On a train to nowhere: The UK and Europe – A Soured Relationship

On a train to nowhere: The UK and Europe – A Soured Relationship

TrainThe papers have been full of it. David Cameron is extremely angry about the demand from the EC to pay £1.7 billion by way of adjustment to reflect, in part, how well the UK economy has been performing. He says that he won’t pay the demand by 1 December. Apart from the immigrants queuing up to get into the UK, nobody seems to love us anymore.

Actually, the EC bill is more than the amount referred to above. The total due on 1 December is actually €3.591 billion, EU sources explained. The UK would however receive a one-off rebate of €1.491 billion under a separate amended budget for 2014 currently under negotiation, and expected to be agreed on before the December deadline.

The EU’s Budget Commissioner Jacek Dominik has added fuel to the fire telling journalists he was “surprised by the reaction” in Britain because “up to this moment there was no single signal from the UK administration that they had problems with this figure.”  His comments seem at odds with what the UK didn’t know about this unexpected bill. But the apparently unfriendly Mr Dominik makes it worse saying:  there was no possibility under current EU rules to give Britain more time to pay the bill and a change to the law would need support from a qualified majority from EU governments and this would be “extremely difficult”.

Because most people have been (apparently) kept in the dark about these matters, I was (very slightly) encouraged to read what Mr Dominik wrote on his website: “I shall strive to make an impact of the EU budget visible to the people across Europe.”  His words are odd – what does “an impact” mean? How many impacts are there?

What is the £1.7 billion for?

In a press release on 27 October, the EC provided clarification in a question and answer paper on the contributions made by Member States to the annual budget

The UK isn’t the only Member state that’s been hit. Why aren’t the others kicking up a fuss too?  The answer is that they seem to be adopting a less confrontational stance than the UK and may get a more sympathetic hearing.

Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem says that the Netherlands would pay its €642m surcharge “if the facts and figures are correct”. Taoiseach Enda Kenny says Ireland will pay the additional bill. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat wants clarification on how the EC calculated the figures. Sandro Gozi – Italy’s Europe minister – is reported as saying “We will see whether it will be really necessary to apply the new method to calculate (national) contributions.” See here for commentary. Apparently, Italy and Greece will have to pay an extra £268m and £70m, despite flagging growth, because of the size of their ‘black economies’, according to Public Finance International.

Why is this happening?

Jean-Claude JunckerBack in June, David Cameron declared that Britain is in a ‘war’ with the EU after European leaders pushed through the appointment of arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker [pictured with Germany’s Chancellor Merkel] as the new President. Our Prime Minister probably won nobody over when he warned other Members that they would be making a ‘profound mistake’ if they chose Mr Juncker. His words fell on stony ground because Mr Juncker was duly appointed. He seems to have Germany as an ally – see picture. Should our PM try charm rather than threat to bring about the changes we want?

depaturesActually, the threat of an exit from the EU probably hasn’t warmed the EC administration towards the UK and pressing for renegotiated terms of EU membership won’t have helped either. Nobody else seems to want the immigrants floating around Europe who, it seems, think that the UK is the best place to start a new life – David Cameron has been seeking some limitations to the freedom of movement, which has resulted in the uncontrolled immigration that is the subject of huge concern to many British voters.  However, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has dismissed the prospect of any radical change saying that “Germany will not tamper with the fundamental principles of free movement in the EU”, according to an interview in The Sunday Times.

The galling thing is that France and Germany are likely to get back around the same amount of money in aggregate that the UK is being asked to pay on the budget adjustment issue.

We know (from what we’ve been told by the papers and on TV) that France is doing badly.  But most people thought the Germans were running a strong economy and were the powerhouse of Europe. There’s even a suggestion that the German economy could lead Europe back into recession. Read about it here. The article suggests that whilst Germany’s banks may have got the all-clear, there are worrying signs of weakness in Europe’s powerhouse economy.  German business confidence has fallen to its lowest level in almost two years, a survey suggests, raising concerns about the strength of Europe’s largest economy. The Ifo think tank’s closely watched German Business Climate Index fell to 103.2 in October, down from 104.7 in the previous month. “The outlook for the German economy deteriorated once again,” Ifo said.

On the bright side, the UK has some support from an unexpected source – see here – former French Europe Minister Pierre Lellouche (who unfortunately doesn’t have a vote on the matter) says:

“I think it’s ludicrous to actually go and punish the one country that has suffered the reform. The results are showing up now – the unemployment rate has gone down to half what it is in France. The growth rate is four times what it is in France – and we go and punish the British? It’s madness”. 

Judith Ugwumadu, writing in Public Finance International (here) put the situation like this:

“A number of European Union member states have been hit with unexpected bills to fund the EU’s budget, while other countries are expected to cash in. The bill is based on new calculations of VAT and gross national income since 1995, which has prompted the EU to make financial adjustments. The calculations are used to decide how much each member state should contribute to the budget. EU country leaders were, however, caught off-guard as details of the one-off bill were exposed as a summit in Brussels began today. The extra payments are due on December 1.”

What else is going on?

On 28 October, the European Commission proposed to provide Italy with €1.8 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to help 608 former workers of Whirlpool Europe S.r.l. to find new jobs. The redundancies occurred in the Autonomous Province of Trento. The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and the EU’s Council of Ministers for their approval. Italy applied for support from the EGF following the closing down of Whirlpool’s plant in Spini di Gardolo (Trento) specialised in the production of fridges.

The EC press release says that the total estimated cost of the package is approximately €3.1 million, of which the EGF would provide €1.8 million.

The reason I mention this is that I cannot understand why the EGF is paying anything at all. Surely the total cost involved should be shared between Italy and Whirlpool itself, shouldn’t it?  Whirlpool, the US White goods manufacturer, is a huge company with global sales approaching $5billion a year. Read about it here. Why should the UK have to pay for any of this?

Back to the EC budget demand: The Telegraph this week suggested that Europe’s financial demands will backfire on the Bureaucrats from Brussels: On the one hand they say they want Britain to remain a member, yet “they behave in precisely the fashion most likely to bring that membership to an end”. Read about it here. The Telegraph says that on its own, this episode (the £1.7 billion bill) would be bad enough but it fits a pattern. They put it like this:

“There has been the concerted effort on the part of European leaders to slap down Mr Cameron for suggesting that there may need to be some limitations to freedom of movement, which has resulted in the uncontrolled immigration that is a subject of huge concern to many British voters. Then there has been the European Parliament’s unilateral and high-handed decision to ignore the wider EU budget deal agreed by national leaders – particularly galling to Britain because it was Mr Cameron who persuaded his colleagues that Brussels should share the pain of austerity felt so keenly elsewhere.”

BoJoLast words – On your bike?

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is quoted in The Politics Companion as saying:

“The best reason for going into politics is to stop people bossing you and me around and to stop them taking away your and my money for no good reason at all”.

How you could lose all your clients to KPMG or PwC

How you could lose all your clients to KPMG or PwC

Should smaller firms be worried?

In accountingWEB, Nick Huber & Rachael Power reported last week that KPMG has set its sights on the small-business market with the launch of a cloud accounting service for SMEs. The cloud-based service, which cost the firm £40m in investment and was developed with Xero, includes accounts preparation, bookkeeping, payroll, VAT and corporate tax returns.

The partnership between Xero and KPMG was announced last March and its New Zealand branch has also recently been awarded ‘platinum partner’ status.

According to a KPMG spokesperson, Xero will be very much linked into the package, combining their already existing software with parts the Big Four firm built in-house “to bolt on and widen the offering”.

The new service puts KPMG in competition with smaller accounting firms and software suppliers such as Sage One. It costs £150 per month or more and can also include advice from KPMG staff. Simon Collins, KPMG’s UK chairman, said the firm wants to be the “clear choice” for all privately-owned businesses.

Not to be outdone by KPMG, PwC has come up with a different strategy to get small to medium-sized clients: An agreement between PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and online debt market MarketInvoice, announced last week plans to give businesses extra borrowing options.

If your firm is a law firm, don’t just sit there and say “this won’t apply to us”. It will: KPMG announced at the beginning of the month that it had become the first ‘Big Four’ professional services firm to be awarded an Alternative Business Structure (“ABS”) licence by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority to operate on a multi-disciplinary practice basis – this allows the firm to deliver an expanded range of focused integrated legal services complementary to its existing business.

A blueprint for the modern accountancy firm

From accountingWEB: At the 2020 Group annual conference earlier this month, US chairman Chris Frederiksen [pictured] spoke about how to build a modern accountancy firm. Based on 2020’s research and Frederiksen’s own experience of firms around the world, he came up with five elements common to modern, profitable firms.

“We are now in a paradigm shift, as we have never seen it before,” he said, referring to finance technology innovations such as Apple Pay. Most accountants are following the ‘Red Queen’ concept and running as fast as you can just to stay where you are at the moment.”

According to Frederiksen, modern, profitable firms typically specialise in a particular industry or product. In addition, it knows its purpose or ‘Why’ and doesn’t try to be all things to all people.  “You don’t see Starbucks selling Coke,” he said, “because that isn’t who they are or what they believe in.”

With 90% of what the profession does becoming largely commoditised by technology that lets people to do themselves, firms need to diversify and adapt to survive. Once the firm has hammered out its why, what it will focus on and what industry and area it will specialise in, it can then stop taking in “whatever rolls in the door”.

Focus draws on three things, said Frederiksen: passion that you can transfer to your clients; being darn good at what you do; and figuring out a way of working that’s very profitable.
[Comment: what Chris doesn’t say is what you have to do when heavyweights such as KPMG and PwC start to infiltrate your territory.]

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

Isaac Asimov Asks, “How Do People Get New Ideas?”

From MIT Technology Review, last week: Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Born in Russia, he made his home in the US and died aged 72 in 1992. Now, published for the first time, is a 1959 Essay by Isaac Asimov in MIT Technology Review at the link below. It covers the creative process, the nature of creative people, and environments that promote creativity.

Microsoft Building Third-Party Publisher Ad Network

From Search Marketing Daily, by Laurie Sullivan: Microsoft has plans to build out a third-party ad publisher network, similar to Google AdSense, placing premium high-quality ads on publisher sites supported by Bing and Bing Ads.   The brands want to augment existing desktop and mobile search traffic. David Pann, GM for the search network at Microsoft, said the company already has the technology to make it happen.
The service would support publishers that wanted an option other than Google to drive organic search traffic to their sites. Bing was never really in the business to compete for that publishing search ad volume.

Do you know these 29 Social Media Analytics Terms?

From Smart Brief: You can download this FREE guide to brush up on the key terminology for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

In addition to detailed definitions, you’ll also learn best practices and gain valuable insights from some of the leading pros in the industry.
Download now from: go.unmetric.com/29-must-know-terms-for-every-social-media-analyst

The Most Ridiculous Excuses For Skipping Work

Forbes report that for the last 10 years, job listing site CareerBuilder has put out a list it calls “The Most Unbelievable Excuses for Calling in Sick.”

Last year an employee said he couldn’t come in because his false teeth flew out the window while he was driving down the highway. Another claimed that someone had glued her windows and doors shut so she couldn’t get out of her house. This year the excuses include a worker who said he felt he had to stay at a casino when he had money left after a gambling weekend. Then there was the employee who said she couldn’t come in because she had woken up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it.  This year’s excuses were gathered through a Harris Poll that ran from 11 August to 5 September, among 3,000 workers and 2,000 hiring managers.
Read the complete excuse list, here.

Accountants: Managing your Xero clients – Step 8: Marketing your practice

From AccountancyAGE Insight: In this eight-part series, the briefings have guided you through the benefits of using Xero, the training, learning and support we provide and how Xero helps you increase your client engagement and satisfaction – as well as improving your overall practice efficiency.

In Step 8, the FREE briefing runs through all eight steps to summarise how you can manage your Xero clients and really work on improving your client engagement and satisfaction.
Download from here.

UK: PwC and MarketInvoice to give small firms investment boost

In City A.M., Chris Papadopoullos reported that an agreement between PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and online debt market MarketInvoice, announced today, plans to give businesses extra borrowing options. PwC will inform its clients about MarketInvoice’s financing services and the online firm will refer its clients to the PwC My Financepartner team – accountants who specialise in helping early- to mid-stage firms.

MarketInvoice provides an online platform where firms can sell their invoices to investors. The firm then owes the investor, but gains the cash, which it can use to pay immediate debts. The investor also receives interest payments.

Email is alive and kicking

183 billion emails sent per day, 4.2 billion email accounts worldwide, 6% growth rate—it’s safe to say that email is here to stay.
Source: www.marketingprofsu.com

Asking the Right Questions: How to Evaluate Marketing Automation

From Marketo: If you’re considering a marketing automation solution, you’re probably familiar with the benefits: incredible productivity, targeted engagement, alignment with sales, and serious insight into what’s working—and insight into what isn’t.

But as you evaluate solutions for your business, you’ll need to consider the capabilities that matter most to your success. This guide uses extensive research from David Raab Associates and VentureBeat to highlight the practices satisfied marketing automation users have in common.

Download the FREE Asking the Right Questions: Evaluating Marketing Automation eBook, to find out:

  • What satisfied marketing automation users have in common
  • How various features and capabilities affect marketing productivity, campaign effectiveness, marketing/sales alignment, and reporting
  • How to amplify the value of your marketing automation

Read more, here.

