Elaine Wilson, Managing Consultant, ASK Europe plc
To answer such a broad question, one place to start is to identify some of the particular characteristics of the sector: a highly regulated environment, in which compliance, process and procedure are more highly visible than in most other fields, and in which internal targets also loom large.
One measure of leadership, and more specifically its impact, is engagement and satisfaction. A recent Weber Shandwick survey scored the sector highly for access (having the tools to perform a job), involvement (feeling listened to) and desire (a sense that jobs are aspirational). A 2012 Maritz Employeement Engagement Poll meanwhile identified the sector as performing strongly in terms of recognition and reward, particularly around customer service, although the eye is caught by the additional phrase “and adherence to the prominent values of the organization”.
Equally informative, however, are the aspects of engagement where the sector showed room for improvement. While a lower than average sense of excitement about the job may not be entirely surprising in a process-dominated environment, the weakest performances were in ‘meaning’ (a sense of purpose) and in having a sense of common goals and shared interests.
There is perhaps a link here to the target-driven nature of the sector, much of which relates specifically to sales targets. Finance is not, of course, the only sector where a potential downside has been noted. In January 2013, Prof Norman Williams, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, commented in The Daily Telegraph that:
“Managers at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust […] were so focused on hitting financial and waiting time targets that they “forgot why they were there.”
Targets derived – with good intentions – as indicators of progress towards a higher objective (in this case, providing health care and quality of life), can also become drivers of behaviour and serve as blinkers to the bigger picture. They can also act as a handbrake on innovation: the more narrowly attention is focused on ticking the box, the harder it becomes to see or think beyond it – a tendency that a ‘compliance culture’ may also serve to reinforce.
In his book The Art of Action, Stephen Bungay includes the (fictional) tale of Joe, recently appointed to head a major organisation’s product development centre and wrestling with complex challenges with his team. Here is part of one of his conversations with them:
“What we are trying to optimise is the outcome. The measures are the dashboard. We’ve got a speedometer, a milometer, and a fuel gauge. We need to watch them, but we should not confuse the readings on them with what we really want to do, which is to arrive at our destination.”
In a major 2010 research study, Exceeding Expectation: the Principles of Outstanding Leadership, the Work Foundation explored the difference between ‘good’ leaders and those considered truly ‘outstanding’:
“Outstanding leadership focuses on the few key systems and processes which help provide clarity, give structure, enable feedback, allow time for discussion and enable the development of vision. They use them to achieve outcomes rather than focus on the process, and put flexibility and humanity first.”
Another key distinguishing factor also bears re-iteration: outstanding leaders strive to create and enable a strong, shared sense of purpose with direct, clear meaning. ‘What?’ is a vital question to answer, but the finest leaders do so without forgetting that also answering ‘Why?’ will give their first answer a greater sense of meaning. This enhanced answer connects the employee not only to their specific role, providing a context for their own input that enables them to feel a sense of contribution, but also connects them to the organisation – it enables them to see the wheel within which they might otherwise identify only a small number of cogs.
One way to recast this distinction is to consider the difference between leading and managing. The latter is primarily concerned with making the optimum use of resources, and with controlling, organising and marshalling. By contrast, leading – in the sense of working to inspire a team – is focused less on ‘resources’ and more on ‘human’: leaders must inspire and motivate, balancing the needs of both task and team and developing an acute understanding of both.
If we consider what Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee called ‘The Leadership Repertoire’ in their book, Primal Leadership, two leadership styles are particularly relevant: visionary leadership and coaching. The visionary leader prioritises destination over the details of the route, and inspires the team not only to innovate and experiment (thereby promoting both innovation and a sense of meaningful contribution) but also to be fully committed to completing the journey. This prioritising of the requirement to inspire requires a specific emotional intelligence: empathy. Without an understanding of their audience’s perspective and outlook, a leader cannot hope to convey an articulate or meaningful vision.
The coaching leader also requires empathy, listening before giving feedback, reacting or setting challenges, but also creating a sense of trust and of a personal conversation. While responsibility for improving performance ultimately resides with the individual, the coaching leader encourages a sense of an investment being made in the individual and of a commitment to their improvement. Coaching is not micro-managing: the employee is not a tool to achieve the leader’s goals, but an individual working within the broader organisational context to achieve their own. Coaching is focused on the individual rather than the task, but encourages the self-confidence and motivation that enables the individual to master or rise to the challenge that the task embodies.
As in any sector, the single most important key to this is to remember that performance, whether individual or team, is ultimately achieved through and by people rather than by processes or procedures. And the important key to people is to work to understand them as individuals as well as holders of specific titles or performers of specific tasks: while the sector’s performance in equipping employees to fulfil their responsibilities is laudable, equipping someone to excel requires attention to the less tangible elements of the working environment – trust, honesty, openness, and a sense of being valued and developed.
How Long Does It Take to Get Approved for an Online Personal Loan?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tech-enabled cash management strategies have come to the fore during the Covid-19 pandemic – and will be key to firms’ recovery from it
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.
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 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
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.
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.
Asset-based lending is often called ‘working capital finance’ for a reason…
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.
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.
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