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£3.5 billion worth of expenses go unreimbursed in the UK each year because of current expense policies

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£3.5 billion worth of expenses go unreimbursed in the UK each year because of current expense policies

New independent research from Expend also shows collectively over 270,770 years of business working days are spent each year by UK employees filing company expenses

Recent independent research of UK employees commissioned by expense management software company Expend has highlighted £3.5 billion of all expenses go unreimbursed each year because of current expense policies.

Furthermore, over 270,770 years of collective business working days are spent each year filing company expenses. Expend’s independent research, which was commissioned in conjunction with OnePoll, showed the scale of this impact on businesses and full time employees in different sectors and regions across the country.

At a national level, the average amount of ‘out of pocket’ expenses people claim in their current job is £843.24 every year, which amounts to £27.3 billion across the whole UK workforce. Of this, £109 goes unexpensed each year on average which amounts to UK employees not claiming over £3.5 billion.

The most common reasons for expenses going unreimbursed are:

  1. Losing the receipt (46%)
  2. Missing the deadline (33%)
  3. The expense did not comply with policy (30%)
  4. Entering the wrong description by mistake (15%)
  5. There was a mistake on the part of the finance department or accountant (11%)

Looking at results by sector, the profession where most employees claim back expenses is the charity and voluntary sector where 82% claim expenses on a monthly basis. The industry with the highest average amount of expense claims each monthly is hospitality and events management at £145.50 per month. Hospitality and management also spends the most time collating receipts and filing expenses out of all sectors, spending 3.78 hours, or nearly half a working day, every month just on expenses admin.

Johnny Vowles, CEO of Expend said, “This research shows that business expenses aren’t just a pain for employees, but they can have a significant effect on the operational efficiency of the organisations they work for. Employees manually filling out expense forms and financial teams chasing individuals for expense submissions are drains to valuable time that can be better focused on the core business. In addition, the average amount unexpensed each month might sound good to the business owner, but if all those receipts are found and claimed for in one go that can represent a significant financial hit to company cashflow.”

To download a copy of the full ‘Expenses Economy Report’, please visit: https://info.expend.io/the-expenses-economy-report

Business

The rise of nomadic work: how to turn your remote team into a creative force

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The rise of nomadic work: how to turn your remote team into a creative force 1

By Paige Erickson, EMEA MD, Workfront

During the first stage of the lockdown in the spring, almost half of Brits worked remotely, causing businesses to completely rethink their working structures. Employees too have re-examined the traditional working day and now as many as 72 per cent of UK employees want to continue working from home, at least part-time. They state that working remotely helps them increase productivity and offers a better work-life balance. This sentiment from workers coupled with strong financial motivation for companies to continue to support distributed workforces, it seems unlikely we’ll ever return to the office in exactly the same form as before Covid-19.

In fact, for many, the office nine-to-five is already in the past. Instead, the pandemic has accelerated the trend of “nomadic work”, where a healthy percentage of employees can work from absolutely anywhere. This helps workers find the balance that works for them, whether that’s sometimes in the office, a couple of days from home or even working while travelling.

Covid-19 has proved that where we work isn’t as important as we thought. Instead it is how we work, and the outcome of that work, that’s critical.

A moment of shock-change for business

The pandemic has thrown companies into a moment of shock-change, as they have had to determine nearly overnight how to support a now-remote workforce. How, when and where we work changed, making maintaining productivity on the right work in this new environment incredibly difficult.

Realigning on what it means to be productive – and how to measure that productivity – is now essential for companies. The notion of a structured, on-premisis workday where activity could be observed and continually calibrated is a thing of the past. And yet, in order to navigate the current and future state to positive business outcomes, this new distributed workforce must function as an interdependent web that consistently generates not just output, but focused and strategic outcomes.

We need more than just communication tools

For some businesses the move to remote working was a new concept, and they experienced a sudden, greater dependency on technologies they had not typically used before. Zoom, Teams and Slack have become defining tools amid the pandemic, with many individuals using them both to continue business operations and socialise with colleagues they otherwise could not see physically. It was a fast and simple way to connect colleagues who were suddenly working in isolation.

When the pandemic struck, the question most leaders focused on was simply: “how do we keep everyone talking?” And while that was an important first step, the fact that the workforce could communicate didn’t necessarily mean they had the support they needed to engage fully in the right work.

Strategic work needs more than just communication, it requires constant connection between the day-to-day work (wherever it happens), and the prioritised objectives of the business.

Paige Erickson,

Paige Erickson,

Keep working towards the same outcome

Present and future work requires that companies meet employees where they are, with the right processes and technologies to support them in becoming, and staying, engaged with both each other, and on work aligned to strategic objectives.

Collaboration technologies have seen a huge surge in uptake as leaders look for ways to keep their newly nomadic workforce productive. And while most collaboration tools can help teams coordinate and complete tasks and projects, without broader connectivity to systems, teams and departments across the rest of the business their impact is limited.

