The Importance Of Audit In The Evolving Financial Reporting Ecosystem

The debate about responsible financial reporting has not been sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the future of audit—and how it should adapt to changing stakeholder demands—has only grown in importance as financial reporting ecosystem participants consider how to deliver reporting that provides the insights for businesses and investors to recover and thrive.

To inform this debate and understand the value placed on financial statement audits, Deloitte Global surveyed 351 C-suite, finance and audit committee executives, investors, shareholders, and board members across nine countries from a broad spectrum of companies. The survey, which was conducted in April/May 2020, at the height of the initial global response to COVID-19, shows that even within the economic turmoil of the pandemic, market participants place great value on audits and the assurance that they provide.

Audit remains essential

The survey results underscore the fact that audit is an integral part of the financial reporting ecosystem, which includes management, boards and those charged with governance, regulators, standard setters, auditors, and investors, each having an important role to play. Ninety-eight percent of respondents agree that an audit of a company’s financial statements allows them to trust and rely on the financial statements to some degree (31% agree completely, 62% agree strongly, 5% agree somewhat).

There continues to be differing views about the perceived scope and purpose of audit. While today’s complex business environment requires the audit to be dynamic, multidimensional, and insightful in order to meet changing needs and expectations, there has been a growing demand for audits to evolve and provide real-time, relevant information, and companies expect audits to keep pace as they innovate their businesses and processes.

Auditing firms are responding to these demands to modernize the audit. These advancements seem to have made an impact, as 94% of respondents said that they are more confident in their financial statement audit process than they were five years ago, with nearly one-third (32%) answering that they are much more confident. Although great progress has been made, with increasing complexity, risk, and expectations, there is still more to do.

Expanding audit

Ninety-two percent of respondents seek a more holistic view of the direction their organization is heading from their audits. When asked which business areas they would like their audit to include in the future, they were equally split among the following areas—corporate culture, sustainability practices, ethical standards and practices, social responsibility practices, corporate purpose, and cyber risk.

When asked specifically about financial statement audits, 95% of those surveyed said that a financial statement audit should provide additional value beyond providing an independent auditor’s report on the historical financial information. These findings suggest that a financial statement audit should inform as well as assure, extending its scope to areas of broader public interest, not solely historic financial statements.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) believe financial statement audits are designed to provide assurance that any fraud will be detected by the auditors. However, in its current form, an audit is not designed to provide these absolute assurances indicating there is a misunderstanding about what an audit is designed to do. The auditor’s responsibilities in relation to detecting fraud is an area of continued focus in adapting the scope of the audit and requires the constructive, integrated evolution of standards.

Fraud risk is not new, but recent corporate failures have increased the focus. This is emphasizing the responsibilities of management boards, regulators, and auditors. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant operational and financial pressures on many companies and may have led to changes or weaknesses in their internal controls.

Transparency expectations

Technological disruption, rapid market changes, and recent events have also highlighted the desire for greater transparency and breadth in reporting. A majority (65%) of executives surveyed cited greater visibility and transparency around the process and outcomes of the audit as a way to address these expectations.

Further, we see much greater interest in sustainability by a range of stakeholders. Over the past years, issues such as ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance have moved from being a fringe interest to a key factor in investment decisions.

Auditing firms are actively engaging with policymakers in evolving the scope of the audit—taking a critical look at the auditor’s role within the financial reporting ecosystem and how greater transparency can drive more meaningful financial reporting.

A financial reporting ecosystem fit for the future

As expectations evolve, it is clear that the entire financial reporting ecosystem will need to continue to adapt as an integrated whole. All players across the ecosystem have a collective responsibility to serve the public interest. More forward-looking reporting, covering both financial and non-financial matters, such as climate and ethics, is an important step in this evolution. Ultimately any changes implemented need to drive responsible business behaviors, improve clarity and transparency of relevant reporting, and provide stakeholders with more meaningful information to equip them to take informed decisions.

The auditor is critical, but only one part of the financial reporting ecosystem— continued constructive collaboration is needed to drive further change.

