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

Seasoned Experts

Hurricane moving through countryside in USA

When a crisis arises, people don’t want to quibble over their insurance policy. They want to know what resources they have, in order to get back on track as soon as possible. Often, however, policyholders find themselves underpaid on the settlements they not only deserve but need to move on. Working hard to right these wrongs is Henry Rodriguez of Municipal Claims Management Services. Named as a Leader in Insurance Claims Management 2021 – Florida in Corporate Vision’s series on Corporate Excellence, we took a closer look to find out more.

When Hurricane Andrew slammed Florida in 1992, Henry Rodriguez found himself in a curious position. He was working on an apartment building renovation in Miami, a project that had an abundance of material and manpower, when he was contacted by family and friends. In the aftermath of this catastrophe, they had found their insurance lacking. Sitting in his uncle’s roofless house, Henry was stunned to hear that his uncle had received a check for $20,000, while the cost of repairs was in the region of $150,000. It was the first time Henry examined an insurance policy, and the start of a long and happy career.

Over the last thirty years, Henry had become one of the leading lights of the insurance industry, acting as a Certified Insurance Appraiser, Adjuster, and Umpire. As CEO of Municipal Claims Management Services, he has become a trusted partner with individuals and organizations across Florida and the surrounding states. Henry still lives in Florida, and his familiarity with the devastating social and financial impacts of hurricanes is what drives him to achieve success for his clients every day.

Henry’s work has seen his team working with all sorts of organizations, ranging including Policyholders, Insurance companies, Governments and Municipalities, Law Firms, and HOAs to settle disputed insurance claims efficiently and effectively through Appraisal. His word is based on years of experience in the field and is trusted throughout the industry. For this reason, he is often called upon and court appointed to serve as Umpire in a myriad of cases.

The challenges of negotiating fair claims with insurance companies after any loss are naturally numerous, and the field requires an expert to ensure that homeowners and commercial policyholders alike understand their options. This must be done before potentially costly and time-consuming litigation takes place. When someone is in trouble, help is needed quickly, and it must be effective enough to really make a difference. Because of his long and hard-won experience, Henry Rodriguez is the first port of call for many who need a helping hand to get back on their feet.

The role of an insurance company adjuster is to settle the claim as quickly as possible, for as little as possible. Often adjusters are under immense pressure to meet strict loss ratio guidelines that protect the profits of an insurance company. When a team takes on Municipal Claims Management Services, they take on a team that is committed to providing accurate estimates.

Historically, many firms have taken a confrontational approach to these cases, but at the heart of every decision made by Henry Rodriguez and his team is a commitment to fairness to all sides. The team look at the contract between the client and their insurance company to understand precisely what has been committed to by all sides. It is steadfastly transparent in its operation, with integrity and professionalism at its core. Some firms promise the stars, but the team at Municipal Claims Management Services utterly commits to what you can claim. It’s a defensive approach that anticipates what might be contested and allows the team to prepare a comprehensive answer backed by an overabundance of proof.

It’s not unfair for policyholders to want clarity in what their policy provides, especially when it comes to avoiding misunderstandings and receiving what they have spent years of their lives paying in for. Municipal Claims Management Services brings this strong sense of fairness to every case, making sure to act objectively when bringing their years of experience in the field to bear on insurers. Their knowledge means that loss can be quickly, properly resolved when all parties act in good faith. Vigorously defended and precisely presented when need be.

Over the years, Henry and his team has had an enormous impact on the industry. Their work has been instrumental with the development of stronger building codes brought about by the work done with experts in many disciplines. Much of this is based on his diverse experience working alongside insurance companies, contractors, engineers, architects, building officials, and other subject matter experts. They are just a small part of a comprehensive network of associates who share his passion for fairness when it comes to insurance.

As a result of this work, he has had great success with large-scale emergency claims management. These cases are notoriously complex, with many different factors at play. Ensuring a sense of balance throughout is not easy but certainly key to ensuring success.

Alongside his successful career advocating for fairness on behalf of clients, Henry has been instrumental in the authoring of jargon-free Standard Operating Procedures that are applicable to various industries. All of these have been approved by Federal and State Government Agencies. What are by design complex industry practices have been broken down into simpler steps, held to the standards of transparency that Henry uses in his all work as appraiser or umpire. For clients, the ability to empower themselves to take on large insurance companies is due in no small part to his impressive body of work and a crew second to none.

For his work appraising losses nationally and internationally and his ongoing commitment to his local community through disaster recovery and advocating for fairer insurance policies, Henry has been recognized and applauded across the state of Florida and beyond. He was awarded prestigious ACAC Certifications, as well as two Certificates of Recognition by Mayor Regalado of Miami and Vice Mayor Suarez and Mayor Muhina of the City of West Miami. These awards are a credit to his significant accomplishments and exemplary citizenry.

