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DEVELOPING A STRATEGIC APPROACH: RETHINKING FINANCIAL DATA MANAGEMENT

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Richard Petti

Reconfiguring old models of data management could help the financial services sector meet evolving global regulatory requirements. The trick is to shift emphasis away from building huge data repositories, and to concentrate on developing a data supply chain that gets the right data to the right place at the right time. By Richard Petti, CEO, Asset Control

The critical shift in perspective is to recognize that change is a constant and to move away from a monolithic hard-wired data warehouse model towards a dynamic data supply chain.  In markets requiring constant business innovation, products, processes and organizations must become more agile in how they support the business and meet regulators’ needs.  Financial data models need to be dynamic, adjusting quickly to capture new products created to solve client needs in new ways and the same data must flow quickly through the middle and back office to minimize the risk of exception bottlenecks or reconciliation errors.

Richard Petti

Richard Petti

Increasingly, proactive organizations are deploying strategies that regard data management as a dynamic logistics activity. The most effective have placed a data management platform at the center of the complex multi-source, multi-system distribution process – taking inputs from vendor feeds and departmental sources, testing them for quality and routing them through the platform to downstream systems and users.  As data flows through the system, the platform provides the framework for auditing activity and monitoring performance against critical SLAs.

Such systems simplify the technical challenges significantly. Because they eliminate potentially hundreds of point-to-point connections, they make the administration, control and delivery of reference, market and risk data much more manageable. Moreover, workflows become more efficient, enabling organizations to save time and money. Crucially, the centralized approach built around the effective development of a data supply chain, is helping companies mitigate risk and meet the growing demands of regulatory compliance.

So how can organizations achieve this?

The first step in the process is to ask the right questions to identify and address each organization’s specific data management challenges. In understanding the challenges, the critical internal SLAs become clear and the organization will get a picture of the necessary workflows in order to get the right data to the right people at the right time. Working with a specialist data management team an organization can also be directed as to best practice in formulating the appropriate workflows and dealing with these issues.

The next step is the implementation of a robust system, supported by a dedicated data management team, to help implement the workflows that will compel organizations to address their procedural concerns and allow compliance and reporting to become more highly automated.

The Principles for effective risk data aggregation and risk reporting, known as BCBS239 within Basel III, mandate banks to impose strong data governance to assure the organization, assembly and production of risk information. The principles, similar to Dodd-Frank in the US, begin with traditional notions of soundness: risk reporting should be transparent, and the sourcing, validation, cleansing and delivery of data should be tightly controlled and auditable. But the new regulatory model also makes timeliness and adaptability fundamental requirements.  This is a significant change from Basel II which addressed the formulation of risk models in detail but, in retrospect, failed to identify the need for accurate data. Without which, models and analysis tended to underestimate the frequency of major portfolio losses and underestimate resulting capital ratios.

The data supply chain approach shifts the focus away from the accumulation of data and shifts focus to delivery. Every activity becomes focused on ensuring the right package of data is delivered to the customer at the right time – everything works backwards from that primary objective. This is a challenge to incumbent models that largely focus on the aggregation and organization of huge volumes of data into a monolithic fixed schema.

In this new approach, the core components of data management – capture, validation and delivery – remain constant. But the process begins from the end-user’s perspective, with Chief Data Officers considering two key questions: 1. who am I delivering this data to? and 2. under what Service-Level Agreement (SLA)? By adopting an SLA-led approach and focusing on the end-game of delivery, it becomes much easier to work backwards and align performance (and costs) with business needs. With the overarching SLA as the start-point, data management becomes a logistics exercise whose primary objective is to get the right data, to the right people in time to meet their local SLAs – in effect, a data supply chain. The new approach makes changes to data requirements much easier to absorb; by-passing the need to change a data schema and incorporating the change directly to rules that govern the data package provides an agile and transparent mechanism for on-the-move data changes.

With the right rules and workflow in place, not only will challenges be resolved and risk mitigated, but it also places the organization in the best possible position to adopt an open and transparent enterprise-wide data management strategy that incorporates the entire data supply chain to deliver users the data they want, when and how they want it.

Although we may have survived the consequences of regulatory and information failures that characterized the financial crisis, organizations cannot afford to be complacent. A reliance on inefficient legacy models will no longer suffice.

To progress, Chief Risk Officers and Chief Data Officers must drive the reconfiguration of financial data management – and establish it as a logistical exercise.

