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UK START-UPS MUST MAKE THE MOST OF A SMALL WINDOW TO CAPITALISE ON INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES, FOX WILLIAMS WARNS

INVESTMENT

Despite rising investment, Brexit and growing interest from tech giants could cut off start-ups’ opportunities in 2020

 

While a burgeoning tech industry, education and the value of the pound have made UK tech start-ups an attractive target for investors outside the UK – with investment in UK tech start-ups growing 44 percent to £10.1bn in 2019 – businesses need to be aware that they may only have a short window to attract investors, city law firm Fox Williams LLP has warned. With a large proportion of investment dependent on the talent in place at start-ups, an inability to attract and keep the best and brightest talent post-Brexit could turn away investors. At the same time, as markets such as FinTech grow, they become more attractive areas for technology giants such as Apple or Facebook to invest in – meaning start-ups may only have a limited time to grow before their market is taken over.

“London’s position as the number one destination for tech investment in Europe isn’t guaranteed for ever,” said Jonathan Segal, Partner at Fox Williams. “While the value of the pound and the fact that businesses, talent, regulators and investors are all clustered in a single city help make London start-ups attractive for investment, it is quite possible that this will change. At present, UK start-ups are seen as a low-risk investment. Yet changes to the sterling exchange rate, or to immigration and employment laws that make it harder to attract and keep talent, could change this. Start-ups and growth companies will need to ensure they are doing all they can to attract investment; understand where their funding is coming from; and have both a clear final goal and a route mapped out.”

As it becomes harder to differentiate and attract investment by creating a never-before-seen product or service, so start-ups need to demonstrate their value through their talent, their professionalism, and by showing a clear path to profitability. This means not only having skilled personnel in place and being able to point to an experienced management team, but making certain that they will not be negatively affected by any changes in immigration law.

Fintechs will want to help EU citizens already present in the UK and arriving in 2020 to stay long term by ensuring they apply for settled status, providing advice on obtaining endorsement by Tech Nation under the Global Talent visa route and ensuring that UK based companies apply for a sponsor licence if they plan to recruit from overseas from 2021.

At the same time, start-ups need to demonstrate that they are taking the right advice. For example, most law firms will have a tech practice that can advise start-ups. However, for those in specialised sectors such as FinTech it is essential to employ advisers that also have financial services expertise.

As well as demonstrating their value and professionalism, start-ups need to know who is funding them, and ensure they have done relevant due diligence. The right advice will again be critical here, to ensure that regulators do not veto any investment in, or takeover of, any regulated business in the financial services sector, in particular FinTechs. Yet even if everything is clear from a regulatory perspective, start-ups need to be confident that they are completely happy to be funded by an investor, and have not missed any factors that might damage their reputation.

“This is no time for complacency,” continued Jonathan Segal. “While investment is increasing, it is not infinite. FinTechs and other start-ups that cannot show that they have prepared themselves to succeed with the talent, the professionalism, and the right attitude to advice will soon find themselves losing out to better prepared competitors. At the same time, organisations need to lobby for the support they need – such as ensuring clear and favourable post-Brexit immigration and employment laws are in place so they can plan as appropriate.”

“Businesses should consider seeking strategic immigration advice at an early stage, to help ensure they  can recruit the talent they need into the UK,” added Segal. “It’s vital that employers in the tech space are aware of and adhere to the correct processes and systems to ensure that the business is able to manage flow of talent in a seamless and orderly way. The UK Government is keen to  attract highly skilled tech talent to the UK and in light of Brexit and the new immigration system being introduced in the UK, it is critical that companies seek advice to ensure that talent mobility is not an issue.”

