The rise of Britain’s £7 billion ‘mum’ economy – and how to support it

Small businesses are the backbone of every economy – and behind many of them is a female founder.  They are usually mothers, with children aged 18 or under, who’ve often made the leap from full time employee to fully fledged entrepreneur to create a better work life balance for themselves and their families.

Often referred to as ‘mumpreneurs’ – these women, collectively, are driving the UK’s economic growth. According to a report published by think tank Development Economics, these power women generated £7.2 billion in revenue for the nation in 2014 and supported over 200,000 jobs.  By 2025, the mum economy will generate £9.5 billion for the UK and add even more employees to their books.

From retail shops and management consultancies to booming empires, female founders are making an impact across sectors – while also raising children.

But why are we still labelling women as mumpreneurs? Is this really necessary?

After all, men who start their own companies aren’t referred to as ‘dadpreneurs’ and many would argue that the term ‘mumpreneur’ is rather patronising and limiting.

The report Shattering Stereotypes from the Centre for Entrepreneurs, claims many women overwhelming prefer terms such as “founder” or “business owner”.

Indeed, the time has come to move away from labels – and to call mums that run businesses by what they truly are – entrepreneurs. The next step is to support them more on their scaling journeys.

Compared to male-owned companies, female entrepreneurs face unique challenges – the biggest being capital-raising.  Women are less likely to get funding from VCs or a loan from a bank, despite the number of women entering the business world.

Women launch over half of new businesses in the UK – yet very few grow those business to more than £1m turnover. They simply can’t get the financial support to scale – even though it’s a well-documented fact that female entrepreneurs generate a better return on investment than men. Yet with so few female VCs out there to help stamp out sexism and bias in the investment world, the lack of funding offered to women remains an ongoing problem. And the lack of investment leads to budget constraints that prevent founders from getting the staff they need to manage business growth.

Building a support network that can facilitate networking opportunities and introduction is also frequently cited as a challenge.

Add to the mix the issue of staying cash flow positive and trying to get clients to pay on time – and you wonder how women could put up with the trials and tribulations of going out on a limb and setting up a new business.

Fortunately, many female led businesses are finding a light at the end of the tunnel with new fintech innovations that are offering different ways of raising money and managing daily operations.

Crowdfunding platforms, for example, are providing a lifeline for female entrepreneurs – while also democratising the investment landscape and making it easier for women to invest in companies – including female led businesses.

Seedrs and Crowdcube are great vehicles that are helping female entrepreneurs get the funding they need to scale.

Meanwhile, digital invoicing is helping to chase payments automatically, taking the hassle away from the entrepreneur – while our own digital cash management platform is helping business owners find the best savings vehicles for their deposits with a click of a button – without the hassle of paperwork or the need to hire a treasurer to do the work.

An increase in mentoring programmes and government grants are also offering an extra boost to female entrepreneurship, but there’s still a long way to go before women are on the same level as their male counterparts.

At the very least we owe it to the economy to do more to champion female leaders in business.  The extra billions earned for the nation’s coffers would secure the future prosperity of our country – while playing a crucial role in helping to close the unacceptable gender gap in business.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register free at panel.akonihub.com and follow us on Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increasing Rates and the CASS 7 Opportunity for Asset Management and Investment Management

Client money and CASS 7 with FCA rule and the Continuous Game Changing of Basel III

The FCA released its consultation paper regarding the loosening of restrictions on client monies in unbreakable deposits. This comes after ongoing lobbying from the asset management and banking industry to come to a commercial resolution that works for the industry as well as for clients of the asset management industry.

The result of the consultation, which extends investment in unbreakable deposits and money market products from 30 days to 95 days, provides a significant opportunity for the asset management and investment management industries, as well banks and funds, to benefit from these managers’ investment.

The industry lobbied for this change to address the stalemate that the 30-day investment limit in unbreakable deposits had inadvertently created.

Regulators require banks to have a liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) of 100% by either acquiring high quality liquid assets (HQLA) to cover at least a 30-day market stress or to reduce their intake of deposits from SMEs and investment firms.

However, investment firms were restricted to a maximum deposit of 30 days, which directly impacted on the bank’s LCR. The extension to 95 days should hopefully increase the banks’ appetite for cash from the asset and investment managers. Compounded with an increasing rates environment, asset and investment managers will hopefully benefit from actively managing cash, ensuring capital preservation through strongly rated banks’ deposits, as well as for immediate liquidity needs triple A money market fund compliance with CASS7 compliant.

