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THE FINANCE SECTOR CAN WORK REMOTELY AND SECURELY…AND HERE’S THE PROOF

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Kieran O’Connor, UK Enterprise Lead from Jamf

 

For the financial industry, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to mitigate cyber risk purely because it’s systemic and warrants a global effort. Yet, the industry has been tasked with gaining a granular view to keep customers safe, remain compliant, and streamline the various security protocols in place – all while working with organisations that have various levels of cybersecurity maturity. It’s difficult for any one firm to understand how an attacker might move across their supply chain.

If that wasn’t all, as the pace of digital disruption accelerates and innovative new technologies reach the market, those in the sector are having to digitise their offerings and adapt to remain competitive. This involves equipping their staff with the latest technology for success.

The growing popularity of consumer-favoured devices in enterprise, such as Apple Macs, iPads and iPhones, has supported collaboration and innovation but it has also meant that financial services now require skilled expertise in device and app management to ensure those fragmented regulations can continued to be followed, wherever the employee may be.

 

The most desired target

According to the Boston Consulting Group, financial service firms experience up to 300 times as many cyberattacks per year, globally, compared to companies in other industries. As one of the main contributors to the UK economy, it’s no surprise that it’s the most attractive sector for cybercriminals looking for financial gain or malicious intent.

The recent pandemic, instigated a shift in the way financial organisations needed to move to a remote working strategy – further exposing them to both generic and targeted attacks. In fact, it’s been reported that UK businesses have seen remote working increase by up to 80% and of those surveyed, almost a third (32%) said they had suffered a cyberattack in the past 12 months as a direct result of an employee working remotely and being outside of the organisation’s security perimeter.

In order for financial organisation to progress and keep up with customer demand, there needs to be stronger solutions that balance security with productivity – how else can companies protect their business and customers, grow and remain innovative, all while working remotely?

 

Skip the tradition

Consumers are demanding convenience through digital services and remaining innovative with the ability to adapt quickly, using smart devices, has come to the forefront.

One such firm that understood how to leverage consumer devices for innovation, while remaining compliant is Curve – a payment card provider that aggregates multiple payment cards through its accompanying mobile app.

Having tripled in size in under a year – going from 90 to 280 employees – the company needed to on-board staff quickly and securely. Knowing that this could often be where security protocols could become lax, they enlisted the support of an Apple-specific, enterprise mobile device management provider.

Tasks such as managing the roll out of devices, software, patch updates and even regular password resets – all of which provide opportunities for cyber criminals to access data through the back door – had become a concern since the recruitment process was moving so quickly.

The company needed to keep stringent security protocols in place to protect confidential customer data and financial information or risk breaking regulations such as GDPR or PCI DSS, which could lead to heavy fines and court cases.

By seeking the support of a third-party solution provider that specialised in Apple mobile device and app management, Curve could achieve zero day deployment and OS updates across every device so no one was left with old software that could potentially cause a threat to security Advanced inventory functions such as Smart Groups, quickly identified unused or missing devices which would need renewing.

While Apple products are similar to use by nature, employees were empowered set up their devices and reset passwords – helping them to become more educated on how cyber threats can take place while fixing common issues. This enabled Curve’s IT team to deploy compliance and patch updates via a single dashboard to ensure everyone stayed secure.

This resulted in Curve being able to continue its growth journey without damaging the employee experience or putting security on the line. The company made adaptations to their current technology capabilities for both employees and customers, which made the journey much smoother. They can now focus on other company targets like re-launching their self-service portal with automated patch roll outs which will also improve the user experience tremendously.

The financial industry may have been reluctant to work remotely, but since the pandemic acted as a catalysts to remove company walls, many have realised it can be possible and beneficial.  Selecting device and app management support that understands the plethora of red tape they need to abide by, as well as the devices employees use most, will provide the risk management assurance they need to succeed.

