Connect with us

Top Stories

Sustainable business development: Latest fad or strategic business practice?

Published

on

Sustainable business development: Latest fad or strategic business practice?

There is an increasing understanding that climate change is not an isolated environmental issue like air pollution or acid rain, but rather an anomaly that affects everyone and everything. More and more people are realising that climate change is THE issue of the 21st century and beyond. It affects every aspect of people’s life, from their use of energy to how they eat, work, travel and relax.  From being a suspicious subject discussed by hippies and unknown scientists, climate change is now firmly rooted in the mainstream agenda. People are beginning to understand the interconnection of climate change and start to acknowledge the importance of integrated governmental policies on agriculture, transport, energy and commerce. Due to increasing scientific proof, climate change has advanced from a possible, long-term worry about negative environmental consequences to a direct concern about the melting of alpine glaciers, heat waves, hurricanes, water shortages, food production, and extinction of species such as polar bears.

The term ‘decarbonisation of the economy’ is increasingly used to describe the process of extracting the carbon from the energy we use to run our economies.

But its consequences for how we organize our economies is seldom highlighted or properly understood. Instead it is simply seen as a technical issue. The result of decarbonising the economy is sometimes referred to as climate capitalism: a model which combines capitalism’s demand for continuous economic growth with a major swift to low-carbon industrial development.

The concept of sustainable economic development was first mentioned in the Brundtland Report (‘Our Common Future’, 1987) from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development. Sustainable economic development “meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland Commission, 1987).  Sustainability is a broader concept than decarbonisation, as it also takes wider environmental factors such as deforestation or water shortage into consideration, but also social and economic factors like labour conditions and business innovation.

There are many advantages of sustainable business development, such as less pollution, healthy ecosystems, advanced public health and happy consumers, but the elemental driver is company profit. Without profit, companies cannot survive and thrive. John Elkington, founder of Sustainability, a British consultancy, came up with the concept of the ‘triple bottom line’. Elkington stated that companies should adhere to three specific measures of performance: (1) profits and losses; (2) the organisation’s impact on people; and (3) pollution and resource depletion (Elkington, 1994).  These tripartite social, economic, and environmental factors form the basis of sustainable business development.

Sustainable business development is about keeping the balance between social, economic, and environmental concerns in corporate decision-making; taking care of the natural resources the company uses, recompensing the communities in which companies work and promoting long-term value-creation for shareholders. But it is important to understand that, next to increasing environmental and social pressures, there are foremost solid economic reasons behind the sustainable business trend.

On a company level, sustainability has become key to staying competitive through measures such as waste management, improved resources, operational efficiency and especially improved brand equity and reputational benefits. According to the Harvard Business Review (Nidumolu, Prahalad and Rangaswami, 2009), sustainability is now the main driver of business innovation. Sanders and Wood (2015) have identified two types of companies who invest in sustainability: embracers who have adopted sustainability-driven strategies; and cautious adopters who have taken sustainability initiatives and are starting to make sustainability part of their business strategy. The difference between these two categories is their level of commitment to sustainability.

Sustainability cannot succeed in a void. It needs government policies and laws that support and regulate sustainable initiatives. But businesses also have a crucial role to play in realising sustainability. This is especially true for corporate governance mechanisms and corporate leaders. Both are responsible for the control of corporate activities and both need to address the needs of stakeholders in corporate decision-making. Corporate governance is the system of rules, practices and processes by which a company is directed and controlled. Corporate governance should balance the interests of relevant company stakeholders (shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, financiers, government, and community) to create value. Corporate governance is also necessary to achieve ethical, transparent, and sustainable corporate conduct (Solomon, 2013). However, whether all this is actually done depends upon the values and goals of the leaders running these corporations.

The lack of reliable metrics for understanding the impacts of businesses on the environment and society at large is one of the main reasons why many businesses have not yet integrated sustainability into their business strategy. Sustainability has to be measured if it wants to be effective. Measuring increases accountability for performance in the company. Additionally, reporting that performance increases accountability between the company and its external stakeholders, which in turn improves credibility, customer access and reputation. Sustainable finance and accounting procedures can improve sustainability performance across supply chains, operations, marketing, risk management, business strategy, compliance and management functions.

