News in brief: security, talent, property

More than half of SMEs are failing on security

Nearly 60% of UK SMEs are not taking their security seriously enough and are at huge risk of a security breach, according to new research.

Digital ID, the access control and smart card specialist, conducted research which found that 23% of businesses have very little visitor security and 36% have no visitor security processes at all.

When asked what security measures they did have in place, most only had locks or security lights, with nearly two thirds admitting they were not in use during working hours. Only 41% had more complex security measures in place, with ID cards and restrictive access gates being the most popular.

Despite one in five of SMEs experiencing a security breach in the past year, small businesses seem ignorant about the effects that lack of security can have. As well as having a financial impact, security breaches can have an impact on staff moral and customer trust.

In light of the research, Digital ID has put together a list of the most important security processes that SMEs should have in place:

  • Cyber security – effective cyber security will protect a company’s intellectual property from viruses, bots, hackers and rogue employees by restricting access to client data and payment details
  • Access control – ID cards, swipes and barriers or gates can be set up to restrict access for certain people in specified areas of the building or premises, reducing the risk of important equipment being stolen
  • Staff and visitor ID cards – if a lot of people are coming and going or visiting a site, ID cards allow a business to monitor the exact number of people that have entered the building. This useful not just for security, but also for health and safety reasons or in the case of an emergency exit, such as a fire

Talent mis-match on SME boards is slowing routes to exit

Small to medium-sized businesses across the UK are missing out on crucial funding opportunities due to the wrong individuals filling board level positions, according to 81% of venture capital fund managers. These findings come from a new paper by executive search and interim management firm Intramezzo.

The report, A Board Fit for Purpose, reveals that due to a lack of existing talent, more than a quarter of respondents (32.5% of venture capital investors and 21% of corporate venture capital investors) always or frequently feel the need to replace existing CEOs.

It also found that the quality and strength of the leadership team is a top factor in decisions to invest in portfolio companies, with 85% of respondents stating that they are unlikely or highly unlikely to back a company that lacked the right skills.

The research study collated the responses of 100 corporate venture capital and venture capital fund managers and looked at how these individuals make their investment decisions. It found that 90% of respondents recognise that sourcing candidates with the right skills and experience for leadership positions is the biggest challenge when making senior hires. Further to this, nearly two-thirds (60%) said that identifying the skills gaps is a major or moderate challenge.

Owner-managed businesses still favour property as the best investment option

According to the latest Owner Managed Business (OMB) Barometer from Bank of Cyprus UK, 70% of OMBs believe that land allocated for residential property development will deliver the greatest return on investment in 2016. When asked about their own personal investment preferences, more than half (52%) of the respondents considered residential property to be the most attractive option when compared to other asset types.

The barometer findings reveal that just 13% of OMBs believe land used for shops/retail will deliver the greatest return in 2016. Similarly, stocks and shares, cash, pensions and commercial property all ranked far lower than residential property as investment choices for OMBs. This is despite the Chancellor’s recently announced changes to the buy-to-let market.

From April 2016, buy-to-let investors in England and Wales will have to pay a three per cent surcharge on each stamp duty band, in addition to the personal rate of tax relief for landlords being cut from 40% to 20% in April 2017.

Commenting on the research findings, Lakis Kasapis of Bank of Cyprus UK said: “We know from experience that OMBs are very committed to property as their preferred destination for longer-term investment. It is therefore not surprising that despite the clampdown on landlords announced by the Chancellor in the last two budgets, OMBs still see the residential property market as an attractive investment opportunity.”