- Report challenges businesses and finance professionals to develop their skills and knowledge by working together
- Enterprise experts’ forum points to overlooked potential of online courses
Recommendations about how entrepreneurs, enterprises and finance professionals can achieve success together have been set out by ACCA’s (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Global Forum for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises).
The paper, entitled A new breed of adviser for the modern-day enterpriseemphasises the importance of communicative ‘soft’ skills to the role of business advisers.
The report also considers the potential of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) in enterprise education, in light of ACCA’s recently launched course with the University of Exeter, named Discovering Business in Society. The Global Forum highlighted the ability of enterprise MOOCs to democratise training usually reserved for senior managers, thus increasing corporate entrepreneurial activity, and their potential to act as lead generators for public and private enterprise support. But to fulfil any of these roles, enterprise MOOCs need to emphasise the immersive and team experience that most entrepreneurs treasure.
But the group also considered the role of accountants as de facto mentors. Rosanna Choi, Chair of the Global Forum for SMEs, said: “It is important that entrepreneurs understand the benefits that finance professionals can bring to their business.
“Accountants are trusted advisers to businesses, especially start-ups and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) when they are in the first few years of formation and need to keep on top of the financial side of things in their aim to expand and grow.
“However, in order to be able to provide the rounded support that enterprises need from the very beginning of their business journey, accountants need to view their role with the mindset of the entrepreneur.”
Some recommendations have been put together by the Global Forum for SMEs, about what the entrepreneur and their enterprise can do with their financial adviser to ensure business runs smoothly, as well as expand and grow when the time is right.
Charlotte Chung, ACCA’s senior policy adviser, said: “The onus is on both the finance professional and the entrepreneur to keep themselves up-to-date with the latest in enterprise development and what this could mean for their respective professions. The global forum’s recommendations outline how they can go about this and also how they can work together in synergy to ensure business runs as smoothly as possible.” These include:
For entrepreneurs and enterprises
- Invest in creating and building a robust business plan – Planning enables the entrepreneur to experiment with new ideas and to steady the firm for rapid growth while being anchored within sound financial parameters. Seeking professional support early on – working out what the business can and cannot afford to spend or working through potential scenarios and options for growth – is a worthwhile investment for helping entrepreneurs to flesh out their business and its potential beyond just the initial idea. This requires entrepreneurs to practice putting pen to paper using simple analysis and review techniques available in business planning, instilling a greater degree of discipline in the decision-making process.
For finance professionals
- Understand the mindset of the entrepreneur – What entrepreneurs and accountants value and prioritise may differ wildly, and the accountant will typically adopt a more conservative role – that of steward. Accounting education should therefore be better aligned with enterprise education, through the use of business scenarios, role playing and case study material.
- Stay on top of technology –Technology-driven alternative finance providers such as crowdfunding platforms are enabling entrepreneurs to do business in new and innovative ways, where conventional practice and behaviours do not necessarily apply. If accountants want to remain businesses’ most trusted advisers, they will need to keep up with these developments; such changes are also likely to provide opportunities for developing new value-added services to businesses.
- Develop a deeper understanding of business model typologies throughout the business cycle –Finance professionals need to be prepared to apply and adapt their rigorous approach to finance management to less familiar business models, particularly those during the start-up phase. The prevalence of technology has also sparked new models of doing business, such as those operating in e-commerce, which may not fit conventional moulds and metrics. It is ever more crucial for finance professionals to work closely with businesses to ensure that their support is fit for purpose and tailored to their client’s needs.
- Be business partners – The skills that finance professionals do not typically excel in belong to what are often considered to be other ‘unrelated’ areas of the business: marketing, communications, brand and reputation management etc. Accountants need to address these weak spots in order to provide a more rounded service which factors in the value and impact of these areas on the bottom line, to get a truly accurate picture of the financial health and potential of a business.
Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England
LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will announce more funding for apprenticeships in England when he unveils his budget next week, the government said on Friday.
Employers taking part in the Apprenticeship Initiative Scheme will from April 1 receive 3,000 pounds ($4,179) for each apprentice hired, regardless of age – an increase on current grants of between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds depending on age.
The scheme will extended by six months until the end of September, the finance ministry said.
Sunak will also announce an extra 126 million pounds for traineeships for up to 43,000 placements.
Sunak’s March 3 budget will likely include a new round of spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances.
Sunak is also expected to announce a “flexi-job” apprenticeship scheme, whereby apprentices can join an agency and work for multiple employers in one sector, the finance ministry said.
