Tech and Brexit: The challenges and opportunities facing the FTSE 100

The challenges that are facing the blue chip businesses forming the FTSE 100 index have been laid bare by a new survey from global legal services firm DWF.

The 2018 “City of London: Blueprint for Growth” report contains polling results from 150 c-suite executives from FTSE 100 companies, across a range of business sectors and with headquarters in the capital.

Key among the findings is the impact of Brexit: business leaders are paying close attention to the EU negotiations, knowing that they will have a huge impact on the UK economy.

The largest barrier to growth is the uncertain political climate resulting from these negotiations, according to 63 per cent of UK businesses polled, up 12 percentage points from the previous year.

“London’s position as a pre-eminent global financial hub has been without question for centuries, but the impact of Brexit is on course to disrupt the city’s international relationships and create challenges and opportunities for London-based businesses,” DWF says.

There are other interesting findings. Executives were polled on why their business headquarters are located in London. Last year, 63 per cent of businesses cited the capital’s reputation as the main financial centre of Europe and the world as their top reason. That’s fallen to 55 per cent this year.

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The threat posed by Brexit to London’s reputation as a financial hub is causing some businesses to consider relocating – in March, consumer goods giant Unilever announced its intention to move its headquarters to Rotterdam. However, other factors are understood to be influencing Unilever’s plans, with Dutch MPs set to debate the role tax changes may have had in the decision.

On a much more positive note, London’s reputation as a centre for technological innovation and its blossoming start up scene is still helping to attract businesses.

This reputation is now the top reason for choosing London as an HQ, according to 57 per cent of executives, up from 36 per cent last year.

“Across the board, businesses stated London’s tech start up scene as one of the key reasons they are based in London. However, London’s tech businesses seem to be very concerned about what the future may hold, and what Brexit might mean for both their business and their workforce,” the publication says.

Access to the EU’s Single Market is another Brexit-related issue causing concern, as 43 per cent of businesses cited this as a major reason for being located in London, up from 23 per cent the previous year.

And while parliament debates whether the UK should remain a member of the EU’s internal market and the customs union, it is worth highlighting that 88 per cent of businesses said there would be no impact to UK investments, or that they would invest more, if the UK did not retain access to the Single Market. That’s compared to just 54 per cent last year, and shows a note of confidence in the UK economy.

However, there are concerns about how recruitment will be hampered by Brexit in the future. Talent attraction and recruitment is the third biggest barrier to growth facing businesses, as 74 per cent think it will be harder to recruit talent from abroad after the UK leaves the EU.

“With these challenges in mind business leaders are looking to change the agility and make-up of their workforce to establish stronger teams that are more diverse,” the research claims.

“With the economic benefits of workforce agility now widely understood, 83 per cent of London businesses (compared to 59 per cent the previous year) expect some proportion of their workforce to be working on a flexible basis in the next five years.”

Interestingly, businesses were also asked which cities they saw as posing the greatest competitive threat to London. Two long-term German rivals, Frankfurt and Berlin, dropped sharply from 45 and 49 per cent respectively to 33 and 42 per cent.

However, new threats are raising their heads – 60 per cent of businesses cited Amsterdam as London’s greatest threat, compared to 41 per cent last year. Chicago also saw a sharp rise from three per cent to 33 per cent.

Despite the uncertainty, embracing new technology is seen as key to growth strategies and will help overcome these Brexit issues. Data and analytics, automation, and artificial intelligence were cited as the most important tech trends for FTSE 100 companies.

“Smart investment in technology has the power to drive forward growth and strengthen London’s position as a global business hub.

“Only five per cent of those we asked did not think technological innovation was integral to their company’s business strategy in the next five years,” the analysis says.

While Brexit may present many challenges and opportunities to businesses, these findings demonstrate that London remains an attractive centre and that technological innovation could serve as a key differentiator for the capital in a post-Brexit economy.


 

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Author Luke Graham 

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Facebook facial recognition faces class-action suit

Facebook must face a class action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology, a California judge has ruled.

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook gathered biometric information without users’ explicit consent.

It involves the “tag suggestions” technology, which spots users’ friends in uploaded photos.

The lawsuit says this breaches Illinois state law.

Facebook said the case had no merit and it would fight it vigorously.

However in his order, US District Judge James Donato wrote: “Facebook seems to believe… statutory damages could amount to billions of dollars.”

‘Face templates’

On Monday, Judge Donato ruled to certify a class of Facebook users – a key legal hurdle for a class action suit.

In a successful class action suit, any person in that group could be entitled to compensation.

The class of people in question is made up of Facebook users “in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after 7 June 2011,” according to the court order.

The decision comes days after Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg faced intensive questioning by US lawmakers over the company’s collection and use of user data.

He is also due to meet European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip in San Francisco this week.

What does the facial recognition do?

June 2011 was the date on which Facebook rolled out its “tag suggestions” feature.
The feature suggests who might be present in uploaded photos, based on an existing database of faces.

In Judge Donato’s ruling, he laid out the four-step process behind the technology:
Initially, the software tries to detect any faces in an uploaded photo
It standardises and aligns them for size and direction.

Then, for each face, Facebook computes a face signature – a mathematical representation of the face in that photo.

Face signatures are then run through a stored database of user face templates to look for similar matches.

On its help pages, Facebook says the face templates are made from information about the similarities in every photo the user has been tagged in.

“If you’ve never been tagged in a photo on Facebook or have untagged yourself in all photos of you on Facebook, then we do not have this summary information for you,” the company says.

The feature is not available to users in most countries, including the UK – and can be turned off in settings for US users.

