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Are websites a huge missed opportunity for finance services organisations?

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Whether you work for a hedge fund or investment bank, you may be unaware of the rising opportunity in your sector that a good quality website can bring, both in driving new business leads and helping to retain existing clients. The growing number of daily search engine requests for an array of financial sector keywords demonstrates that financial sector organisations of all types with a poor web presence could be missing out on business development opportunities.Decibel-Logo

Decibel’s research recently found that nearly half of senior management said they would consider not doing business with a company that had an out of date website. However, many financial services firms fall into common website traps, resulting in websites which are difficult to navigate and complex to update.

Security is of course one of the most important factors to consider when looking at creating a new website for your financial services business. From ensuring confidential client information is properly protected to potentially enabling trading directly over your website, online security is about much more than just complying with the Data Protection Act – it is also a major reputational issue and the right CMS is an important step towards a secure and PCI compliant website. If you pick the right CMS up front, security and other needs are all easily addressed.

A new breed of CMS is emerging which takes the best of open source and closed source technologies. New hybrid CMS such as Decibel Technology take everything that’s great about a closed source CMS such as security, portability and the confidence that code hasn’t been changed, and adds on top an open-API (Application Programming Interface), allowing your developers to quickly create high performance applications to serve your website.

With minimal code required to customise an open API platform, development is more accurate and significantly faster, reducing the cost of the development over the life of a website. Rather than wasting significant time preparing and debugging systems to make them fit for purpose, like typical systems, developers can use Decibel straight out of the box, providing more valuable value-add development time.

As well as having a great website to drive and convert new business leads, this also means a better customer experience, as portals can be developed where customers could view their portfolios and other valuable content – accessing information which is up to date.

My top tips when commissioning a website for financial services business are:

1. Consider the long term needs of your business up front, the last thing you want to have to do is throw away your website – and the cost you have ploughed into it – in a few years because your business has grown or changed its focus.

2. Choosing the right CMS – basically the ‘brains’ of your website that allows you to publish, edit and manage content – is the Holy Grail to website success. The right CMS will save daily headaches in managing your website, and will mean your website will be more useful for longer as you can build upon the content you already have, and reorganise it, even if your organisation changes its offering.

3. In the same way as you advise your clients, consider your website as a long term investment. A websites is a strategic fixed asset so choosing a CMS that helps you get more from that asset (which also can be written down and depreciated), is a secret behind a modern day website strategy. Having the flexibility to edit every part of your website, and reorder and change navigation, menus, site structure and page layout will mean you can reinvent your website as often as you like, increasing its useful life.

4. When drawing up a budget consider the running costs involved and interrogate these costs in detail beforehand. A CMS that says it’s free doesn’t take into account its implementation, maintenance and any new requirements you may have along the way. The cost of a CMS is more than whether it charges an annual licence fee, In fact the ones without can cost you more.

5. Don’t let design override other factors in the decision making process. Design, look and feel is vital for your brand and will ultimately influence the website visitor, but your websites needs to work hard generating leads and sales. Choosing the right CMS means you can react quickly to take advantage of trends and opportunities that your competitors may not be able to do – whether this is adding a new section or relabeling a menu.

6. Make the most of all opportunities to link to your website to support search engine optimisation. Whether are commenting on industry blog postings, or securing media coverage, make sure that links back to your website are included whenever possible to help push you up the search engine ranking for relevant keyword searches.

About Ben Harris
Ben Harris is founder and Managing Director of Decibel Technology, a provider of specialist software for web development and website management. Ben is responsible for overseeing the vision and direction of the business.
Ben’s 15 years’ experience includes overseeing the delivery of brand, marketing and digital projects for clients including Microsoft, Nestle, Pearson, Miss World, Press Association, EasyGroup, Kempton Park Racecourse, International Tennis Federation, Haymarket Media and Emap.
Ben was named startups.co.uk Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004 and is a frequent contributor to various newspapers, business publications and TV programmes. Ben holds a BA (Hons) Business degree from the University of the West of England.

About Decibel
Decibel Technology delivers a suite of content management tools and services to rapidly build, manage, enhance and future-proof websites. Decibel CMS provides a powerful yet practical alternative to current open source and proprietary CMS on the market through its Open API, which allows developers to build high performance websites quickly and easily. For the first time, Decibel brings enterprise-level CMS and website performance enhancing concepts to businesses of all size and budgets. With headquarters in London, clients include: Lavendon Group Plc, Bell Education Services, Historic UK, Marshall Wace and Miss World. www.decibeltechnology.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Oil prices steady as lockdowns curb U.S. stimulus optimism

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Oil prices steady as lockdowns curb U.S. stimulus optimism 1

By Noah Browning

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices were steady on Monday as support from U.S. stimulus plans and jitters about supplies competed with worries about demand due to renewed lockdowns to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

Brent crude futures for March rose 7 cents, or 0.1%, to $55.48 a barrel by 1210 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for March was up 5 cents, or 0.1%, at $52.32.

“Sentiment was buoyed by expectations for a blockbuster coronavirus relief package … (but) the tug of war between stimulus optimism and virus woes is set to continue,” said Stephen Brennock of broker PVM.

U.S. lawmakers are set to lock horns over the size of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package proposed by new President Joe Biden, financial stimulus that would support the economy and fuel demand.

European nations, major consumers, have imposed tough restrictions to halt the spread of the virus, while China reported a rise in new COVID-19 cases, casting a pall over demand prospects in the world’s largest energy consumer.

