Welcome to the latest edition of Covered

Welcome to our latest edition of Covered. While the season is definitely turning to Autumn, I hope you all enjoyed the long hot summer and that it’s not too distant a memory!

Since our last newsletter we have been through the joys of GDPR, so if you have received this newsletter and do not wish to, I do apologise and ask you to please ‘opt out’ by emailing marketing@tldallas.com or via the unsubscribe link at the base of the email.

We are looking forward to a busy quarter here at TL Dallas – amongst other things we are starting preparations for our Centenary year next year. We set up a Charitable Trust a few years ago, with the aim of raising í100,000 by 2019, to support causes close to our employees’ hearts. We are well on our way, having enjoyed race nights, quizzes, bake sales, mountain walks and dress down/up days.

Next year we are intending a group sky dive and other similarly ambitious fund raising efforts to reach our final target. For more information or to donate please visit our website.

As always, this edition of ‘Covered’ includes comment and articles from across our network and specialisms. Please do not hesitate to contact any member of the team to find out more.

Polly Staveley

Managing Director

polly.staveley@tldallas.com

 

Travel tips

If you’re escaping for some Winter sun or planning a trip next year, here are five useful things to remember …

 

1. Always buy the right cover for you

Don’t just look at the price of travel insurance. Make sure you buy cover that has all the protection you’ll need – such as covering any activities you might be doing, or any medical conditions you have. If you don’t, and something goes wrong, you might end up having to shoulder the cost. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has some helpful advice about choosing the right cover here.

 

2. Don’t leave it too late

It is best to book your travel insurance policy at the same time as you book your holiday – so you’ve got a policy in place in case your circumstances change and you need to cancel your trip.

 

3. Don’t pay the price for drinking too much

Alcohol exclusions are a common feature of travel insurance. While you’re not expected to avoid alcohol completely, it is worth bearing in mind your claim may be turned down if it’s linked to excessive drinking. There are an increasing number of reports on this in the media and you can read more in the Financial Ombudsman Service newsletter.

 

4. Check it’s safe to travel

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office gives official advice about whether it’s safe to travel in different countries and regions. Also check what your travel insurance says about things like natural disasters and political unrest.

 

5. Keep your insurer in the loop

Make sure you always carry your insurer’s contact details with you. If something goes wrong, contact your insurer as soon as possible – they should be able to tell you what’s covered and advise you what to do next. If you go ahead without checking first, you might end up having to pay out yourself.

 

At TL Dallas many of the Household and Business policies we arrange include good quality Travel Insurance, or we can arrange stand alone cover. Please contact your local office for more information.

 

Source: Financial Ombudsman newsletter, 2018

 

Avoiding Trade Credit Fraud

It can be difficult to identify a potential fraud but there are some warning signs to look out for that can assist in avoiding and certainly reducing the negative impact this can have on a business.

Losses due to fraud are not generally covered by Credit Insurance policies meaning your Insurer is not liable for this loss. However, there are some exceptional cases where we know underwriters have accepted liability, so having a policy may have added benefits!

The TL Dallas Group of companies and the insurers we place cover with are seeing significant increases in the number of fraud overdues or claims being reported by clients. In particular, ‘assumed identity’ fraud cases – this is when a third party assumes the identity of well established creditworthy businesses.

CEO fraud is the impersonation of a company’s CEO or high-ranking officer to try and trick an employee into transferring money. Unfortunately, as it is subsequently discovered, these payments have gone to the fraudsters account.

Currently, the main sectors affected are Food & Drink, IT and Construction. However, all sectors are being targeted.

