claimed £441 million on Aim - paving the way for the most lucrative opening quarter in 14 years.
Although Deliveroo’s much anticipated listing ended in disappointment due largely to shady perceptions on employee rights and an excessive valuation, London appears to have sidestepped Brexit uncertainty to retain its position as the place in Europe for private companies to go public.
“The UK has had the strongest opening quarter for IPOs for 14 years, with the markets successfully weathering the effects of Brexit and bouncing back from the stall in activity caused by the onset of the pandemic a year ago,” explained According to Scott McCubbin, partner at EY. “With an effective vaccine rollout under way, momentum and confidence in the UK IPO market should continue to build, but future growth may vary depending on the sector.”
In 2021, against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, the London Stock Exchange ramped up its efforts to welcome companies looking to list domestically. In March, the UK Listing Review published its recommendations for reform of the Listing Rules of the LSE. The reforms were created as a means of boosting the attractiveness of the UK as a place to go public - particularly for new economy companies - whilst maintaining an appropriate level of investor protection.
The proposals within this recommendation included the relaxing of rules in relation to SPAC activity, remarketing the LSE’s standard listing segment, allowing companies with a dual class share structure to list on the premium segment of the stock exchange and reducing the free float requirements and allowing companies to use other measures to demonstrate liquidity.
These significant alterations come as the global IPO market is accelerating at a rapid pace, with record-breaking numbers for 2021 being returned for companies.
Astoundingly, global IPO proceeds in 2021 have already surpassed 21 of the past 26 years in total. At a total of nearly $250 billion raised so far, there’s little doubt as to why London is pushing so hard to accommodate new customs.
This surge in new arrivals on the public market has been driven largely by strong performances among tech startups during the pandemic and a brand new wider investor base created through the stimulus packages governments offered during lockdowns.
“The pandemic supplied additional reasons for the retail investment market to grow. To support the economy, most countries adopted stimulating policies, which brought both the loan and deposit interest rates to historic lows,” explained Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Research at Freedom Finance Europe. “As an alternative to low-rate deposits, many started investing their savings into stock markets, which posted significant gains last year despite the lockdown and the production slump.”
The efforts of London to alter its listing requirements comes as the city looks to fill the gulf in tech giants on the FTSE 100 compared to its US counterparts. The UK doesn’t play host to stock market leaders like Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and Google, and subsequently misses out on stock market gains driven by these key players.
The absence of key organisations is another reason why the US is currently the world’s cheapest major stock market. Although the FTSE 100 index contains some big stocks based on old-economy fixtures like fossil fuels companies and financial institutions, the market is still around 10% below its pre-pandemic peak from last year - despite concerns surrounding both Brexit and Covid-19 clearing somewhat in 2021.
In comparison, the S&P 500 is up 22% from its pre-Covid-19 peak from last year, while the more technology oriented Nasdaq has rocketed by over 40%. Despite its sluggish performance, the arrivals of Bridgepoint’s IPO and other successes in the form of Darktrace have shown that the city is turning a corner in ramping up its appeal to companies both domestically and overseas. If the favourable listing conditions can continue, there’s no reason why London can’t outperform its pre-pandemic peak over the course of the year.
On Wednesday, British money transfer business Wise was valued at around £8 billion in a direct listing in London, steering clear of the blows that have lately hit tech businesses such as Deliveroo. Wise saw trading in its shares settle at £8.00 by the latter half of the morning, reaching as high as £8.27 as official trading began.
The fintech business joined the London Stock Exchange via a direct listing, a typically unusual listing route that saw Wise’s shares posted for trading on the index without a reference price. The debut price was settled via a long-drawn-out early opening auction. By 11:20 am, over 43 million shares worth £350 million had changed hands.
The positive start to trading means that Wise is London’s biggest float of the year and the capital’s largest ever tech listing. The fintech business has been profitable since 2017. This year, its sale hit £421 million, with the app moving £54.4 billion across borders for 6 million customers. Before this most recent valuation, Wise was valued at between £5 billion and £6 billion in April.
Wise’s stock market debut has been described as a triumph for British fintech.
Renovations and improvements are the best ways to raise your asking price without scaring potential buyers away. We spoke to property experts Zoom Property Buyers who help people sell property in London.
