In light of the global recession and ever evolving fiscal and monetary policies of many states that impact investments, there has been an increased interest by foreign investors in relocating their funds and families to a jurisdiction that offers stability and security. Certain changes to the Cypriot immigration policy and legal framework now enable foreign citizens to obtain Cypriot Citizenship on an expedited basis.
The citizenship by investment program in Cyprus enables foreign citizens to apply for a Cyprus citizenship provided that they:
- purchase and maintain a privately owned residence in Cyprus, the value of which must be at least €500,000, excluding VAT;
- have a Clean Criminal Record from the country of origin and/or the Police of the Republic of Cyprus;
- confirm that the applicant’s name is not included in the list of persons whose property is ordered to be frozen by the EU;
- visit Cyprus at least once;
- are 30 years old and over.
Following recent amendments, the applicant is required to meet one of the following key financial criteria in order to apply for the Cyprus citizenship:
- Deposits in Banks operating in Cyprus, for a minimum amount of €5 million, and fixed for a three-year period. The list of eligible banks includes local banks and subsidiaries of foreign banks operating in Cyprus, but excludes branches; or
- Direct investments in Cyprus for a minimum amount of €5 million in any of the following ways:
- Purchase of Cyprus Government Bonds with a minimum maturity of three years;
- Investment in bonds or debentures registered and issued by Cyprus companies or businesses or organizations, with a minimum maturity of three years;
- Investment in real estate development projects including housing or commercial development projects, tourist industry developments or other infrastructure projects (excluding undeveloped land);
- Purchase, incorporation or participation in Cyprus businesses and companies that are based and operate in Cyprus. Such companies are required to have a physical presence in Cyprus and to employ at least five Cypriot citizens. This criterion includes share participation in a Cyprus bank, and also applies to foreign investors who have been holding shares (directly or indirectly) in Cyprus companies, or have been appointed as Executive Managers therein for three years prior to their application for Citizenship, earning remuneration resulting in tax revenue for the Republic of at least €100,000 and provided they maintain their investment in the said companies for another three years from the date the Citizenship is granted; or
- Combination of any of the criteria listed in the above two schemes; or
- Collective Real Estate Purchase Schemes comprising of an investment in the amount of:
o €2.5 million per investor, where the total value of the collective real estate investment is at least €12.5 million; or
- Impaired Deposits in Popular (Laiki) Bank – the applicant has impaired deposits amounting to a minimum of €3 million. In case of impaired deposits of less than €3 million, the applicant can proceed to make additional investment(s) based on any of the above mentioned criteria.
It is worth noting that the Cypriot Citizenship program combines a necessary level of flexibility, evident by the ways in which an investment can be effected with a reasonable degree of return on the investment to be made.
The key elements that need to be considered by applicants when selecting the appropriate jurisdiction for citizenship include:
- Security over Funds: The jurisdiction should offer financial, political and social stability coupled with an attractive tax regime. Applicants can benefit from the fiscal benefits in Cyprus e.g. low personal income tax, no inheritance taxes and low property taxes. Furthermore, they are re-assured that their investments in Cyprus are protected by legislation that is harmonized with EU directives affording stability and security. The Troika have provided Cyprus with bailout funds which have fueled the necessary liquidity to support the island’s economy.
- Speed and Process of Application: The respective immigration authorities should handle the applications in an efficient and prompt manner. In Cyprus, the fast track Citizenship is finalized within 3 to 6 months. The applicant can include their dependent spouse and children on the application, and they are not required to travel to Cyprus to submit the Citizenship application.
- Return on Investment: Real-estate investment is required for Citizenship applications. Currently, property is available at competitive prices and expected to substantially rise in value in the subsequent years, especially in light of the positive developments regarding the anticipated Cyprus gas revenues which will create new opportunities in real estate development.
Successful Cypriot Citizenship applicants can enjoy equal treatment with nationals with regards to social benefits, education, welfare, and access to EU territories with the Cypriot passport. Citizenship holders do not become tax residents in Cyprus unless they spend more than 183 days on the island in any calendar year.
Cyprus offers a high standard of living, modern transport and infrastructure, excellent academic institutions, access to quality medical services, a stable government and a robust legal framework which is fully harmonized with EU directives. The recent amendments to Cypriot Citizenship by investment policy have eased the criteria to obtain Citizenship in Cyprus in an attempt to incentivize high net worth individuals to invest in the island. Cyprus has already granted numerous permits to affluent Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern individuals and their dependent family members who are looking for a jurisdiction that offers financial stability, a gateway to Europe and a quality standard of living for their families.
We have a team of professionals who can advise you on the requirements and procedure for each immigration category, and advise you on the most suitable immigration solution, tailored to your specific business and personal circumstances. Please contact Charles Savva at [email protected] or (+357) 22516671 or Stella C. Koukounis at [email protected] to discuss our immigration services further.
