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A LOW-CODE LONDON MARKET – THE KEY TO INDUSTRY FUTUREPROOFING

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By Richard Farrell, Chief Innovation Officer at Netcall

 

Aged 332 years, the London Market isn’t new to the need to modernise. For many years, the insurance market has been cautious regarding change and technological advancement, whilst facing mounting pressure to radically transform and keep pace in the digital world. The pandemic, however, has amplified this need for change. Following a year of economic instability, London Market firms risk becoming obsolete if they do not take immediate and urgent action to modernise.

In September 2020, the London Market reported a half-year loss of £400m, compared with a £2.3bn profit in the first half of 2019, and expects to pay out around £5bn in COVID-related claims. With further turbulence and financial uncertainty ahead, the corporate body must keep its sights firmly set on cutting unnecessary costs and transforming internal processes to facilitate this.

Whilst throwing the sector into chaos, the pandemic was a true eye-opener for the Market. Relying on systems and processes built years ago, which were centred around people doing business in a City office, left the London Market at a crossroads and facing once-in-a-lifetime challenges and opportunities. Lockdown created an urgent need for new systems to support a new hybrid workforce, and within this need now lies the opportunity for London Market firms to rejuvenate – building greater efficiency into systems and processes to enable agility and future growth, as well as long-term digital ways of meeting and working. Intelligent automation technologies such as low-code platforms, when combined with robotic process automation (RPA) and powered by artificial intelligence (AI), will be pivotal to this transformation. With these platforms, London Market business users can collaborate and build new applications with IT teams without the need for costly and time-consuming traditional coding methods.

As a result of redesigning processes, London Market businesses can identify where efficiencies can be made and then rapidly develop optimised systems that keep both technology and people at their core. This will be crucial to achieving significant long-term cost savings and maintaining the London Market’s current position on an international level.

 

Using 2020 challenges as inspiration to evolve

The last year has seen a range of hurdles for both the London Market and individual businesses: a shift to remote working, the need to optimise costs, and the imperative to maintain status in the global order. These have not been easy, and these challenges are likely only the start of greater change that we will see in the coming months and years.

Businesses have proven in the last 12 months that they can adapt and shift when needed with the Blueprint plan, Lloyd’s of London’s ambitious plan to create the world’s most advanced insurance marketplace. Blueprint Two, which was released in November 2020 and built on March’s Blueprint One, established new ways of doing business, underpinned by the need for digital channels that enable advanced data collection and management. The right tech and tools can enable brokers, insurers and partners with delegated authorities to operate at a materially lower cost, estimated to be at least £800m as part of this evolution.

As John Neal, Lloyd’s of London CEO, states, the London Market needs to make itself ‘more relevant, more innovative and much more cost-effective’. Solutions that enable rapid digital transformation, whilst boosting efficiency and lowering costs, will be crucial to achieving this goal.

 

Future-proofing the London Market 

Due to its ease-of-use, low-code platforms can empower London Market teams to collaborate to build new applications in the fastest way possible and speed through application backlogs. Rather than taking a rip-and-replace approach to innovation, the technology can enable London Market organisations to stitch legacy systems together with new applications – effectively building upon existing investments to provide a better user and customer experience.

With the right technologies, the London Market can rapidly reduce inefficiencies by automating manual or broken processes, whilst also integrating with a number of different systems. This will enable organisations to provide a central platform that can give visibility across all parties – and in turn enable better decision-making through richer data and the use of AI.

Perhaps one of the more pressing London Market processes brought into the limelight during the pandemic has been the process of claims management – which intelligent automation solutions can help with too. With so many stakeholders involved, managing the claims lifecycle can be extremely complex, and the sheer number of claims being processed means that teams face huge pressure to provide swift service, and to keep claims pipelines moving. By consolidating data and processes under one platform, the lifecycle management can be improved to provide real-time information relating to a company’s claims exposures, including aggregates, and other elements such as supplier management. Greater visibility of these elements will, in turn, drive greater sector efficiencies.

 

Reshaping the London Market once and for all 

The next few months will bring myriad challenges and opportunities around reshaping how London Market businesses work and trade for the benefit of its clients and people. There are considerations for all organisations, including new ways of employee and trading partner engagement. A one-size-fits-all strategy simply won’t work in such a complex environment, but using the right software can unlock business benefits and growth potential for London Market firms large and small.

