Issue 7 2021

Welcome to the July edition of Corporate Vision Magazine, providing you with all of the latest news and features from across the corporate landscape in 2021.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic may not yet be behind us, there is a sense of new beginnings in the air as businesses and global marketplaces reopen and look with cautious optimism to the future. While we may still be living with some limitations, the corporate world is ready and waiting for the new economic era that awaits us beyond the pandemic. With it comes the opportunity for transformation and rejuvenation and for many businesses, the lockdowns have been a chance to look inwards and consider how they can emerge stronger than they entered the pandemic.

In keeping with the theme of renewal and revitalisation that occurs throughout this month’s edition of Corporate Vision, our cover story looks at R3 Stem Cell, the experts in regenerative medicine. R3’s approach looks within the human body to harness its own repair mechanisms in order to restore the body, without the need for surgery. The company’s focus on internal transformation for the sake of its overall wellbeing is therefore a fitting metaphor for the rejuvenation of many of the companies featured within our July edition. 

We hope you enjoy the latest edition of Corporate Vision Magazine and as ever, wish you safe and well for the month ahead.

Beware the Hidden Costs of Mispicks

Business Mistakes

Do you really know how much mispicks cost your business? And do you, or should you, care? By Nick Hughes, Sales Manager at Invar Integration

 

Sending a customer a replacement item may sound a relatively small price to pay when pick accuracy is up on 97% or so. But over the year, those costs can add up to a significant financial impact. Much more importantly, several other potentially damaging factors come into play with every mispick and those hidden costs can be far more harmful to the business.

Firstly, looking to the more obvious direct costs. A global survey of some 250 supply chain managers, undertaken some years ago by Intermec, put the average figure of a mispick at around £16, adding up to £282,000 annually for the average business. Most organisations believe they have good or excellent pick accuracy, but good or excellent can be pretty subjective. Even with 98% accuracy that still means two orders in every 100 are incorrect, and with every 1000 orders there are 20 unhappy customers. As order volumes climb, the issues escalate.

Each error costs the business in terms of customer care personnel time, return postal costs, warehouse staff time in checking and processing returned items, materials used in repacking the goods, time taken placing the item back into stock, and then, of course, all the costs associated with generating and processing a new order for the correct item and delivering it to a somewhat disgruntled customer. And if the mispicked item isn’t returned, or is unable to be resold as new, you’ve got the costs of that too.

What’s more, it’s worth noting that the £16 figure mentioned in the survey is just the average. High value items, or those despatched overseas, may involve costs exceeding £70. However, all these costs may well be dwarfed by the potential impact of mispicks on future sales.

What are the costs associated with an unhappy customer? In a fiercely competitive commercial world every customer is valuable. A happy, loyal customer makes repeat purchases and is more likely to be tempted by products from a trusted, reliable brand – much less effort and cost per sale than trying to win over a new customer. However, receiving a mispicked item can be irritating, to say the least. A Voxware survey found that 73% of consumers that receive incorrect items are much less likely to order from that business again.

Bad enough that you might lose that customer to the competition, and miss out on their future business, but with an unhappy consumer empowered by social media, a poor customer service experience can be shared to devastating effect.

Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. According to a survey of 2000 shoppers, undertaken by retail operations platform, Brightpearl, 46% of shoppers regularly check star ratings for online retailers before purchasing, and two in five consumers have been put off a brand or a retailer they might have shopped with by a single unfavourable review. With negative reviews heavily influencing buying behaviour, a few mispicks can have a very large impact on sales.

Brand reputation is a valuable asset that should be protected. And with that in mind a further point concerning mispicks should be considered.

Consumers are increasingly guided in their purchasing behaviour by a brand’s environmental performance – such as how products are packaged, emissions associated with delivery and waste. Mispicks result in wasted packaging, unnecessary road miles and increased CO2 emissions. So, how many extra lorries are totalled-up over a year taking mispicked products to customers, returning them, and then delivering the correct item? How much packaging is wasted? As businesses are progressively pressed to report their environmental impact, such factors will play an increasingly important role in shaping consumer opinion and where purchases are made.

In just about every case, mispicks are down to human error, and the act of picking is still, essentially, a manual process – albeit, these days, often assisted by technology. Types of errors include: Items may be misidentified, the wrong colour, size or pack quantity selected, single items picked in the wrong quantity – either fewer or more than ordered ­– placed incorrectly into the wrong order tote or box, items may be omitted from the order – and this presupposes that the correct items were placed in the correct picking locations in the first place.

Unfortunately, humans get tired, become distracted and when asked to repeatedly take quick decisions over a long shift, mistakes happen. Even providing the picker with a picture of the item to be selected may prove difficult to mentally process time and time again, and may slow the process down. But there are many technologies that can help, such as: Pick-by-light, pick-by-voice, user friendly and ergonomic workstations or even removing the person entirely with robotics. Regardless of solution, verification of the pick is absolutely essential in driving error rates down.

Radio Frequency technology is an under utilised solution. RF tagging has moved on considerably in recent years and now tags are cheap and accuracy is high.

