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No business is an island: How strategic partnerships can help businesses ensure longevity in an uncertain business world

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No business is an island: How strategic partnerships can help businesses ensure longevity in an uncertain business world

By Steve Lemon, VP of Business Development and Co-Founder at Currencycloud

In today’s business space, competition is fierce. And as a result of the rise of technology, consumer demand is constantly changing and growing, making it harder than ever for businesses to stay ahead of the curve. So, what can businesses do to remain competitive and ensure longevity in these uncertain times? Steve Lemon, VP of Business Development and Co-Founder at Currencycloud, believes that strategic partnerships are the building blocks needed to help businesses grow and thrive.

What advice would you give a business looking to remain competitive and ensure they withstand the test of time?

Steve Lemon

Steve Lemon

For a business to last, I would say there are two main principles to consider. Firstly, always listen to the customer. With the sheer amount of power in their hands, keeping them happy is a necessity.

Secondly, a business is only as strong as its foundation. If there is a gap or weakness in your service offering, then your business will eventually crumble. Competition is also fierce so being one step ahead is important: businesses need to constantly be innovating their services to ensure that they are resilient and built to last.

But some businesses have been operating as usual for decades, why now do they need to innovate their services to retain their customers? What has changed?

 

We live in the age of technology, and with this comes new ways for consumers to branch out and see what else is out there. They can now compare products, services or prices quickly allowing them to easily switch if a better option is out there.  Businesses have to focus on listening to what consumers want, or face losing them.

But it is a monumental task to innovate services alongside satisfying the ever-changing list of client demands and juggling on-going business needs and regulatory changes. Not to mention building the infrastructure to offer new services to customers is an expensive and time consuming project. But that doesn’t mean they have to do it alone: in today’s building block economy, a strategic partner can go a long way to help strengthen your foundation.

Can strategic partnerships help businesses remain competitive?

As the saying goes “no man is an island”, and businesses are no exception. Working with one key partner can offer a wealth of benefits to your business, not only opening up potential new leads, but also freeing up time to focus on other important business needs. Partnerships also enable the sharing of knowledge, time, funds and ideas, allowing your business to develop without limitations and ensure longevity.

But before you get started, you need to find the right partner. In order to do that you first need to be honest with yourself and understand where the weaknesses in your business lie. Finding a partner who can supply you with what you are missing such as financial support or technological advancements, is how you will get the maximum potential out of any collaboration.

What technological benefits are there to partnerships?

We live in a time where technology is king and if you do not have the funds, time or know-how to harness and develop technological advances to continually improve your business, you are going to fall behind.

Partnering with someone who specialises in technology or can offer access that you would not otherwise have is a win-win situation that can help your business thrive in a highly competitive climate. We all know that the rise of technology has created an impatient consumer who expects nothing less than a quick and seamless service. Improving your technological offering for your customers is undoubtedly going to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty to your brand.

By choosing a partner with technological know-how, your business could also expand in to new markets and potentially take one step closer to becoming a one-stop shop for all of your client needs.

Can partnerships offer any advantages when it comes to globalisation?

If your aim is to expand your business globally, but you lack the funds or knowledge about the country you wish to expand into, then yes, a partnership is a smart move from both a time and financial standpoint.

Working with a partner in another country or someone who has a firm grasp on the inner workings of the region would save you the time and hassle of researching the demographic, any regional regulations and the potential client base, allowing you to reposition that time into other aspects of the business.

But going global surely means less time to spare, so how can a partner help?

There are only so many plates a single person can spin before one gets dropped. Working with a strategic partner allows you to share the hefty workload of running a business and delegate responsibilities to a trusted party.

For example, working with a partner who has an understanding of today’s complex regulatory environment, especially relative with the upcoming GDPR and PSD2 changes, can remove the hassle of ensuring your business is compliant, resulting in more time for you to focus on your customer’s needs.

In the race to the top, businesses have to prioritise their time and often listening to the consumer voice falls to the back of the pile. Yet it is important to remember that your customers’ needs and wants are a top priority – and in order for your business to thrive and withstand the test of time, you need to keep them happy.

Collaboration, delegation and innovation are the building blocks to success and longevity – and partnerships can offer just that. So, ask yourself this; am I missing a building block? Is there anything more I can offer my customers? If yes, then choose a strategic partner to help you create a business powerhouse where the opportunities could be endless.

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England

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Sunak to use budget to expand apprenticeships in England 1

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)

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout

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UK seeks G7 consensus on digital competition after Facebook blackout 2

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 State’s (Dowden’s) assertion that the government’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)

 

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit

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Britain to offer fast-track visas to bolster fintechs after Brexit 3

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.”

SCALING UP

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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