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SOFT-SKILLS GAP COSTS ACCOUNTANTS £571 MILLION A YEAR

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SOFT-SKILLS GAP COSTS ACCOUNTANTS £571 MILLION A YEAR
  • Accountants believe they would be £4,700 better off every year if they’d received adequate tuition in the core soft-skills – £571 million worth of missed salary across the profession
  • More than half – 54% – do not believe their training adequately instilled these skills
  • Accountants believe a strong grasp of soft-skills is the most important factor in the recruitment process and ranks more highly than academic excellence

The lack of emphasis on soft-skills in the accountancy training process is costing the profession £571 million in salary annually, according to the latest research from specialist financial recruiter Marks Sattin.

Soft-skills encompass the personal qualities and attitudes that allow people to make a positive contribution to their workplace. Traits often included within this set include communication, decision-making, empathy and teamwork.

The study also found 96% of accountants believe decent career progression for accountants is dependent on a good grasp of soft-skills. However, less than half of accountants surveyed (just 46%) feel soft-skills were sufficiently emphasised in their training. Two thirds of them (121,403 in total[1]) believe they would be paid 8% more in basic salary (the equivalent of £4,700) if soft-skills had been adequately emphasised.

The findings come in tandem with the 30th anniversary of the preeminent paper in the area of emotional intelligence; Wayne Payne’s 1985 doctoral thesis A Study of Emotion: Developing Emotional Intelligence, which is credited with the first use of the EQ (emotional intelligence quotient) concept[2]. EQ, having an awareness of one’s feelings and using emotional information to guide behaviour, is closely linked to soft-skills.

Dave Way, managing director at Marks Sattin, commented: “Being a good accountant and a ‘numbers person’ is now taken as read. The A-players of the accountancy world also need to be outstanding communicators and proactive in driving relationships. This is reflected in the policies of the Big Four accountancy firms, which have all made significant strides in 2015 toward shifting the focus of recruitment towards interpersonal skills – as well as providing enrichment programmes for employees which focus on developing these.

“A robot can analyse data, but only an emotionally proficient person can sensitively manage a client relationship, deploying empathy, and apply creativity to crack tricky problems. These skills help accountants progress in their careers, but also future-proof their jobs against the emerging white-collar fear – that as technology becomes more advanced employers will increasingly look to machines as a people replacement.”

An improving outlook

Looking ahead, the situation is improving, with accountants believing training in soft-skills is becoming more thorough:

  • 83% believe it is better than 10 years ago;
  • And 55% believe it is better than five years ago.

Dave Way continued: “Training is better than it once was, which can be seen in procedures implemented by the Big Four accountancy firms as well as the focus on soft-skills for juniors once they come on board[3]. In 2015 Deloitte initiated a ‘CV blind’ policy for new recruits, hiding the school and university a candidate attended. Earlier this year EY pledged to scrap minimum A-level and degree requirements for graduates; this takes the emphasis off academic pre-conceptions and turns it squarely on the interviewee and the skills and personality they demonstrate. KPMG has a CV blind policy at telephone interview stage and PwC no longer uses A-levels as a recruitment threshold. These represent substantial progress toward placing emotional intelligence at the front and centre of professional development.”

[1] Based on the overall figure for accountants operating in the UK, provided by the Financial Reporting Council.

[2] The concept of emotional intelligence takes its roots in the work of Howard Gardner: Frames of Mind: the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, published in 1983.

[3] EY, for example, explicitly states its dedication to soft-skills on its company website – training for graduates encompasses ‘building relationships’ and ‘leadership’ – and PwC emphasises its coaching on ‘business, personal and technical skills’.

Finance

How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for an Online Personal Loan?

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How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for an Online Personal Loan? 1

One of the best loan types to consider if you want to borrow a sum of cash for an emergency or essential expense is an online personal loan. With its favorable rate of interest and fixed monthly payment, it’s safe to say that a personal loan is unlike any other loan types that can put you into a debt trap.

The only question that most borrowers often ask is how long does it take to get approved for a personal loan after you send your loan application to the lender. To answer that question, it’s a must that you check out this blog post below.

What is an Online Personal Loan?

An online personal loan is a form of financing commonly used to consolidate debts or pay for an important expense. It typically has a lower annual percentage rate than a credit card, and the amount you pay every month is fixed.

A borrower can take out a loan amount ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 if he/she gets approved for an online personal loan. The borrower can pay it for a span of 1 year to 5 years, depending on the loan contract agreed upon between him/her and the lender.

Bank, P2P Lender, and Online Lender: Differences of Approval Speed

People who need to take out a personal loan can go to a bank, peer-to-peer lender, or online lender for that purpose. These three types of lenders differ when it comes to the speed of approving a loan application. Here’s a comparison between the three.

Bank

Getting loan approval from a bank can take some time. For instance, after you submit your application for a personal loan, it can take several days or weeks to receive approval from the lender.

It’s because banks are strict when it comes to checking the qualifications of a borrower. Several documents need to be evaluated to ensure that the loan applicant has the capability to repay the loan.