Since those humble beginnings in the wreck of his uncle’s house, Henry has committed himself to ensuring that people have access to the support they need and deserve. It’s not just a financial settlement, but a way of moving forward at a difficult time. As such, when faced with even the most disruptive circumstances to themselves, their loved ones, or their property, clients can confidently rely on their partners in insurance matters, Henry Rodriguez and the team at Municipal Claims Management Services.

For business enquiries contact Henry Rodriguez at Municipal Claims Management Services via  [email protected]

Hiring the Right Office Manager

Office Manager

Nowadays, it sometimes seems that the art of customer service is lost. You can feel it when you’re eating out at a restaurant, have a question in a store, or just need general help from an employee anywhere. The art of customer service is thus in high demand not only for external clients but also for internal ones. That makes it more critical than ever that when it’s time for your company to hire a new Office Manager, that they exhibit exemplary internal customer service. You want someone who can do more than make you the perfect iced coffee; they need to juggle all the tasks in the running of the office day today. 

 

High EQ

One often overlooked quality that a high functioning Office Manager must possess is a high EQ. A candidate with high emotional intelligence will be able to handle the sometimes high-stress levels that come with running an office. When you have someone that is able to roll with the punches and maintain their positive mindsight, this trickles down to the entire office staff keeping the mood optimistic for everyone. 

 

Communication is Key 

A robust communication skill set may seem like an obvious trait someone you’re looking to hire would have. Still, sometimes, interview settings for this type of role are so professional, it’s challenging to get a feel for how much of a fluid communicator the prospective hire actually is. Not only do they need to have strong non-verbal communication skills making them able to communicate with the staff via correspondence effectively; they also need equally strong verbal communication. Having this ensures they can understand the needs of both team members and management and relay them accordingly. 

 

Organized and Creative 

Finding the right candidate who is both parts organized as well as creative is a must. Creative Office Managers benefit the work environment by making them excellent problem solvers and setting a creative, positive workplace for team members. Organized Office Managers are able to oversee multiple projects and situations at one time effectively. Being organized allows them to effectively delegate tasks, manage progress on said tasks and ensure they’re entirely correct on time. 

 

Honesty 

Honesty is a trait that is important in all employees and that much more important in the person you’re hiring to run your office. Knowing that you have complete faith in the person you’ve hired to run things allows you to relinquish control to them. You know that they are responsible enough to make the right decisions for the day-to-day of business and accept responsibility when they may sometimes make the wrong decision. Typically office managers are in charge of banking, so naturally, they need to be trustworthy. They are also in charge of most hiring, so their honest opinion holds serious weight and potential consequences. 

 

Tech Savvy 

In today’s workplaces, it’s not a “plus” if someone is familiar with dealing with technical things; it’s a necessity. Most processes today are technical in nature, so you need someone knowledgeable and competent in this area. Technical knowledge includes phones, computers, and other systems as necessary. The Office Manager will be responsible for training new employees in these areas and troubleshooting the systems as problems arise. 

 

Natural Leader

Maybe they weren’t born a natural leader. Still, unless all your candidates have a profound amount of experience, you want to make sure that you’re hiring someone with strong leadership capabilities. The Office Manager will, in fact, be in charge of leading the office and the team members within it. Someone with strong leadership skills can motivate and encourage team members to get tasks done correctly and efficiently. When everyone is working at a substantial level, this keeps morale high as well as increasing employee retention. 

 

Flexibility 

An Office Manager needs to be pretty flexible. Change is a given and constant, and a strong Office Manager can switch gears seamlessly and keep things flowing evenly. They need to be able to make decisions at the moment and keep the entire team on track when directions change. 

 

By adding these to your list of things you’re looking for in your potential new hire for the role of Office Manager, you’re sure to find someone that you can trust to run things as you would in your absence. Good Luck!

5 Business Upgrades to Consider in 2021

Business upgrades

Businesses have to make upgrades every so often, ideally every few years, to keep up with the times. Some updates should benefit your business. Others should help your customers or employees. If you know it’s time for some changes but aren’t sure what those changes should be, consider the following five business upgrades for 2021.

 

1. Cybersecurity

One crucial update you should consider is cybersecurity. More businesses are doing things online nowadays. This is a trend that won’t stop anytime soon. The internet is here to stay, and while it does offer businesses a lot of perks, it also exposes them to dangers. Many small business owners think they’re too small for criminals to take notice of them, but that’s not true. Small businesses are targets. This could expose customers’ private data, and that’s not something any budding business wants to admit. It takes a long time for a business to recover after a breach and even longer to get customers to trust your brand again. Even if you didn’t do this on purpose, you’d be blamed for it.

 

2. Better Parking

Another exciting upgrade you can make to your business deals with parking. Every person who comes to your place of business should be able to find a good parking spot. This requires updated parking plans, but you shouldn’t stop there. 2021 is a new year, and you should embrace the world of tomorrow. You might want to install several electric car charging stations for customers and employees as a way to welcome the world of tomorrow. The number of electric cars on the road is growing quickly. Some customers and employees may have these cars. Having a charging station tells the world you’re ready for the future, making you seem more appealing.