Some points to be wary of include:

FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

  • Confirm the issued share capital stated in the Company’s accounts are consistent with the annual returns
  • Be wary of a Company that submits accounts shortly after its financial year end or a dormant company suddenly becoming active
  • Be wary of Companies filing above and beyond its filing requirements. Remember a ‘small company’ is required to submit abbreviated accounts to Companies House and ‘micro-entities’ are required to submit simpler accounts that meet minimum statutory requirements
  • Compare accounts to other Companies within the same industry and be wary of Companies that have filed accounts which appear ‘too good to be true’. lf the accounts are audited, check if they’re registered using http://auditregister.org.uk/Forms/Default.aspx
  • Conflicting trade sectors – eg. Companies House states ‘wholesale of food + beverages’, but their website/status report states manufacture of metal
  • Check the Directors do not have any association to failed companies or high volume of newly incorporated companies as this can be a warning sign
  • Frequent or sudden change/s in shareholders/directors or registered office can also be a warning sign

NEW CUSTOMERS

  • An unsolicited enquiry with a short/urgent delivery deadline – the potential new customer will be persistent and put you under pressure to open an account. There will be an unusually short period between first contact, order and delivery date.
  • No landline telephone number provided – only a mobile number. Calls are usually not answered but go to voicemail and then your call is returned. If a landline is provided, when you call it’s been disconnected or just rings out.
  • Mirror imaging of existing genuine email and website addresses. They are usually very similar to the company they are impersonating, however there will be subtle differences, i.e.:
    • Genuine company website address –www.tldallas.com
    • Fraudulent company – www.t-l-dallas.com
  • Professional looking website but with little functionality. The website will look OK, but basic and light on any details, landline telephone number etc.
  • Verify the website using Whois-Search – http://www.whois-search.com/
  • Be cautious with trade references and check them thoroughly – some recent cases we have seen have highlighted the trade references given were fraudulent and that associates, were also involved in the fraud.
  • The buyer is generally not interested in price with little or no negotiation – why would they be if they are not going to pay you!
  • Buyer requests to collect goods themselves from your premises/warehouse, often in a private car or unmarked vehicle
  • Being asked to deliver goods to a different company or an unknown third party
  • Buyer changing delivery address at short notice – use Google Maps or Royal Mail postcode and address finder to verify addresses
  • Potential customer is overly ready to supply information – trade references and accounts/managements accounts are available without being asked
  • Confirm that the supplied VAT and bank details are genuine

EXISTING CUSTOMERS

Be wary of last minute requests, from your existing customers, if they do not follow their usual established trading pattern – check the details out further and call your usual contact and confirm changes in writing.

Further useful information can be found here.

 

If you would like to discuss Credit Insurance, please call 01274 465 522 or 01324 717 466. Alternatively, email your details to credit@tldallas.com and a member of the team will be in touch.

 

Pensions – Get the date right and stay on target

Most over-45s are not making plans to match their hopes for the future, according to recent research *.

The vast majority (86%) of those aged 45 or over are already dreaming about escaping their working life for retirement, but only 8% of the same age group have recently checked the retirement date on their pension plans to make sure they are still in line with their plans.

Over half surveyed (56%) do not have a clear idea of when they want to retire and only 10% have worked out how much income they will need when they decide to stop working. The study reveals it doesn’t get much clearer as you go up the generations, less than a fifth (17%) of those aged between 55-64 have recently checked to see if the retirement date on their pension policy is still fitting with their plans.

 

FOUR REASONS TO KEEP YOUR RETIREMENT PLANS UP TO DATE
1 RIGHT SUPPORT, RIGHT TIME

If the date you plan to retire changes, or you simply want to take some of your pension without stopping work, it is important to tell your pension company. Otherwise you many not receive information and support about your pending retirement at the most helpful times, as they will be basing this on outof-date plans.

2 DE-RISKING INVESTMENTS

Some investment options will start to move your pension savings into lower risk investments as you get closer to retirement. If you don’t have the right retirement date on your plan, you could be moving into these investments at the wrong time. ie. move too early and you could potentially miss out on investment returns, but move too late and you could be exposing your life savings to unnecessary risk.

3 INVESTMENT POT

The size of pension pot you need to build up to maintain your lifestyle when you retire will depend on when you plan to do so.