However, to really take advantage of this extension, asset and investment managers must gain full access to specialised professional firms to provide appropriate advice and guidance.  Akoni is well positioned to assist these clients as our platform provides portfolio management for cash that complies with cash management, including both money market and deposits. Akoni has strong financial institution relations, and vast experience in governance and operating with FIs/ regulated entities, including a board with over 150 years’ experience in financial services. Our Chairman Duncan Goldie-Morrison was previously Chairman of Newedge, Head of BoA Global Markets, Director Icap and in the Risk Hall of fame; our Deputy Chairman Yann Gindre was previously CEO of Natixis London and NYC and our CEO Felicia Meyerowitz is an FCA approved person. We are also working with a leading law firm should clients require assistance in the set-up of the omnibus account relating to specific legalities.

FCA Link –

https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/policy-statements/ps18-2-client-money-unbreakable-deposits

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register free at panel.akonihub.com and follow us on Twitter

Open Banking Levels the Playing Field for SMEs and Brings Hope of a Better Future for financial services

It’s been a long time coming but we are entering an era of greater access and better financial services that will finally put the needs of customers first.

The catalyst of achieving this much needed and long overdue result is the culmination of big debate, endless lobbying and necessary government legislation. All this hard work will bear fruit on January 13th when the law of Open Banking comes into force.

For years banks have sat on the most valuable asset to any business: the infinite transactional and financial data of customers that essentially define individual’s tastes, preferences, budgets and – crucially – their requirements for building and planning their lives.

High street banks – reluctant to share their oligarchy of power, held on tightly to this data – unwilling to share it with others – or use it to enrich their consumer experience and put them at the heart of their business model.

With open banking, this power will be wrestled from the big incumbents and data will be available to third parties, SMEs and new digital players. This will lead to a better future for financial services, one that increases competition and creates a greater consumer experience.  More businesses will finally have a shot at delivering services that are tailored and relevant to individual customers.

Open Banking will also strengthen the role and influence of FinTech companies that have the agility and open APIs to make data sharing possible and to disrupt the status quo. We have already seen new banks like Starling Bank taking the lead, by creating partnerships with other FinTechs to create a customer rich ‘Amazon of Banking’ experience.

Together with multiple significant other sources of data being made available with consent and through API format, this will finally deliver financial products in a simple and meaningful manner, with automated prompts as companies or market products change, resulting in data innovation and improved financial outcomes, as well as removing the hassle for enterprises, saving time and money.

Key to this is delivering analytics in an easily understandable form without overwhelming businesses – leveraging the rapidly advancing data science technologies, machine learning and AI, as well as outstanding design and user experience is part of the market change we are moving towards.  While the UK and EU lead the way, there are early sprigs of global growth for international solutions.

Incumbents are not resting on their laurels. Many banks and financial institutions that make up the global sector are making impressive strides to capitalise on open banking, while also exploring valuable collaborations with new innovators that can help them harness the immense value of their data.

A great example is BBVA, which has embraced the digital movement and has set itself apart from other global offerings and is putting the client front and centre. The Spanish bank has nurtured the development of impressive FinTech firms – such as the digital ID startup Covault- while also making some canny acquisitions to keep it at the forefront of innovation that resonates with a new generation of consumers and keeps them agile and technology focused.  This includes the purchase of digital bank Simple.

Open banking also presents some challenges. Exposing large quantities of personal consumer data could increase the risk of cyber-attacks, hacking and identify-theft. The possible reluctance of customers to share their personal data could also derail the initiative. Educating consumers and gaining their trust around data sharing will therefore be crucial to the success of this initiative. So too the need for businesses to share information within a secure platform and for online payment providers to be scrutinised by the rigorous laws in place.

If all goes well, the developments of open banking – and the opportunities they bring to consumers– cannot be overstated. Banks will get another chance at creating better value-added services, while SMEs will finally have the access they need to deliver what their customers truly want and ultimately transform their consumer experience.  Additionally, corporates are also now included in the scope of Open banking, increasing pressure on banks to deliver improved services to the neglected business market.