 

3. Move Towards the Cloud

If you still haven’t made the move, you need to move your business to the cloud. This can be a pain in the neck because it means transferring a lot of data to the computer, but it will be worth it in the end. Searching for data should be much easier since you can do it all online. This also means you can share information with your employees online through a secured cloud. This makes it easier for your workforce to work remotely. It will also be easier to work with third parties since they won’t have to visit your place of business.

 

4. A Portable POS

The point of sale doesn’t have to be in one place. The point of sale or the POS could be portable. Typically, this is a tablet but could just be a phone. You want to update your payment system to something like this because more customers are expecting this kind of technology. Your employees can walk around the store and check out customers without them standing in line. The other reason you should invest in a new POS system is so that you can accommodate new payment options, like chip or mobile wallets.

 

5. The Greener Changes

It might be a good idea to update your business by investing in green or eco-conscious changes. They don’t have to be too elaborate. For example, you can install sun tunnel skylights throughout your place of business. These things give you the full power of the sun, making your business feel illuminated, and you didn’t have to turn on the lights. You may also want to consider upgrading all your windows to UV protective and energy-efficient windows. You’ll save money with windows that keep the interior feeling comfortable. Make the changes you can make; just make sure you highlight these changes because being eco-conscious is profitable.

 

You’ve got several great upgrade ideas here, so just choose the ones that fit your business best. 2021 is a new year, and it’s time that your company embraces tomorrow.

The 10 Jobs Which Have Lost More Than Half Their Workforce In the Last 16 Years

A pair of gloves used for heavy lifting on top of a ladder

A number of highly skilled job roles are at risk of disappearing in the near future should new talent not be recruited, a new analysis of workforce data has revealed. 

The trade trends report 2021 released by Skills Training Group has found glass and ceramics process operatives, toolmakers and wood machine operatives are among several jobs where the total number of staff working in these roles has more than halved since 2004. 

Having analysed 16 years worth of data from the Office for National Statistics, the report has been able to identify the jobs most in need of reinvigorating. 

With the number of glass and ceramic process operatives declining by 77 per cent between 2004 and 2020, the analysis found this was the occupation most in need of new talent. In total, there are 9,200 fewer glass and ceramic operatives now than there were 16 years ago. 

While the decline amongst typists (65%), assemblers (65%) and printing machine assistants (63%) has been slightly more modest, these job roles are also facing the brunt of modernisation. 

The top ten declining jobs:

Profession All person in trade (Oct 2004 - Sept 2005) All person in trade (Oct 2019 - Sept 2020) Total decrease over 10 years
Glass and ceramics process operatives
12000
2800
77%
Typists and related keyboard occupations
113000
39600
65%
Assemblers (electrical and electronic products)
60400
21400
65%
Printing machine assistants
24000
8800
63%
Rubber process operatives
11900
4400
63%
Playworkers
58200
22100
62%
Street cleaners
9900
3800
62%
Tool makers, tool fitters and markers-out
24900
9800
61%
Paper and wood machine operatives
55700
22500
60%
Print finishing and building workers
27200
11000
60%

While it is evident that due to technological advancements the demand for many of these jobs is likely to be greatly reduced in the future, a number of these roles will still have an important role to play in society for many years to come. 

Commenting on the research and how businesses recruiting for these job roles can attract young people, Mark McShane, managing director at Skills Training Group said:

“In order to encourage young people to take up positions in these job roles it is important businesses across all industries engage with youngsters, sharing their success stories to encourage a new workforce. Communication and marketing needs to be a big part of the recruitment process – young people will better engage with clear and smart communication. Companies and industries that make noise, engage with social media and shout about what makes these job roles attractive will see the tide change in the amount of people wanting a job.”

To find out more about the report as done by Skills Training Group, visit their website to read the full study.

What Can the Retail Industry Do to Reduce Unemployment?

Sign outside a retail business that says

Unemployment is always a pressing issue for the federal government. The pandemic and the closure of businesses has caused significant stress for workers and business owners. In the new world of stimulus checks, we can forget the financial significance of unemployment payments. Simply put, fewer people out of work means fewer people claiming allowances and a rise in overall disposable income, both advantages for the state of the economy.

Victoria’s Secret is a recent victim of the shopping mall. Falling sales meant that the lingerie company was forced to close over one-quarter of their 1,000 stores in the US and Canada. The closure of popular retail stores is set to continue in 2021. Retail workers are now recovering from a 17.1 per cent unemployment rate in April 2020, the highest on record. Today, the figure is double its pre-pandemic levels. However, a return to work is coming, intending to end uncertainty and recover from the unemployment caused by the pandemic. This is an opportunity to create a forward-thinking workforce beyond the pandemic. Successful retailers must do what they can do to reduce unemployment in the industry — but how?

