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Miles Dean, Founder of Milestone International Tax Partners

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Miles Dean

The Times recent tax investigation has brought tax avoidance to the forefront of the public’s mind. Jimmy Carr, Gary Barlow, doctors, dentists, Conservative donors, film finance schemes – they’ve all been under the spotlight in recent weeks. Miles Dean, Founder of Milestone International Tax Partners LLP, helps us bring some sense to this latest media frenzy in the following Q&A report:Miles Dean

1. Let us start from the beginning. Comedian Jimmy Carr’s K2 tax scheme: how did it work?
From what I have seen in the media and in The Times, the K2 scheme appears to work as follows:  Jimmy Carr enters into an employment contract with a Jersey company that he neither controls nor manages. K2 would then, presumably, enter into a contract with various counterparties (perhaps Channel 4) for the provision of his services. The counterparties pay K2 the agreed contractual fee, K2 pays Carr his salary entitlement, which is subject to tax and NIC. The balance, less K2’s profit margin / spread (which would likely be a percentage of the gross turnover), is seemingly made available to Carr in the form of a loan. The company assigns this receivable to an offshore pension scheme that it has established for Jimmy Carr (and perhaps other employees) such that interest and capital payments are essentially made by the employee to a vehicle established for his own benefit. Assuming the loan is repayable and is not simply a sham arrangement the loan will not constitute taxable income (because it is a loan not income).

2. Given it was a legal loophole, as are all tax avoidance schemes, what is your stance on Carr’s embarrassing public climb-down after David Cameron labelled the scheme “morally wrong”?
I’m not sure who should be more embarrassed – the Prime Minister or Jimmy Carr. David Cameron was wrong in my opinion to wade into what is essentially a private matter between Carr, his advisers and HM Revenue & Customs.  Morality and taxation are not natural bedfellows and the current trend, that tax avoidance is morally repugnant, wrong etc., fails to take account of why individuals and companies seek out tax avoidance strategies.  Not to consider why the United Kingdom has a thriving tax avoidance industry is to fail to get to the heart of the matter.  As to Jimmy Carr’s climb-down:
–    He was probably advised by his management that he had to for the benefit of his career!
–    He was badly advised in the first place to enter into the K2 arrangement.
–    He will likely be very careful in the future.

3. Please explain how 1,300 doctors and dentists, as reported by The Times, have also not been paying the full amount of tax. They’re guilty of evasion, not avoidance, which is illegal, isn’t it?
No. Tax evasion and tax avoidance are not the same and are, in fact, miles apart from one another. If a dentist knowingly fails to declare his income on his tax return then he is committing tax evasion which is a crime. If, on the other hand, he makes an investment in a “financial product” that relies on a particular provision of the tax code to provide tax relief, he cannot be said to be committing evasion. His income from practice and the relief he obtains as a result of the investment will be declared on his tax return thus allowing HMRC to scrutinise his affairs. The fact that HMRC don’t believe the relief is available (for whatever reason) and subsequently deny relief, is in no way tax evasion.

4. Film finance schemes have been around for a while, and are quite well known. How do they work?
An Investor makes an investment into a partnership, with such an investment being funded by, say, 20 of the Investor’s own cash and 80 of bank debt).   The partnership in turn acquires assets that entitle the investor to claim an immediate tax deduction of 100 (for example, on the basis that the government of the day has decided that it is a good idea to encourage investment into a particular sector such as the British film industry or alternatively on the basis that interest costs on bank debt are paid upfront in the first year).

So, the Investor generates a tax deduction of, say, the full 100 in Year 1.  Assuming that the Investor pays income tax at 50% then that tax deduction of 100 generates a tax saving worth 50 in Year 1 (which is not bad considering the Investor has only put in 20 of his own cash).    In subsequent years, as income is earned by the structure, the Investor generates taxable income on which he will be taxed (assuming he remains UK resident).  So over time, the tax saving achieved in Year 1 may be reversed (assuming the Investor remains a UK resident person liable to income tax at the 50% rate).

