GDPR, Recruitment and Energy Resilience: SME business news – Q4 2017
22 December 2017
Keep your finger on the pulse of significant industry changes and the biggest news affecting SMEs across the UK with our quarterly round-up of business bulletins. We’ve rounded up the fourth quarter of 2017’s hottest topics from October to December, some of which may impact upon your own business.
After another 12 months of significant development on the SME front, staying on top of the ever-changing business world can be tough. As the year wraps up, we’ve made things easier with a collection of press cuttings that affected small-to-medium businesses during the final quarter.
More than half of UK SMEs still unfamiliar with the GDPR
We wrote about the GDPR and how it affects your SME towards the end of the third quarter. When it comes into effect next May, it will bring with it some extraordinarily significant changes which will majorly impact your business if you aren’t GDPR-compliant.
Small Business reported in early October that more than half of UK SMEs are still unfamiliar with the GDPR. Specifically, the article notes that 55% of SMEs within the UK aren’t aware of the GDPR and what it entails, with 18% also revealing that they would be risking insolvency after being hit with the new fines under the GDPR.
Set to go into effect as of May 2018, the GDPR tightens up data protection compliance regulation, synchronising data protection rules across the European Union and applies to all organisations that collect personal data.
Patrick Wheeler, partner and head of intellectual property and data protection at Collyer Bristow, stated: “It cannot be overstated just how far reaching a change the GDPR will be to the data protection landscape in the UK. It impacts any business that deals with personal data – no matter how small.
“The good news is that businesses still have time to get their data protection in order, so long as they act quickly. A business that starts working on this today can be a compliant business on day one of the GDPR.”
Talent is number one priority for SME investment
Small Business also reported that SMEs were committed to investing in staff over other areas such as supplier choice and technology investment. This comes as part of a study conducted by American Express who found that nearly a quarter of firms believe that hiring new staff is their biggest business decision.
In carrying out this study, the article also reports that SMEs found the process of hiring staff somewhat challenging. A third of SMEs reported that finding applicants with the appropriate expertise was a difficulty, while another 27% found that funding new employees is proving a concern.
Despite this, SMEs say they would remain committed to investing in their staff if revenues were to double. Jose Carvalho, senior vice-president at American Express, said: “There are many hurdles on the path to business growth and securing top talent is a key priority for ambitious SMEs. Whether expanding at home or globally, business owners are looking for partners that can help them attract and retain staff.”
Autumn budget reflects post-Brexit caution
Towards the end of November, Small Business reported on the chancellor of the exchequer, Phillip Hammond’s Autumn Budget and the picture of a post-Brexit Britain it will likely paint.
Described as a “balanced budget to prepare the UK to tackle the challenges of Brexit head on”, the article noted the budget’s forecasted dip in productivity and business investment. Tax partner at UHY Hacker Young, Simon Browning, said: “It is worrying to see over the coming years…wage inflation could be limited as a result of this and it will have a knock-on effect in terms of business confidence.”
Meanwhile, Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, looked towards the effect this could have on SMEs, saying: “Our own research has found that 70% of UK micro-businesses think that Brexit will have a negative impact on the economy. The budget is therefore a missed opportunity to provide some much-needed relief and reassurance to these five million business owners, who make up the backbone of the economy.”
Since the growth forecast has been slashed, the article suggests this is a clear indication of the economic uncertainty that small to medium-sized businesses face as we prepare to exit the European Union.
Bitcoin futures experience price surge on Cboe exchange debut
The New Economy reported in early December that the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, made a move towards financial legitimacy following its debut on the Cboe Futures Exchange – the first time the digital currency has featured on a major US exchange.
Growing from $15,460 to $18,700 per one-month contract, it shows the levels of acceptance the currency has made in the mainstream, with the currency set to increase further once heavyweight financial traders get involved, according to Ophir Gottlieb, CEO of Capital Market Laboratories.
“Even if there is an institution or institutional-sized trader out there, they are going to want to make sure that the mechanics work first, just for the futures,” Gottlieb said. “I think the excitement will come when the futures market is established. That can take a few days.”
Although no bitcoins are actually being traded, investors are able to buy and sell contracts that enable them to bet on the price of bitcoin falling or rising in the future. It’s hoped that its activity on the futures exchange will give it broader exposure and acceptance.
Others, however, warn of a bubble that has been emerging for some time. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, has slammed it as a fraud with a crash that could massively affect those who have invested time and money in it.
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