Peer-to-Peer Lender

P2P lenders conduct their lending operations online. As such, you can expect that the process of getting approved is more streamlined than banks. Typically, receiving loan approval from a P2P lender can take just within the day of your application or a few business days.

You just need to visit a P2P lending website, upload the necessary documents, and then wait for approval. P2P lending networks utilize a software program to check your documents to see if you qualify for the loan.

Online Lending Company

Online lending companies are popular nowadays because they make loan applications and approvals as fast as possible. Like P2P lenders, online lending companies that offer personal loans may approve your application within the day you submit your loan application or the next business day/s.

The Speed of Receiving the Funds

After you get the approval for your loan application, it’s now time to receive the cash that you need. Here’s the difference between banks, P2P lenders, and online lending companies when it comes to the speed of providing your much-needed funds.

● Banks. Different banking institutions vary when it comes to the length of time in making your funds available. Some can provide you the cash right after approving your loan, while others can go as long as several days or weeks after the loan approval.
● P2P Lenders. You can get the funds of your personal loan from a peer-to-peer lender immediately within the day of your loan approval. But some P2P lenders deposit the cash in your account for a few business days after you get approved for the loan.
● Online lending companies. After your loan application gets a thumbs-up from an online lender, the loan amount you borrow will get deposited in your bank account immediately.

Tips When Applying for a Personal Loan

When applying for a personal loan, there are things you need to do to avoid any obstacle that may come in the way to speedy loan approval. Make sure to take note of these tips to accelerate your loan application process.

● Take a look at your credit score to ensure that you can qualify for the loan amount you want to borrow. Lenders will also approve your application right away if you have good to exceptional credit.
● Compare the interest rates offered by different lenders to pick the most suitable one for your financial situation.
● Prepare the necessary documents, such as recent bank statements, pay stubs, and personal identification.
● Always check the application form if there are any errors before sending it to the lender.

Takeaway

Do you want to apply for a loan with speedy approval? Consider taking out an online personal loan. Online lending companies can approve your loan application in one to three business days after submitting your application.

This is a Sponsored Feature.

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Tech-enabled cash management strategies have come to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic – and will be key to firms’ recovery from it

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Tech-enabled cash management strategies have come to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic – and will be key to firms’ recovery from it 2

By Ed Thurman, managing director and head of Global Transaction Banking at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, outlines how technology-enabled solutions are helping businesses strengthen their working capital position amid challenging trading conditions.

The past few months have brought significant headwinds for businesses, including supply chain disruption, government-mandated closures and tumbling customer demand.

UK companies are facing serious cashflow challenges as a result. According to the Office for National Statistics, half (49%) of firms currently trading are either unsure of how long their cash will last, or believe their reserves will last less than three months.

However, for many, the conditions created by Covid-19 have been a catalyst for change and innovation.

Cash management is one of the areas where technology has been deployed with most impact. Below are some examples of the areas where businesses have been using tech solutions to manage liquidity levels during the pandemic.

Payments

Cash withdrawals fell by as much as 50% at the height of the crisis as more people took extra precautions around contact. Even pin pad payment has become far less frequent over the past six months, too.

While a move to enable contactless payments has been the first obvious step for many consumer-facing businesses – especially in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors – some will have a higher average transaction value than £45, so alternative solutions are required.

We’ve seen more businesses adopting payment methods that allow customers to pay online when purchasing in-store or at-venue. For example, restaurants and bars can use digital platforms to enable customers to settle their bills on leaving.

Payment methods can include payment by URL, WhatsApp, SMS or QR code, which take the customer to a webpage where they can securely make the payment through their smartphone, with their preferred payment method.

These methods are enabling firms to quickly and securely receive payments from their customers, ensuring they can continue to operate effectively, and preventing disruption to cashflow.

Forecasting

Forecasting customer demand is obviously extremely difficult given the uncertain environment businesses are currently trading in.

However, it remains a critical task – helping to determine whether there is sufficient liquidity to cover planned operations and investment during a given period, say, the next quarter.

Many businesses continue to use Excel as their primary tool for cashflow forecasts, but we are starting to see firms

Ed Thurman

Ed Thurman

move towards some of the more efficient digital tools available. For example, cloud-based software can provide a unified set of data that is accessible to all business functions. This can help to accurately forecast incomings and outgoings over different periods, making it easier to evaluate how much working capital firms have available.

Our own Cash Management & Payments Platform uses cloud-based computing to help firms manage their working capital position, with true omnichannel connectivity, market-leading data analytics and self-serve capabilities.

Supply chain

The events of the past few months have highlighted the significant impact supply chain disruption can have on efficiency. For manufacturers in particular, it can be tempting to stockpile to help trade through supply interruptions and minimise damage to output, but this can have significant working capital implications by tying up cash in inventory.