 

Employment and disability

In order to reduce the number of people who are out of work down to a disability, businesses should consider creating a “Disability Confident” employer scheme. Such schemes have been used by large businesses around the world to provide employers with the skills, examples, and confidence to recruit and develop disabled employees.

Businesses can get help from the government using the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN). The program helps companies create strategies for recruiting and advancing the careers of disabled employees in a variety of roles. Recruitment website, Monster, named Walgreens as one of the best disability employers in 2020, proving that retailers can provide jobs for people of all abilities.

 

Encouraging a diverse workforce

According to the Aspen Institute, women and other minority groups are underrepresented in retail management positions but overrepresented in lower-paying roles. Retailers should focus on broadening their selection process when it comes to the recruitment process. This can ensure that those who’ve lost a job in a retail position face equal opportunity when it comes to finding a new role. 

Encouraging diversity in gender and cultural background when hiring is not only beneficial for employees, but also for the business itself. Ultimately, when a workforce is representative of a customer base, it can lead to a better understanding of the target market and an improvement in business performance.

 

Charity collaboration

Another way to reduce unemployment levels is to collaborate with charities that are there to help those who are struggling to find work.

Partnering with a disabled or mental health charity for example can help you reach those who are out of work because of a disability or health issue and encourage them to apply.

One example of this includes men’s shirts retailer, CT Shirts. The company has a long-standing partnership with the Prince’s Trust which involves fundraising and a mutually beneficial relationship. This charity works closely with vulnerable young people who need a helping hand to get their lives back on track.

Like many retailers that The Trust works with, CT Shirts took advantage of one of their “Get Hired” days — a day of greetings and interviews with young people who have been through The Prince’s Trust Programs to get to know some potential employees.

 

Cross-discipline training

It’s true that for many retailers, while the jobs of their in-store employees may be at risk, often recruitment in their digital marketing and e-commerce teams are still growing. Therefore, an important consideration to make is whether retail employees should be trained in other areas of the business too. Or at least should their knowledge of the company and its products or services be valued so that they’re allowed to progress in another area of the business after redundancy?

There are advantages and disadvantages to this idea, but it’s certainly something for retailers to think about before making mass redundancies across the business. Cross-discipline training can also encourage more loyal employees and therefore those who are more invested in the performance of the retail business as a whole.

As we can see, there is a range of considerations that retailers are currently making or should think about when it comes to reducing unemployment. As some companies pave the way, it’s down to other industry players to make big changes too.

Innovation in Labour

Three people in a meeting with spreadsheets, discussing data

Greenwich.HR is the first comprehensive provider of real-time labour market intelligence for all audiences, bringing transparency to the $80 trillion market and opening the door for efficiency-boosting innovation. Founded by business leaders who understand the challenges and waste caused by poor data, Greenwich.HR’s next generation data solutions are created to offer more profound, more accessible, and more affordable information to individuals and organizations across applications. We take a closer look at the market-leading innovators.

Established in 2015, Greenwich.HR is the largest and most powerful data platform for the labour market, designed to bring transparency to the global market that is valued at $80 trillion and affects every person, family, community, organization and government in the world.

Despite the enormity of this market, it is one that is afflicted with poor information and data management, and thus great inefficiencies and wastage. Greenwich.HR was founded with a vision to create a Data-As-Service platform that efficiently serves the needs of global analytics teams and application developers, who could provide valuable market insights to customers across many industries. Investment funds, media companies, large corporations, leading academic institutions, government agencies, recruiting firms, HR and general management consulting firms, HR technology firms, and even small start-ups are all able to access the world-leading dataset created by Greenwich.HR and utilize that market intelligence to gain financial value for their own businesses.

Driven by that founding vision, Greenwich.HR has grown to become the largest and fastest-growing labour market intelligence platform in the world, creating transparency in hiring, pay, and talent that has never before been seen. Whilst real-time market intelligence is by no means unique to Greenwich.HR, it does represent a new frontier of value that businesses have been investing in in order to improve insights based only on internal data. Greenwich.HR’s innovative concept instead integrates external market data so as to allow businesses to analyze the economies and businesses around them, broadening the ways in which they can create value and providing the foundations on which to enhance market innovation.

Greenwich.HR works with Investment Managers, Recruiting and Staffing Professionals, Business Intelligence teams, and Compensation Professionals who are able to benefit from the platform’s insights on the hiring and pay behaviors of more than three million companies and the 160,000 jobs that are tracked every day. These insights have become even more valuable in the midst of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen unprecedented disruption to hiring practices of mega-corporations to new start-ups. Traditional recruitment practices have become redundant, with the predictive value of the intelligence on hiring data becoming suddenly much more applicable. Greenwich.HR has been able to showcase the power of real-time labour market intelligence over the last few months, becoming a trusted source of accurate and profound insight that has enabled more informed decision-making in recruitment.