There are all manner of technologies that can be deployed to drive picking performance, as well as pick accuracy. Flexibility, scalability and accuracy will be important factors in the equation, but the best solution will be determined by the product characteristics, throughput rates and order profiles. A good integrator, with all the necessary software resources at its disposal, will be able to help you design the most appropriate solution using the very latest technologies.

Ecommerce is heavily dependent upon the efficient picking, packing and fulfilment of orders, and as volumes continue to rise, seemingly exponentially, the emphasis for most businesses will be on finding the right technology to boost throughput. But pick accuracy is just as critical. As the number of transactions grow, pick accuracy rises in importance – every negative customer review has the potential to damage sales.

Luckily, there are technologies available that can help increase capacity, whilst simultaneously driving-up pick accuracy. Using automation to bring goods to the person allows for higher throughput rates and when combined with directed picking technology, and item scanning for verification, can deliver the volume increases demanded of an expanding business, along with the near perfect picking performance that ensures excellent, as opposed to bad, reviews. 

How Long Does it Take to Become FCA Authorised?

Businessman working on a calculator with spreadsheets nearby

Becoming FCA Authorised can be a lengthy process, usually taking around 6-12 months with no feedback and re-submissions, but even longer if this is needed. However, if you have the help of an experienced FCA Consultant, this process could take as little as 3-6 months.

It is likely to take much longer, up to 12 months, if an individual or a firm apply for FCA Authorisation themselves as the application process is lengthy and complex. After 6-8 weeks post-submission, the FCA will give feedback, which in turn can increase the length of time it takes to get FCA Authorisation if you go through multiple rounds of feedback before being accepted. However, the FCA can simply refuse the application.

 

Which Industries Do You Need FCA Authorisation For?

The FCA website lists that full authorisation is needed for the following industries:

  • Banks, Building Societies and Credit Unions
  • Claims Management Companies
  • Consumer Credit Firms
  • Electronic Money and Payment Institutions
  • Financial Advisors
  • Fintech and Innovate Businesses
  • General Insurers and Insurance Intermediaries
  • Investment Managers, including Hedge Funds and Private Equity Firms
  • Life Insurance Pension Providers
  • Mortgage Lender Intermediaries
  • Mutual Societies
  • Sole Advisors
  • Wealth Managers

 

How Much Does FCA Authorisation Cost?

The set-up fee of FCA Authorisation depends on the complexity of the business : £1,500 for straightforward, such as Investment Advisors; £5,000 for moderately complex, such as Asset Managers; and £25,000 for complex, such as Banks.

After this initial set-up fee, there will be ongoing annual fees based on the complexity and volume of activities conducted. There will also be the one-off application fee.

 

How Long Does FCA Authorisation Last For?

An FCA Authorisation does not expire. However, your FCA Authorisation can be changed or removed if you fail to pay the yearly fees or operate within the regulatory guidelines. See also how to make sure your staff keep up with compliance.

 

How Can I Speed Up My FCA Authorisation Application?

The FCA needs candidates to demonstrate that at the point of approval, they will have appropriate systems and control frameworks that are appropriate to the size and nature of the activities being conducted.

As such, having prior experience with the FCA Authorisation process will likely give you an indication of what is required. An experienced compliance consultant can provide firm guidance to help you get approved more efficiently and quickly.

 

Are There Alternatives to FCA Authorisation?

An alternative to FCA Approval is working as a “Regulatory Host” under another established firm’s FCA umbrella and this can be approved in a matter of weeks.

Outsourced Customer Services Team Sees Growth With COVID-Testing

Woman talking on the phone in an office

An Oxfordshire-based customer service team has seen huge demand from clinics needing help Covid-testing, Corporate Vision reports.

 

TieTa, was set up by Caroline Walton, who previously ran the customer services operation for one of the UK’s largest short term lenders.

 

The company rebranded and relaunched last year, looking to take the headache out of customer services by offering a fully trained support team that can manage all your enquiries remotely. From general email enquiries, social media responses, live chat to debt recovery and refunds – all your customer services can be managed externally through TieTa.

 

It was their competence in appointment scheduling and automated messaging that created a lightbulb moment – and suddenly they were helping clinics set up thousands of appointments and send Covid test results by email and text.

 

Tom Horne, COO of TieTa, commented: “I don’t think we expected such a massive volume of enquiries from covid testing. We started working with one clinic who was offering covid-testing and then it quickly became three. But with the sheer volume of enquiries they were getting, the clinics just couldn’t cope.”

 

Horne explained the logistics of the various types of tests available: “Essentially there are 3 types of covid tests – a general test, fit-to-fly test and the day 2 and day 8 test if you are isolating. Each one comes with an appointment scheduling, admin, queries and results – so there is a huge amount of customer service involved and the clinics were not fully ready for such scale.”

 

Horne continued: “With our background in financial services and working in a highly regulated environment, it was a seamless transition to work with covid-testing companies. TieTa offers a fully outsourced customer service solution, so we have also been able to help with SMS, social media, live chat and everything else involved in the communications process.”

 

“We have a solution in-house that we can deploy very quickly, with the capacity to add more customer service agents whenever we get busier and need to ramp up. All our agents are put through extensive training and we can show the client that they can deliver a high level of quality.”