“We know there’s more to do and it’s vital this continues throughout the next stage of our recovery, which is why I’m boosting support for these programmes, helping jobseekers and employers alike,” Sunak said in a statement.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)
UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is seeking to build a consensus among G7 nations on how to stop large technology companies exploiting their dominance, warning that there can be no repeat of Facebook’s one-week media blackout in Australia.
Facebook’s row with the Australian government over payment for local news, although now resolved, has increased international focus on the power wielded by tech corporations.
“We will hold these companies to account and bridge the gap between what they say they do and what happens in practice,” Britain’s digital minister Oliver Dowden said on Friday.
“We will prevent these firms from exploiting their dominance to the detriment of people and the businesses that rely on them.”
Dowden said recent events had strengthened his view that digital markets did not currently function properly.
He spoke after a meeting with Facebook’s Vice-President for Global Affairs, Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister.
“I put these concerns to Facebook and set out our interest in levelling the playing field to enable proper commercial relationships to be formed. We must avoid such nuclear options being taken again,” Dowden said in a statement.
Facebook said in a statement that the call had been constructive, and that it had already struck commercial deals with most major publishers in Britain.
“Nick strongly agreed with the Secretary of Stateâ€™s (Dowden’s) assertion that the governmentâ€™s general preference is for companies to enter freely into proper commercial relationships with each other,” a Facebook spokesman said.
Britain will host a meeting of G7 leaders in June.
It is seeking to build consensus there for coordinated action toward “promoting competitive, innovative digital markets while protecting the free speech and journalism that underpin our democracy and precious liberties,” Dowden said.
The G7 comprises the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Canada, but Australia has also been invited.
Britain is working on a new competition regime aimed at giving consumers more control over their data, and introducing legislation that could regulate social media platforms to prevent the spread of illegal or extremist content and bullying.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Gareth Jones and John Stonestreet)
Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit
By Huw Jones
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said on Friday it would offer a fast-track visa scheme for jobs at high-growth companies after a government-backed review warned that financial technology firms will struggle with Brexit and tougher competition for global talent.
Finance minister Rishi Sunak said that now Britain has left the European Union, it wants to make sure its immigration system helps businesses attract the best hires.
“This new fast-track scale-up stream will make it easier for fintech firms to recruit innovators and job creators, who will help them grow,” Sunak said in a statement.
Over 40% of fintech staff in Britain come from overseas, and the new visa scheme, open to migrants with job offers at high-growth firms that are scaling up, will start in March 2022.
Brexit cut fintechs’ access to the EU single market and made it far harder to employ staff from the bloc, leaving Britain less attractive for the industry.
The review published on Friday and headed by Ron Kalifa, former CEO of payments fintech Worldpay, set out a “strategy and delivery model” that also includes a new 1 billion pound ($1.39 billion) start-up fund.
“It’s about underpinning financial services and our place in the world, and bringing innovation into mainstream banking,” Kalifa told Reuters.
Britain has a 10% share of the global fintech market, generating 11 billion pounds ($15.6 billion) in revenue.
The review said Brexit, heavy investment in fintech by Australia, Canada and Singapore, and the need to be nimbler as COVID-19 accelerates digitalisation of finance, all mean the sector’s future in Britain is not assured.
It also recommends more flexible listing rules for fintechs to catch up with New York.
“We recognise the need to make the UK attractive a more attractive location for IPOs,” said Britain’s financial services minister John Glen, adding that a separate review on listings rules would be published shortly.
“Those findings, along with Ron’s report today, should provide an excellent evidence base for further reform.”
Britain pioneered “sandboxes” to allow fintechs to test products on real consumers under supervision, and the review says regulators should move to the next stage and set up “scale-boxes” to help fintechs navigate red tape to grow.
“It’s a question of knowing who to call when there’s a problem,” said Kay Swinburne, vice chair of financial services at consultants KPMG and a contributor to the review.
A UK fintech wanting to serve EU clients would have to open a hub in the bloc, an expensive undertaking for a start-up.
“Leaving the EU and access to the single market going away is a big deal, so the UK has to do something significant to make fintechs stay here,” Swinburne said.
The review seeks to join the dots on fintech policy across government departments and regulators, and marshal private sector efforts under a new Centre for Finance, Innovation and Technology (CFIT).
“There is no framework but bits of individual policies, and nowhere does it come together,” said Rachel Kent, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells and contributor to the review.
($1 = 0.7064 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jane Merriman and John Stonestreet)
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