Tag Archives: survey

Over 50% of SMEs say resisting bribery and corruption results in lost business opportunities

  • New research shows 59% of SMEs believe that standing up to bribery and corruption will result in lost business opportunities.
  • However, 67% of UK respondents agree a strong anti-bribery policy boosts customer confidence.
  • 68% of UK respondents say stringent anti-corruption guidelines increase the likelihood of large contracts with big businesses and public sector bodies.

 

A new report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Bribery and corruption: The hidden social evil on your doorstep, delves into the true extent of how bribery and corruption impact small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across the world, highlighting the pressing need for enhanced transparency and robust regulatory frameworks.

 

The research shows a high prevalence and deep concern about the damaging impact of bribery and corruption on SMEs, with more than half (59%) of SMEs and their advisers believing that standing up to bribery and corruption will cost them business trade or opportunities. The UK appeared more relaxed, with 46% thinking taking a stand would cost them.

 

Yet the survey also reveals a strong understanding of the benefits of standing up to bribery and corruption. 77% of global respondents, and 67% of UK respondents, agree that having a strong anti-bribery policy boosts customer confidence in their business. Furthermore, 68% globally and 68% in the UK say it increases their chances of getting lucrative contracts with big businesses and public sector bodies.

 

Jason Piper, ACCA’s head of tax and business law, said: “Corruption is a poison; it distorts markets, stunts economic growth, and deters investment.

 

“Many very small businesses don’t have the bargaining power to refuse when small bribes are demanded of them. Entrepreneurs have to choose between paying the bribe or losing the business – and often that is no choice at all for someone trying to support a family.

 

“Our report aims to arm businesses and regulators with the necessary insights and tools to root out corruption and foster an environment of transparency and trust. This could include the use of the latest digital tools. Just as technology is being used by criminals, so regulators and enforcement agencies should embrace it in the battle to detect, prevent and respond to them.”

 

Drawing from a broad spectrum of global data, expert opinions, and real-world case studies, the report explores the multifaceted impacts of corrupt practices on SMEs and economic development. It highlights the severe consequences that businesses can face, including legal penalties and damage to their reputations.

 

The report also considers the effectiveness of current anti-corruption laws and policies across different countries, suggesting that while some progress has been made, much remains to be done to align international efforts.

 

Piper added: “As global markets become increasingly interconnected, the imperative for accountability and ethical business practices becomes more pronounced.”

 

Lloyd Powell, head of ACCA Cymru/Wales, added: “The threat of bribery and corruption is something that businesses across Wales face on a daily basis. The fact our members are reporting improved prosperity through having anti-corruption policies in place is a good start, but there is more we can do to help them moving forward. How best to address modern-day corruption can be confusing, but we hope our latest report will provide some clear advice on how members can identify and prevent such activity.”

 

ACCA hopes this report will serve as a catalyst for change, encouraging entities across all sectors to evaluate their practices and align with the best standards of business conduct. The report is recommended for business leaders, policymakers, and regulatory bodies worldwide committed to uprooting corruption and fostering a fairer business environment.

 

The full report can be accessed here.

 

Visit ACCA’s website for more information.

Economic confidence among finance professionals hits highest level since first half of 2023 

  • Although accountants have become more positive about the economy for the first time since Q1 2023, concerns about costs persist   
  • Global concerns about operating costs rose, as did uncertainty around geopolitical tensions and talent acquisition challenges
  • UK SMEs have experienced a similar buoying of confidence, but still face a tough economic landscape to navigate

 

Accountants and finance professionals are more confident in the global economy than they have been since early 2023.

 

The latest ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS) saw a moderate increase in confidence to put the index just above its historical average. Add in small increases to the New Orders and Employment indices – both of which are slightly above their averages – and a positive picture emerges of a gradually improving economic outlook. That said, there was a small decline in the Capital Expenditure Index, which remains below average.

 

Encouragingly, there were gains in confidence in most regions. The rise in Asia Pacific was the third largest on record and may reflect growing confidence in the resilience of the US economy, signs of improvement in the Chinese data and wider global economy, and perhaps rising optimism that Japan may finally be exiting from its decades long battle against deflation. The moderate rise in confidence in Western Europe also suggests that growth may be gradually improving from the weakness of recent quarters.

 

On a less positive note, global concerns about increased operating costs rose, although they remain below their Q3 2022 peak. Interestingly, concerns about costs eased again in the advanced economies of North America and Western Europe while remaining elevated by historical standards. By contrast, cost concerns rose noticeably in Africa, Asia Pacific, and South Asia.

