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Dion Travagliante, Head of North America at Hoptroff, outlines the importance of MiFID II compliance in ensuring UK firms remain internationally recognised.

Announced on Christmas Eve, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement – better known as the ‘Brexit Deal’ – leaves lots of question marks for those in financial services. Before anything else can be decided, the EU must first accept that Britain’s financial regulations are “equivalent” to those in the European Union: the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II).

Since its implementation in January 2018, MiFID II has transformed financial services with policies that promote transparency and trust across processes within the industry. As Britain navigates a new economic arena, many are hoping to avoid further instability by conforming to the existing internationally respected regulations.

Synchronising time under MiFID II

The MiFID regulations were implemented after the global financial crash of 2008 for a very simple reason: to prevent another crisis. The rules cover areas of financial practice that most people have never even considered. This means that British businesses are currently following an extremely clear and thorough guidebook that protects them from financial damage.

The rules on time synchronisation are one notable example of this. Accurate time is at the heart of electronic trading – but all clocks naturally drift. It might not matter if the time on your phone is a few seconds out, but it does matter if the time is wrong on a busy server that transfers thousands of pieces of data every second of the day. If your server’s clock is wrong, data logs can become confused, transactions may be cancelled, and you will be vulnerable in the event of a dispute.

Accurate time is at the heart of electronic trading.

This is where MiFID II comes in. Article 50 restricts every server that is an active market participant to a maximum divergence of between 100 microseconds and 1 millisecond (depending on the type of trading) from the benchmark of UTC (Universal Time).

MiFID II is vital in protecting the best interests of British businesses, but the importance of the regulations go even further. As British financial services look to recover from the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic, Britain must do everything it can to stabilise its position in the global economy.

Amending MiFID II is a threat to this stability, as international trust in a country’s financial market is dependent on the extent of its regulations. This was made evident last February when the pound dropped sharply against the US dollar following suggestions of a MiFID “shake up” by the ESMA.

Smarter regulating solutions

In the past, some groups have been resistant to upholding financial regulations because it has been expensive to do so. To get precision timing, companies had to install and maintain a satellite receiver at every active trading venue, secure access to a grandmaster clock, and spend resources on monitoring and verifying their data logs.

Recent technological developments have made this reluctance redundant. Smarter solutions have entered the market that make carrying out the best financial practice a lot easier and more cost-effective. Traceable Time as a Service (TTaaS) is the premier network-delivered solution for time synchronisation. The software product synchronises your clocks and monitors data for you; no hardware or maintenance is required.

Financial firms across Britain have spent the past three years implementing processes that adhere to MiFID II. Instead of “shaking up” the rules once again, consistency is needed as the industry moves forward.

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Ever since its inception, MiFID II has played an essential role in rebuilding trust in the financial markets. Regulations like those placed on time synchronisation ensure that these markets are both reliable and protected and they have never been more easy or cost-effective to implement. This trust is something that Britain should not take for granted as the world enters an extremely turbulent economic period.

Modern automation and computer systems, particularly in sensitive national industries like financial services, need accurate time to function efficiently and they depend heavily on satellite systems to provide it. Simon Kenny, CEO of Hoptroff, shares his insight on the importance of time as part of modern financial infrastructure.

Satellite Navigation Systems are today’s under-acknowledged global good. Knowing where you are appears to be yesterday’s problem; whip your phone out, and you can establish where you are and find where you need to go very easily using the GPS. However, the UK does not own or control a satellite timing and location system, we rely on the systems built by others, such as the USA, Russia, and the EU, to give us time and location.

We rely on them for our vital financial services industry to accurately execute transactions. If those systems were to be suddenly unavailable either because of accident, deliberate spoofing/jamming or because the provision policy of the owners were to change, then time accuracy would be heavily disrupted in the UK and so would the performance of automated systems that need accurate time to function. Financial services rely on stable time feeds to verify thousands of transactions a second and most of those time feeds are satellite derived, so in the absence of our own UK owned and operated system, we cannot take the risk of it suddenly being unavailable. This is why the UK Government is investing in the National Timing Centre, which will develop a system for distributing time across the UK that is independent of GPS and which would enable the tracking of transactions to continue should the satellite connections be lost.