The Best-Performing CEOs in the World

Who are the best-performing CEOs?  Adi Ignatius in Harvard Business Review (November 2014) says the knock on most business leaders is that they don’t take the long view—that they’re fixated on achieving short-term goals to lift their pay.  So which global CEOs actually delivered solid results over the long run? HBR’s 2014 list of top performers provides an objective answer.
You can find out who they are at: hbr.org/2014/11/the-best-performing-ceos-in-the-world

5 Simple Steps for Creating ViralSocial Content

[24 October 2014, Simply Measured] Posted 22 October, By Kevin Shively: As social media marketers, we’re constantly reaching for that next piece of “viral” content. That next blog post, photo, infographic, Tweet, promotion, video, or offer that gets shared like wildfire across the web.

The problem is that in our quest to create the new hotness, we don’t always do our homework.
In order to make this a more tangible lesson, the author used Simply Measured’s own Twitter account as an example, analysing Q3 of 2014 as a way to identify some possible viral topics, content types, and most importantly, potential.
This is an interesting story, well worth reading: simplymeasured.com/blog/2014/10/22/5-steps-for-creating-viral-social-content/

Working for yourself: maintaining focus, building resilience

From ICAEW:  One of the seminars at September’s Setting Up in Practice event (3 September 2014), hosted by Olivia Landsberg, was Working for yourself: maintaining focus, building resilience.

This article provides the key ideas for those who weren’t able to attend.

The event explored 3 key subject areas:

  • reframing what marketing means to you;
  • scheduling time for “important but not urgent” tasks; and
  • creating your own informal advisory board.

Marketing, regulatory issues and work-life balance are common concerns for members. The context for the seminar was to regard these not as problems but as a way of thinking. A resilient mind comes from being aware of as well as challenging our assumptions and understanding that they are different from facts.
Read more here.

Twitter Introduces App Platform Fabric In Bid For More Mobile Dollars, Data

From Adage, By Mike Bergen: Twitter is beefing up its mobile presence, making a move for more ad dollars and data from handheld devices. On Wednesday, the social media company introduced Fabric, a mobile-app platform meant to lure more developers to its suite of products. The move pits Twitter against rival ad-sellers Facebook, Google and Yahoo, which all host competing products.

CEO Dick Costolo introduced Fabric as “the future of mobile software development” at Flight, Twitter’s inaugural mobile developer conference in San Francisco. “[It’s] a future that is built on a collection of fully integrated end-to-end services,” he said, speaking to a room of over one thousand developers. “It is entirely about you and your users, not us.”

At the 22 October conference, Twitter also unmasked ‘Digits,’ a tool within Fabric to authenticate mobile-app users via telephone numbers. Its first corporate partner is McDonald’s. The fast-food giant will use Digits for all of its native apps, including Surprise Alarm, its customer-engagement app.

Digits, a two-step, so-called “white-label” log-in, will roll out across 216 countries, in 28 languages. Tying login info to phone numbers, rather than email addresses, could also be more lucrative in ramping up active users globally, where Twitter is seeing its fastest growth.
Read more here.

Microsoft ditching the Nokia name on smartphones

BBC News reports that Microsoft is ditching the Nokia brand name from new devices, less than a year after acquiring the Finnish mobile firm. New Nokia Lumia smartphones will instead be known as Microsoft Lumia, the company said. Nokia’s non-mobile division, which is not owned by Microsoft, will continue to use the name.

The mobile operation was bought by Microsoft in April in a deal worth $7.2bn (£4.6bn). Since then, Microsoft has quietly shifted away from the Nokia brand.

A post on Nokia France’s Facebook page confirmed the branding shift. The renaming will roll out globally in due course, Microsoft has said. The announcement comes despite Microsoft agreeing to a 10-year deal to use the Nokia name on mobile products.

Can Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablets usurp the business notebook?

From SmartCompany.com.au, David Hancock writes: If you need to stay productive when you’re away from your desk, Microsoft’s latest “hybrid” tablet/notebook could be the gadget you’ve been looking for.The boom in portable devices makes it easier to stay on top of things while you’re out and about, but remaining productive while you’re on the road is always a balance between portability and usability. Apple and Android tablets hit the sweet spot for some people, but life becomes more complicated if you’re not prepared to sacrifice a physical keyboard and traditional desktop applications.

This is where Microsoft’s Surface Pro range comes to the fore, especially if you’re already using Office 365 and are wedded to the Microsoft ecosystem. With a slick detectable keyboard, the Pro can easily switch from tablet to notebook and back again.

PayPal launches loan service for SMEs

BM Magazine reports that PayPal [Boss David Marcus pictured] has introduced Working Capital, a new loan product which promises eligible merchants a tailored grant loan within minutes of request. Whilst not in the UK yet, Australia is the first market outside the United States to receive the service, we will see the new service during 2015.

PayPal customer experience and solutions director, Kareem Al-Bassam, said that Australia was chosen due to demand from SMEs for wider choice of financing options, but expected the UK to be the next territory

SMEs that want to take up the new service will complete a four-step application process; eligibility can be checked by PayPal merchants which have held an account for at least 12 months via the provider’s web site.

Marketing Profs: Smart thinking… pass it on

From Marketing Profs: Lots of goodies here.  Check out the featured FREE whitepapers listed below for the latest research and how-to marketing guidance. Also, be sure to keep your eye out for next month’s selections.

Facebook Analytics: The Complete Guide to Facebook Analytics
Learn how to use your brand’s Facebook data to fully analyze your – and your competitors’ – activity on Facebook, and inform your strategy
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Facebook Advertising: The Path to 1:1 Marketing Success
Transform segment-driven, offer-based marketing campaigns into personalized 1:1 customer journeys by building a 1:1 customer journey strategy.

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Metrics: 10 Metrics that close the gap between marketing and sales
Marketing & Sales should be like peas in a pod, but too often they’re misaligned and misunderstood. These metrics help close the gap.

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Content Marketing: 10 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing
Increase your website & intranet ROI – enhance your content marketing & distribution strategies. Read Chasing Engagement: Part 1

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Customer Experience: [Whitepaper] Guiding the customer journey
Channel-hopping customers? Optimize their buying journey online and offline. Offer individual relevancy and boost conversion by up to 35-40%

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Customer Satisfaction: You have their NPS® score…now what?
Measuring your customers’ satisfaction is great place to start, but unfortunately too many companies stop there. Find out what you can do next.

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Free eBook: The Changing Landscape of B2B eCommerce

From Magento:  For years, eCommerce was a B2C game—a channel best suited for consumer brands and retail transactions. Several recent studies and some major shifts in buyer behaviour, however, paint a different picture. This ebook will explore the consumerisation of B2B eCommerce and the massive opportunity for B2B companies that get it right.

Audit Exemption: Increased threshold in 2015

FREE from AccountancyAGE Insight: In line with the EU Accounting Directive it is likely that the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills will propose an increase in the audit exemption thresholds during 2015. Almost 100 audit professionals took part in the Wolters Kluwer survey to assess the likely impact of this change.  You can read an analysis and commentary of the results in this FREE paper.

Passed by the European Parliament in June 2013, the Directive included increases in the maximum thresholds that member countries can adopt for the definition of small companies and audit exemption.

What impact will this have on audit professionals in the UK? Will fee income from audit work decline? What can be done to make up the shortfall? How do practices plan on communicating with their clients?
Read this FREE report to find out.

UK-Tax: Draft clauses to be published on 10 December 2014

From ICAEW Tax Faculty: Draft clauses to be included in the Finance Bill 2015 will be published on 10 December 2014. These will be accompanied by responses to the earlier policy consultations, explanatory notes, tax information and impact notes and other relevant documents.

The consultation on the draft legislation will be open until 4 February 2015.

Accountancy Age Insight

From AccountancyAGE Insight: The BI Survey 14 examines BI product selection and usage among users in areas including business benefits, costs, proportion of employees using the product, competitiveness, recommendation, innovation, performance, customer satisfaction and agility.

The BI Survey 14 features:

  • A comparison between different types of BI tools based on how customers say they use the products.
  • KPI dashboards packed with concise information, which can be absorbed at a glance.
  • Who the leading reporting vendors are in terms of business benefits, project success, price-to-value perception, big data analytics and much more…

View the FREE Briefing here.

Brains, Rats, Shams and Politicians

Brains, Rats, Shams and Politicians

Last week, I blogged about developments in brain networking. I wrote that although human brains have been around for a long time and have largely ruled the roost, computers have claimed the top spot and have been doing things better than humans – except for solving crossword puzzles.


I explained that humans are now able to send thoughts directly to other brains. Apparently, the dawn of human brain-to-brain communication has arrived. Scientists have also connected the brains of lab rats, allowing one rat to communicate directly to another via what appear to be network cables.

Perhaps the ultimate direction of these scientific experiments is that a human brain could talk to a rat’s brain, or a monkey’s or an elephant’s. You get the picture, I’m sure.

Where might brain connectivity lead us?

superman filmI’ve been thinking about where all this brain connectivity might lead us. I fear that my imagination has run a little wild, but indulge me please…

Do you remember the first Superman film and Clark Kent’s fascination with his Kryptonian origins – so much so that he made regular trips to “converse” with his long-deceased father who taught him much of what he needed to know. My question is: Could the brain of a baby be connected to an adult brain or to a computer for data transmission so that everything the baby needed to know to function throughout life could be transferred at an early age. No further education would be needed. Schools and Teachers and Universities would be extinct. School fees would a thing of the past. School buildings and College campuses could be converted into residential accommodation.

In the future, humans can look forward to being even brainier than we are now. It will even apply to politicians and we, the electorate must learn to sort the wheat from the chaff, the facts from fairytales, and the bogus and lies from the truth. So, what do you make of the following stories…

Under the Cosh for £1.7 billion

david cameronUnder the above scenario, there would also be no surprises for the politicians or the electorate – such as the £1.7 billion ‘bolt from the blue, to pay a surcharge on our EU membership subscription.

Last week David Cameron denounced as unacceptable and unjustified the demand to pay £1.7billion to the European Commission, according to the Chairman of the Public Administration Select Committee Bernard Jenkin.  The Prime Minister compared the demand to ‘being coshed with a piece of lead piping.’

What baffles me is that how both the Prime Minister and the Chancellor failed to anticipate that a bill would be coming. Maybe they’ve spent so long on focusing on the UK’s recovery miracle that they were blind to the consequences.

I have commented at some length about the recovery miracle and only last week I wrote asking if the UK recovery is an illusion. Bruce Stout, manager of the Murray International Investment Trust, says: ‘There is no recovery. We’ve thrown the kitchen sink at everything over the last five years and extended debt to unprecedented levels.’

If the doubters are right, we have all been misled including the EU who presumably wouldn’t have ‘coshed’ us with a £1.7 billion bill if we hadn’t tried to appear to be smarter than our EU fellow member countries.

An Immigration Dream dashed by the Germans

airportDavid Cameron’s plans to impose a cap on immigration from the EU have been thrown into disarray by Germany’s Angela Merkel. The Prime Minister has pledged to make reforms to the freedom of movement of workers within the EU a “red line” in a proposed renegotiation of the UK’s membership terms, saying he wants to bring in quotas for low-skilled migrants from the union.

However, the German Chancellor has dismissed the prospect of any radical change saying that “Germany will not tamper with the fundamental principles of free movement in the EU”, according to an interview in The Sunday Times.

An Economic Fairy Tale

once upon a timeHa-Joon Chang, an internationally acclaimed author and Reader in Economics at Cambridge University, wrote in Social Europe Journal last week asking: Why Did Britain’s Political Class Buy Into The Tories’ Economic Fairytale?

He says that falling wages, savage cuts and sham employment figures (his words, not mine) expose the UK recovery as bogus. Without a new vision we’re heading for social conflict. He likens the picture we’ve been given as being so full of holes it looks like a piece of Swiss cheese. It’s worth reading his article, available here, if you have any doubts at all about the reality of our economic miracle.

What do you think?

The late Albert Einstein is quoted as saying:

“Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fuelled by perennially rejuvenated illusions”.

Please comment below or email me at mpollins@bizezia.com with your thoughts on this article.

Brains Networking with each other

Brains Networking with each other

brainWe humans share a number of things with other humans: we all have a brain.

OK, some brains are bigger or smaller than others while some brains are better (brainier, if you like) than other brains.

Human brains have been around for a long time and, largely they have ruled the roost but then computers came along since when they’ve claimed the top spot and have been doing things better than humans. But all is not lost. I found five things that a human brain does better than a computer (see here) one of which is the ability to do crossword puzzles.

There’s more to brains than we might first imagine.  In fact, imagination is something that many brains do quite well, and a lot better than computers.

From Brain to Brain

Brains can act like computers, in a way, if they communicate with other brains. “We can now send thoughts directly between brains” say Rajesh P. N. Rao and Andrea Stocco in an article in Scientific American, coming out in November 2014. “The dawn of human brain-to-brain communication has arrived”, they add. You can read the article here. You can buy the publication, Volume 25, issue 6, here. A previous article, “When Two Brains Connect”, was published in Scientific America Mind, pages: 36 to 39, Date: November/December 2011.

what the mind can conceive

Rao and Stocco are said to be the first to successfully allow one human brain to communicate an intention directly to another human brain. Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rao sent a brain signal to Stocco on the other side of the University of Washington campus, causing Stocco’s finger to move on a keyboard.

Forgive the pun, but it sounds like pretty heady stuff. What does ‘Brain Networking’ mean, what are the consequences and how will it affect our lives?

In a separate article from Washington, scientists have conducted the first computer-mediated brain-to-brain communication in humans located more than 8,000 km apart, after sending the words ‘hola’ and ‘ciao’ from India to France – achieved without any invasive surgery.

Sheryl Ankrom describes the communication process in The Chemical Messaging System of the Human Brain. Interesting yes, but does it give cause for concern?