Early incarnations of film finance schemes operated in a way such that, regardless of the performance of the film, the Investor’s return was of an amount equal to the initial contribution (plus a small margin).  The Investor could be said not to have been genuinely exposed to the risks and returns associated with the underlying film investment.   As HMRC have tightened the rules, the film scheme providers have adapted their schemes to introduce somewhat greater degrees of participation by the Investor in the underlying film investment.

5. We are particularly interested in the Icebreaker scheme that Gary Barlow and other members of Take That have allegedly used. How does this differ from the K2 scheme Jimmy Carr used?
On the one hand K2 is simply a non-UK structure through which Jimmy Carr has provided his services as an entertainer (or writer, or both). His primary source of income is that which he receives from K2. Gary Barlow, on the other hand, used the Icebreaker scheme to reduce his tax liability in respect of his primary source of income, i.e. record royalties.
Barlow could have chosen to structure his tax affairs using K2 and JC could have chosen an Icebreaker scheme to reduce his entertainment income.  The two schemes achieve a similar result, they just do this in different ways.

6. How is this scheme implemented by its consumers without the relevant tax authorities becoming aware?
The tax authorities are aware assuming the individuals concerned complete their self-assessment tax returns correctly – hence enquiries being opened by HM Revenue & Customs.  HMRC might not know in advance that Gary Barlow/Jimmy Carr are using their respective schemes because the schemes might not fall within the ambit of DOTAS (Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes).

7. Apart from the obvious, how does the Icebreaker scheme benefit the consumer?
Icebreaker operates in a similar way to the film schemes (except that the underlying investment is music).  So essentially the Investor gets an upfront tax deduction in Year 1, but taxable income arising in subsequent years.

8. Surely we should be less worried about single people’s tax affairs and more worried about multinational corporations who hardly pay any tax?
I think you have been listening to too many politicians.  Multinational Corporations employ many thousands of people, as a result of which they pay NICs, PAYE and indirect taxes (GST/VAT etc.).  They also pay tax on their profits: FTSE 100 companies pay an average ETR of 26%.
While some high-profile MNCs pay very little UK tax (well-known examples being Google and Amazon) this is due to the fact that they are web-based businesses. Their profit centres are low-tax jurisdictions whilst their UK operations tend to be cost centres.  We live in a global economy and MNCs are free to trade and invest where they want and how they want.

9. Do you think it is the relevant tax authorities, such as HM Revenue and Customs, not doing enough to prevent tax avoidance and evasion, or an inherent problem with Government policy that is allowing people to not pay their full allocation of tax?
No. To suggest that the tax system in the UK offers an easy ride is simply not true. The UK tax system is easily one of the most complex in the developed world, on a par with the United States. HMRC and the Government are constantly tackling tax abuse and closing loopholes that come to their attention on a regular basis (even prior to Budget Day). We have seen retrospective legislation in some cases, where the loss to the Exchequer is deemed significant enough – of itself this is a statement of intent.

In addition to this DOTAS was introduced in 2004 and has evolved and been extended since then to be more effective. A GAAR (General Anti Avoidance Rule) is also being introduced and this will undoubtedly have an effect on the way in which the tax avoidance industry positions itself. That said, it might be several years until any GAAR case is taken (cf. Canada and Ireland).

We should ask: What more could be done? We must take a close look at the tax system and question why tax avoidance is so prevalent in the UK. It might be something to do with the fact that entrepreneurs and the wealthy don’t believe they are getting good value for the tax that they pay, or that tax rates are 50% or more, or that personal allowances are eroded for the moderately wealthy and so on.  On the whole there is a belief among taxpayers that the tax system is simply not fair (or, perhaps, morally acceptable).