Sustainable business development is not merely the latest business fad. Sustainable investment has endured the global financial and economic crisis of 2008. In addition, the number of companies increasing investment in sustainability has more than doubled since 2010 (Sanders and Wood, 2015). In companies, climate change is moving from support staff to top management level, involving CEOs, CFOs, and corporate boards. This sustainability process has affected every level of society, from businesses, cities, and countries administering their greenhouse gas emissions, to investment analysts including climate liabilities in their reports, along with tangible worries about the potential consequences of climate change models. Adopting sustainable business practices is no longer a matter of choice for businesses, it has become a matter of creating and maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage and ultimately the company’s survival.

Drs Peter AM Jansen MBA

Principal Lecturer at London School of Business and Finance, specialised in Sustainable Business Development, Corporate Governance, Mergers& Acquisitions and Strategic Marketing

Sources:

Brundtland Commision (1987) Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development.

Elkington, J. (1994) Towards the Sustainable Corporation: Win-Win-Win Business Strategies for Sustainable Development. California Management Review, Volume: 36 issue: 2, page(s): 90-100.

Nidumolu, R., Prahalad, C.K. and Rangaswami, M.R. (2009) Why sustainability is now the key driver of innovation. Harvard Business Review, September 2009.

Sanders, N.R. and Wood, J.D. (2015) Foundations of sustainable business: Theory, function, and strategy. John Wiley & Sons.

Solomon, J. (2013) Corporate Governance and Accountability, Wiley, 4th Edition.

Top Stories

Lockdown 2.0 – Here’s how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room

Published

on

Lockdown 2.0 – Here's how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room 1

By Jeff Carlson, author of The Photographer’s Guide to Luminar 4 and Take Control of Your Digital Photos

suggests “the product you’re creating is not the camera, the lens or a webcam’s clever industrial design. It’s the subject, you, which is just on e part of the entire image they see. You want that image to convey quality, not convenience.”

Technology experts at Reincubate saw an opportunity in the rise of remote-working video calls and developed the app, Camo, to improve the video quality of our webcam calls. As part of this, they consulted the digital photography expert and author, Jeff Carlson, to reveal how we can look our best online. 

It’s clear by now that COVID-19 has normalised remote working, but as part of this the importance of video calls has risen exponentially. While we’re all used to seeing the more casual sides of our colleagues (t-shirt and shorts, anyone?), poor webcam quality is slightly less forgivable.

But how can we improve how we look on video? We consulted Jeff Carlson for some top tips– here is what he had to say.

  1. Improve the picture quality of your call

The better your camera, the higher quality your webcam calls will be. Most webcams (as well as currently being hard to get hold of and expensive), are subpar. A DSLR setup will give you the best picture, but will cost $1,500+. You can also use your iPhone’s amazing camera as a webcam, using the new app from Reincubate, Camo.

Jeff’s comments “The iPhone’s camera system features dedicated coprocessors for evaluating and adjusting the image in real time. Apple has put a tremendous amount of work into its imaging software as a way to compensate for the necessarily small camera sensors. Although it all works in service of creating stills and video, you get the same benefits when using the iPhone as a webcam.”

Aidan Fitzpatrick, CEO of Reincubate explains why the team created Camo, “Earlier this year our team moved to working remotely, and in video calls everyone looked pretty bad, irrespective of whether they were on built-in Mac webcams or third-party ones. Thus began my journey to build Camo: an iPhone has one of the world’s best cameras in it, so could we make it work as a webcam? Category-leading webcams are noticeably worse than an iPhone 7. This makes sense: six weeks of Apple’s R&D spend tops Logitech’s annual gross revenue.”

  1. Place your camera at eye level

A video call will never quite be the same as a face-to-face conversation, but bringing your camera up to eye level is a good place to start. That can involve putting your laptop on a stand or pile of books, mounting a webcam to the top of your display screen, or even using a tripod to get the perfect position.

Jeff points out, “If the camera is looking down on you, you’ll appear minimized in the frame; if it’s looking up, you’re inviting people to focus on your chin, neck, or nostrils. Most important, positioning the camera off your eye level is a distraction. Look them in the eye, even if they’re miles or continents away.