Software – the efficient, reliable solution

A pound of butter is a pound of butter; it is part of a measurement of weight that it should not change suddenly. It is fixed, but time is cumulative, it is part of its nature that it should change. So, to know what the time is, you care about the total number of seconds that have elapsed and as even tiny errors happen, they quickly become noticeable and clocks begin to disagree. To correct this disagreement the only option is to reach a consensus between national standards bodies about what the time is and then share it freely. This consensus is UTC (Universal Time), the standard to which everybody regulates their clocks.

Financial services rely on stable time feeds to verify thousands of transactions a second and most of those time feeds are satellite derived, so in the absence of our own UK owned and operated system, we cannot take the risk of it suddenly being unavailable.

The importance of highly accurate and synchronised time across different points in a distributed process was made clear at the end of last year when the Bank of England discovered early access to Bank announcements was being sold as a service. An audio feed, set up to provide a resilient back up to the video stream, was received eight seconds earlier at key co-locations than the video. Eight seconds providing a clear window in which to arbitrage any market sensitive announcement by the bank.

To effectively release sensitive market information, it is necessary not just to release the information at the same time to everyone, but to also manage the delivery of that information vis different media so that it arrives simultaneously at sensitive market venues or Co-Locations. When early access to data can be leveraged into a trading advantage, accurate synchronization of devices is required to correct the distortion and allow markets to operate transparently.

The science of real time data can only be coherent if that time consensus can be distributed ubiquitously at low cost, and at greater accuracy than the speed with which machines make decisions and take actions. If the accuracy is not good enough, or access to reference source is lost altogether, then systems will be disrupted and records of what a machine has done will be unreliable. That sweet spot is around twenty microseconds today: the time is accurate enough to measure and monitor server activity, but it can be delivered through software and existing connectivity without the need for expensive timing infrastructure to be installed.  If synchronized time is to become ubiquitous, then it needs to be cost effective and easy to manage.

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Software timestamping is a great solution to help financial institutions comply with MiFID II and CAT timestamping requirements not only because it is very cost effective, but because it can accept a time feed from different sources; a satellite or via a network cable feed, if the satellite becomes unavailable. It has been tested and verified that existing telecoms networks can distribute accurate time to any major data centre reliably and at scale. It is not necessary to have satellite antennae at each data centre location to connect to GPS. Resilient network connections, plus a local “Armageddon clock”, which can take over timing in the event of an interruption in connectivity, are less expensive and easier to maintain. The National Timing Centre will serve to expand the availability of a UTC time signal via multiple fibre networks, so the UK finance industry will have a cost-effective and resilient alternative to satellite available for all financial services companies.

The potential of nationally distributed timing infrastructure

If all the devices in a distributed process don’t share the same time to sufficient accuracy, then the records they produce will put events in the wrong sequence and with incorrect intervals.  However, if the UK finance industry had cheap, ubiquitous, accurate time coming from a reference source, then UK market participants would be able to enjoy the benefits of a unique “Time Fabric” where all timestamps, in any application, would be verified and capable of acting as reference data in any analysis. Time intervals could be used to authenticate proper execution and identify early when a process is not performing as intended. A national timing infrastructure offers the potential to improve the quality and utility of market data not just in financial services, but in any industry using automated systems that chooses to adopt it.

Below Simon Kenny, CEO of Hoptroff, explains that traceable time is not something you can just install and forget, but must be carefully integrated so that it maintains fully traceable time across all the servers the regulations require.

We have learnt that the challenge is not so much about installing traceable time, but more about adapting traceable time so it works within an existing infrastructure without interfering with performance. Many variations on solutions have therefore been installed, often based on different interpretations of what the regulators require. So the solution adopted by one enterprise might not work at all for another or even offer useful precedents on how to solve the problem.

The FCA is seeing the results of this fragmented development process. It has noted in its bulletins that it is finding that many companies have timing irregularities in their data records. However, it has not moved aggressively to generally enforce the timing regulations, preferring instead to give companies more time to find a compliance solution that works with their existing systems. But this position can only be sustained for so long.

Traceable timing was introduced because data records on automated transactions were unreliable and could not be used to reconstruct transactions after the event accurately. If market participants are to be able to trust reported outcomes from automated systems and have confidence in the market, then sequence and interval in event records need to be verified.