In my view, we should reduce the number of volumes that make up the tax code and simplify it – by anyone’s standards UK tax legislation is now impenetrable. Tax schemes are often “missold” to tax payers, especially individuals and small companies (who have no idea of the inherent risks or the extent HMRC will go to recover tax they consider should be paid). In many instances tax schemes are sold by IFA’s and accountants (reselling the scheme providers products for a “clip”). The FSA and ICAEW should perhaps consider their members’ role in the industry?

Miles Dean
Miles is a founder of Milestone International Tax Partners, having started his career in international tax in 1994. He is the co-author of International Tax Systems and Planning Techniques (Sweet & Maxwell) and The Principles of International Tax Planning (Corpus), as well as numerous academic articles.  Miles has a varied client base ranging from owner-managed businesses to international investment funds and real estate businesses. Miles has recently advised on a number of high-profile cross-border infrastructure and real estate transactions.  Miles specialises in finding bespoke, commercially workable solutions that create significant tax benefits for individual and corporate clients.

Milestone
Milestone is a boutique international tax practice established in Mayfair, London. The team comprises young, dynamic lawyers who have specialised in international tax throughout their careers. They specialise in International Corporate Transactions, International Investment Funds, Structure Finance, International Real Estate and Private Clients.

T: 020 7016 5480
E: [email protected]
W: www.milestonetax.com

 

 

 

Interviews

Round Table Feature – Attracting FDI at times of crisis

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Round Table Feature – Attracting FDI at times of crisis 1

In recent years the growth of Northern Ireland’s financial services sector has been fuelled by an unbeatable combination of world-class talent, highly competitive operating costs and research excellence in a low-risk, pro-business environment.

Of course, like many economies across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on Northern Ireland’s communities and many of its businesses. But, thanks to this quality combination, the sector has demonstrated remarkable resilience and continued to thrive, leading to sustained job creation and high-profile customer wins from some of its leading players, including Allstate, Citi and Aflac.

To examine the patterns behind this continued growth in the face of adversity, we recently hosted a ‘virtual roundtable’ with senior figures from established businesses across Northern Ireland’s financial services sector alongside the nation’s fintech envoy, Andrew Jenkins and Invest Northern Ireland’s Steve Harper.

Here, our panel explored the market qualities investing financial services companies look for and discussed the elements they believe a business should invest in to build resilience and as an in-market team during challenging times.

Meet the panel

John Healy – Vice President & Managing Director, Allstate Northern Ireland: John leads Allstate NI’s team of 2,200 experts. He has 25 years’ experience in technology, predominantly in the financial services domain. He has extensive experience at leading global teams, developing strategy and delivering solutions to address business and technology issues.

Keith Farley – Managing Director, Aflac Northern Ireland Ltd: Keith is responsible for setting up Aflac’s European Centre of Excellence. He has relocated to Belfast, UK and is creating a new organization that will offer both software development and cyber security solutions. With a goal of growing from 0 to 150 professionals in a few years, this team will be a critical part of Aflac’s global digital strategy.

Leigh Meyer – Head of Global FX/MM & EMEA Markets Operations Belfast Site Head Citibank: Leigh has worked for Citi for 22 years, covering a number of products from derivatives to FX.  He is also the Northern Ireland Chair for TheCityUK, a private-sector membership body and industry advocacy group promoting the financial and related professional services industry of the United Kingdom.

Darragh McCarthy –Founder and CEO, FinTrU. In 2013, after many years in the banking industry in London, New York and Frankfurt, Darragh founded FinTrU in Belfast having recognised the increased demand from global investment banks for high-quality resources to navigate the ever-increasing regulatory landscape. The company employs over 600 people in Belfast and Derry-Londonderry. 

Steve Harper, Executive Director International Invest Northern Ireland Steve’s role at Invest NI, the region’s main development organisation, is to promote trade and inward investment into the area.

Q&A

What has been your experience as a financial services business operating in Northern Ireland during COVID-19?

