Occam’s Razor (also spelled as Ockham’s Razor or Ocham’s Razor: Latin: novacula Occami). For something concerned with simplicity, it is quite complicated. There are two parts that are considered the basis of Occam’s Razor, and they were originally written in Latin, probably in the early part of the 14th century:
The Principle of Plurality– plurality should not be put forward as fact or as a basis for argument. without there being necessity for it; and
The Principle of Parsimony– it is pointless to do with more what can be done with less, a problem-solving principle which argues that simpler solutions are more likely to be correct than complex ones.
The idea is attributed to English Franciscan friar William of Ockham (1287–1347 or 1349), a scholastic philosopher, theologian and logician. The good friar William used the principle to justify many conclusions, including ‘God’s existence cannot be deduced by reason alone’, a statement that did nothing to endear him with the Pope at the time.
William of Ockham put the principle into Latin, which one tended to do in those days. He said: pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate, (which means: plurality should not be posited without necessity). The friar’s reasoning is still widely used today as a means to slice through a problem or situation and eliminate all unnecessary elements. If you are faced with two competing theories, run with the simpler explanation as, more than likely, it usually turns out to be the right one. Police Investigators and Doctors, perhaps unwittingly, use this method.
Ockham’s early schooling in a Franciscan convent concentrated on the study of logic. Throughout his career, his interest in logic never waned, because he regarded the science of terms as fundamental and indispensable for practicing all the sciences of things, including God, the world, and ecclesiastical or civil institutions; in all his disputes logic was destined to serve as his chief weapon against adversaries.
The late Stephen Hawking gave this advice in A Brief History of Time: ‘We could still imagine that there is a set of laws that determines events completely for some supernatural being, who could observe the present state of the universe without disturbing it. However, such models of the universe are not of much interest to us mortals. It seems better to employ the principle known as Occam’s Razor and cut out all the features of the theory that cannot be observed.’
The underlying idea behind ‘fair dealing’ in copying copyright works is that the copying should benefit the individual or society without harming the interests of the copyright owner.
If the copying (of sections of a book) replaces the need for you or anyone else to buy the work, then the copying is probably not fair.
Usually only part of a work may be used without breaching copyright.
The source of the copy must be acknowledged. This means recording at least the name of the author and the title on the photocopy if this is not already included.
If photocopying, the copy being made should be for the person doing the copying, and no-one else. It must not be passed on; it is for personal use only.
Up to 10% or one complete chapter of a book, plus any associated endnotes or references. E.g. if a chapter comprises 25% of a book, you can photocopy the entire chapter; but if you want to photocopy extracts from more than one chapter, you can only copy up to 10% of the book (this requirement is in additionto and not in place of, the above).
No more than a single photocopy should be produced, for the personal use of the person doing the copying. Multiple copying (e.g. by teachers for students) is not generally permitted under “fair dealing” for private study or research.
“Fair dealing” for private study or research does not authorise the reproduction of copyright protected material in other works, such as publications, coursework or dissertations’
The best advice is this: If you have any doubts about copying/using Copyright works, don’t copy anything until you’ve checked with a Copyright lawyer.
The term ‘use it, or lose it’ is a commonplace statement these days, particularly in senior circles. It can mean any number of things from taking regular exercise to learning new things.
This article is about learning new things. To do this, you need two things: a functional brain and willpower. Everyone has a brain – it’s inside your skull and operates as the command centre of your nervous system and receives signals from your body’s sensory organs and outputs information to your muscles. It has a number of interesting characteristics:
It is the largest brain of all vertebrates relative to body size.
It weighs about 3.3 lbs. (1.5 kilograms).
It makes up about 2% of your body weight.
The cerebrum part of your brain makes up 85% of your brain’s weight.
It contains about 86 billion nerve cells (neurons)
The neurons are connected by trillions of connections, or synapses.
10 years ago, in March 2009, an article in Scientific American caught my eye and held my attention. It was titled: ‘How To Save New Brain Cells’ and was written by Tracey J. Shors. She had my attention straightaway as I read her opening text: Fresh neurons arise in the adult brain every day. New research suggests that the cells ultimately help with learning complex tasks—and the more they are challenged, the more they flourish.