 

Additionally, Q1 2024 responses from the Global Risks Survey section of the GECS report demonstrate how the ripple effects of economic uncertainty have been exacerbated by rising geopolitical and talent scarcity challenges. Respondents across all sectors and regions said that they are feeling the impact of talent retention risks, with numerous respondents describing the skills shortage as an epidemic. Cybersecurity is also viewed as a significant threat, especially with advancements in generative AI making ransomware and other cybercrimes increasingly easier and quicker to carry out.

 

Jonathan Ashworth, chief economist, ACCA, said: “The survey points to some improvement in global growth. Nevertheless, while encouraging, it is no time to celebrate just yet, with the global economy facing many risks and challenges and still set for below average growth in 2024. Moreover, the elevated level of concerns about costs suggests that the major central banks should proceed very cautiously with any monetary easing.”

 

Specifically discussing the economic backdrop for UK SMEs, Glenn Collins, head of technical and strategic engagement, ACCA UK, added: “Confidence among UK SMEs increased quite materially in Q1 2024 and is only moderately below its historical average. The New Orders Index declined but is close to its average. The Capital Expenditure Index increased sharply for the second consecutive quarter and is now just above average, but the Employment Index declined again and looks weak by historical standards.

 

“Overall, the broad trend of the key activity indicators (save employment) over recent quarters points to some improvement in the economic backdrop for UK SMEs. Nevertheless, some of the early indicators of corporate stress increased in Q1. Worryingly, problems securing prompt payment, problems accessing finance, and concerns about customers going out of business all rose and are above their historical averages. This does highlight that businesses need to review their finance plans.”

 

Susie Duong, senior director of research and thought leadership at IMA, said of the report: “The continued improvement in confidence in North America, and the rise in the other indicators, likely reflects growing optimism that the US economy is on course for a ‘soft landing’ or perhaps no landing at all in 2024. That would clearly be welcome news for businesses, although it means we are likely to see less monetary easing by the Federal Reserve this year than investors expected a few months ago.”

 

Read the full report here.

 

Visit ACCA’s website for more information.

Facing shocking levels of violence at work – yet not paid enough to live on: 57% of UK retail staff say their wages barely cover basic expenses, despite many working more hours than ever

  • Study finds that UK shop workers are faring much worse financially than European counterparts
  • One in ten use food banks and nearly a third rely on friends and family to help with living expenses
  • 43% are clocking up more hours than they ever have – rising to 60% for those in wholesale roles

Following the release of the British Retail Consortium’s Crime Survey 2024 Report, revealing a 50% rise in abuse and violence aimed at shop staff, new data shows that more than half of UK retail workers say their wages barely meet even basic living costs – despite many putting in longer hours than ever to keep up with inflated expenses.

Frontline staff across several industries, including retail and wholesale, were polled in the pan-European study by workforce management experts Quinyx.  Four in ten UK retail employees (43%) said they’re working more hours than they ever have in order to meet increased living costs and support their families. For those in wholesale jobs, this rises to 60%.

Pointing to a significant financial disparity between retail staff in the UK and those in other parts of Europe, UK employees were much more likely to say their wages barely cover living costs (57%) than their counterparts in The Netherlands (31%), the Nordics (33%) and Germany (39%). For wholesale workers, the gap is even greater – 57% of UK staff, compared to 18% in The Netherlands, 22% in the Nordics and 27% in Germany say they can barely afford basic living expenses.

Despite a third (33%) of retail staff receiving a pay rise last year, 10% said they’d had to use food banks, while 29% had to accept financial support from friends and family to cover basic costs.

Toma Pagojute, chief HR officer at Quinyx, says: “The British Retail Consortium’s findings are shocking, and while no amount of pay would make the current situation acceptable, the fact that many retail staff are barely scraping by financially seems like another insult.

“If there’s a positive to take from the BRC report, it’s that it is shedding greater light on retail crime and encouraging action to make frontline workers safer. We hope it also brings opportunities to review employees’ experiences as a whole, considering all factors that can affect their mental and physical health.

“Pay is part of that, particularly as we’re still facing higher interest rates and increased living costs. In addition to any legislation brought in regarding customer behaviour and staff protection, employers should always consider the wellbeing of their workforce and look for ways to help frontliners feel less stressed, overwhelmed and overworked. This might be through flexible scheduling or improved communications – and generally making staff feel like they matter and their contributions are valued.”

