Written by Charlie Mayes, Managing Director, DAV Management
I was recently reading in Forbes Magazine that the U.S. has had the best first quarter for mergers since 2000 with $414.7 billion, and it was the best first quarter ever for Asia (non-Japan) M&A with $199.7 billion. In fact, the first quarter of 2015 will go down as the richest first quarter for mergers and acquisitions since Q1 2007. According to data from Thomson Reuters there has already been more than $843 billion in global M&A activity this year. That’s 23.3% higher than the $694 billion of M&A activity in the first quarter of last year, and nearly 72% higher than Q1 2013.
All the pundits are suggesting that there are some unavoidable pressures that will prompt further consolidation as companies have to buy or be bought to achieve growth in a low interest rate climate. Here in the UK we’re already seeing this with BT’s £12.5bn takeover of the British mobile player EE. This has started a game of chess in the telecoms sector which has rivals scrambling to play their next move.
On the face of it this all sounds like good news, especially as it’s hard to escape the feeling that 2014 was the year of the deals that never were, with lots of promise but less action. So while the telecoms, media, technology and healthcare sectors are dealmakers’ favourites, M&A activity is anticipated to spread to other sectors in 2015 that have, until now, had a lacklustre pace of deals.
One huge driver of M&A this year is expected to be the slump in commodity prices, and with mining and natural resources companies accounting for 20 percent of all London-listed companies, a wave of merger mania is set to hit the City. In the last month oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has agreed a £47bn takeover of gas group BG in one of the biggest deals seen in the oil and gas sector in the last 20 years. It will create a company worth more than £200bn. In this case, the rationale for the deal appears to relate to gaining access to BG Group’s oil and gas reserves rather than any internal or market efficiencies that can be gained. If commodity prices stay low this year, we may be seeing more of this, creating a different approach to any merger.
But whilst M&A activity has had its largest first quarter since 2000, the actual number of global deals was down slightly year-over-year, from 9,402 to 8,926. This continues the trend from 2014 when global deal value increased at a much higher rate than deal volume, largely caused by a large number of mega-deals. I believe this is also down to the fact that a lot of acquirers have learned the lessons of the past and are being more selective with their targets, paying more attention to finding the right strategic fit. So, while the deal volume has not increased as anticipated, they are willing to pay a premium for targets that meet their selection criteria and growth plans. Companies are getting more cautious on the quality of deals. In fact, right now I would say that quality trumps quantity as investors get more critical and request more robust growth strategies and better returns.
Even as we move into a more positive economic climate the mantra is that acquisitions must be made to work. This means adopting the right approach from the start and managing a properly structured process through to the realisation of the envisaged benefits. This is true even in the case of Shell’s acquisition of BG Group where, despite the simplicity of the deal rationale, there are two huge business operations to merge and undoubted improvements in organisational efficiency and effectiveness to be found.
One of the problems for most M&As is that beyond the headline announcement of the deal, many simply fail to deliver the business value anticipated. It’s a sobering fact that M&As are actually more likely to destroy shareholder value than create it. According to some reports, between 50 and 70 percent of M&As either fail outright or fall short of their desired goals.
One of the most common causes of failure is that the acquiring organisation simply doesn’t manage the end to end M&A process effectively. While the overall strategy and up front due-diligence may be very solid, it’s the execution that goes off the rails. Nowhere is this experienced more acutely than in the business and IT integration aspects of a merger which ultimately determines the degree to which any M&A transaction will succeed. In many sectors a large percentage of all merger synergies are dependent directly upon IT and in some, particularly financial services, it is the IT integration process that effectively drives the merger timetable. It’s therefore concerning to learn that there is a long list of merged organisations who’ve struggled and in some cased failed to integrate their IT infrastructure effectively, resulting in a significant impact on the merger economics.
Why is this? Well, IT programmes on this scale are complex and involve big money. It’s also questionable whether many organisations actually have the necessary skills and experience in-house to plan and manage such challenging tasks. Although there is limited data available on the financial results of M&A driven major systems programmes, anecdotal evidence suggests that many suffer substantial overruns, do not deliver the desired outcomes, and are effectively written off.
Unfortunately, in many cases, the hard graft of making a merger work usually only starts once the ink is dry on the deal. At this point the organisation belatedly realises the extent to which it needs to unify the business, its culture and processes. This often includes merging supporting systems such as back office systems and billing systems, and then consolidating IT platforms.