She explained that the brain can grow new neurons. That’s good news but the bad news is that they disappear unless cognitively challenged. Apparently, fresh neurons arise in the brain every day and research carried out, albeit mostly on rats, indicates that learning enhances the survival of new neurons in the adult brain.
Here’s the really exciting bit: the more engaging and challenging the problem, the greater the number of neurons that stick around. These neurons are then available to help in situations that tax the mind. This is a case where the more taxing there is, the better you can become.
Apparently, in the 1990s, scientists awakened interest in the field of neurobiology with the startling news that the mature mammalian brain (every human has one) is capable of sprouting new neurons. Previously, biologists had long believed that this talent for neurogenesis was reserved for young, developing minds and was lost with age. Now we know that new cells do arise in the adult brain—particularly in a region called the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory.
It may surprise people to know that in rats, between 5,000 and 10,000 new neurons arise in the hippocampus every day. With humans, we do not know how many. The new cells are not generated like clockwork but can be influenced by a number of different environmental factors. For example, alcohol can retard the generation of new brain cells, whereas exercise can increase the rate of production.
But don’t get too excited. Yes, exercise and other actions may help produce extra brain cells. But those new cells don’t necessarily hang around – most will disappear within just a few weeks of creation. We already know that most cells do not survive indefinitely, but their quick demise is a bit of a puzzle. After all, why would the brain go to the trouble of producing new cells only to have them disappear rapidly? The answer seems to be that they are made ‘just in case’ – if your brain is cognitively challenged, your new brain cells will hang around but if your brain is in limbo, the new cells simply fade away.
Humans have Big Brains
David Christian wrote on Delanceyplace on 10th October 2018 that humans have big brains which are unusually large relative to their bodies. Not only that, the top front layer of the brain, the neocortex, is gigantic. In most mammal species, the cortex accounts for between 10% to 40% of brain size, whereas in humans it can be as much as 80%.
Next time you’re feeling down in the dumps, remember this: humans are exceptional for the sheer number of their cortical neurons. They have about fifteen billion, or more than twice as many as chimpanzees (with about six billion). Whales and elephants, who are the next in line after humans on the most-cortical-neurons list, have about ten billion cortical neurons, but they have smaller brains than chimpanzees relative to body size. Having a large brain means you have the potential to acquire, store, and use information about the things that are going on in your world.
I know what you’re going to ask: Aren’t big brains obviously a good thing? Not necessarily, as they guzzle energy. They need up to twenty times as much energy as the equivalent amount of muscle tissue. In humans, the brain uses 16% of available energy, though the brain is only 2% of the body’s mass. Our brains need energy to manage the dexterity in our hands and feet. In processing images, the brain uses a large share of available energy.
Connecting Two Brains
Two scientists are the first to successfully allow one human brain to communicate an intention directly to another human brain. Technologies known as brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are now beginning to allow paralyzed individuals to control, say, a computer cursor or a prosthetic limb with their brain signals. The scientists began to wonder if the same principle could be used to beam thoughts from one human brain to another. They decided to test their brain-to-brain interface by seeing if they could play a simple two-player video game. It worked – for the first time, a human brain had communicated an intention directly to another human brain, allowing the two brains to jointly complete a task.
New Brain Cells Throughout Life
People keep making new brain cells throughout their lives (well at least until the age of 97), according to a study on human brains conducted by researchers at the University of Madrid. It’s an idea that has been fiercely debated as it used to be thought we were born with all the brain cells we will ever have. But the research showed that the number of new brain cells tails off with age and falls dramatically in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Most of our neurons (brain cells emitting electrical signals) are indeed in place by the time we are born.
Whilst studies on other mammals have found new brains cells forming later in life, the extent of “neurogenesis” in the human brain is still a source of considerable debate.
The study, published in Nature Medicine, looked at the brains of 58 dead people who were aged between 43 and 97. The focus was on the hippocampus – the part of the brain involved in memory and emotion. It is the part of the brain that you need, to remember where you parked your car or put your mobile phone or car keys.
Neurons do not emerge in a fully-formed brain but have to go through a process of growing and maturing. The researchers were able to spot immature or “new” neurons in the brains that they examined. In healthy brains there was a slight decrease in the amount of this neurogenesis with age. Researcher Dr Maria Llorens-Martin told BBC News: ‘I believe we would be generating new neurons as long as we need to learn new things. And that occurs during every single second of our life.’
