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Unleashing the creative flare of Finance Directors: how innovation in fintech is changing the landscape of UK companies



Unleashing the creative flare of Finance Directors: how innovation in fintech is changing the landscape of UK companies

Carlo Gualandri, Founder & CEO of Soldo, explores how solving problems faced in finance departments can make room for more creative thinking

There are huge opportunities lying dormant in the background of financial departments the world over. The fintech sector is bringing this to light, and encouraging businesses to reconsider the potential of their finance and accounting teams.

With the exponential technology made available over the last few years, now is the time for big corporates and SMEs alike to start utilising technological innovations in fintech. Freeing, finance and accounting teams from the need to chase down receipts and reconcile spending, but to strategically implement money saving processes and changes that go beyond the pre-internet 4.0 accounting job description.

There is currently a lot of confidence in the fintech sector, especially here in the UK,. However, many of these well-known success stories have so far revolved around consumer payment services, leaving a tremendous opportunity for B2B payments – a market worth approximately $250.0bn today.

Many aspects of the financial sector are still yet to catch up with the digitalisation movement – with until recently banking legislations confined by legacy systems that were not in line with technological developments. Consequently, banks have managed to keep themselves central to the financial lives of businesses. But with alternatives emerging at a rapid rate, the fintech sector is taking the reins when it comes to B2B financial services.

Soldo, London based Fintech which is tackling the problem of spend management for businesses, commissioned a survey to uncover the leading points for cash flow improvement amongst UK businesses at the beginning of 2018. The independent survey, analysed in the Spend Management Whitepaper, reached a massive 4,000 UK businesses and identified problems in company spending.

The data shows much room for improvement into how cash flow management within businesses impacts on time and cost management. The brunt of this bares heavy on financial and accounting teams who end up prioritising unnecessary tasks such as chasing receipts and reconciling expenses.

The survey most prominently revealed up to £102.6bn of company spending is left unreconciled by a fifth of UK businesses each year, with more than a third of financial decision makers undertaking unnecessary financial detective work at the end of each month to identify company spend. From the survey, half of UK small business financial decision makers cite a need for improved internal cash flow processes.

Moreover, employee expense management is a hidden headache for both finance teams and employees alike. Poorly implemented systems have resulted in animosity from employees having to pay business expenses out of their own pocket, and similarly created more work for finance teams, due to admin heavy reimbursing and reporting expenses.

However, smart businesses are prepared to adapt and utilise new technologies as they become available. With the opportunity to automate a variety of tasks more efficiently, cheaply and reliably, there is more time for finance teams to spend time on value added activities.

The biggest challenges to businesses adopting fintech are inertia and the perceived cost of implementation.  are are often so busy with day-to-day tasks that implementing change is often considered a pain. Moreover, businesses are required to prove return-on-investment advantages that take maturity and reputation to articulate convincingly. However, businesses willing to take the leap and exploit fintechs experience significant advantages with regard to cost and time savings, providing them with an improved bottom line and competitive advantage.

It may seem a little leftfield, but try looking beyond your marketing and sales team to breathe fresh new ideas into the business – your finance team can be a great source of innovation. Finance departments commonly have a far-reaching view into the inner-workings of any business. The old myth that finance departments smother new ideas is quickly being debunked, with their analytical skills finding innovative ways to reduce cash inefficiencies and make room for growth. Taking advantage of time and resource saving fintech services will free up your finance teams’ time to dive into creative ways of saving your business money.

With open banking and PSD2 changing the rules of the game, providing fintechs with the freedom to disrupt traditional businesses, ow is the opportune time for businesses to take advantage of fintech providers whose presence is ruffling the feathers of antiquated traditional banking systems. Fintech offers opportunities for companies to utilise new technology and shred hours that are currently reserved for managing spend, a concept business financial services are yet to master. This opens huge potential to streamline the systems that presently lead to significant levels of wasted money.

The key is to be open and adaptable. Let 2018 be the year your business finances were digitised.


Senior leaders call on UK businesses not to fail young people



Senior leaders call on UK businesses not to fail young people 1

Leaders across major businesses including Barclays, M&S and BAE Systems call for more businesses to join Movement to Work

  • The number of 16 to 24-year-olds in employment has dropped to a record low of 3.51m, after a fall of 244,000 in the past 12 months
  • Leaders and decision makers across major businesses including Marks & Spencer, Unilever, Diageo and Tesco call for more businesses to create work experience opportunities for young people, to improve conversion into permanent employment
  • Movement to Work (MtW) CEO warns of missing talent and letting young people down – charity offering business support free-of-charge

Nearly one year on from the first lockdown, and more than one in ten young people have lost their job, with the number of 16 to 24-year-olds in employment falling to a record low of 3.51m. Furthermore, 50% of students have felt their mental health decline during the Covid-19 pandemic. This bleak reality has raised alarm amongst many senior business leaders and decision makers, who fear letting down a generation and wasting unthinkable amounts of talent if we do not do more to help immediately. They are calling on UK businesses to support young people by providing work experience opportunities to break the cycle of “no experience – no job, no job – no experience” that so many are facing. Movement to Work – a not-for-profit youth employment charity – is offering help to any organisation willing to set up such schemes.