Traceable timing was introduced because data records on automated transactions were unreliable and could not be used to reconstruct transactions after the event accurately.

There might not be a simple solution everyone can acquire and install 'off the shelf', but traceable timing compliance is getting easier. Network connectivity providers such as BT are beginning to offer traceable time as a network service, where companies do not need to buy and integrate additional hardware.

Traceable time synchronization is done in software, using connections to cloud grandmaster clocks to provide trusted time sources. As this method gains adoption, the FCA will be less patient with bespoke timing solutions that do not produce the reliable records they need to regulate market practices.

This work being done by financial services will potentially become important in other industries that use widely distributed automated systems to conduct trading. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in the UK is currently conducting a review of the Real Time Buying (RTB) process in the digital advertising industry. This is the process through which a personally targeted advertisement is marketed, sold and provisioned in the interval between when you click on a particular website page and the advertisement actually appearing. It takes milliseconds, but can involve hundreds of third parties, all of whom get access to the personal information of the user as part of the process. However, under the terms of the General Data Protection Act (GDPR), that information is supposed to be under the control of the publisher, who has the permission to use it, not multiple unidentified third parties who don’t have direct permission. If the ICO wants to track this “data leakage,” so it can protect personal data then the work done by the financial services industry to create traceable records using synchronized time could be invaluable.

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Similarly, the online gambling industry uses fast, automated systems to offer and adjust betting odds on different outcomes in sporting events. In this process the precise sequence and intervals between events are important; if a user bets 'in-play' during a football match that a penalty will be given, and at that precise moment of making the bet a foul is committed which is then given as a penalty, the timing of events, and how they are recorded, will determine whether the bet is accepted. Did the bet happen in time? What mattered? When did the user pressed send, or when did the bet hit the platform server? The UK gambling commission is regularly being asked to look at disputes when gambling companies reject bets that would have won had they been accepted. If all the parties in the chain had traceable time to confirm the sequence and interval between events, disputes could be settled more quickly and much more cost effectively.

There are no traceable timing requirements in the digital advertising market, or in online gambling at present, but both have a need for traceable data records to underpin market confidence in non-transparent automated systems. The regulators will likely move cautiously on introducing a regulation like traceable timing. Like the FCA, they want to make sure that the potential market disruption this might cause is justified by the market efficiency benefits to be gained. But the faster the systems become, the wider they are deployed and the smarter the applications get, the greater the need for verified transactions records. Financial services are leading the way on developing ways to help keep automated systems accountable. Other industries will reap the benefits, because when additional regulators unveil a requirement for traceable timing, the systems developed for financial services will be available, almost 'off the shelf', to these other industries, which make automation more accountable but ultimately boost market confidence.

Four out of five businesses will use chatbots by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled by them and they will generate $600bn in revenue in the same year, according to a recent Oracle survey. This week Chris Crombie, Product Manager at Engage Hub, believes now may well be the best time to start investing in chatbots.

In just under two years’ time, chatbots – conversation-mimicking computer programmes that provide your customers with an instant, personalised response – will be ubiquitous. Driven by innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) and the insatiable desire to enhance and personalise the customer experience.

Simply put, chatbots are one of the clearest concrete examples of how the “AI revolution” is impacting on the business landscape and on the day-to-day lives of millions of consumers worldwide.

Consumers happy to chat to bots

Consumer familiarity with chatbots has increased over the last decade, a result of our familiarity with things such as self-service machines in supermarkets and interactive IVR.

With the latest advances in AI technology pushing new boundaries, it’s easy to see why many are claiming that 2018 is set to be “the year of the chatbot”.

That’s because, for any company that has an interest in offering a great customer experience, the potential benefits of enhancing customer satisfaction and responding to customer’s needs in a faster and more efficient manner by using chatbots are immense.

Plus, new messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and traditional SMS are proliferating, which means millions of new opportunities to reach customers and communicate with them using the communications channels they utilise and like the most.

Understanding innovation in AI, Machine Learning and NLP

To understand the latest chatbot innovations, it’s necessary to have an understanding of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

Artificial intelligence is the theory and development of computing technologies that can perform tasks that previously required human intelligence. Mainly relating to speech recognition, visual perception, decision-making or language translation.