Almost half of UK transport and distribution staff still can’t afford basic living expenses, despite many working more hours than ever in 2023

With planned industrial action already hitting headlines in the first weeks of 2024, a new study has found that around half of UK frontline or deskless staff working in transport and distribution are still struggling to cover their basic living costs – despite many working longer hours than ever in 2023, to keep up with rising expenses.

The pan-European poll by workforce management experts Quinyx looked at the working patterns of frontline staff across several industries, including transport, warehousing and distribution. It found that 40% of UK employees in these sectors clocked up more hours in 2023 than in previous years, saying they needed the extra income to support their families.

Despite more than a third (35%) of staff receiving a pay rise in 2023, they didn’t feel better off as a result. Nearly half (48%) said their wages barely cover living costs – more than workers in similar roles in the Nordic countries (31%), The Netherlands (37%) and Germany (39%).

One in eight (13%) frontline staff said they’d had to use food banks, while around a fifth (22%) had to accept financial support from friends and family to help with basic expenses.

Toma Pagojute, chief HR officer at Quinyx, says: “As recent news of planned industrial action demonstrates, workers within logistics-based sectors such as transportation and distribution really struggled last year, and want a brighter, less stressful 2024. While many employees received pay rises, it seems they didn’t always have much of an impact, and workers had to put in more hours than ever. When the resulting pay still doesn’t cover basic living costs, it can be demoralising to say the least.

“Many organisations are facing their own challenges, of course, but we would love to see more of them placing renewed focus on their workforce’s engagement and overall wellbeing in 2024 – not just by looking at pay but on the overall experience of their staff.

“While there are signs of an improved economic outlook for 2024, changes won’t be felt overnight and there is more that bosses can do to prevent employees from feeling stressed, overworked and overwhelmed – this might be by offering flexible work schedules, improving communications, utilising more tech solutions, and ensuring working conditions are the best they can be.”

Keysource Launches State of the Industry Report

Keysource, the global data centre and critical environment specialist, has launched its State of the Industry Report 2022 which gathers the views and insights from over 250 IT Directors in UK & Europe. This is the fifth year of the report and it showed once again that the datacentre and technology sectors continue to grow with no signs of slowing, with investment growth being driven by continued digitalisation, IT transformation and data growth. This is despite the current global economic and political uncertainties.

In addition to the impact of this ongoing demand, the IT decision makers surveyed stated that they are continuing to shoulder a range of competing challenges and, as a result, over 99% believe it will be a difficult year. Over half of the respondents see security as the biggest challenge – up slightly from previous years – with sustainability a close second at 40%. However, the survey highlights multiple concerns with more than a third also citing pressure to adopt new technology and services, budget, access to skills and speed of change as major challenges.

In addition, 78% of respondents believe that their existing investments are preventing IT transformation – a figure similar to last year showing little or no progress in this area. This suggests that organisations are failing to understand the money savings change could bring, as they are focused on the investment and/or don’t want to admit they may have got it wrong.

This year’s focus on sustainability delivered some interesting insights. Clearly the topic and its importance is well understood but there are challenges about how this is being translated into action both for the services being consumed and/or delivered. For example, over half of the respondents admitted to not having a sustainability strategy at all, with 92% experiencing problems that are slowing or stopping their sustainability progress.

In response to the question: Where, if anywhere, do you think you can make the biggest carbon savings? – the overwhelming response was a move to using sustainable suppliers rather than looking to their own operations, usage and capacity. This opens up possible allegations of green washing and paints a picture of an industry that is full of good intentions but lacks the tools and expertise to deliver them. This mindset was clear once again for questions around the rising costs of power with 92% stating they were concerned. For about half of respondents the answer is a move towards renewables and an increase in budget – less than 50% are looking at reviewing capacity requirements showing that there is a lack of focus on consumption.

Jon Healy, Operations Director at Keysource, said: “We are operating in a world with a rapidly expanding social and economic consumption which relies on processing, data and transfer to be both secure and sustainable, alongside a skills shortage and severe supply chain issues. Our respondents need broader shoulders than ever to be able to carry all this responsibility. As an industry we are used to change and challenges but these might be our greatest ones yet.”

To download the report please click here: https://keysource.co.uk/data-centre-industry-report/

Doddle Announces Findings From European Retailer Survey

Global e-commerce technology provider Doddle has launched its latest survey of over 200 European retailers which was designed to gather their views and insights on out-of-home (OOH) delivery. The findings include a clear message to carriers that whilst there are opportunities to grow market share through cheaper and more sustainable OOH delivery methods, they need to take action, or risk missing out to their competitors.