Finance

Five features that decrease the value of your home

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Five features that decrease the value of your home 1

When you’re preparing to sell your house or flat you might think of various steps you could take that might increase its value, such as converting unused space to a new room. But another important factor you need to consider is how certain existing features might actually decrease the value of your home, making it harder to find a buyer at the price you’re seeking.

Several features large and small can have a negative impact on your home’s value

Homeowners looking to sell their properties need to make sure that their house or flat looks as best as it can before potential buyers come to visit on viewings. A tidy and well-maintained house will help increase the overall perceived value of the property.

But there are sometimes issues with homes that can decrease the total value of your home, at least as far as prospective buyers are concerned. And as the home buying experts at LDN Properties know, some of these features might not be immediately obvious as the reason why you’re not able to find a buyer at your current asking price.

When you’re ready to sell your house or flat, check the list below to see whether the property has any of the features that might be lowering its value below what you’d like to get in a sale.

Five features that can decrease the perceived value of your property

Some features at a home will be incredibly unique, such as the recent story about a house that’s struggling to sell because it’s located next to a graveyard – and the plan for trying to finally secure a buyer is to give the buyer a free burial plot. There’s not much that particular homeowner can do to solve their issue, but it’s also a problem very specific to their home.

In contrast, there are a number of common features at houses and flats that can reduce their vale. The following list includes five property features that can decrease the total value of your home, making it harder for you to sell at the price that you might want or need:

Outbuildings in poor condition

Although a well-kept greenhouse, garage or shed can be attractive to buyers, they can also be major turnoffs if they are in poor condition. If you have an outbuilding on your land that is in such a bad state that demolition is the only solution, this will detract from your home’s value.

Cluttered and dirty rooms

If the rooms in your house are cluttered with furniture and other items, or they are dirty, or both, this will be a turnoff to many buyers who come to see the house on viewings. If your house is full of clutter it will make the rooms look smaller than they actually are, which will make visitors think the space is worth less than what you are asking.

Swimming pool

Having a swimming pool is not a common feature at many homes, but it is one that can be a significant negative attribute despite some people seeing it is a luxury perk. That’s because the cost of maintaining a swimming pool is very high, and it’s something many people don’t want to take on when they’re looking at buying a property.

Untidy garden

First impressions always matter, and that’s the case when selling your home. If you have a garden and it is overgrown with weeds and other mess, it will not be appealing to buyers who come to visit on viewings. Having an untidy garden can make people think that your home is worth less than it actually is, making it harder for you to secure a sale.

Structural problems

If your home has a structural problem it can devalue your house, possibly by thousands of pounds depending on the scope of the problem. Among the various features that would be considered structural problems are leaks, subsidence, the presence of the invasive species Japanese knotweed, and other issues that will lower your property’s overall value.

Make changes to your property if you have any of the listed negative features

If your house or flat has any of the above features, you should consider ways that you could address them in order to prevent the value of your property being impacted.

For some projects that might be relatively easy, for example by tidying up the garden or by removing clutter from rooms around the house. Other larger-scale fixes will cost you significant time and money, such as removing a swimming pool if there’s one at your home.

Only do the corrective work for which you have the time and money, and don’t overextend yourself. But do make changes to your home if you have any or all of the listed features, because your priority should be getting as much money for selling your home as possible.

 

This is a Sponsored Feature.

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Finance

Do you know where the tax risks are in your business?

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Do you know where the tax risks are in your business? 2

By Simon Crookston, Corporate Tax Partner at Crowe UK

Today’s landscape

Many tax and finance professionals will have noted a trend in recent years, whereby there is greater emphasis on the processes and controls in place to ensure good tax governance.

As a consequence, many large and owner managed businesses are increasing their focus on tax governance, ensuring robust processes and controls are in place; the emphasis is now on ‘how’ tax compliance is dealt with and making sure the right amount of tax is paid at the right time.

The on-going COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this process, as finance teams have been forced to proactively manage their cash flows, while also reassessing the robustness of their working practices, systems and controls. In some instances, processes and controls based around physical proximity of staff have been shown to be out of date and in need of re-designing.