As an extension of this, Machine Learning is the application of AI technologies in ways that use data to learn and improve automatically, without being given explicit instructions. While NLP is the branch of AI that helps computers understand human language as it’s spoken and written to be able to understand intent.

The computer chatbot uses AI and NLP to imitate human conversation, through voice and/or text. So, in addition to the above-mentioned text-based instant messaging systems, voice-controlled chatbots are becoming increasingly popular, both in the home and in business contexts.

Amazon Alexa, for example, has proven to be an immensely useful consumer technology over the last two years in terms of its educational benefits, teaching consumers about the ease-of-use of voice controlled tech and helping them to feel comfortable and happy using it.

Test chatbots properly, to boost business

So that’s a brief overview of the key technologies and the commonly-used acronyms behind chatbots. Yet the key thing you need to know if this: when implemented correctly, chatbots are a demonstrably fantastic way to increase engagement with your customers.

So, what’s the secret of rolling out chatbots in a way that resonates well with your customers and doesn’t risk you losing sales?

As with any new technology, rigorously test it out internally before you let your customers start to use it. This is particularly critical with chatbot applications, as the bot will start to learn from your team, which helps to ensure that it knows how to deal with a wide range of the most common customer questions, complaints and enquiries.

Thorough testing will ensure your chatbots work as efficiently as possible, giving the correct information to customers as rapidly as they demand it.

All of which means that you will gain a clear competitive advantage, future-proofing your business by improving the customer experience whilst also delivering operational excellence.

Connecting you to your customers 24/7

Businesses in all verticals, particularly finance, retail and logistics, and businesses of all sizes – from small start-ups through to global enterprise – need to be investing in the latest chatbot technologies in 2018 to stay ahead of the curve.

And in today’s market, enhancing the customer experience is all about providing a high quality ‘always on’ service to deliver the information that they need, on demand, 24/7.

PSD2 had been previously described as a game changer for the financial industry, that was set to have a substantial impact on how mobile payments are conducted and authorised. Along with the challenges that face the mobile payments industry, there are also sizeable advantages to the new payment services directive that offer increased security for its users and a level playing field for payment providers. Shane Leahy, CEO of Tola Mobile, explains for Finance Monthly.

Since its inception in January 2018, many businesses which already operate within this space have argued that PSD2 hasn’t made an immediate and significant impact within their processes like they thought it would. Having said that, it is clear that PSD2 has bought a whole host of benefits and opportunities for new players to enter the market and produce a strong, customer-centric offering.

Whilst it was initially reported to be disruptive, the new regulation update has allowed for a real opportunity to move out of digital services and into a new era of payment services. PSD2 is helping to standardise and improve payment efficiency across the EU fintech industry, all whilst promoting innovation and competition between banks and new payment service providers.

PSD2 not only encourages the emergence of new payment methods in the market, it also creates a level playing field for new and existing service providers to innovate, create and ultimately give customers increased choice and availability. It puts the customer back in charge and offers a secure protection of data regulations that merchants will have to abide by.

One of the biggest impacts for mobile payment providers has been the imposition of spending limits on the Mobile Phone Network Operators (MNOs). For them, and companies who are operating under the PSD2 exemption, the maximum transaction amount a subscriber can be charged is £240 per month. This is all for voice, SMS, data and third party products either offered and available to the subscriber.

Another impact has been the requirement for a two-factor authentication process on every payment, and the restriction on the ‘billing identifier’ being taken by the payment provider from the network. In this instance, the billing identifier is the mobile phone number, and this has to be provided by the subscriber during the discovery phase of the acquisition of the mobile payment. This aligns the process more closely to credit card payment acquisition. By having a two-factor authentication, a new level of payment authorisation and transparency not previously seen in mobile payments has been discovered. This brings new levels of trust that is more commonly associated with credit cards, but with more ease of use and convenience of using your mobile phone number to make purchases for goods and services.

Some banks within the industry have grasped PSD2 with both hands, including Dutch client bank, RaboBank. RaboBank is creating its own mobile ecosystem around mobile payments with a rich choice of value-added services, as it looks to move its customers from a SIM-based mobile payments model into the cloud - and becomes one of the first banks to tap into what PSD2 allows banks to do.