We only hope that customers will see the value of it all to willingly share their data and banks will leverage their relationships of trust to deliver solutions of value to their commercial client base. With their consent, the blueprint for a better future for finance can be mapped out for generations to come.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Contact us at contact@akonihub.com for further insights and questions. Register free at AkoniHub.com and follow us on Twitter

WHAT is MiFID II and How Will It Impact SMEs

MiFID II (Markets in Financial Instruments Directives II) is a law that comes into force today – and it’s going to radically transform the way assets are traded and how money is managed for investors.

For those that don’t have the time to read the 7,000-page document, here’s a quick summary of the new law– and why it could – inadvertently – make it harder for small and medium businesses (SMEs) to grow.

MiFID II is the EU ‘s second big initiative to regulate markets and to create new rules on how information is shared, prices are set, and how brokers pay one another.

The regulation serves a noble purpose – to democratise financial markets and to make it fairer and more stable.

The legislation is broad and far-reaching, and extends to any institution trading European securities – no matter where they are based in the world.

This regulation is a follow up to the first MiFID law, which came in 2007 and served to harmonise rules for stock trading. The financial crisis hit a year later and threatened the future outlook of the sector. Anxious policy makers worried about another financial meltdown, decided that more protection was needed to safeguard investors and to help create a more sustainable financial services model.

This concern led to the birth of MiFID II, which extends the harmonisation of rules beyond cash equity markets to include commodities, bonds and so much more. The law not only makes markets more transparent, but also regulates trading behaviour and lifts the curtain on the actual cost of trading and investing in stocks for those that are buying them.

At present, many securities are still traded in broker-to-broker deals, which is opaque and investors can’t determine whether they are getting the best deals. MiFID II will change this scenario while also ushering in a new era of open and regulated platforms. Automated trading currently makes up more than half of all trades and several major flash crashes have been blamed on these computer algorithms. To protect investors, the platforms must be registered with regulators and to include circuit breakers to shut them down.

It’s not just automated trading platforms that will be impacted by regulation. Research once provided for free by financial institutions, analysts and paid for by trading commissions will need to be paid for by fund managers and other third parties, to avoid conflict of interest.

This has sparked some concerns for SMEs, as MiFID II will indirectly impact the smaller end of the market as research could focus on the bigger sectors and companies. Brokers will probably avoid covering small-cap SMEs, impacting those firms’ ability to access investors.  At the same time investors will be reluctant to invest into SMEs with low level of research available or reduced quality. Long term, this could undermine the ability for these businesses – the bread and butter of every economy- to scale and grow.

While MiFID II has been created with the best of intentions to stabilise the markets and offer greater protection for investors, more needs to be done to support the SMEs that could potentially be shut out from the benefits that MiFID II aims to create.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register free at AkoniHub.com and follow us on Twitter

FinTech and Artificial Intelligence

ai
Akoni stand
Cinthia Danove and Munal Mehta on the Akoni stand

Last week was London Fintech Week. For seven days, thousands of delegates from over 50 countries attended conferences, exhibitions, workshops, hackathons, meetups and parties. The main conference/exhibition took place at the Grange Tower Bridge Hotel, while other events occurred across the City of London, Canary Wharf and ‘Tech City’. The goal was to unite the world of fintech in the world’s financial capital and enhance the dialogue between multi-nationals, innovation firms, startups, governments, media and investors.

As innovators in the fintech sector, of course, Akoni was there!

We met people from banks including HSBC, Credit Agricole and Lloyds, and from international organisations who are interested in expanding FinTech in their home countries, such as FinTech Valley Vizag from India. We also met various investors who showed interest in the Akoni proposition and how we bring innovation to the market, and people from our data partner, Bureau Van Dijk.

As you’d expect, we also interacted with the other businesses who were exhibiting. It was a nice range of businesses, which is evidence of how broad the FinTech world is. Many were from outside the UK, including Malaysia, USA and Israel. This allowed a more enriching debate about the pros and cons of different geographies, such as regulation impact, access to capital, and government incentives. These interactions gave rise to potential synergies and opportunities to work together.

Panel discussion
Panel discussion

We attended a number of panel discussions, but of most interest to Akoni was a discussion about the impact of PSD2 from both a legal and commercial point of view. The panel comprised two tech partners from the international law firm, Pinsents Masons, a representative from RBS’ FinTech team, and the CTO of MoneyHub Enterprise. To a packed audience they raised awareness about the shift of liability from the use of API (in case of data breach), but also how banks need to do more to protect their image, and the challenge of improving communication with clients. They also highlighted the business opportunities and the incentives for banks to produce the best API.