Jean-Marc Mickeler

Jean-Marc Mickeler

Jean-Marc Mickeler is the Deloitte Global Audit & Assurance Business Leader. He started his career at Deloitte in 1994, overseeing the audit of several major international banks. Jean-Marc holds an MSc in Management from Amiens Business School. He is a registered Statutory Auditor and an ACPR registered auditor. Jean-Marc has also served as the Chairman of the Professional Club Control Commission of the DNCG (Professional Football League) since 2017.

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Edspira 172K subscribers Auditing provides credibility to companies’ financial information and is therefore essential to the functioning of capital markets. If you’re thinking of purchasing a business, buying shares of stock in a company, or lending money to a company, you need to know that the numbers in the company’s financial statements are legitimate. Auditors create value by serving as an independent, third party that rigorously examine management’s assertions in the financial statements and let you know whether these assertations can be trusted. If investors and creditors have no way of knowing whether they can trust companies’ financial information, they will be hesitant to invest or lend money to firms – this would cause markets to grind to a halt.

SUBSCRIBE FOR A FREE 53-PAGE GUIDE TO THE FINANCIAL STATEMENTS & OTHER FREE GUIDES * http://eepurl.com/dIaa5z — MICHAEL’S STORY * https://www.edspira.com/about/ — LISTEN TO THE SCHEME PODCAST * Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast… * Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/4WaNTqV… * Website: https://www.edspira.com/podcast-2/ — CONNECT WITH EDSPIRA * Website: https://www.edspira.com * Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edspiradotcom * LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/edspira * Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Edspira * Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/r/edspira *TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@edspira — CONNECT WITH MICHAEL * LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/prof-mich… * Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Prof_McLaughlin * Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/prof_mclaug… * Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/prof_mcl… *TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@prof_mclaughlin — HIRE MCLAUGHLIN CPA * Website: http://www.MichaelMcLaughlin.com/hire-me

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5 Reasons Why Your Clients Don’t Read Your Agency’s Reports

Establishing the business value of your SEO performance as an agency is part of client relationship building. It’s also what keeps the churn rate low and the referral rate high.

Yet, when it comes to reporting, why is it that some things get lost in translation?

Picture this – an SEO agency just managed a massive win for their automotive client, a 5% visibility improvement on both desktop and mobile for their highly competitive keywords list in the last month. From the content-driven campaign, over 25 links were built as well for one of the client’s main money pages.

But all of these insights are compiled in a fully automated report that gets sent to the client, together with all the technical tasks and other actions, without being highlighted in particular.

How can the agency make sure the client understands the ROI delivered for their business? Maybe the team is relying on the monthly meeting, but the client postpones that too.

Reporting is a critical activity for an SEO agency – one that supports effective communication and retention. And it can be tedious or strenuous work.

At times, clients don’t react as expected – but doesn’t have to be so.

Let’s dive deeper into reasons why reports sometimes fail to accomplish their objective and what do to about it, to make the best of your reporting process.

Here’s Why Clients Don’t Read Your Reports

Clients Have Different Expectations

One reason why clients won’t read reports can be the implicit expectation to see certain metrics included there or to receive them at a certain date. Or it can be that they don’t understand the specifics of your SEO activities, so they let it slide.

Keeping your clients close from day 0 is mandatory for communications to work. That means setting the right expectations regarding the agency workflows and what’s expected of the client’s team from the onboarding phase.

Reporting is a huge chunk of that so be sure to take into account the following questions and clarify them in the first month:

  • Why do we report?
  • When do we report?
  • How do we go about reporting?
  • What data goes in and where do we get that information?
  • Who is responsible for this client’s reports?
  • When should we escalate an issue? When do we make recommendations?
  • What’s the frequency of our reporting and meetings?

After negotiating all those aspects above in the agency-client alignment meeting, you can create an agency internal dashboard that includes your clients’ portfolio, the account managers responsible for each client report, monthly statuses, and due dates. That way you have an overview of your reporting process at all times.