Leigh Meyer, Citi NI: As a global company we have been fortunate to have the technology infrastructure to move almost our entire workforce to work from home successfully with little change to our day to day operations. In Northern Ireland, this means we continue to hire, and have successfully on boarded 172 new employees to Citi Belfast virtually over the last four months. The result has been that our client support was largely uninterrupted and continued to give our fullest care and attention in very tough times.

Keith Farley, Aflac NI: As a technology company, we have been very fortunate to have 100% of staff work remotely with minimal disruption. We were also able to continue hiring during the pandemic – more than doubling the size of our team from 19 employees in March to 50 in August.

Darragh McCarthy  FinTrU: Likewise. We made the decision in early March to facilitate 100% of our employees to begin working from home. The infrastructure in Northern Ireland has allowed us to manage this transition smoothly and maintain our productivity with client delivery.

What initially attracted you to Northern Ireland as a destination for your business?

Keith Farley, Aflac NI: We were attracted to Northern Ireland for many reasons, but it really boiled down to three words we have painted on our wall: Resilient, Reinventive and Adaptable. While these words reference the long history Belfast and the nation have in agility, they were proven once again proven during this pandemic.

John Healy OBE, Allstate NI: The availability of skilled technologists was the main reason for setting up an off-shore location in Northern Ireland over 20 years ago.  The original plan was to create a workforce of 200 but the quality of the people and skills available has meant that we have grown to a multi-site operation with 2,400 employees in Belfast and the North West.

Leigh Meyer, Citi NI: Put simply, its value proposition. Northern Ireland offers skilled people, competitive costs, great infrastructure and high standard of living, all with close proximity to London, the European, Middle East and Africa region. The nation also benefits from a central time zone ideal for supporting Asia, North and South America.

Darragh McCarthy, FinTrU: In Northern Ireland, there is an incredible opportunity to partner with leading academic institutions including Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, Belfast Metropolitan College and North West Regional College.

FinTrU has undoubtedly benefited from these mutual partnerships with our Financial Services and Legal Academies providing local graduates with the opportunity to work on the global stage with the largest Investment Banks in the world.

How can regions support businesses to be more resilient during crises like the pandemic?

Leigh Meyer, Citi NI: Regions can help ensure that the infrastructure is robust, scalable and fit for purpose – this applies to both physical and technical infrastructure. It is also essential that policy makers give clear guidance on what health and safety measures they require, to boost the confidence of people travelling to and from work and in their everyday lives.

Keith Farley, Aflac NI: We believe that investments in infrastructure continue to be critical, especially urban and rural internet connectivity as we shift to more flexible work environments.

Darragh McCarthy, FinTrU: In terms of the Financial Services industry, I feel crisis management and leadership is crucial. Having a clear strategy in place from the top can help alleviate the anxieties that others will face during a period of crisis. Regions can help businesses to be further resilient through investment in appropriate infrastructure to allow for the transition from office to homeworking in all areas across Northern Ireland.

What have external organisations (like Invest NI) been able to offer in terms of support?

Keith Farley, Aflac NI: Invest NI has been a great partner in introducing us to the region and the opportunities that exist here to hire world-class technology talent in a business-friendly environment.

Leigh Meyer, Citi NI: We have been in touch with our Client Manager throughout the pandemic. Invest NI has supported Citi from 2005, starting with the initial inward investment feasibility study and financial assistance to help expand the workforce in Belfast and training and development costs. We are also engaged with the NI Chamber of Commerce, CBI NI, Belfast City Council and universities and schools for exchange of ideas, support, driving the business agenda for the country.

Steve Harper, Invest Northern Ireland: We have worked hard to ensure that all businesses benefit from being part of Northern Ireland’s diverse economy, embedded resilience and agility. Even during the height of the pandemic, we were able to work closely with the Department of Finance and the Business Services Organisation to help match NI companies with government calls for much needed medical equipment and PPE. We received over 300 offers from businesses who expressed interest in supporting the fight against COVID-19 by developing prototypes and products for testing to ensure they comply with regulations. Many then went on to receive orders for PPE, ventilators, testing and sanitiser.