Lockdown 2.0 – Here's how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room 2

Low camera placement from a MacBook

  1. Make the most of natural lighting

Be aware of the lighting in the room and move yourself to face natural lighting if you can. Positioning the camera so any natural light is behind you takes the light away from your face, which can make it harder to see and read expressions on a call.

Jeff Carlson’s top tip: “If the light from outside is too harsh, diffuse it and create softer shadows by tacking up a white sheet or a stand-alone diffuser over the window.” 

Lockdown 2.0 – Here's how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room 3Lockdown 2.0 – Here's how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room 4

Backlit against a window Facing natural light

  1. Use supplementary lighting like ring lights

The downside to natural lighting is that you’re at the mercy of the elements: if it’s too bright you’ll have the sun in your eyes, if it’s too dark you won’t be well lit.

Jeff recommends adding supplementary lighting if you’re looking to really enhance your video calls. After all, it looks like remote working will be carrying on for quite some time.

“The light can be just as easy as a household or inexpensive work light. Angle the light so it’s bouncing off a wall or the ceiling, depending on your work area, which, again, diffuses the light and makes it more flattering.

Or, for a little money, use a softbox or a shoot-through umbrella with daylight bulbs (5500K temperature), or if space is tight, LED panels. Larger lights are better for distributing illumination– don’t be afraid to get them in close to you. Placement depends on the look you’re going after; start by positioning one at a 45-degree angle in front and to the side of you, which lights most of your face while retaining nice shadow detail.” 

In some cases, a ring light may work best. LEDs are arranged in a circle, with space in the middle to put the camera’s lens and get direct illumination from the direction of the camera.

  1. Centre yourself in the frame

Make sure you’re getting the right angle and that you’re using the frame effectively.

“You should aim for people to see your head and part of your torso, not all the space between your hair and the ceiling. Leave a little space above your head so it’s not cut off, but not enough that someone’s eyes are going to drift there.”

  1. Be mindful of your backdrop

It’s not always easy to get the quiet space needed for video calls when working from home, but try as best you can to remove anything too distracting from your background.

“Get rid of clutter or anything that’s distracting or unprofessional, because you can bet that will be the second thing the viewers notice after they see you. (The Twitter account @RateMySkypeRoom is an amusing ongoing commentary on the environments people on television are connecting from.)”

A busy background as seen by a webcam

  1. Make the most of virtual backgrounds

If you’re really struggling with finding a background that looks professional, try using a virtual background.

Jeff suggests: “Some apps can identify your presence in the scene and create a live mask that enables you to use an entirely different image to cover the background. While it’s a fun feature, the quality of the masking is still rudimentary, even with a green screen background that makes this sort of keying more accurate.”

  1. Be aware of your audio settings

Our laptop webcams, cameras, and mobile phones all include microphones, but if it’s at all possible, use a separate microphone instead.

“That can be an inexpensive lavalier mic, a USB microphone, or a set of iPhone earbuds. You can also get wireless lavalier models if you’re moving around during a call, such as presenting at a whiteboard in the camera’s field of view.

The idea is to get the microphone closer to your mouth so it’s recording what you say, not other sounds or echoes in the room. If you type during meetings, mount the mic on an arm instead of resting it on the same surface as your keyboard.”

  1. Be wary of video app add-ons

Video apps like Zoom include a ‘Touch up your appearance’ option in the Video settings. This applies a skin-smoothing filter to your face, but more often than not, the end result looks artificially blurry instead of smooth.

“Zoom also includes settings for suppressing persistent and intermittent background noise, and echo cancellation. They’re all set to Auto by default, but you can choose how aggressive or not the feature is.”

  1. Be the best looking person in the virtual room

What’s important to remember about video calls at this point in time is that most people are new to what is, really, personal broadcasting. That means you can easily get an edge, just by adopting a few suggestions in this article. When your video and audio quality improves, people will take notice.