Confusing, Long, or Unbalanced Reports

Whether it’s a fully automated 70 pages report containing every single SEO action the agency’s done or a document with inconsistent branding and copy-pasted data from various tools – it’s not an actionable document that a client can easily read and understand.

You need to have the end goal in mind: the client reading and getting how your work is helping the business. If the client doesn’t engage with your report, it’s a missed opportunity for both showcasing results and gathering feedback.

To avoid these situations, once more think about the main KPIs and SEO objectives you’ve agreed upon:

  • Do they have a keyword list they’re particular about?
  • Are they an ecommerce client wanting to increase the conversion rate?
  • Is it a lead generation campaign?

Having clarified the expectations and business objectives, that’s what you’ll report on monthly while explaining how your SEO intervention directly impacted their KPIs and business results.

To settle inconsistencies, you can create an agency template with a focus on these key insights and your agency’s brand and unique voice:

  • Think about highlighting the most important trends and victories on KPIs like non-brand organic traffic and Visibility trends.
  • Areas of focus and keyword groups.
  • Content performance.
  • Competitors’ insights.
  • Major updates that affected the campaign (if applicable).
  • Technical insights and recommendations.
  • SEO opportunities.

Then, you’ll have a good foundation that you can go on personalizing for each client.

After all, as each SEO campaign has its particularities, you need to make sure you report on the client’s specific requests.

Too Much Data, Not Enough Explanations

Apart from long or unbalanced documents, another reason for clients skipping on reading the monthly reports can be data-heavy documents, with lists upon lists of keywords and complex graphics that aren’t self-explanatory for a non-SEO specialist.

Sometimes you might work with in-house SEO professionals, but most of the time it will be a stakeholder that is interested in reaching their business goals, so they need to talk business. And even if you’re the extension of the in-house SEO and digital marketing team, they still need to justify the ROI of collaborating with your agency.

In the end, highlighting how you influenced marketing leads and sales is much more important than going into the nitty-gritty of rankings and traffic.

Want more time to focus on what matters? Then think about ways to automate data gathering.

Instead of spending multiple hours in your SEO tools, copying charts, making screenshots, and searching for the most relevant insights, optimize for time and integrate these actions into your daily routines.

For instance, with a reporting module like SEOmonitor’s, you get an assistant in the form of a Google Slides add-on that surfaces the critical insights from your campaign – that you can insert with a click. Those insights are transformed into visually appealing slides, within your predesignated agency template.

You get to focus on what matters – explaining the metrics behind your actions, how the strategy evolved, and what’s next for the client’s business.

Inconsistent Reporting Frequency

Was it supposed to be monthly? Or did you agree on a custom period?

Not getting the timing right and in alignment with your client can be another reason why reports pile up in the unread file.

Having a set frequency, which is usually month by month, helps both from a process point of view and as a ground for calibration with the client’s team.

To make sure you send your reports on time, you can use a project management tool or, again, your internal agency dashboard. Having a support system with nudges and alerts, via email, Slack or something else, keeps you on schedule.

Don’t forget to set your notifications beforehand for preparation – compounding the insights and creating the document itself. Also, you may think about the roles involved in the reporting process from the start, so you coordinate with all the team members in due time.

Unmet Expectations

There may be unmet expectations on both sides: your team made some important SEO recommendations that the client hasn’t implemented, the client expected to see a different outcome.

Returning full circle to the crucial part of alignment and expectations setting, there’s also one final aspect to take into account: communicating why it’s important to receive the report beforehand and read it.

It can work as agenda-setting for the last step in the reporting process – presenting it.

It’s also in the monthly meeting or call that you get to clarify, explain, and make recommendations while presenting the journey so far.

It can even be an opportunity to recalibrate the relationship with a silent client. It’s not the unread report per se that needs solving, but the way you both communicate.

Maybe it’s time to rehash what you both agreed during onboarding or maybe it’s time for a new approach that benefits both sides.