Securing Information Throughout the Supply Chain – Preventing Supplier Vulnerabilities
By Adam Strange, Data Classification Specialist, HelpSystems
The financial services sector is experiencing extreme disruption coupled with rapid innovation as established institutions strive to become more agile and meet evolving customer demand. At the same time, new market entrants compete fiercely for customers. Increasing operational flexibility, through the deployment of cloud infrastructure or via digital transformation initiatives, is critical for future competitiveness but it has also driven regulatory and security challenges, particularly around working with suppliers.
That said, the benefits of a diverse, interconnected supply chain are compelling: agility, speed, and cost reduction all weigh on the positive side of the equation, prompting financial institutions to pursue close, collaborative relationships with suppliers, often numbering in the hundreds or thousands.
Weakness in the supply chain
On the negative side is the increased cyber threat when enterprises expose their networks to their supply chain. In our modern interconnected digital ecosystems, most financial organisations have many supply chain dependencies and it only takes one of these to have cybersecurity vulnerabilities to bring a business to its knees.
As a result, breaches originating in third parties are common and costly – a Ponemon Institute/IBM study found that breaches being caused by a third party was the top factor that amplified the cost of a breach, adding an average of $370,000 to the breach cost.
Concern around the supply chain was also evidenced in a recent report we have just issued, whereby we interviewed 250 CISOs and CIOs from financial institutions about the cybersecurity challenges they face and nearly half (46%) said that cybersecurity weaknesses in the supply chain had the biggest potential to cause the most damage in the next 12 months.
But sharing information with suppliers is essential for the supply chain to function. Most financial services organisations go to great lengths to secure intellectual property, personally identifiable information (PII) and other sensitive data internally, yet when this information is shared across the supply chain, does it get the same robust attention?
Further amplified by COVID-19
Financial service organisations have always been a key target for cyber attacks. Our research showed that since COVID-19 hit, the risk has elevated further, with 45% of the respondents seeing increased cybersecurity attacks during this period. Likewise, hackers are rejecting frontal assaults on well-defended walls in favour of infiltrating networks via vulnerabilities in suppliers.
But financial services organisations must maintain reputations and ensure customer trust. Firms are keen to demonstrate that they are protecting customer assets, providing an ultra-reliable service and working with trustworthy partners. So, what can they do to better protect their supplier ecosystem?
At the very least, they need to ensure basic controls are implemented around their suppliers’ IT infrastructure. For example, they must ensure suppliers maintain a secure infrastructure with a minimum of Cyber Essentials or the equivalent US CIS certification controls. Cyber Essentials defines a set of controls which, when implemented, provide organisations with basic protection from the most prevalent forms of threats, focusing on threats which require low levels of attacker skill, and which are widely available online.
Likewise, they need to ensure good information management controls are in place and this begins with accurate information/data classification. After all, how can you apply appropriate controls to your information unless you know what it is and where it is?
How ISO27001 helps organisations put in place a data classification process
The international standard on information security, ISO27001, describes the basic ingredients for data classification to ensure the data receives the appropriate level of protection in accordance with its importance to the organisation. It comprises three basic elements:
- Classification of data – in terms of legal requirements, value, criticality and sensitivity to unauthorised disclosure or modification.
- Labelling of data – an appropriate set of procedures for information labelling should be developed and implemented in accordance with the organisation’s information classification scheme.
- Handling of assets – procedures for the handling of assets developed and implemented in accordance with the organisation’s information classification scheme.
Adoption of this methodology will help financial services organisations and their supply chain take a more data-centric information security approach. However, there are essentially four key stages for implementing a data risk assurance supply chain approach and these are:
1. Approval – in organisations with complex supply chains senior management, vendor management, procurement and information security will all need to support a robust risk-based information management approach. Details of previous incidents and their impact alongside the business benefits will be essential to gain stakeholder buy in.
2. Preparation – Organisations should start with Tier 1 suppliers and initially identify the contracts with the highest business impact/risk. They should identify and record information repositories and the data that they contain together with the responsible business owners. Define a business taxonomy based on information categories of that data and include supply chain factors such as what information categories are shared.
For example, they need to understand the business impact of compromise against each of the information categories. Have any suppliers suffered security incidents? What assurance mechanisms are in place? Once all this information is collated the organisation can create a data classification policy and define a set of controls for each data category.
3. Discovery – Select each data category and identify the associated contracts. Then prioritise the data category based on the risk assessment and verify that the data security controls and arrangements for each data category and contract meet the overall requirements. Once complete, hand over the contract for inclusion in the vendor management cycle.