Continue Reading

Top Stories

Bringing finance into the 21st Century – How COVID and collaboration are catalysing digital transformation

Published

on

Bringing finance into the 21st Century – How COVID and collaboration are catalysing digital transformation 5

By Keith Phillips, CEO of TISATech

If just six or seven months ago someone had told you that in a matter of weeks people around the world would be locked down in their homes, trying to navigate modern work systems from a prehistoric laptop, bickering with family over who’s hogging the Wi-Fi, migrating online to manage all financial services digitally, all while washing their hands every five minutes in fear of a global pandemic… You’d think they had lost their mind. But this very quickly became the reality for huge swathes of the world and we’re about to go through that all over again as the UK government has asked that those who can work from home should.

Unsurprisingly, statistics show that lockdown restrictions introduced by the UK government in March, led to a sharp increase in people adopting digital services. Banks encouraged its customers to log onto online banking, as they limited (and eventually halted) services at branches. This forced many customers online as their primary means of managing personal finances for the first time.

If anyone had doubts before, the Covid-19 pandemic proved to us the importance of well-functioning, effective digital financial services platforms, for both financial institutions and the people using them.

But with this sudden mass online migration, it’s become clear that traditional banks have struggled to keep up with servicing clients virtually. Legacy banking systems have always stilted the digitisation of financial services, but the pandemic thrust this issue into the limelight. Fintech firms, which focus intently on digital and mobile services, knew it was only a matter of time before financial institutions’ reliance was to increase at an unprecedented rate.

For years, fintechs have been called upon by traditional players to find solutions to problems borne from those clunky legacy systems, like manual completion of account changes and money transfers. Now it is the demand for these services to be online coupled with the need for financial services firms to cut costs, since Covid-19 hit the economy.

Covid-19 has catalysed the urgent need to bring digital transformation to a wider pool of financial services businesses. Customers now have even higher expectations of larger institutions, demanding that they keep up with what the younger and more nimble challengers have to offer. Industry leaders realise that they must transform their businesses as soon as possible, by streamlining and digitising operations to compete and, ultimately, improve services for their customers.

The race for digital acceleration began far before the recent pandemic – in fact, following the 2008 financial crisis is likely more accurate. Since the credit crunch, there has been a wave of new fintech firms, full of young, bright techies looking to be the next big thing. Fintechs have marketed themselves hard at big conferences and expos or by hosting ‘hackathons’, trying to prove themselves as the fastest, most innovative or the most vital to the future of the industry.

However, even during this period where accelerating innovation in online financial services and legacy systems is crucial, the conditions brought about by the pandemic have not been conducive to this much-needed transformation.

The second issue, which again was clear far before the pandemic, is that fact that no matter how nimble or clever the fintechs’ solutions are, it is still hard to implement the solutions seamlessly, as the sector is highly fragmented with banks using extremely outdated systems populated with vast amounts of data.

With the significance of the pandemic becoming more and more clear, and the need for better digital products and services becoming more crucial to financial services firms and consumers by the day, the industry has finally come together to provide a solution.

The TISAtech project was launched last month by The Investing and Saving Alliance (TISA), a membership organisation in the UK with more than 200 leading financial institutions as members. TISA asked The Disruption House, a specialist benchmarking and data analytics business, to create a clearing house platform for the industry to help it more effectively integrate new financial technology. The project aims to enhance products and services while reducing friction and ultimately lowering costs which are passed on to the customers.

With nearly 4,000 fintechs from around the world participating, it will be the world’s largest marketplace dedicated to Open Finance, Savings, and Investment.

Not only will it provide a ‘matchmaking’ service between financial institutions an fintechs, it will also host a sandbox environment. Financial institutions can pose real problems with real data and the fintechs are given the space to race to the bottom – to find the most constructive, cost-effective solution.

Yes, there are other marketplaces, but they all seem to struggle to achieve a return on investment. There is a genuine need for the ‘Trivago’ of financial technology – a one stop shop, run by an independent body, which can do more than just matchmaking. It needs to go above and beyond to encompass the sandboxing, assessments, profiling of fintechs to separate the wheat from the chaff, and provide a space for true collaboration.

