Positioning Compliance as the Distinction

As the threat landscape has become more perilous and complex, regulators have imposed a wide array of mandates designed to protect sensitive personal information. For most organisations, compliance is seen as the cost of doing business. However, if executed strategically it can not only improve a company’s overall security posture but shortens sales cycles and open the business to new markets.

In order to turn compliance from a check-the-box line item into a valued business initiative, businesses need to identify all global, local and industry regulations that apply to their business and, also, strategically implement the processes and technologies that keep them compliant. Whether you’re targeting specific industry or going after international customers, entering new markets requires continuous education about the latest in compliance and regulatory standards as they relate to data privacy and security.

A good way to get started is to put together a roadmap for how you will get, and stay, compliant with the regulations relevant to your business. What follows is an outline of such roadmap.

Start with the Basics

When you are building a house, a foundation is the key to a safe structure. This holds true for building a compliance roadmap.

Once the foundation has been set, it’s then time for the compliance, IT and security teams to determine which regulations apply to their business. This is the backbone of the compliance roadmap. The good news is that many of these regulations overlap so businesses can complete requirements for multiple regulations at the same time

The Roadmap Focal Point: GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) brought compliance into the mainstream. When GDPR passed, it established strict regulations for how organisations must handle customer data. The regulation is so broad, stringent and complicated that it has motivated many companies to create new job titles to ensure compliance.

However, while there have been strict compliance regulations before, it’s the high financial stakes attached to GDPR that set it apart. A business can be fined up to 4% of its global revenue if it’s found to be non-compliant. Very few organisations can afford to take that kind of hit which is why so many make it the centre piece to their compliance strategy.

The privacy implications of GDPR are extensive but one of the most important and challenging requirements is the data breach notification. Organisations must notify authorities or specific data subjects within 72 hours of a breach. Most organisations are unable to locate sensitive consumer information within their environment, making this requirement near impossible. However, if the organisation puts data controls into its systems and enacts continuous monitoring and real time intrusion detection, it not only becomes achievable but improves internal processes. 

Compliance can be a powerful differentiator and business driver that inspire trust and confidence amongst prospects, customers and external partners. Although the above standards and regulations require extensive resources, non-compliance can result in fines and other punishment that can cripple a company. It’s important to remember that these compliance standards and regulations may have to be revisited, but once put into place and assigned to a dedicated compliance team; the once daunting task pays for itself.

For more information on how to meet your business compliance obligation get in touch with us on 08702281999 or contact us via info@stanleycarter.co.uk or further details on our website www.stanleycarter.co.uk.

Ways to improve year end processes


Business and accounting paperwork
Continuous improvement is the key to success.

As with every New Year, January marks a particularly busy month for two sets of professionals; personal trainers and accountants. Gyms are at their busiest at the beginning of each year, packed with people wishing to stick to their New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Accountants, on the other hand, are spending many hours in the office trying to tie up year end.  As much as any financial controller tries to prepare, year end always ends up being a battle of time versus a multitude of tasks.

We live in the digital age where the importance of big data has become more noticeable than ever. Companies have come to rely on business intelligence to clean through vast data lakes in order to drive business strategy and increase profits. However, this increase in data volume impacts all departments, many of which still rely largely on manual processes. None of these are as critical to success as the financial control function. Heads of Finance will no doubt appreciate that their teams are recipients of data outputs from a variety of sources, which are then consolidated for financial and management reporting purposes; often relying on hours of dedicated data mining and formatting by overqualified accountants.

This juxtaposition between the use of highly automated business intelligence to create strategy and revenue versus the manual, laborious approach taken by the back office could not be more striking in 2018. Often, the real casualties in this scenario are data integrity and financial intelligence. For most companies, the effort required to complete key accounting and finance tasks takes away time that could be used to ensure the integrity of the data and deliver continuous management information that adds value, such as liquidity and budget forecasting.

Gaining financial control means getting ahead of the many period end processes and gaining efficiencies in the routine tasks, such as intercompany or expense management, in order to produce reports that add value to your business.

Without a doubt, gaining control requires automation. It would be easy to suggest that this could mean the end of the trusty old spreadsheet. For many this is not true, and a frightening thought.  But consider this; as data volumes grow, the limitations of spreadsheets becomes all too apparent. For many finance professionals, spreadsheets are the primary tool of choice for ad-hoc scenarios. It goes without saying that most financial controllers are highly adept at using systems such as Excel, Numbers or Lotus 123. But all too often manual processes are initially used as stop gaps which, in time, become strategic and part of the problem. This is particularly true when it comes to reporting. Unfortunately, the reliance on manual processes can, and does, lead to error.

It would be easy to dismiss the importance of spreadsheets. The simple fact is that spreadsheets are irreplaceable and will continue to be a part of every day life in finance. The trick is to limit their importance in any process and seek automation wherever possible.

Financial Control is at its busiest at the beginning of each month. The number of tasks performed during the first 3-10 days (depending on the firm’s policies) of the month to close off the previous month’s books is typically a challenge leading to countless late nights. Adopting a more streamlined, automated approach as outlined above significantly reduces time pressures and leads to a cleaner, more efficient month end close.