While the potential for local or global supply chain disruption looks set to remain for some time, technological development can help mitigate some of this risk. Digital tools that leverage artificial intelligence can be introduced to help reduce some of the friction, automating certain processes and crunching large amounts of data to assist with decision-making.

This digitisation of the supply chain is picking up pace, meaning that business can be more agile in reacting to fluctuating demand and supply. Devices that harness the Internet of Things are increasingly being used to track and authenticate shipments, while solutions underpinned by Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) look set to speed up trade finance – shortening cashflow cycles and improving working capital efficiency in a volatile economic environment.

Here to help

It’s been said that, for many businesses, Covid-19 has been a crisis of working capital. The past few months have shone a light on the importance of digital technologies as part of effective cash management strategies.

At Lloyds Bank, we will continue to explore the potential of emerging technologies and have committed to investing £3 billion between 2018 and 2021 to transform not just our own business, but the products and services we offer customers.

Managing cashflow will be more important than ever in the coming months. We’re here to help businesses identify the digital tools that can help them strengthen their working capital position as they prepare to face the challenges ahead.

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Finance

Asset-based lending is often called ‘working capital finance’ for a reason…

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Asset-based lending is often called ‘working capital finance’ for a reason… 3

By Alex Beardsley, director at ABL Business.

At the start of lockdown, many businesses went into panic mode, wondering whether they had enough cash in the bank to meet their obligations in the unpredictable future. Thankfully, the raft of government support helped to ease much of the immediate cashflow woes, however, this exercise alerted many CFOs to the need for a more robust way of managing their working capital — both now and in the future.

Prior to the beginning of 2019, I wonder how many businesses had “potential global pandemic” as an immediate threat to be prepared for and managed in the latest iteration of their business plan.

With poor working capital management being the number-one reason cited as cause of business failure around the globe, managing risk via robust working capital facilities should be high on the agenda of any business hoping to ride the current economic storm.

Thankfully, UK Finance may have found the answer to the question: “How do businesses bolster their working capital facilities post-pandemic?”

UK Finance conducted a study throughout the lockdown period that reviewed  the facilities of 20,000 businesses (accounting for 5% of the UK GDP) in the UK using Asset Based Lending (ABL) and Invoice Finance (IF) as a way to manage their working capital. In the context of the lockdown period, much of the focus was on the availability of vital funds, with the government were under pressure to provide quick access to finance to keep the economy afloat.

The results of the study were surprising, stating: “At the end of March, IFABL clients were using 70 per cent of their available funds to support their cashflow, three months later this had dropped to just 45 per cent. In real terms, this indicated the ‘average’ IF/ABL client had headroom of over £250k within existing facilities.”1

This shows that government grants, the Job Retention Scheme, and Government Backed Loans (CBILs and BBLs) provided the working capital breathing space that businesses needed. But more importantly, it shows that the businesses that had working capital facilities in place prior to the pandemic had more headroom in their facilities and were less likely to be in desperate need for cash.

Alex Beardsley

Alex Beardsley

If this isn’t enough of an incentive for every CFO to review the current facilities — and consider the benefits of — Asset Based Lending (ABL), here are some other reasons why it should be considered as a working capital management tool:

  • With ABL, you get a higher availability of cash compared to traditional lending facilities
  • ABL provides revolving working capital on a constant basis, meaning the availability of working capital will increase inline with the growth of your business
  • Usually, ABL facilities carry a lower cost of capital from lenders due to the high amount of security they have over the business assets, and therefore can be a more cost-effective way of borrowing
  • The facility provides more than just an injection of cash at a specific point in time that is then to be repaid out of working capital, further hitting access to cash.

A better way of managing working capital lies in both knowledge of what is available in the market for businesses, and also the particular attitudes towards using finance within a business.

A study in 2014 by Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking highlighted that there was £770bn of untapped assets  nationally — which at the time equated to 48% of GDP. Could it be that working capital management is suffering because UK businesses are unaware of the options available to them when it comes to structured finance, or is it that they are reluctant to use finance at all?

Many businesses refer to the bank for support when it comes to providing working capital facilities — or any finance at all — but in the last few years the alternative finance market has proliferated. There are now a range of specific ABL providers that are more commercial and open to risk than the high street banks, meaning that there is now more choice available to businesses seeking support for working capital management facilities.

Following the pandemic there is going to be an increased amount of debt on the balance sheets of UK businesses and a reluctance from the banking and financial institutions to lend without significant security.

No one can deny that the risks to lenders have increased. Before Covid-19, the likelihood of a ‘pandemic’ was not on anyone’s radar — now it will be the first thing lenders and businesses think of going forward when it comes to making decisions.

Now more than ever, it is imperative that businesses and CFOs assess all of the options available to them when it comes to using finance within the busines to help with working capital management.

Having the right finance facilities in place before the business runs into working capital issues is a sure fire way to ensure that a business always has the cash on hand to meet their financial obligations — minimising the risk of insolvency by being able to meet current liabilities.

1 Source: https://www.ukfinance.org.uk/data-and-research/data/business-finance/invoice-finance-and-asset-based-lending

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