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Flexible working and finance: an unseized opportunity?

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Flexible working and finance: an unseized opportunity?

By Conal O’Hara, Chief Operating Officer at London Executive Offices (LEO) 

A recent report predicted a 50% growth in the flexible workspace market by 2022 across the EMEA. Aside from the investment and finance opportunities in an internationally burgeoning market, how can financial services firms maximise flexible office space?

Conal O’Hara

Conal O’Hara

Flexibility is driving change across businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors – with both young start-ups and more established, traditional financial firms set to reap the benefits. A fixed ‘nine to five’day at an uninspiring desk is becoming a thing of the past. However, workplace flexibility runs much deeper than this: it is about meeting increasing employee demands for ownership of their working day, alongside providing a business with the freedom to be able to react and adapt to change. In light of Brexit, wider macro-economic uncertainty and new challenger entrants, coupled with the intensifying ‘war for talent’, this two-pronged flexibility will prove crucial for even the most traditional firms.

Organic Growth

The financial services sector faces uncertain yet exciting territory ahead. Firms of all sizes need to have the tools to adapt, expand or contract swiftly – within days rather than months. The straight-jacket of a five- or ten-year conventional lease clearly restricts the ability to respond to uncertain political events and navigate through the ever-changing global economy. A flexible solution, with a term of 12-36 months and the ability increase or reduce the amount of space occupied during the period, offers freedom to respond quickly to market conditions and gain the edge over a challenger or competitor. The benefits of this flexibility cannot be underestimated.

In addition, the services available from a flexible workspace operator provide a business with the headspace it needs to think and react to change. With turn-key flexible office solutions, companies can focus on their core business.  A complete out-sourced function can be activated via an experienced operator, with an entire infrastructure available at the click of a switch.  Technology supported by resilient bandwidth with enough capacity for the demands of the financial sector, including specific features such as call-recording and video-conferencing, are available at the touch of a button, without the need for third-parties and multiple support contracts.

Behind the space is the service. Trained customer service teams should not be added extras but commonplace expectations – consider IT support, in-house maintenance and on-tap concierge services to assist workforces throughout the day. Not only does this support senior management teams, but also helps to promote employee wellness and engagement across a structure. Hotel-like service will increasingly be brought into the workplace and should be embraced to help institutions perform, grow and succeed.

War for talent

‘The war for talent’ is a phrase increasingly heard across many businesses. For financial services, new brands in the market and increasing innovation mean that competition for the best graduates and senior leaders is fierce. With recent research by recruitment company Totaljobs finding that 84% of employees are calling for more flexible working arrangements, and that 75% of employers claim flexible working boosts retention rates, it is clearly a key weapon in a business’s armoury.

Whilst financial rewards will always be a primary driver for a workforce, employee experience is increasingly important. Interesting spaces, a sense of individuality, ownership of the working day and the ability to work in a productive, inspirational environment are front-of-mind issues for much of the UK’s rising talent. As such, even the most traditional institutions are having to adapt to new professional expectations and one way to succeed is with innovative workplaces. Breakout areas, hot-desking for productive working, and various collaborative spaces, including top-spec meeting rooms, create an enjoyable and enviable working environment.

Leveraging space

In London, addresses mean business. Many financial services firms need to be in a specific location for its amenities, but also for the value it can add to their business and its brand. Think hedge funds and Mayfair, insurance and EC3 and banking firms around Gresham Street and Bank station. Premises in these addresses may have been out of reach to some firms on a conventional office lease basis, but through a premium operator, firms of every size can benefit from the value added to their business from sought-after locations. Proximity to clients and other sector-specific businesses assist in creating a competitive edge and add credibility.

Additionally, discreet unbranded providers allow a firm to develop its own identity, whilst maximising the value of the quality address. For example, meetings can be held in premium conference rooms that align with a firm’s professional image, but that remain personal to them. What’s more, meetings do not have to be confined to a boardroom anymore. Businesses who work with flexible providers have scope to tailor the location to the client – enjoying informal meetings in impressive lounges, spectacular terraces or quiet Mayfair gardens.

The same applies to employees, who can enjoy all the benefits of a premium location with concierge-style service and features – all provided on tap by an operator.

Finally, for those that require the facilities and value of a premier postcode but are focused on the need to potentially add headcount, some providers are offering cluster portfolios. With buildings positioned together in core areas, it allows quick expansion to another building, even on the same road if needed, minimising disruption and maintaining the benefits of the area’s amenities and commuter connections during the process. Financial regulation may also require teams to be based separately and so, to keep satellite offices in close proximity but compliant with regulation, cluster portfolios can be particularly effective.