From Rat Brain to Rat Brain

Don’t start thinking that the idea that brains can talk to other brains is limited to humans.

ratI don’t like rats. Just the thought of them sends shivers up my spine. Nevertheless, I was interested to read in a BBC article, here, that scientists have connected the brains of lab rats, allowing one rat to communicate directly to another via what appear to be network cables: “The wired brain implants allowed sensory and motor signals to be sent from one rat to another, creating the first ever brain-to-brain interface. The scientists then tested whether the rat receiving the signal could correctly interpret the information.

As the ultimate test of their system, the team even linked the brains of rats that were thousands of miles apart”, the article says. Details of the work are outlined in the Scientific Reports journal.

From Human to Rat

I suppose the ultimate direction of these experiments is that a human brain could talk to a rat’s brain, or a monkey’s or an elephant’s. You get the picture, I’m sure.

Should we be very worried?

Turning our backs on the past with a dose of Federalism

Turning our backs on the past with a dose of Federalism

GuardsThis is an addendum to my previous Blog on Federalism which I wrote last month; Modernisation (aka Federalisation) of the United Kingdom. 

After the results of the Scottish Independence referendum were announced, the Prime Minister, promised that not only would Scotland receive what was promised, but that expanded devolution would extend to Wales, Northern Ireland and England as well. This is quite a shift from the devolution instituted by the Labour Party. In other words, the UK government is looking to divide its powers among its constituent countries.  In my Bog on this subject last month, I asked how this might be done.

My business partner, David Seidel, is a Canadian and British lawyer. He suggested that Canada offered a perfect paradigm and precedent, which may help the UK coalition in these matters.

Commentators and economists abound with their views on UK devolution as this article testifies but are we really ready to turn our backs on the past?

Devolution is in the air

Bruce KatzBruce Katz, a vice president of the Brookings Institution says that “devolution is in the air in the UK and in a remarkable turn of events, Britain’s political parties are competing over how, not whether, to devolve power to cities and metropolitan areas.”

Mr Katz observes that in the past fifteen years, Whitehall’s iron grip on power has slowly begun to loosen:

  • Since the late 1990s, powers have been partially devolved to Scotland and Wales.
  • London now has a directly elected mayor (as do other large cities like Bristol and Liverpool) with powers over transportation, economic development and planning.
  • More recently, “metro deals” have been struck between central government and major British city regions like Greater Manchester, enabling greater flexibility and sparking collaboration across jurisdictional lines.

A report from the RSA City Growth Commission, ‘Connected Cities: The link to Growth‘, published July 2014, suggested that to create a more productive system of cities and economic growth for the UK as a whole, metros need to have much greater influence in national infrastructure decision-making. The RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) is an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative and creative practical solutions to today’s social challenges. In its final report published on 21 October, it focused on a plan to devolve power from Whitehall to Britain’s metro areas. If UK cities were able to make their own decisions on tax and spending, it could boost economic growth by £79bn a year by 2030. RSA is pushing for draft legislation to be in place by 2015 claiming that “Our centralised political economy is not ‘fit for purpose’.” You can listen to a programme on BBC4: The Devolutionaries – Powering up England’s Cities here. [Interesting, that it mentions “England’s Cities” rather than “Britain’s Cities”.]  The RSA’s Final Report: Unleashing Metro Growth, is available here.

According to Mr Katz, this scenario presents an opportune time to discuss what long-standing fiscal devolution in the United States might teach Britain. You can read about it here. Mr Katz warns that while the United States offer\s many lessons, it is not perfect. He says: “Some areas of policy naturally lie at the federal or state level (like inter-metropolitan transportation), so when those levels of government don’t act, nothing gets done. Municipal fragmentation within metro areas means that cities often find themselves in competition with each other for economic anchors.”

According to Jochen Hung in an article in the Guardian last month, a federal system needs a strong bond to hold individual elements together. Post-war Germany had it but, he says, it’s doubtful the UK does.

From Empire-Building to Federalism

federalismsJeffery Simpson in The Globe & Mail reminds us that while we Brits created federalisms around the world, we never wanted it at home. Mr Simpson writes about how we governed territories throughout the British Empire but, when on withdrawal from these territories, we left behind federal structures. He adds: “Some of these have endured for a long time, as with Canada and Australia; others for rather less time, as with India; while still other federations fell apart, as between Singapore and Malaysia, and various rickety efforts in Africa and the Caribbean.”

“Federalism is a cinch and it will make for a better realm”, says Chris Giles in an interesting piece in the FT, which you can read here.


Is there something we can learn from the Americans and others about federalism or are we fixated on the status quo – preferring centralised government for Britons? Please let me have your thoughts in the comment box below or at mpollins@onesmartplace.com

Is the UK recovery just an illusion? And much more…

Is the UK recovery just an illusion? And much more…

Is the UK Recovery an Illusion?

You’ll know that I’ve previously expressed some doubts as to whether or not the UK has really recovered quite as well as the politicians say. In an article entitled The UK Recovery is an Illusion, Jeff Salway wrote in New Model Adviser to set out the views of renowned investor Bruce Stout, manager of the Murray International Investment Trust. He said that: “Mr Stout emphasises capital preservation arguing that quantitative easing has caused the UK to become caught in a liquidity trap”. For me, the telling words in Jeff Salway’s article come from Bruce Stout who says: ‘There is no recovery. We’ve thrown the kitchen sink at everything over the last five years and extended debt to unprecedented levels.’ 

Let’s hope he is wrong!

It’s waiting for your name

A new publication (Workplace Pensions and Automatic Enrolment) is now part of the Bizezia online business library – click here for details of the digital library, running to nearly 700 publications.

Your clients will thank you for providing to them this publication – contact us for details of a special offer this week. Don’t forget that this and all the other Bizezia publications in the digital library are branded with your firm’s details prominently shown.

Sameness is out: you have to be different to succeed.

You’ve probably got ideas of your own about companies that differentiate themselves from their competitors by providing what is generally called legendary service. 

Read my blog post from last week on how Nescafe and The Willoughby Book Club have taken everyday products and created a profitable business by differentiating what they sell.

What can be learned from these companies? Can it be applied to your firm? Of course it can!

Accountants: Did you remember that the FRC updated the UK Corporate Governance Code last month?

On 17 September 2014, The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) issued an updated version of the UK Corporate Governance Code (the Code) – you can read it here. This significantly enhances the quality of information investors receive about the long-term health and strategy of listed companies, and raises the bar for risk management.

The FRC has confirmed proposals for boards to include a ‘viability statement’ in the strategic report to investors. This will provide an improved and broader assessment of long-term solvency and liquidity. It is expected that this statement will look forward significantly longer than 12 months. The Code has also been changed in relation to remuneration. Boards of listed companies will now need to ensure that executive remuneration is designed to promote the long-term success of the company and demonstrate how this is being achieved more clearly to shareholders.

The revised Code will apply to accounting periods beginning on or after 1 October 2014.

Estonia – a new opportunity?

Last week New Scientist (and others) reported on the Baltic minnow’s bold experiment with digital residency. It could help us understand what comes after the nation state

Imagine this: A client comes in and asks what you know about forming a company in Estonia. What do you say?

Fancy becoming an Estonian? There are plenty of reasons why you would. The tiny Baltic country is a technology powerhouse, with digital infrastructure as good as anywhere, online elections and compulsory coding classes. Now some of the benefits its 1.3 million citizens enjoy are open to all: Estonia will let anyone become an e-resident – E-residency isn’t citizenship – you won’t be able to vote, or move there unless you are already entitled to. But it will allow you to access Estonia’s excellent online services, such as banking and the incorporation of companies. These currently require a physical address, but will soon be as easy as opening an email account.
Read about it here.

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

Samsung develops super-fast Wi-Fi that can download HD movie in under 3 seconds

From The Independent, by James Vincent: South Korean electronics giant Samsung says it has create a new Wi-Fi standard that is five times faster than current technology. They say its new 60 GHz Wi-Fi would allow users to transfer a 1Gb movie between devices in less than three seconds and let users stream uncompressed HD videos in real time.

Current Wi-Fi technology operates within the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands and can reach transfer speeds greater than 1Gb per second. By contrast, Samsung’s new 60 GHz Wi-Fi can transfer data as fast as 4.3 Gbps.

As ever with this sort of cutting edge technology it’s unclear exactly when these speeds might be available to consumers, but reports suggest it could be integrated into products “as early as next year” (although these are likely to be low-production prototype models).
Read more here.

Apple releases updated iPad and iPad mini

From City A.M: Apple CEO Tim Cook has introduced the new iPad Air 2, along with an iPad mini 3. The updated, slimmer iPad Air is 6.1 millimetres thick and weighs less than one pound. It is priced at $499 to $829 in the USA. Both new tablets feature a fingerprint sensor.

Discover 5 Ways to Improve Your B2B e-Commerce Buying Experience

For years, e-commerce was a B2C game — a channel best suited for consumer brands and retail transactions. Several recent studies and some major shifts in buyer behavior, however, paint a different picture.

Get ready to explore the consumerisation of B2B e-commerce and discover the massive opportunity for B2B companies that get it right.

View this FREE eBook to learn:

  • Major trends shaping the future of B2B e-Commerce
  • Where most B2B e-Commerce efforts fall short
  • 5 ways to improve the B2B e-Commerce buying experience
  • Understand if your platform is equipped for the future of B2B e-Commerce

Download the FREE Ebook from here.

Stupid Geek Tricks: How to Make Your Computer Talk to You

From HowToGeek.com: Intelligent machines capable of speech are often the stuff of futuristic sci-fi movies, but you can turn any computer into a chatty Cathy.

Even though we aren’t yet at the stage with computers where they can interact with us like people, there are a few tools and simple scripts we can write to make any computer that is running Windows speak to us. This article explains how to do it.
Read the whole article: www.howtogeek.com/197719/stupid-geek-tricks-how-to-make-your-computer-talk-to-you

Next Generation Content Collaboration

From Huddle.com: In today’s world we’re assaulted by a never-ending stream of fragmented data.
Delivered via myriad channels and managed on cumbersome legacy file storage systems or non-secure consumer tools, it hinders our ability to work with others or make important decisions.

Until now. Next Generation Content Collaboration: A Brave New Era explores the top 5 challenges faced by the modern enterprise and how those challenges can be overcome.
Download this FREE whitepaper here 

Interesting news: USA: Bionic eye allows blind man to ‘see’ after 33 years

From Times Of India who report on a revolutionary new bionic eye implanted into a 66-year-old blind man in the US has allowed him to ‘see’ for the first time in 33 years.

Larry Hester was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when he was in his early 30s. At the time, the degenerative disease that would rob his sight was poorly understood, and there were no known treatments, researchers said.

On October 1, 2014 Hester became only the seventh person in the US to have a so-called bionic eye — an Argus II Retinal Prosthesis Device — activated as a visual aid to send light signals to his brain. The device incorporates technology initially developed by researchers at the Duke Eye Centre; its sophisticated features were further enhanced and marketed by a company called Second Sight Medical Products.

Great for clients: FREE 17-page guide to the latest UK pension changes

Brought to my attention by the Telegraph Business Club: George Osborne’s budget bombshell earlier this year shocked the pension industry, handing more control over to pension savers and removing the need to buy an annuity. In a matter of moments everything had changed but what does this mean for people expecting to draw from their pensions soon?

This FREE guide from Tideway explains:

  • What the changes are;
  • What interim measures are in place ahead of the changes coming into effect from 6 April 2015; and
  • The types of withdrawal strategies people at, or in, retirement will be able to take advantage of.

Download your Free copy of the pensions guide entitled ‘Changes to pensions at retirement following the 2014 budget’ from tinyurl.com/pensionchangesguide

There is no form to fill in and no questions asked. Simply visit the above link to start the download. To contact Tideway, the specialist pension advisers and producers of this 17-page guide please call 0203 178 5982.

Q and A: 30-second guide to pension changes

From CITY A.M.: This article provides a 30-second guide to pension changes: The Taxation of Pensions Bill was published yesterday by the government setting out formally the pension changes first unveiled in March.

Q Back in March? What was new yesterday then?
A Some of the bigger rules were only mooted in a draft bill published earlier this year, but yesterday the government confirmed they would be included in the new laws.

Q What are these “bigger rules” that you mention?
A Savers will be now able to access all their defined contribution cash, either in one go, in smaller amounts over time (such as a bank account) or use it to buy a fund product such as an annuity or drawdown fund.

Q So can I use my pension pot like a bank account then?
A Sort of – savers can now take out as much cash from their pension as they want, and as frequently as they want.

Q Great. What’s the catch? I hear tax is a big factor in this change.
A Currently, you can take a tax free lump sum of 25 per cent with the other 75 per cent incurring tax. If you have £40,000 you get £10,000 tax free and pay tax on £30,000.

Q That’s one option but what happens if I take my £40,000 in instalments?
A You will pay income tax on 75 per cent of each withdrawal. If you take £5,000 a year for eight years, you’ll get a lump sum of £1,250 tax free and pay income tax on the other £3,750 a year That’s below the £10,000 allowance so you may end up paying no tax.

Where’s your head? In the sand or in the Cloud? The Cloud and the New Accounting Firm

From accountingTODAY, Pioneers and early adopters in the cloud report that the benefits are tremendous – but you need to be willing to change your firm to reap them.
This FREE report looks at:·

  • What firms will need to do to adapt
  • The pitfalls they’ll want to avoid
  • Strategies for staying secure online

Details here.

An Opportunity to Meet Business Owners Who Make More Happen Every Day

From Inc.com: All entrepreneurs have one thing in common: The drive to make more happen every day. That’s what it takes to turn something you love into a sustainable business. “Make More Happen Every Day,” a collaboration between Staples and Inc., brings you the unique stories of business owners who work to constantly produce better products and services – and experience more personal and professional success. Their lessons, ideas, and experiences can help inspire you to bring more to your business every day.