A little over half of respondents are using a carrier-provided tool to offer OOH delivery – but 44% of respondents said they would switch carrier provider if they offered better integrations. Around a third said their carrier did not offer any way to display out-of-home delivery locations at their checkout.

Tim Robinson, CEO at Doddle, explains: “There’s a warning for carriers in our dataset: if they don’t make it easy for retailers to offer out-of-home delivery, they could lose their business. They need to ensure they have the tools for retailers to build a brilliant delivery experience right from the checkout, where consumers are making crucial decisions. The good news is that they can then drive more volume into those cost-effective out-of-home delivery channels by encouraging non-adopters to start offering a wider set of delivery options. To that end, they should continue building the statistical evidence that merchant KPIs are likely to improve when they offer OOH delivery. They can also position it as their most sustainable delivery option: 80% of our survey respondents indicated that they believed it was important to offer consumers a sustainable delivery option. That’s a role out-of-home delivery should absolutely be promoted to fulfil. “

The majority of retailers offering OOH delivery saw an increase in conversion, average order value or Net Promoter Score after introducing the service, and those who do not offer it were found to significantly underestimate the potential benefits it brings.

“Our merchant respondents are broadly already engaged and offering out-of-home delivery options at the checkout, with the majority seeing at least one significant benefit and many seeing several KPIs increase after introducing the out-of-home option. However, there remains much to improve and a widespread desire for assistance from carrier and logistics partners in making those improvements,” concludes Tim.

 

Redgate survey identifies key database monitoring challenges businesses should focus on in fast-growing Financial Services sector

A sector analysis of the results from a major database monitoring survey has revealed how and why the growth, complexity, and management of database estates in Financial Services is different to other industry sectors. The results clarify the areas businesses in the sector should consider when including their database estates in digital transformation initiatives.

The global monitoring survey of 2,500 IT professionals and C-level executives was undertaken by Redgate in 2021 to discover the scenarios and challenges organizations face when monitoring their database estates. The large number of responses also provided the opportunity to dig a little deeper and compare the similarities and differences across industry sectors.

Financial Services in particular emerged as an outlier in the newly published sector insights report in four major areas:

  • The size and complexity of database estates is different to other sectors, with a nuanced difference between smaller firms and those with very large database estates.
  • There is a far wider use of monitoring tools and the data gained from those tools is shared with more teams across the business.
  • There is a need to manage people and compliance much more closely, probably prompted by the move to remote working.
  • The sector is ahead of the curve in the requirement to monitor cloud and hybrid database environments.

The insights are even more pertinent, given the recent big increase in investment in the sector. KPMG’s January 2022 Pulse of Fintech report revealed global investment in the fintech market topping $210 billion in 2021, a 173 percent increase on investment activity over 2020. Notable, one of its four trends to watch out for in 2022 is an increasing focus on the modernization of core banking platforms to reduce the reliance legacy infrastructures and facilitate better customer experiences.

While the investment is there, and there is a willingness and an urge to upgrade IT systems and process, issues remain. As Deloitte’s 2022 Banking and Capital Markets Outlook report observes: “Even though digital transformation is going ahead at full speed, these efforts tend to be incremental, localized, and fragmented, resulting in a pervasive and pernicious ‘technology trap.’ This is preventing many banks from realizing the full potential of their investments.”

Hence the value of the Redgate insights report in giving businesses in the sector a deeper understanding of the issues and the challenges they face when monitoring their database estates. By providing a benchmark of results businesses can use to compare their own efforts against those of their peers, future investment in their database estates can be directed more wisely.

Businesses in the sector can gain a full picture by downloading The State of Database Monitoring in Financial Services insights report online.

Consumers spend less and are more selective, while 79% say they were more forgiving about delivery experiences during pandemic

  • 63% of consumers admit to spending less in shops and online than a year ago
  • 43% won’t accept COVID-19 as a reason for poor delivery or customer service experiences anymore

London UK; 28th June 2022: Consumers are spending less and are more selective with their purchases, while 79% say they were more forgiving about delivery experiences during the pandemic. That’s according to new data from delivery experience platform Sorted, which unveiled the current consumer ecommerce and delivery trends in the face of the rising cost of goods.

The survey, consisting of 2,000 respondents in the UK and US, found that 82% of shoppers admit to being more money-conscious now due to inflation. The main reasons given for them spending less were Brexit/rising cost of goods at 56% (UK respondents), followed by more discounts in-store and online (24%) and a lack of consumer confidence (16%). Unsurprisingly, two thirds of consumers admit to spending less in shops and online than a year ago.