Tasks and projects themselves do not exist on islands. They require budget and personnel data from financial and human capital management systems to properly allocate and manage resources. Many projects require compliance oversight from legal and regulatory departments. Work also happens in specialised applications such as Jira, ServiceNow and Adobe.

Unless collaboration tools can integrate with the data, and processes happening in those and other applications, work stays siloed, and employees and leaders have limited context and visibility into why and how work is – or is not – progressing toward the right outcomes.

Work management engages your team, wherever they are

Work management practices and platforms are fundamentally different to collaboration applications. Instead of focusing solely on connecting people and teams, they are designed to connect strategy to delivery. This shift in approach absolutely requires that nomadic workers are outfitted with the right communication and collaboration support, and then goes several steps further.

Enterprise work management platforms also integrate work and data across people, systems and departments, providing context and connection for frontline workers, and visibility and navigation for leaders. Wherever they’re working, each person has what they need to do their best work, and the assurance that their work is making an essential contribution to a larger whole.   

Harness the creative spark of your nomadic workforce

The pandemic meant businesses had to take a deep look at the way they work and operate to support their workforce from home. Now that we know nomadic working is here to stay, organisations must think beyond just the digital systems they need to get staff talking. It’s time to rethink the best way to build a truly nomadic working structure for your enterprise.

We’re in a time of workplace transition. ERP systems previously transformed how enterprises manage corporate resources and CRM solutions helped businesses find value in customer data. Now, work management platforms are set to transform how companies manage work — including nomadic workers — to become creative forces and give enterprises a competitive advantage.

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Consumers in the COVID era can learn to embrace strong customer authentication

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Consumers in the COVID era can learn to embrace strong customer authentication 2

By Ed Whitehead, Signifyd managing director, EMEA

The changes that COVID-19 has caused in rapid succession make it hard to slow down and think about just how to approach the retail and payments landscape and a world that will never be the same.

But it is important for retailers and financial institutions to take a breath, think about where consumers are headed and come up with a strategy to take your enterprises there in time to meet them when they arrive. Granted, all this is going on in the midst of great disruption in the world of online payments.

First, ecommerce sales have accelerated at an unprecedented rate. When the World Health Organisation in March declared a global pandemic and government began ordering non-essential stores closed, consumers turned to online shopping for necessities and nice-to-have items.

Ecommerce sales in Europe peaked at 70% year-over-year at the height of online buying during the pandemic, according to Signifyd Ecommerce Pulse data. With non-essential stores reopening and with consumers less inclined to stockpile, online buying has cooled, but ecommerce spending in September remained at double their year-ago figures in some key verticals, according to Signifyd Ecommerce Pulse data.

That shift was unforeseen before the pandemic hit. But another disruption was long-anticipated and human-made. By the end of the year in most of Europe, merchants and banks will be required to adhere to the payment regulation known as PSD2 and it’s requirement for Strong Customer Authentication.

And while the UK has pushed enforcement of the regulations into 2021, the earlier enforcement deadline will apply to UK merchants who want to sell into the rest of Europe.

Interestingly enough, most of the worry over SCA has focused on whether merchants were ready for the change. But financial institutions also have work to do to prepare for SCA, both to serve their consumer account holders and to process transactions from their commercial customers, such as retailers. And while conventional wisdom has dictated that financial institutions are in a better position to offer SCA than are many retailers, a recent survey by Signifyd indicates that assessment might be overly sanguine.

Survey shows financial institutions need to reach out to customers

The September survey of 1,500 UK consumers found that 41% of respondents had encountered extra steps and complications while accessing their banking accounts in the past year. More than 37% said they had been unable to complete a financial transaction in the past year due to new security factors and 46.5% said they were very or somewhat likely to give up on a transaction that requires two-factor authentication.

Not very heartening results for institutions facing a requirement that customers be authenticated by two of three factors:

  • Something the customer has (such as device ID).
  • Something the customer knows (such as a one-time password).
  • Something the customer is (such as a fingerprint or other biometric trait).

Part of the problem could be customer education and communication — or the lack of it. According to the September survey, 74.3% of consumers said they were either not entirely sure how SCA will affect them (34.3%) or that they were not at all aware of SCA and how it will change transactions (39.1%).

These worrisome findings actually point to an opportunity for financial institutions and retailers. JP Morgan notes that with ecommerce sales rising so dramatically, an increasing number of consumers are becoming familiar with two-factor authentication.

Signifyd’s own data shows a sharp increase in the number of online shoppers who had never or rarely shopped online before. The number of new customers buying from merchants on Signifyd’s Commerce Network, for instance, more than doubled in May, compared to pre-pandemic figures. (Signifyd defines a new online shopper as a customer who has not made a purchase from the more than 10,000 merchants on its global network for at least a year.)