 

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Business

TOP TIPS FOR BOOSTING YOUR CASH FLOW AND BUSINESS IN 2021

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Ian Gass, CEO at Agitate

 

Many small businesses are still dealing with the disruption caused by the pandemic. Improving financial performance is most likely to be at the top of agenda, and a good place to start is reviewing cash flow. No matter what the product or services a company provides or the size of the business, cash flow still remains king.

Research has shown that 38% of small business owners who have suffered cash flow problems have been left unable to pay debts. With 1 in 7 small business owners having been left unable to pay employees because of cash flow issues, this equates to a huge 2.2 million people in the UK not being paid on time.

 

The importance of positive cash flow

Profit has traditionally been seen as the most important measure of an organisation’s financial performance. However, the focus is increasingly shifting from the income statement to the balance of cash inflows and outflows. Prioritising profit levels reflect long term fiscal health, but it does not necessarily mean that a business can pay its bills on time and survive in the short term.

Ian Gass

Sudden drops in demand prove how keeping an efficient cash flow balance is essential, and can expose shortcomings of currently used solutions. When reviewing your cash flow, you need to look at ways to get more money coming in and better manage the money that is going out. Here are a few ways to improve cash flow management and see positive changes in a short period of time.

 

  1. Efficient forecast

It is important to be able to compare actual income and expenses with those that are in the pipeline, as it helps to determine which area of business is under performing or generating unnecessary costs. Start by looking at your projected income and expenses for the next three months, don’t wait until you receive a bill to realise there are not enough funds to cover it. An easy way to overcome this issue is a free cash flow template available online.

 

  1. Terms and Conditions review

Making sure that T&Cs are clear and comprehensive not only provides your business with a protective layer, but also makes customers understand when and how the payment is expected, and the process and penalties for late payments. That’s why regular checks and reviews of existing agreements prevents businesses from potential loses. It is also good to use reward tactics to encourage customers for prompt or early payment such as discounts or free shipping.

 

  1. Payment terms

Payment terms that are understandable and realistic is clear T&Cs in place. As it creates a contract with suppliers and obliges the organisation to pay on time, it is important to match these terms wider operation processes. For instance, if you have 14 days to pay your suppliers, but your customers get 30 days to pay you, a problem of late payments will be inevitable. To avoid damaging relationships with suppliers, you should consider an extension of the terms or reducing the credit period for your clients. It is worth taking deposits, asking for payment in advance or on receipt.

 

  1. Invoice management

Another method that can quicky improve cash flow is sending invoices promptly and ensuring they are accurate. Any mistakes will simply require queries to be resolved and it will take longer to receive payment. In addition, it is important to remain persistent at following up late payments and moving the money to the bank as soon as possible. Some clients will always need chasing and, without a follow up, they will hold on to the cash as long as possible.

 

  1. Payment options

Making it easy for clients to pay gives businesses the best chances of being paid quicker. While accepting card payments might be common place, there is a high risk of fraud. For example, in 2019 £620.6m was lost in card fraud in the UK. Also, it can be expensive to process and often leaves an organisation to wait days to receive the funds. Using a free bank-to-bank payment app means businesses can send payment requests from mobile phone straight to customers via email or messaging app (such as WhatsApp).

In that case, the consumer will receive a message with all the information they need to make the payment instantly. They click the secure ‘Paylink’, which directs them to their online banking app and all the relevant information is displayed such as your name, the amount to be paid and a reference. The transaction needs then authorising with their bank and the money moves instantly from their account to yours.

 

  1. Cost reduction

If there is too much money going out that a company can’t afford, business owners need to think of ways to reduce those expenses. There are a few questions to help understand where money can easily be dislocated:

Is there software or equipment that you are paying for that you don’t use? Can overhead costs such as utilities and administrative expenses be reduced? Are card transaction fees putting an unnecessary pressure on cash balance? If so, it can be eliminated with a bank-to-bank payment app.