Visit the “Make More Happen Every Day” site to learn more about what owners like David, Randy, Alan, and Zeynep are doing to grow their businesses every day.

Accountants: Do you want to offer probate services?

From ICAEW: On 15 July, the House of Commons approved ICAEW’s role as approved regulator, which came into force as law on 17 July; the statutory instrument approving ICAEW’s role as a licensing authority was laid on 22 July and became law on 14 August.

ICAEW is now accepting applications from firms for accreditation to offer probate services.

Consumers looking for probate services are able to use appropriately qualified ICAEW Chartered Accountants as an alternative to traditional providers.
Read more here.

A Quick Guide to Advanced Twitter Analyses

From Simply Measured: Is this you: You understand the importance of building a results-driven Twitter strategy and you’ve got a handle on basic analyses.

Now it’s time to step up your game by learning a few more advanced analysis techniques that will help boost your brand’s performance on Twitter. Download this FREE Quick Guide to Advanced Twitter Analyses to:·

  • Learn how to turn Tweets into web traffic to your site·
  • Improve your brand’s customer service on Twitter·
  • Measure Twitter campaign performance from start to finish

Click the link below to download the full guide: get.simplymeasured.com/twitter-advanced-em.html  

Will.i.am launches Puls: A smartwatch that doesn’t need a smartphone

From Business Spectator in Australia: Nathan Olivarez-Giles writes to say that Will.i.am, the award-winning musician and tech entrepreneur, took the stage at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference last week in San Francisco to launch Puls, a smartwatch that he hopes will be successful enough to bring him some tech-industry credibility.

The device is about two inches wide, and looks more like a cuff than a watch. It doesn’t depend on a cellphone like other smartwatches—it connects to a cellular network by itself to make calls, send text messages, check in on social networks, find location on a map, and of course, play music.

It has an integrated touch screen to operate the forked version of Android that powers it, and like Android Wear and the Apple Watch, it has a voice-activated digital assistant, too, named Aneeda instead of Siri.
Read about it here.

Pick the perfect pension to avoid auto-enrolment anguish

From New Model Adviser, Henry Tapper writes: The message needs to get through to accountants, employers and advisers: pay up for pensions, not just payroll, to avoid a future fiascoMillions of employees are being led blindly into potentially dysfunctional pension schemes, due to a toxic combination of employers’ unwillingness to fund advice and advisers’ belief that auto-enrolment is all about payroll and not about pension scheme selection.

The routes to the auto-enrolment market are changing. While it is possible for advisers to reach employers under their own steam, the involvement of accountants is increasing.

A number of accountancy firms are running models that use advisers. Many have IFAs embedded in their practices, or have formed strategic partnerships with IFAs. There are examples where this set-up works well, with the IFA used specifically for their expertise in pension selection. However, some accountancy practices are going it alone, using existing systems and payroll know-how to take business away from advisers, while possessing little idea of what a good pension actually looks like.Read what Henry Tapper has to say, here.

EC approves the creation of British Business Bank

The European Commission has concluded that UK plans for setting up the British Business Bank (BBB), an integrated entity for managing SME access to finance programmes in the UK, are in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the Commission considered that the BBB concept addresses market failures that hamper SME access to finance in an appropriate and proportionate way, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.

The BBB will have three subsidiaries, the Mandated Arm, Service Arm and Commercial Arm – each will provide distinct services. It is also planned that certain already existing programmes supporting SMEs will be integrated within the respective arms of the BBB. The BBB will also develop and manage new SME access to finance programmes. The UK considers that this will ensure a more effective deployment of programmes to support SMEs in their growth and thereby contribute to economic development and job creation.

From their website: “The “British Business Bank” currently exists as a programme within the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Once EU State aid approval has been granted, the British Business Bank will run as an arms-length institution. BIS will hand responsibility for state-funded business finance schemes over to the British Business Bank.”
Visit the British Business Bank’s website at: british-business-bank.co.uk

Windows 10: the top 10 most requested features

From The Verge, Tom Warren reports that Microsoft is currently soliciting feedback for Windows 10 as part of a Technical Preview program to improve the features of the company’s next version of Windows.

While testers are voting on a variety of changes that Paul Thurrott has documented well, Microsoft has also opened its own Windows feature suggestion page at the Uservoice feedback site.

Microsoft has previously used Uservoice for Windows Phone, and strong Uservoice support for the Cortana name actually swayed the company to keep the name following several leaks. So it’s clear the company looks at Uservoice closely. This article covers the top 10 requests for Windows 10 features.

Apple SIM can be the next big revolution

From Times of India, Ravi Sharma, writes that Apple devoted a lot of time during its October 16 presentation to iPads, iMac, OS X Yosemite and even Safari browser, but it didn’t mention — even once — one of the features that may have significant repercussions in the global telecom industry.

On its website, the company says that it has introduced a new sim card, called Apple SIM, with iPad Air 2. “The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the US and UK right on your iPad,” the company says on its website.

Basically, it means that customers in the US and UK, which have carrier subsidies, will be able to change their telecom operator by simply tapping the screen a few times. For example, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the US will provide a list of plans on the screen and buyers would be able to simply select the plan on the screen. This is revolutionary for these markets, since most consumers don’t switch carriers as the change is a lengthy process.

Income Share Agreements: Crowdfunding with a Difference

Income Share Agreements: Crowdfunding with a Difference

Today, I’d like to talk a little about ISAs. You may already know about them – but I don’t mean Individual Savings Accounts. 
Crowd Funding

The ISA I’m writing about in this short article is an Income Share Agreement. It’s a financial vehicle or product or arrangement in which an individual or organisation gives a fixed amount of money to a recipient who, in exchange, agrees to pay back a percentage of his/her or their organisation’s income for a fixed number of years. These ISAs are a controversial new financing phenomenon that has recently emerged.

Beth Akers wrote about this in Brookings in relation to education costs. She said that in response to growing concerns over the issue of higher education finance, policy makers, advocates, and entrepreneurs have developed and proposed an array of solutions to address the shortcomings of our current system.  Income Share Agreements are one such proposal that deserves more attention.  ISAs allow students to raise funds to pay for their degrees by selling “shares” in their future earnings.

She added: “This solution is sometimes dismissed as a gimmick, akin to indentured servitude, despite the fact that it has the potential to offer improvements over traditional loans in terms of shielding students from risk and providing information about quality, two widely held objectives among advocates and policy makers.”

Della Bradshaw in the FT wrote, here, that some see it as a 21st-century version of indentured servitude, a system dating from the 1600s in which employers in the US paid the cost of the sea crossing for would-be immigrants in return for a fixed number of years of labour. These contracts, which, according to an article at TaxProf are offered by entities such as Fantex, Upstart, Pave, and Lumni, raise important questions for the legal system.

Back in April of this year, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Congressman Tom Petri (R-Wisconsin) introduced companion bills in the US Senate and House that would provide legal clarity around private-market Income Share Agreements. The bills require certain consumer disclosures to be clearly communicated to the individual receiving the ISA. Read about it here.

ISAs are not a new invention, with contracts of this nature first proposed in the 1950s by Milton Friedman – the great American economist, statistician and writer – as a solution to the problem of students being unable to borrow against their future earnings to pay for college.

Whichever way you look at these arrangements, they seem to be part of the crowdsource or crowdfunding family. This funding is the new way to finance start–ups in a networked world. They are popular with entrepreneurs, small business owners, investors, artisans, or those who merely have a good idea for a business venture have a new and attainable means of securing capital to grow their dreams. In short, they are a long way from conventional financing.

crowd funding services handbookI came across a useful book on this subject: The Crowd Funding Services Handbook: Raising the Money You Need to Fund Your Business, Project, or Invention (Wiley Finance) by Jason R. Rich which has only just been published. Publicity for the book suggests that it offers a step–by–step overview of the various crowdsource funding services available on the Web, as well as the necessary documentation required to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign. It contains details on how to evaluate and select the best online platform for crowdfunding efforts and provides details on creating a business plan to the specifications require to raise capital via crowdfunding. Available from Amazon: ISBN-10: 1118853008, ISBN-13: 978-1118853009.

Do you have any thoughts on this form of financing whether it be for educational purposes or a more general commercial application?

If so, I’d love to hear from you: mpollins@onesmartplace.com

Marketing Round up for Professionals October wk 3

Marketing Round up for Professionals October wk 3

Special Alert

Last week, I wrote the text of a publication on Workplace Pensions and Automatic Enrolment which has now been published in the Bizezia online business library – click here for details of the digital library, running to nearly 700 publications.

Your clients will thank you for providing to them this publication – contact us for details of a special offer.


Are you different? Or is your firm, at best, the same as everybody else?

Widely suggested and often followed: Popular wisdom says that there are two possible strategies for a business to pursue (originating from Michael Porter): (1) To be a cost cutter or (2) To be a differentiator. I think that there is a third strategy: (3) To do nothing and eventually fail. To be frank, that’s what most professional firms do – the failure is best described as “failing to achieve their objectives”.

Last month, I gave examples from the retail sector, citing Aldi and Lidl as successful cost cutters, Waitrose as successful differentiators and finally Tesco as (at present) sadly in category 3.

You’ve probably got ideas of your own about companies that differentiate themselves from their competitors by providing what is generally called legendary service. Take a look at these examples.

Last week, I mentioned Ron Kaufman, a regular contributor to Better Business Focus, is a hugely successful author and presenter on the importance of service excellence.  You can read his excellent article here.

Break the rules… stand out from the crowd, says Ric Payne of Principa
Discover how 12 weapons of mass disruption will help you create a firm that really is innovative, future focused and able to take advantage of a rapidly changing market.

Principa’s Practice Innovation Workshop is a unique 2 day, no nonsense, programme presented by Ric Payne (pictured here), an acknowledged global game-changer in practice development.

This is categorically not a ‘same-old, same-old’ boring practice development programme. It’s your opportunity to learn how to apply traditional and contemporary strategic planning tools to re-imagine and re-design your firm AND then have access to an amazing suite of tools and resources for 12 months (at no additional cost) to help you implement your plan.

Event date: November 17-18, Birmingham UK

Visit www.principa-u.com/events/piw for details of the programme and meet two innovative UK firm leaders who have each successfully redesigned their practices to create truly differentiated firms.

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs
Lots more marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

From: marketingprofs.com

Guess what these bunkers are used for

From How to Geek: Deep beneath the mountainous terrain of Switzerland there are untold numbers of bunkers and fortified military installations built right into the bedrock of the country itself by armies of engineers during World War II and the subsequent tensions of the Cold War.

Question: What are they used for?

Answer: Many of these mountain fortresses have been converted to house not alarmed civilians and critical military personnel, but acre after acre of computer servers. For companies that demand data storage in a physical location that is naturally climate controlled, as secure as, well, a subterranean military bunker, and even capable of withstanding a nuclear strike, there’s nothing quite like the storage offered by Swiss companies, like Mount10, that have retrofitted the decommissioned bunkers to serve security-minded customers and companies around the world.
The rest of the story is here.

BBC iPlayer now delivers 30-day catch up

Much to the delight of its online viewers, the BBC has officially extended iPlayer’s catch-up from seven to 30 days, allowing fans of Dr Who and Sherlock three more weeks of procrastination. The extension, announced in April but enacted 7 October, comes in time for autumn’s line up, which includes shows such as the Great British Bake-Off.
Source: www.cityam.com/1412643544/bbc-iplayer-now-delivers-30-day-catch

Mark Lee’s seven steps framework to get new clients

From accountingWEB, Mark Lee outlines seven factors that will influence the people you meet so that they become clients. These factors, which can be recalled as starting with the letters A-G, are most relevant as follows when considering prospective clients:

  • Your Appearance – what impression did you leave with the prospect? And is this confirmed if they check you out online?
  • Your Business branding and messaging – was this sufficiently clear, relevant and memorable?
  • Your Conversational impact – were you evidently listening more than talking and able to engage the prospect with relevant stories of how you have helped other clients like them?
  • Your Dependability and trust – did you evidence this when you met and how can you do so as part of your follow up?
  • Your Experience – does the prospect know you have sufficient relevant experience to provide the support and advice they need?
  • Your Follow-up from the meeting – this will be focus of the remainder of this article
  • Your willingness to Give and share – which can also form part of your follow up where appropriate

Read Mark Lee’s article in full at: www.accountingweb.co.uk/article/how-turn-people-you-meet-clients/565674

The Definitive Facebook Advertising Playbook

Marin Software say that Facebook has unleashed sweeping changes to their campaign, creative, device and audience targeting workflows.  At the same time, the Social Network’s user base has managed to grow to over 1.1 billion active users. The confluence of these two trends presents a massive opportunity for digital marketers, but formulating an effective Facebook plan can be difficult.

Facebook advertisers need to adopt new, innovative strategies based on the industry’s most important trends.

Download Marin Software’s The Definitive Facebook Advertising Playbook to learn:

  • How recent Facebook campaign and audience changes have changed user behaviour user
  • The top 4 opportunities Facebook advertisers can take advantage of today
  • The key strategies Facebook advertisers should implement to drive campaign ROI

Download your FREE copy today, no form fill required: lp.marinsoftware.com

Lawyers and Accountants take note! Are you looking to grow your business through acquisition?

From Retiring Accountant who say that they have just launched an online quote system bringing back instant results from high street institutions and specialist lenders able to finance your acquisition.

The best rate from a high street lender able to finance professional practice purchase is currently 3.7%.

The results are instant and the form takes less than a few minutes – click HERE.

