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HOW PURGING YOUR CORPORATE ART COLLECTION CAN POSITIVELY IMPACT CULTURAL DIVERSITY

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Patrick McCrae, CEO of arts and cultural consultancy ARTIQ said:

 

This year, British Airways made headlines following its decision to sell off some off the oldest and most valuable parts of its art collection. Struggling with mass redundancies, data breaches and a stream of cancellations, the company began purging artworks in a bid to offset its pandemic losses.

Over the past few months, other major corporations have followed suit.

London’s Royal Opera House last month sold a prized David Hockney at auction for 12 million and UK travel agent Thomas Cook likewise parted with a 3,000-year-old Egyptian statue, held in its archives since the end of 19th century. Meanwhile, the Royal Academy is facing criticism for its retention of a Michelangelo during a period of mass staff redundancies.

Corporates selling their art collections is not a new phenomenon, but the pandemic has certainly accelerated that trend. More businesses are looking at where they can extract latent value in assets, which has encouraged bigger collectors to dispose of their collections. Over the summer BA consequently sold 17 pieces of art that had previously decorated its executive lounges, including works by Damien Hirst and Bridget Riley.

These sales were primarily triggered by BA’s efforts to ‘preserve funds and protect jobs’, but other corporates have been purging their artworks as a result of changing tastes and an evolution in ideas surrounding corporate responsibility in the arts. Deutsche Bank, who boasts one of the largest corporate collections in the world, for instance, recently announced it would be reducing its art collection by over 4,000 pieces, in part to improve “the contemporary quality” of its collection. By selling corporate collections made up of household names, the company is freeing up money to invest in young or emerging artists.

In comparison, stagnant collections made up of Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin might look good but do little to support the long-term art ecosystem. This sort of art is primarily viewed as an investment avenue whose value is tied up for years on end in the hopes that one day it will return a profit. The sales we are seeing now are a case in point. There is a whole new generation of artists in need of long-term support and mentoring that can only be achieved through the acquisition or renting of new artworks.

It is no surprise then that corporates who are increasingly conscious of their image and brand are purging their household names in favour of collections made up of new, more culturally relevant, artists. The writing appeared to be on the wall with BA’s announcement in June, but in truth the trajectory of corporate collecting had begun to shift before the pandemic.

We have also seen an increasing number of businesses selling their collections all together in favour of art rental, which offers bespoke collections and flexible leasing terms for a small fraction of the cost of ownership. Corporates are able to engage and improve the wellbeing of their teams, meet their social responsibility targets and provide economically sustained support of artists.

Not only is the trend of selling off art collections making physical space in lounges and lobbies for new flexible artworks to be installed, it is also creating space for new names to arise in the industry. Through art rental, artists who are at the beginning of their career are given a viable and sustained income by corporates looking to enhance their CSR portfolio. This is particularly value for those who, due to their background or economic circumstance, may not be able to afford to support themselves until they reach gallery representation or develop a market for their work.

Corporates, likewise, are able to curate collections that can be scaled up and scaled down depending on business and social requirements. With the rise of flexible working, this is something that is will become increasingly important post pandemic. Offices are set to be transformed into cultural hubs and will need to be culturally relevant and consistent with business values. With equality becoming one of the defining narratives of 2020, businesses that are championing issues related to sexuality, gender, race and socioeconomic equality – for instance through the very visual displays of artwork – will be the ones that come out on top.

We are also seeing a rise in the number of companies giving staff creative agency over their working environments. This is particularly important when it comes to art. According to a recent study by Dr Craig Knight, individuals work 15 per cent more productively in environments containing artworks and plants, a figure that doubles to over 30 percent for spaces where participants had a say in curation.

It is no surprise then that demand for art rental businesses such as ARTIQ has remained strong during the pandemic. International banking group Investec are shortly to install a recently curated a collection of London and South African artists to show their passion and commitment to promoting diversity. The firm has been with ARTIQ for a number of years, after the consultancy helped sell off its static corporate collection.

Corporate patronage has long been a core part of business identity and will continue to be as we emerge from the pandemic, however the manner in which corporates support the cultural economy is modernising. The value placed on arts and culture by corporates is being sped up by the pandemic as they try harder to engage all stakeholders in a more visible way. We are thus unquestionably witnessing a marked shift away from how companies have traditionally collected art. Emerging in the place of stagnant collections is a new type of arts patronage, one that can truly support the arts ecosystem and champion diversity across not only the arts but society as a whole.

 

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FINTECH COMPANY PAYEN CHOOSES AQILLA FOR ITS LIMITLESS SCALABILITY AND SUPERIOR MULTI-CURRENCY FEATURES

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Payen is a fast-growing FinTech company that provides gateway Payment and FX services to online merchants. Having launched in 2010, the business has grown steadily, winning three UK high-growth awards in 2019 and now has an annual revenue of over £14 million. As a global payments company, Payen deals with huge volumes of complex multi-currency transactions on a daily basis. Their accounting system needs to be able to scale effortlessly to these volumes as well as handle the unique nuances of multi-currency and foreign exchange.

 

Payen’s vision is to provide innovative solutions with a personal touch. As such they’ve continuously improved their 100% proprietary technology to enhance the process at every step in the payment value chain. Most recently, this includes extending their global options for alternative payment methods, as well as offering business bank accounts and forex services. As a cloud-based service, Aqilla effortlessly scales to handle Payen’s growing number of currencies and transactions.

 

Global payment transactions involve numerous touchpoints. As a payment gateway, Payen sits in the middle of this process, but Aqilla has the flexibility to handle this. Payen also offers foreign exchange services, so multi-currency is key to their finance function. Aqilla features simple but sophisticated handling of multi-currency transactions with extensive multi-currency capabilities throughout its ledgers.