 

Horne concluded: “When previously working under FCA regulation, the attention to detail was so thorough that moving to covid-testing has felt very natural – and with doors opening again for holiday destinations such as Portugal and Spain, the need for covid testing is only going to increase.”

 

“There is no reason why we cannot help any kind of company with their customer service requirements. We understand the value of good customer service and with a personal and flexible approach, TieTa is here to help.”

Tom Horne, COO of TieTa
Tom Horne, COO of TieTa

Creating an Effective Marketing Strategy for Your Business: A Guide

Marketing strategy

Businesses big and small go through what feels like endless stages of planning to be successful. From the minor details to those which affect the broader aspects of your everyday business model, creating effective strategies within your business is one thing, but implementing them is another. 

Often taking a lot of time to get right, the variety of strategies that you use within your business adjust and develop over time. Adapting with changes that you face throughout the weeks, months, and years, what you might use in the initial launch of your business, might not be the same tactics that you use further down the line.  

While we recognize the importance that each part of your business plays in the overall success, for this piece, we will be considering what you should take into account when creating an effective marketing strategy for your business.  

Whether you are a small business owner looking for ways of getting the message out about your company and its products or services or are a more established company wanting to shake things up, we feel confident there is something of value for you here. Read on for more.

 

1. Identify Business Goals: It goes without saying, but to be successful in your marketing efforts, you need to know what you will be using them for. Identifying your company’s goals as early as possible ensures you can access any necessary tools or resources for achieving these goals. 

Contemplate what you want to achieve as a company and whether you can take any pointers from businesses similar to your own on how they achieved any business goals they set out. That is not to say that what worked for them will work for you; there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the business world.  

Each company is different and has a different path from which they tread. How you reach your business goals is completely and utterly unique to you and your situation. Once you have identified the plans, you will need to consider the types of things you need to reach them, and this extends beyond the parameters of software and resources.

 

2. Identifying and Reaching Customers: Customers are vital to the success of any business. They keep businesses ticking over and are the reason you make any sort of profit. Ensuring they are your number one priority is essential, but so is initially attracting them to your company while encouraging them to come back. 

Social media and word-of-mouth marketing techniques are helpful when wanting to first attract the attention of the target demographics associated with your business and any products or services you provide.  

What’s more, social media platforms provide companies like your own with the opportunity to see direct results and comparisons from any marketing strategies you are using. You will be able to differentiate if the things you are using are practical or not.  

At the same time, you want to keep in contact with existing and loyal customers, offering them tailored deals and promotions. While this could very well be done through social media, this could be time-consuming compared to using a bulk email.  

You would be able to send the same message to a vast number of customers simultaneously, furthering contributing to and developing the relationship you have with them.

 

3. Monitor Other Areas of Your Business: It might not be the top of your list of priorities when focusing on your business’s marketing strategy, but checking the success of various aspects of your company plays a role in this. 

Keeping track of the overall success of your business will make changing aspects of your marketing strategy easier. If you have found that you have met a specific business goal, see what you did or marketed to your audiences to make this happen.  

Conduct research with employees within your business for feedback, but do not forget to consult and enlist the opinions and feedback of your customers too. They will give pointers on what they felt you did right and what you could improve on moving forward.  

Monitoring the success of your business is something that should be done frequently. You will be able to make effective changes on the go to ensure that you do not come across too many obstacles nor slow down your chances of reaching your business goals.  

Naturally, you could try these suggestions individually or use them in tandem with one another. The choice is entirely up to you. What’s more, these are suggestions that can be implemented into your business’s marketing strategy no matter how long you have been established.  

Business goals will change and adapt according to the industry you are in and the state of the market overall. Add into the equation external factors – like a global pandemic – and you will undoubtedly need to consider changing business goals. Monitor these changes, and you will be well on the road to success.  

How To Make Your Recruitment Process More Accessible

People working in an office, and the businessman closest to the camera using a wheelchair

According to the most recent disabled people in employment report, in the UK, 1 in 5 people of working-age reported they were disabled. Despite this disabled people have an employment rate that has remained around 30% lower than people who are not disabled for more than a decade, which is often described as the Disability Employment Gap.

Disabled people face barriers that are stopping them from entering the workplace, with the recruitment process often being one of the initial hurdles. From difficulty accessing and viewing job adverts, access needs not being met at the interview stage, as well the fear that they will be discriminated against because they have a disability. Kaleidoscope Group, a platform and team of experts working to empower disability through business, provides eight steps on how companies can make their recruitment process more accessible and inclusive for disabled people.

 

Ensure Your Hiring Staff Have Disability Awareness Training

Ensure all staff, especially the hiring staff, have had disability awareness and inclusion training. Unconscious bias can come into play when assessing or interviewing applicants who have disabilities, but by providing the appropriate training you can reduce the likelihood of discrimination. Training can also avoid staff unintentionally offending disabled applicants through inappropriate language and etiquette.

If you are looking to use a recruiter, it is important that they understand the disability employment market.