Recent reports from MobileSquared have seen that ticketing could be one of the biggest industries to be affected by PSD2, with a third of customers in the UK being keen to start using charge to mobile to buy low-value tickets such as bus fares and train tickets. PSD2 opens up the market to a full transformation that will allow big ticket items to be sold using direct carrier billing. This brings a whole host of benefits for ticketing merchants and its customers, that can benefit from a seamless payment system, quicker processing times and easily accessible.

With the continued effects of the new directive set to be felt across the next 24 months, payment providers in the European Union must ensure they are compliant with the regulations of this well anticipated update.

The customer is at the core of PSD2, and banks, merchants and new payment providers will be looking to become completely compliant with the changes to suit a more customer-centric offering. Payments via any IoT devices will become a more popular method for customers and merchants will look to push more mobile payments due to lower processing fees, subsequently empowering the customer even more. As the industry sets to move towards a more open and intelligent banking ecosystem, financial institutions and fintech companies should embrace the impact PSD2 is having and understand that it will continue to have an ongoing significant impact on their offering throughout 2018.

Ordering a product recall can give even the hardiest CEO cold sweats, yet if the latest BMW recalls tells us anything it’s that a lengthy delay can cause even more problems. How should businesses approach a recall and what are the best ways of preventing a quality failure? Vincent Desmond, CEO of the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI), discusses with Finance Monthly.

For CEOs and other senior management life is complex in the current climate. There is a confluence of consumers and customers expecting rapid innovation and change in products and services, while at the same time any mistakes are increasingly likely to be held up to public scrutiny. This is all taking place in a globalised backdrop where information can be spread quickly and effectively online.

The questions for any CEO and senior management team confronted by a potential recall, therefore, are; how far are we willing to gamble with trust? What does our response say about us as an organisation and how will that impact our long-term sustainability? What systems can we put in place to prevent similar issues recurring?

With any product or service issue understanding what the fault is, how many people could be affected and what the risk is will be established in the first instance. On a moral level it’s cut and dried. Doing things that aren’t in the interests of your customers or wider society, particularly those that lead to loss of life is morally indefensible. From a societal and business perspective, however, there are mixed messages.

In the case of BMW, the decision was made in 2011 that they would recall vehicles due to an electrical fault that could lead to complete loss of power in some models in the US and other markets, but not the UK. The death of former British soldier, Narayan Gurung brought this decision to light after he swerved to avoid a BMW suffering an electrical failure. Subsequent media attention led to an initial recall of 36,000 vehicles in 2017 and a BBC Watchdog investigation led to the carmaker recalling a further 312,000 in May this year.

“In essence, BMW appears to have taken a short-term view to avoid the costs of a major UK recall. This will have been informed in part by conditions in the UK where the cost of litigation tends to be a lot cheaper and Government issued compulsory recalls are uncommon. One of the questions that remains unanswered, however, is what will be the longer-term impact on the BMW brand, as a result of this decision and the way it has been handled?

Whereas in the business to business market reputational issues have led to swift punitive actions, such as in the case of Bell Pottinger and Cambridge Analytica, the behaviour of consumers has proved much more difficult to judge. Despite controversy around the Volkswagen emissions scandal for example, the company sold a record 2.7 million cars in the first three months of 2018.

A decision-making process that focuses exclusively on the short-term concerns of the existing executive and financial stakeholder only, however, will inevitably impact long-term sustainability. For any leadership team this is the point at which you need to go back and establish what are our values and are they informing our decision-making process? More so than ever before, businesses, need to consider their impact on customers, wider society and the environment not just short-term returns.

For organisations such as BMW and Volkswagen, who trade on their German engineering heritage, taking a new approach to commercial realities is essential. With shorter development times and product cycles, the focus needs to be on prevention rather than cure. This is where extra emphasis at the quality planning stage, identifying and avoiding risks before they occur will pay dividends.

Potential product recalls cannot be judged in isolation. It’s in the long-term interests of organisations that CEOs and senior management take a systemic view of how to deliver for all stakeholders upfront, to avoid having to remedy issues at a later stage.

This may seem like a scary feat, but according to Rob Moore, The Disruptive Entrepreneur and author of Global No.1 book ‘Money: Know More, Make More, Give More’ released on audio on July 27th on Amazon, there’s no better time to invest time and energy, if not money, in becoming an entrepreneur.