Although profit might be seen as the ultimate goal for companies of all shapes and sizes, sustaining positive cash flow provides vital foundations on which a company can grow. By using the right tools, business owners can not only get paid faster and more securely, but also improve customer experience, reducing the transaction to a quick QR scan. Making a few smart changes to the existing balance sheet can have a big impact and future-proof an organisation in no time.

 

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Business

BRIDGING THE DIGITAL EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE GAP

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By

Matthew Sturman, senior technical consultant, AppLearn

 

While the financial sector was arguably some way along the digital transformation curve before the pandemic, embracing innovative solutions to enhance customer experience and security, the last 12 months have required a step change like no other for employees.

Overnight, teams were operating remotely, using an array of new business applications from communications tools to support systems. Business critical processes which may have been stagnant for some time due to a risk adverse culture, quickly evolved with a need for greater agility.

In a post-pandemic world, it’s crucial that financial leaders don’t become complacent about the employee experience; KMPG put employees at the top of their list for financial institutions six considerations in dealing with the impact of COVID-19. Organisations have rapidly undergone transformation to facilitate home working while maintaining operations, however the proliferation of technology has also highlighted a critical digital employee experience gap. Addressing this will be key to embedding digital strategies which enable and support employees in the long-term.

 

Matthew Sturman

The overwhelmed employee

Even before the pandemic, research from Okta detailed how the number of worker applications deployed by organisations had increased by 68% over the past four years.

You only need to look at how employees access IT support to realise just how complex this picture has got for employees. Every technology application – from risk and complicance to payroll software– has a different route to access support, with employees having to navigate chatbots, online knowledge bases, resource hubs or the helpdesk. The result? Context-switching. Time spent flitting between different applications or windows to complete tasks, taking employees out of the flow of work. Studies have shown that switching contexts has a dramatic impact on time lost mentally re-focussing between tasks, in addition to time wasted navigating to try and find support.

In fact, research from McKinsey has found that workers spend up to 20% of their working week searching for information or support on tasks. This issue has only been compounded further with employees working from home, and not knowing where to go for timely support.

 

Prioritising the user

Over time, these small interruptions can add up to a significant impact on an organisation’s performance – and lead to user frustration, as well as decreased motivation amongst employees.

Historically, financial services businesses have taken a customer-first approach to investing in user experience – prioritising external customer service and communication over the internal employee experience. However, most employees are also users of this technology, and expect the same smooth transitions and consumer grade experience when using their work devices or software. When their digital experience is seamless, employees can focus on their role without interruption.

In a recent report, KPMG said organisations should create an ecosystem of tools and technologies that work together to enable experiences that help people work better. Any shifts in technologies should consider the combined impact of features and integration. It’s this sentiment financial leaders must embrace to truly empower digital workers.

 

Bridging the employee experience gap

According to a recent report from analyst firm Constellation Research which looked at the impact on the pandemic on the digital workplace, organisations have a historic opportunity to transform the employee experience.

It encourages organisations to adopt an ‘employee experience platform’ (EXP) model that connects disparate digital tools into a more cohesive digital workplace. This model is made up of disruptive technologies that bring together siloed applications and software.

Technologies such as digital adoption platforms (DAPs), machine learning, ‘people analytics’ tools and on-demand talent sourcing have been highlighted by Constellation as key components to the EXP. DAPs, for example, help solve the issue of disparate IT estates by overlaying software applications and providing a consistent support experience across multiple applications. This can take the form of step-by-step guides to navigate the user through new digital tasks and workflows, through to ensuring knowledge articles and chatbots are seamlessly available when required and provided in context of the individual requiring it and the task they are performing. Crucially, this keeps employees in the flow of work and avoids wasted time switching between applications and searching for support.

 

Looking ahead

It’s been an immense year of change for financial leaders, organisations, and importantly employees. As we move out of the pandemic, getting this next phase right will be absolutely key. For many businesses, this will be about moving from survival to thriving in a digital world.

The steps are simple. Identify the experience gaps, explore disruptive tools and technologies that bridge them, but most importantly, create an employee experience that enables and empowers them to do their job better.

 

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