 

Apply to the Disability Confident Employment Scheme

The government’s Disability Confident employer scheme helps companies become more confident about employing people with disabilities, allowing employers to understand disability better, along with the reasonable adjustments they need to make.

Once signed up, you can include the badge on your job adverts, showing potential applications your commitment to supporting people with disabilities.

 

Be Clear you Want a Diverse Workforce

If you want a diverse workforce, emphasise this in your job adverts. Disabled people may be put off applying for jobs over concerns their accessibility needs won’t be met during the interview process, so make sure your job adverts let prospective applications know you offer adjustments to disabled applicants where needed.

 

Make Your Job Adverts Accessible

It is important that people with disabilities can read and engage with your company’s job adverts. If any part of your company’s recruitment journey is inaccessible, then you will risk not attracting applicants with disabilities who may be suitable for the role.

Make sure your advert is on a website that is compatible with screen readers, as without this your ad will be inaccessible to some applicants, such as those with sight impairment. You should also make sure applicants can access the information in different formats such as audio format, braille, and large print.

 

Allow Applicants to Apply in Different Formats

Traditional applications can exclude many disabled people, so it is important to allow for a mix of formats people can apply in, to meet everyone’s needs efficiently. Some people may struggle with an entirely online application, whereas others may find video options a better way to get themselves across.

You should be open to accepting applications in alternative formats such as online, word document, paper document, transcribed from a phone call, completed on behalf of the applicant by supporter and video. 

 

Guarantee Interviews for Disabled People Who Meet Minimum Criteria

Employers who have reached level 2 or 3 of the Disability Confident employer scheme should offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for the job. The commitment aims is to encourage positive action, encouraging disabled people to apply for jobs and provide an opportunity to demonstrate their skills at the interview stage.

 

Make the Interview Accessible

Ahead of the interview process, ask every applicant if they have any access requirements. Making any required adjustments will ensure applicants are not unfairly disadvantaged and have a fair chance of showcasing their skills and knowledge for the role.

The pandemic has also taught us that video calls can be effective, so consider if a face-to-face interview is necessary. Or perhaps look to provide a project for applicants to complete or carry out a working interview instead of a more formal interview.

 

Re-consider Any Interview Tests

If your interview process involves tests, consider if they are necessary or if it is possible to assess applications suitability in a more accessible way. If it is necessary, ensure they do not place applicants with disabilities at a disadvantage, such as timed written tests could disadvantage dyslexic applicants. Consider if it is necessary to time the test, or if suitability for the role can be demonstrated another way. 

Michael Green, Head of Marketing at Kaleidoscope Group comments:

“Every person can bring unique talent to your business and disabled entrepreneurs and individuals have an amazing perspective on life, with valuable skills that can make a difference to how the job is delivered and how your business performs. Their skills can drive sales now and tomorrow and you could and should be achieving more through empowering ambition and awareness in your business.”

3 Ways To Measure The Success Of Your HR Department

Eight people working together in the office

HR departments are crucial components of a functioning business. If things start to break down there, the entire company can grind to a screeching halt.

After all, these professionals oversee payroll, recruitment, benefits schemes, and workplace policies. They may also defuse tense relations between colleagues and essentially make sure that workers behave responsibly while on work time. Therefore, it’s imperative to monitor their progress and chip in with improvements where necessary. If the HR department is running smoothly, then so too shall the business.

Here are 3 ways to measure the success of your HR department.

      

How Are Company Values Being Upheld?

Your business should be strung together by a set of core principles. A robust company culture can be developed subsequently.

Equality and diversity are essential aspects of a business that must be maintained through recruitment and career advancement. Additionally, HR departments can help the company be more eco-friendly by going paperless with payslips and employee information. These tenets shouldn’t be focused squarely on HR either, but communicated to all.

Workers must also treat each other well. Any conflicts or dramas are not only a sign of disruptive employees but also a lacklustre HR department. Furthermore, working remotely doesn’t excuse the absence of these values either. Your HR department should update the company’s guidelines to ensure workers don’t grow complacent with their behaviour while they’re at home.

 

How Organisational Change is Managed

Business change is inevitable, but you need to make sure that your team manages it correctly. In this case, HR departments can benefit from working with others, extrapolating their resources for better efficiency.

Randstad RiseSmart is one of the largest providers of career transition solutions. They partner with HR teams to provide flexible working options like outplacement, guiding transitioning talent into, within, and out of organisations quickly and capably. Their participant satisfaction sits at an enviable 98%, so an exciting collaborative effort could await your HR department here.

HR departments should function as an elaborate safety net for employees. The right partnerships can strengthen that fundamental notion and help workers feel safeguarded in any scenario regarding their employment status. If HR can navigate organisational change with ease, then the department is succeeding.

 

How HR Responds to the Pandemic

The pandemic has been the ultimate example of organisational change for HR departments. It’s arguably challenged every facet of their operations and tested them to extraordinary lengths.

Some HR firms are even rolling out vaccination monitoring tools for businesses. After all, many companies have stated they will either sack or refuse to hire people who refuse to get the vaccine. There’s no room for compromise regarding worker well-being, so these vaccination passports are just one measure to keep the devastating effects of the coronavirus at bay.