Should You Become an Entrepreneur?

I’ve often said before that the idea of “time management” is a joke, and it is.
Instead, let’s focus on “life management”.

So, ask yourself: how well are you managing your professional life? Are you keeping up with payments, progressing well in a field you are passionate about, protecting yourself and those you love, and feeling fulfilled while making a difference to the world around you?

Or, are you feeling overwhelmed, struggling to move forwards in your career, and feeling as if your decisions are controlling you, when you should be controlling them?

If you are answering “yes” to any of these latter questions, then I’m here to tell you that it’s time to learn how to succeed in life and how to make a change, to take your life into your own hands, and to find a way to carve your own profitable path of success.

It’s time to become an entrepreneur, right now.

Survival of the fittest

If you haven’t recognised that we are working in Darwinian times, what world have you been living in for the past couple of decades?

Pensions have become a vulnerable, endangered species. Manufacturing or manual labour jobs are being devoured by automated systems. Money is changing form and moving faster, technology is accelerating and contorting the whole financial, professional and private landscape, and businesses that sell no products and hold no stock are floating for billions.

Beyond all these disorientating changes, and more significant than these sometimes-worrying concerns, is the fact that with the age of information there has also arisen an age of opportunity. With the right mindset, the right dedication, and the right decision-making, you can make this upsurge of technology work in your favour and find your own successful niche in the market.
I’m almost tempted to suggest that we are living in a Brave New World, but this would be an exaggeration. Business is the same as it has always been; it’s simply changing shape, and the gulf between old and new technology is widening at a growing pace. This is the reason that we must all embrace this new age, or risk being trampled beneath it.

So, I repeat: it’s time for the stronger, fitter, more ambitious professionals among you to become an entrepreneur, right now.

Hard work is killing you

One of the most repeated, most foolishly believed lies is that ploughing through a 60-hour week for years on end will bring you success. That if you work harder and longer than anyone else you will triumph beyond them, make more money, and progress further.

These are the claims of someone who has not yet embraced the idea of finding success on their own terms, and someone who is ignoring reality. In 2016, work satisfaction in the UK was at a 2-year low, with almost 1 in 4 workers looking to leave their jobs, and over 1 in 3 saying that they were unlikely to fulfil their career aspirations in their current roles.

If you spend 60 hours every week working yourself mad for someone else, in the hope that you will get that promotion you have always craved and that your pay will rise incrementally, what about the activities you truly love? What about aiming for a greater share of the wealth you deserve? What about the time you struggle to spend with the people you want to be around? What about the physical and mental exhaustion that comes from slogging your guts out for so many hours, every week?

Then there is the fact that many of these industries are becoming redundant, and the inherent risk of basing your entire income and future on a technical skill that could no longer be required in the very near future. Without the ability to control the financial upside of your role, and if you are relying on the safety net of state systems to protect you when you retire, you may be wasting your present while putting your later years at risk.

After all, how many employees do you know who are truly satisfied and fulfilled by their job? How many shut their minds down at work and “just get through the day”? Combine this lack of passion and satisfaction with the long hours, the exhaustion, the lack of financial recompense and the fact that many sacrifice the time they could be spending doing the things they love, and you have a recipe for dissatisfaction at best, and disaster at worst.

Another time for the record: it’s time to become an entrepreneur, right now.

Merging passion with profession

I’m convinced that the ideal scenario is to run a company that allows you to merge the things that enthuse and excite you with technology and with the opportunity for making large amounts of money. You have nothing to escape if your work involves doing what you love. Interested? If not, why the hell not?

Once you have accepted and embraced the need for change, I advise seeking out the path of least resistance which has a limitless earning potential, a limitless customer base, and the opportunity for creatively making a difference in your field and potentially the world.

I’m not here to tell you the path you need to take, but the prospect is not as intimidating as it sounds. Some people who have been working a job for years will struggle to imagine altering their course now, and will scoff at the risks involved. But what is riskier than spending your life in a career that does nothing to satisfy you emotionally and very little to reward you financially?

While it may seem like a pipe dream before you begin, remember that the wealth of the richest people in the world, who make up 1% of the population, is worth 65 times that of the poorest half of the world.