Consumers are fed up with the pandemic excuse

The data revealed that 66% of consumers noticed an increase in customer service problems for purchases and/or deliveries when the pandemic began, with 56% still experiencing these problems now. Worryingly, 63% say poor delivery service would stop them of purchasing from a company again, while 43% won’t accept COVID-19 as a reason for poor delivery or customer service experiences anymore.

Carmen Carey, CEO of Sorted, commented: “Inflation across the UK and the US is the highest it has been in decades, and consumers are having to rethink their spending habits as a result. With money tight, brands are going to be competing more than ever for share of mind and wallet. With customer loyalty at its most fragile, there is absolutely no room for error when offering delivery experiences.”

Consumer spending habits

The survey found that over a third of respondents said they are likely to spend more than usual during Amazon Prime Day in July. Thirty-two percent also now shop at other flash sales throughout the year.

As inflation continues to soar, low shipping costs appeared as the most valued aspect of the delivery experience today (37%). This was followed by delivering on time (32%) and having proactive updates about orders/returns (23%), demonstrating the direct link between delivery experiences and loyalty.

Survey Reveals Resiliency Remains Elusive for Organizations

71% of US companies cited supply chain disruption as the biggest issue; in the UK 73% Brexit remains the primary source of disruption

London, UK; June 9th 2022: Disruption remains a constant for organizations, with the majority struggling to build resiliency into their operations, a survey from Orbus Software uncovered. The poll of 1,000 IT decision-makers in the US and UK found that 89% of companies have experienced some form of disruption over the last two years. However, over half of enterprises are struggling to increase resiliency, with 44% lacking a dedicated team.

In response to the pandemic digital initiatives have accelerated for the vast majority (83%) of enterprises, with seventy-eight percent reporting dramatic changes to their business models, including 39% migrating to the cloud and almost half (44%) restructuring their teams during this period. However, despite these strategic shifts, only 36% were able to report business growth.

Those enterprises that suffered disruption experienced knock-on effects, spanning staff shortages (56%), supply chain issues and increased business costs (48%) coupled with technology costs increasing (44%). This highlights the interdependencies of organizations and the need to prioritize resiliency. Many are struggling primarily because of the complex web of disparate or legacy systems along with a lack of buy-in from management or other departments.

Looking ahead, 52% of IT decision-makers believe they need to account for regulatory changes. Among the top technology investment priorities for the remainder of 2022 were:

  • Digital privacy (37%)
  • Digital transformation (35%)
  • Cybersecurity threats (35%)
  • Business continuity (31%)

Rupert Colbourne, Chief Technology Officer of Orbus Software, commented, “With the tsunami of disruption that organizations have experienced, it’s clear that operational resiliency needs prioritizing. Without creating agility, businesses leave themselves exposed to the whims of change and can expect their operations to continue to suffer.”

Organisations look to outsourcing again post-pandemic

Access to talent and cost savings key drivers to outsourcing revival

Bristol, UK; 10 May 2022: In a recent survey of 300 IT leaders, over half of business leaders are outsourcing to gain access to talent and save on costs.

The survey, conducted by Amdaris, the Bristol-based software development specialist, found that 64% are adopting a new outsourcing strategy in light of the pandemic. With 63% finding it difficult to find and hire strong talent, access to talent was a strong reason for deciding to outsource (54%). This was followed by the imperative to save on costs (54%), access to knowledge and experience (41%) and project support (33%).

Moreover, 74% of organisations believe that outsourcing can help to improve or adopt better software development practices such as agile delivery and quality auditing.

“With the majority of budgets for IT leaders going on tech and talent, it would seem that post-pandemic outsourcing has come into its own as a solution for the top challenges we face today,” said Vlad Nanu, Co-CEO at Amdaris. “Organisations not only face the major challenge of being able to find tech talent, but also improving its digital skills and development velocity. The best technical skills often lie in markets outside of the UK such as Eastern Europe, well known as a tech hub. Continuing the support for that region is particularly key at this time.”

Amdaris assists global companies through expert outsourcing, which provides a wider talent pool and access to multiple stakeholders. This can help dilute the potential risk of losing talent due to unforeseen circumstances. Furthermore, by having multiple centres across Europe, Amdaris is able to quickly mitigate potential risks and assist employees affected by global events.

To support Ukraine, the company relocated its Ukrainian employees from its Odesa facility to centres in neighbouring countries. Amdaris is also providing ongoing support to staff and their families who have been affected by the war through daily check-ins and pastoral care. Amdaris has pledged to help the wider Ukrainian tech community by providing secure employment to any tech professional being forced to flee the country due to the ongoing conflict.