If you are wanting to expand and grow your firm or you have an acquisition in mind then please just click HERE to get your instant quote.

Marketers pressured to match strides with mobile-savvy consumers: IAB report

From Mobile Marketer, Michael Barris, says that more consumers want to respond in the mobile marketplace with their digital wallets or the swipe of a phone, ratcheting up the pressure on marketers to catch up, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s new report on “The State of the Mobile World.”

The IAB’s third annual international anthology of IAB mobile perspectives, which analyzed data from IABs in 30 countries, noted that regardless of the place, consumers lead the way, leaving media companies, agencies and brands puzzled by mobile or unsure how to respond to the shift of the digital audience to phones and tablets. The findings underscore the need for marketers to get up to speed in meeting the demands of increasingly mobile-savvy consumers.

“The notion that marketers are playing catch-up in mobile was a key point made this week by Jim Farley,” said Jeff Hasen, president of consulting firm Gotta Mobilize, of remarks by Ford’s head of global marketing, sales and service at the Mobile Marketing Association’s SM2 Innovation Summit in New York.

Mobile Advertising Trends Report 2014

From Funmobility.com, who say that the landscape is changing. A worldwide explosion of mobile ad budgets has sparked a dramatic evolution of technology, standards, and best practices. Those who don’t keep up with the latest mobile advertising trends will be headed for extinction.

Amidst the excitement of this seismic shift, there is a lot of hype—and there are a lot of empty promises. This report will bring you up to speed, providing a no-nonsense examination of the forces that are reshaping the world of mobile advertising.

Download now to become an expert in:

  • New Mobile Ad Formats, a Comparison:
  • Programmatic Buying & Real-Time Bidding
  • Comprehensive Industry-By-Industry Analysis

Download: www.funmobility.com/resources/whitepapers-webinars-quick-guides/mobile-advertising-trends-report-2014/

Scale up: How to grow your business in 2015

From London Loves Business, from finance to flexi-time, Rebecca Hobson provides five key ideas to boost business: This article is brought to you in partnership with RBS, as part of the Dynamic Enterprise Summit 2014. Find out more at: www.dynamicenterprisesummit.com

As we enter the final quarter of 2014, enterprising business leaders must look for new opportunities to scale their operations in 2015. From finance to flexi-time, this article brings you five key ideas to motivate, inspire and, ultimately, boost revenue and profit. You will need to read the full article but the ideas are:

  1. Make the leap into exports
  2. Apply for a bank loan
  3. Ramp up your content marketing
  4. Seek out alternative sources of finance
  5. Introduce a flexible working policy

Read more: www.londonlovesbusiness.com/business-news/scale-up-how-to-grow-your-business-in-2015/8985.article

Zapp brings mobile payment to Sainsbury’s, Asda, House of Fraser and others

From CITY A.M., Lynsey Barber reported that Sainsbury’s, Asda and House of Fraser are just some of the country’s biggest shops that will soon let customers pay for items using just a mobile phone via Zapp. The mobile technology, already supported in the apps of UK banks such as HSBC, Nationwide and Santander, will be supported by more than 15 high street retailers and businesses from 2015. Shop Direct, Thomas Cook, Clarks, Dune, Spar, Best Western and Bravissimo will also support Zapp.

The mobile payment industry is predicted to triple by 2018 when it will be worth £14.2bn according to the Centre of Economic and Business Research (CEBR). The industry also received a boost in popularity after Apple introduced support for mobile payment for the iPhone 6.

Zapp, acts as a go-between to pass payments between the bank and retailer securely without the hassle of having to enter card details or pin numbers. Customers will be able to pay online by simply tapping a “pay with zapp” button which takes payment directly from a bank account via the app of their banking provider. The mobile wallet also allows customers to pay in stores at the checkout with the swipe of their phone if it supports NFC and for bills to be paid with the scan of a QR code.

Is this something that your firm could embrace? It would certainly speed up payments from clients!

A Quick Guide to Basic Twitter Analyses

From Simply Measured: You can learn how to build a data-driven Twitter strategy for your brand: To get the most out of your efforts on Twitter, you need a strategy that’s built around your data.

This FREE guide will help you perform basic Twitter analyses and understand how to interpret your findings. Before you know it, you’ll have everything you need to build a data-driven playbook.

Download this Quick Guide to Basic Twitter Analyses to:

  • Learn how to measure and interpret brand engagement
  • Discover which kinds of content work best for your brand
  • Analyze your Twitter audience growth
  • Measure your competitive share of voice on Twitter

…and much more.

GLIP: Solving the team communication thing with this collaboration tool

Glip delivers effortless communication using HD video conferencing, screen sharing and real-time text chat. You can plan projects and automatically share updates, tasks and calendar events. Everything your team needs is in a self-organizing conversation stream. All your shared files, events, tasks and links live in one place, fully searchable and easy to access.

Glip says it delivers better team communication so you can focus on the important stuff.

In the office, on the road or from home, Glip brings it all together: HD video conferencing, screen sharing and real-time text chat along with shared files, updates, tasks and calendar.

Glip is FREE for as long as you want, for as many people as you need
Download from: info.glip.com/glip-landing-page-072914

An Update on the AICPA’s Revised Code of Professional Conduct

From the California CPA organisation: Matthew Lombardi, CPA/CFF: Challenging D.H. Lawrence’s proposition that ethics does not change with the calendar, the AICPA’s revised Code of Professional Conduct (Code) will become effective on 31 December. A year later, the Conceptual Framework for AICPA Independence Standards will be supplemented with two additional frameworks that extend beyond the current independence rule.

While the AICPA intended to limit significant revisions to the ethics rules, the redrafting resulted in several substantive changes to broaden the Code’s scope and improve its understandability.

[Matthew Lombardi, CPA/CFF is a partner in the forensic accounting practice at Hemming Morse LLP.]
Although this is an article from the USA, it contains useful pointers for accountants in the UK.
Read the full article at: www.calcpa.org/content/27344.aspx

Marketing Automation Runs on Content

[9 October 2014, Marketo] Creating effective content is essential to achieving success with marketing automation. Check out Marketo’s new eBook, Marketing Automation Runs on Content, to learn how to build a streamlined content operation and boost your marketing’s quantifiable impact!

Download the ebook now to find out how to:

  • Produce, distribute and analyse content
  • Map your content directly to buyer personas
  • Build content for every stage of your sales cycle
  • Amplify the value of marketing automation

Download from: info.marketo.com/kH03v0b10t602Ymvt904T0G

Do you get Delanceyplace? It’s thought-provoking, interesting… and FREE

This is fantastic: Delanceyplace is a FREE brief daily email with an excerpt or quote they view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.

There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, primarily historical in focus, and will occasionally be controversial. Finally, they say they hope that the selections will resonate beyond the subject of the book from which they were excerpted. When you sign up, you’ll be joining 99,000 other subscribers who receive Delanceyplace every weekday morning.

There’s a very useful archive of articles here.
Sign up for FREE at: www.delanceyplace.com/sign_up.php

Could a big data-crunching machine be your boss one day – perhaps the senior partner?

Matthew Wall wrote in BBC News to say: “I’m on a date with Amelia. She’s neatly dressed, emotionally intelligent and whip-smart. But she’s a little too virtual for my tastes.”

Amelia is a “learning cognitive agent”, according to her creators IPSoft – like one of those virtual customer service helpers that pop up on corporate websites.

Only not so dumb and a lot less irritating. But one day, she could end up being your boss, her makers believe.

Machine learning
Amelia can swallow textbooks whole, speak 20 languages, understand concepts and learn from her mistakes. And she can be replicated any number of times.

This may be a far cry from Scarlett Johansson’s uber-intelligent operating system Samantha in Spike Jonze’s sci-fi film, Her, but it’s the future, says Chetan Dube, IPSoft’s chief executive.
Read full story: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29456257

10 top technology trends for 2015

From TOI Tech: Do you wonder which are the technology trends that are likely to have a significant impact on organizations in the year 2015?

Research agency Gartner has identified 10 such technologies that organisations cannot afford to ignore. However, it is not necessary that companies adopt and invest in all of these trends at the same rate, but companies do need to look to make deliberate decisions about them during the next two years.

Here are the top 10 technology trends that will prevail in the coming year (go to the full article for details):

  1. Computing everywhere
  2. The internet of things
  3. 3D printing
  4. Advanced, pervasive and invisible analytics
  5. Context-rich systems
  6. Smart machines
  7. Cloud computing
  8. Software-defined applications and infrastructure
  9. Web-scale IT
  10. Risk-based security and self-protection

Read more, including detail on the list above: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/slideshow/10-top-technology-trends-for-2015/itslideshowviewall/44783112.cms

What can you learn from this? Countries with the Most Profitable Coffee

From Central America Data: Every year Switzerland sells about 50 thousand tons for which it receives $1.98 billion, earning a return on its coffee exports which is 5 times higher than in Germany.

An article on Msn.com reports on a not well known phenomenon practiced in Central America: the value of generating and accumulating knowledge and practicing innovation is much higher than owning and exploiting natural resources.

One example is the case of coffee in Switzerland, where it was “… the value of knowledge and innovation which positioned Switzerland”, not “… the ability to buy cheap and sell expensive. It was the ability to transform a product. They created the capsule market and converted 5 grams of a ground grain into a complete universe, which involves design, marketing, industrial development, high technology and coffee, and as if that were not enough, also, George Clooney. ”

“… The 570% return on 1 ton of “Swiss” coffee with respect to the “German” coffee is the result of the efficiency of a process based on development of knowledge. This is not even about coffee. In fact, experts who studied the phenomenon of why so much is paid for a product that is not the best, in culinary terms, concluded that those who choose the famous capsule do so, mainly because of the convenience of the technology which allows them to have an espresso in just seconds without any fuss. ”
From: msn.com
Source: en.centralamericadata.com/en/article/home/Countries_with_the_Most_Profitable_Coffee

Interesting stuff: Delanceyplace and an Adulteress

On 13 October, from Delanceyplace:  This has nothing to do with marketing or business promotion. But it’s very interesting nevertheless.

This selection by Delanceyplace – from The Gesualdo Hex by Glenn Watkins, explains that Carlo Gesualdo da Venose, the Prince of Venosa, was an Italian nobleman and composer in the 16th century. He is famous not only for the haunting madrigals he composed, but the vicious murder of his wife, Maria d’Avalos, and her lover, Fabrizio Carafa, the Duke of Andria. The double-murder, which contributed to Gesualdo’s notoriety, was never punished. In fact, there was an imperative to murder an adultering wife and her lover…
Read more at: www.delanceyplace.com/delancey_archives.php

Sameness is out: you have to be different to succeed

Sameness is out: you have to be different to succeed

I admit that I’ve been banging on about this for a few weeks now but it really is an important issue.

Widely suggested and often followed, popular wisdom says that there are two possible strategies for a business to pursue (originating from Michael Porter): (1) To be a cost cutter or (2) To be a differentiator. There is a third strategy: (3) To do nothing and eventually fail. To be frank, that’s what most professional firms do – the failure is best described as “failing to achieve their objectives”.

You’ve probably got ideas of your own about companies that differentiate themselves from their competitors by providing what is generally called legendary service. Take a look at these examples. As a kick-start, read this: blog.bufferapp.com/great-customer-service-legendary

Focus on Service Excellence

Ron KaufmanRon Kaufman, a regular contributor to Better Business Focus, is a hugely successful author and presenter on the importance of service excellence.  He asks: When Does Customer Service Excellence Become ‘Legendary?’  He says that many organisations use the phrase “Legendary Service” to describe and promote their service. But how many have really earned the right to claim customer service excellence? If you give good service, that’s not legendary. If you go out of your way for someone, that’s not legendary either. But if you provide service unsurpassed in your field – that can be legendary service. Customer service excellence sets a company apart from its competitors. Read his excellent article here.

Focus on Differentiation

George Clooney NespressoOne of stories that caught my eyes last week was titled: “What can you learn from this? Countries with the Most Profitable Coffee”. It explores how the value of generating and accumulating knowledge and practicing innovation is much higher than owning and exploiting natural resources. Essentially, differentiating what you sell.

Swiss company, Nescafe, have taken an everyday product – coffee – and created a profitable phenomenon by differentiating what they sell and presenting coffee in convenient little Nespresso pods. The coffee pods aren’t the best in culinary terms, yet the convenience and speed at which they produce the coffee is what has made billions for the company. As far as I know, not a single coffee bean is grown in Switzerland, yet the company takes 50,000 tons of the stuff, packs it into attractive, easy to use pods and sells nearly $2billion of it around the world. That’s a lot of money and a lot of clever marketing (helped by advertising promotion from George Clooney). What’s the lesson: find out what customers truly want and give it to them in colours and packs that turn coffee-making into an exciting experience.

The same goes for The Willoughby Book Club. You could say that they sell books. But what they sell are books as a present: Pay a subscription fee and you or someone you choose will receive a book in the post each month. Now, you could probably go into your local bookstore and purchase the book yourself. But, what the Willoughby Book Club is selling is not just books, but a beautiful gift-wrapped book chosen according to the personality questions you answered upon subscribing, delivered straight to your door. The company offers a range of book subscription gifts for a variety of ages and interests – from picture books for babies and children, to books for fiction lovers, budding chefs and even couples – all available in 3, 6 or 12 month packages.

Just like Nespresso, Willoughby have taken an everyday product but differentiated how it’s offered.

It reminds me of stories I heard many years ago about two companies – Ronson Lighters and Parker Pens. Someone asked these companies what they sold – lighters and pens were the answers provided. But the truth is they didn’t sell lighters and pens at all. They sold gifts – a large number of buyers never made a purchase for themselves but as a gift for someone else. Once the companies realised just how true this was, they changed the packaging and promotion to provide appeal as a gift and never looked back.