Thus, as Greenwich.HR’s role in the labour market becomes more significant, its team is vital to the continued delivery of excellence in data handling. Built on commitment, imagination and expertise, the culture at Greenwich.HR has grown around a team of people who thrive in being part of something monumental, and who are constantly exploring new possibilities for innovation and pursuing them to bring them to life as stronger, more intelligent data solutions.

2021 will see Greenwich.HR taking its growth international and deepening its presence in the analytics and technology verticals it already serves. Fundamentally, the growth of Greenwich.HR seeks to make it easier for even more audiences to understand the value of real-time labor market intelligence and, with that vision in mind, Greenwich.HR has so far been able to achieve its growth ambitions without any outside funding. The team is currently evaluating the most effective means of funding further growth, so that Greenwich.HR can continue transforming the labor market through data and innovation.

For business enquiries contact Cary Sparrow at Greenwich.HR via www.Greenwich.HR

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Workplace inclusion

As an employer, you obviously want the most qualified, skilled employees for your business. However, you may be overlooking the power of diversity and inclusion when hiring new recruits. Encouraging variety and camaraderie among co-workers improves employee morale and increases productivity.  This article explores how practicing diversity and inclusion in the workplace can significantly benefit your business.

 

What Exactly is Diversity and Inclusion?

To some, these may seem like trending buzzwords tossed about in board meetings to appease the human resource team. That’s a regrettable viewpoint because sincere attention to diversity and inclusion (D&I) on the job can make a tremendous difference in the workplace culture.

Ideally, a diverse and inclusive work environment is one in which everyone is encouraged to get involved and is held equally valuable in all areas of the workplace. Diversity in the workplace is about actively hiring employees of different gender, ages, race, religion, backgrounds, etc. Inclusion is about celebrating the diversity within each employee to make workers feel their differences are assets and beneficial to the whole company.

 

Four Simple Ways to Encourage Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Although diversity and inclusion encourage creativity in the workplace, it’s not always a concept commonly embraced in core human nature. No matter how nonjudgmental we claim to be, almost all of us are subject to bias occasionally.  Achieving a 100% unbiased workforce is unlikely, but here are a few actionable steps to encourage D&I in the workplace.

 

Meet with Managers

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the vibe and energy of the workplace begins with managers. Schedule regular meetings and discuss how managers are supporting employees with diverse backgrounds and communicate how the entire team can become more unified in the daily function of the company.

 

Rethink Policies

Reevaluate overly restrictive company policies that may hinder employee diversity in the workplace. For example, rethink grooming or dress codes to empower both genders to express themselves regardless of orientation. More and more, companies are easing up on stringent grooming policies to make allowances for lip gloss, burkas, or even sanctioning exposed tattoos in the workplace. These freedoms encourage individuality, acceptance as well as diversity.  Also, reevaluate policies about personal items in workspaces. To illustrate, permitting appropriate photos of family or unobtrusive personal items is another way to help employees feel their authenticity within the company.

 

Get More Flexible

Gain a solid sense of inclusion by considering the needs of employees who have unique circumstances. For example, think about getting more flexible with work hours for employees who are parents and need to pick up children from school.  Adjust break policies to allow regular intervals for those whose religion requires them to pray several times a day. Remember, flexibility goes beyond changing long-standing office rules; it also involves being open to listen and observe your employees. Maintain an open-door policy, listen to your employees, identify restrictions upon workplace diversity and be flexible enough to make positive changes.

 

Celebrate Diversity

Instead of upholding the traditional annual Christmas party, try celebrating other holidays from different cultures throughout the year to inspire diversity and inclusion. Think about including days of recognition that promote diversity, such as Women’s Day or Human Rights Day. Also, offer floating holidays for those who celebrate special days such as Kwanzaa or Ramadan.

 

How Diversity and Inclusion can Improve Your Business

Nurturing inclusion and diversity in the workplace improves attitudes, builds esprit de corps among co-workers, and instills pride about working for a company that cares. Here are a few other proven ways D&I can improve businesses.

 

Employee Retention

More often than not, employees quit because they feel they are not allowed to be authentic or free to be unique. In addition, the cost of replacing an employee and retraining him or her is expensive. Your business can avoid these unnecessary expenses by following solid D&I practices with your employees. Doing this will make quitting the last thing on your employee’s minds.

 

Instill Loyalty

When an employee feels like an integral and valued member of the work community, they experience a sense of pride in their work and get more devoted to the mission of your business. Effectually, being more sensitive to D&I instills a sense of loyalty within your employees.  They recognize that as an employer, you’ve identified their needs, and they become more willing to invest in the needs of your business as a result.

 

Better Productivity

As mentioned, practicing functional diversity and inclusion in the workplace tends to ingrain pride within employees. In turn, this prompts satisfied employees to work harder or even longer hours to get work done. Consequently, your business will experience improved productivity and efficiency.