Barclays raised its 2021 oil price forecasts, but said rising cases in China could contribute to near-term pullbacks.

“Even though the pandemic is not yet slowing down, oil prices have good reasons to start the week with gains,” said Bjornar Tonhaugen from Rystad Energy.

Supply concerns have offered some support. Indonesia said its coast guard seized an Iranian-flagged tanker over suspected illegal fuel transfers, raising the prospect of more tensions in the oil-exporting Gulf.

“A development that always benefits prices is the market turbulence that conflicts create,” Tonhaugen added.

Libyan oil guards halted exports from several main ports in a pay dispute on Monday.

Output from Kazakhstan’s giant Tengiz field was disrupted by a power outage on Jan. 17.

(Editing by David Goodman and Edmund Blair)

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Dollar steadies; euro hurt by vaccine delays and German business morale slump

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Dollar steadies; euro hurt by vaccine delays and German business morale slump 2

By Elizabeth Howcroft

LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar steadied, the euro slipped and riskier currencies remained strong on Monday, as currency markets were torn between optimism about U.S. stimulus plans, and the reality of slow vaccine rollout and the economic impact of lockdowns in Europe.

Market sentiment had turned more cautious at the end of last week as European economic data showed that lockdown restrictions to limit the spread of the virus hurt business activity, dragging stocks lower.

The safe-haven dollar declined gradually overnight, and riskier currencies strengthened. It then recovered some losses after European markets opened, and was at 90.224 against a basket of currencies at 1152 GMT, flat on the day.

On one hand, market sentiment is supported by hopes for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus plans, as well as the expectation that central banks will continue to provide liquidity.

But, in Europe, the extent of the risk appetite was limited by a lack of progress in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine as well the economic impact of lockdown measures.

German business morale slumped to a six-month low in January, surprising market participants who had expected the survey to show a rise.

“It’s very much a case of hopes for the future against the reality of the first quarter of this year which is going to still prove to be fairly troubled,” said Jeremy Stretch, head of G10 FX strategy at CIBC Capital Markets.

“For now at least, the optimism that we’re hoping for has been somewhat delayed and that has taken a little bit of steam out of the euro and just put a little bit of support back in the dollar but ultimately I think it is still a case of those high-beta commodity currencies, reflation currencies, will continue to perform well,” he said.

Analysts expect a broad dollar decline during 2021. The net speculative short position on the dollar grew to its largest in ten years in the week to Jan. 19, according to weekly futures data from CFTC released on Friday.

The U.S. Federal Reserve meets on Wednesday and Fed Chair Jerome Powell is expected to signal that he has no plans to wind back the Fed’s massive stimulus any time soon – news which could push the dollar down further.

“The process of tapering QE is likely to be a gradual process which could last throughout 2022, and then potentially be followed by the first rate hikes later in 2023,” wrote MUFG currency analyst Lee Hardman.

“In these circumstances, we continue to believe that it is premature to expect the US dollar to rebound now in anticipation of policy tightening ahead, and still see scope for further weakness this year,” he said.

The euro was down around 0.1% against the dollar, at $1.2153 at 1207 GMT. At the European Central Bank meeting last week, President Christine Lagarde said the bank was closely watching the euro. The euro surged 9% last year versus the dollar and reached new two and a half year highs earlier in January.

But despite this verbal intervention, traders remain bullish on the euro, expecting the bar for a rate cut to be high.

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar, which is seen as a liquid proxy for risk, was up 0.2% at 0.7726 versus the U.S. dollar at 1208 GMT.

The New Zealand dollar was up 0.5%, while the commodity-driven Norwegian crown was up 0.2% the euro.

The safe-haven Japanese yen was flat on the day at 103.815 versus the U.S. dollar.

Graphic: USD, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qmypmyjdxpr/USD.png

(Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft, editing by Ed Osmond and Chizu Nomiyama)

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Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific warns of capacity cuts, higher cash burn

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Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific warns of capacity cuts, higher cash burn 3

(Reuters) – Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd on Monday warned passenger capacity could be cut by about 60% and monthly cash burn may rise if Hong Kong installs new measures that require flight crew to quarantine for two weeks.

Hong Kong’s flagship carrier said the expected move will increase cash burn by about HK$300 million ($38.70 million) to HK$400 million per month, on top of current HK$1 billion to HK$1.5 billion levels.

Hong Kong is set to require flight crew entering the Asian financial hub for more than two hours to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks, the South China Morning Post reported last week, citing sources.

“The new measure will have a significant impact on our ability to service our passenger and cargo markets,” Cathay said in a statement, adding that expected curbs will also reduce its cargo capacity by 25%.

The airline, in an internal memo seen by Reuters, requested for volunteers among its crew who could fly for three weeks, followed by two weeks of quarantine and 14 days free of duty, adding it will be a temporary measure and not all its flight will require such an operation.

“We continue to engage with key stakeholders in the Hong Kong Government,” the memo said.

In an emailed response to Reuters, a Hong Kong government spokesperson said: “In the light of the evolving pandemic situation locally and internationally, the Government will keep reviewing and refining the arrangements applicable to different categories of exempted persons, including air crew, with reference to all relevant considerations.”

Separately, a company spokeswoman said the airline could not detail the impact on vaccine transport specifically in terms of cargo shipments.

The aviation industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic as many countries imposed travel restrictions to contain its spread.

In December, Cathay’s passenger numbers fell by 98.7% compared to a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 32.3%.

(Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney and Twinnie Siu in Hong Kong; Editing by Bernard Orr, Arun Koyyur and Mark Potter)

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