Focus on the Retail Sector

In the retail sector:

  • Aldi and Lidl are cost cutters. They succeed, and how.
  • Waitrose are differentiators. They succeed by a long way.
  • Tesco, for many years market-leaders in their sector, appear to have done nothing. They haven’t failed (yet) but they’ve certainly taken a hammering over recent months.

I frequently suggest to people who speak about business pressures, that they should try something different and become a differentiator. The following story emphasises just that:

waitrose adIs this a message for Tesco? Try a little “Shopera”
Courtesy of Barry Urquhart, Marketing Focus, in Australia: it’s a simple enough question: What does it take to put a smile on the faces of all customers and have them spontaneously break out in applause?

The answer is: A little retail theatre and entertainment.

John Lewis and Waitrose standout as a British retail success story.  Click here to view, enjoy, do share and like.

Do you differentiate what you sell?

What can be learned from all this?

Can it be applied to your firm? Of course it can!

Most firms do not differentiate what they sell. Be different.

Try succeeding by being different, not by charging too much, cutting corners or working yourself into an early grave.

New Changes to Holiday Pay and Commission – Euromillions, anyone?

New Changes to Holiday Pay and Commission – Euromillions, anyone?

I think most of us have already had our summer holidays and are lamenting the fact that we are now firmly back in our work routines.  If your job involves a pay structure where you are paid a basic salary and a commission and/or bonus you may be coming into some extra cash in the not too distant future.

More holiday and more money, you say? Will I win the Euromillions?


New Changes to Holiday Pay and Commission – Euromillions, anyone?

You may not be far off. A European Court of Justice (‘ECJ’) Judgment earlierthis summer redefined holiday pay as we know it. According to this judgment, the holiday pay under the Working Time Directive (‘WTD’) is to include an allowance for commission, regardless of the fact that commission or bonus is technically paid on sales made when you are not actually at work.  At the moment, under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (‘WTR’), a week’s pay is based on basic salary and excludes payments such as allowances, expenses, overtime, commission and bonus payments.  These are all elements of salary, the general definition of which is any sums payable to the worker in connection with his/her employment,  even if it refers to specific work done by someone while performing their duty.

So, how can you actually accrue commission when you are not actually at work?  Interestingly enough, the WTD states that all workers must be entitled to paid annual leave, but the manner in which a worker is paid is calculated is left to national legislation or practice.

Following the ECJ ruling in Lock V British Gas Tradings Limited, employers should now calculate holiday pay based on average weekly remuneration (including commission and similar payments) over the previous 12 complete weeks if:

  • A worker does not have normal working hours or;
  • A worker has normal working hours but their pay varies according to the amount of work done or the time of work.

This case also states that in order to comply with the WTD, if a worker has normal working hours, employers should, when calculating holiday pay, in summary:

  • Include overtime which is guaranteed and that the worker is required to perform under his contract of employment (one can see how this could lead to disputes and ET decisions are in the pipeline).
  • Include bonuses, which are intrinsically linked to performance of the task that the worker is required to carry out under his contract of employment.
  • Include commission, which is intrinsically linked to the performance of the tasks that the worker is required to carry out under his contract of employment.
  • Include payments, which relate to a workers personal or professional status (for instance, the cost of my practising certificate).
  • Exclude payments, which are intended exclusively to cover occasional or ancillary costs arising at the time of performance of the task which the worker is required to carry out under his contract of employment.

It should be noted at this point that the principles set out above will only apply in respect of the four weeks’ required by the WTD as implemented by Regulation 13 of the WTR. They do not apply in respect of the additional 1.6 weeks additional holiday provided by Regulation 13a of the WTR which is over and above the WTD requirement.  Therefore, if a worker is considering going after his/her employer for holiday pay including commission etc, it would only be in relation to the four weeks of holiday pay that would fall within the WTD requirements.

Rather unhelpfully, there is no authorative decision as yet on how the four weeks are selected but in a recent case, Woods v Hershall, the Employment Tribunal decided that in the absence of any agreement, it was up to the worker to choose.

So what does this all mean for UK businesses? 

Not only would employers need to change their holiday pay calculations going forward, they may also be faced with claims from workers on payments for holiday already taken which should have, but did not, include commission etc.


What does this all mean for UK businesses?

As an alternative to an ET claim for unlawful deductions, which must be brought within three months of the most recent deduction  At the moment, it seems likely that such claims could go back as far as 1st October 1998 which was the date when the WTR came into force.   Unlike claims for contractual holiday pay, claims for statutory holiday pay cannot be brought in the Civil Courts because they are to enforce a statutory right for which the Employment Tribunals are the appropriate jurisdiction. As an alternative, workers can also bring a breach of contract claim in the civil courts which may only go back as far as 6 years (5 years in Scotland) and case law suggest that it may not be successful.

In any event, this could have serious ramifications for business. John Lewis recently paid out £40 million to their staff as they had not accounted for commission and overtime in their holiday pay.  In my view it will depend on the size of the claim. If it is a low value claim it may well be that workers would be deterred by employment tribunal fees where it would simply not be cost effective to pursue the claim. If for instance, the claim goes back as far as 1998 and/or the worker is a high earner it is unlikely that tribunal fees would make much difference.

So what about contractual holiday pay? The right to holiday pay under the WTR does not affect any contractual entitlement to holiday pay.  However, any holiday paid to a worker under his contract of employment will go towards discharging his employer’s liability to pay him holiday pay under the WTR and vice versa.  Any contractual entitlement to holiday must be included in an employers written Statement of Particulars.  The particulars must also be sufficient pellucid to calculate precisely what the entitlement to accrued holiday pay would be on termination of his employment.  In the absence of an express agreement, a term entitling an employee to pay in lieu of accrued unused contractual holiday on termination of employment would not generally be implied however it can in some circumstances become an implied term through custom and practice or business efficacy.  I would like to remind everyone that after two months continuous employment, an employer must give their employees a written Statement of Minimum Particulars of Employment (see my previous article on this here).

So what’s next?

holidayI am sure we are all curious to see how the UK Courts will interpret the ECJ decision in Lock. There have already been some prominent ECJ cases preceding Lock and in my view the main principle to take away from the ECJ is that it should never be a disincentive for a worker to take holiday. That is, you should never loose money if you chose to take holiday. With this in mind, for those of you who are going away for an autumn or winter break, do make sure that you are getting paid what you are supposed to. If you are working on a commission basis and think you are owed holiday pay, bring this up with your employer and seek to clarify the payments that may be due to you. It may also be advisable for employer to go through your workers’ payment structures and consider the potential liability. Employers should also ensure that they do follow the correct holiday pay calculations going forward. Needless to say that this can become rather costly and should be budgeted for.

As with all these matters, taking skilled professional advice is highly desirable before things get out of hand.

Marketing Round up for Professionals October wk 2

Marketing Round up for Professionals October wk 2

Before you get delve into the gems in this article, see if you can find the time to view the latest product from the One Smart Team at Bizezia: Your Daily News. Think about how you can use it as part of your firm’s objective to keep in touch with clients and prospects. It’s a great marketing tool and all for less than the cost of a Big Mac each morning! Click the Icon to discover more…

Three strategies – which one are you following?
Widely suggested and often followed: Popular wisdom says that there are two possible strategies for a business to pursue (originating from Michael Porter): (1) To be a cost cutter or (2) To be a differentiator.

Actually, I think that there is a third strategy: (3) To do nothing and eventually fail.

Last week, I gave examples from the retail sector, citing Aldi and Lidl as successful cost cutters, Waitrose as successful differentiators and finally Tesco as (at present) sadly in category 3. Interestingly, Warren Buffett, the famed Sage of Omaha and one of the world’s richest men, has admitted his biggest investment ever outside the US was a huge mistake. He said he made a wrong decision to buy into Tesco. I happen to think he’s wrong, but time will tell. Meanwhile Morrisons are putting their hopes for a recovery into a new Loyalty Card System.

You’ve probably got ideas of your own about companies that differentiate themselves from their competitors by providing what is generally called legendary service.
Take a look at these examples.

Ron Kaufman, a regular contributor to Better Business Focus, is a hugely successful author and presenter on the importance of service excellence.  He asks: When Does Customer Service Excellence Become ‘Legendary? He says that many organisations use the phrase “Legendary Service” to describe and promote their service. But how many have really earned the right to claim customer service excellence? If you give good service, that’s not legendary. If you go out of your way for someone, that’s not legendary either. But if you provide service unsurpassed in your field – that can be legendary service. Customer service excellence sets a company apart from its competitors. Read his excellent article here.

Problems and Solutions
Now, here’s a recap on some useful marketing, business promotion, new technology and other interesting stories from the past week:

How to get paid on time

british notesAccountancyAGE reports that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has recruited a team of psychologists to help them to get tardy taxpayers to pay their taxes. The wording of thousands of letters from HMRC to delinquent taxpayers has been “subtly altered” with the aid of these psychologists to inspire guilt. The chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has revealed all at the Liberal Democrats’ party conference. Apparently, HMRC has “pinpointed the exact words and concepts” which trigger people to pay what they owe.

Speaking at the Liberal Democrat party conference, Mr Alexander said: “We are using psychologists and behavioural economists in HMRC to get the money quickly. Tax dodgers beware – we know where you live, we know how much you owe, and now we know how you think. Your behaviour is unacceptable, and we are coming for our money.”
There’s the full story on this in AccountancyAGE here, and also in the Telegraph, here.

Maybe accountants and lawyers could learn something from this initiative – after all, most firms complain that their cashflow problems arise mainly from clients not paying their fee notes on time. Would you use this approach to get paid on time? Have you pinpointed the exact words you must use if you want your clients to pay what they owe?

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

Lots more marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

From: marketingprofs.com

UK: Mid-tier Accountants on the rise?

ICAEW Economia suggest that mid-size law firms are flourishing compared with their larger rivals. Could the same trend be taking place in the accountancy profession, asks Nick Martindale. The economic downturn affected virtually every business in some way, and professional services firms were no exception. For some, though, it was a chance to win more work, capitalising on a need for potential clients to review costs, which forced them to look at alternative providers in a different way. Even as the economy recovers, controlling costs remains a priority, accompanied perhaps by a growing recognition that big isn’t necessarily best.

A study by the professional practices group at MHA – a UK-wide association consisting of nine independent accountancy firms – looked at how the legal sector is shaping up in the post-downturn age. The study found that, in 2013, firms with 10 partners or fewer experienced little or no growth in average fee income compared with the previous year, while those with 25 partners or more recorded average growth of just under 3%. The most successful group was those firms with between 11 and 25 partners, which saw growth in excess of 6% on average.

There are, of course, differences between the legal and accountancy sectors, both in the relative size of firms and the degree to which an established “mid-tier” can be identified. Yet, against the backdrop of the economic landscape facing clients, the sectors are suitably similar to pose the question of just how mid-tier accountancy firms are faring in comparison with their larger competitors.
Read more about this and how it could affect your firm at: economia.icaew.com/finance/october-2014/mid-tier-success

FREE eBook on Stress Management

Here’s a bargain: Stress Management For Dummies, 2nd Edition – eBook (Usually $14.99) is now available FREE for a limited time! Learn management tools so you can stop letting stress have a negative impact on your life. It’s impossible to get through life without encountering stress. And unfortunately, most of us learn the incorrect ways to cope with it.

Thankfully, Stress Management For Dummies gives you trusted guidance on teaching your body and mind to properly cope with stress while keeping your sanity intact. Whether it’s love, work, family, or something else that has you in the red zone, this updated edition of Stress Management For Dummies will help you identify the stress triggers in your life and cut them down to size — all without losing your cool.

  • Shows you how to use stress in a positive, motivational way instead of letting it negatively affect your life
  • Teaches you to retrain your body and mind to react positively to stress
  • Helps you overcome common stresses faced in modern life

If you want to manage stress and get back to living a normal life, Stress Management For Dummies has you covered.
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Apple to hold iPad launch event on October 16

Get your check book out: Times of India say that Apple plans to hold a “special event” on October 16, where it is expected to launch its new iPads, technology website Re/Code said, citing sources.

On the heels of a major launch of large-screen iPhones, Apple has scheduled an October 16 event to update its iPad line, technology news website Re/code reported.

The event also will include a look at next-generation software for powering Macintosh computers, Re/code said, citing unnamed sources. The gathering is to take place in an auditorium at Apple’s headquarters in the California city of Cupertino, according to the report.

Free E-Book: Evaluating and Implementing Business Intelligence

Available from Matillion is a FREE guide: All you need to know to select and deploy a Business Intelligence and Self-Service Reporting solution successfully.

Getting at the vital information you need can be painful. Business Intelligence (BI) and Self-Serve Reporting solutions can help. This E-Book explains why and how to be successful selecting and implementing BI:

  • Evaluate the business case
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  • Select the right technologies and tools to be successful
  • Address data quality, integration and security

This FREE Complete Guide will teach you all you need to know to select and deploy a Business Intelligence and self-serve reporting solution, helping you deliver the smarter, clearer picture you need for your company.
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What’s sinking your cash flow?

This should appeal to all accountants and lawyers – in fact for all their clients too.

Watch this FREE short entertaining video and learn 4 ways your firm could be leaking cash – and what you can do about it. Discover a smart solution that can help you stop the leaks, generate higher profits and bring in more cash. This initiative has been sponsored by Deltek.
View this video now by registering at: www.accountingtoday.com/subscribe/lead.html

Optimize Your Website for Lead Generation

From Marketo: when it comes to converting leads and making lasting impressions, your website is where the magic happens. Learn how you can use forms, calls-to-action, usability and SEO to upgrade your website lead generation efforts!