Darragh McCarthy, FinTrU: We made the decision to not avail of any COVID-19 Governmental sponsored support initiatives or furlough any employees due to our ongoing growth. However, the resources provided by Invest NI such as the ‘Recover’ support which include ‘HR advice to build skills’, ‘Build resilience through leadership capability’, ‘Invest in ICT solutions and technologies’ and ‘Operation excellence to adapt to COVID-19’ demonstrates its commitment to the companies that have invested in Northern Ireland.

Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, what do you think are the challenges and opportunities facing the financial services sector?

Keith Farley, Aflac NI: We are going to need to work together with employees to ensure they feel safe traveling to work, knowing that their safety is a priority, but also that people want to return to a city that is open for business. We also need to learn from the pandemic to make our work environment safer, more inclusive and flexible. As a community, we recognised the impact we have on each other, as well as the importance of human interaction. We should not take that for granted again.

Steve Harper, Invest Northern Ireland: The resilience and agility demonstrated by businesses in the local financial services sector – and beyond – throughout the crisis really sets our region apart as a positive force and a lucrative location for business. This couldn’t have been achieved without its diverse business landscape, supportive environment, and of course, its excellent calibre of people. As we move forward, I strongly believe that this experience has unleashed a renewed sense of purpose and a collaborative and enterprising spirit that will serve us well as we recover and look forward – and these are qualities that this new world absolutely needs.

Darragh McCarthy, FinTrU: Social distancing and remote working from home can leave people feeling isolated, especially those who are away from their families. At FinTrU, we invest heavily in our company culture and pay careful attention to ensure that it is not lost whilst we are working away from the office. It is important for businesses to consider the challenges faced by their people and to have empathy towards situations that may be experienced by others.

What do you think financial services organisations will look for going forward, when it comes to investing in new markets?

John Healy, Allstate NI: The financial services industry has seen dramatic technology-led changes over the past few years. Many have looked to improve efficiency and implement game-changing innovation, while seeking ways to lower costs. Meanwhile, Fintech start-ups are disrupting established markets, leading with customer-centric solutions developed from the ground up. To best serve our industry, markets will need highly skilled technologists in a range of areas: Blockchain, Robotics, AI, Cloud and Cyber Security, to name but a few. There must be collaboration between government, education and industry to prepare and sustain the skills that are required now and in the future.

Steve Harper, Invest Northern Ireland: Quality digital connectivity has proven essential during the crisis, and, as our lives move increasingly online, for these organisations it will become as critical to economic sustainability and growth as water and electricity are to our everyday lives today. Wherever you go around the world, those places that have invested in solid digital foundations have, in most cases, proven to be the most resilient. This is because digital services and solutions underpin innovation and productivity, as well as businesses’ ability to scale.

Leigh Meyer, Citi NI: Finance businesses value the ability to relocate staff effectively, source new talent and offer rewarding careers. We look closely at the broader legal, regulatory and tax regime. The UK’s operating environment needs to remain competitive, not least as the Brexit transition phase comes to an end. A robust infrastructure is also important, particularity digital/tech infrastructure in this current climate as we evolve our methods of training our employees to virtual. 

Darragh McCarthy, FinTrU: Without the correct infrastructure, it would not have been possible for businesses such as FinTrU to adapt to a situation like COVID-19. This robust connectivity and investment in technology will be a very important consideration for any company when investing in a new market. However, risk and cybersecurity represent an important area for Financial Services organisations to consider. This industry is more reliant than ever on technology, and a lack of risk management or compliance can cost an organisation greatly.

Finally, I feel the most important consideration for a company when it comes to investing in a new market is the people. The talented workforce will make up your organisation in terms of the client delivery as well as shaping the company culture.

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Is the upskilling of compliance teams in financial services the key to delivering fast and effective identity verification?