View the official photos on Flickr: 10 July | 11 July

Exploring the hot topics of the day

The fintech world is changing remarkably fast, and there is lots to talk about.

We noticed many e-currency businesses and startups, indicated that this may be a hot space within FinTech. Another hot topic is the new technologies such as data analytics, deep machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) that are already transforming the financial services industry. In fact, McKinsey estimate the combination of AI and robotics to be worth $50 trillion globally by 2025.

AI allows advanced behaviour-tracking, and has already enabled high-frequency trading. In future, it could allow better fraud prevention, voice-enabled e-commerce,  compliance solutions, and virtual assistants to help customers manage their personal finances.

AI will enable organisations to reduce costs and increase efficiencies while offering customers new products and services.

Akoni leverages machine learning techniques and neural nets to improve financial outcomes for businesses, by providing intelligent forecasting and automated prompting to enhance cash management.

Playing our part in events such as fintech week shows we’re at the leading edge.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

Cash management for construction firms

As with any business, ‘cashflow is king’ in the construction industry.

Even profitable construction companies can have cashflow problems, and there has been a high rate of insolvencies in the industry for years. Contractors go out of business not because they run out of work, but because of poor management and lack of financial control.

If you consistently make a loss, you’ll fail. If you run out of cash, you’ll fail.

Construction companies need special cashflow management strategies to help them fund expenses, mitigate any losses, and achieve profitability.

Here are some of the challenges that are unique to this sector:

Time-lag between income and expenses

Construction companies have to cover their expenses every week, even though the average number of days it takes to get paid is 60 – 90.

Change orders

Change orders are common, due to extreme weather causing delays, or a project requiring more time, money and/or resources than originally expected. Try to resolve change orders quickly so the project can be completed and the final bill issued.

Retention

Construction contracts often have a retention rate up to 10%, meaning that only 90% of completed work can be billed. Try to negotiate a reduction in the retention rate, perhaps dropping to 5% retention once 50% of the work is complete. If possible, withhold payment to your sub-contractors at the same rate (assuming that is permitted under local regulations).

Inventory

Don’t buy too many materials and store them for future use. If not used quickly, this inventory just ties up your cash. Don’t allow resources to build up beyond what you need in the short- to medium-term, and sell off any excess.

Equipment

Similarly, if you have invested in equipment that’s not in use, it’s losing money. Know how much each item costs to run, and monitor your equipment usage accurately. Limit downtime. If equipment is not generating money for the business, then rent it or sell it. Consider leasing fixed assets rather than purchasing them.

Cash management throughout the lifecycle of a construction project

Every project is different, and you need to know the net cash position for each unique project. Here are some tips that cover the five main stages of a construction contract:

  1. Pre-bidding and bidding
  • Review the credit status of your potential customer
  • Review the payment arrangements in the project contract
  • Cost the contract accurately
  • Understand what financial records need to be kept
  1. Contract awarded
  • Finalise the details of the project contract and negotiate favourable terms
    • When payments will be made
    • How payments will be made
    • What happens if payments are not made
    • What costs are allowed within the contract
    • What performance penalty is allowed, if any
    • What is the retention rate
    • When is the property owner’s monthly cut-off for invoices to be received
  1. Before construction
  • Hold a pre-construction meeting to agree the project overview and what reporting and documentation is required
  • Establish a performance and billing schedule, month by month
  1. During construction
  • Follow the performance and billing schedule
  • Follow the schedule of values
  • Negotiate with vendors and subcontractors to save money
  • Send invoices in line with the contract terms
  • Pay suppliers in line with the contract terms
  1. End of contract
  • To avoid delaying the final payment, ensure you complete the project to the customer’s satisfaction
  • Collect the final payment

If that’s what to focus on for each construction project, here is some general cashflow management advice:

At company level

  • Use cashflow management software to predict future income and expenses
  • Train your project managers so they understand how to manage cashflow
  • Develop a good relationship with your bank, so you can access credit if you need it to cover unexpected expenses

Dealing with suppliers

  • Let suppliers know you are shopping around – this incentivises them to offer you the best deal
  • Negotiate a discount on materials
  • Extend credit from 30 to 60 days
  • Use financing to spread the cost

