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Business

“Wrong-headed” IORP Directive to Hit Jobs and Pensions

The European Commission is pushing through changes, as part of the controversial Solvency II process, which may prove “disastrous” for British businesses, says the Confederation of British Industry. The changes are set to cost businesses around £350 million, and, according to the CBI, stifle growth, increase unemployment and plunge pensions into chaos.

“Imposing £350 billion more costs on business would be a disaster for the economy and for pension saving.” said CBI Chief Policy Director, Katja Hall. “The long term economic outlook is so fragile and uncertain that it is crazy to entertain proposals which would cost jobs and cut so deeply into our long-term growth and competitiveness.”

Solvency II, a Europe-wide effort to overhaul the insurance industry, involves in the Institute for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) directive – designed to insure minimum standards in pension investment and management. The plans specifically concern direct benefit pension schemes, and stipulate those schemes must hold sufficient funds to be able to pay out all benefits to employees, should a ‘worst-case scenario’ occur.

The CBI has strongly criticized the proposals, pointing out that pension schemes, unlike the insurance schemes Solvency II is aimed at, never encounter situations in which  all benefits must be paid out simultaneously. The CBI have characterized the plans as “wrong-headed”, pointing out the situation against which they are designed to protect is a catastrophe which may occur only once in 200 years.

The changes to funding introduced by the directive would force pension trustees to reconsider the planned investment and growth strategies of their schemes. Ros Altmann, director general of Saga echoes the CBI’s position, pointing out that,  instead of opting for ambition and growth at a time when the pensions industry desperately needs it, the IORP directive would force schemes to play it safe – sacrificing potential investment funds for an unnecessarily high insolvency buffer:

“If UK employers are forced to fund their pension schemes on a solvency basis, the closure of private sector schemes will be inevitable” Altmann said, “even worse, many employers may be bankrupted by the additional costs, resulting in workers ending up with reduced pensions in the Pension Protection Fund.”

The European Commission’s plans are redundant, claim the CBI, thanks to the “tough regulatory system” already in place for UK pensions. Katja Hall sees long term damage on the horizon if the plans are implemented:

“It’s alarming the Commission is still turning a deaf ear to calls from businesses, trade unions and pension funds to bin these proposals.” said Hall. “European pension funds hold assets worth over £3 trillion – a large proportion in the UK. These are exactly the long term sources of finance we need to get our economy moving – backing industry and entrepreneurs.”

The struggle to convince employees of the effectiveness of retirement saving is one faced by hundreds of companies. With the threat of a triple dip recession on the horizon, uncertainty is a huge problem for companies trying to expand and create jobs. With Solvency II very much an on-going process, that struggle looks set to continue. 

Business

Business Electricity Costs Worrying SME Owners

No matter how big or small they are, all businesses should make an effort to see how much they spend on every single item they purchase, especially given how poorly the wider economy has been performing of late. For smaller companies in particular, many of whom having small profit margins to deal with, every penny saved is important, so when the price of something like electricity goes up, they start to panic about how they will cope with having to spend more than they’ve become accustomed to.

A recent survey carried out by OnePoll revealed that there’s a lot of anxiety among businesses about the rising cost of electricity, with 51% of respondents stating that they were worried about paying more than usual for energy. However, what was more surprising is that many of the businesses quizzed as part of the poll said that they didn’t keep a firm enough eye on how much of their income was being spent on electricity, with 19% saying they didn’t give responsibility for energy bills to their finance departments, while 14% had no-one within their company tasked with handling energy costs.

Those stats sound alarming, especially when electricity costs are rising at their current rate, and the need for many SMEs to reduce costs whenever and wherever they can is growing. Although it might not seem possible for SMEs to cut their electricity costs, there are ways in which savings can be made on monthly energy bills, according to a spokesperson from energy saving experts Make It Cheaper:

“The two issues concerning electricity bills for businesses are how much they use and the cost per unit. Failure to pay attention to either could be costly, especially for smaller businesses that are struggling to make ends meet. Part of the problem of expensive electricity is that businesses are inclined to stay with their existing energy supplier, as there’s no reward for loyalty. Regularly checking to see if there’s a better deal with a different supplier could be the answer for many companies in that situation.”

Spending too much on anything is something that most SMEs will strive to avoid if they can help it. However, as the survey proves, ignorance of any overheads and their cost could hit businesses in the pocket, which could serve to act as a wake-up call for companies desperate to drive down their energy costs by any means necessary. 

Business

Business Demands Instant Communication

The modern world is being driven forward at a ferocious pace by the advent of instant communication.  It started with the telephone but it seems like all communication nowadays is expected to be instant.  Twitter has taken this need for instant information and communication to a new level, even news sites have been force to play catch up because Twitter was delivering news faster than the BBC.  Inevitably this translates (or originates, I am not sure which) to business.  Billions of pounds are being spent laying a new line between London and New York in order to save fractions of a second on global trades so that the computers that rule the stock markets can generate more revenue!  But there are other smaller ways in which businesses are utilising instant communication.

Smartphones

Emails can now be accessed from just about anywhere.  Boardrooms are filled with suits that are huddled over their smartphones sending emails and texting whilst supposedly listening to whatever presentation or argument is ensuing! Whether good or bad, people can now send emails from home or on the train home, they can get alerts for new emails on their phones and can reply without having to turn their computer on or be at the office.  Suddenly there is a growing expectation that emails should be replied to like text messages and not like carrier pigeons.