Zoom Property Buyers are a premier cash real estate buyer and gave us some great tips to make your property more saleable and get the best price and return on your investment. If you are running a property renovating company, selling for cash is also a fantastic way to move business quickly and efficiently with no estate agent fees and a super quick sale helping the business move forward.
Here are some simple things you can do with your property to increase its value without breaking the bank.
The living room is where families spend most of their time together. It facilitates bonding and will hold many fond memories. You can use this to your advantage and invoke some emotions in your potential buyers. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way in making your living room more appealing. Recent trends suggest that taupe paint might be the way to go. It's the right combination of contemporary and soothing. You'll love it, and your potential buyers will love it, too.
The kitchen is one of the most attractive and valuable parts of a home. Unfortunately, remodeling a kitchen can also prove to be quite expensive. If you don't have the money to remodel your entire kitchen, stick to your cabinets. Resurfacing your cabinets can add significant value to your kitchen. Plus, the look of a new, clean layer of wood on your cabinets can speak volumes about the condition of your entire kitchen.
Resurfacing your cabinets can add significant value to your kitchen.
While we’re on the subject of kitchen value, changing the colour scheme of your kitchen can also raise your asking price. Current trends in real estate have it that lighter upper cabinets and darker lower cabinets are the way to go. The scheme is called tuxedo cabinetry, and statistics show that it can raise the value of a property by as much as £1,500. You may admire your current uniform colour scheme, but if you want to add real value to your home, you should swap colours.
Carpets are add-ons, and while you may find yours appealing, your prospective buyers can be turned off by them. Instead, remove the carpets and expose your hardwood floors. Besides the fact that a wood floor adds character to a home, wood is durable and easy to maintain. If your home doesn’t have a wooden floor, laying one can be an excellent investment. You can even spend less on engineered or laminated wood. You can get them at a fraction of the cost.
Steel entry doors may give off the appearance of additional security, but that’s not why they are on this list. Steel doors can improve the appeal of your curb. If you’re selling an inherited house, you may want to replace the old doors with steel ones. They are sleek and come in various kinds of paneling and finishes. Also, steel entry doors are incredibly durable, so you won’t have to worry about them for a long time, even if you change your mind about selling your home.
If you’re selling an inherited house, you may want to replace the old doors with steel ones.
If you’re living in an older house, you’ll definitely need to pay attention to some of the details. As industry trends move to more modern styles, so should your home's decor. You can begin with your lights. If your home has the construction-installed thick and round mounts, you need to upgrade to new, sleek ones. The good news is that you can get fixtures in various price ranges, and they will all add significant value to your home. New light fixtures are basically the building blocks of a modern style.
Most people hate this task, and they hope they never have to do it. But then, think about it. If you hate it, your buyers will probably hate it as well. Nobody is going to want to pay top dollar for a home with a cluttered garage. You should take out a day (or a week depending on how cluttered your garage is) to reorganize your garage. Since the garage is basically the home’s storage space, you should invest in some shelves or hangers for the stuff in your garage. It will definitely clear up the room and make it look more appealing.
Now that you can see the floor, how about adding a new coat of paint? Paint is relatively inexpensive, and a new coat of acrylic paint made for floors will go a long way. Very rarely do people have lots of space in their garage. A shiny floor will only add to that impressive feature of your home and impress your potential buyers. While it might not raise your properties value by thousands, it will make an impact on whoever sees it.
According to UK Forestry, trees can raise the value of a house by up to 20%. However, if your tree is unkempt, it can have the opposite effect on your property value. The good news is that you even need a contractor to take care of your trees. Simple tasks like applying tree fertiliser, trimming and pruning, and even spraying can keep your property value where it should be. The same thing goes for hedges and bushes. They make a home more attractive, but not if they look jagged and overgrown. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can pay a gardener a few pounds to trim the hedges. Your property will thank you.
If you’re serious about raising the value of your property, then the chances are that you've already started making some repairs around the house. Replacing broken windows and dented door jambs, and filling cracked plasters are projects you've probably done already. If you haven't, you should consider doing so. Little cracks and imperfections can send unwanted signals to potential buyers. They can make the home appear older than it is, or diminish its overall appeal.
It might even be worth getting a loan to pay for the renovations, as the value added will make the investment worthwhile.