Whose strategy seems to be working best: the 99% or the 1%? Which do you think is the group that is more satisfied with their lot, the more fearless, the more financially stable, and the ones making a real difference?

If you aren’t answering “the entrepreneurs” loud and clear, then I don’t know what else to tell you.
Seriously: it’s time to become an entrepreneur, right now.

Where can you start?

Becoming a successful entrepreneur is not always a straightforward process, but there are trends and similarities between different people’s success stories that you will benefit from taking notes from. When you study the most successful people in the world, you learn ways to emulate them, and are giving yourself a reliable fast-track road towards mastering being an entrepreneur. Read their books and biographies, listen to their podcasts, and watch their videos. No one can give you a better, quicker, and more thorough guide to mastering your own potential and investing in yourself, than those who have already succeeded in life and achieved what you want to achieve.

The fact is, many of these mega-rich money-makers idolised those who came before them, just as the smartest entrepreneurs are idolising and following the world’s richest entrepreneurs, now.

When it comes to your own personal vision for your ideal business, it comes down to your own values and shaping them into something profitable. Anyone seriously considering their future as an entrepreneur should have a crystal-clear image of what they want to achieve and a profound awareness of the things that matter most to them.

Look deep inside, start making notes on the things you love and the things you want to achieve, and start emulating the entrepreneurs who already know how to succeed in life.
You can do this. Many have succeeded in life before you, and many will succeed after you do, too.

So, what am I going to tell you, one final time?
It’s time to become an entrepreneur, right now.

All businesses look to content creation when it comes to marketing, so why not try video marketing. Get in touch with Tell Your Story UK here for any small scale company video production services.

Employees of UK small businesses are working an average of eight extra hours unpaid every week at work and home - worth £1.6bn* to the UK’s SMEs - according to new research** from Paymentsense, Europe’s leading card payment supplier. Worryingly, 16% of those surveyed work even more hours, with younger workers (aged 18-24) averaging 11 extra unpaid hours every week.

The main reason for SME workers doing so many extra hours is to keep up with the volume of work (58%), followed by pressure from their manager (30%) and, more positively, 28% wanting the business to do well. However, this is leading to nearly half of people (42%) feeling more stressed, and over a third (37%) feeling taken for granted by their employer.

Managers might take note that 36% of SME staff said they rarely, or never, got credit from their bosses for putting in the extra hours. What’s more, almost a third of them (29%) have considered leaving for another job or changing career completely as a result of the frequent unpaid overtime. A further quarter (26%) would consider starting their own business, or going freelance (16%), to escape their current roles.

Clare Dimond, a leading business coach and author of 'Free Choice' said: “With a smaller number of staff, the contribution of every employee in an SME is critical. Employers that value the time, creativity and mental clarity of each individual will see the impact on their bottom line and staff retention rates.

“Directors can role model good mental health behaviour for their teams. Avoiding stressful thinking, spending time exercising or with family and creating a culture of strong relationships, and individual contributions, make for a healthy, inspired career and home life.”

Guy Moreve, Head of Marketing at Paymentsense commented: “We know from working with over 50,000 of the UK’s small businesses that SMEs are constantly challenged to balance the often-unpredictable demands of growth, with looking after hardworking staff - especially in potentially uncertain economic times.

“Keeping employees happy should be a priority, given its impact on productivity levels. The good news is that perks don’t have to cost a fortune. Our own research has shown that an early Friday finish, the chance to work flexible hours, and a free day off here and there: for birthdays, duvet days or to help with moving house are the amongst most sought-after benefits.” 

‘Can you just…?’ Top 8 reasons SME staff work late unexpectedly

  1. Last minute request from client or customer (39%)
  2. Last minute request from boss (37%)
  3. Meetings overrunning at the end of the day (34%)
  4. Keeping up with admin (32%)
  5. Attending meetings at client or customer locations (24%)
  6. Equipment or computers playing up (21%)
  7. Manager’s poor time management (20%)
  8. Their own poor time management (19%)

* Average UK salary of c.£27K, equal to around £104 per day (average of 260 working days per annum). 15.7m UK SME workers according to FSB figures.

** Research undertaken from July 4-5, 2017 amongst 1,000 UK SME employees.

(Source: Paymentsense)

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