Fundamentally, London Market firms must invest in and prioritise the technologies that will enable their workforce to save time and drive value back to the organisation – as well as work how they want to work. Whilst the social nature of the London Market, which is largely based on personal networks, indicates a strong return to office work when lockdown restrictions are lifted, there is still likely to be some level of remote working moving forward.

Flexible and agile intelligent automation technologies can empower the London Market to join data together across numerous back-end systems to provide an easy-to-use workflow across complex process requirements. By enabling employees to make better-informed underwriting and claims decisions, based on better access to enriched information, organisations can not only drive greater efficiencies, but keep up with the demands of a digital-first future.

 

Business

REMOTE WORKING SHOULDN’T MEAN A COMPROMISE IN GOOD ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE

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To be bylined to Simon Kearsley, CEO of bluQube

The increase in remote working has meant that reliable accountancy software has become more important than ever to keep businesses working to their full ability. If your business is still relying on manual, paper-based systems for its accounting needs, now is the time to re-evaluate and modernise its accountancy system.

Simon Kearsley

This may also be true if a business’ existing accountancy software is not up to modern standards and falling behind crucial technological developments. Traditional accountancy systems rely on finite capacity for data and are often inflexible. They can also make accounting more difficult when they are not designed to handle multiple users at a time from different networks and locations. Increasing levels of access needs mean that less-modern systems can become slow and overworked, making it difficult for teams to access and slowing processes down.

Updating accounting systems alongside the progression of software is key to ensuring that a business is performing its best and increasing productivity where possible. If a company is not up to date, they risk falling behind competitors that are turning to automated, cloud-based accounting systems.

 

How to assess if your accounting system is working for you

Below are some integral functions for accountancy software which must be considered.

 

Reliable reporting: It is vital that you are able to access data whenever it is needed. Whilst excel is commonly used for manipulating and reporting on financial data, it puts that data at risk of mistakes and makes confidential information more at risk of comprise. Having reliable means for accessing information and reporting on it reduces the chances of these issues occurring and ensures you’re able to utilise that data for informed decision making.

 

No unnecessary costs or overspending: With reliable access to data comes productivity. As members of a team across a company have instant access to the necessary data, such as budgets and spending reports, it means that there is full transparency of up to the minute costs. This ensures that there is no risk of employees being unaware of the current financial status of the business.

 

Improved performance levels: Implementing efficient cloud-based accounting software will ensure your business performs more efficiently and productively than before. Heavy traffic on databases is easily managed, keeping your system running quickly and saving you time extracting the necessary data.

 

Scalable and adaptable: Modern systems are structured in a way to be adaptable and scalable alongside business growth. As your business grows, the volume of accountancy items your system will need to process will change and the way in which you need to report on that data will also evolve. With the right system in place, you can add additional modules, users or data storage in line with your business needs.

The right cloud-based software reduces the risks of your company being held back by a legacy system that is behind the curve.

 

How cloud-based systems can help businesses with productivity

Growth comes with obstacles, but your accounting system should not add to them. Up to date systems should help with business productivity, ensuring that time and money is spent on the most important things. This reduces the risk of businesses being phased out by higher performing competitors utilising modern, and often cloud powered systems.

Modern, cloud-based software is more flexible than ever before. Modern web-service data links will improve the ease of sharing real-time data across business systems, which in turn allows finance staff to direct their attention away from manual processes and toward more commercial objectives.

These modernised systems can also provide specific employee by employee access to varying data sets and varying areas of the software. Tailored access ensures staff aren’t overwhelmed with information they don’t need, or information you don’t want them to see, enabling them to login and help themselves to real-time figures. This makes it quicker for people to access the data they need and reduces workloads for financial teams who previously had to run and collate endless reports for budget holders and management teams. Highly tailored access to your accounting software is also a safer choice, as only those who really need the information can see it.

Another advantage of an effective, modern accounting system is the ability for data to be updated at any time, from anywhere. Again, this can speed up financial processes and ensures that decisions are always being made with real-time figures. With remote working becoming increasingly common, this is an integral feature that can help with financial efficiency.

In order for your company on to fulfil its potential in terms of efficiency and productivity, it’s essential you have the right software in place to support it. The core finance team in particular will be able to free up time to focus on strategic tasks, and decision makers around the business will have access to financial data like never before.

However, if your accounting system is falling behind in terms of these modern features, they may be holding your business back.

 

What to look for in an accounting software provider

Firstly, if you’re looking for a cloud-based system, find out where your data will actually be housed and what security protocols are in place. Not all cloud systems are created equal, and the level of security your data receives can vary tremendously.