The increase in the number of new shoppers arriving online has slowed, but it is still well above a-year-ago figures. And about half the new users trying online shopping return for multiple purchases within 30 days, indicating they are developing new digital habits.

That means banks and merchants have an opportunity to help these new consumers become accustomed to security safeguards like SCA even as they are getting used to shopping online in general. When done right, this early consumer education will ensure that these new shoppers and bank customers will be comfortable with SCA, given that it’s the way they’ve shopped and banked online since the beginning.

New online customers create new opportunities for merchants and financial institutions

Ed Whitehead

Ed Whitehead

So, online transactions are exploding. Consumers who eschewed ecommerce shopping before are becoming regular online shoppers. All good news. But what should retailers and financial institutions be doing to take advantage of the good news — and to make sure that those new online users become loyal customers.

Getting customers comfortable with transacting in the SCA era, of course, is just the beginning. Retailers and bankers want customers to be delighted with their online experience, a standard that is a few notches above “comfort.”

SCA requirements present an opportunity for retailers to fortify their fraud protection with state-of-the-art, machine-learning systems that will provide a better customer experience today and position them to accommodate future changes to payments regulations.

The trick will be to offer a friction-free customer experience while still protecting the enterprise — a feat that will require merchants and financial institutions to look at state-of-the-art technology to power their SCA systems. Consultancy CMSPI predicted that merchants could lose £108.1 billion in annual sales because of new SCA rules.

CMSPI says the new 3D-Secure version 2.0 that provides the infrastructure for SCA transactions will kill 35% of transactions because of technical problems, declined orders and delays that frustrate customers.

But that assumes retailers don’t turn to innovative solutions that improve the performance of 3D-Secure-powered payments systems. The tools are out there as technology companies have been developing solutions to streamline SCA and make the process far more efficient.

Long-term steps for building loyalty among existing and new customers alike

The pandemic and its disruption feel like they will never end. But they will. Retailers will want to be in a position to build on the relationships they’ve initiated with customers before and during the lockdowns and social distancing.

Some of that will be redoubling efforts they’ve made all along. They’ll want to build flawless online experiences. They’ll want to provide intuitive navigation and enhance the customer experience with engaging content, precise personalisation, invaluable customer support, seamless checkout and instant order confirmation.

Beyond that, it will be important that financial institutions and retailers to clearly communicate with their customers so that they know the rationale for SCA and understand that it protects all parties involved in a transaction.

Automated systems can help with many of the initiatives that lead to improved customer experience. AI-powered content management systems, personalization engines and automated inventory control can advance discovery and fulfillment performance. Fraud and automated order management systems that instantly determine the most efficient way to comply with SCA requirements can speed checkout and reduce the chance of cart abandonment.

No question, the COVID-induced upheaval can make planning for the future seem a little overwhelming at times. But retailers that find the mental space to plot the future step-by-step will find themselves in a strong position today and in the post-pandemic future that we all look forward to.

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How NatWest used social media to better target its communications

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How NatWest used social media to better target its communications 3

By DuBose Cole, Head of Strategy, VaynerMedia London

For banks, it is imperative to reach their existing – and potential new – customers and be recognised as a trusted source of finance, advice and support. And to do that amid global turmoil, when their own businesses are under pressure, is particularly challenging.

NatWest  is one of the largest players in the business banking industry but, like most other high street banks,  over the last few years they’ve continued to look for new ways to interact with their customers and SMEs more broadly, at scale. NatWest’s mission has remained focused – to accelerate entrepreneurship and be seen as a bank that gives support and expert guidance.

With the added impact of this year’s global health crisis and subsequent recession, small businesses have been hit hard and so NatWest needed to demonstrate – and prove – that it can help more business ideas bloom, more small businesses grow and more people realise their business potential. To do this, the bank used social media as a central plank of its marketing to reach small business owners.

Female-led entrepreneurship

Last year it launched a campaign to help female entrepreneurs that aimed to create the UK’s most exciting and accessible business start-up programme for women. Back Her Business came about following The Alison Rose Review on Female Entrepreneurship, where the UK Treasury identified that female entrepreneurs receive 157 times less funding than male owned businesses.

Women-only funding teams were given £32 million in 2017, while male-only teams received more than £5 billion to start their businesses, according to Treasury figures. The disparity between female and male entrepreneurs is clear – it’s unacceptable and holding the UK back.

Back Her Business is a place for female business owners to showcase their business ideas, giving everyone the chance to back these women-led businesses through crowdfunded donations. In partnership with CrowdFunder, a programme was established to help get more ideas off the ground and up and running.

In an interesting twist on advertising support, NatWest Business decided to repurpose some of their ad space, giving it over to showcase a number of female business owners going through the programme, and ultimately allowing them to promote their business.