 

Closing Thoughts About Diversity and Inclusion Practices in the Workplace

Quality and increased work volume happen when employees are respected, recognized, and valued. That is what D&I is all about.  Bear in mind, upholding diversity and inclusion practices in the workplace is not about indulging or placating employees. It’s about honoring the diversity in the workforce and appreciating how employees’ differences can be your biggest business asset.

Improving Your Workplace Environment

Workplace

With the labor market being tighter than ever, it has never been more vital to retain good employees and to create an attractive environment for new applicants. Most businesses have taken steps by now to identify and hone their brand image or to review their HR regulations; however, it can be very easy to forget about the environment we have to work in on a daily basis. The office can become just a piece of the background that we too often forget can be easily changed in ways that will improve company morale and worker retention.

Do an inventory of things that need to be fixed or improved: This can include obvious things such as broken light fixtures, ceiling tiles, doors, etc., but these are the bare minimum. Try and think a bit outside of the box with improvements that could be made. Things like updated air filters or a water softener are not very flashy, but they can go a long way in making the work environment feel more like home.

Ask employees what they would like to see changed: No matter how much you think outside of the box, sometimes there is no better way to find out what your employees want than by simply asking them. This is actually a great way to kill two birds with one stone. You can, of course, use the interview to learn what changes employees would like to be made to the office; however, at the same time, you can let employees express changes they would like to see to their workflows, policies, etc.

Increase the comfort level: Many of us have to sit for much of the day at work, and if the way we sit is not comfortable, it can make getting anything done that much more difficult. Admittedly, getting new chairs can be expensive. The top models can easily get into the thousands of dollars. That said, if you think of it as a long-term investment in your human capital, it quickly becomes obvious that this is an investment that pays significant dividends well down the line. 

Improve aesthetics: Things like paint color and artwork can quickly fade into our subconscious to the extent to which we no longer think about them. Because of this, it is very easy to forget how much they can have an impact on workers’ mental health and productivity. Re-painting the office and adding new artwork is actually quite an inexpensive upgrade, especially when you consider that this one upgrade improves the environment for everyone in the office all at once. If you want to get an even greater return on your investment, poll employees as to what color schemes and artwork they like. This gives everyone a sense of belonging, ownership, and respect that leads to happier employees and less turnover.

Schedule fun activities: The company picnic has been a go-to way for businesses to try and build a sense of community since time immemorial – and it can still work. The key is to actually make the picnic appealing. While most of us can enjoy ourselves at events like this, most people do not put them so high up on their list of fun activities that they would want to engage in them on their time off. If you schedule events outside of normal work hours, you are not giving back to your employees – you are asking more from them. That said, if you schedule fun activities like bowling, fishing, or picnics during work hours, it can really show employees that they are valued and encourage them to work together better as a team.

No matter how much you love your workplace, there is no guarantee that everyone feels the same way. Especially in today’s business environment, making investments in building a quality workplace is not just something you should do to help build morale, it is an essential business function that will allow you to attract and retain the best talent. Every company is only as successful as their employees are productive. And employees are only as productive as their work environment allows them to be. Take a long-term perspective and invest in a better work environment – you, and your employees, will be glad you did.

The Great Social Disruption Has Led to a Boom In Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneur

Let’s call 2020 the year of the great disruption. It was a time of social unrest and upheaval in our everyday lives. Schools were closed and moved to virtual learning. 

Businesses had to pivot from their usual way to conduct business or shutter their doors. Hotels, restaurants, and social lives were gutted to protect the population. Governments were under the burden of caring for the citizenry without destroying economies. 

Millions lost jobs permanently, and whole industries suffered as a result. It was a disruption on a global scale that we haven’t seen in modern history. Yet despite all those adversities, some people, societies, and businesses were able to flourish. 

As some businesses closed for good, others were able to find a way to fill those voids. People of all stripes, education, and colors could find a foothold and make something positive come from all those disruptions. 

There was an expected boom in startups just when things looked the bleakest. According to NPR reporting, the boom in startups specialized in non-personal interactions such as online retail and Software as a Service. 

 

Online Retail Vs Franchise Opportunities

Most of the new startups were created out of necessity. People who lost their jobs threw themselves into new opportunities, and online was the most accessible, most cost-effective place to start. 

Online retail can be set up as a drop shipping option where a business acts as the third party between a customer and wholesaler. 

For example, selling direct to consumers by acting as a third party allows the business to limit overhead and increase sales but lacks control on the supply side. As a result, if your wholesaler can’t provide your inventory promptly, your business could suffer. 

Then there are those businesses that create their own products and sell directly to consumers.  

There’s an advantage in this type of business model as you can control the quality of product and timing of shipping, but there are some built-in disadvantages. 

Much like a service business, you are limited to the speed at which you and your staff can build, pack, and ship your product which may upset customers along the way.

 

The Benefits Of Fulfillment By Amazon

Another ease of setup for online businesses is to utilize a fulfillment program such as the Fulfillment By Amazon, or FBA as it’s commonly known. 