4 INCOME

If you’re planning to buy an annuity at retirement to guarantee an income for the rest of your life, the amount of income you get will depend on the size of your pot and annuity rates at that time. If you prefer to use your pension saving more flexibly, you can keep your money invested and take it as and when you need to. You’re then responsible for making sure your life savings last as long as you need them to.

 

Reviewing your retirement date regularly, particularly as you get older and closer to retiring, is to be recommended and most pension plans these days enable you to revise your retirement date whenever you choose.

For some these decisions can seem daunting. At TL Dallas we are committed to helping our clients make the most of their money. Whatever your financial needs and objectives, we can help you achieve your goals, while ensuring that you are comfortable with the risks involved.

If you would like to discuss your pension, or any other financial situation, please get in touch on 01274 465557 or email gary@tldallasifs.co.uk.

It will only take a few minutes, with no obligation on your part, but it could end up giving you real security and peace of mind.

*research carried out online for Standard Life by Opinium (November 2017)

 

The importance of due diligence

Due diligence is a term given to the process of assessing a company before you invest in it. Unless you count “spray and pray” as an investment strategy, due diligence is of critical importance to investors in driving portfolio returns. The difficult question is, how to conduct due diligence properly but at reasonable cost?

The Par Equity Model

Par Equity is a venture capital firm founded by people with a range of business backgrounds. Early on, we decided that involving business angels in our investment model would be a good thing. In our experience, business angels bring many desirable qualities – understanding of businesses, sector experience, contacts, willingness to become involved operationally and, of course, investment appetite. In short, it’s a force multiplier for the core investment team and it really helps with technical and commercial due diligence.

These experienced business people come into their own during the origination and evaluation stages of investment. Par Equity benefits from the breadth of experience and insights they offer – as do investors in our EIS fund. Of course, most venture capital firms have access to specialist expertise. The crucial difference is that our investor network puts its money where its mouth is.

The Nature of Diligence

We divide due diligence, into financial, legal, technical and commercial. On the plus side, early-stage companies tend to be uncomplicated from a financial perspective. Legal diligence, although usually fairly straightforward, is important. We generally do that towards the end of the investment process. Technical and commercial due diligence present greater challenges, because this is where specialist knowledge really counts.

The nature of technical due diligence varies from company to company, but typically involves understanding what the technology does, how developed it is, what technical challenges remain in bringing it to market or refining it for broader distribution, how robust it is and, perhaps most importantly, how protectable it is. The strategy around protecting intellectual property is a critical factor.

Commercial diligence involves understanding a company’s business model and value proposition, its target markets, how the management team are going to access those target markets, and the competitive landscape they will face in doing so. It’s also relevant to informing a view on where the most likely routes to exit lie. An exit, where investors sell their shares, is after all the ultimate objective.

The Costs of Diligence

Assuming that robust assessment of a potential investment is not optional, the problem is that due diligence tends to be a costly process.

Internalising the skills and experience by hiring the necessary talent into the investment team builds costs that must be recovered through investment management fees and can result in a narrow investment focus. Renting the necessary skills and experience from consultants when you need it reduces the investment manager’s overheads, but there are still fees that need to be paid by someone – generally the investee company. This is cash that would otherwise be used to build that company’s business.

Par Equity’s approach of using angel investors as part of its investment model is a creative solution to these problems and, because the angels are investing their own money, their interests are aligned with those of investors in Par Equity’s EIS fund.

Article supplied by Par Equity

For more information on Par Equity please contact pauline.cassie@parequity.com

 

TL Dallas offer due diligence services – providing insurance and risk due diligence services for investors, banks, lead advisors, NXDs and corporate clients relating to mergers, acquisitions, disposals and re-financing transactions.

For further information in this area please contact Bernard Dunn on 0141 204 0300 or email bernard.dunn@tldallas.com

 

What Keeps Directors Awake at Night?

