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Finance

PIONEERS OF THE ‘THINK GLOBAL, ACT LOCAL’ OUTLOOK

James Booth, Vice President – Head of Partnerships, EMEA

 

The term ‘global village’ has been in use since the 1960s, but the internet has really turbo-charged the idea. It has shrunk both distance and time, making the world more interconnected. People can now exchange messages, stories, opinions, posts and videos online easier than at any time in the past.

Consumers can experience so much — new ideas, cultures and places — virtually. Yet the market for real-world, physical travel is still growing. Unsurprisingly, more and more of this is booked online. So, how has the travel industry managed to sustain growth and stay relevant in a shrinking world? And what can other industries learn from their example?

 

Travel sector playbook

Airline and hotel purchases account for 15-25% of total e-commerce spend by value across the ten countries in the recently published PPRO and Klarna European Travel Guide. This ranges from one-lira or one-zloty-in-seven spent online in Turkey and Poland to one-krone-in-four in Norway.

This is because airlines and hotels were the true pioneers of global, customer-centric commerce. To extend customer choice and maximise sales, hotels and airlines have always sold through multiple channels. Whether it was travel agencies, tour operators or direct-to-consumer, they embraced platforms and marketplaces before it was fashionable. They traded ‘cross-channel’, ‘multi-channel’ and ‘omnichannel’ before such terms existed.

To make customers feel at home wherever and however they spent, they priced in local currency and offered dynamic currency conversion (DCC) as standard. Airlines and international hotel chains were also early to loyalty schemes and to using intelligent systems and insight to personalise the customer experience.

To secure sales from overseas customers, hotels and airlines understood the importance of local payment methods. They have always offered popular local payment options, such as bank transfers, e-wallets and domestic debit cards. To capture their share of the growing Chinese outbound tourism market, hotels and airlines were also early acceptors of Alipay and WeChat Pay.

 

The more global, the more local

There’s no one single, global way to pay. Global payments brands such as Visa and Mastercard account for only 23 per cent of global e-commerce payments. This will fall to 15 per cent by 2021, Worldpay research suggests. So, far from consolidating, the payments landscape is fragmenting.

There are more than 145 different local payment methods of relevance in Europe alone, as profiled in the PPRO Payments Almanac. Acquirers, payment service providers (PSPs) and merchants must accept that unless they can localise payments, they will miss out on sales.

For example, those selling online in the Netherlands or trying to appeal to Dutch shoppers must accept iDEAL. 57 per cent of online purchases are made via this bank transfer method. Online merchants in more than 60 countries worldwide now also offer iDEAL as a payment method to Dutch customers.

 

The right payment partners

While it is good manners as well as good business to localise payments, for merchants it is a catch-22.  Allowing customers to pay anyone, anytime, anyhow from any device or funding source. Or exchange loyalty points for full or part payment for travel or other offers pushes complexity into the back-end. Or administer the various currency pairs in a multi-currency or DCC transaction, is more complicated than it sounds.

Payments play a central, enabling role in driving simpler, smarter, more customised experiences. Managing the increasing complexity in the payments process requires a large set of specialised payment services. So, the need for a central, value-adding hub for local payments has never been greater.

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Finance

HOW TO MANAGE YOUR CASH FLOW IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

CASH FLOW

While the world is constantly changing, probably at a faster pace now than ever before, businesses need to manage cash flow and costs to drive success in uncertain times, says Matthew Thorpe, partner at Haines Watts Essex.

 

Managing people and expenses

There are certain costs that you just can’t avoid as a business – to keep your operation running seamlessly, but scrutinise the detail and cut down on any non-essential expenses. Check things like your SaaS subscriptions and look out for costs that auto-renew and if you do cancel, remember to also cancel your direct debits too.

You might want to put a freeze on hiring new people, but ensure that other roles and responsibilities are clearly and efficiently assigned across your team. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been introduced by the Government to help UK employers access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary to avoid redundancies. Affected employees are classed as “furloughed workers”.

Once furloughed, the employee cannot work or they will not qualify for the scheme. For businesses that perhaps need to go further, there may be some roles they don’t need any more, but businesses should work sensitively with people to manage this.

 

Cash is king

In uncertain times, owner managers will need to keep operations going to ensure financial stability. You should look to manage debt more efficiently by negotiating extended payment terms with creditors. You could also renegotiate loans for longer repayment terms to give yourself a lower monthly payment, helping the business to set some cash aside each month.

 

Daily forecasting

As a business owner, you need to create a cash flow projection and update this regularly if you are to improve things. You can do this using financial information to create a picture of how the business will look in the next 12 months. The forecast needs to show revenue sources and expenses, which will show the ups and downs of business income and can be used to make sure that enough finance is in place.

 

Good house-keeping

While banks and other finance providers recognise that the cashflow of a business may be disrupted by the impact of Covid-19, they are still going to want to see that you are viable and continue to trade in these uncertain times. Make sure your business is organised and don’t let disorganisation cause unnecessary issues. You can evidence this by having detailed forecasts; current order books and projections (as best as possible).