These moves also emphasise how quickly HR departments must adapt. The pandemic has forced HR departments to re-evaluate many processes. They may reconsider how quickly workers can be trained, how work premises can be cleaner, how furlough schemes can be implemented, and how to make so many of their staff members redundant. HR staff must never be reticent in taking it all on, nor buckle under the pressure. In many instances, their handling of the pandemic is one of the only reasons some firms are still left standing.

Finding New Life For FinTech

Above shot of a business meeting with graphs and charts on a table, with FinTech graphics on top of the image

Financial services is an area of the business world that requires lightning-fast communication. Currencies and exchange rates can change incredibly rapidly, and the necessity for technology that can keep up is becoming ever more present. So, we spoke with Stefan Ott at Confinity Solutions to find out more about how his firm is tackling this need.

 

In doing so, it has been crowned 2021’s Most Innovative Global FinTech Startup. Discover more as part of our interview with Stefan about the work and success of Confinity Solutions.

 

For five years now, Confinity Solutions has been changing the game and upping the level of excellence delivered in the financial technology and financial services sector. As has already been mentioned, the work of the financial industry moves at a pace that is significantly more rapid than many others, with split-second decisions being the difference between money gained and money lost. People’s very livelihoods hinge upon decisions that are made in very high-intense pressure environments. In these scenarios, it is imperative that those people making these crucial decisions have access to the fastest possible technology that allows them to keep up with what is happening out in the world of financial transactions. This is exactly where Confinity Solutions comes into the picture. Founded by Stefan following his decision to buy out software from IBM in 2016, the work of Confinity Solutions is focused around developing high-volume and low-latency messaging solutions. Perhaps the greatest example of this, and the firm’s key success to date, is Confinity Low Latency Messaging (CLLM), which is the successor product of IBM’s WebSphere MQ LLM.

 

Having moved on from working at IBM to then founding his own business with a clear vision of what the future of financial technology should be, Stefan is a rare example of someone being correctly described as a visionary. His understanding of the industry and his desire to make the world of financial technology better has pushed Stefan to achieve bigger and better things with the software that he acquired from IBM. We at Corporate Vision had the privilege of being able to speak with Stefan about his role in starting the business, and how his involvement with the technology goes back many years beyond the foundation of Confinity Solutions. Upon beginning the interview with Stefan, it soon became abundantly clear that his passion for the technology and work of Confinity Solutions was seemingly limitless.

 

“Confinity Solutions was established in 2016 to acquire the source code of two products from IBM, namely WebSphere Front Office (WFO), a market data distribution infrastructure, and WebSphere MQ LLM, a low-latency messaging software. Together with the products, Confinity Solutions also took over responsibility for the service and support of IBM’s customers using one of these products. Confinity Solutions was considered a FinTech start-up, but with two mature software products and an established customer base. I was working at IBM before, and was familiar with both pieces of software.”

 

Unfortunately for those working with the IBM software, various decisions were made that meant the software fell into a sort of obscurity. Product strategies were bandied around, and new product names were created, but they were not names that Financial Markets’ clients and customers were familiar with. Not content to leave the software in the lurch, Stefan took it upon himself to found Confinity Solutions and created a brighter future for the two products and the Fintech industry. Now, almost five years on from the company’s inception, Stefan has engineered Confinity Solutions into a place where it is fully deserving of the title of 2021’s Most Innovative Global FinTech Startup from Corporate Vision Magazine. Stefan kindly elaborated further on the beginnings of the firm.

 

“Initially, I wanted to call it Confinity as an amalgamation of consulting, financial, and IT. However, the founder of Paypal actually wanted to call his product Confinity, and still had the domain. Instead, the Solutions was added and Confinity Solutions was born. Since 2016, I’ve also worked with IBM in a partnership to ensure that they can actually still market and resell our two products, Confinity LLM, or CLLM, and Confinity Market Data System, or CMDS. This is all we do, and around these two products, there is also consultancy and other various forms of excellence. When I founded the firm, we were focused on owning the IP and utilising the knowhow to establish partnerships with a number of worldwide companies that could serve customers on a global basis.”

 

Perhaps the greater of the two products that Confinity Solutions now offers is its low-latency messaging service, or the Confinity Low Latency Messaging (CLLM), which is the successor product of IBM’s WebSphere MQ LLM. Having successfully agreed upon a deal, Confinity Solutions took control of the software that IBM had allowed to fall into obscurity and die a slow death. Determined to bring it back to life and put it in the hands of those who would need and use it on a daily basis, Stefan built his firm from the ground up to be an outstanding advocate for the good that financial technology can do. Upon speaking with Stefan, it quickly becomes a great deal more clear on exactly how much the importance of financial technology has grown in an era of lightning-quick decision making and financial transacting.

 

“We have given these products a future, and started a major product renewal and overhaul. In November 2020, we launched our first FPGA-based successor product for Confinity LLM. Having worked in global organisations on a worldwide level myself, including with roles for Dt. Boerse, Reuters, and IBM, my focus has always been to be local to our customers. We listen to our users, having established a CLLM user group back in 2017, and always ask them to play an active part in the future development of CLLM. Together with our product strategy to keep CLLM as a top ‘state-of-the-art’ leading edge software product, and the latest CLLM 4.0 nicely underpins this.”