Earlier this year, we partnered with Brodies LLP to discuss ‘What Keeps Directors Awake at Night?’ examining the roles, responsibilities and potential liabilities which face directors and senior staff in today’s ever-changing business environment.

Topics covered included:

  • Directors & Officers – responsibilities and liabilities
  • The Companies Act
  • Corporate Homicide & Manslaughter
  • Health & Safety prosecutions
  • Cyber threats

 

You can listen to the webinar here and for further details please contact:

Tim Mackenzie, TL Dallas on 0131 322 2632 or email tim.mackenzie@tldallas.com.

Laura McMillan, Brodies LLP on 0141 245 6748 or email laura.mcmillan@brodies.com

 

Edinburgh – The Tech Capital

Along with a number of cities across the UK, Edinburgh is fast becoming one of the largest centres for excellence in the IT sector. With the favourable economic spin offs from a highly skilled and well paid workforce the benefits to the local community are significant in this fast changing economic outlook. Whilst there aresome extremely large and successful businesses that have become very well known, such as Skyscanner and Fanduel, there are an increasingly large number of smaller businesses specialising in highly diverse areas from driverless car technology, photographic software to the global hospitality sector. They are at the cutting edge in an area of business with no geographical boundaries or restrictions to curb either growth or enthusiasm. With incubators such as Codebase now widening their own footprint in Scotland they are able to provide ideal solutions for small businesses to tap into each others knowledge and innovative thinking to make sure this upward trajectory continues.

At TL Dallas we have been involved in assisting the insurance requirements for start up and mature tech businesses for many years now and fully understand the needs of an effective insurance programme combined with the need to keep costs down, particularly at an early stage. A number of our larger clients had just 2 or 3 employees when we became involved and some now have significant revenues and staff numbers as they look to grow their businesses both in the UK and overseas.

TL Dallas can advise on the basic insurance requirements around Public & Employers Liability and protection of physical assets. However, more frequently we are involved in advice around Intellectual Property, Cyber and Crime risks alongside the more traditional Professional Indemnity and Management Liability exposures.

These relatively new insurance covers are becoming more widely available and at a more agreeable premium, but there are still a small number of insurers who can offer comprehensive policy wordings offering wide protection. Part of the underwriting exercise is to ensure that an insurer fully understands the business you are in and can modify and tailor their policies to match specific requirements. No two IT businesses are the same so why should insurers issue the same policy for all IT companies.

More often than not the need to purchase specialist covers is driven by clients who demand certain types and levels of cover in order to transact business with them. We can assist with a ‘sense check’ to ensure you can meet these requirements but also advise on industry good practice and standards around limits of indemnity and breadth of cover required. Increasingly as the market becomes more global we are able to assist with overseas placements and providing insurance advice for overseas contracts.

If you are a start up business looking for your first insurance package or a larger business looking for an alternative view on your insurance programme please get in touch with your local TL Dallas contact or call Tim Mackenzie on 0131 322 2632 or email tim.mackenzie@tldallas.com

 

Brexit and the Motor Insurance Industry

Though the Brexit referendum was over two years ago, we’re still waiting to see the shape of the motor insurance sector once we actually exit the EU. This is particularly pertinent in motor insurance where more than 2.5 million private and commercial vehicles travel from the UK to the EU every year.

Cross border travel

Currently, no separate documents are needed in the EU, and UK driving licences are valid, which helps maintain a high level of productivity and reduces bureaucracy for drivers. After Brexit, or the new proposed transition period, restrictions could be reintroduced potentially hampering both drivers and businesses. Taking your vehicle to the continent could present several new challenges, such as longer waiting times to clear customs and tighter checks on vehicle and driver documents at borders for those driving through Europe with UK registered vehicles.