And I can assure you that you’ll feel like you’re there for your entire stay; from the ‘namaskar’ that every member of staff – clad in Indian dress – greets you with, through to the décor which makes you feel like you’ve entered a palace in Mumbai, The LaLiT London offers its guest much more than just a hotel stay – it encapsulates the essence of India, fooling you into feeling like you’ve travelled across the world when you actually haven’t left London.
Housed in what used to be St Olave’s grammar establishment for boys from 1835 to 1968, the hotel is the first international offering from the luxury Indian hotel group The LaLiT. Many of the bedrooms which once used to be classrooms or offices in the grammar school now have super comfortable beds wrapped in Indian fabrics, with tall, hand-embroidered silk headboards in warm cream, white and orange. The original beams add a homely feel to the luxury interiors and the bathrooms come with marble temperature-controlled flooring, Japanese Toto toilets and mother-of-pearls mirrors with an anti-fog system. All the necessary amenities like a minibar, a Nespresso machine and a 40-inch LED TV are there too. Spread across three floors, a few of the 70 individually designed rooms and suites boast Shard views, whilst the Thames Suite offers a stunning view of the river.
During our stay, we popped into the Teacher’s Room (or the bar) for a chai infused cocktail before dinner to prepare our tastebuds for the culinary adventure which Baluchi Restaurant guarantees. The restaurant, which once used to be the school’s assembly hall, has been turned into an opulent, royal blue room which celebrates everything Indian but still nods to the building’s history. Sapphire-tinted glass chandeliers adorn the high ceiling and the wooden floors and wood-clad walls create a warm and intimate ambience.
Food at Beluchi Restaurant is all about modern Indian gourmet cuisine. The carefully crafted menu celebrates Indian flavours, serving a selection of proteins in fragrant sauces, finished off with creatively cooked garnishes. Mains can be paired with a scrumptious selection of traditional naans, rotis or parathas, or of course - rice. Breakfast is served there too and offers a spectacular collection of traditional Indian breakfast dishes, in addition to British and continental staples.
For a more relaxed and quick meal, try The Naan'ery where you can sample four Indian breads, made with seasonal ingredients and paired with a complementing wine. In addition to a 24/7 gym and a small spa that mixes both Eastern and Western therapies, The LaLiT London also offers two meeting rooms (suitable for 8 or 12 attendees).
The LaLiT London enjoys an excellent location for both people who are visiting London for work and travellers - it’s about a five-minute walk from London Bridge and its underground station and a ten-minute walk from The Shard.
For more information and to book your stay, go to http://www.thelalit.com/the-lalit-london/
Below Zoe Wyatt, Partner at international tax specialists Andersen Tax, discusses the inevitability of blockchain, whilst exploring banks' attitudes towards the emergence of new financial technologies, and highlighting how the two can, in fact, work hand in hand.
The first industrial revolution in 1780 began with mechanisation. It was followed by electrification in 1870, automation in 1970 and globalisation in the 1980s. Today, we have digitalisation of the industrial process and tomorrow there will be ‘personalisation’ (industrial revolution 5.0): the cooperation of humans and machines through artificial intelligence (AI) whereby human intelligence works hand-in-hand with cognitive computing to personalise industrial processes.
This might involve the creation of bespoke artificial organs operated by computers talking to one another, automation of the manufacturing process, or self-executing contracts (smart contracts), and so on.
John Straw, a disruptive technology expert involved in developing the 5.0 model, recently claimed that blockchain could render the financial services industry irrelevant, thereby killing off the City of London and constricting the tax revenues that fund the NHS. Straw makes some headline grabbing comments, but do they have any substance?
Blockchain is the technology that underlies cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, and whilst it has existed for approximately ten years, it remains relatively new.
In simple terms, blockchain is a digital archive of information pertaining to an asset, individual and/or organisation. But this is no ordinary digital ledger. Its technology features:
These characteristics diminish the role of intermediaries who are traditionally used to validate data and ensure that it is kept safe. Therefore, Blockchain has myriad potential applications: investment in blockchain start-ups, which are developing solutions for the financial services sector, is staggering.
Blockchain has myriad potential applications: investment in blockchain start-ups, which are developing solutions for the financial services sector, is staggering.
Technical issues exist in overcoming scalability, transaction speed, and energy consumption. However, these will be resolved in the near future as companies develop ways in which the blockchain can be stored ‘off-chain’. This will ensure that it does not need to be downloaded entirely by a node to verify a transaction using AI, amongst other tech, to guarantee that the immutability of blockchain is not undermined. It also creates scalability and reduces energy to such a degree that even the idle computer in a car or mobile phone can be used to verify transactions.