Ensuring that there is tax integrity within your business is now critical and reflects the wider changing climate in which businesses and tax advisors now operate.  Factors influencing this trend include:

  • significant amounts of change in the tax regime, both domestically and internationally
  • digitisation and new technologies leading to new business models and ways of selling goods and services to customers
  • tax authorities focussing on the use of technology to provide real time reporting, for example Making Tax Digital for VAT and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme claims to HMRC
  • finance departments being tasked with providing certainty over the integrity of all taxes
  • the implementation of the corporate criminal offence regime, which potentially carries an unlimited fine for all businesses that fail to implement reasonable procedures to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion
  • the recent DAC 6 EU regulations requiring the reporting of tax schemes

Tax has also become a reputational risk to businesses. Organisations now operate in a world where tax is considered a moral issue and is front page news. Consequently, many boardrooms and owner managers are focused on ensuring that they do not face negative publicity from their tax affairs.

This trend is expected to continue with increased scrutiny by the media of the taxes paid and claims made by companies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the punitive measures being taken by HMRC to challenge tax evasion and difficult economic times.

Robust processes and controls can also make it easier for your business to adapt to change. This could be change within the business such as new supply chains or entering new markets, or it could be change driven by external factors, such as changes in tax legislation or events such as Brexit.

The impact of poor governance

Over the last few years HMRC’s powers have increased with the introduction of new information and data gathering powers and with the greater use of technology to identify those people and organisations who are understating and underpaying their tax liability.

As well as receiving information from overseas tax authorities, HMRC’s Connect Computer System, which is essentially a supercomputer, draws huge amounts of data and information from numerous sources including tax records, online platforms, social media information, government departments and websites, bank data and web browsing information to build up a complex ‘tax picture’ on organisations and individuals.

With such a rich source of data HMRC have the ability to evaluate and determine if there are inconsistencies in the tax information which is declared as part of return filings.

As a consequence, those businesses that have received HMRC enquiries over the last couple of years which lead to adjustments, enter into tax planning schemes or take a more aggressive approach to minimising their tax are generally considered to be of higher risk from a tax authority perspective.

Where an enquiry is opened this will typically lead to additional management time being required to justify to HMRC the tax positions taken. If HMRC are successful at arguing that tax adjustments are required then this could lead to the organisation suffering penalties and late payment interest.

We are consequently seeing an increasing number of businesses recognising the merits of keeping a “risk register” of known tax risks that the business is managing. This can help to mitigate or negate the risk of unexpected tax costs, as well as demonstrate to HMRC that the business is proactively assessing and complying with its tax obligations.

As HMRC’s internal machinery and enquiries in relation to corporate criminal offence start to further bite, this will become of increasing importance. Areas of particular focus may include those organisations which have overseas employees, operate in different countries, operate in high risk sectors, have sales teams with lots of discretion or have sales based reward structures.

Some recent examples

A starting point to undertaking a tax governance risk assessment is typically to assess the business’s overall tax risk covering a number of areas.  These will typically consist of looking at the business’s: inherent, corporate, vat, employee and international tax risk, to build up an overview profile of the business’s main areas requiring further attention and consideration.

Over the last couple of years we have assisted a number of clients across various sectors with their governance, systems and processes reviews.  Some examples of recent reviews include:

Business overview Steps and benefits
Vehicle equipment manufacturer

·         Expanding rapidly in Europe and globally with 70% of the businesses sales from overseas.

·         The rapid expansion led to some tax integrity concerns around the business’s VAT, corporate tax and employment tax obligations being able to keep pace with commercial expansion of the business.

 

·         A supply chain review was undertaken to identify and document where potential VAT supply chain problems existed so action could be taken.

·         Identification and rectification of permanent establishment issues that had potentially been created.

·         Business education programme on how to proactively identify and manage tax integrity matters for future expansion opportunities.

Independent boarding and day school

·         The school required an employer compliance review to get comfort that the organisation had appropriate processes and controls in place to correctly account for all employment taxes due.

·         Identification of risk areas and establishment of a remediation plan as to how the organisations processes and controls could be improved.
Airport operator

·         Had concerns over its UK VAT and employment taxes position.

·         Required an independent review of their processes and controls to ensure the group was correctly accounting for the taxes due.

·         Identification of potential risk areas.

·         Formulation of an implementation plan.

·         Implementation of changes and submission of appropriate disclosures to HMRC.

What should I do now?