Whilst I am pleased that more due diligence appears to be taking place to identify the right target at the outset, this is only one part of the success of an M&A and executive management must start planning the integration activities before the deal is completed to understand where the risks to successful realisation of value lie. In my experience, integrating the IT systems and business processes of two merged companies is no different to any other business change programme.
Success factors include:
- Meticulous planning – identifying the risks upfront
- Managing the programme in a structured way
- Knowing what the business objectives are and understanding the vision
- Defining the benefits and goals for the business and then focusing on their realisation
- Ensuring stakeholders are closely managed and communications are regular, relevant and clear.
Irrespective of the reasons for the undertaking it, there really is no short-cut to making M&A integration work. It requires pace and clarity in the planning and then execution of your plans, effective due diligence, a viable integration plan, and then having the programme management capability on board to deliver it. With ‘merger mania’ on the agenda for 2015 those organisations that can successfully incorporate these principles into their merger methodology will be the ones that position themselves most effectively to take advantage of the deals to be had.
How payments can help streamline operations and boost customer satisfaction in the vending industry
By Darren Anderson, Business Development Manager, Self Service, Ingenico Enterprise Retail
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an astounding impact on the payments industry, causing cash usage to plummet as contactless and card-not-present volumes soared. Of course, this phenomenon was not unforeseen by payments professionals, who had predicted such a movement away from cash, but not at the speed the virus guidelines facilitated. In fact, due in part to the hygiene perks of contactless payment methods increasing its adoption, 50% of customers think that cash will disappear completely at some point in the future.
The unattended market was ahead of the pandemic in terms of contactless alternative payment method (APM) adoption, and it continues to upgrade its offerings to suit a wider range of industries. Nevertheless, the pain point for vending operators is that they’re often not sure exactly how these technologies work, or how to implement them. And with payments offerings constantly evolving, it’s becoming harder for vending operators to know which solution would be the best fit for their business.
As such, one easy way for vending operators to ease this load is to partner with a knowledgeable payments advisor who can not only provide the best solutions for their business, but guide them through the process and any need-to-knows. It’s also important to investigate the payments trends across the vending market, what the future might bring and what vending operators need to know about newer payments technology and the value it can bring to their unattended retail business operations.
Vending through the pandemic
Coronavirus has impacted the unattended market in various ways. In some cases, vending machine use has decreased as a result of lower footfall and closed premises. However, the nature of vending being self-service, for many it’s just been a case of upgrading systems to meet new guidelines and hygiene recommendations to start boosting their usage again. As cash usage decreased over the course of the pandemic, cards and APMs stepped in to provide a host of benefits, and as customers use and enjoy these seamless technologies, they are fast becoming the preference.
These developments have provided the opportunity for vending operators to embrace newer technologies which, although ultimately positive, can prove daunting if such retailers are not accustomed to working closely with payments. Fortunately, the vending market is in a great position to take advantage of new contactless technologies, being already low on human interaction and having 24/7 capabilities.
What’s more, the market can not only cater to consumers’ evolving needs, but it can also provide the flexibility and reliability that consumers are relying on as the world around them is changing. Many new technologies can also improve the general operations and management of vending, offering features such as easier on-the-go stock management and maintenance notification technology.
Keeping the consumer in mind
Consumers today want to enjoy the latest innovations and best-in-class customer experiences. These shoppers believe that self-service is a time-saver, and they also view cashless and contactless as faster and more seamless ways to pay – a fact which is reflected in the recent consumer demand for a wider variety of APMs. Customers now expect even more options to pay for their goods and services, from QR codes, to in-app payments and more.
Alongside the cashless trend, data-security and customer experience are two other factors driving the vending market evolution. With constantly evolving fraud developments in the online world, good security is more pertinent than ever, and has to be a central consideration to vending operators – as well as ensuring a seamless customer experience.
From a customer usage standpoint, mobile payments are becomingly increasing popular, as driven by the Gen Z market. According to our research, 63% of Gen Zers have said they would pay more for a mobile experience.
Trust and a good experience are also considerable factors across all customer groups, with 95% of customers claiming their loyalties lie with a company they trust, and 86% willing to pay more for a positive experience.
To appeal to ever-hungry consumers, vending operators need to provide the options they want. In the unattended market, this is relatively simple – not only do they provide a convenient and reliable method of payment for customers, but they also avoid face-to-face interaction. They can also supply a range of different products and accept a variety of payment methods to appeal to all customers, no matter their preference.
