The last major financial marketplace to be transformed by technology is the corporate bond market, but a new online trading venue is now providing access to fixed income in affordable sizes.
This sudden liberalisation of the main corporate bond markets amounts to something of a revolution. While in the UK, 53 per cent of pension investments go into bonds, direct investment by individual investors in corporate bonds remains negligible. With equity trading becoming more volatile, access to corporate bonds gives investors a means to buy in to established companies with reliable returns.
Causes for concern within the global economy are currently in plentiful supply, including the constantly talked-about threat of a deeper global downturn, Brexit uncertainties, the US-China trade war and different regional tensions.
There are, nonetheless, plenty of good opportunities available for savvy individuals, ranging from new areas of investment to companies that are democratising access to growth products.
Chief executives of smart companies across all industry sectors are beginning to see that a capacity for constant change is becoming fundamental to success and survival. Over a short time, implementing operational changes has shifted from being a one-off project to become a constant feature of what enterprises do.
Sustaining a global footprint of any scale requires businesses and public sector bodies to take a smart and long-term approach to their global payments, to avoid some serious and potentially costly pain points.
Traditionally, foreign payments have been left to well-known providers but now, with the help of new technology, rival providers are entering the market, tackling the common pitfalls and enabling organisations to pay the right person the right amount, at the right time, anywhere in the world.
When most private investors look at corporate bonds they see an appealing asset class, restricted by a powerful elite. The institutional, club nature of the corporate bond market, limited online trading venues and minimum purchase sizes typically above £100,000 a unit, immediately shut out almost all private investors. There has been an increasing clamour for this to change.
For many years, business sales teams have been dominated by individuals understood to have the “gift of the gab”. The remaining nearly six in ten salespeople expect they will fail to hit their quota, and businesses often cannot identify the root cause.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is enabling those organisations to unlock the true potential of their staff, by identifying what works among the top performers, highlighting the key moments revenue is won and lost, and teaching the middle band of the team how to apply the lessons.
There is little doubt that healthy and engaged employees are a significant driver of business success. As part of this, bosses must create a culture of openness and honesty that ensures health and wellbeing initiatives genuinely help employees. Yet traditionally many employers have fallen into the trap of making generalised assumptions about what their people need or want.
“In many situations, assumptions have driven organisations’ wellbeing strategies. As well-meaning as this might be, it often leads to a disconnect between what employees need and what businesses offer,” says Dr Mark Winwood, director of psychological services at AXA PPP healthcare. “Engagement is crucial if the health and wellbeing process is to work for each individual and deliver positive returns.’’
Stock, currency and commodity traders have long kept their insights and ideas to themselves, but information-sharing on dedicated platforms is enabling others to make money by copying or monitoring their actions. As retail traders share strategies, fund managers have a powerful new measure of market sentiment.
For many organisations, working with a long tail of smaller suppliers is time consuming and inefficient. Keeping on top of such a wide array of business relationships is near impossible. In addition, lack of data limits opportunities to negotiate better deals with preferred suppliers.
Data centre business Equinix has pulled together a digital vision for its procurement, beginning by shifting focus from transactional purchase management towards the lifecycle value of end-to-end source-to-pay (S2P). The fresh approach went live in May for its Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, ahead of a mirrored change this year in its America and Asia-Pacific locations.
Shifting attitudes about what is possible, coupled with the deployments of new technology, mean risk engineering is ever-changing. As buyers are increasingly aware of on-demand and flexible cover in personal insurance, demand is also emerging for risk engineering to be clearly aligned with their business purpose.
Large insurers in siloed and highly specialist fields are switching to have much more regular and deeper engagement with clients, and alignment to their strategies, backed by transparency and smart technology.
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