An option for travel being considered is the reintroduction of green cards as proof of valid insurance. Obtaining a green card is the responsibility of the policyholder, but would lead to increased costs for insurers and brokers. Another solution is to maintain a free-circulation zone and maintain regulatory alignment with the EU Motor Insurance Directive, or by the UK becoming a ‘third-country’ under articles 7 and 8 of the Directive.

Also concerning is that UK drivers won’t hold EU licences post-Brexit. A solution being posed is to ratify the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, allowing drivers to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP), valid for 12 months, enabling them to drive in nations signed up to the convention. As well as this, the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill may close the UK divergence from the Convention on trailer registration and aid a smooth transition for UK hauliers to continue operating in the EU post-Brexit.

Access to insurance

The UK motor insurance market is very diverse and includes capacity from more than 700 EU insurers that currently ‘passport-in’ to the UK under their country’s own regulatory regime. Consumers and businesses need access to a wide choice in insurance providers for a number of reasons, and for brokers it’s essential there remains barrier-free, tariff-free trade.

More expensive claims

Despite the agreement from the EU in principal that there will be a transition period, there is no firm agreement on trading agreements post-Brexit. So given the global supply chain, costs of repair could increase after Brexit as a result of tariffs and bureaucracy. For commercial vehicle risks, this could be even worse with delays in supply leading to higher financial losses as a result of vehicles being off the road for longer.

The UK government has said there won’t be a ‘regulation bonfire’, suggesting many of the current regulatory regimes might stay. The Motor Insurance Directive was transposed into UK legislation for example, and is likely to stay. Brexit is still a confusing process for insurance companies and brokers to navigate which will only become clear when matters get decided.

 

Source: BIBA’s Guide to The Future of Motor Insurance – Jon Dye, Head of Motor Insurance, Allianz

 

Three Peaks Challenge

Several members of the TL Dallas team recently took part in the Three Peaks Challenge to raise funds for two of the UK’s largest charities: The British Heart Foundation and Mind. The Challenge involved climbing the UK’s three highest peaks in only 24 hours. A total climb of 3,407m or 11,178ft!

The TL Dallas team, represented by Jason Tyas, Violetta Wojcik, Susan Battersby and Lizzy Solway, joined volunteers from each of the 14 member brokers within the UNA Alliance to take on the challenge which started at Ben Nevis at 14:40 on Thursday 28th June and finished at the foot of Snowdon on Friday 29th at 14:40.

Every individual showed great courage taking on the challenge and have done a fantastic job in helping to raise funds for charity. Each of the peaks provided their own unique challenges for our volunteers. Ben Nevis, the highest of the three, was the first peak to be taken on. It was an unforgiving climb due to the volunteers being unable to see the top of the mountain while climbing. Just when they thought the top would be in sight, the teams who were ahead and already descending the mountain were saying, ‘you’re only half way there’!

The temperatures were extremely high throughout, with the heat rising over 25 degrees at various points during the challenge. Thankfully there was some respite in the form of snow on the top of Ben Nevis and the volunteers stuffed it into their hats and socks to cool them down! There was an allocation of around 5 hours for Ben Nevis. However, due to the weather conditions the going was tough and it took the teams around 5 1/2 hours to complete.

Scafell Pike was next. While it was the smallest of the three peaks, the trail was rocky and the climb had to be done at night with the use of head torches, making it an even tougher obstacle to conquer. Even with the added challenge of darkness, the teams managed to complete it 30 minutes quicker than the allotted four hour time slot, therefore making up for lost time on Ben Nevis.

By the time the teams arrived at Snowdon, they had already climbed 2,322m (7,618ft) and travelled 474 miles in 20 hours leaving only four hours to complete the challenge. Mental resilience became a key factor for the last peak as the volunteers battled both physical exhaustion from the intense exercise, including minor injuries, aches and pains, but also lack of sleep.

Despite these issues, eight of the volunteers managed to make it to the finish line within the 24 hour deadline. One team that didn’t finish in the allowed time continued on regardless and completed the full challenge just a few hours over time.