Having instantly accessible, accurate financial information allows you to plan effectively, spot issues before they become problems and manage your money in the most efficient and rewarding way.

 

Embrace technology

Software is now incredibly user-friendly and accessible from anywhere. For a business owner embracing the technology, this means:

  • Invoicing can be done instantly when a job is complete, emailed to the customer with an easy to use link to a payment platform.
  • Comparison websites can automatically monitor and help maintain lowest cost for things such as light & heat, insurance etc.
  • Technology can be used in place of face-to-face meetings. It can also enable them to adapt production lines to different demands.

All of these things and more, used properly, can make managing your business finances quicker, easier and often cheaper.  You will also be able to bring clarity to where your business stands and prepare for the next steps.

 

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Finance

HOW FINANCIAL SERVICES CAN GET TO GRIPS WITH RISING SUPPLY CHAIN RISK

FINANCIAL SERVICES

By Alex Saric, smart procurement expert, Ivalua

 

UK businesses have never been more dependent on their suppliers to help them deliver goods and services to their customers. Be it retail, manufacturing or financial services, suppliers have a vital role to play when it comes to innovation and meeting customer expectations. However, as supply chains become increasingly global, businesses are potentially exposing themselves to more risk than ever before.

This is especially true in financial services. Whether it’s the impact of geopolitical events like Brexit or global tariff wars, supply shortages, security or the businesses impact on the environment, an organisation’s failure to identify and mitigate risk could see millions wiped off its share price, and its corporate reputation left in tatters. Risk can present itself anywhere and at any time, so financial services firms must be ready to address it. However, many simply don’t have the ability to evaluate suppliers for risk factors, leaving them wide open to business operations being hindered, or being slapped with financial penalties.

 

More suppliers, increasing risk

One reason why financial services firms aren’t able to evaluate suppliers is the breadth and scale of today’s supply chains. For example, French oil company Total said in in a recent human rights briefing paper that they work with over 150,000 direct suppliers worldwide. This is just one example of how large and varied the roster of partners has become. Research from Ivalua has found that financial services businesses on average are working with around 3,600 suppliers annually, which is evenly split between UK-based and international partners. That number is expected to rise, with 60% expecting the number of suppliers they work with to rise.

The expanding nature of suppliers is only going to expose financial services firms to more potential risk than ever before, yet 78% say they face challenges gaining complete visibility into suppliers and their activities.

A lack of supplier visibility leaves businesses unable to identify and mitigate against supply chain risk. In fact, almost three-quarters (73%) of financial services firms have experienced some type of risk during the last 12 months. These include; supplier failure (43%), environmental impact, such as pollution or waste (35%) and supply shortages (45%). Supply shortages can be among the most damaging to a business, as seen by both the KFC chicken shortage which closed stores, and the summer 2018 CO2 shortage which caused companies such as Heineken and Coca-Cola to pause production, impacting supply across Europe during the World Cup.

 

Businesses unprepared for the worst

One way financial services firms can better prepare for risk is to ensure they know what to plan for to reduce the impact. However, whilst some say they have a contingency plan in place to deal with risk, many of them are unprepared. Financial services firms admitted to not having comprehensive and deployed contingency plans in place to prepare the supply chain for risk such as; natural disasters (68%), supply shortages (67%), geopolitical changes (65%), environmental impact (63%), supplier failure (62%) and modern slavery (50%).

In order to effectively prepare for these types of risks, it’s vital that financial services businesses fully understand their suppliers, their business environment, global variations in regulations, geopolitics, and a host of other factors. But for many, there are multiple challenges when it comes to gaining this understanding. A prevailing factor is an inability to gain visibility into all suppliers and activity because supplier management data is stored in multiple locations and formats, making insights difficult to access. This leaves teams unable to review supplier activity and assess compliance.

 

Making supplier management smarter

It’s imperative that financial services businesses are able to respond or prepare for supply chain risk. Clearly, much more needs to be done to ensure they have complete visibility of suppliers, especially in an era where regulators can levy heavy fines for GDPR breaches and scandals spread in minutes over social media. These types of risks can be reduced in the future if procurement teams have a 360-degree view of suppliers which will help with contingency planning and risk management.

For example, in the instance of supply shortages, plans could be put in place that identify alternative suppliers to ensure any shortages do not impact end users. This type of supplier collaboration is paramount when it comes to managing and mitigating against supplier shortages. When it comes to regulations, financial services firms can’t allow a lack of visibility to limit their ability to ensure all suppliers are compliant.

To do this, teams must take a smarter approach to procurement that gives complete visibility into suppliers throughout the supply chain. This will allow financial services firms to identify and plan for risk, reducing the potential damage, and ensuring they are working with and awarding business to low-risk suppliers. Supply chain risk is rapidly becoming an overarching concern for financial services firms, but by providing the ability to assess suppliers, they will have all the insights they need to mitigate the impact on business operations.

 

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