The pandemic has taught us that we are more effective if we work together. We need mass support and collaboration to find solutions to problems. Businesses and industries are no different. If fintechs and financial institutions can work together, there is a real chance that we can start to lessen the economic hit for many businesses and consumers by lowering costs and streamlining better services and products. And even if it is just making it that little bit easier to manage personal finances from home when fighting with your children for the Wi-Fi, we are making a difference.

Continue Reading

Top Stories

What to Know Before You Expand Across Borders

Published

on

What to Know Before You Expand Across Borders 6

By Sean King, Director of International Tax at McGuire Sponsel

The American retail giant, Target Corporation, has a market cap of $64 billion and access to seemingly limitless resources and advisors. So, when the company engaged in its first global expansion, how could anything possibly go wrong?

Less than two years after opening its first Canadian store in 2013, Target shut down all133 Canadian locations and terminated more than 17,000 Canadian employees.

Expansion of an operation to another country can create unique challenges that may impact the financial viability of the entire enterprise. If Target Corporation can colossally fail in its expansion to Canada, how might Mom ‘N’ Pop LLC fare when expanding into Switzerland, Singapore, or Australia?

Successful global expansion requires an understanding of multilayered taxes, regulatory hurdles, employment laws, and cultural nuances. Fortunately, with the right guidance, global expansion can be both possible and profitable for businesses of any size.

Permanent establishment

Any company with global ambitions must first consider whether the company’s expansion outside of the U.S. will give rise to a taxable presence in the local country. In the cross-border context, a “permanent establishment” can be created in a local country when the enterprise reaches a certain level of activity, which is problematic because it exposes the U.S. multinational to taxation in the foreign country.

Foreign entity incorporation

To avoid permanent establishment risk, many U.S. multinationals choose to operate overseas through a formal corporate subsidiary, which reduces the company’s foreign income tax exposure, though it may result in an additional level of foreign income tax on the subsidiary’s earnings. In most jurisdictions, multinationals can operate their business in the foreign country as a branch, a pass through (e.g., partnership,) or a corporation.

As a branch, the U.S. multinational does not create a subsidiary in the foreign country. It holds assets, employees, and bank accounts under its own name. With a pass through, the U.S. multinational creates a separate entity in the foreign country that is treated as a partnership under the tax law of the foreign country but not necessarily as a partnership under U.S. tax law.

U.S. multinationals can also create corporate subsidiaries in the foreign country treated as corporations under the tax law of both the foreign country and the U.S., with possibly two levels of income taxation in the foreign country plus U.S. income taxation of earnings repatriated to the U.S. as dividends.

Check-the-box planning

Under U.S. entity classification rules, certain types of entities can “check the box” to elect their classification to be taxed as a corporation with two levels of tax, a partnership with pass-through taxation, or even be disregarded for U.S. federal income tax purposes. The check the box election allows U.S. multinationals to engage in more effective global tax planning.

Toll charges, transfer pricing and treaties

When establishing a foreign corporate subsidiary, the U.S. multinational will likely need to transfer certain assets to the new entity to make it fully operational. However, in many cases, the U.S. multinational cannot perform the transfer without recognizing taxable income. In the international context, the IRS imposes certain outbound “toll charges” on the transfer of appreciated property to a foreign entity, which are usually provided for in IRC Section 367 and subject to various exceptions and nuances.

Instead, the U.S. multinational may prefer to license intellectual property to the foreign subsidiary for a fee rather than transfer the property outright. However, licensing requires the company and foreign subsidiary to adhere to transfer pricing rules, as dictated by IRC Section 482. The U.S. multinational and the foreign subsidiary must interact in an arms-length manner regarding pricing and economic terms. Furthermore, any such arrangement may attract withholding taxes when royalties are paid across a border.

Are you GILTI?

Certain U.S. multinationals opt to focus on deferring the income recognition at the U.S. level. In doing so, they simply leave overseas profits overseas and delay repatriating any of the earnings to the U.S.

Despite the general merits of this form of planning, U.S. multinationals will be subject to certain IRS anti-deferral mechanisms, commonly known as “Subpart F” and GILTI. Essentially, U.S. shareholders of certain foreign corporations are forced to recognize their pro rata share of certain types of income generated by these foreign entities at the time the income is earned instead of waiting until the foreign entity formally repatriates the income to the U.S.