 

Hugh Scantlebury, Aqilla’s CEO and Founder, explains further: “Aqilla’s reporting system features an easy to use report editor and query builder that lets you create custom reports that can easily be extended across multiple companies and currencies. Aqilla’s API also allows it to connect to other business apps, which Payen plans to use in the future to consolidate reports for its two UK-based entities.”

 

Payen’s Head of Finance Hannah James endorses Aqilla as an adaptable and easy to use accounting solution to support Payen as it grows: “As a fast-growing business, we need lean processes that can scale. Aqilla has continued to deliver this, even as we’ve added more services, currencies, and transactions. We’ve had no issues with the volume of transactions, and Aqilla’s support team has always been prompt and helpful. On the whole, we don’t notice any problems because Aqilla just works. And we know it has the features and flexibility in place to keep up with our evolving requirements,” she explained.

 

Hannah continues: “Aqilla meets all of our reporting needs. I particularly find the ability to drill into accounting categories very useful, avoiding the need to manipulate data outside of the system, downloading it every time. I can see the detail I need through simple navigation. We hope to continue to build on the reporting capabilities in Aqilla by creating a more automated method of consolidation using Sharperlight, however, we already have a good level of business intelligence and the information is easy to extract.”

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NEW RESEARCH REVEALS KEY ROLE OF KYC COMPLIANCE IN DRIVING CUSTOMER LOYALTY, ADVOCACY AND NEW BUSINESS

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The impact of financial crime for institutions goes beyond crippling fines

 

A piece of original research conducted by RegTech Associates on behalf of PassFort, the SaaS RegTech provider, whose platform automates financial crime and compliance processes, has revealed that customers who reported a better than expected compliance onboarding experience in the last 12 months were much more likely to remain loyal, advocate for their brands and acquire more products than those whose experience was worse than expected. These results underline the importance of delivering outstanding service along the whole customer lifecycle.

The survey was conducted in July and August 2021 and addressed a representative sample of 500 UK financial services consumers who had acquired a new financial product in the past twelve months. Products had been acquired from a mix of high street banks, challenger banks, mobile and digital banks and building societies. Those who had a worse than expected compliance onboarding experience[1] were much more likely than their peers to believe their providers did little to protect them from financial crime[2]. They were also much more likely to underestimate the penalties facing providers, with one-third (32 percent) assuming they would get no more than a “slap on the wrist”[3].

Announced today to coincide with Donald Gillies’, CEO, PassFort, panel discussion at Money 20/20, the research highlights consumer attitudes towards their providers and the outcomes they drive, as well as digging more broadly into their perceptions of risk, their experiences of fraud and views on the current UK debate around digital identity.

Regulatory technology that supports know your customer (KYC) compliance in financial institutions has historically been viewed as a cost burden. However, the findings revealed today clearly show a positive trend for those providers who execute well. The case for business benefit or value-add can clearly be seen in the correlation between consumer attitudes towards positive compliance onboarding experiences and a likelihood to go on to purchase additional products.

 

In fact, as a result of their interactions, those customers who received a better than expected experience of compliance onboarding described themselves as:

  • more likely to recommend their provider (77 percent, which was more than double the rate of 32 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)
  • more likely to buy more products (60 percent, which was almost 3.0x the rate of 21 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)
  • less likely to make a complaint (50 percent, versus only 14 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)
  • less likely to switch providers (49 percent, more than 2.5x the rate of 18 percent for those whose experience had been worse than expected)

“The complex compliance landscape has been under even more pressure with the impact of the pandemic. There were more than 1,330 pieces of covid related regulation introduced by August 2020 alone. Couple this with the enforced financial pressures on consumers and a global increase in fraud and financial crime and we have to understand that the perceptions and demands of consumers have shifted,” said Dr Christine Bailey, CMO, PassFort. “The compliance onboarding process shouldn’t be seen as a cost burden to financial institutions. Instead, what this research starkly demonstrates is the importance of onboarding at the beginning of the customer lifecycle in terms of how it influences customer loyalty, advocacy and future buying decisions.”

Far from being an unseen element of the customer journey, KYC at onboarding can be a differentiator for financial institutions. As financial crime increasingly dominates our headlines, the public are becoming aware of the value and vulnerability of their digital identity. One of the many legacies of Covid is that consumers are demanding more from the organisations they engage with across the board and trust ranks highly on that list of expectations.

“A stand-out result from the survey is the clear connection between the ability of leaders to exceed the customer’s expectations of what their compliance journey should look like, and the positive outcomes that follow. For example, in 90 percent of cases, customers who received a better than expected compliance journey would describe their provider as “trustworthy”, while 88 percent would say their provider was “efficient”. In contrast, for those whose experiences undershot expectations, the figures drop sharply, to 64 percent and 39 percent respectively,” commented Rob Stubbs, Head of Research at RegTech Associates. “Despite many customers telling us their experience was ‘as expected’ it’s clearly important that providers don’t rest on their laurels.”

“Against this backdrop, firms cannot afford to view satisfactory delivery as being good enough. There is a very real opportunity for engaging valuable revenue streams and enhancing reputation for those who step up,” continued Dr Bailey. “The regulatory landscape is ever changing and incredibly complex, yet we still see an ad hoc approach to regulatory technology across the industry with many firms still relying on heavily manual processes.  In the same way we have seen marketing automation revolutionise the marketing function, it’s time to digitise compliance and streamline the entire customer journey.”

 

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