All in all, having the same foundation for this discussion raises its efficiency. You and the client can now focus on campaign fine-tuning and strategic talk because you know where you’re standing, the questions that need urgent answers, and can infer the next steps.

Ways to Optimize Your Reporting Process

Creating an efficient reporting process for your agency is important because, to a certain degree, reporting is retention.

Being able to articulate how your monthly activities and SEO interventions are improving business results will not only be beneficial for your client’s trust, but also for their continued collaboration.

In brief, here are the main things to consider when designing that reporting process:

  • Establishing the rules of reporting and clearly communicating them to the client in the onboarding phase.
  • Having a set internal process for how you approach reporting and its strategic objective.
  • Create a visually appealing monthly report to use across the agency, that showcases your approach and the most relevant SEO insights: SEO actions, visibility status, keyword groups, and their performance, competitors insights, SEO issues and opportunities, and next steps.
  • Automating data gathering so you have time to focus on what matters: strategy, tactics, and explaining what happened in order to translate SEO interventions to business results.
  • Creating a transparent process and gathering feedback. Your reports and meetings are a great opportunity to take the pulse of your clients and find out what you can optimize. For the sake of transparency, you should offer your clients the context to give you feedback and ask burning questions.

Our team at SEOmonitor researched this process through and through, and after gathering insights from SEO agencies, designed a reporting module that takes into account all the aspects above, so you don’t have to struggle.

You get:

  • An overview of your reports’ status at the portfolio level.
  • The status of a client’s report at each stage of the process (Due, Overdue, Submitted, In Progress), in your account manager dashboard.
  • A builder that leverages your campaign data from SEOmonitor into Google Slides – our smart assistant pulls the most relevant insights from each campaign that you can click and insert in your agency template in seconds. Plus, we’ll generate visually consistent graphs and charts that are easy to follow.
  • A feedback tracker for each monthly report that highlights engagement data: the most engaged slides, the most liked slides, and the client’s overall satisfaction, collected at the best possible moment – just after reading your report.
  • Reporting doesn’t have to be a painful or time-consuming experience for your team. And it can be significant for supporting client communications.

By: SEOMonitor

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Ryan Stewart 32.6K subscribers Download report (free): https://theblueprint.training/extend-… It’s much easier to keep your current clients than to sign new ones. This video talks about tips you can use to re-sign your clients at the end of their agreements. ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 💥 LEARN to scale your agency ► http://bit.ly/2MntKos 💥 Let me MANAGE your marketing ► http://bit.ly/2MhTQJi 💥 Get hourly CONSULTING from me ► http://bit.ly/2MiXRNJ ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 🗣 CONNECT WITH ME ON SOCIAL Instagram ► https://www.instagram.com/ryan.was.here/ Facebook ► https://facebook.com/hellowebris Twitter ► https://twitter.com/ryanwashere FREE FB Group ► https://www.facebook.com/groups/digit… ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 👂CHECK OUT MY PODCAST Spotify ► http://bit.ly/mind-of-marketer-spotify Apple ► http://bit.ly/mind-of-a-marketer Google ► http://bit.ly/mind-of-marketer-google Stitcher ► http://bit.ly/mind-of-marketer-stitcher ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 👋 ABOUT ME: My name is Ryan Stewart, I’m on online entrepreneur and marketer. I used to work a job I hated for a company I didn’t believe in, until I stumbled upon “SEO”. Flash forward 10 years later and I’ve built, grown and scaled almost a dozen 7 figure businesses. It’s my goal in life to free you from the old mindset and institutions in place. If you follow my Channel you’ll learn valuable marketing, business and technical skills that will help you build your own online businesses.

10 Clever Ways To Improve Your Credit Score Fast

Your credit score is a critical piece of your financial life. If you want a good rewards credit card, you’ll need a good credit score. If you want to get a low mortgage interest rate, you’ll need a good credit score.

There are also other non-obvious places where a good credit score can help – like when you want to get a new cell phone or when you’re getting car insurance.

Building credit can be a long process where good behavior helps increase your score gradually. Achieving good credit can take years but there are a few steps you can take to give your score a boost.