Using payments to drive revenue
Driving revenue is a two-pronged approach – you need to appeal to customers to keep them coming, and streamline operations to reduce overheads. In order to meet both parties’ expectations, it’s important to respond well to new vending challenges, taking note of the solutions that enable merchants to provide their customers with the payment methods they prefer.
Payments are complicated, so there’s no need to worry if you’re not hugely familiar with the offering out there, or unsure where to start – that’s where a payment service provider (PSP) can assist. With the expertise that a PSP brings, along with the technological solutions they offer, vending operators can improve customer journeys in all unattended environments.
Such technological solutions are flexible and can cater to specific business needs, while providing easy, quick, and secure payment methods that protect both the business and the customer’s personal data. They can also improve operational efficiency, increasing business performance with features such as real-time reporting and smart transaction management, to provide a best-in-class customer experience.
With smart devices, a secure gateway and advanced acquiring capabilities, PSPs can help vending operators design a flexible vending solution tailored to their individual and specific needs. To find out more about unattended retail and how your company can benefit from Ingenico’s unique expert knowledge, get in contact with Ingenico Enterprise Retail today at www.ingenico.com/smartselfvending.
ISO 20022 migration: full speed ahead despite recent delays, says new Deutsche Bank paper
Today, Deutsche Bank has released the third installment in its “Guide to ISO 20022 migration” series, which offers a comprehensive update on the industry shift to the de facto global standard for financial messaging: ISO 20022. This paper comes at a critical time for the ISO 20022 migration, with a number of changes to existing timelines and strategies from SWIFT and the world’s major market infrastructures having been announced this year.
The paper explores the latest developments, including SWIFT’s year-long postponement of the migration in the correspondent banking space. The decision meets industry calls for a delay and also provides ample time to build the new central Transaction Management Platform (TMP) – a core feature of SWIFT’s new strategy that will allow the industry to move away from point-to-point messaging and towards central transaction processing.
It also details the wave of action that has been seen by market infrastructures around the world – with many, including the ECB, EBA CLEARING and the Bank of England, announcing revised migration approaches.
“Now more than ever, with shifting timelines and strained resources, it is vital that banks and corporates alike do not view the ISO 20022 migration as just another project that can be put on the back burner,” says Christian Westerhaus, Head of Cash Products, Cash Management, Deutsche Bank. “The delays in the correspondent banking space, and across several market infrastructures, should not be seen as an opportunity for banks to take their foot off the pedal. The journey to ISO 20022 is still moving ahead at speed – and internal projects need to reflect this.”
The Guide also highlights the implementation issues on the migration journey ahead – most notably surrounding interoperability between market infrastructures, usage guidelines and messaging formats. This is achieved through a series of deep dives, case studies, and points of attention drawn from Deutsche Bank’s internal analysis.
“As this year has proved, nothing is set in stone, “says Paula Roels, Head of Market Infrastructure & Industry Initiatives, Deutsche Bank. “The ISO 20022 migration involves a lot of moving parts and keeping abreast of the latest developments is critical for banks and corporates alike. As the deadlines near, and the ISO 20022 story develops, this series of guides will continue to highlight key points for consideration over the coming years.”
The Psychology Behind a Strong Security Culture in the Financial Sector
By Javvad Malik, Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4
Banks and financial industries are quite literally where the money is, positioning them as prominent targets for cybercriminals worldwide. Unfortunately, regardless of investments made in the latest technologies, the Achilles heel of these institutions is their employees. Often times, a human blunder is found to be a contributing factor of a security breach, if not the direct source. Indeed, in the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, miscellaneous errors were found vying closely with web application attacks for the top cause of breaches affecting the financial and insurance sector. A secretary may forward an email to the wrong recipient or a system administrator may misconfigure firewall settings. Perhaps, a user clicks on a malicious link. Whatever the case, the outcome is equally dire.
Having grown acutely aware of the role that people play in cybersecurity, business leaders are scrambling to establish a strong security culture within their own organisations. In fact, for many leaders across the globe, realising a strong security culture is of increasing importance, not solely for fear of a breach, but as fundamental to the overall success of their organisations – be it to create customer trust or enhance brand value. Yet, the term lacks a universal definition, and its interpretation varies depending on the individual. In one survey of 1,161 IT decision makers, 758 unique definitions were offered, falling into five distinct categories. While all important, these categories taken apart only feature one aspect of the wider notion of security culture.
