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IN THIS ISSUE
December 2012
  • Editorial

    As we head towards Christmas, news released to the press tends to get slightly more frivolous. For readers, it can act as a little lighthearted relief to an otherwise depressing menu of regulatory decrees and gloomy economic forecasts. For busy editors down on their staff as we head into the holiday period, it can offer some entertaining material to fill pages that can easily be enjoyed over the obligatory sherry and mince pies.

    Financial services, politicians and the media are all exploring strategies to find the best way to regain the public’s trust. But by overlooking the power of scent, are they missing a trick?

  • News

    Employers are underestimating the effect of clean data when it comes to managing successful pension and employee benefit programmes according to a recent seminar hosted by Mazars. Hannah Uttley reports.

    In response to a period of unprecedented change in the pension world, Looking Through Employee Benefits, talked through the ways in which companies can manage the issues surrounding workplace pension reform.

    A round up of relevant news affecting the business sector, including support from the CBI on proposals to double potential council infrastructure spend and how clean data is key to successful employee benefits programmes.

  • The Big Interview

    Perhaps better known as a TV presenter and culinary expert and chef, Loyd Grossman OBE also heads up the board of trustees for The Churches Conservation Trust, the national charity protecting historic churches at risk, which has saved over 340 beautiful buildings which attract approximately 2 million visitors a year. Here he talks to Hannah Beecham about the most challenging aspects of his position as chair over the past five years and expands on why he remains adamantly opposed to trustees being paid for their role on a charity’s board.

    Loyd Grossman OBE gives a flavour of what it's like to chair up a board of trustees for a charity and why he believes the idea of paying trustees is an insult.

  • Hot Topic

    Tax, regulation and the economy are some of the core issues that companies have to face on an annual basis, but dig a bit deeper and 2013 could see other issues emerge that may surprise, challenge and help business sectors in the UK to evolve. For some sectors, 2013 could even herald a new beginning.

    The end of each year signals a fresh start. So as we head into 2013 what are the key issues that UK industry will have to face? Deborah Benn spotlights the year ahead.

  • Case Study

    Phil Shanks is unstoppable. Having been a social worker for sixteen years, he then threw himself into sourcing social housing for people with exceptional needs. This year Shanks launched the first social housing real estate investment trust (REIT) in conjunction with Mazars. Here, he talks candidly about the process of raising funds, preparing for a listing on the London Stock Exchange and what is gong to happen next.

    No one has successfully managed to turn social housing into an attractive and viable investment opportunity. That is until now. Hannah Beecham talks to Phil Shanks on how he went about achieving it.

  • Financial Planning

    Much like Christmas shopping, we tend to leave tax planning until the last minute. But by understanding that there are a multitude of exemptions, reliefs and allowances available to us and, more importantly, that there is often a small time frame for taking advantage of them can help spur us on to plan more effectively. 

    Overcrowded shopping centres are like the UK tax system — big, difficult to navigate and finding assistance is hard. But putting tax at the top of your Christmas shopping wish list will help alleviate the stress.

  • Employee Benefits

    As companies work towards their auto-enrolment joining date, the financial implications of an influx of employees joining the scheme on auto-enrolment is a real concern. The challenge for many companies is how to continue to provide employees with a valuable benefit against the needs of the organisation.

    Auto-enrolment can present financial concerns for companies who currently have a low take up on pensions. So what is the route-map to providing a good quality scheme within financial constraints?

  • Investment Report

    In contrast to the banners and balloons of a US election that exhausted campaigners and voters alike, the revelation of who would form the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Politburo Standing Committee and therefore be the new leaders of the world’s second largest economy was a much more sombre affair. The chosen seven men stood politely on the stage of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, each dressed in a dark suit and reddish tie. None as far as we know were wearing magic pants as favoured by Mitt Romney or seemed eager to roll up their shirt sleeves a la Barack Obama.

    Unlike the US, China has spared its population the exhaustion of choosing a new set of leaders and so avoided a costly $6bn election campaign, along with magic pants and rolled up sleeves.

  • Financial Services

    While no one would dispute the need for fundamental change to the structure of financial services, there is a huge debate to be had on where that endpoint should actually be and how quickly we should get there. Speaking at a Mazars' seminar on financial services a few weeks before the appointment of Mark Carney as the successor to Mervyn King as the new Bank of England governor, Dan Rosenfield, Managing Director of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, explains that having such a debate in the political context we find ourselves in is a bit like sailing a ship into a safe harbour precisely at the point when the storm hits and the compass fails.

    Restructuring the UK’s financial sector is set to stay on the political agenda for some time. But how effective can we expect politicians to be on issues of trust and culture? Hannah Beecham reports. 

  • International Focus

    UK companies are exploring a number of ways in which they can participate in the drive to stimulate the United Arab Emirate’s economy. From the £1.4 trillion construction and infrastructure development programme, to opportunities in health, education, hospitality and leisure, which are all sectors in a growth phase, according to Mazars.