These won’t work for everyone because many solve specific problems (that you may not have) but review the list to see if you can take advantage of any of these ideas.

1. Reduce Your Credit Utilization Ratio

Several factors determine your credit score. Your credit utilization ratio is one of the most influential metrics because it makes up 30% of your score. Credit utilization is simply how much credit you are using divided by the total amount of credit you have access to. Recommended For You

If you charged $10,000 to your credit cards and your total credit limit is $50,000, your utilization is 20%. Credit bureaus use your statement balance in this calculation, so you have utilization even if you pay off your balances in full each month.

A general rule of thumb is to use up to a maximum of 30% of your credit card limit. Many experts suggest keeping it below 10%, if possible. Most credit cards report your credit utilization once a month to the credit bureaus. In many cases, your most recent statement balance is the number that goes onto your credit report.

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Here are three ways to keep your credit card utilization ratio below 30%:

  • Only charge essential purchases like gas and groceries—or those that earn bonus points
  • Split your purchases between multiple credit cards
  • For large one-time purchases, make extra payments during the billing cycle

Continue paying cash for purchases that cause your balance the exceed the 30% threshold if you won’t be making an extra payment each month. If you’re going to make additional payments, schedule them to post before the billing cycle ends so the balance shown on your statement is lower.

Citi website showing credit limit increase approval
I requested an increase when I wrote this article and it was granted in minutes. Wallethacks.com

2. Request Credit Limit Increases

Periodically, request an increase to your credit limit. Each credit card company will have a different process but it’s typically very easy and very quick. Most credit cards will let you do this online.

By increasing your credit limit, you lower your utilization.

Two things to keep in mind when doing this. First, don’t request an increase on a new card. Many companies will not increase your limit if it’s new.

Next, when you request an increase, you want to make sure you do it in a way that doesn’t require a hard inquiry on your credit report. If you request a relatively small increase, the company will usually approve it automatically.

If you ever request an increase and the company wants to ask for more information, decline the request. You don’t need the increase and so it doesn’t make sense to take the credit score decrease from a hard inquiry.

You can usually request an increase every six months.

3. Fix Credit Report Errors

Sometimes, banks make reporting errors that hurt your credit score. Even if you haven’t missed a payment, many consumers overlook the benefits of a periodic credit report review.

Reviewing your credit report is free and only takes a few minutes. You can request free credit reports from Equifax EFX -4.7%, Experian and TransUnion TRU -1.7% weekly through April 2021.

If you find an error, you will need to file a dispute with the credit bureau. No error is too small to dispute. I’ve disputed incorrect phone numbers, which are correctly in minutes, which led me to discover unauthorized accounts (a cell phone).

If the error affected your score, you should see a pretty quick change once the credit bureau corrects the error.

4. Be an Authorized User on a Credit Card

Having a family member with a higher credit score than yours can add you to their credit card as an authorized user. Doing so can positively affect your credit score when the card has a long account history, on-time payments and a low credit utilization ratio.

5. Periodically Use “Dormant” Credit Cards

As your credit history grows, you likely qualify for credit cards with better rewards and interest rates. Instead of closing your first credit card, make occasional purchases to keep it active.

When you keep the card active, banks are less likely to reduce your credit limit or close the card. The credit bureaus look at each revolving credit account’s credit utilization ratio as well as your overall credit utilization ratio.

A credit line decrease impacts your total credit utilization ratio.

Closing an old credit card account can also hurt your score. If your old card charges an annual fee, see if you can downgrade it to one without an annual fee. You maintain your account history and that continues to strengthen your credit.

6. Pay Off Cards with the Highest Balances First

In addition to limiting your future spending, work on paying off your credit cards. If you have several cards with a balance, focus on the highest card balance to reduce your credit utilization ratio.

Paying down your outstanding debt can also improve your debt-to-income ratio, which is not a factor in your credits core but is used by many lenders.

7. Make On-Time Payments

If you miss your payment due dates, stop.