Offices in uncertainty

Brexit and wider global political and macro-economic uncertainty are key factors when considering short and medium-term growth plans. With this in mind, firms should not over-commit to space. By occupying a flexible office within a provider’s building, firms can be clever with their use of space; take a sensible sized permanent office but maximise the building’s meeting rooms, business lounges and breakout areas. Office providers who own their real estate are also sought-after in uncertain times. Firms can have faith in the business continuity of their supplier given the backing of a physical property. Experienced operators who have supported businesses through periods of turbulence, such as the financial crises of 2008/09, should also be considered. Finally, on the financial front, new accounting regulations require lease liabilities to be reported and so adopting a shorter-term licence may be an efficient way of limiting impact on the balance sheet, and not disrupting banking covenants or increasing risk.Managing costs will be a key focus for many and London’s flexible office market is well-equipped to support firms in achieving their targets.

Looking forward

Rethinking the way in which we work should permeate all sectors and markets. Flexible solutions for both a business and its employees will become increasingly commonplace, including within traditional financial services firms, and, as such, flexibility will no longer be perceived as a temporary solution. Offering flexible and innovative workplaces will prove crucial in the war for talent, in streamlining costs by leveraging services and addresses, and in remaining agile during times of uncertainty. With various forces shaping the current climate, clever thinking is needed to ensure competitiveness and ultimately success. Starting from the ground up and considering the four walls around you may hold the key to success for financiers in years to come.

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On a retro style milk truck, London entrepreneur chases a ‘zero waste’ future

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On a retro style milk truck, London entrepreneur chases a 'zero waste' future 1

By Natalie Thomas

LONDON (Reuters) – Heralded by the whirr of its underpowered electric engine and the clink of bottles stacked in crates on the back, Ella Shone’s ‘Topup Truck’ started life ferrying morning milk to the doorsteps of bleary-eyed Londoners.

Twenty years on, and the light vehicle known as a ‘milk float’ – once a ubiquitous sight on British streets – is enjoying a second career selling a range of goods and serving the 32-year-old’s quest to rid the city of single-use plastic.

“The fact that I’m driving around in a milk float does a lot for raising awareness in the local area,” said Shone, wearing a black beanie during her rounds in the borough of Hackney last week. “So now I’m operating at almost full capacity.”

Furloughed from her sales job during the coronavirus pandemic last spring, Shone used savings to start her new business, aiming to meet growing demand for household goods free of the plastic packaging used in supermarkets.

Customers book a visit from the ‘Topup Truck’ online and then purchase goods such as lentils, pasta, olive oil, shampoo or washing up liquid using their own containers.

From a low base a decade ago, the market for such unpackaged bulk goods could hit at least 1.2 billion euros ($1.5 billion) by 2030 in the European Union, according to a report https://zerowasteeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/2020_06_30_zwe_pfs_executive_study.pdf by Zero Waste Europe, an anti-waste network.

While handling the logistics can be a challenge, Shone calculates that her service has eliminated the need for at least 12,700 pieces of plastic since it launched in August.

Planning a crowdfunder to retrofit her milk float to enable her to serve a greater range of products to more communities, Shone hopes her novel approach will inspire others to find creative ways to tackle waste.

“If we want to have real change, it has to be a collective effort,” she said.

($1 = 0.8218 euros)

(Writing by Matthew Green, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

 

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Lufthansa adds more summer holiday destinations in bet on recovery

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Lufthansa adds more summer holiday destinations in bet on recovery 2

BERLIN (Reuters) – Lufthansa is adding more holiday destinations to its summer flight schedule from Germany in anticipation of a strong rebound in bookings, it said on Thursday, betting COVID-19 vaccines and testing will soon make vacation travel possible.

Germany’s largest airline said it was planning to add around 20 new destinations from Frankfurt and 13 from Munich to locations such as the Caribbean, the Canary Islands and Greece.

COVID-19 vaccines and testing, along with strict hygiene rules at airports and on planes, will be prerequisites for travel this summer, it said.

“We expect many countries to relax travel restrictions towards the summer as more and more people have been vaccinated,” Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister said in a statement.

Hohmeister said the airline, which secured a 9 billion euro ($11 billion) state bailout last year, expects a sharp increase in demand once restrictions are lifted.

Concerned about more transmissible coronavirus mutations, many European Union countries have reinstated border controls in what is normally a passport-free travel zone.

“There is a great yearning for travel and we believe that the summer months will reflect this,” Hohmeister added.