Download this FREE ebook from here to find out how to:

  • Enhance your forms on your site to convert leads
  • Decrease “bounce rates” with optimized website navigation
  • Create authentic content, intelligent keywords, HTML, and links to improve your SEO

Facebook Further Reveals Plans for Internet-Connected Drones

SocialMediaPolis.com reported that Yael Maguire, engineering director at Facebook Connectivity Lab, doesn’t like to use the word “drones” when it comes to “beaming” Internet to the developing world. He prefers “planes.”  But whatever you want to call them, Facebook and Internet.org are looking to the skies in order to get the last 15% of the world’s population, who are currently unconnected, online. At the 2014 Social Good Summit last week, Maguire gave more details on the Connectivity Lab’s plans, first revealed in March, in a conversation with Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore.

“In order for us to fly these planes — unmanned planes that have to fly for months, or perhaps years at a time — we actually have to fly above the weather, above all airspace,” Maguire said. “That’s between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. Routinely, planes don’t fly there, and certainly not drones.”

The Path to 1:1 Customer Journey Success

A warning from ExactTarget.com: they say that what they’re offering isn’t your average industry whitepaper. It’s an at-a-glance roadmap to hang by your desk, filled with expert tips on how to transform segment-driven, offer-based digital marketing campaigns into personalized 1:1 customer journeys. Chances are, your lifecycle marketing campaigns provide a great framework for building a 1:1 customer journey strategy.

Take a closer look at how to manage customer journeys by:

  • Converting potential customers into subscribers to increase the likelihood that they’ll become purchasers.
  • Helping new subscribers feel like they’re family. Give them the inside scoop on everything your brand has to offer.
  • Keeping your subscribers happy by providing the content they want, exactly when they want it.
  • Building long-lasting relationships between your brand and your subscribers.

Download now to see how far you can go with the world’s most powerful 1:1 digital marketing platform.

The Future of B2B Marketing: Predictions From 31 Pros

From Marketing Profs an interesting post by Ann Handley: Some marketers seem to have an uncanny ability to predict the future. That includes the speakers at next month’s MarketingProfs’ B2B Marketing Forum in Boston, the theme of which is “Marketing for What Comes Next.”

Thirty-one of the B2B Marketing Forum speakers sat down with #mpb2b speaker Lee Odden to share where they think marketing is heading. Read more to see a list of the B2B marketing futurists, here.

The Volume of Twitter Mentions by Country, Language, and Time

Also from Marketing Profs an interesting post by Ayaz Nanji: Users in the United States are now responsible for less than half (41.5%) of all Twitter mentions, according to a recent report from Mention.

The report was based on an analysis of 70,000,000 Twitter mentions originating in 234 countries. A “mention” was defined as a reference made—i.e., the use of a Mention-tracked keyword—by a Twitter account about a specific entity or person using a related hashtag, handle, or keyword/phrase.

Though its share has dropped over time, the United States is still responsible for far more mentions than any other country, the analysis found. Users in the United Kingdom account for the second-most number of mentions on Twitter (9.7%), followed by France (5.4%). You can read more, here.

SmartTools: Social Media Marketing

OK, you’ve decided to get serious about social media. But creating a smart social media marketing program that reaches customers—your customers—is more challenging than simply collecting followers. You need to set internal expectations, put policies into place, inspire people to take action, and measure your program for success. In short, you need a plan.

That’s why MarketingProfs created SmartTools: Social Media Marketing. They’ve pulled together the critical steps to planning, executing, measuring, and optimizing social media programs that meet your business objectives. Plus, using their interactive SmartTools system you can plan, save, and print in a snap. You can read more, here.

#SocialSkim: Social Ad Spend Evolves, Hyperlapse for Marketing, More!

On Marketing Profs written by Angela Natividad who asks: Do you want to pay to play? Find out how ad spend in social media is evolving. You’ll also learn eight ways to use Hyperlapse for marketing, what a brand enthusiast actually looks like (and where her value lies), and how to run searches through Twitter in a way that brings better results, fast. Skim to boost your social smarts!
You can read more, here.

Localisation Should Be a Forethought: Five Tips for Success

On Marketing Profs written by Darren Megarry and Evelyn Toro who say: Some 60% of global marketers have no strategy for multilingual content marketing, according to a recent survey by Cloudwords. That’s a dangerous oversight, because not thinking about translation until after the content is produced tends to complicate the process and increase costs. And it increases the chance of missing out on opportunities in emerging markets.

Localisation is important: the economic potential of non-English-speaking markets, both online and offline, is staggering:

  • By 2025, the number of global consumers in emerging economies will reach 4.2 billion, and annual consumption in emerging global markets will increase to $30 trillion. (McKinsey & Company)
  • 56.2% of consumers say information in their own language is more important than price, and 60% of consumers from non-English-speaking countries rarely or never buy from English-only websites. (Common Sense Advisory)
  • Fortune 500 companies that translated information to keep up with or to gain an edge over their competitors were 2.04 times more likely to have an increase in profits. (Common Sense Advisory)

Read more:

Cloud tools & services drive rapid growth for SMBs

Google tells us that SMBs (if you are in North America) or SMEs (in the UK) that use cloud services grow 26% faster and are 21% more profitable according to a new report.

In today’s marketplace, expanding and adapting more quickly than the competition is no easy task. So how do fast-growing companies manage to come out ahead?

In partnership with Deloitte, Google surveyed small and medium businesses across Europe and the United States, including members of the Fast 50. They found that 85% of these companies believe that cloud technology is helping them grow faster.
Could it help you too? Find out here to access the FREE download.

Redefining Video Marketing

ExactTarget was looking for a new way to engage website visitors and increase conversion rates – setting themselves apart from their competition. Simply by implementing a dynamic, video-rich marketing strategy, ExactTarget solved this challenge.

Check out their exciting results in this new report from Nucleus Research.

With a video-rich marketing strategy ExactTarget was able to:

  • Double user time on site
  • Improve website visitor engagement with brands and products
  • Increase product demonstration frequency — 500 requests were attributed to their video portal
  • Reduce page bounce rates by 12% in their video portal
  • Improve brand management with the ability to quickly publish video

To access this FREE report, click here.

Bring Passion to Your Presentation

Spotted on Inc.com: You know that a static, boring presentation can cost you a prospect’s attention — and cost your company the sale — but you shine in your business, not in show business. The key to delivering a powerhouse presentation isn’t showmanship. It’s authenticity. It’s the honest expression of the passion that brought your company to centre stage in the first place. This free e-guide, All Systems Grow: Mastering Presentation, can help you build compelling presentations that truly sell.
Download the guide now from here.

6 Keys to Compelling Blog Titles

Also on Inc.com: The art of writing captivating titles is vital for business blog. Like a first impression, your blog title is your audience’s first interaction with your post. Is it more important to be catchy or informative in your titles? It depends on the audience you are chasing. If you are looking for the next viral hit, use catchy phrases and link-baiting language to snag your audience. If you are looking for a deeply engaged audience, use more communicative language that reflects your topic authentically. Both approaches have their advantages. It’s up to you, the writer, to choose your tactic.
Lots of good ideas here.

7 Ways to Handle Negative Feedback on Social Media

Simply Measured say that social media is not for the faint-hearted; it’s where people go to be heard and often where they go to complain. People can be ruthless and hard as you might try, you won’t keep everyone happy. This guide will help you keep your social media cool and handle negative feedback in the best way possible.

Download this FREE guide to learn how to handle negative feedback, including:

  • How to build a process for handling negative feedback
  • Ways to identify different types of negative feedback
  • Tips for choosing the right response in the moment

…and much more.
Download the full guide:

What is FireChat and why is everyone talking about it?

Posted on LondonLovesBusiness.com, Robyn Vinter writes about a new messaging app has some interesting features…

Ever been hilariously bantering with a group of friends on Whatsapp only to have the signal cut out as you think of an absolute zinger, seriously destroying your comic timing? Or been unable to pick up your Snapchats on the Tube when you’re at your most bored? It’s really annoying. Sometimes you really want to communicate with people, despite having no internet connection or phone coverage. Well, as always, there’s an app for that.

FireChat allows you to communicate while “off the grid” as it sends messages via Bluetooth and mobile Wi-Fi, without needing a router or network. It means you don’t need an internet connection or phone signal. It has a range of 70 metres, but can piggyback on other phones to reach much further.
Read more here

“iPad For Dummies, Portable Edition – eBook (usually $6.99) FREE for a limited time!”

On TradePub.com: Your e-mail, photos, music, books, and games are just a touch away with iPad. Use this FREE portable guide for getting started.

Part iPod touch, part MacBook, part e-Reader, the iPad combines the best of your favorite gadgets into one ultra-portable touch device. From sending e-mail and surfing the web to taking pictures, watching and recording videos, playing games, downloading apps, and so much more, the fun begins right here with this friendly For Dummies guide.

  • Magic touch — navigate the multitouch screen, use the onscreen keyboard, and e-mail and surf the web with just the touch of a finger
  • Picture perfect — turn your iPad into a digital picture frame, add cool effects to your photos, and make FaceTime video calls
  • Get rhythm — organize your music collection, listen to your favorite tunes, and create cool custom playlists
  • All those apps — download the latest apps, keep them up to date, and indulge your interests with games, e-books, and more
Everything you need to know about workplace pensions

Everything you need to know about workplace pensions

This article is a reminder, particularly for smaller employers, about Workplace Pensions and Automatic Enrolment.  The following text, to a large extent, forms the basis of a new publication I have written to be published in the Bizezia online business library – click here for details of the digital library, running to nearly 700 publications. Your clients will thank you for providing to them this publication – contact us for details of a special offer.


What’s it all about?

Millions of workers are being automatically enrolled into a workplace pension by their employer. Once enrolled, not only will employees pay in to it but so will their employers and the government too.

John puts in £40 and his employer puts in £30.
The government adds £10 tax relief.
A total of £80 will be paid into John’s pension.

This is to make it easier for employees to start saving. Employees can opt out if they want to, but that means losing out on employer and government contributions – and if you stay in you’ll have your own pension that you get when you retire.

Every employer must automatically enrol workers into a workplace pension scheme who:

  • are not already in a scheme
  • are aged between 22 and State Pension age
  • earn more than £10,000 a year
  • work in the UK

You can use this interactive tool to find out when firms like yours and your clients will be enrolled.

Get more information by reading the guide at: www.gov.uk/workplace-pensions.

If you’re an employer, you need to act now to prepare for the new rules for workplace pensions: Visit The Pensions Regulator website.

What is automatic enrolment?

UK employers have to automatically enrol their staff into a workplace pension if they meet certain criteria. The law on workplace pensions has now changed and every employer must comply.

Tools for automatic enrolment to get you started
The Pensions Regulator has created four interactive tools to help you get started with automatic enrolment – available here.

You can use these tools to:

Important note:

There may be circumstances that are not covered in the tools that could have an impact on the decisions or changes you’re required to make. For these reasons, you may need to seek additional guidance or professional advice to ensure that you meet your legal obligations.

The essential guide to automatic enrolment

People are living longer yet too many people are under-saving or not saving at all for what could be a long retirement. The law on workplace pensions has changed to make it easier for millions more people to build up a pension, particularly those on lower incomes.

Automatic enrolment means that, rather than having to actively choose to join a pension scheme, staff are put into one by their employer as a matter of course. If they don’t want to be in the pension scheme, they must actively choose to opt out. It’s to encourage people to stay in pension saving.

Find out how to prepare for automatic enrolment with this step-by-step guide to your new legal duties, downloadable from the Pensions Regulator at: www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/e-brochure/index.html

The electronic brochure outlines the main steps that you need to take to be ready for automatic enrolment. You can also find alternative non-flash and PDF formats.

Please note: There may be circumstances that are not covered in the Pensions Regulator’s guide that could have an impact on the decisions or changes you’re required to make. Additional guidance or professional advice may be needed to ensure that legal obligations are met.


Does automatic enrolment apply to me?

Are you an employer with staff working for you in the UK? If so, then yes, automatic enrolment does apply to you and there are things you will need to do. See: www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/does-automatic-enrolment-apply-to-me.aspx

What happens if I don’t comply?

There are certain employer duties you must comply with. If you fail to comply with your duties, the Pension Regulator may take enforcement action and issue a notice and/or a penalty. See: www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/what-happens-if-i-dont-comply.aspx. Basically, the Pensions Regulator can impose fines – these range from a fixed fine of £400 to daily fines. For example, employers with 5-49 employees will be fined £500 per day. The Pensions Regulator can also impose civil penalties of £5,000 for individuals and up to £50,000 for organisations and, in extreme cases, prosecution through the courts.


Automatic enrolment duties come into force for you from your ‘staging date’. You can find out your staging date by entering your PAYE reference into the tool provided by the Pensions Regulator. See: www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/tools/staging-date.aspx

For more information click here.

You will have the option to postpone automatic enrolment for up to three months from your staging date. If you decide to do this, you won’t need to enrol anyone until the end of the postponement period.

For more information go to postponement at: www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/postponement.aspx

As an employee, how much will be paid into your pension pot?

pension potAn employee’s pension pot will comprise contributions from them, their employer and in most cases the government, in the form of tax relief (click for details).

Contributions will increase gradually, according to a set timetable: The minimum total percentage required is set at 2% initially, rising to 5% by 2016 and 8% by 2017. Overtime and bonus payments are included in “earnings”.

Tax Relief for employees

Employees can get tax relief on private pension contributions worth up to 100% of their annual income. This means they either don’t pay Income Tax on contributions to their private pension or they get tax back.