But there was a different story in the brains from Alzheimer’s patients. The number of new neurons forming fell from 30,000 per millimetre to 20,000 per millimetre in people at the onset of Alzheimer’s. Dr Llorens-Martin said: ‘That’s a 30% reduction in the very first stage of the disease. It’s very surprising for us, it’s even before the accumulation of amyloid beta [a hallmark of Alzheimer’s] and probably before symptoms, it’s very early.’
Dr Rosa Sancho, the head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ‘While we start losing nerve cells in early adulthood, this research shows that we can continue to produce new ones even into our 90s. ‘Alzheimer’s radically accelerates the rate at which we lose nerve cells and this research provides convincing evidence that it also limits the creation of new nerve cells. Larger studies will need to confirm these findings and explore whether they could pave the way for an early test to flag those most at risk of the disease.’
Exercising Your Mind Becomes Even More Important In Old Age
Dawn C. Carr MGS, Ph.D. posted an interesting article on Psychology Today on 5th May 2014. She says that, for several decades, people have used the term ‘use it, or lose it’ to aptly describe the best way to off-set the problems that come with aging. This is how she puts it: ‘As overly simplistic as the idea sounds, scientific studies continue to show that if you disengage in later life, things fall apart. This has particular relevance when we’re talking about cognitive performance.’
For years, we assumed that cognitive performance declined substantially as a part of normal aging. But recent research suggests, in fact, that is not the case. It is true that individuals with abnormal brain function who end up going on to get dementia show decline in cognition beginning as early as in their 40s and the decline during later life can be steep. But for those with normal brain matter, function, and activity, the average person does experience cognitive decline but there is potential for this to be quite modest. As we age, learning new, novel information takes a bit more effort and time than earlier in life, but our foundation of knowledge and wisdom is far greater allowing us to understand a deep level of complexity about subjects we know well. So, what can we do to greatly reduce decline whether it be due to impending pathology or normal aging?
At present, there are no drugs to prevent you from getting Alzheimer’s disease. But there is quite a bit of evidence that lifestyle greatly modifies the downward trajectory of cognitive performance as you age. There is a significant decrease in cognitive performance that comes with retirement, which researchers suggest is because when we stop engaging in cognitively complex tasks, the brain is no longer challenged enough to maintain cognitive function. It has been proposed that retirement is problematic because it results in a shift in environment in which we are no longer using our brains at a high level on a frequent basis.
 Source: A Big History of Everything, Author: David Christian, Publisher: Little, Brown, Pages: 158-160.
 Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote viewed as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context. See: https://delanceyplace.com/
 The two scientists are Rajesh P.N. Rao, Director of the NSF Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) and the Cherng Jia and Elizabeth Yun Hwang Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, and Andrea Stocco, Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences,
 Source: When Two Brains Connect, Authors: Rajesh P.N. Rao and Andrea Stocco, Publisher: Scientific America Mind, November/December 2011, Pages: 36 to 39.
 Excerpted from an article by James Gallagher, Health and science correspondent, BBC News, 25 March 2019.
I read an interesting article last week in the Telegraph.
You don’t have to know the entire works of Shakespeare or the square root of Pi to seem highly intelligent, says Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor of the Telegraph. There is no fast-track route to wisdom but intelligence, defined as the way that we comprehend, analyse and respond to the world, is a far more malleable concept.
Scientists once claimed that intelligence quotient (IQ) levels were hereditary. This meant that human beings had no control over their brain power; it was decided by their genes. However, recent studies have shown that IQ scores are barely linked to genes at all. They can also be extremely volatile, changing significantly – by up to 20 points – over time.
The Telegraph has scoured the writings of neuroscience experts, business leaders, technologists, and psychiatrists to find out how ordinary people can instantly boost their IQ levels by making small tweaks to the way that they comprehend the world.
The idea is to increase mental agility. The seven techniques in this article cannot make anyone appear well-read, or replace life experience. They are:
Watch out: Danny Alexander threat to firms that facilitate tax evasion.