In Britain, holiday bookings soared this week after the government laid out plans to gradually relax coronavirus restrictions, giving battered airlines and tour operators hope that a bumper summer could come to their rescue.

Plans for relaxing coronavirus travel restrictions have not been announced yet in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to discuss lockdown options with the head of the regional governments next Wednesday.

Lufthansa, which said in January it was losing a million euros every two hours, is due to publish its fourth quarter results on March 4.

($1 = 0.8187 euros)

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa and Ilona Wissenbach. Editing by Mark Potter)

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TRUiC Evaluates The Latest Additions to Registered Agents in the US

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TRUiC Evaluates The Latest Additions to Registered Agents in the US 3

The US is still the top choice for new businesses that have a global focus. That is not to say that they are all physically located there. Despite the pandemic creating challenges for startups seeking investment, many are still steaming ahead. More and more, companies from Europe and Asia dominate Amazon and other distribution chains in the US via a US registered entity that relies on a registered agent. What should you know about registered agents?

When forming an LLC, there are a few additions to registered agent services in 2021 that could be extremely helpful to ensure that you always maintain your privacy, never miss important mail, and make you aware of legal obligations that may occur without being too costly or complicated. When you are launching a startup as an entrepreneur, it is vital to decide which registered agent service as they act as a point of contact between a business and a state and will greatly benefit your small business in the long-term.

In short, a registered agent will primarily act as your business’s main channel of communication with your states’ government. A non-profit, corporation or LLC can appoint a registered agent service to receive government correspondence, compliance documents on behalf of the business, and service of process – which is arguably the most important role of a registered agent as this informs an entity or individual of an impending lawsuit against him/her or the company.

Suggested video – What is a Registered Agent by TRUiC:

Next will be a review and comparison between the features of the best online business services of 2021 to see which is the top registered agent service when forming an LLC:

Rocket Lawyer

Assisting in the formation of over 800,000 businesses, partnerships with experienced legal professionals like Rocket Lawyer makes for a great option to serve as your registered agent service, all thanks to their 100% satisfaction guarantee. Although their services cost slightly more, they can still provide a full year for free if you subscribe to their Accelerate legal service plan for $49.95/month. Additional benefits include:

  • The company is supported by Google Ventures
  • Norton Web Security Protection & Information website
  • Legal Services Pan which includes consultations with business attorneys

Incfile

Classified as high-quality registered agent services and boasting over 150,000 customers served since 200, Incfile offers lower prices and a free subscription for one year with any incorporation filing purchase. They also provide their clients with a user -friendly website, that is protected by Norton Web Security, and free information available in their Learning Centre.

Northwest Registered Agent

If industry experience and premium customer support are important to you then the following might be the best service for you. Established in 1998, Northwest Registered Agent has made a name for themselves and is one of TRUiCs’ top picks as they are known to being the most friendly LLC service available. Not only do they provide the best email/phone support, but they also locally scan every document you receive, ensuring that you will never miss paperwork and eradicating surprises.

Harbor Compliance

Whilst getting great customer support and a unique dashboard, Harbor Compliance’s registered agent services will also offer discounts to their customers who pay up-front for multiple years and service to those in multiple states. Plus:

  • Website protection by Norton and Trustwave
  • Free compliance guides and whitepapers
  • Document delivery and scanning on the same day

ZenBusiness

After careful consideration of many other registered agent services, ZenBusiness has been rated best. This small business formation service was founded in 2015 by a team of entrepreneurs who cracked the code to the barriers that others continue to face today and help their respective clients launch their businesses successfully.

Not only will the start of your enterprise go smoothly, but they will also help you stay compliant with government laws, accept service of process and other tax and legal documents, and provide you with an overall peace-of-mind so you can focus all your time and energy on running your business.

LegalZoom

Although LegalZoom is the costliest of these options, they had to be mentioned as this registered agent service has extensive experience and capabilities with an informative and North Secure Website and a broad range of business services. Boasting with a large platform of nearly 4 million customers, LegalZoom may be more convenient for you if you have other legal services operating through them as well.

Why should you designate a registered agent service for your business?

By appointing a suitable registered agent service you will be able to maintain your privacy, be alerted to legal obligations that may crop up without breaking the bank or complicating things, and these registered agent services will ensure that you never miss a beat when it comes to crucial paperwork and delivery of important documents. There really aren’t many downsides to working with an online registered agent service provider, and the penalties for not having a registered agent heavily outweigh the cost.

 

This is a Sponsored Feature.

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