News in brief: Christmas, US Federal Reserve, Barclays

News in brief
News in brief

Christmas is the most expensive time for SMEs

The average cost of Christmas for SMEs is upwards of £20,000,according to research from TalkTalk Business.

Festive treats such as the office Christmas party, staff bonuses and closure during the holidays remain high priorities for SMEs. The research revealed that 37% of small businesses cited the office Christmas party and staff bonuses (25%) as two of the biggest financial spends to the business at Christmas, emphasising the SME community’s commitment to working culture and team morale. Two thirds of SMEs are faced with “mortgaging” January and February to pay for the festive season, with 70% admitting that the festive period is by far the most costly time of year.

“Christmas is not only an expensive time for consumers, but for small businesses too. While company morale is important, businesses shouldn’t have to mortgage the New Year in order to enjoy Christmas. Instead, decision makers need to demand better value for their businesses, from institutions and suppliers, throughout the year,” explains TalkTalk MD Charles Bligh.

“Broadband is a great example of this. With 47% of SMEs revealed to not be getting value for money from their broadband provider, businesses need to demand more. Ensuring companies get great value and quality of service for their business is one of the first steps to smart budgeting. Only then will SMEs truly be able to drive growth over the next 12 months.”

UK SMEs are not prepared should the US Federal Reserve hike interest rates

UK SME bosses have admitted they are not properly prepared for the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates, with seven out of ten saying they could be better protected from currency volatility caused by a rate hike, according to the latest survey from international currency expert World First.

The survey of more than 1,000 senior decision-makers at UK-based SMEs trading overseas found that while 88% said they understood the potential impact of a US rate rise on currency markets, 70% felt their business could be better prepared to deal with exchange rate volatility. The extent of the impact- is highlighted by the fact that more than half (51%) confess that the threat posed to their business by currency risks has kept them awake at night and one in four (26%) admit to having been severely impacted by currency movements in the past.

Businesses with larger turnovers of £500m+ were the worst prepared, with 75% suggesting they could be doing more to manage their exchange rate risks, while companies with turnovers between £250,000 and £500,000 felt they were the best protected (64%).

Barclays wins Small Business Bank of the Year award

Following the sixth Annual LUCA awards, hosted by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), Barclays was awarded ‘Small Business Bank of the Year’ as voted by ICB members out of nine other nominees, including the British Business Bank, Lloyds and HSBC.

Head of SME at Barclays Chris Forrest commented: “To be recognised by the members of the ICB as the Small Business Bank of the Year is a great honour. We have worked hard to build on our existing services for customers in 2015 and believe our digital solutions can help busy customers to keep track of their finances on the go. We look forward to strengthening this relationship further in 2016 and supporting bookkeepers and their clients, while continuing to bring enhancements for our both our customers and introducers."