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Can Small Firms Really Stay Compliant?

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Can Small Firms Really Stay Compliant?

By Shira Rottner At Shield (www.shieldfc.com)

Whether you are the biggest banking conglomerate or the smallest financial business, there is at least one thing you have in common – the legal and moral obligation to adhere to financial regulations.

Well written and conceived regulations are designed to ‘level the playing field’ for competing businesses, as well as protecting them and clients from potential breaches and the punitive and reputational issues associated with these.

However, falling foul of the regulator is arguably an even greater risk for Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). Many large businesses can ‘cover’ the cost of a hefty fine (and survive the reputational damage in the long-term), but for a smaller firm it can prove fatal. If the fine itself doesn’t cripple the business, the reputational damage to a ‘challenger brand’ may well strike the fatal blow.

Same issues, different resources

Being under the same regulatory requirements, financial firms of all sizes face very similar challenges in terms of the way they must meet regulatory requirements. However, in the real world we all know there are considerable differences in the compliance resources of an SME firm compared to a Tier One bank for example.

Most larger enterprise businesses will have a compliance department, team or function of some description. Inevitably a small business (with perhaps a handful of employees) will struggle to find the resources to dedicate solely to compliance.

In fact, many smaller businesses are unable to do much more than the minimum with regards to compliance monitoring. Regrettably for many this means taking a certain level of risk and hoping they do not draw the regulator’s attention.

If you speak to many small financial business (as I do) you start to learn that many don’t have specific compliance monitoring at all, often due to confusion and ignorance of the risks.

Tightening regulations

Naturally all financial businesses will face the need to address their compliance monitoring abilities at some point and that culminated recently for many SMEs when they received the ‘Dear CEO’ letter from the FCA. This was sent to UK brokers outlining the focus points it will enforce and encouraging the firms to actively take measures to prevent breaches if they wish to avoid fines.

To add further stress to all financial businesses (and SMEs in particular), the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) comes into effect on 9th December 2019 and increases personal accountability of senior people in the financial services industry. This will create a ‘perfect storm’ that could be very dangerous for under-prepared firms and the individuals that run them.

SME struggles

The risks are clear, but SMEs obviously must juggle these with the realities of the resources available. Many of these businesses have their compliance function as part of their operations or risk departments and therefore must share the same resources.

Many SMEs have a number of very specific struggles to overcome as well. There is the practical difficulty of keeping up with regulatory changes (sometimes on a monthly or even weekly basis). The IT resources are another area of frequent limitation, many SMEs don’t have a dedicated IT team (or even individual) and choose to outsource this for convenience and cost.

Linked to a limited IT resource is the issue of data silos and the difficulties this causes in accurately monitoring compliance. Often small businesses struggle to update their systems and consequently end up running ‘legacy’ systems for extended periods to recoup maximum ROI.

All these factors combined make the challenge of compliance monitoring even harder!

Reliable compliance monitoring on a budget

Despite these apparently insurmountable challenges, it is completely possible to manage effective compliance monitoring – but it means looking closely at your business, its processes and IT systems and investing in the right automation technology to tackle it.

The first stage is to accept that a manual process of compliance monitoring and investigation simply doesn’t work anymore. This approach is expensive but also unreliable and completely inefficient. It is all too easy to save compliance data on a spreadsheet or on a designated platform, but this adds to the problem of siloed storage and makes investigating data very difficult and time-consuming. Unfortunately, many smaller organisations don’t fully understand their data requirements or even appreciate they have a data issue at all, so this needs to be addressed first.

For organisations that do understand their data requirements the issue of siloes can be overcome, but it requires the automated collection of data to be effective.  Moving forward, all data needs to be stored in a central location to make compliance investigation more efficient and prepared for future data requirements.

It’s also very tempting to ‘rip and replace’ legacy systems straight away, but actually if you look to upgrade and migrate the data immediately, you are just creating another big project! By all means invest in new systems when the budget allows but ensure there is a smooth transition between the old and new.

Equally, don’t be tempted to just hire yet more people to compliance team. Many firms have found themselves feeding a sort of compliance ‘arms race’, continually adding more resources which can’t keep pace and aren’t sustainable.

Turning to technology

In my biased point of view, I believe that ultimately SMEs need to choose a suitably powerful, reliable and affordable RegTech solution which draws a line under all the previous issues. These systems have been designed to deal with all the major pain points (keeping up with compliance regulations, breaking down data silos and processing huge amounts of unstructured information), all at a manageable and predictable ongoing cost.

In an increasingly uncertain world (with the likes of Brexit adding further uncertainty) regulations are set to continue evolving rapidly and data processing needs will only continue to increase.

SME financial firms need to ‘take the bull by the horns’ which means investing in the right RegTech solution so they can get on with their core business duties, safe in the knowledge that their investment has got their back, protecting them and their customers.

Business

Are bots eating your Facebook budget?

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Are bots eating your Facebook budget? 1

By Mike Townend, founding CMO of Beaconsoft Ltd

In an increasingly digitised world, social media has arguably become the most powerful and influential tool at the disposal of businesses, both large and small.