Paying staff

  • Offer incentives based on cashflow performance
  • Consider outsourcing. Full-time construction employees are usually paid weekly or fortnightly, while sub-contractors are usually paid every month (this can benefit cashflow but potentially raises the risk of issues with security or quality)

Invoicing customers

  • Write clear payment terms
  • Check credit reports before you make any deals
  • Develop a front-loaded schedule of values. Bill in phases for items such as mobilisation, then site development, and finally walls, roof, landscaping and finish. Don’t put all the profit into the last tasks. Build profit into the front end to help mitigate the natural cash outflow when the job gets underway
  • Automate your invoices so they are issued on time – or even early
  • Offer payment incentives
  • Avoid over-billing and under-billing. Over-billing may increase cashflow in the short term, but too much overbilling may mean that you are borrowing from one job to pay for another. It’s best to invoice according to how much of the project is completed
  • Accept electronic payments; they are the quickest way to get paid
  • Do whatever you can to increase the speed of receivables, such as reducing your payment terms to 50 days or less
  • Chase late payers promptly, and restructure terms

Automation

There are various ways to make it easier to manage your construction company, such as job management software from Okappy, and cash management services from AkoniHub.

With money in the bank, you can pay bills promptly, which helps get competitive prices from suppliers and sub-contractors. With better cashflow, you have more capital to use for day-to-day operations, accounts payable and growth. With increased automation, you can stay on top of your cashflow and have more chance of building a successful construction business.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

What the hung parliament means for business

Houses of Parliament

The political arena has sprung a series of significant surprises on us in recent months, including the vote for Brexit, David Cameron’s speedy resignation and replacement by Theresa May as PM, and Donald Trump being elected in America.

And now – at a time when the Conservatives seemed unbeatable – Mrs May held a snap General Election with the intention of boosting the Tory majority, and instead has ended up with a minority and coalition talks with the DUP.

The bad news is that a hung Parliament leads to uncertainty for all.

Impact of a hung Parliament

Because of the hung Parliament, the Brexit negotiations that were due to start on 19 June have now been delayed. The Queen’s Speech has also been delayed. And the value of pound is still volatile (this links to last week’s article, Pound down, inflation up).

At the time of writing, Mrs May has reshuffled her cabinet and said she has no intention of resigning. But there is speculation that she will be forced to step down and/or we’ll be voting in another General Election within a year.

All this upheaval and uncertainty seems to weaken the British position in the eyes of the rest of the world. It’s hard for other countries to see us as ‘strong and stable’ as we’d like to be.

Various organisations have been ‘taking the temperature’ of the business world, to see how UK industry leaders are responding to the uncertainty. Below, we examine some of the results.

What the surveys say

The Institute of Directors surveyed 700 members and found a ‘dramatic drop’ in confidence following the hung Parliament, and huge concern over political uncertainty and its impact on the UK economy.

As a priority, the respondents wanted the UK to reach agreement with the EU on transitional arrangements for Brexit, and to clarify the impact on EU workers in the UK.

Stephen Martin, Director General of the IoD, said: “It is hard to overstate what a dramatic impact the current political uncertainty is having on business leaders, and the consequences could – if not addressed immediately – be disastrous for the UK economy.”

The Harvard Kennedy School of Business surveyed more than 50 medium-sized businesses and trade association. Their key concerns were:

  • The overwhelming importance of securing a good trade deal with the EU
  • The concern that Brexit would lead to an increased regulatory burden not a reduction
  • The need for continued engagement with EU regulatory agencies
  • The fact that Brexit will necessarily trigger a fundamental rethink of policy towards some sectors, in particular agriculture
  • The need to upgrade customs control procedures and revamp the immigration system

‘Almost all’ expressed a preference for remaining in the single market and customs union. All the companies questioned were concerned about potentially rising costs from tariffs and customs controls while many were worried about the UK leaving the EU without a deal at all.

Peter Sands, former boss of investment bank Standard Chartered, told the BBC: “When it comes down to it, most would prefer to be in the single market – that makes it easier for them to do business, and if they can’t get that they want a free trade agreement or something as close to the single market as possible.”