EPoS

Much like how letters evolved into emails and texts, the humble waiter now has technology at his fingertips.  It is not exclusive to waiters, barmaids and retail assistants around the world are utilising technology to help them perform their roles more efficiently.  Gone are pen and paper in order to take orders and gone are hard copy lists of prices, instead electronic point of sale systems not only serve to reduce errors (bad handwriting is a common error) but also remove the necessity for waiters to walk from the table to the kitchen to deliver the order.  One could argue that this is not going to ‘save’ you that much…but it all depends on the situation.  Imagine a packed bar with tables, waiters can take orders and another deliver them without having to wade through the crowds.  It may in fact reduce staff needs for the managers as processes are made slicker and more efficient.  What many people do not realise is that Epos Systems provide real time data which can give the user a clearer idea of how much work or demand there is, therefore resulting in more time savings and potentially less wasted energy.

Payment

Companies no longer need to wait days for cheques to clear, although it is not yet fully instant.  However, payment between companies through internet banking is almost instant and can give the smaller companies a better idea of cash flow.  Waiting for debts to be paid can be an incredibly frustrating process for business owners and managers, thankfully there is no real excuse for companies not to pay on time!

Instant information and communication is a major aspect of today’s society.  Nobody wants to wait for anything, whether that be food, goods or a service.  Instant access to the world through smartphones and the internet!

Business

Horsedrawn carriages: perfect for corporate events

Horsedrawn carriages are a perfect feature at any corporate event. Once a common part of everyday life, these days a horsedrawn carriage is something to be marvelled at.

Cars, trains and aeroplanes may have left horses well and truly behind in the world of transportation, but they definitely still have their uses. People love horses and they love to ride on horsedrawn carriages.

Therefore if you’re looking to really make your corporate event stand out, horsedrawn carriage hire is perfect. 

Types of corporate events

There are many types of corporate events you can organise. Judging by the charts on colorpopevents.com, the most common tend to be:

  • Paintballing
  • Zombie apocalypse days
  • Yoga
  • Formal parties

All of the above are fun and fantastic ways of marketing and giving your team motivation.

Zombie days are the latest craze and they definitely aren’t for everyone. If you want to really stand out then horsedrawn carriage hire is highly recommended. 

The benefits of horsedrawn carriage hire

There are numerous benefits of hiring horsedrawn carriages for your corporate event. The main ones include:

  • It’s unique
  • Adds style and elegance
  • Attracts more people
  • Fun and memorable

One of the main goals of any business is to be unique. If you want to set yourself apart from the competition, you need to have a certain edge. The fact a horsedrawn carriage is unique and not used by many businesses will give you an advantage. You can use it as a marketing strategy and attract more people to the event. Advertising ‘horsedrawn carriage rides’ will definitely get more people interested in your event.

If you’re looking to impress potential clients then horsedrawn carriages will also help with that. They add style and elegance to your event; creating a more high-end theme. While the cost of a horsedrawn carriage isn’t cheap, it will be a long term investment due to the impression it leaves with your clients/customers.

The fun element is also something you can’t ignore. Corporate events can have the tendency to be a little dull. Hiring a horsedrawn carriage will liven things up and make sure your event is anything but boring. This in turn will keep your guests talking about it and that will generate even more interest in the company.

Businesses that do take advantage of horsedrawn carriage hire are clever and resourceful. It’s a well-known fact that people love horses. They represent power and strength which is something you want people to associate with your business. Having horses there will give your business a more important stature.

Overall, there are many ways to make your corporate event a success. Horsedrawn carriages are the topic of many excellent stories. They can really help to set your event apart from the competition. You can either hire the carriages to take people on rides, or simply to stay outside the venue to enhance the theme of the event.

Carriage rides are a great way to explore an area and they can be really fun too. Why not take a look at the cost of horsedrawn carriage hire today to see if it’s something your business could benefit from?

Business

Types of Credit Card Readers

The popular use of cards instead of cash has made credit card readers quite popular among business owners. A credit card reader is a device that is used to obtain encrypted information from credit cards. There are credit cards that use magnetic strip technology while others use chip technology. Credit card readers come in a wide variety of designs and dimensions. They are widely advised for business owners since they enable the making of secure, quick and convenient transaction of payments using customer credit cards.

Credit card readers can be divided into three major categories with a variety of options under each.

Point of sale terminals

There are credit card readers that are situated at a fixed location in the business. Point-of-sale terminals usually have a wide range of capabilities. These terminals often have the ability to read cards with magnetic stripes such as gift cards, IDs and Credit cards as well. Point of sale credit card readers are connected through a broadband or telephone connection. This type of credit card processor is great for businesses within a fixed location.

Portable terminals

These are also quite popular among businesses in fixed locations. These terminals use blue-tooth or wireless technology to communicate to servers for transactions made. They are quite commonly found in bars and restaurants where waiters take the device to the customer for a transaction. Portable terminals are very convenient, professional and create a trustworthy relationship between the business and the client as it shows a lot of transparency.

Mobile terminals

There are also mobile credit card readers that you can attach to a smart phone or a tab for credit card processing. Most mobile terminals are attached to the earphone jack of your phone. The use SIM cards or GPRS to communicate with the service provider while making transactions. These devices allow you to swipe a variety of credit card types. These devices are extremely convenient for businesses that are not located within a fixed operating premise.

With the wide variety of options available, businesses owners have the choice of selecting the system that best suits their business. The best part of using a credit card reader is how amazingly affordable it is to buy.