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Is the upskilling of compliance teams in financial services the key to delivering fast and effective identity verification? 2

By Charlie Roberts, Head of Business Development, UK, Ireland & EU at IDnow

With the global pandemic driving the world’s population online, identity fraud is becoming increasingly attractive to criminals. In 2019, even before COVID-19 struck, the UK fraud prevention service – Cifas – recorded in excess of 223,000 cases on its National Fraud Database, an increase of 18 percent on the previous year and a 32 percent rise over the previous five years. And looking ahead, experts predict that by 2021, the damage caused by internet fraud will reach $6 trillion, making cyber fraud one of the world’s fastest growing and most dangerous economic crimes.

Of particular concern for the financial services sector, is IBM’s recent report which revealed that in 2019, it was the most targeted industry for cyber criminals.

As a result, perhaps unsurprisingly, financial institutions are increasingly being thrust into the spotlight when it comes to digital security and protecting the identities of their customers.

These worrying figures are certainly one driving factor in the UK government’s new Digital Identity Strategy Board, which has developed six principles to strengthen digital identity delivery and policy in the country.

So how can financial institutions tackle the growing problem of cyber crime? We caught up with Charlie Roberts, Head of Business Development UK&I at IDnow, to talk about the importance of upskilling inhouse teams in a bid to deliver fast and effective identity verification.

What is the benefit of taking a hybrid approach to identity verification?

Charlie Roberts

Charlie Roberts

We already know the important role technology is playing in the fight against cyber criminality – from biometrics and machine learning to artificial intelligence (AI) – and we recently discussed the significance of supplementing this verification technology with human identification experts. These professionals are able to use their intuition and understanding of human interactions and behaviours to identify when a person is being coerced or dishonest.

However, while these highly skilled and trained identification specialists are playing a vital role in the fight against cyber and identity crime, for some financial institutions, particularly larger banks, they present a barrier.

How will owning the entire verification process benefit financial institutions?

Working on a SaaS basis, typically, identity software vendors provide financial institutions with the software and technology required for identity verification however, the final decision on verification rests with the vendor’s algorithms or ident specialists.

However, many banks want to own the entire verification process, from utilising the technology and software to making the ultimate decision on the identity of a person. By handing this level of control over to the bank, institutions can integrate the verification systems within their own infrastructure, enabling the people that know their brand the best to set their own levels of security and determine what is authenticated and what is declined.

Why should banks consider upskilling inhouse compliance teams?

While working with a third-party verification specialist is the preferred option for some, for others, the idea of upskilling and training existing compliance teams in identity verification is the priority, empowering the bank to own the process and the risk. Long term, it will also provide significant cost savings while showcasing a major investment in talent and people, which will undoubtedly help attract and retain customers too.

Is the time right to invest in inhouse identity verification systems?

With the UK seeking to develop a legal framework for digital identity, it is clearly becoming an increasingly important feature on the governmental agenda, not least to ensure that not only can people feel safe online, but also to deliver faster transactions and ultimately add billions to the economy. As such, all eyes will soon be turning to the safeguards the financial sector is putting in place to help protect the online identities of customers.

Arguably then, now is the time to invest in a robust identity verification system that will not only provide the advanced technology needed to automate the process, but that can help train and upskill inhouse teams to truly deliver an embedded and hybrid approach to identity verification at a time when it is of paramount importance.

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ZeroBounce COO Brian Minick Talks Email Marketing and Deliverability

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ZeroBounce COO Brian Minick Talks Email Marketing and Deliverability 3

For a channel that’s been deemed “dead” by some, email marketing is doing more than well. You can expect an average return of $42 for every dollar you invest. But what does it take to achieve such a high performance?

In this exclusive interview, ZeroBounce Chief Operating Officer Brian Minick breaks down the main ingredients of successful email campaigns. With more than 10 years of experience in Operations, Minick and his team are currently helping thousands of email senders across the world land in the inbox. Let’s see what he has to say about improving inbox placement, engagement, and email marketing ROI.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in email marketing this year?  