We know it’s possible. For example, Israel has a special relationship with the EU since 2000 as an ‘associated state’. With its high level of scientific and research capability, Israel has a long-standing history of scientific and technical co-operation with the EU. With this type of status, the UK’s strong scientific community could continue to deliver EU access to British innovation.

The Resolution Foundation surveyed over 500 employers who employ EU/EEA nationals, and identified a huge gap between the kind of immigration system employers expect and what the new government is planning.

Nearly a third (30%) expect freedom of movement to be maintained for EU/EEA nationals moving to the UK with a job offer, while 17% expect no change to the current system.

The PM has ruled out either option, stating that her government – rather than employer demand for workers – will control migrant numbers. However, this may change now that a softer Brexit is being proposed post-election.

The Foundation warned that lower migration, along with a higher minimum wage and a tightening jobs market, could mean the end of cheap labour for many UK firms.

Changing face of Parliament

There’s still some way to go, but the good news is that Parliament is more diverse than ever. The BBC breakdown shows (out of a total of 650 newly elected MPs):

  • 208 women, compared with 191 in 2015
  • 52 people from ethnic minorities, an increase from 41 in 2015
  • 45 who openly define themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), a 40% increase since 2015
  • An increase in the number of MPs with disabilities (no official figures)
  • 51% went to comprehensive schools, 29% went to private school, 18% selective states

There will be more on diversity in a future article.

What can SMEs do?

The way things are going, there’s no way of predicting how the situation will play out over the long-term. In fact, it’s currently changing on a daily basis. In the short-term, SMEs will no doubt attempt to carry on business as usual. Here are some tips:

  • Companies large and small are pondering their investment decisions. Use AkoniHub to find the bank with the best interest rate. That way, your business deposits will grow faster, while the politicians sort themselves out
  • Focus on building your pipeline and business confidence. In the here and now, many firms across the UK have been doing well
  • Understand the key threats and opportunities that lie ahead
  • The future of devolution is an important consideration in business planning. So review the impact of further volatility in sterling as firms weigh up their business models and plans to invest or recruit.

For the vast majority of companies in the business communities we visit, Brexit feels far away and far off — what matters are the high upfront cost of doing business, poor broadband, the inability to recruit successfully for vacancies or transport gridlock. Different regions may also have their own view. In many parts of England, upcoming elections for new city/regional mayors whose powers matter to local business success could overshadow anything that happens in the national polls.

In the British tradition, let’s all try to keep calm and carry on. The UK must be seen to remain open for business, with a government committed to supporting enterprise. This means a clear timetable and ongoing pressure via industry bodies and associations for value add.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

SMEs “losing billions” due to poor cash management

Coins

When her Majesty the Queen launches a ship, she smashes a bottle of Champagne against the bow and the world’s media gather to hear her speech.

We do things a little more discreetly here at Akoni!

This week – after months of hard work behind the scenes – we are proudly launching our exciting new platform to help SMEs manage their cash.

We are starting with what the marketers call a ‘soft launch’. There’s no big public fuss or palaver, and we haven’t invited any royals along. Although, admittedly, we might toast the event with a cheeky glass of fizz!

But why is there a need for Akoni in the first place?

Because, even in this low interest rate environment, UK SMEs collectively miss out around £3bn per year on interest on the £258bn they have in cash balances. We think that’s wrong, and decided to do something about it!

There are banks that offer interest rates up to 2.2% compared to high street 0%. However, most companies are not aware of the better rates that are out there, due to lack of product transparency. What’s more, they are put off by the perceived cost of switching.

How Akoni benefits SMEs

It takes time to shop around for the best business bank account, and then transfer your cash deposits to the product where they will achieve the best interest rate.

This is where Akoni comes in.

At AkoniHub, SMEs can download their personalised cash report and search latest rates at a glance. Then, using our simple Deposit Planner, they can unlock the potential of their cash and maximise the returns they receive.

Here’s an example

The average business improves their return by 10-12 x current income. For example, an SME has £2 million cash  held in an instant access account. By transferring the money to banks with higher rates, the company would generate an additional £30,000 per year, even maintaining the same deposit maturity period.

That return could buy more than a few bottles of Champagne! More feasibly, it could provide for a new marketing campaign or a staff member, contributing to the SME’s productivity and profit and boosting the UK economy.

Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, CEO and co-founder of Akoni said: “SMEs are the engine of the UK economy. By saving them time and helping them make more money, Akoni will make a real impact.”