 

Technology and financial technology services is one thing, but Confinity Solutions has had to work hard to ensure that the technology serves the client in the best way possible. Whilst they were still owned by those at IBM, both the products offered were traditionally targeted towards clients in Financial Markets, including those working in exchanges, as well as brokerages and other financial entities that work in the global market. CLLM in particular has proven to be a massive hit with clients all over the world as a messaging infrastructure that they can rely on. Due to its features and capabilities, the software allows customers to create a fair marketplace or stock exchange market by enabling low-latency messaging across the board.

 

CLLM is undoubtedly best in class when it comes to reliable multicast messaging, and it actually boasts more than nineteen patents to ensure that it remains the king of this proverbial hill. The “predictability” of low latency messaging such as CLLM also makes it a prime candidate for use in cases outside of the Financial Markets. For instance, the work of the Automotive and Telecommunications industries can also benefit massively from what the Confinity Solutions has to offer in terms of messaging. That instantaneous and reliable delivery and reception of a message that is of the utmost importance can be the difference between success and failure, and that is why the success of Confinity Solutions in bringing this technology back to life is so deserving of recognition.

 

Of course, after speaking with Stefan further, it became clear to see that he recognises too that the success of the firm would not be nearly as outstanding without the people that have made it happen. Stefan kindly explained more about his decision to bring in specialists and experts whose knowledge of software and Financial Markets rivals only that of his own.

“Our staff plays a very important role in the success of Confinity Solutions. Other than subject matter expertise in software development, I recruited my team with a focus on different cultures and diverse language skills. This allows us to serve our worldwide customer base in the best possible manner, such as conversing with them in their native language. We may work with clients all over the world, but we have staff who have Chinese language skills, whilst there are those who hail from Venezuela and India. Understanding our client’s global cultures is imperative to providing them with the right software and services within their field of interest.”

 

Despite all the success that Confinity Solutions has achieved in the last five years since its inception, there have not been times without challenge and opposition. As many business were affected by the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, so too was Confinity Solutions. However, true to his nature as a visionary and someone who can see a way out when all else seems hopeless, Stefan knuckled down and found a way to ensure that the firm could still deliver for its clients. Most of its customers and exchanges that is serves needed software that could cope with the changes to society that were coming. Remote transactions and more mean that software and particularly that of low latency and reliable messaging had to be up to scratch. Fortunately, Stefan and the team at Confinity Solutions made sure theirs was.

 

“As a result of the pandemic, we had to establish processes and measures to guarantee a continued 24/7 support for our customers. Since some of our staff is based in India, Germany, Hong Kong, and New York, we have introduced strict rules so that two staff with the same skill set and profile do not work in the same office room and on the same shift. Spreading out the talent all over the world has proven to be fruitful for us. We can also already state that we are fully digitalized, and only a few critical resources required to be onsite.”

 

Looking ahead to the future, there is much to be excited for from a financial technology standpoint. There is always new technology being innovated and brought to market, but the focus from Confinity Solutions and Stefan stretches beyond that into more specific and specialized areas. As we begin to close out our time together in this interview, Stefan reveals to us some of the plans that the firm has for the remainder of 2021, and what lies beyond.

 

“Initially, we have focused on reviving the products and stabilizing them. Since 2019, we have been working on a new next-generation CLLM product which is utilizing leading edge FPGA technology. CLLM 4.0 (FPGA version) was launched in December 2020, and we are working with a few EAP customers in the first quarter to try and stabilize it. Q2 of 2021 and beyond is our target for rollout in established customer bases and new customer bases alike in the Financial Markets industry. At the same time, we are targeting the Automotive industry as a potential area of great success and growth.”

 

Ultimately, the work of Stefan and Confinity Solutions is nothing short of exceptional within the financial technology space. Markets are ever-changing and the world is changing more than ever at this moment in time, following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Stefan’s work has seen Confinity Solutions become a key partner for so many financial institutions, and it has seen the revival and reinstatement of some key technologies and software products. In essence, the brilliance of Confinity Solutions and Stefan is certainly something worthy of recognition across the world, and we at Corporate Vision cannot wait to see what the future holds for this outstandingly innovative business.

 

For business enquiries contact Stefan Ott at Confinity Solutions GmbH via https://confinity-solutions

How Can companies Use Bridging Finance to Raise Money?

Bridging finance is an increasingly popular form of alternative finance which allows companies to raise money or purchase something within a tight deadline and repay within 3 to 24 months.

As a non-banking alternative, you can apply directly with a private individual or company and often get access to the funds in a matter of weeks, rather than months with a traditional bank.

Bridging and other types of specialist finance gained traction during the financial crisis of 2008 where banks became increasingly strict with whom they lent to – and today it has grown into a large industry, now worth around £7 billion, an increase from £1 billion in 2011.

 

When might a company use bridging finance?

