Credit: Reuters/Ki Price LONDON | Mon Oct 7, 2013 1:37am BST LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s banks and other financial firms are at their most optimistic for almost 17 years, according to an industry survey. Some 59 percent of UK financial services firms said they felt more optimistic about their business situation, compared to 6 percent who were less optimistic, according to the latest quarterly CBI/PwC financial services survey, released on Monday. The positive balance of 53 is the highest since December 1996. The survey, covering the three months to early September, also showed a net 24 percent of financial firms increased staff in the period, the biggest rise for six years. A net 14 percent of firms expect to increase staffing again in the current quarter. The CBI/PwC survey is based on the balance of firms reporting an increase and those reporting a decrease. The survey findings indicate about 10,000 jobs were added in the third quarter and another 2,000 will be created this quarter, taking UK financial services jobs to 1.14 million, CBI/PwC estimated. Business volumes fell in the latest quarter, however, mainly in banking. The CBI said 22 percent of financial firms reported a rise in business volumes, but 32 percent said they were down. A big majority of firms expect volumes to increase this quarter, it said. “Banks’ optimism is increasingly buoyant despite seeing a slight seasonal blip in commercial and industrial volumes. Activity and profitability are expected to grow as the economy recovers, and investment in new products and infrastructure is increasing,” said Kevin Burrowes, PwC’s UK financial services leader. Profitability rose for the fourth consecutive quarter, as companies managed to offset the fall in business volumes by increasing their margins, the survey showed. With costs expected to fall, profitability should increase further in the current quarter, firms said. (Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Christina Fincher)
Poor Internal Systems Have Cost UK SMEs £Billions
Earlier this week, it was Justin who led the girls, but after a long-fought weekend it was the ‘Don’t Save Me’ hit-makers who were able to finish the week as the no. 1 artist in the UK. Haim managed to beat JT after a long week of competition According to the Official UK Album Chart , Haim managed to score 2,100 more sales of their debut album, Days Are Gone, than Justin’s The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2, which at one point in the week had led the girls by just 28 copies. Ultimately though, it was the three piece from Los Angeles who made the top spot, making Justin have to wait before he can claim his fourth UK number one album. Coming in third was last week’s number one; Mechanical Bull by the Kings of Leon, with the Arctic Monkeys taking the fourth spot with their well-received fifth album AM. Finishing off the top five was Drake, whose new album Nothing Was The Same fell from two to number five in the album chart. Justin will have to wait for his fourth UK no. 1 Over in the singles chart, OneRepublic rounded off the US coup of the UK charts by gaining their first number one. The American band shot to the top of the Singles Chart with new track ‘Counting Stars,’ narrowly beating newcomers The Vamps, whose single ‘Can We Dance’ was beaten to the top spot by just over 1,000 copies. Making up the rest of the top five were Jason Derulo, whose track ‘Talk Dirty’ fell from no. 1 to no. 3 in the space of a week, Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ and Chase and Status’ latest track ‘Count On Me,’ featuring Moko.
The nationwide survey was carried out by Exact in order to get a better understanding of the working relationships and processes in place between SMEs and the people they regard as their most trusted business advisors, their accountants. Among the most startling findings was that 20% of SMEs admit to having forgotten to invoice for goods or services at least once. Among these, around 12% confess to not invoicing for a job worth between 5,000 and 10,000, while 6% admit to having forgotten to invoice for a job worth more than 10,000. The implication for the UK’s 4.8 million SMEs(1) – which account for 99.9% of all private sector businesses in the UK – is that they are collectively out of pocket by as much as 3.7 billion. “We don’t want to blow this issue out of proportion,” said Hartmut Wagner, Managing Director of Cloud Solutions Exact, “but these findings do highlight that many SMEs who are eager to grow are not doing themselves any favours, particularly with so many of them expressing concern over their cash-flow.” The survey showed the biggest cause of stress for SMEs is fighting for new business (31%), closely followed by worries over finances (23%), such as cash-flow issues, debtors and business planning. One-quarter (25%) of business owners and leaders admit that they don’t feel fully in control of their accounts and business finances. The ramifications of these shortcomings also appear to have a wider impact on their business with nearly half (45%) of SMEs say that they have had to defer payments of one kind or another due to cash-flow problems, including failing to pay their staff wages on time (12%). “Being fully in control of your finances is clearly vital to better business decision making,” Mukesh Shah, Head of Outsourcing at accountancy firm HW Fisher & Company, said. “The findings of the Exact research seem to suggest that there is a real need for better working practices and processes to be in place between accountants and their SME clients, something we pride ourselves with. “SMEs are placing more and more faith in their accountants, not just to sort out their books but also in advising them over broader business decisions, and in a large proportion of cases that appears to be hampered by poor systems and processes,” Shah added. The survey confirmed that more than half (54%) of SME leaders trust their accountant more than anyone else, including their own business partners (38%), when it comes to broader business issues. This level of trust appears to be reciprocated by accountants, with over half (51%) of those polled saying they feel they hold some influence over their SME clients’ broader business decision making.