In City A.M., Charlotte Henry reports that Danny Alexander has proposed a new law penalising firms who assist with tax evasion. The chief secretary to the Treasury said in an interview: “We should create a new offence of corporate failure to avoid preventing an economic crime and also that organisations who facilitate or encourage evasion should face the same penalty as the evaders themselves.”
Alexander added: “Organisations, be they accountants, banks or whatever, who help people evade tax will be liable for this new offence and crucially liable for financial penalties”.
Here is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week. Each week, I include a section titled Technical Stuff – it provides a useful reminder of some of the stories that emerged in the last week that touch on technical issues. I hope that you find it useful.
Marketing and Business Promotion
Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs
More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs. Here they are:
Facebook launches Dynamic Product Ads for data-minder retailers
In Adweek, By Garett Sloane: Facebook is giving Target and other retailers a new way to market to its 1.4 billion users. It’s called product ads—yet another ad format that Facebook says sets it apart from rivals like Google because it can harness the social network’s popularity and behavioural and location data on consumers. It’s described as a solution designed to help businesses promote multiple products, or their entire catalogues, across all the devices their customers use: phones, tablets and desktop computers.”
Businesses will be able to upload their product catalogs and let Facebook generate ads for items while targeting them to users. These product ads could rival Google’s shopping ads, which have evidently performed well for retailers in search.
In a blog post, Facebook explained further: “Advertisers can curate ads as they see fit. For instance, they can highlight products that were viewed on their website/mobile app or showcase best-selling products.
5 Surprising Tips for Tweets That Drive Engagement
From Simply Measured: Learn how your brand performance compares: Written by Kevin Shively, In the recent Twitter benchmark report, Simply Measured analyzed over 23 million engagements (Retweets, @Replies, and favorites) from 117 million users interacting with 145,828 brand Tweets over the course of Q4 2014.
What can you learn from these users? Below are five tips based on findings from the study. Be sure to test these tips for your own company, as they’re based off findings from the largest brands in the world, and audiences will respond differently to everyone.
KPMG’s SME foray is doomed to fail, says Accountancy Age reader poll
In Accountancy Age, Posted 17 February, by Chris Warmoll: KPMG is doomed to fail as the Big Four firm attempts to wrest business from High Street practitioners, according to Accountancy Age readers. That was the majority view when asked if the Big Four firm “can compete with the high street for business”, with 77% of the 88 readers polled, answering no. Just over a fifth (23%) felt their move into the SME sector would succeed.
Learn from the best: The 7 Habits of The World’s Richest People
From Inc.: Wealthy, successful people have specific differences in behaviour and attributes from people living in poverty. What are those characteristics that separate extreme wealth and happiness from poverty and unhappiness? Here are seven, made from five years of observations.
Are there habits wealthy people consistently practice that impact their success? Are there traits or strategies we can incorporate into our own day-to-day lives that can give us a better chance of financial success?
In his book, Rich Habits–The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, Tom Corley details habits – which he defines as daily, unconscious practices – that seem to suggest there are. For 5 years he observed the habits of 233 rich people and 128 people living in poverty. What he found were some significant differences in the daily activities and attitudes of the two groups. Here are 7 of the habits commonly practiced by the wealthy individuals he observed:
They set attainable goals.
They find a career mentor.
They are positive.
They educate themselves.
They track their progress.
They surround themselves with success-oriented people.
Click here for in-depth analysis of each of the 7 habits.
Instagram Social Marketing Strategy Kit
From Simply Measured: Make your brand a powerhouse on Instagram and take your strategy to the next level with this four-part kit. This collection of resources is designed to help you master the channel and develop an Instagram strategy that works for your brand.
How to Stop Your Mac’s Mail App From Wasting Gigabytes of Space
From How to Geek: Are you using Apple’s Mail app on your Mac? Then you’re losing gigabytes of space you could be putting to better use! The mail app wants to cache every single email and attachment you’ve ever received offline.
This could take up tens of gigabytes of space if you have a lot of emails. On a Mac with a large hard drive, this isn’t a big deal. But, on a MacBook with 128 GB of solid-state drive space, this can be a significant waste of space.
Running Great Meetings: The Meeting Leader’s Kit
From TradePub.com: Don’t miss out on this new exclusive offer from TradePub.com.