A company will use bridging finance to raise money within a strict completion date, hence it is often used for property developers looking to buy a property under a tight deadline. Rather than go through the long application and hurdles of a typical mortgage, companies can raise money to buy a residential or commercial property usually within 2 to 4 weeks – with sums ranging from £50,000 to £25 million.

To raise capital, companies can use bridging finance provided that they have valuable collateral or assets. It is sometimes used for businesses who are trying to grow or invest in their own business, using things like their office premises, vehicles or equipment as collateral.

In aviation, Thomas Cook’s Condor used a bridging loan of €380 million in 2019 secured against their airlines and TUI received bridging finance worth €1.8 billion in 2020. The nature of the loan was certainly short-term and used valuable collateral to get approval.

 

What are the terms?

Bridging finance is almost always secured against some form of collateral, which is usually a property. A typical loan term is 3 to 24 months and if you cannot keep up with repayments, you may find that your property or asset is repossessed.

Since some building projects or business deals are long-winded, it is common for a bridging loan to come to an end and for the applicant to refinance under different terms upon completion.

Monthly interest is charged on a bridging loan, with the option to roll up all the repayments until the end of the loan term. By this point, you expect the borrower to have exited on the project or seen a huge influx in revenue to help pay off their loan. If it is a property, it may have been renovated and sold on the open market, or perhaps it is refinanced so the individual can rent it out to tenants.

Other terms include:

∙ A broker fee of 1%

∙ Interest rates from 0.44% per month

∙ Early exit fees apply

∙ Additional costs may include legal, valuation and surveyor fees

 

Is bridging regulated?

Yes, bridging finance is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and there are many rules in place to ensure that an individual does not borrow against their primary residence and could be at risk of losing their home.

Even if you apply through a bridging loan broker such as Lending Expert, you should be offered the lowest rate possible according to your deal and circumstances.

World Youth Skills Day: Top Skills Employers Are Looking For!

World Youth Skills Day

The 15th of July is declared as World Youth Skills Day, to celebrate and reinforce the importance of equipping young people with the necessary skills to excel in a professional working environment.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at the top skills that employers are looking out for the most when hiring new employees in 2021.

 

Critical thinking

Post Covid-19, employers are looking to hire people who are able to analyse and evaluate situations and problems constructively, to then come up with an effective solution. Businesses have faced many problems in the last year and will continue to do so as the Covid-19 situation continues to fluctuate. Therefore, the ability to identify, assess and solve problems as part of a team, as well as individually, will be a crucial part of any job.

 

Resilience/Flexibility

There is a sudden surge in demand for the ability of employees to remain resilient yet flexible as the situation with Covid-19 constantly changes. These two skills are vital in 2021 as employers seek those who can adjust easily to constant change and are comfortable with the uncertainty of the current climate. Employers are always looking for people who can work flexible hours and days during the week to adhere to the workflow.

 

Communication

The ability to communicate effectively with colleagues, clients and staff is essential within businesses, but now being able to communicate effectively over telephone, video call, email and social media is equally required. There are many benefits to having strong communication skills such as creating a strong team and achieving productivity goals. But, now in 2021 when most things have moved to digital and most people have to work from home, it has become crucial that one is competent with using digital communication programs such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)/New Technology

The world has become tech-driven more than it has been before, it is therefore essential for employees to be technology literate and own the ability to quickly familiarise themselves with new technology and software tools.

Businesses are beginning to invest in upskilling their employees to ensure their workforce is equipped with the skills and knowledge of upcoming technological and digital devices. Investing in developing employees’ skills will create an advanced workforce, will drive the company’s performance, and will establish a progressive and fast-adapting environment to produce better quality products and services. As a young person, you should look to develop your digital skills through courses available online or look into courses provided by academic institutions. This will not only allow you to develop and polish your skill set but will also make you stand out as a dedicated candidate.

3 Business Tech Trends That Will Continue Post-Pandemic

Business tech

Although the phrase “post-pandemic” is a bit premature, current events would lead you to believe that the end is near. People are getting vaccinated against the coronavirus and the world is slowly starting to reopen. For businesses, these new developments mean making adjustments to accommodate their target audiences as they re-enter society. A large part of that encompasses enhancing the consumer experience. 

People are anxious to get out of the house and engage in everyday activities, from paying a visit to the bank or grocery store to shopping and eating out. However, underneath that excitement is also some fears and concerns about life after the pandemic. 

Essentially, providing a sense of relief, comfort, and convenience for your customers can help make this transition more manageable. Though there are several ways of improving the customer service experience, here are some effective tech solutions used during the pandemic that will likely remain for years to come.

 

Remote And Hybrid Work Schedules

Your employees play a significant role in customer experience. Whether they interact with consumers directly or indirectly, their skills and ability to perform their jobs effectively matter. When your employees feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or inconvenienced, it impedes their productivity levels. A worsened morale and poor output ultimately lead to dissatisfied customers. 

Businesses are using technology to improve customer experience by developing exclusively remote and hybrid positions for employees. Such options enable employees to select a convenient schedule for reduced exposure, better work-life balance, and improved emotional health. These positives ultimately manifest in their work and trickle down to your customers. 