Employees usually don’t have to claim tax relief on pension contributions – they get it automatically if either:

  • they’re in a workplace pension and their employer takes contributions out of pay before deducting Income Tax
  • the pension provider claims tax relief for the employee at a rate of 20% and adds it to the pension savings – this is called ‘relief at source’

Employees get relief at source in all personal and stakeholder pensions, and some workplace pensions.

It’s up to the employee to make sure they don’t get tax relief on pension contributions worth more than 100% of their annual income – HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can ask them to pay back any tax relief above this limit.

When employees have to claim tax relief

You may be able to claim tax relief on pension contributions if:

  • you pay Income Tax at a rate above 20% and your pension provider claims the first 20% for you (relief at source)
  • your pension scheme isn’t set up for automatic tax relief
  • someone else pays into your pension

An employee can claim tax relief on an extra 20% in their Self Assessment tax return if they pay Income Tax at the 40% rate.

An employee can only claim tax relief on the extra 25% in your Self Assessment tax returnif theys pay Income Tax at the 45% rate.

Limits to tax-free contributions by employees

You usually pay tax on private pension savings above:

  • 100% of your annual income – this is the limit on tax relief you get
  • £40,000 a year – this is the annual allowance
  • £1.25 million in your lifetime – this is the lifetime allowance

You may also have to pay tax if your pension provider doesn’t invest your pension savings according to rules set by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

As an employer, where do I start?

pension poundsThe first thing you should do is to find out the staging date. Once you know when this is, you can start planning to make sure you’re ready in time.

Your staging date is when your automatic enrolment duties come into force and is based on the total number of people in your PAYE scheme. You will need your PAYE reference to find out your staging date.You can find your PAYE reference on a P6 / P9 coding notice or on your P30BC white payslip booklet.

Some small employers can move their staging date to a later date than that determined on 1 April 2012 if, at that time, they had fewer than 50 staff and were part of a PAYE scheme of more than 50 people.
Find out more about modified staging dates 

The tool provided by the Pensions Regulator is designed for employers with only one Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme. In some cases there are exceptions to the information provided by the tool and you will need to make some additional checks. It remains the employer’s responsibility to correctly identify your own staging date.

If you have staff in more than one PAYE scheme, you’ll need to enter the details of each PAYE scheme into the tool. Your staging date will be the date that’s earliest. This will be the case even if the majority of your staff are not in that PAYE scheme.

You should read exceptions on the information provided by the tool, at: thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/exceptions.aspx

The staging date is determined by the size of an employer’s PAYE scheme based on the number of persons within that scheme. The number of persons in a scheme is wholly derived from the latest information from HM Revenue and Customs held by the regulator on 1 April 2012.

As an employer, who do I need to put into a pension scheme?

You must automatically enrol all staff who are:

  • aged from 22 up to state pension age
  • working in the UK
  • earning over £10,000 a year.

Some staff who don’t meet the criteria above are able to opt in to the pension scheme you’re using for automatic enrolment. You must put them in if they ask.

You’ll have to pay a minimum employer contribution for all staff you put into this scheme.

Certain other staff can ask to join a pension scheme. You must put these staff in a scheme, but the rules are different and there’s no requirement for you to pay an employer contribution.

It’s the age and earnings of a member of staff that determines what ‘type’ of worker they are and therefore what duties you’ll have for them.

For more information click here.

As an employer, what else do I need to do?

You’ll need to write to each member of staff individually to tell them how they’ve personally been affected by automatic enrolment.

The information you’ll need to tell them is different depending on their rights and the duties you have for them.

You must also provide certain information to the Pensions Regulator about how you’ve complied with your duties.
Find out more about reporting and regulatory duties 

National Employment Savings Trust (Nest)

To facilitate auto-enrolment, the government has created a new defined-contribution pension scheme called Nest.

Employees will be enrolled into Nest if their employer doesn’t have an existing pension scheme or decides not to use a pension scheme from a provider. Nest is designed for low-to-moderate earners.

Are you in?



1. ©Much of the information herein is derived from a number of UK Government sources, which are subject to Crown copyright. Those source include:

Department for Work & Pensions

The Pensions Regulator

2. The section above titled: How much will be paid into my pension pot? uses information provided by Which? at:

Marketing Round up for Professionals October wk 1

Marketing Round up for Professionals October wk 1

Three strategies – which one are you following?
Widely suggested and often followed: Popular wisdom says that there are two possible strategies for a business to pursue (originating from Michael Porter): (1) To be a cost cutter or (2) To be a differentiator. Actually, I think that there is a third strategy: (3) To do nothing and eventually fail.

In the retail sector:

  • Aldi and Lidl are cost cutters. They succeed, and how.
  • Waitrose are differentiators. They succeed by a long way.
  • Tesco, for many years market-leaders in their sector, appear to have done nothing. They haven’t failed (yet) but they’ve certainly taken a hammering over recent months.

I frequently advise people to try something different. To become a differentiator. The following story emphasises just that:

Is this a message for Tesco? Try a little “Shopera”
Courtesy of Barry Urquhart, Marketing Focus, in Australia: it’s a simple enough question: What does it take to put a smile on the faces of all customers and have them spontaneously break out in applause?

The answer is: A little retail theatre and entertainment.

John Lewis and Waitrose standout as a British retail success story.  Click on the following link, enjoy, do share and like. View it here.

Problems and Solutions
Now, here’s a recap on some useful marketing, business promotion, new technology and other interesting stories from the past week:

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

Lots more marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

From: marketingprofs.com

Is your business one of a kind? Or do you have a client whose business is shooting for the moon?

The Daily Telegraph want to hear from you.  Their nationwide competition to find The Daily Telegraph Festival of Business’ SME of the Year is now open. The event is on 11 November in London.

The event is being run in partnership with FedEx, has been launched to celebrate the achievements of small and medium-sized businesses throughout the UK.

The competition will be judged by the singer and successful businesswoman Myleene Klass [pictured above].

Registration is a pain, but if you let me know you want to attend, Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor at the Daily Telegraph will fast track your application. Contact mpollins@onesmartplace.com for details.

Five business lessons from Apple

From Smarta Business Builder who say that you can’t open a magazine, watch the news, or spend more than a minute online without coming across the Apple logo. It’s had its fair share of setbacks over the years, yet is still one of the most successful and popular brands in the world. So what can small businesses learn from Apple?

1.   Provide great customer service: Apple aims to re-create the same friendliness in its stores that you’d find at a Four Seasons hotel. It was ranked third in Bloomberg Business Week’s fourth annual customer service rankings, receiving A+ ratings for quality of staff and efficiency of service.

2.   Do one thing, better: Apple has always focused on making one idea a reality, and doing it better than anyone else. The iPod was all about getting your music into your pocket easily. The iPad meant you could get onto the internet wherever you were, easily. Steve Jobs said that Apple rejects hundreds of good and great ideas because it wants to focus solely on making one product the best it can be.

3.   Simple marketing techniques: Apple is a company that understands the importance of simplicity in advertising campaigns. The first television ads for the iPod consisted solely of people dancing along with music. Nothing was said about the features or technology of the product, because that’s not what Apple wanted its audience to think about. Apple wanted its customers to buy the iPod because it solved a problem: “What’s a better way to listen to my music?”

4.   Get people excited: Apple is great at getting people excited about their products. Through TV commercials, teaser campaigns, and press releases, Apple builds anticipation. This not only brings in new customers, but also makes existing ones even keener to get the latest version of a gadget they already own.

5.   Don’t be afraid to charge more: Compared to similar products, Apple’s are often between two and five times more expensive! But price doesn’t deter millions of people from buying Macs or iPhones. In fact, the higher price tag suggests to the customer that Apple’s products are better quality and more desirable than rival brands’.

Find other competitive advantages in the article 37 ways to beat your competitors.
Read the full article: www.smarta.com/advice/business-planning/business-plans/five-business-lessons-from-apple/

Lawyers and Accountants: Opportunities galore as the SRA steadies itself to drop separate business rule

The Law Society Gazette understands that law firms could be given the chance to bring non-lawyer professionals in as partners without becoming an alternative business structure. In October, the  Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) will propose reforms to the separate business rule – which could include removing it altogether. The move is designed to allow traditional law firms the flexibility to compete with multi-disciplinary practices (MDPs) which can offer a range of services.

In board papers explaining its decision, the regulator said ‘traditional’ firms should be allowed to conduct a wider range of activities – a proposal supported by most of the profession.  These changes would be subject to a consultation to be opened next month. It will include proposals to scrap the separate business rule. The changes will assist existing providers that do not wish to become ABSs to provide multi-professional services (for example, by taking on chartered accountants) and thus increase their market share.

The SRA board has voted to allow MDPs to offer non-reserved legal services without being covered by more than one regulator. This would apply, for example, to accountancy firms already regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales that offer tax advice, which will no longer also be subject to SRA regulation.
Read more: www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/sra-ready-to-drop-separate-business-rule/5043210.article

ICAEW members in Catch 22 over tax avoidance

From ICAEW Economia,  a message for ICAEW members who are coming under intense pressure from clients to endorse tax avoidance schemes they have heard about, often from independent financial advisers or the scheme promoters themselves. Some general practitioners have even been threatened with losing their clients or being sued for negligence if they refuse to help, according to the ICAEW Tax Faculty. At a recent meeting at ICAEW, Faculty head Frank Haskew told Public Accounts Committee chairman Margaret Hodge that clients were often fed misinformation by tax scheme promoters about schemes or indeed about the responsibilities accountants have in giving tax advice. They can’t afford to lose clients and they can’t afford to be sued. Yet they risk reputational and financial damage if they do get involved

Schemes are regularly described as investment opportunities while the High Court decision in Harben Barker v Mehjoo – which awarded £1.4m in damages to Iranian businessman Hossein Mehjoo after finding the accountancy firm liable for failing to advise him about certain tax avoidance schemes – is often cited, without mentioning that it was overturned in the Court of Appeal.

“Our members hate these schemes but they feel really under pressure,” Haskew said. “They can’t afford to lose clients and they can’t afford to be sued. Yet they risk reputational and financial damage if they do get involved. They are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.”

Blackberry Passport introduces dual-control keyboard

On BBC News, Leo Kelion, Technology desk editor reported that Blackberry has launched a distinctive handset featuring a square screen and a keyboard that offers both physical keys and touch-enabled gesture controls.

It said work-focused users in particular should benefit from the Blackberry Passport’s innovations. Sales of the company’s handsets – which are powered by its own operating system – have been in decline.

Analysts said the new device should appeal to existing Blackberry owners but might struggle to win over others.

The Canadian company’s chief operating officer said the handset’s release was part of a broader turnaround strategy led by John Chen, who became chief executive in November.
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29328135

A Quick Guide to Twitter Metrics & Definitions

From Simply Measured, before you can analyse your brand’s success on Twitter, you must first understand the metrics behind each action and how they’re calculated.  This FREE “quick ’n’ dirty” reference guide outlines the different ways that users interact with your brand and how to focus on the most relevant metrics.
Download this quick guide to get:

  • An up-to-date glossary of Twitter metrics and what they *really* mean
  • How metrics affect your brands Twitter visibility
  • Tips for choosing the most relevant benchmarking metrics for your brand

Samsung laptops to be pulled from sale in Europe

When they’re gone, they’re gone: From Leo Kelion, BBC’s Technology desk editor: Samsung has announced that it is ending sales of its laptop computers in Europe. The move includes its Chromebook model, which had previously been one of the category’s best-sellers. The South Korean company’s decision follows Sony’s announcement earlier this year that it was selling its Vaio division and pulling out of PC sales altogether. However, other firms have recently reported growth in the sector.

Samsung signalled it might consider similar action in other parts of the globe.

How to Manage the Company’s Talent in the Future

From Central America Data, good advice that companies recognize the importance for the future of their businesses of managing a growing workforce, which is international and mobile, but they do not know how to do it.

The Workforce 2020 study, prepared by Oxford Economics and SAP concluded that Companies do not have an appropriate strategy to deal with the transformation that is happening the way of working in the world – from the convergence of five generations to operations spread across the planet – which will lead to a crisis in management, attraction and retention of talent. After surveying more than 5,400 employees and directors and interviewing 29 companies operating in 27 countries, Oxford Economics found that two thirds of the participating companies have made little progress in shaping a workforce capable of meeting its future business objectives.

Revealed: How emails are killing your efficiency

Logical Office say that over 90% of communications with clients is done by email, yet most firms file emails manually. This whitepaper shows how to make massive time savings.

To find out more, fill in the online form and download your FREE copy of this publication.
Download: www.accountingweb.co.uk/logical-office/sep14/564463revealed-how-emails-are-killing-your-efficiency

Divorce customs in a bygone age

From DelanceyPlace Archives, I came across this story which I found interesting. Maybe you will too.

This story, comes from I Don’t: A Contrarian History of Marriage by Susan Squire. The book covers divorce customs ancient and not-so-ancient:
“For nearly a thousand years, an Englishman sick of his wife could slip a halter around her neck, lead her to market – the cattle market – and sell her to the highest bidder, often with her willing participation.”

This informal route to divorce for the lower classes lasted, amazingly, until at least 1887. … [As reported by non-fiction authors Lawrence Stone in The Family Sex and Marriage and Samuel Menefee in Wives for Sale] a drunken husband sells his wife in the opening chapter of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), much to the astonishment of contemporary critics. Oblivious to the informal unlawful marriage and divorce customs of the less literate brethren (‘wife-sale’ dates back to c. 1073), they could not imagine such a thing happening on British soil in the nineteenth century, even though popular broadsides depicting the practice (one of which illustrates the cover of Menefee’s book) were still being produced and widely circulated during that same century.