During the pandemic, under 25s were more likely than any other age group to be furloughed. The same age group now makes up a third of universal credit claims. Millions of young people are already struggling, and the future looks even more grim, with a think tank predicting that young people are a third less likely to be in employment three years after entering than if the pandemic never happened.[1]

Leaders from major businesses including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, BT, Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, Unilever have joined Movement to Work’s network of employers and have collectively delivered over 100,000 work placements for young people to date, with a large number of these resulting in permanent employment. Now , they are urging other UK businesses of all sizes to join the movement to hit 200,000 placements at pace.

Hosting a summit on 24th February, these leaders will join young people to discuss how they can help the next generation into employment. Minister for Employment Mims Davies and Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey is also expected to appear. The annual event, which will be held virtually for the first time this year, is a unique opportunity to talk honestly and boldly about the issues at hand, and what can be done to resolve them.

 Natasha Adams, Chief People Officer, Tesco PLC said: “Tesco has always been a place to get on and we’re proud that so many of our fantastic colleagues started their careers at a young age. Movement to Work works alongside companies to nurture those who might otherwise feel excluded from the workforce. The effects of the pandemic mean it is more important than ever to support our young talent and provide the tools, support and opportunities for them to succeed in their future careers.”

Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive Officer, BAE Systems, said: “This is a critical time not only for young people, but for UK business as a whole. Those of us who can, must continue to support young people, providing opportunities to develop the skills and confidence they need both for their future success and the country’s economic prosperity.”

Olly Benzecry, Chairman of Accenture (UKI) and Chair of Movement to Work, said: “Young people have been hardest hit as the UK unemployment rate has risen to new heights during the last year. With sectors that many young people traditionally find employment in, such as retail and hospitality, being disproportionately affected by Covid-19, the younger generation are missing out on vital experience, learning and stability that will help them fulfil their potential. UK business must play a vital role in safeguarding the workforce of the future, which is why it is our collective responsibility to make a purposeful impact.”

Sam Olsen, CEO Movement to Work said: “The moral case for helping young people right now is really clear, but the business case is stronger with each day – setting up work experience programmes generates a fantastic diverse talent pipeline for an organisation, and there’s lots of government-backed schemes like Kickstart to help make it cost effective. We understand times are tough, so Movement to Work can help you figure out the right fit for your organisation, and have a positive impact in the community as a direct result.”

Key speaker at the summit is MtW Youth Ambassador Sam Meakings, now a Youth Employability Coach at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). After years of struggling to find permanent work, he has been helping young people into jobs throughout the pandemic: “I have come full circle. I have suffered the stress and lack of confidence that comes with a long path to the world of work, but starting with the Movement to Work programme, I have spent the last few years building a career I love. Now I am a Youth Employability Coach. The work is so rewarding, but I know first-hand that our young people need willing employers more than ever.”

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Disney CEO says households without kids have boosted streaming success



Disney CEO says households without kids have boosted streaming success 2

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Surprisingly strong interest from adults who do not have kids at home has helped increase subscriptions to Walt Disney Co’s Disney+ streaming service beyond initial projections, Chief Executive Bob Chapek said on Monday.

Disney+ debuted in November 2019 and growth has exceeded Wall Street expectations and Disney’s forecast. While Disney is known for family entertainment, Disney+ also features movies and TV shows from Marvel, “Star Wars” studio Lucasfilm and others.

As of Jan. 2, Disney+ had signed up 94.9 million customers worldwide. Half of those live in households without children, Chapek said, a higher proportion than expected.

“What we didn’t realize was the non-family appeal that a service like Disney+ would have,” Chapek said via online video to the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference.

“In fact, over 50% of our global marketplace don’t have kids,” he added. “When 50% of the people in Disney+ don’t have kids, you really have the opportunity now to think much more broadly about the nature of your content.”

The service has generated buzz for current Marvel show “WandaVision” and “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” featuring the character known as Baby Yoda.

Chapek, who became Disney CEO a year ago, refocused Disney’s media and entertainment businesses to make streaming the priority as customers gravitate to options such as Netflix Inc.

In December, Disney raised initial projections and said it expected to attract as many as 350 million global subscribers across all of its streaming services, which include Hulu and ESPN+, by the end of fiscal 2024.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Zoom shares rise on strong current-quarter forecast, upbeat results



Zoom shares rise on strong current-quarter forecast, upbeat results 3

(Reuters) – Zoom Video Communications Inc forecast current-quarter revenue above expectations, as the company expects millions of people to continue using its video-conferencing platform to work remotely and attend online classes, sending its shares up 10%.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Zoom was a relative upstart founded by a former Cisco executive that had gone public on a promise to make video conferencing software easier to use.

However, businesses around the globe took to the company’s video conferencing services during the virus outbreak. Zoom has since seen a meteoric rise over the last year, with investors keen on knowing if the firm can maintain this level of growth.

Eric Yuan, founder and chief executive officer of Zoom, said the firm was “well positioned for strong growth” in the coming year.

The company forecast current-quarter revenue between $900 million and $905 million, compared with estimates of $829.2 million, according to IBES Refinitiv data.

Zoom has seen its user numbers surge in the past year, while its shares more than quadrupled during the same period. The platform said it has 1,644 customers contributing more than $100,000 in trailing 12 months revenue, more than double from a year earlier.

The company reported quarterly revenue of $882.5 million, compared with estimates of $811.8 million. On an adjusted basis, Zoom earned $1.22 per share, beating estimates of 79 cents per share.

The company’s shares, which closed up 9.6% on Monday, were trading at $452 after the bell.

(Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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