    How can British companies capitalise on plans to increase trade between Britain and the United Arab Emirates to £12 billion by 2015? Hannah Uttley reports on current investment opportunities available.

  • Business in Society

    As a way of raising finance, crowd source funding has been steadily growing in popularity in both the entrepreneurial and social finance sector to facilitate micro-donations from sympathetic investors. So how does it work and what are the potential hazards for those planning to take this route? Hannah Beecham explains.

    Crowd source funding is one way for social finance projects and charities to attract funding. But ensuring it works within a regulated environment will be key to future success.

  • Entrepreneurs

    Now in its second year, Oxygen Accelerator, founded by Mark Hales and Simon Jenner, is the ultimate boot camp for entrepreneurs with bright ideas. Based in Birmingham Science Park they are taken through some tough paces that test their strategies and mentored by advisers such as Mazars in order to get them fit for market. Improvements to the model now involve a longer programme, heavier focus on customer acquisition and the inclusion of external investors who can take advantage of the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS).

    The chance for 10 tech start-up ideas to be taken through an acceleration and incubation process with professional advice along the way is proving popular. Hannah Beecham explains the thinking behind Oxygen Accelerator.  

  • Tax

    The UK has set out its stall as a favourable destination for multinational companies. So is the recent public accounts select committee hearing on the avoidance of paying tax on profits in the UK likely to scare away big multinationals, or do other benefits compensate?

    The recent select committee grilling of Starbucks, Google and Amazon gives the impression of the UK as a tax-free location. Richard Service, a tax director at Mazars, separates fact from fiction.

  • Mind & Body

    When more than 200 UK human resources (HR) directors were asked to list the traits they value in employees hungry for promotion, work ethic came out top. This was above leadership or communication skills and certainly way above qualities such as technical skills and the ability to drive ‘results-driven’ performance. So what’s causing this switch from valuing performance led skills to plain old-fashioned hard work?

    The majority of human resources (HR) directors in a recent survey place an employee’s work ethic at the top of the must-have attributes list when considering a promotion. Hannah Beecham reports.

  • Webinar

    The Financial Services Authority issued a review of the client money rules, CASS 5, for insurance intermediaries in August 2012 seeking in particular whether enhancements can be made to the regime or the detailed rules. Edward Westrip, CASS Compliance Manager at Mazars explains in this webinar how firms should prepare for the changes as well as the proposed changes when a broker fails. 

    What is the significance of the Financial Service Authority’s proposed changes to client money (CASS) rules and how will they affect insurance intermediaries? Edward Westrip, CASS Compliance Manager at Mazars, explains.

  • Renewable Energy

    Good project fundamentals, favourable exchange rates and UK wholesale electricity prices have helped offset the significant tightening of the terms on which banks lend to wind farm projects since the start of the credit crunch in 2007/08. And despite further deterioration in credit conditions in 2012, the deal flow has accelerated slightly underpinned by the desire of sponsors to benefit from the full value of the main legislated renewable energy price support — Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) — before these are cut by 10% for new projects from April 2013.

    A study by Mazars’ renewable energy project finance specialists has identified that investments in new UK onshore wind projects in recent years have held up well. But what is the outlook for future projects?

  • Campaign

    As he comes to the end of his year as Your Big Year’s Ambassador, Charles heads for Colombia where he worked on a project to improve housing for Colombian families as well as a conservation project in Australia.

    From South America to Australia, Charles Batte worked hands-on with a housing foundation and conservation organisation where he learnt the importance of collaboration and innovation. Hannah Uttley reports.

  • Overseas Expansion

    With economic conditions for companies still challenging, businesses need to dig deep and set themselves apart from the competition. Playing its part in this, Scottish Development International (SDI) plans to broaden and deepen its strategy in order to help a much wider section of companies raise their level of ambition, develop an international mindset and seek opportunities to internationalise. 

    Companies tend to overestimate the risk of going international and underestimate the benefits. We asked Anne MacColl, Chief Executive of Scottish Development International, what’s being done to change hearts and minds.

  • Event Planner

    A list of the forthcoming Mazars seminars taking place over December and January across the UK. Including the future of financial reporting and how you can prepare for the year-end, and a look at how communications and clean data are vital to managing a successful employee benefits programme.

    Find out all you need to know on Mazars’ upcoming events and seminars including why you should attend and how to register for a place.

  • About Insight Out

    Insight Out is designed to deliver insightful reports on accountancy issues that cover all elements of business that may be relevant to our clients in companies large or small. It will work alongside the Business Club, launching later this year, where members will gain access to more detailed reports, seminars and events.

    Insight Out is a digital magazine published by Mazars LLP ten times a year to keep you up to speed with the key issues, challenges and opportunities facing business today.