The end goal

Essentially, all effective international tax planning boils down to treasury management. Effective and early tax planning can properly allow a company to better achieve its initial goal: profitability.

If global expansion is on the horizon for your company, consult a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.

Continue Reading
Editorial & Advertiser disclosureOur website provides you with information, news, press releases, Opinion and advertorials on various financial products and services. This is not to be considered as financial advice and should be considered only for information purposes. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information provided with respect to your individual or personal circumstances. Please seek Professional advice from a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. We link to various third party websites, affiliate sales networks, and may link to our advertising partners websites. Though we are tied up with various advertising and affiliate networks, this does not affect our analysis or opinion. When you view or click on certain links available on our articles, our partners may compensate us for displaying the content to you, or make a purchase or fill a form. This will not incur any additional charges to you. To make things simpler for you to identity or distinguish sponsored articles or links, you may consider all articles or links hosted on our site as a partner endorsed link.

Call For Entries

Global Banking and Finance Review Awards Nominations 2020
2020 Global Banking & Finance Awards now open. Click Here

Latest Articles

The importance of app-based commerce to hospitality in the new normal 7 The importance of app-based commerce to hospitality in the new normal 8
Technology3 days ago

The importance of app-based commerce to hospitality in the new normal

By Jeremy Nicholds CEO, Judopay As society adapts to the rapidly changing “new normal” of working and socialising, many businesses...

The Psychology Behind a Strong Security Culture in the Financial Sector 9 The Psychology Behind a Strong Security Culture in the Financial Sector 10
Finance3 days ago

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...

How open banking can drive innovation and growth in a post-COVID world 11 How open banking can drive innovation and growth in a post-COVID world 12
Banking3 days ago

How open banking can drive innovation and growth in a post-COVID world

By Billel Ridelle, CEO at Sweep Times are pretty tough for businesses right now. For SMEs in particular, a global financial...

How to use data to protect and power your business 13 How to use data to protect and power your business 14
Business3 days ago

How to use data to protect and power your business

By Dave Parker, Group Head of Data Governance, Arrow Global Employees need to access data to do their jobs. But...

How business leaders can find the right balance between human and bot when investing in AI 15 How business leaders can find the right balance between human and bot when investing in AI 16
Business3 days ago

How business leaders can find the right balance between human and bot when investing in AI

By Andrew White is the ANZ Country Manager of business transformation solutions provider, Signavio The digital world moves quickly. From...

Has lockdown marked the end of cash as we know it? 17 Has lockdown marked the end of cash as we know it? 18
Finance3 days ago

Has lockdown marked the end of cash as we know it?

By James Booth, VP of Payment Partnerships EMEA, PPRO Since the start of the pandemic, businesses around the world have...

Lockdown 2.0 – Here's how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room 19 Lockdown 2.0 – Here's how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room 20
Top Stories3 days ago

Lockdown 2.0 – Here’s how to be the best-looking person in the virtual room

By Jeff Carlson, author of The Photographer’s Guide to Luminar 4 and Take Control of Your Digital Photos suggests “the product you’re creating is...

Banks take note: Customers want to pay with points 24 Banks take note: Customers want to pay with points 25
Banking3 days ago

Banks take note: Customers want to pay with points

By Len Covello, Chief Technology Officer of Engage People ‘Pay with Points’ – that is, integrating the ability to pay...

Are you a fighter or a freezer? The 4 “F’s” of Surviving Danger 26 Are you a fighter or a freezer? The 4 “F’s” of Surviving Danger 27
Business3 days ago

Are you a fighter or a freezer? The 4 “F’s” of Surviving Danger

By Dr.Roger Firestien, Author of Create In a Flash. The fight, flight, freeze survival response – or FFF for short...

Why the FemTech sector might be the sustainability saviour we have been waiting for 28 Why the FemTech sector might be the sustainability saviour we have been waiting for 29
Technology3 days ago

Why the FemTech sector might be the sustainability saviour we have been waiting for

By Kristy Chong, CEO & Founder Modibodi ® Taking single use plastics out of circulation is no easy feat, but...

Newsletters with Secrets & Analysis. Subscribe Now