As NatWest’s creative agency partner, VaynerMedia created a series of videos to show the success of the scheme while also encouraging women to apply – and social media was the perfect platform to meet these two requirements. Storytelling was an essential part of the campaign – to bring to life the businesses that women were building – and this marries particularly well with social media.

Targeting social media users

Social media also allows for more nuanced targeting and so the media budget was spent on either aspiring female entrepreneurs, existing female entrepreneurs or potential customers of the three businesses that were selected to take part.

This thinking was also used on its campaign this year where NatWest supported businesses by targeting customers with specific information and guided users to articles that would give appropriate advice and support. As call centres were inundated with calls during Covid-19 and wait times were longer than usual, this meant the bank could still show support for its customers.

Another advantage of the social media platform over out of home (OOH) or TV for example, is that it offers personalisation at scale. Rather than having one ad for everyone, creative can be personalised to a specific audience for greater relevance. And effectiveness can be increased as it’s easier to run A/B tests and trial different messages with real-time feedback. Small scale tests can identify the best performers which can then be scaled up to prevent media waste.

Social media platform choices

And there are multiple ad formats to choose from – from instant experiences on Facebook and Instagram to lead generation forms to Instagram Stories – all giving brands a way of telling their story and encouraging users to take action.

So for NatWest’s 2020 Supporting Business campaign – which had to be quickly adapted amid the unfolding Covid-19 crisis – the strategy had to help SME owners at a time when their confidence was low as they faced the prospect of a decline, and in some instances, a total loss of business.

VaynerMedia quickly developed a two-pronged approach – developing two phases of communications so NatWest could communicate that it was open, available and committed to supporting SME owners, while also being part of the longer-term and wider conversation around how Covid-19 is altering our daily work lives and economic stability.

Public trust in social media platforms

How trustworthy social media is has been a hot topic recently, with the rise in fake news and the dubious ownership and motives behind some accounts. This could lead to understandable scepticism over whether these platforms are a good partner for a financial services firm.

DuBose Cole

DuBose Cole

According to the Business Insider Digital Trust report, LinkedIn is the most trusted of these platforms and so a good choice for publishing content.

Business decision makers, small business owners and entrepreneurs are still real people who use social media in their daily lives, so to make an impact and reach them with NatWest’s message, the brand had to be present on the media they use.

And things are evolving. This year Instagram has added small business features where users can demonstrate their support for small businesses by tagging them in their posts, using a dedicated small business sticker – a great tool to increase organic reach. Building networks and communities is central to so much of the best of social media and emerging platforms such as NextDoor, where users will search for recommendations in their local area, reinforce this.

Proven results

So far between March and August this year, the supporting business campaign has generated more than 163 million impressions across LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Display and Spotify. Results from the LinkedIn brand lift study found that across decision makers on LinkedIn there was a 15 percentage point lift in the attribute rating that NatWest Business provides expert guidance and an 11 percentage point lift in the attribute rating that NatWest Business supports UK business.

Teads Brand Impulse study showed a strong cut through on display, increasing Aided Ad Recall for NatWest by a significant +38% post exposure to the creative. NatWest Business is seen as an expert in providing expert business guidance, increasing by +22% among those who see the creative.

Last year’s Back Her Business campaign also showed what can be achieved when banks use social media effectively.

Across both LinkedIn and Facebook, female entrepreneurs and aspiring female entrepreneurs were targeted along with potential customers of the three businesses featured: Boarders without Borders, focusing on users interested in skateboarding and social causes; Masterpiece, targeting people interested in mindfulness and art in London; and Mini Meal Times, aimed at parents with babies and toddlers.

In total, more than four million impressions were served across Facebook and LinkedIn and 950,000 video views generated. On LinkedIn, video results surpassed not only benchmarks for financial services but also general UK benchmarks.

With the right strategies, there are many inventive and specific ways financial services brands can use social media to reach customers and ensure their marketing and media budgets are used more efficiently and effectively.

Why social media is a good platform to promote a business, and especially a bank

  • Retargeting capabilities. Across all social networks, advertisers have the option to retarget website visitors and customer relationship management (CRM) lists which gives a greater ability to reach your current customers if, for example, email open rates are low. In both our campaigns, reaching current customers was necessary, so retargeting them was a valuable tool.
  • Thought leadership and news sources. Especially on LinkedIn and Twitter, this is where business owners and the public go to find out the latest news whether business related or sports related. By appearing on these channels, we can reach people who are looking for the latest news updates. LinkedIn is particularly good for brands to showcase their thought leadership.
  • B2B targeting. For NatWest Business, LinkedIn is an important platform because of its B2B targeting. The nature of the platform and the profile details users are required to submit, means it is easy to reach the key SME audience. Advertisers have the option to target by job title, job seniority, industry or company which are useful tactics and particularly useful when the bank wants to send different messages to SMEs compared with large corporates.
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