If you need any help with your month end accounts send us an email info@stanleycarter.co.uk or check our www.stanleycarter.co.uk

London Stock exchange starts the year in a strong position

The London Stock Exchange raised 15 billion pounds from 106 initial public offerings (IPOs) in 2017, a 63 percent increase compared to last year and the highest level for three years.

Money raised from the exchange’s listings was up 164 percent compared to 5.7 billion pounds in 2016.

It added that 20 North American companies chose London for their listing, including Dallas-based oil and gas company Kosmos Energy.

London, Stock exchange, UK markets,
Invest on London Stock exchange

London has seen a pick-up in listings this year after uncertainty around Britain’s future outside of the EU single market dampened investor confidence and caused a number of initial public offerings (IPO) to be postponed or cancelled.

Some analysts noted that despite the debates about Brexit, London is highly global, deep and liquid capital markets continue to be the ideal partner for funding the world’s growth. It is particularly significant to notice that the number of international listings in London is up too, with North American listings up nearly seven-fold on last year.

The listing of 35 investment companies drove total IPOs value higher, with 5 billion pounds raised from vehicles including real estate investment trusts or special purpose acquisition firms, compared to just 644 million pounds the year before.

However, the average share performance of newly listed companies in 2017 was down 34 percent year on year.

If you would like to invest on Stock Markets and need some advice please email us on info@stanleycarter.co.uk or check our website www.stanleycarter.co.uk

The new Accounting rules and the Banks

When launching or running a business, one of the most important responsibilities is to keep your finances in order.

Whether it’s hiring an accountant, opening a business account or registering with HMRC for corporation tax or VAT, there are a number of tasks to be done when you set up, and a bewildering array of banks, software companies and accountancy firms on hand to help.

UK Bank, UK economy
Bank in the UK economy

On 1 January 2018, a new accounting standard for how banks report on financial instruments, IFRS9, comes into force.

Financial reporting standards rarely sound exciting to non-accountants, but this one will have a real effect on banks and the economy. Impairment losses are the largest factor affecting bank profits, so changing how they are calculated will have a real effect.

Financial policy is currently going through a period of change, since fixing one problem can often prompt another. In this case, changes to a little-known accounting rule could well make lending to the real economy look very different.

Banks will now be required to estimate future losses on their lending. Come the New Year, they will be looking with great interest in ways to introducing new models to calculate “expected loss”. They will then have to hold larger credit provisions against this – in other words, even more rainy day money.

However, IFRS9 is no solution for all problems. In fact it may lead to volatility, inconsistency, lack of comparability, and the exacerbation of financial instability.

An estimate of future losses is just that; an estimate, and a highly subjective one at that. If a recession is predicted, these expected losses will accelerate, even if the current economic situation is gracious.

The requirement to hold more capital amplifies this, hence the increase in volatility.

But banks don’t like volatility, and their shareholders like it even less. This is therefore likely to mean banks change who they lend to and how they treat the customers they do lend to.

Any unsecured lending, for example, is likely to come under intense scrutiny. Banks won’t want to show erratic performance, so may reduce this type of business. There may also be particular sectors that show wide variations in loan losses. Banks will treat these industries less favourably too.

Comparisons between banks will be difficult, since their views of the future could be radically different.

The practicalities of considering several possible scenarios, calculating the probability of each occurring, and modelling the impact will be extremely challenging.

This may mean that banks intervene a lot sooner than businesses have been used to in the past. Businesses with some performance issues may find the bank manager knocking on the door sooner rather than later, perhaps to look at the prices of the loans.

In this way the standard could exacerbate financial instability, rather than countering it.

No accounting rule is perfect. But there is a misconception that IFRS9 will fix more than it can, and its shortcomings may become evident very soon.

Rather than creating technical issues over which accountants and analysts scratch their heads, this has the potential to influence how banks are perceived, with real knock-on effects to the economy and access to finance.

The more people understand some of the challenges in the new rules, the less likely we are to see businesses affected. This is why it is so important to increase understanding of what this change to the rules will mean.

If you think this will affect your business and require further information or help please send us an email info@stanleycarter.co.uk or check our website for further information www.stanleycarter.co.uk 


The risks of fraud in your business

Fraud is a real and growing problem for organisations and companies of all sizes. For SMEs, it can be catastrophic. According to the Annual Fraud Indicator 2016, the cost of fraud to the UK economy is £193bn a year and of course that is just the fraud we know about.

The danger of fraud if left undiscovered is that the perpetrator becomes emboldened in your company and it can repeat the behaviour. We have known situations where detection has taken five years or more by which time small amounts of expense fiddling have increased to large thefts with a real impact on the bottom line. Often it is a company’s auditor who spots irregularities but sometimes it can be an employee whistleblower or a change of manager who highlights a reason for suspicion. The only lesson for business managers is to be ever vigilant.

If you suspect fraud is taking place in your organisation and require expert advice please email us on info@stanleycarter.co.uk or check our website for further details www.stanleycarter.co.uk