Once you’ve ensured it’s secure, it is good to make a judgement on whether it is utilising the best technology available in the market. This will include secure data handling, as well as having user-friendly interface, making it accessible to users throughout the business, not just your core finance department.

It is also significant that the system is reliable and not underperforming when you need it most. For it to be reliable it needs to also be scalable, as your business grows your cloud system should be able to support it, no matter the size of your business. A great cloud supplier will also be constantly investing in new technology behind the scenes, ensuring your software remains at the forefront of modern tech and leaving you to simply focus on the day job.

Finally, if you feel confident in your choice, it is always good to check current client reviews on how the system has positively affected their company. This will help to figure out the potential cloud journey you may undertake and it’s always reassuring to know you’re in the right hands.

 

Final thoughts

If you want to keep up with digital evolutions, changing your accountancy software to a future-proof solution could be a critical step towards maximising your company’s efficiency and productivity, allowing more time and room for your business to grow.

 

 

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9 STRATEGIES TO INCREASE YOUR REVENUE

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The primary goal for nearly any company is to increase sales and revenue, as these numbers are the linchpin that keeps businesses, well, in business. In order to give your numbers a boost, your company should focus your efforts in places that are most likely to increase conversions, establish better customer relationships, refine your sales approaches and further your influence within your own market. Regardless of whether your company is at its most successful or it needs a major boost in profits, these tips will help you to increase revenue streams and reach your fiscal goals.

  1. Identify Your Revenue Objectives

If all you know is that you’d like to increase profits, it’s a good idea to really break down what that may look like for you and your company. Do you want to double your profits in a year? Do you want to break even? Think about just how much of an increase you’re after, and then figure out how to infuse profit-driven micro-goals into each step of your sales pipeline.

  1. Adjust Your Prices

If your goods and services are stellar, but you’re barely making enough money to cover overhead costs, you may want to kick things up a notch. Competitive prices may seem to give you an edge within your market, but your pricing strategy should always support a significant profit margin. Even a small adjustment to your prices can have a huge difference on your bottom line.

  1. Reach Out to Customers

Your customers are largely who your company depends on to remain in business, and that role should not be taken lightly. Customers appreciate the opportunity to connect with businesses on a personal level, from individual conversations to opportunities to leave reviews about their experience with your business. In this same vein, it can be helpful to focus your attention on loyal, repeat or ongoing customers. These buyers are already acquainted with your business, your products or your services, so an upsell or discount offered to them is a lot more likely to be effective than one offered to the general public.

  1. Establish Incentives

Holidays, seasonal events and storewide celebrations can bring in more customers if your approach to your products during this time is creative, attractive and accessible to your clients. Consider offering special discounts, bundled products, loyalty programs or added extras to bring customers back into your store or to encourage them to purchase more than one item on their next visit.

  1. Expand Your Reach

No matter how wide your net is cast, it can probably reach a little wider. If there is a social media platform you have yet to establish a presence with, start that today. If you can reach out to a local store owner for a distribution partnership, draft that email. The larger your audience, the more people you’ll reach who may support your business.

  1. Feature Something New

There comes a time when your inventory, services or goods can become a little stale even to your most loyal customers. Your customers want to feel like they have more choices, even if they visit your business and end up ordering the exact same thing they always have. When it comes to new offerings, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Try something in a new color, an adjacent product, a seasonal flavor, a bundled service or a discount on purchases of a certain number of your existing products.

  1. Offer Financing

While you’d like to have the total cost upfront, you could attract more customers by offering a new way to pay. Many customers don’t always have the funds to shell out on your most expensive products or packages even if they wanted to, but if you spread out their payments over the course of a few months, they may be more likely to snap it up now–and you won’t lose out on any revenue in the end.

  1. Collect Customer Data

If you’re wondering why your sales have slowed or plateaued, just ask. Consider sending out a customer survey that will help you to better define who is shopping with you, what they’re buying, what their experience is with your store and how you can improve that for them in the future. To increase the likelihood of many responses, keep surveys short and sweet, and offer a discount or free service upon completion.

  1. Focus on Your Brand

The best brands are reliable, consistent and recognizable, which goes a long way in the establishment of consumer trust and rapport. Make sure that your presence in the marketplace reflects your products, values and services accurately, and clean up any areas that need a little fine-tuning. Check your website, social media channels, in-store signage and newsletters and rewrite anything necessary in order to better demonstrate your brand identity. The more your customers feel that they know what they will get whenever they visit your store, the more likely they will be to come back and spend more of their hard-earned dollars to support you.

 

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