With more than 3.6 billion active social media users worldwide today, it is no surprise that many companies view it as an unparalleled means of marketing their products and services to new and otherwise unreachable audiences, as well as an opportunity to better understand consumer demand and habits.

Facebook is often regarded as one of the very best social media platforms for marketers – not least because of its targeted digital advertising service – but many firms using it may not realise just how much of their budget could be being wasted due to ad fraud.

Numerous studies suggest digital ad fraud affects between 10% and 60% of all types of digital advertising, with businesses of every size falling prey to so-called ‘bots’ – automated programs used by scammers to undercut deals, divert visitors or steal clicks.

But how do bots work, how might they be affecting businesses’ Facebook budgets, data and analytics, and what can be done to combat them?

How do bots work?

A report published by security firm Imperva found that bots – both good and bad – are responsible for 52% of all web traffic, while a separate study by White Ops concluded that as much as 20% of websites that serve ads are visited exclusively by fraudulent click bots.

In simple terms, a click bot is specially designed to carry out click fraud – in other words, the bot poses as a legitimate visitor to a webpage and automatically clicks on pay-per-click [PPC] ads, buttons or other types of hyperlinks.

Their purpose is to trick a platform or service – in this case, Facebook – into believing that real users are interacting with the webpage, app or ad in question.

Usually, bots will not just click a link once; they will click it over and over again to give the impression that the webpage is receiving a high level of traffic.

Why is this a problem?

The presence of click bots on Facebook is particularly problematic because they can effectively drain a business’ online marketing budget without many of its targeted ads reaching real users who might have a genuine interest.

There are a number of reasons why click fraud could be used – for example, competitors may employ a ‘click farm’ – a group of low-paid workers or bots hired to click on paid advertising links – or organised criminals may have found a way to profit from clicking on a business’ links.

In other cases, apps and software are created to collect the payout for a company’s ads, often with the help of bots.

Considering the average cost per click in the UK is £0.78, according to Hubspot, with some ad campaigns for popular key phrases running at £10 per click, or even more, it is clear to see how easily this could mount up if a firm’s budget were to be hijacked by scammers.

How might bots affect data and analytics?

Negative click bots have the potential to produce skewed analytics from Facebook advertising campaigns.

Because many businesses are unable to distinguish between fake clicks and legitimate ones, the data that they collect can lead to false conclusions and decisions that could have a detrimental impact on the business. For example, firms may choose to overspend or under-invest on a campaign based on findings that are substantially erroneous.

Businesses must be confident that they are making sound decisions that are informed by reliable data and analytics – and fortunately, there is a way that they can do this.

Taking the fight to the bots

There are a number of methods that firms can use to identify bot clicks, some more straightforward than others.

Frequently checking Facebook analytics for irregularities in traffic that could be attributable to bots can make this task considerably easier.

Specific things to monitor include the average number of page views, the average session time, and the source of referrer traffic – if there are any glaring anomalies in the data, bots could be the source.

Big spikes in page views caused by a higher number of visits than usual can also be indicative of bot activity and are especially dangerous given their propensity to slow down the page for genuine visitors.

Once malicious traffic has been identified, steps can then be taken in blocking it at source, although this is not a simple process and requires technical knowledge and know-how.

After removing negative click bots, companies can take comfort in knowing they are optimising their campaigns by gaining accurate insights that help to increase efficiency, lower the cost per visit, and improve return on investment.

Conclusion

Defeating the bots that are impairing a business’ performance on Facebook is by no means easy, and it requires time and effort to keep malicious traffic under constant surveillance.

Having experts on your side who are well versed in identifying and removing instances of click fraud can help to turn the tide in the battle against bots and ultimately allow a company to make big savings on its advertising spend.

Firms not only owe it to themselves, but to their customers also, to knock these harmful and disruptive programs offline for good.

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Business

Advanced Acquiring: How can omnichannel merchants optimise all payment needs through one provider?

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Advanced Acquiring: How can omnichannel merchants optimise all payment needs through one provider? 2

By Marc Docherty, Head of UK Acquiring / Large – Strategic Business, Ingenico, a Worldline brand

Today’s consumers are constantly moving, buying across multiple touchpoints, devices and channels, thus driving significantly greater transactional volume. Against this backdrop, in order to capture and harness the market potential, omnichannel remains an essential strategy for merchants while conducting business operations.

Driven by consumer demands regarding a richer, more personalised and seamless buying journey, ease of use and frictionless transactions have always defined the terms for omnichannel success. However unsurprisingly, payments processing is not always at the forefront of merchants’ minds, hence, more often than not, businesses find it difficult to capture the fundamental importance of a seamless experience.

As a result, they risk not only alienating and losing customers and leaving revenue on the table, but also inefficient management of their costs by missing important savings on acquiring fees. It is therefore prudent for businesses to consider how best they can provide a frictionless experience if they want to remain competitive and ensure conversions in this increasingly fast-paced world.