As all businesses are different and dynamic unfortunately there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach to managing tax risk and the development of robust processes and controls. However, from our experience, here are few example areas for consideration to ensure your processes and controls are robust:

  • Do you have a process in place to identify changes in the tax regime that are relevant to your business? Similarly, what is the process whereby the finance/ tax team find out about new developments within the business?
  • What systems are used in your tax compliance and is the output provided ‘fit for purpose’ or does it require significant manual manipulation?
  • How robust are your accounting and tax processes and procedures and where are the risk areas if the finance team is operating from home or remotely?
  • Is remote working increasing your organisation’s vulnerability to cyber-crime?
  • What training are the staff involved with taxes given? How often is their knowledge refreshed / kept up to date?
  • Who has review and sign-off responsibilities for tax returns to ensure that the numbers to be submitted are accurate and that any payment due is made on time?
  • What links are in place with the commercial teams that develop new products or win new business to ensure that new sources of revenue are treated correctly for tax purposes?
  • New overseas activities can commonly lead to unexpected tax consequences. What processes are in place to consider the corporate tax, VAT and employment tax implications of undertaking activities abroad? This review should ideally be undertaken before the activities commence.

Clearly, these are just examples and in order to get a good overview of the tax risk areas across your business – a more thorough and detailed review is required.

A starting point is to consider the main tax areas of your business (these are typically corporate tax, VAT, employment tax and international matters) and to undertake a high level risk review of these areas.  This can be done by way of a manual review or by the use of a technology tool, such as a Tax Integrity Scorecard, to provide an assessment of the level of tax risk from low – high in each tax area.

A Tax Integrity Scorecard can help businesses understand their UK tax risks and assist them in prioritising where to focus their resources to guard against unexpected tax costs, adverse publicity and to improve tax process efficiencies.

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PayPal launches ‘Pay in 3’ buy now, pay later loans to UK in time for Black Friday and Christmas

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PayPal launches ‘Pay in 3’ buy now, pay later loans to UK in time for Black Friday and Christmas 3
  • PayPal expands its consumer credit solutions through the introduction of PayPal Pay in 3 to UK market
  • In the lead up to the busiest shopping season of the year, PayPal supports businesses of all sizes to drive sales, loyalty and increase payment choice for their customers

– all while getting paid upfront

  • The latest in a series of steps taken by PayPal to enable UK businesses to adapt to changing consumer demands

PayPal today announced the launch of PayPal Pay in 3, enabling UK businesses of all sizes to offer buy now, pay later payments without taking on additional risk or paying additional fees.

Through PayPal Pay in 3, businesses can offer their customers the option of making purchases between £45 and £2,000 by paying over three, interest-free payments, with seamless automatic re-payments each month[1]. PayPal Pay in 3 will also appear in the customer’s PayPal wallet, so they can manage their payments online or via the PayPal app.

PayPal Pay in 3 will help businesses drive checkout conversion, revenue and customer loyalty, with the option included in the business’s existing PayPal pricing, paying no additional fees to enable it for their customers. PayPal will pay the business or retailer upfront for the full cost of the purchase.

In 2019, there was a 39% year-on-year increase in the proportion of buy now, pay later payments in the UK. This trend is expected to double by 2023.[2]

PayPal Pay in 3 allows companies from start-ups to globally recognised retailers to adapt to this changing consumer behaviour and offer a greater range of payment options. Retailers including Crew Clothing, French Connection, Robert Dyas and Ryman are integrating PayPal Pay in 3, which is available in the UK from late October 2020.

Rob Harper, UK Director of Enterprise Accounts at PayPal, said: “During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen the number of people in the UK shopping online increase dramatically. At the same time, many more consumers are looking to spread the cost of those purchases. We have developed PayPal Pay in 3 to meet that need, building on our heritage as a responsible lender through PayPal Credit, which we launched in the UK in 2014, and has served more than two million customers to date.

“We will continue to support for UK retailers and businesses through these challenging times by helping them adapt to changing consumer behaviours around how they shop and pay – especially in the lead up to Black Friday and Christmas. PayPal Pay in 3 offers a flexible way for over 24 million PayPal users to shop while providing companies with a tool that helps drive sales, loyalty and customer choice.”

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Editorial & Advertiser disclosureOur website provides you with information, news, press releases, Opinion and advertorials on various financial products and services. This is not to be considered as financial advice and should be considered only for information purposes. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information provided with respect to your individual or personal circumstances. Please seek Professional advice from a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. We link to various third party websites, affiliate sales networks, and may link to our advertising partners websites. Though we are tied up with various advertising and affiliate networks, this does not affect our analysis or opinion. When you view or click on certain links available on our articles, our partners may compensate us for displaying the content to you, or make a purchase or fill a form. This will not incur any additional charges to you. To make things simpler for you to identity or distinguish sponsored articles or links, you may consider all articles or links hosted on our site as a partner endorsed link.

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