 

Contactless Service And Payment

Though more people are getting vaccinated and the coronavirus threat is subsiding, there are still many fears. Consumers worry as they start engaging with others again that they increase their risk of contracting or spreading the virus. Not to mention, many people have grown accustomed to the modern conveniences afforded to them during the pandemic. 

Take contactless delivery, for example. Whether someone wanted to order takeout from a local restaurant or buy household products online, they could do so safely and conveniently. They could shop for things they want, make a payment, and have the merchandise dropped off at their front door. 

Brick-and-mortar establishments want to provide the same sense of security and convenience for their target audience. That’s why they’ve invested in technologies like touchless-ordering applications for an improved in-person experience. For instance, a family visiting a restaurant can place their order, request additional services, and make a payment in a matter of seconds. Wait staff can essentially focus on providing a positive experience as the platform streamlines processes and accommodate consumer needs more efficiently. 

 

Virtual Services

Not everyone is ready to get back into society, despite the improvements with the pandemic. There’s also a large group of consumers that enjoyed the convenience of receiving services in real-time. Businesses that chose to shift to eCommerce platforms and utilize digital tools to interact with their customers at the height of the pandemic can’t help but notice organizational and financial benefits. It enabled them to reach a wider audience and save on overhead costs.

Ultimately, eStores and virtual services will become a formal business practice. Brands will continue to push their products and services on their websites. Healthcare professionals, attorneys, and even real estate agents will continue to rely on video conferencing software, file-sharing apps, and other tools to treat patients, meet clients, show properties, and complete other transactions. 

 

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic was challenging for businesses. It forced them into survival mode as sales declined. Those that made it through those trying times were companies that thought outside of the box to implement new strategies to reach their target audiences. Although adjusting took some time, the integration of technology enabled them to enhance employee and consumer experience. These concepts kept everyone safe, improved productivity, and increased sales. As such, these tech trends will remain a staple in business operations post-pandemic and beyond. 

The 5 Best Ways to Find a Mentor

Mentor

It doesn’t matter if you’re fresh out of college, changing careers, or an experienced professional in need of direction, the right mentor can make all the difference.

There is no shortage of benefits associated with finding a mentor. These include but are not limited to:

 

  • Guidance when you need it the most
  • Someone to help you avoid costly and time-consuming mistakes
  • Assistance building your professional network
  • A sounding board for new ideas
  • Receiving useful feedback

 

Now that you understand the benefits of having a mentor, it’s time to answer the most important question: what’s the best way to find a mentor?

While there’s no right or wrong approach, some ways of finding a mentor are more effective than others. Here are five ideas to start with:

 

1. Personal Network

This is where your search should begin. You may find that you don’t have to go any further than your personal network to find the person you’re looking for.

Your personal network includes people such as current and former co-workers and supervisors, family friends, and professors. 

The nice thing about this approach is that you already have a relationship with the person you’re reaching out to. Not only does this make it easier to connect, but it also improves the likelihood of the person saying “yes” to your request for them to mentor you. 

 

2. LinkedIn

You can use LinkedIn to communicate with people who are already in your network. You can also use it to find and connect with potential mentors.

This is often the best approach when seeking a mentor in a specific field. 

For example, if you’re seeking a mentor with experience in master data management, LinkedIn allows you to quickly search this keyword.

Conversely, if you ask your family and friends if they know anything about this topic, you may find yourself spinning your wheels.  

 

3. Ask for a Referral

A family member, friend, or co-worker may not be a good fit as a mentor. But as you share what you’re looking for, one of these people may be able to provide a referral.

Don’t be shy about asking people in your life to assist you. Let them know what you’re looking for in a mentor and how you wish to proceed. 

It never hurts to ask someone close to you for a referral. This could be the connection you need to strike up a relationship with a mentor. 

 

4. Online Mentorship Networks

Online mentoring networks are exactly what they sound like. These platforms give you access to people who are open to mentoring others. 

To get the most out of these platforms, compare a handful of them with a focus on features, pros, and cons. That will help you narrow your options, allowing you to spend your time on the actual search. 

 

5. Industry Meetups

The more time you spend at industry meetups, the more your network will grow. And as that happens, you’ll come to realize that there are people who want to learn more about you and your goals.

Don’t attend industry meetups with the sole goal of finding a mentor. Instead, do so with the idea that you want to make personal connections with as many people as possible. 

After each meetup, double back with anyone you met to continue your conversation. You can do this via phone, email, and/or social media.


Frequently Asked Questions

You’re likely to have questions during your search for a mentor. While this can slow you down, it also helps you better understand what type of person you want to connect with. 

Here are some frequently asked questions to address today:

 

  • Why are you seeking the assistance of a mentor?
  • What do you hope a mentor can do for you?
  • How will you make it easy for your mentor to assist you?
  • Is it important to you that your mentor resides in your local area?
  • Are you seeking a mentor in a specific industry? 

 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there’s no shortage of ways to find a mentor. With the right strategy and an open mind, it won’t be long before you have a mentor on your side who can help you reach all your business-related goals.