News in brief: Angel Investors, broadband, SME worries, Gen Z

News in brief
News in brief

New qualification for Angel Investors

The Angel Investing Accreditation is being launched to promote effective investments in Britain’s small businesses. The new qualification will run as part of a joint effort from Intelligent Partnership and the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA).

The course will be accredited by the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI), and SFEDI, the standards-setting body for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and comprise three levels:

● Introduction to Angel Investing - a 45 minute short online course aimed at anyone who is interested in knowing more about angel investing

● UKBAA Angel Investing Qualification - a new Level 5 Diploma qualification recognised by Ofqual, the registered quality standards agency

● UKBAA Accredited Angel Investor - individuals who have made investments in small businesses and can demonstrate their knowledge and experience will be able to be validated as a UKBAA Accredited Angel Investor.

Intelligent Partnership MD Guy Toldhurst said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the UKBAA on this initiative. We know from our work training financial advisers in this area that once people acquire the skills and experience they need, they invest with much more confidence. The Angel Investing Accreditation gives everybody the chance to get themselves to that level, safe in the knowledge that they are learning from independent experts.”

Ofcom’s strict rules for better business broadband

Ofcom has put forward strict new rules to improve BT’s performance in installing high-speed business lines and significantly reduce the wholesale prices BT charges for these lines.

The plans are part of Ofcom’s Business Connectivity Market Review, which considers the £2bn market for ‘leased lines’ – dedicated, high-speed data links used by large businesses and mobile and broadband operators to transfer data on their networks. Most of these lines are owned and maintained on behalf of competing providers by BT.

Ofcom is proposing that:

  • By the end of March 2017, Openreach must complete 80% of leased line orders by the date it promises customers, rising to 90% from April 2018
  • BT should provide access to its optical fibre network for providers of high-speed leased lines for businesses
  • Wholesale prices BT charges for leased lines services are reduiced, which Ofcom expects to result in lower prices for businesses.

Commenting on the new rules TalkTalk business and technology MD Charles Bligh said: “We know from our customers that British businesses are crying out for better high speed data services, and so we welcome Ofcom's focus on improving Openreach's performance and the opening up of dark fibre.

“At first glance, these final proposals do not represent the ‘step change’ in quality and service Ofcom called for in their own strategic review just a few weeks ago. We very much hope that we and our customers will see material improvements quickly, and that Ofcom maintains the pressure on Openreach to ensure they finally deliver the broadband businesses deserve.”

Business retention is the single greatest concern for SMEs

Britain’s SMEs are consumed by a mountain of worries, with many spending too much time trying to fix problems rather than focus on the key activities that will help drive business growth.

Hitachi Capital’s British Business Barometer suggests that, despite wider concerns caused by the global economy and the EU referendum, it is the issues closer to home and in their offices that are really keeping SME owners awake at night.

Significantly, the research highlights that the sheer volume and variety of issues are on the increase quarter on quarter. Business retention is the single biggest worry for over one in three SMEs (33%). This has increased a significant 10% compared with 6 months ago (23%), and 8% on the same period 12 months ago (25%). This is followed by concerns around managing cash flow (30%), red tape (29%), compliance and regulation (26%) and market volatility (25%).

Hitachi Capital business finance general manager Gavin Wraith-Carter commented, “Companies in the UK have a remarkable talent of putting a brave face on things and weathering the storm. However, while business owners are very adept at dealing with these issues, there is more than we can do as an industry to help SMEs so that they can spend their time focusing on the rewarding aspects of running a business. We can work with our introducers to offer solutions that can help navigate the challenges of being a SME owner with the hope of taking some of their ‘worries’ away”.

Gen Z is more traditional than anticipated

Around 83% of HR leaders see attracting the next generation of employees as the greatest business challenge (over meeting targets or innovation). In addition, two thirds (63%) think that Generation Z workers will disrupt the workplace more than any other generation.

The study, published by Capita Resourcing, examined the attitudes of 1,015 Generation Z adults (aged between 16 and 20) and 106 senior HR professionals, also found that HR leaders’ concerns around the next generation of workers are heavily contradicted by what Generation Z respondents say they want. For example, 71% of employers think Generation Z want freedom to work where and how they choose. Yet over half (54%) of Gen Z say they would prefer to work face-to-face in a small team rather than virtually.

In addition, 69% of Gen Z state they want a single manager, rather than several different ones. A further 58% want a hierarchical structure with clear upward direction - echoing the traditional workplace environment that we currently operate in.

Third of SMEs unaware of National Living Wage deadline

UK businesses are facing a wage bill far higher than expected with the introduction of the National Living Wage

This is according to Moorepay, a division of NGA HR, which analysed data from over 4,500 small and medium companies. It found that eligible employees will, on average, earn over £950 more each year. With over 1.7m employees set to benefit from the National Living Wage, the actual annual cost to the UK’s smaller firms will be more in the region of £1.67bn, far higher than the business community was prepared for.

Despite the huge financial impact, Moorepay found that one in three SMEs are unaware that the National Living Wage comes into effect on April 1. An overwhelming majority (86%) had no insight into the impact this wage increase would have on their bottom line.

"Our research shows that many SMEs are apparently still unaware of the impending introduction of the National Living Wage," said Moorepay MD Alison Dodd.

“What is more worrying is the number of companies that have little understanding of the financial impact this change will have on their business. It’s not just the higher wages bill that will affect their bottom line but the associated costs, such as national insurance, pension contributions and overtime pay,” she continued.