So many facets of the economy and the world have slowed down drastically or even stalled completely, but one thing showing no sign of stopping is email marketing. Email marketing is doing better than ever, but there are also new challenges that go along with this year.

Email engagement has gone up 200 percent since the pandemic hit. With everything being pushed online, it makes sense that businesses and people are heavily relying on email.

However, that’s not to say email marketing hasn’t suffered in other ways. There has been a massive increase in what we refer to in the industry as “churn.” Many were laid off or placed on leave. With their email addresses removed or abandoned, this has resulted in a rapid decline in email list quality.

Those bouncing emails lead to lost opportunities if companies don’t validate their lists regularly. Especially for the B2B sector, taking measures to restore email hygiene is paramount during these months.

How has ZeroBounce adapted to these changes to stay relevant in the market? 

For starters, we can easily help senders identify the bad email addresses once they get turned off. It’s important for many reasons, and one is to make sure you’re reaching real people.

Apart from that, we recognized our customers needed more tools to make their email marketing successful. So, this year, we launched three deliverability tools: a mail server tester, blacklist monitoring and an inbox placement tester. They all help marketers detect potential issues before they send, so they can increase their chances of landing in the inbox.

It’s a crazy time for all businesses and as the needs change, ZeroBounce likes to stay one step ahead.

From your experience talking to customers, what are the main challenges they have? How do they overcome them? 

Brian Minick

Brian Minick

Most of them have old databases that need cleaning. They may have an email list that has been dormant or neglected, and it causes bounces and spam complaints.

Sending newsletters or promotions to an outdated list is not a good idea. It jeopardizes the deliverability of emails to every person on the list, even the valid contacts. We help them get rid of the bad, ineffective and fake email addresses. Thus they can communicate more efficiently, boost their brand awareness, and increase ROI.

So many things go into creating a successful email campaign. What would you say are the most important ones? 

It’s so important to have a list made up of people who double opted in because you know they want to be there. Just as important is making sure all of your email addresses have been verified. These things ensure the greatest chance of arriving in the inbox.

But showing up, and doing so consistently, is only one part of it. You also need great subject lines. Your subject line is the first thing people see and it has a dramatic impact on your open rates.

Finally, well-written, relatable copy and a great call-to-action can push you across the finish line.

What type of content do you think brands should send out during these difficult months? 

It’s a tough time for so many. Brands have had to adapt their messaging and tone of voice, and those that didn’t have seen a decrease in engagement. People are less likely to respond to hard sell pitches right now. So, they key is to create content that shows genuine empathy – whether that content is for email, social media or other channels you use.

Keep in mind that everyone has felt these months, and some more than others. Show you’re there for people in a meaningful way.

Please give us one “trick” anyone can use in their email marketing today and see immediate results. 

Come up with two great options and then use A/B testing. Go with the one that works better!

What can you imagine in the future of email? 

With email growing in every way, and all indications showing no sign of slowing down, I see it getting even harder to land in the inbox. And if and when you do, every one of your emails will be competing with so many others.

Marketers are constantly refining their tactics and fine-tuning personalization to deliver the most relevant content, to the right person, at the right time. The competition will be even more intense, and that’s a good thing: it forces us all to get better.

What would you say to those struggling to keep their businesses afloat right now? 

Email marketing costs you very little, but has a great ROI. Keep on pushing and sooner or later you will find success. It is one of the most affordable ways to get in front of millions of people. If you aren’t using email to its fullest potential, don’t think about the time that has passed. Think of all the opportunities ahead of you.

It’s not too late. In fact, in many ways, it’s just starting.

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By Jeppe Rindom, Co-founder & CEO, Pleo Ask any decision maker at a business about admin and you’re likely to...

Business first, not compliance only is the future for accountants 22 Business first, not compliance only is the future for accountants 23
Business1 day ago

Business first, not compliance only is the future for accountants

By Peter Bracey, MD at Bracey’s Accountants.  The past few months have underlined the need for better business insight to reduce...

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