The automotive and technology industries are rapidly developing self-driving cars. But while these vehicles are expected on UK roads within three years the legal frameworks for liability and data privacy remain far from ready, says leading global insurance law firm Kennedys.
Car insurance may have operated essentially the same way for many years, but it faces a new complication in the form of self-driving cars. In an accident, questions abound whether it was the fault of the autonomous system or the driver, how it can be determined whether the car was manually driven or automated at that moment and if the system had been tampered with or hacked.
In any public sector organisation, chief information officers (CIOs) are appointed with significant expectation. They come under pressure to effect wide transformation, but this is nearly impossible when government operational models are typically inflexible.
“Any newly appointed CIO needs to quickly demonstrate high effectiveness and influence,” says Neville Cannon, research director at Gartner. “To succeed they must resist and manage transformation hype before they can effect successful change.”
Aside from the high-tech and leading corporates, adoption of digital technologies in the manufacturing sector remains subdued, a consequence perhaps of not seeing widespread evidence of the tangible benefits. Achieving expected returns on investment from advanced analytics and AI is less a question of technology and more a business challenge.
Success stories among early adopters are well publicised and demonstrate the advantages to be gained when the power of data from multiple sources is harnessed through expert hands and into business execution.
Investing in real estate portfolios, private equity firms and other non-public corporate enterprises has typically been the exclusive domain of asset and wealth managers whose clients have £100,000 or more to put in. But the security of blockchain technology and the reliability of distributed ledgers mean investments can easily be broken into smaller chunks, offering opportunities to everyone. Anyone with as little as £200 can now invest in assets that were beyond reach.
Individuals and businesses increasingly demand that the packaging enclosing their products is not ecologically damaging, as awareness rises around the effect of packaging on the environment. Meanwhile, governments are pushing the packaging industry to reduce its environmental impact dramatically. Against this backdrop, cartonboard is gaining ever-greater favour and in many cases it is replacing plastic.
Funds' use of subscription lines and leverage facilities is evolving as managers seek to enhance
operational efficiencies and returns.
Debt funds and financial sponsors are increasingly calling on banks to provide subscription line and leverage facilities, in an effort to increase operational flexibility and boost returns. We speak to key market players to see how market participants are approaching these transactions.
Tax rules are updated daily around the world, which means getting purchase orders and invoices right the first time is far from straightforward. It presents a serious challenge to businesses of all sizes attempting to transact in different locations, but it also offers an opportunity to develop favoured buying relationships by getting the process consistently right.
In procurement, many departments aim to address the issue by manually keeping track of changing legislation in different parts of the world and then applying the rules to their purchase orders. But they regularly need to speak with sellers to correct tax on problematic invoices. Finding themselves over or underbilled for tax causes frustration with suppliers, aside from potential financial problems, so there is a strong incentive for buyers to ensure things are right from the start.
Consumers and companies are taking an active interest in cryptocurrencies, but there is clearly a long way to go before their eventual role in personal and business finance is fully realised. To some degree, a lack of broader awareness of what cryptocurrencies have to offer is holding the industry back. But so too is a lack of joined up thinking within some projects.
“Very few of the 2,000 or so cryptocurrencies operating have a truly business-like operational structure and a hierarchy that ensures they make good strategic decisions,” says Rowan Stone, director of business development for cryptocurrency ZenCash. “All these digital currencies are still in the phase of the geeks – too complicated and clunky for many to use. People are starting to realise that by fixing this we can make traditional finance efficient.”
Liability insurers are highly averse to risks they cannot accurately quantify and that could present major payouts. Insurers’ risk aversion can be traced back to their being swamped with claims in the wake of deaths linked to asbestos in the latter half of the last century, a phase that nearly broke the Lloyd’s insurance market.
Since those claims, “many insurers routinely insist upon exclusions for various emerging risks in their policies”, explains Bob Reville, chief executive at insurtech firm Praedicat. The company found in a recent survey that 83 per cent of underwriters see their job as “protecting their company against the next asbestos”, which might be mobile phones, wifi, nanotechnology, 3D printing, fracking or anything else. “When they do that job by adding exclusions, this can leave their clients exposed,” says Dr Reville.
Mergers and acquisitions are undergoing a period of immense change. Many corporates will spend cash assertively to beat incoming economic and disruptive challenges. For others, the changing supply of liquidity and debt will rattle nerves and provoke hesitancy. Given the economic environment, trade tariffs, and Chinese capital controls, buyers have the choice to sit still or take the reins of change. Focus on target selection, diligence and execution will be paramount to capturing success.
A selection of articles, reports and other content.