And there’s more!

A survey by Soldo states that UK SMEs collectively lose more than $10.2 billion every year, because they aren’t managing their cashflow properly.

The research found that SMEs average over four hours per week on managing company finances such as invoices, employee expenses and financial forecasting. The scale of the task grows with the size of the business, but even 15% of startups said they found daily cash management to be a particularly difficult challenge.

Soldo Founder and CEO, Carlo Gualandri, said: “If staff were freed up to dedicate their time to the activities that made a big difference to the company, productivity levels would rocket.”

Technology is the answer.

In order to save time and money, technology is helping to automate many business systems and processes, and cash management is no exception.

We’ve harnessed technology to build a range of simple and efficient tools that are now available for SMEs to use straightaway:

See Akoni’s tools at a glance

  • Deposit Marketplace
    Check today’s best rates at a glance, and filter them according to the governance requirements of your business.
  • Cash Management
    Your personalised Cash Management Report shows how much interest you gain by utilising Akoni’s tools, and provides tips and guidance for optimal cash flow management.
  • Deposit Dashboard
    Build your cash deposit portfolio by trying different alternatives until you find what works for your business.
  • Income and Expenditure Planner
    Enter your key cash inflows and outflows to create an efficient portfolio that maximises returns, while ensuring future expenses are covered.
  • Financial Bootcamp Report
    Get sector-based data that will help you identify opportunities and areas for cash management improvements.

Felicia said: “Akoni solves a problem that most SMEs don’t even know they have, and enables them to access  corporate-level returns on their cash.”

Signup for free at AkoniHub.com

Coming soon…

But we’re not stopping there!

Akoni members will soon be able to access a range of additional cash management services on the platform, such as an Automated Cash Allocation algorithm and advanced Cash Projection tools. It’s all part of the Akoni mission to help UK SMEs to make the most of their cash.

We think her Majesty would be proud.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

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Akoni selected for the Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab

 The Akoni team is excited to announce we are one of five Retail Banking fintech startups selected for the Accenture Fintech Innovation Lab in London, amongst the cohort of twenty across categories including CIB, Insuretech and Tech4Tech.    The Lab is a three month accelerator and mentorship programme uniting fintech startups with global financial services institutions, including HSBC, Barclays, RBS, Lloyds Banking Group, Citibank, Santander, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, amongst others.      The programme focuses on meeting the top execs and decision-makers at partner banks as well as legal, pitching and proof of concept mentoring.

Further information on the programme and the other startups selected can be found at https://newsroom.accenture.com/news/fintech-innovation-lab-london-kicks-off-largest-programme-in-its-five-year-history.htm

The Akoni team is ensconced in our new offices, and surrounded by an awesome environment and passionate teams, with the bonus of incredible London views.    We are looking forward to the acceleration of the experience!    Our team is working on several product releases and collaborating with various new partners over the next few months, aiming to deliver value for the UK’s 5.3 million businesses!   We are already thoroughly enjoying the shared experiences with other startups, the awesome Accenture lab team and our mentors and banks.

About Akoni:

Akoni is an innovative fintech startup which aims to improve financial outcomes for businesses while at the same time providing banks with benefits including customer loyalty and increased margin through Basel III LCR reductions.

The Akoni platform is a digital cash treasury manager and uses technology and data science to provide customers a cash portfolio manager, business marketplace which is updated daily, and personalised cash report and dashboard, as well as innovative cashflow projection tools including algorithm-based allocations, automated monitoring and utilising statistical techniques and neural networks for projection outcomes.

Akoni’s chairman and lead investor, Duncan Goldie-Morrison, is a seasoned banking CEO and Chairman. Mr. Goldie-Morrison  was previously CEO of The Americas Credit Agricole CIB, Head of Global Markets and Asia, Bank of America, Chairman of Newedge Group SA and Newedge UK, President Ritchie Capital Management and Director Kleinwort Benson Bank. The business is further supported by the Deputy Chairman, Yann Gindre, previously CEO of Natixis UK and the Americas and financial services veteran.