Blockchain technology can be deployed by the financial services sector to:
Although blockchain technology has the power to change the entire traditional banking system, it does not represent disaster for the City of London. Although traceability of transactions and, therefore, tax evasion cannot yet be mitigated entirely, blockchain can indeed help to resolve some critical tax evasion and avoidance issues.
HM Treasury has already developed a proof of concept for VAT using blockchain technology. This should eliminate large swathes of VAT fraud. Given the advent of digital identity, tighter anti-money laundering (AML) procedures administered on blockchain and a widely adopted digital currency, tax evaders will have nowhere to hide.
Blockchain and smart contracts have the capacity to completely transform the audit and tax industries, including multinational corporations’ in-house CFO/finance functions. When coupled with AI technologies, this will enable the digital preparation of accounts and tax return, and the performance of audits. In turn, this facilitates absolute tax transparency, making it easier for tax authorities to raise and conclude enquiries more efficiently into, for example, transfer pricing on intra-group transactions.
Most importantly, the tax and regulatory systems need to evolve somewhat faster than we have so far seen on other new business models and supply chains.
To realise these benefits, seamless interoperability of different technologies is required, together with cooperation between multiple parties, as opposed to a single banking system. This will allow for comprehensive management of the risks that Straw prophesises.
London is just as beautiful in the winter, as it is in any other season and all 30 million tourists that flock to the UK’s capital every year will probably agree that it is one of those cities which offer something for everyone. Pack a warm coat and an umbrella and book your trip to this ever-changing metropolis which promises to make you fall in love with its beautiful, bustling streets – even in January!
London is one of the most visited cities in the world and as such, its hospitality industry is brimming with everything from small boutique stays to a myriad of luxury hotels. So when we think of where to stay in London, it’s safe to say we’d want something unique – something that you’d be hard pushed to find in any of the other hundreds of options. With its ridiculously convenient location - directly opposite St James’ Park tube station, less than a 10-minute stroll from the Houses of Parliament, and a short walk to Trafalgar Square – choosing to stay at Conrad London St James is definitely a decision you won’t regret. A luxury brand of the Hilton chain, with hotels in 35 different cities across the world, Conrad Hotels provide their guests with everything they could possibly desire. The rooms and suites at Conrad London St James are just what you’d expect of a five-star luxury hotel: big King-sized beds, comfortable living areas and spacious brown-marble bathrooms. If you stay at one of the executive rooms, a suite or if you’re a Diamond Tier Hilton Honours member, you’ll be granted access to Conrad London St James’ executive lounge where you can enjoy complimentary drinks during the day, as well as a private breakfast buffet, afternoon treats, afternoon tea, as well as evening canapés and alcoholic drinks. Soak up tranquil vibes, whilst sipping a coffee or stop by for a quick aperitivo before dashing to dinner.
London is one of the most exciting and diverse restaurant capitals in the world and Conrad London St James’ ideal locations means that you’ll be in close proximity to an impressive array of exceptional restaurants and bars. However, make sure you leave time for a meal at Blue Boar Restaurant in the hotel, too. It focusses predominantly on staples like steaks and burgers, but there’s plenty of other options too like a selection of seafood dishes (the pan-roasted halibut with Jerusalem artichoke, toasted hazelnut, truffle, herb crust, baby leeks, wild mushrooms & red wine jus is to die for), as well as a selection of fresh salads. And after dinner, pop into Blue Boar Bar for a politically-themed cocktail; how about a gin-based ‘Corbyn’s Reign’ or a ‘Theresa’s Kitten Heels’ which comes with vodka, blue curaçao, lime, sugar syrup and prosecco?
Breakfast is served at Blue Boar Restaurant too – it comprises an extensive continental buffet which offers all the classics, as well as an à la carte menu. For another taste of British culture, head to Emmeline’s Lounge (named after British political activist Emmeline Pankhurst), where you can indulge in a quintessentially British afternoon tea or a Champagne brunch.
If you’re travelling to London for work, Conrad London St James also offers an impressive business centre and numerous function rooms.
For more information and to book your stay, please go to www.conradhotels.com/london