An FBA is a program where you pay a small fee to Amazon to handle all your logistics, such as pre-sale storage and post-sale packaging and distribution. 

By utilizing the FBA program, startups focused their energies on finding and converting new customers rather than paying for costly overhead such as warehousing, labor, insurance, and other costs. 

An FBA is excellent for standard products, whether it’s clothes, house decor, ceramic cookware, electronics, and more. 

The reason FBA is so effective is that you are licensing Amazon to use similar products to your brand, and they will take from their current supply at the closest proximity to your customer and replace the item down the road. 

Another area that has a ton of opportunity is in the franchisee space. With a franchise, you’re paying a fee to join an established, well-known brand and operate as a de facto owner of that physical location. 

The benefit of franchising is that you get an established profitable business model, a physical location already based, and continuous support from the franchisor to help you build your business and expand the brand. 

Another added benefit is that most of the marketing is taken care of by the franchisor, saving you money on costly overhead that may, or may not, produce results and conversions. This franchising feature is vastly underappreciated and makes it almost a no-brainer to be involved as a franchisee. 

The downside to franchising is that you have to pay a fee upfront, often showing a period of profitability for your various businesses, and must adhere to strict rules and procedures that oversee the franchisor’s brand. 

One other downside to franchising is that you don’t have control over product selection. The franchisor chooses what they want you to offer and at what price point. Any flexibility otherwise must go through the franchisor, or you risk losing the licensing opportunity.

Those downsides are overshadowed by the benefits and profits that are associated with a well-run brand. Therefore, if an entrepreneur can diversify their operations to include a franchise opportunity, it should be seriously considered. 

The disruption that we all experienced over 2020 and early 2021 has provided various opportunities for individuals and organizations to flourish. With proper strategies and infrastructure in place, there’s a huge growth potential as societies reopen. 

Two Decades of Outstanding Success

Young couple talking to a car salesman

Select Car Leasing is a leading, BVRLA-registered car leasing company that provides personal and business customers with a comprehensive range of deals and plans on a broad selection of vehicle makes and models. Offering some of the most competitive car leasing rates in the industry, combined with its reputation for exceeding expectations, Select Car Leasing is dominating this fast-growing area in the new car market. We took a closer look at their road to success.

Founded in 2004 by fellow car lovers with excellent people skills, Mark Tongue and James O’Malley, Select Car Leasing began its long road to success from the back room of a house in Reading, where they leased their first car. It was soon to be the first of many as, over fifteen years later, Select is the UK’s largest provider of personal car lease deals, leading the way in one of the fastest growing areas in the new car market.

Since its inception, the firm has been a leading provider of competitive car leasing deals for both personal and business customers on all makes and models. When Mark and James began Select, it was with a vision to provide the people of the UK with a smart, hassle-free way of obtaining a brand-new car for an affordable price. Catering to all customer needs, Select offers flexible contract lengths, manageable payment plans and a wide range of mileage options. In addition, its range of ancillary packages for personal car lease customers includes short term leasing, car leasing with insurance deals and a specialist VIP car leasing programme.

For the thousands of business customers that it serves each year, Select is also able to provide lease deals suited to a great variety of businesses, from sole traders, partnerships, and limited companies to charities and the self-employed. Larger corporations are able to benefit from Select’s dedicated fleet management team, which offers competitive pricing on larger orders and end-to-end support in maintaining and upgrading a business’ fleet of vehicles.

Constantly looking at ways to expand its offering for all clients, Select launched a new branch in 2018. Select Van Leasing is available to both businesses and private individuals and provides a cost-effective and efficient way of regularly driving a new van or commercial vehicle whenever it is required.

Whether their customers are looking to lease a new car for their own use or a fleet of vans for their business, the Select team carries out the same, six-step sales process that guarantees an effective and efficient service from start to finish. For Mark and James, their supportive, market-leading customer service model is a key pillar of Select’s success, as has been proven time and time again by the firm’s positive reviews and a trust score of 4.9 out of 5 on Trustpilot from over 18,000 unique users.

A significant part of Select’s impressive on-going growth since its inception can be owed to it’s customers loyalty and referrals. Moreover, boasting some of the most competitive car leasing rates in the UK, Select has formed close working relationships with large finance companies, manufacturers, and dealer groups across the country so as to be able to make the most of large stock car opportunities that facilitate the best price discounts in the market.

As a result, Select is one of the largest providers of personal car lease deals in the UK having seen significant growth over the past few years and doubling in size each year since 2016. As a result, there are now more than 50,000 motorists in the UK that are driving a vehicle that has been leased from Select. The firm, which employs approximately 150 staff across its two locations in Berkshire and Reading, has clearly come along way from leasing its first car from a house in Reading in less than two decades.

The staff who have facilitated this growth are a key part of the business and as such, Mark, James, and their team of Senior Managers are heavily invested in guiding its team to be the best it can be. Through regular, market-leading training programmes and development schemes across the business, as well as one-on-one support and industry training, Select provides its staff with tools required to thrive in their roles and deliver the highest possible standards of service to their customers.