In December 2017 Facebook announced that users would be notified if a picture of them was uploaded by someone else, even if they hadn’t been tagged in it.

Due to privacy regulations, this feature would not be available in Europe or Canada, the firm said at the time.


 

Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavour to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!

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Startup founder who was rejected 148 times before raising almost £21 million made two small changes to get investors excited

A different type of entrepreneur might have given up.

And after 148 rejections from investors, no one would have faulted her for throwing in the towel.

But if there’s one thing Kathryn Minshew values, it’s perseverance – when one approach doesn’t work, she’s ready to try another.

Minshew is the cofounder and CEO of job-search and career-advice site The Muse. At this point, she and her colleagues have raised nearly $30 million.

But as Minshew told CFP Bobbi Rebell on an episode of the podcast “Financial Grownup,” the site had a rocky start, fielding one “no” after another during their seed round of investing.

In their Series A round, Minshew told Rebell, she was more deliberate about the way she pitched investors. She found that two strategies in particular helped her.

1. She pinned all of her first meetings with investors to a roughly three-week period.

Before that, Minshew said, she’d take whatever appointment the investors had available.
Now, she’d ask them to meet in a specific time frame and if they said they weren’t available, she’d respond with something like: “I need to get all of our first meetings done by X date. I can push it a few days. Let me know if you’re going to be able to make it work, and if not, totally fine. Maybe there will be another round that you can participate in.”

Inevitably, Minshew said, many investors would say they’d move around their schedule to fit in the meeting. “And the ones that weren’t able to or the ones that said, ‘No, sorry, I can’t do it,’ they probably would have never backed the company to begin with,” she added.

2. She solicited candid feedback from her end users.

This second strategy allowed her to stay confident that her idea was viable.
“If you tell someone you’re the founder of a company and ask for their input, they’re more likely to give you positive input because they don’t want to hurt your feelings,” Minshew said.

“If you tell them that you’re a consultant, helping a company understand how its market positioning lands or helping a company better understand what it’s doing well and what it’s not, people are much more likely to give you totally unfiltered feedback.”

Based on the feedback she was getting from her target audience, Minshew said, she understood that she had “tapped a nerve.” Even though there were areas where they could improve, there was a need for The Muse.
Minshew said, “We were on a path that people loved.”

Some wise advice and this just goes to show that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again.


 

Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavour to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!

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Author Shana Lebowitz

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UK/EU trade deal? Boy, it’s going to be a complicated year

When considering any difficult conundrum, it is often worth stating the obvious first.

Both sides in the negotiations between Britain and the European Union say they want a deal on trade once Brexit has happened.

Both have said they want that deal to be comprehensive – “deep and special” according to the UK.

Both have signalled they are willing to give ground to achieve their desired outcome.
Britain – for example – has moved on the issue of financial services’ access to the European Union once we have departed.

No “passporting rights” as Theresa May admitted in her Mansion House speech in London earlier this month.

Benefits

Just one of the “costs” of Brexit the Government is now admitting are attached to the decision to depart.
Alongside the “benefits” on sovereignty and the freedom to sign free trade deals with non-EU countries.

The EU – for example – has agreed that Britain will be able to negotiate and sign (if not implement) free trade deals with non-EU countries whilst still effectively a member of the single market during the implementation period.

And despite many protestations that there would be no such thing as a “bespoke” free trade deal for the UK, Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, has made it clear that a different type of deal is exactly what is on offer.

As David Cameron’s former advisor, Mats Persson, now of EY, points out, the offer of no tariffs and no quotas on goods trade between Britain and the EU already puts the deal in a better position than the EU’s agreements with Canada, Norway and Switzerland.
The two sides do differ on sticking points and red lines.

Equivalence

Such as how on earth do you solve the Irish border issue without resorting to “technological solutions” that even the most optimistic of trade negotiators admit don’t actually exist yet?

Or what does “equivalence” look like when it comes to regulating the insurance or banking industries for example?

And can that equivalence be too easily withdrawn by either side, leaving a great deal of regulatory risk on the post-Brexit table?

But, here are two sides in a difficult negotiation whose expressed will is to get a deal.

And, when it comes to negotiations, that is not a bad starting point.

Lower growth?

That is not to say for a moment that whatever Britain’s deal with the EU, there are not likely to be costs.

Nearly all the economic modelling done on any future free trade arrangements – including by the government – have said comparative economic growth is likely to be lower for the UK.

And growth since the referendum has softened as Brexit uncertainty has weighed on business confidence and the inflation spike linked to the fall in the value of sterling has re-introduced the incomes squeeze.

That’s when prices go up more quickly than peoples’ wages.
That effect is only now starting to unwind as the pound strengthens once again.
The timetable is tight for the “political agreement” planned for later this year on a future trade deal.

The government insists it is doable as there is already a great deal of regulatory trust between the two sides, bound as they have been for more than 40 years in a trading union.
And sources indicate that Britain will show the correct degree of humility in asking the “club” to rewrite the rules of an organisation we have just quit.
Heroic assumptions, critics will say.

No deal has been done and Parliament has not voted on leaving the customs union or the single market.

“A shambles” according to the Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw, will remain just that until the government either falls or a different deal is put in place.

For the two protagonists, though, at least in this negotiation both sides want an outcome whose similarities possibly outweigh the contradictions.


 

Here at Dollar Destruction, we endeavour to bring to you the latest, most important news from around the globe. We scan the web looking for the most valuable content and dish it right up for you! The content of this article was provided by the source referenced. Dollar Destruction does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. As always, we encourage you to perform your own research!

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Author Kamal Ahmed

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