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The Meeting Leader’s Kit is a must-read for any executive who needs to set up a meeting – fast!
Running a Great Meeting In a Day – For Dummies
Real-World Options for Multipoint Videoconferencing
Executive Guide: Harnessing the Power of Enterprise Social Collaboration
From Big4Playbook: Whether you work in public practice or are an accountant at a company, Microsoft Excel is likely an essential part of the work you perform. The author of the article says: “When I worked in public accounting, I used Excel on a daily basis for numerous work assignments. Over that time, I picked up a few useful excel tricks and best practices that made my life a lot easier.”
The following is a listing of tips and tricks (read the full article for an explanation on each) that will help you as you work through your working papers and spreadsheets.
Copying Visible Cells Only
Pasting Formats – Paste Special Shortcut
Granny bonds – the good news and the bad news
From the ICAEW Tax Faculty Team: The Chancellor introduced the new granny bonds for those aged 65 and over in his 2014 Budget speech. They were first made available by NS&I in January 2015 [and apparently have been selling like hot cakes].
First the good news: The announcement that they will be available until May 2015 looks like good news and the 2.8% rate of interest for the one year bond and 4% for the three year bond appear quite attractive. The interest is paid net of 20% tax and for basic rate taxpayers no further action is necessary.
The bad news: For non-taxpayers the tax deducted at source will have to be reclaimed using the R40 as NS&I are not part of the R85 scheme. This is likely to affect many of the individuals applying for these bonds, particularly as the new 0% savings income band of £5,000 comes into force from 6 April 2015. With a personal allowance of £10,600 and a 0% savings income band of £5,000, pensioners with income comprising a small pension of say £10,000, with a modest amount of savings income will need to reclaim the tax deducted at source on their granny bond interest.
The official rate of interest will fall to 3% from 6 April
Also from the ICAEW Tax Faculty Team: The government has announced that the official rate of interest will be 3% from 6 April 2015. This will be a fall from the current rate of 3.25%.
The official rate of interest is used in calculating the benefit-in-kind charge on beneficial loans to employees and on living accommodation provided for an employee or director. It is also use in calculating the pre-owned asset charge on assets other than land.
Several stories have appeared on the importance of getting up to speed on auto enrolment. Here are a few of them:
Seven auto enrolment myths dispelled: From accountingWEB: At the end of last year more than five million people were automatically enrolled into a pension scheme as a direct result of auto enrolment. Despite this, a wide range of myths and misconceptions still exist around the planning and implementation of auto enrolment for both businesses and advisers. Drawn from the results of Buzzacott’s recent auto enrolment research report, carried out by Meridian West, the full article sets out the seven myths about auto enrolment:
Myth 1: Auto enrolment is a low priority for organisations
Myth 2: Auto enrolment is merely a compliance exercise.
Myth 3: Three to six months is more than sufficient to plan and implement auto enrolment
Myth 4: Auto enrolment requires only minor tweaks to systems and processes
Myth 5: Organisations with existing pension provision will not need to make
Myth 6: You need to be a pension expert to implement auto enrolment
Myth 7: Most employees will opt out of auto enrolment
‘Sick-note’ culture to be stamped out under radical new scheme
In the Telegraph, By Camilla Turner: Anyone ill for more than four weeks will face a fit-for-work test in a radical new scheme aimed at stamping out the “sick-note culture” which costs the economy billions of pounds each year. All GPs will be expected to refer patients to a company that will assess their ability to work and draw up a plan for their return.
More than a million people take sick leave for over a month each year, costing the economy over £9 billion. The new scheme, which will cost £134 million over four years, is aimed at stopping people from languishing on benefits while off work for long-term sickness, The Times reported.
From Daniel Barnett, employment law barrister: Jo Swinson, the Employment Relations Minister, has (on 18 February) issued a press release about the imminent introduction of Shared Parental Leave.
Meanwhile, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has developed an online calculator to help prospective parents calculate their eligibility for shared parental leave and their pay entitlements.