With an incomplete understanding of the term, many organisations find themselves inadvertently overconfident in their actual capabilities to fend off cyberthreats. This speaks to the importance of building a single, clear and common definition from which organisations can learn from one another, benchmark their standing and construct a comprehensive security programme.
Defining Security Culture: The Seven Dimensions
In an effort to measure security culture through an objective, scientific method, the term can be broken down into seven key dimensions:
- Attitudes: Formed over time and through experiences, attitudes are learned opinions reflecting the preferences an individual has in favour or against security protocols and issues.
- Behaviours: The physical actions and decisions that employees make which impact the security of an organisation.
- Cognition: The understanding, knowledge and awareness of security threats and issues.
- Communication: Channels adopted to share relevant security-related information in a timely manner, while encouraging and supporting employees as they tackle security issues.
- Compliance: Written security policies and the extent that employees adhere to them.
- Norms: Unwritten rules of conduct in an organisation.
- Responsibilities: The extent to which employees recognise their role in sustaining or endangering their company’s security.
All of these dimensions are inextricably interlinked; should one falter so too would the others.
The Bearing of Banks and Financial Institutions
Collecting data from over 120,000 employees in 1,107 organisations across 24 countries, KnowBe4’s ‘Security Culture Report 2020’ found that the banking and financial sectors were among the best performers on the security culture front, with a score of 76 out of a 100. This comes as no surprise seeing as they manage highly confidential data and have thus adopted a long tradition of risk management as well as extensive regulatory oversight.
Indeed, the security culture posture is reflected in the sector’s well-oiled communication channels. As cyberthreats constantly and rapidly evolve, it is crucial that effective communication processes are implemented. This allows employees to receive accurate and relevant information with ease; having an impact on the organisation’s ability to prevent as well as respond to a security breach. In IBM’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach study, the average reported response time to detect a data breach is 207 days with an additional 73 days to resolve the situation. This is in comparison to the financial industry’s 177 and 56 days.
Moreover, with better communication follows better attitude – both banking and financial services scored 80 and 79 in this department, respectively. Good communication is integral to facilitating collaboration between departments and offering a reminder that security is not achieved solely within the IT department; rather, it is a team effort. It is also a means of boosting morale and inspiring greater employee engagement. As earlier mentioned, attitudes are evaluations, or learned opinions. Therefore, by keeping employees informed as well as motivated, they are more likely to view security best practices favourably, adopting them voluntarily.
Predictably, the industry ticks the box on compliance as well. The hefty fines issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the past year alone, including Capital One’s $80 million penalty, probably play a part in keeping financial institutions on their toes.
Nevertheless, there continues to be room for improvement. As it stands, the overall score of 76 is within the ‘moderate’ classification, falling a long way short of the desired 90-100 range. So, what needs fixing?
Towards Achieving Excellence
There is often the misconception that banks and financial institutions are well-versed in security-related information due to their extensive exposure to the cyber domain. However, as the cognition score demonstrates, this is not the case – dawdling in the low 70s. This illustrates an urgent need for improved security awareness programmes within the sector. More importantly, employees should be trained to understand how this knowledge is applied. This can be achieved through practical exercises such as simulated phishing, for example. In addition, training should be tailored to the learning styles as well as the needs of each individual. In other words, a bank clerk would need a completely different curriculum to IT staff working on the backend of servers.
By building on cognition, financial institutions can instigate a sense of responsibility among employees as they begin to recognise the impact that their behaviour might have on the company. In cybersecurity, success is achieved when breaches are avoided. In a way, this negative result removes the incentive that typically keeps employees engaged with an outcome. Training methods need to take this into consideration.
Then there are norms and behaviours, found to have strong correlations with one another. Norms are the compass from which individuals refer to when making decisions and negotiating everyday activities. The key is recognising that norms have two facets, one social and the other personal. The former is informed by social interactions, while the latter is grounded in the individual’s values. For instance, an accountant may connect to the VPN when working outside of the office to avoid disciplinary measures, as opposed to believing it is the right thing to do. Organisations should aim to internalise norms to generate consistent adherence to best practices irrespective of any immediate external pressures. When these norms improve, behavioural changes will reform in tandem.
Building a robust security culture is no easy task. However, the unrelenting efforts of cybercriminals to infiltrate our systems obliges us to press on. While financial institutions are leading the way for other industries, much still needs to be done. Fortunately, every step counts -every improvement made in one dimension has a domino effect in others.
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