 

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HALO TRUST USES ADAPTIVE INSIGHTS FOR STRATEGIC BUSINESS PLANNING

Cloud-based financial planning helps HALO Trust deliver greater benefit to communities affected by war

 

Adaptive Insights, a Workday company, today announced The HALO Trust, the world’s largest humanitarian landmine clearance organisation, employing more than 8,700 employees across 25 countries, uses Adaptive Insights Business Planning Cloud to support the charity’s continued growth with a modern business planning process. The HALO Trust joins more than 750 non-profit customers that trust Adaptive Insights for business planning, benefiting a variety of communities and causes worldwide.

 

The organisation relied on the development of financial plans utilising complex spreadsheets, which were difficult to integrate into the global planning process and inefficient when producing multiple scenarios for effective option appraisal.

 

“Being able to holistically manage real-time changes is critical to our success. With a single, powerful system in the cloud, we’ve eliminated the headache of working with siloed spreadsheets and have significantly reduced the time taken to produce high-quality financial models,” says Mick Darby, finance director at The HALO Trust.

 

For more than 30 years, The HALO Trust has kept people safe and helped communities to rebuild by clearing landmines, destroying weapons, managing stockpiles, and educating communities how to stay safe until the dangerous debris of war can be removed for good. By moving HALO’s planning and analysis process entirely to the cloud, the finance team provides the guidance necessary to support the rapid growth of the organisation, which has doubled in just the last three years. Providing globally distributed team members with an easier, faster, and standardised approach ensures that the charity’s budgets and forecasts reflect current local conditions and currencies, all rolled up into a single platform.

 

“We’re proud to provide organisations like HALO with more time to focus on the important humanitarian work they do by simplifying and modernising their business planning process,” said Robert Douglas, Europe planning director at Adaptive Insights. “By streamlining budgeting and forecasting, we’re helping to make every pound and every volunteer hour count, which in turn helps HALO maximise the impact on its mission to save and protect lives.”  

 

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IS DATA PROTECTION AND PRIVACY RELEVANT ACROSS ALL STRATA IN INDIAN SOCIETY?

A Study by Pensaar Design With CGAP

Pensaar Design has been working on a research study with CGAP to better understand low-income customers and their behaviour towards data protection and privacy (DPP). 

The objective being to understand whether customers were aware of what it meant and how it impacted them, it started out with exploratory research to gain this context.

What we found was that once you broke down the seemingly complex term and contextualised it for them, most customers quoted instances of data misuse in their own lives and those in their immediate network. 

Examples from within their own circle had actually created some level of understanding about the issue, and made it relevant to this audience. There were instances of phishing emails, of calls, and so on, and not having the benefit of sufficient awareness or education, this audience seemed, particularly at threat.

We discovered that the concept of consumer consent is particularly broken in the low-income segment in India. This is because very often these customers are in dire need of a loan or other financial solution, and at that juncture, given their urgent need for funds, often end up signing over their privacy rights without even fully realising what they’re doing!

Despite how things have been thus far, however, what we learnt was that these customers do have some degree of awareness, and are in fact concerned about their privacy and personal information and are willing to do more to protect it. 

We found that these customers are willing to pay for access to Data Protection and Privacy, or even open to investing time or effort if need be, to secure their data.

Basis these findings, we are now in the process of testing these out in the real world, to further validate these findings.

Deepa Bachu, CEO & Co-Founder of Pensaar Design, the firm carrying out the research said “We are delighted to have the opportunity to develop a really rigorous understanding of DPP among the lower-income group and the privilege of partnering with CGAP.  Our behaviour based research gave us an opportunity to continuously learn and evolve our understanding. We look forward to the next phase to further carry out behaviour-based research experiments with financial service providers.”

Maria Fernandez Vidal and David Medine, CGAP Senior Financial Sector Specialists said, “We are excited about partnering with Pensaar Design to test the degree to which lower-income consumers are willing to act to protect their privacy in their financial transactions.   Moving from simulations to marketplace financial products will further enhance our understanding of the importance of data protection and privacy to consumers.  The findings could promote industry self-regulatory efforts by making the case that privacy is good business.”

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