Taxation: Private Residence Relief: The Trading Trap
In Tax Insider, Mark McLaughlin wrote about the capital gains tax (CGT) relief on disposal of a private residence (TCGA 1992, s 222). It’s is one of the most well-known tax reliefs available. This is no doubt due to the large number of home owners who claim the relief when moving house at various points in their lives. Some individuals move house more than others. It may be tempting to buy a run-down house cheaply, renovate it, live there for a while and sell it for a profit. This process may then be repeated for subsequent houses, with the individual seeking to claim private residence relief on each sale.
However, the question arises whether HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) may seek to challenge private residence relief claims in such circumstances. For example, is the individual actually trading as a property developer? If so, private residence relief will not be available, and the profits of the trade will be liable to income tax (and normally National Insurance contributions) instead.
Mark McLaughlin warns that too many claims for capital gains tax private residence relief could attract unwelcome attention from HM Revenue and Customs, and a possible challenge on the basis of trading.
Latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight
The latest Briefings from AccountancyAgeInsight have been made available in the last week and are listed here:
Finance transformation roles: Pathways to CFO: ACCA’s smart finance function campaign showcases the good practices, challenges and opportunities corporate finance functions face. This report asks a simple question: are finance shared service and transformation roles valuable in the career path to becoming a CFO? View summary
Weekly tax update – February 16th 2015: In this issue, Tina Riches, National Tax Partner reviews the Scottish land and building transaction tax set to come into effect on 1 April 2015, the HMRC’s February 2015 employment related securities bulletin and claims for overpaid VAT by non-profit making sports clubs. View summary
Company: Smith and Williamson
Credit Wise: 2014/15 Annual edition: In this annual edition of Credit Wise, we look back at developments in 2014 and forward to 2015. If there is a dominant theme, it is that government needs to ‘walk the walk’ not just ‘talk the talk’ when seeking to protect creditors’ interests. View summary
Company: Moore Stephens
FRC proposals to replace FRSSE with FRS 105 are too complex
From AccountancyLIVE, written by Pat Sweet: The latest proposals from the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) to amend the new UK GAAP, FRS 102, to meet the new rules set down by the EU Accounting Directive have been described as ‘revolutionary’ by Baker Tilly, which says some three million small firms will see an impact from the changes which are now subject to consultation, although some commentators have warned that the document is ‘impenetrable’ and risks creating more complexity
There are concerns that the tight timeframe to rush through the new standard to comply with the EU Accounting Directive which comes into effect later this year means that there are concerns that business will have little time to prepare for the changes.
EC proposes accounting rules for single EU capital market
From AccountancyLIVE: written by Pat Sweet: The European Commission has indicated potential plans for the introduction of new EU-level accounting standards, as part of its wider initiatives to create a single market for capital across the EU’s 28 member states, which it says would help unlock additional funding for Europe’s businesses with a particular focus on supporting SMEs
The EC’s Green Paper on Capital Markets Union (CMU), which is now subject to a three-month consultation, looks at a number of ways of reducing fragmentation in financial markets, diversifying financing sources, strengthening cross border capital flows and improving access to finance for businesses, particularly SMEs.
From CCH Information, Contributed by Mark Cawthron: A previous feature article in CCH Tax News, ‘Second homes, holiday homes, buy-to-lets … tell us about them!’, referred to two HMRC ‘campaigns’ aimed at owners of these types of property. Much of that article was a review of some First-tier Tribunal decisions on ‘principal private residence’ (PPR) relief for capital gains tax (CGT): this seems to be an area of considerable interest to practitioners.
2013 was a big year for PPR cases before the Tribunal, and in particular for cases revolving around relatively short periods of occupation of property by the taxpayers concerned.
Tribunal cases on PPR in 2014 have, on the whole, covered different ground. Perhaps the 2013 cases, taken together, have provided sufficient ‘steer’ to taxpayers’ advisers on the one hand, and to HMRC on the other, to enable tax return enquiries in those PPR cases involving ‘short periods of occupation’, to be resolved one way or the other without recourse to the Tribunal.
This follow-up article extracts, from the earlier one, the ‘principles’ that the 2013 PPR cases had, collectively, seemed to confirm. It then runs through some of the 2014 Tribunal cases and finishes with a few ‘current points’ on PPR relief.
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 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
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
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
[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!
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.
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.
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):
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
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 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
One 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:
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 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.
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.
Example 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
As an employee, how much will be paid into your pension pot?
An 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?
The 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.
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.