Whilst it was unfortunate that the weather conditions, amongst other factors, prevented many of the volunteers from completing the challenge we did have a volunteer from TL Dallas who managed to complete it in 23 hours and 45 minutes. Huge congratulations is much deserved for Susan Battersby from our Honley office. The challenge was particularly poignant for Susan who exactly three years to the day the challenge started was admitted to a mental health facility to begin her long journey to recovery. Clearly she has proved to herself that three years on she has the mental strength to conquer this demanding feat and that she has made huge progress in this time.

Everyone involved greatly enjoyed their experience and they all emphasised that the main thing is the funds raised are going to two fantastic charities: The British Heart Foundation and Mind.

If you wish to donate to either of these charities you still can at www.justgiving.com/teams/unahearts- and-minds.

Article supplied by Gareth James, TL Dallas Account Handler and UNA communications representative

 

Client Insight – Specialist Joinery Group, Maghera, N.Ireland

Specialist Joinery Group is a dynamic, family owned and operated business with 30 year’s experience in delivering bespoke joinery packages for the contract interior markets with a dazzling client portfolio spanning across many continents and sectors including prestige, luxury residential, office fit out, healthcare and education.

Ciaran O’Hagan, Managing Director, comments,

“Over the past 30 years in business the company has delivered an outstanding portfolio of major projects for leading law practices, pharmaceutical companies, universities and hospitals as well as working for some of the world’s most distinguished brands; Estée Lauder, Google, Rolls Royce, AECOM and Amazon.

Clients connect with us because they require high quality bespoke joinery, tailor made for their project. These schemes are usually challenging and require expert knowledge which we are proud to offer. SJG attracts a high volume of repeat business, not just because of what we deliver, but how we deliver it. Our philosophy is simple; we work harder to deliver better.

We aspire to be a world recognised brand, which in the mind of our people and our clients signifies excellence in interior finishing trades. It is our vision to enhance the fabric of life by working together to create amazing places in which people can live and work.”

As a dynamic and innovative company Specialist Joinery Group continually reinvests in its people, processes and production capabilities. In May 2018, on the anniversary of our 30th year in business, our latest factory extension was officially opened. This transformation increased Specialist HQ to over 3 acres of manufacturing excellence under one roof. The new development consisted of the latest ‘state of the art’ technology, as well as a 200 seater canteen, an employee gym and a dedicated staff wellness suite.

The motto is, “look after your staff and they will look after your customers”.

 

Learn more about our specialist business at specialistjoinerygroup.co.uk

 

Staff Spotlight – Jonathan Smith Strategic Director – Trade Credit & Surety

1. What does your role entail?

In essence, as a relatively new member of the team, my role is one which means review is required first. Going forward, I’ll be concentrating on how the Credit function is strengthened as this area of the business continues to grow. Finally, my focus will be expanding our presence geographically to ensure we continue building on the strong foundations set by others within the team.

 

2. What part of your role do you find most rewarding?

Problem solving and finding solutions! I really do get a buzz out of the fact, that in this industry no day is the same and we really do get involved in such a variety of businesses with their own unique needs. We also meet some very dedicated and passionate people, who in themselves are inspirational.

 

3. Most challenging part of your role?

Knowing when to stop, sometimes! Perhaps my new role as a grandparent will help with this one!

 

4. Outside of work, what motivates you, or what do you enjoy doing?

Outside of work my interests include the garden, league squash, golf and recently my wife and I have really enjoyed attending some six nations games at Twickers and the Principality. Travel plans are back on the agenda as the kids both got married in 2016 and flew the nest or should I say we thought they were, until they both with their respective other halves announced the family is expanding with new arrivals due soon.

 

5. Is there any one person that inspires you, and why?

No one specific comes to mind but those such as Winston Churchill have left an impression. He wasn’t always popular but he knew his own mind and followed through on his convictions.

 

Contact Jonathan Smith on 07983 325766 or email jonathan.smith@tldallas.com