Your payment history is the most influential credit score factor with a 35% weighting. Even if you can only make the minimum payment, your account remains in good standing—and you avoid late fees.

8. Have a Variety of Credit Accounts

While you should only borrow money when necessary, having a variety of credit accounts can demonstrate you can manage credit responsibly. You might have one credit card, a home mortgage and a car loan. Each type of account can benefit your credit score differently.

Loans that you repay in full can remain on your credit report for up to ten years. You can have an easier time qualifying for a similar loan in addition to having a higher credit score.

9. Sign Up for a Credit Boost Service

Having a credit card and installment loans are not the only ways to increase your score. Credit boost services like Experian Boost report your monthly bill payments like utilities or your cell phone plan to the credit bureaus. You can receive credit by linking your bank account.

10. Get a Credit Builder Loan

Credit builder loans can offer a small credit score boost as you lend money to yourself. You make monthly payments into an interest-bearing certificate of deposit (CD) for up to 24 months. The bank reports your monthly payment to the three credit bureaus. When the loan term ends, you receive the CD balance minus administrative fees.

These are just a few of the ways you can quickly increase your credit score – try one today and let me know how it turns out the next time you check your credit score. Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website

Jim Wang

Jim Wang I have been writing about money for over 15 years and recently at WalletHacks.com. I graduated in 2003 from Carnegie Mellon University with a Masters in Software Engineering and I use my analytical skills to navigate the financial world. It’s through this education that I try to distill complex financial ideas into simple steps regular folks can use to take control of their money and build wealth.

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Learn how to increase your credit score 161 points in 30 days. This video show how Chandler helped his wife increase her credit score from 613 to 774 in under 30 days. Chandler also explains everything you need to know about how to increase and maintain a high credit score. Chandler David Smith has been investing in real estate for the last 6+ years. To enable success in real estate he needed to learn exactly how to increase and maintain a high credit score at a very young age.

In this video Chandler shows you a lot of the tips and tricks to getting and keeping your credit score up. Two months ago Chandlers wife was applying for a loan. Unfortunately, she had terrible credit. In this video, Chandler explains what he had his wife do so that she could dramatically increase her credit in under 30 days and get approved for her home loan. After showing how to quickly increase your credit score, Chandler also shows you everything that you need to know to increase and maintain a high credit score over time.

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Plastic Powers On, Setting Payments Record In 2019, Raising Fears For Cash

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Figures released today provide further evidence of the UK’s rapid transition to a cashless society, with debit and credit cards accounting for over half (51%) of all payments for the first time in 2019.

According to UK Finance, the trade body for financial institutions, debit cards were the most-used method with 17 billion payments, of which 7 billion were contactless. An estimated 98% of the adult population has a debit card.

Credit card use rose 7% in 2019 to 3.3 billion payments, of which 1.3 billion were contactless.

Cards over cash

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the use of cards, with many retailers declining cash or stating they prefer contactless payments for hygiene reasons. The limit for contactless payments was raised from £30 to £45 in April to allow this method to be used more often.

While cash payments fell by 15% to 9.3 billion in 2019, it was still the second most frequently used method, representing 23% of all payments in 2019.

So-called remote banking also increased in popularity in 2019, following a well-established trend. UK Finance says over 80% of adults used online banking, mobile banking or telephone banking in 2019 compared to 60% in 2009.

Consumers made over one billion remote banking payments in 2019, the first year this has happened. Across all age groups, 72% use online banking and 50% use mobile banking.

Disadvantaged groups

Concerns have been raised that the flight towards plastic-based payments and the reduction in physical bank branches could disadvantage sections of society that still rely heavily on cash.

John Crossley, head of money at Compare the Market, the price comparison site, said: “The ‘cash is king’ mantra is clearly a thing of the past. Debit cards overtook cash in 2017 to become the most frequently used payment method in the UK. By 2028 cash is expected to account for just 9% of all payments.

