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.

Martin Pollins

Martin Pollins

Managing Director at Bizezia
Martin Pollins is a Chartered Accountant with wide experience in corporate finance and business management. He holds a number of directorships and has served on the boards of several companies, including those listed on the London Stock Exchange, AIM and OFEX.

He was a Council member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales from 1988 to 1996.

Martin Pollins ran his own firm based in Sussex and was the first Accountancy firm in the UK to advertise on television and Martin went on to create and launch the CharterGroup Partnership (the UK's first Accountancy network) and then LawGroup UK (one of the largest networks of lawyers in the country).

Martin started work on the Bizezia concept in 1996, developing the broad range of information resources and products over the past 18 years.
Martin Pollins
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