4. Embed process – the overall objective is to embed information risk management into the procurement lifecycle from start to finish. Therefore, whenever a new contract is created there are a number of actions required which embed data risk at each stage of the bid, tender, procurement, evaluation, implementation and termination phases of the contract.
To summarise, organisations should start by researching the information risk and security frameworks such as ISO27001 and others. They should then focus on defining their business taxonomy and data categories together with the business impact of compromise to help develop a data classification scheme. Finally, they should implement the data classification scheme and embed data risk management into the procurement lifecycle processes from start to finish. By effectively embedding data risk management and categorisation into their procurement and vendor management processes, they are preventing their suppliers’ vulnerabilities becoming their own and are more effectively securing data in the supply chain.
Deloitte: Middle East organizations need to rethink their workforce in the wake of COVID-19
Organizations in the Middle East have had to take immediate actions in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as shifting to remote and virtual work, implementing new ways of working and redirecting the workforce on critical activities. According to Deloitte’s 10th annual 2020 Middle East Human Capital Trends report, “The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward,” organizations now need to think about how to sustain these actions by embedding them into their organizational culture.
“COVID-19 has created a clarifying moment for work and the workforce. Organizations that expand their focus on worker well-being, from programs adjacent to work to designing well-being into the work itself, will help their workers not only feel their best but perform at their best. Doing so will strengthen the tie between well-being and organizational outcomes, drive meaningful work, and foster a greater sense of belonging overall,” said Ghassan Turqieh, Consulting Partner, Human Capital, Deloitte Middle East.
According to the Deloitte report, many organizations in the Middle East made quick arrangements to engage with employees in the wake of the pandemic through frequent communications, multiple webinars where senior leaders addressed employee concerns, virtual employee events, manager check-ins, periodic calls and other targeted interactions with the workforce.
The report also discussed how UAE and KSA governments have reexamined work policies and practices, amended regulations and introduced COVID-19 initiatives to support companies and the workforce in the public and private sectors. Flexible and remote working, team-building and engagement activities, well-ness programs, recognition awards and modern workspaces are among the many things that are now adding to the employee experience.
Key findings from the Deloitte global report include:
- Only 17% of respondents are making significant investments in reskilling to support their AI strategy with only 12% using AI primarily to replace workers;
- 27% of respondents have clear policies and practices to manage the ethical challenges resulting from the future of work despite 85% of respondents saying the future of work raises ethical challenges;
- Three-quarters of leaders are expecting to source new skills and capabilities through reskilling, but only 45% are rewarding workers for the development of new skills; and
- Only 45% of respondents are prepared or very prepared to take advantage of the alternative workforce to access key capabilities despite gig workers being likely to comprise 43% of the U.S. workforce this year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Worker well-being is a top priority today, and similarly to the rest of the world, companies in the Middle East are focusing their efforts to redesign work around well-being by understanding workforce well-being needs,” said Rania Abu Shukur, Director, Human Capital, Consulting, Deloitte Middle East.
One in five insurance customers saw an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows
SAS research reveals that insurers improved their customer experience during lockdown
One in five insurance customers noted an improvement in their customer experience over lockdown, according to research conducted by SAS, the leader in analytics. This far outweighed the 11% of customers who felt it had deteriorated over the same period.
This is positive news for insurers during such challenging times, with 59% of customers also saying that they would pay more to buy or use products and services from any company that provided them with a good customer experience over lockdown.
The improvement in customer experience also coincides with a rise in the number of digital customers. Since the pandemic started, the number of insurance customers using a digital service or app has grown by 10%. Three-fifths (60%) of new users plan to continue using these digital services moving forward.
However, while the number of digital users grew over lockdown, half of the insurance customer base has not yet chosen to move to digital insurance apps or services.
Paul Ridge, Head of Insurance at SAS UK & Ireland, said:
“It’s impressive that there was a net improvement in customer experience during lockdown, despite the challenges the industry was facing with a transition to remote working and increased claims for things like cancelled holidays. While many were forced to wait on customer help lines for long periods, part of the improvement may be explained by even a small (10%) increase in the number of digital users.
“However, it’s clear that a huge number of customers are still yet to make the move online. It’s vital that insurers provide the most accurate, timely and relevant offerings to customers, and this is best achieved by having additional insight into online customer journeys so they can understand them better. Using analytics and AI, insurers can seize this opportunity to digitalise their customer experience and offer a more personalised approach.”
Meanwhile, for insurers that fail to offer a consistently satisfactory customer experience, the price could be severe. A third (33%) of customers claimed that they would ditch a company after just one poor experience. This number jumps to 90% for between one and five poor examples of customer service.
For more insight into how other industries across EMEA performed during lockdown, download the full report: Experience 2030: Has COVID-19 created a new kind of customer?
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