Founder and CEO, Felicia Meyerowitz Singh, explains: “Scientific tools are changing the way we work in financial services, right down to conventional cash management activities that are traditionally based in Excel.  Akoni plans to be a key leader and driver in delivering these changes. At last, corporates and SME businesses have access to similar cash management facilities to institutions with in-house treasurers and Treasury management systems. We are delighted to be part of the Accenture fintech lab, working with people and organisations of such calibre and looking forward to the programme innovation drive for our business.” 

Banking sector undergoes disruption

The UK banking sector is already facing a range of issues, including ‘banking as a service’, ongoing cost reduction pressures, opportunities and challenges as a result of CMA requirements, open APIs and PSD2, and the Challenger Banks bringing a new approach to services and customer solutions. Businesses are part of this change, with the latest Accenture 2020 SME Banking report showing that 70% of businesses are prepared to pay non-banking customers for financial services.

To date, fintech innovation has been focused primarily on consumer banking for B2C and lending for B2B. Now, for the first time, Akoni brings technology benefits to UK SMEs and businesses for cash treasury management, with further business products planned in future roadmap.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

What a Week!

What a (another) crazy week! The British are suffering from Post Traumatic Brexit Syndrome and now there is a new PM at Downing Street. And Boris is the Foreign Secretary!

Leadership and stabilising the economy

In all the turmoil, it is vital to stabilize the economy – business needs assurance that there is a strong, positive and capable leader at the helm. Most urgent is the need to smooth the waters for the SMEs – the future growth of the country – who are particularly vulnerable to massive currency variations.

Commenting on the announcement that Theresa May will be the new Prime Minister as of Wednesday 13 July, Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said:“With Theresa May now confirmed as the next UK Prime Minster, the Government must act decisively to secure our long-term economic stability after the decision to leave the EU. Immediate action is needed to improve small business confidence and allow them to reliably plan ahead for the future.

“The new Prime Minister will decide the UK’s approach to EU negotiations, and she must ensure that smaller firms’ interests are taken into account – simple access to the single market, the ability to hire the right people, continued EU funding for key schemes and clarity on the future regulatory framework.

He urged the Government to get it’s business focus back, and now we have an official Leader, to deal with the urgent issues that have taken a back seat as a result of the political situation. These include airport expansion, HS2, energy security and the Northern Powerhouse, delivering on business rates and changing plans for quarterly tax returns.

Interest Rates

And speaking of interest rates – the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee (MPC) voted 8-1 to keep interest rates unchanged at their record low of 0.5%. The reason given is that rate setters want to wait and see how the economy performs over the “coming weeks as the fog of the recent Brexit vote turmoil began to clear,” says Philip Inman in The Guardian.

Another reason for caution is fears over inflation: by increasing the money supply, Banks would increase prices or inflation.  The GBP has fallen significantly against other currencies, which will make imports costlier, and the cost of living higher.   There are many uncertain factors which may impact the average business.

How does this impact my business savings?

And what about savings accounts, particularly for businesses?

Savings accounts have not exactly enjoyed fabulous interest rates for ages. Ben Chu of The Independent, said that a rate cute “may be passed on to savers, meaning further pain. But with interest rates already so low banks may hesitate to pass the cut to savers and choose to absorb the hit themselves.”

Looking forward to the future

Our view at StrongJones is that the country needs is good strong leadership, optimism and confidence. As Stephen Kelly, CEO of Sage Group PLC, said in a recent article, “Whilst big businesses talk about shifting operations, and the media speculates about the FTSE 100 companies, my barber in Richmond, and your baker in Shropshire carry on, driving growth and creating jobs & prosperity for UK.  Let’s remember that going back as far as the silk traders, commerce has always triumphed so it is our responsibility to promote ‘business as usual’.”

We believe that in Britain we are a nation built on solid foundations, and we need to doggedly continue to trade, support small business and function as we did before.

With our new StrongJones start-up , we foresee that SME’s hard-earned cash will be earning the maximum interest possible – even in times of extreme political and monetary policy change.   We are here to help SMEs maximise returns in their business, using the typical under-utilised cash savings.     We aim to provide a range of cash management tools, an area traditionally neglected by larger banks, adding significant value – saving time, providing peace of mind – and earning money.   This frees up resources to be reinvested in the business operations and team.

Speak to us about joining our Beta user group – obtain your personal feedback, setting  up a unique profile, and ensuring we provide value for the daily pragmatic life of your business.

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

Theresa May, new British PM, takes over at Number 10 this week. Photo: PA, from BBC.co.uk