All of the staff’s training and development centres around Select’s core philosophy of DRIVE: Dedication, Respect, Integrity, Value and Excellence. These values are integral to the internal culture of Select and also inspires the firm’s contributions to its wider community, from its role as a key sponsor of Reading FC to its work with local and national charities such as Children with Cancer, Rethink Mental Illness, Sue Ryder, CAAP, and Tamba.

Despite the challenges that have been faced by many businesses throughout 2020 and into 2021, Select has seen an increased demand for car leasing which it expects to continue see growing as people choose leasing on a subscription model as a more affordable and engaging way of being able to drive a new car. Although constantly aware of the impacts of the ongoing pandemic on the automotive industry, Select remains optimistic that the success of car leasing will go some way in facilitating renewed growth for the sector in general.

Moreover, the hybrid and electric market has seen similar growth throughout the last year, which Select has been quick to respond to in its launch of Select Electric, a platform which provides a dedicated area in which customers can browse the latest car leasing offers for electric and hybrid vehicles. The platform will also provide plenty of information and guides for clients about this emerging market.

With continued growth forecasted for this exciting branch of the automotive industry, Select is looking forward to seeing Select Electric become a more integral department of the company, responding to growing demand and providing a launchpad for Select to become a leading supplier of electric vehicles in the long term. With many exciting developments and projects already underway and a cautious optimism about the renewed success and growth for the automotive industry, Select is thriving and able to look ahead with enthusiasm, even in challenging times such as these.

Company: Select Car Leasing

Website: www.selectcarleasing.co.uk

The Future of Business Attire

Business attire

Gone are the days where everyone wears suits and ties to work or a pencil skirt and sharp jacket. We’ve come into an era where a CEO is just as likely to show up to work in jeans and a t-shirt as they are to wear a full suit. These trends have shifted in recent years as companies offer incentives like jeans days on Friday and casual business attire as the dress code. Additionally, more and more employees work from home meaning they can show up to “work” in anything they want.

It’s true that except for a handful of industries, most businesses are evolving their dress codes for today. What does this mean for productivity? Very little. Some schools of thought are that jeans and casual wear make people less productive at work, but research shows that in some areas it’s the opposite. Employees in certain industries would rather have a corporate policy that allows them to dress down than extra money in their pocket. These policies allow employees to use their home clothes for work, thus getting more mileage out of their wardrobe instead of purchasing distinct clothes for each realm.

Other researchers argue that employees who dress up “feel” more the part and have more confidence in what they do. These reports are based on people like doctors and athletes self-reporting that they feel better in their work uniform. But it may be that their uniform helps them separate work-life from home-life. While industries like law and finance tend to have a formal business attire culture, tech and other industries are moving to more casual work environments. You’re more likely to see computer programmers in jeans and a clean t-shirt than you are a lawyer. Additionally, other industries have uniforms and require special clothes, such as in healthcare.

 

What are some of the trends to be aware of and how can you adopt some of these policies for your business?

Business Casual

In short, business casual attire is associated with employees wearing khakis or dress slacks and a nice shirt. For men this usually means a polo or button up and for women it means pants, skirt, dress, and a nice blouse or polo. Some industries have their employee wear khakis and the same color shirt to create uniformity without it being too rigid. In these environments, a t-shirt of the right color might be allowed under a business casual dress code as well.

 

Casual Work Attire

While most people associate this with jeans and t-shirts, there is still a bit of being dressed up a little expected here. Jeans, khakis, and dress slacks may be worn with less formal shoes. Women would be more likely to dress up a pair of leggings and oversized sweaters or wear a pair of jeans with a nicer shirt. The goal with casual clothes isn’t to look like you’re going to the gym, but to be more comfortable in your clothes. Casual work environments still require a level of neat and clean outfits but are more relaxed than business casual.

 

Dressed Down Casual

There are some companies who allow staff to come to work in shorts, comfortable walking sandals, and t-shirts. You may have visions of beachgoers just hopping over to work for a bit. In these casual work environments, almost anything is acceptable. Typically, staff aren’t allowed to wear bathing suits and they must have pants and shirts that cover a certain length. But other than that, these dressed down environments are pretty relaxed.

 

What does this mean for you?

It all depends on your industry. While healthcare, legal, political, and finance sectors still adhere to very formal workplaces, other industries can easily adopt a more casual work environment. If you’re already offering jeans days on Fridays without issues, it wouldn’t be tough to create dress code policies that allow staff more flexibility in what they wear to work. Most employers care less about what their people wear and more about how well they work. If the clothes don’t make your staff work less on Fridays, then they are probably okay to wear those clothes everyday if they want.

With the future of remote work changing rapidly, many companies are addressing their dress code policies. Where possible, companies now allow more flexibility in what employees wear as long as they are neat, clean and do their work with excellence.