Understanding how payments processing works

Innovation and efficiency in payment processing is often focused on the transaction itself, helping merchants conduct sales and process payments faster and through more convenient platforms, such as online and mobile. All these transactions, irrespective of the channel used or their value, might take only seconds to complete, however behind the scenes there are many different industry players (including an acquirer, an issuer, the payment gateway, the card network and the merchant), working together towards the same goal: making sure the payment process is flawless, secure and fast.

In theory, the payment should pass from each party without the customer ever noticing, however with a multitude of different providers at each stage, this process can be prone to errors or extra time added to the transaction, leaving shoppers with a disappointing payments experience hence less likely to return for another sale.

Much the same as their consumer counterparts, merchants also appreciate seamless experiences, frictionless integration and having everything in one placeThey want to focus on their core business without any restrictions or having to worry about declines, chargebacks or interchange feesAs such, consolidating all this information in a single, comprehensive view will be a key asset for merchants, providing them with full visibility over their processes.

Offering the most relevant payment methods at the checkout is key

Local and alternative payment methods have enormous potential to drive greater value to merchants not only by expanding reach but also by strengthening the merchant – customer relationship. According to findings from a recent Capgemini report, online retail growth, coupled with the rapid adoption of transparent payment experiences and alternative payment methods will continue to drive non-cash transaction momentum, which is expected to reach 1.1 trillion by 2023.

Yet, while accepting a wide but relevant range of payment options at checkout will drive shopping enthusiasm and maintain consumer loyalty, this can add different complexity levels to the checkout process, depending on several factors, including performance, security, design, the merchant’s business size and geographical reach. Add targeted marketing programmes, product development and delivery strategies, return policies, risk and fraud management to the priorities list for merchants and surviving the long road ahead might easily become daunting.

That’s why, instead of trying to do it all by themselves, merchants should make it a top priority to partner with a competitive acquiring provider who can do this for them, ensuring the balancing act between security, flexibility, frictionless payments and speed.

By working with a partner that is acquirer agnostic and understands both business requirements and the importance of providing operational excellence, merchants can benefit from cost savings for each transaction with the different payment methods they offer. Furthermore, by working with a single acquirer better reconciliation for merchants will be achieved, thus ensuring faster payouts.

A full-service solution to rule them all

With coverage and expertise in over 120 countries, we are perfectly placed to assist businesses in delivering their expansion strategy in their home market or across borders. Our Advanced Acquiring full-service solution is a modular offering that addresses merchants’ needs for a more unified experience, including acceptance, payment gateway and acquiring.

What better way to expand geographical reach and boost revenues than by offering the most relevant payment methods for your target markets, while at the same time improving cash management with some of the fastest payouts on the market and keeping track of transactions and settlements into one unified omnichannel reporting solution which covers all your payments needs?

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Motivate Your Management Team

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Motivate Your Management Team 3

A management team, typically a group of people at the top level of management in an organization, is a team of people in the top level of managerial leadership of a business or an organization. It may consist of one person at the top level or more than one person at the top level. In this article, we are going to talk about what it takes to become a successful manager of a company and the different types of managers that can be found.

Team members will usually work in teams of two or three people. They will work together to accomplish a specific goal that the organization has set for them. These goals and the ways to reach them vary. Sometimes a management team will work in teams to achieve the same goal but in different ways. Sometimes they will work in teams to solve a particular problem.

When a team begins working, they will usually meet for the first time at their office building or another place where they will gather. They will be given a specific mission statement that they will be working towards. There will usually be meetings on a regular basis so that the team can discuss what they have done so far. If there is anything that needs to be worked out, this meeting will occur to ensure that all questions have been answered.

When it comes to meeting deadlines, there are often things that the team members will need to do in order to meet their deadline. They will have to come up with the proper solutions. Once they have done this, the next thing that needs to be done is to ensure that the other members of the team are aware of what the solution is.

Sometimes, the team members will meet at different times. This is very common for people who will have different duties and who are not always available at the same time. They can meet at random times but it is very rare for there to be meetings that occur during the night. Sometimes these meetings are held after lunch and sometimes they happen after dinner.

When the team members meet, they will need to be organized. They will need to take all of the necessary items and papers to the meeting and not leave any behind. The meeting will begin with a presentation that will be made by the team leaders that will describe what they have done so far.

After this presentation, the team members will then have to sit down with the other team members to discuss what they have discussed. This is often a very productive way to get everyone talking about what they have accomplished so far.

To be a good manager, you must be able to organize yourself and your team. This is also necessary in order for you to be able to motivate your team.

One of the ways that you can motivate your team members is by encouraging them to get things done that they want to do. By doing this, they will be able to get excited about what they are working on. The excitement that they will feel will motivate them to work even harder and to complete the task as soon as possible.

Another way that you can motivate your team members is to give them rewards. In this case, they will know that there is something for doing a great job. They will know that if they have good performance, there will be a reward for their hard work.

It is also important for you to provide support to your team members. by helping them find jobs and making sure that they are able to find employment. This will encourage them to be self-motivated and to perform better on their jobs.

When you provide support to your team members, they will feel valued and respected. This will allow them to feel as though they have an employer who is willing to put in a lot of effort in order to help them get what they want out of their jobs.

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