“In the rush to ditch notes and coins for plastic cards, it is important the banking sector caters for those who rely on cash for everyday living, including paying bills. Cash remains a lifeline for some elderly and vulnerable people, and it is important cash remains accessible for those who wish to continue using it.”

Risk of alienation

Matt Phillips of Diebold Nixdorf, which designs and manufacturers ATMs, said: “We’re seeing questions around whether the pandemic will propel the UK into being a fully cashless society, but this by no means spells the end for cash.

“We expect usage to pick up again when restrictions ease and eventually lift. Cash is essential in our economy and removing it risks alienating thousands of the country’s most vulnerable households.”

Mr Phillips says there is an appetite across the banking sector to reduce reliance on cash, in part due to the costs of delivering cash services to remote communities. But he says there is a way to balance these challenges: “If banks collaborated more, pooled their resources and accelerated the adoption of cash recycling – where money deposited by customers is automatically verified, sorted and re-used within the ATM – it would bring down their costs and sustain accessibility to cash.”

Stephen Jones of UK Finance acknowledged the potential problems associated with the disappearance of cash: “We are fully aware that not all customers are digitally-enabled, which is why we’re working flat-out to ensure people have access to cash and that everyday banking services remain available to help the country through these difficult times.”

Shopping with cash

Consumer lobby group Which? says vulnerable people risk being left with no way to pay for essential products and services as the coronavirus crisis further accelerates the UK’s shift to a cashless society. It wants government action to ensure the cash system does not collapse.

Looking at behaviors in the pandemic, Which? found that 51% of those shopping for someone else had been paid in cash, highlighting the challenge a cashless society presents for those who are not yet ready or able to make digital payments.

The Which? research also highlighted that one in 10 people have been refused by shops when trying to pay for items with cash in recent weeks. A quarter of those were left unable to purchase the item in question on at least one occasion as they had no alternative means of payment.

In its March Budget, the government said it would introduced legal protections to ensure continued access to cash for as long as people need it.

Which? argues the pandemic means the government’s pledge risks becoming obsolete if current trends continue to go unchallenged. An estimated 10,500 free-to-use cash machines have been removed or replaced with fee-charging machines since 2017.

Link, which manages the UK’s largest cashpoint network, says approximately £1 billion is still being withdrawn from ATMs every week, but the long term trend is one of accelerating decline. It says the current level of cash usage is currently at a level that was not expected for another five years.

Notemachine, an ATM operator, says cash withdrawals have reduced by 45% since the introduction of the lockdown – although it notes the average value withdrawn has increased by 13 per cent.

Support for retailers

In addition to long-term support for cash, Which? wants the government to act urgently to ensure people can continue to use cash to pay for essential goods and services during the pandemic. This would include supporting retailers to accept cash and offering guidance on how to handle banknotes and coins safely.

Gareth Shaw at Which? said: “It’s vital that the already fragile cash system is not left to collapse completely as the UK’s shift to a cashless society accelerates.

“The government must urgently press ahead with the legislation it has already committed to before it becomes obsolete, as failure to do so risks excluding millions of people from engaging in the economy.”


Figures from the Bank of England show that people in the UK repaid £7.4 billion of consumer credit in April, double the repayment in March, which itself was a record.

Some £5 billion of repayments were on credit cards, with £2.4 billion of other loans also repaid in April.

According to James Fairclough at AA Financial Services, 85% of UK adults have spent less during the lockdown, with savings achieved on holidays, eating out, shopping and buying petrol: “Coronavirus is impacting our livelihoods, family wellbeing and the economy at large. There are doubts over when the restrictions will be lifted and, for many, what the impact may be on job security.

“Given this economic uncertainty, it is understandable that many people are planning to use any surplus money they accumulate from reduced spending in lockdown to top up rainy day savings, or clear debts.”

I am the UK editor for Forbes Advisor. I have been writing about all aspects of household finance for over 30 years, aiming to provide information that will help readers make good choices with their money. The financial world can be complex and challenging, so I’m always striving to make it as accessible, manageable and rewarding as possible.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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Equifax Breach: Are You Eligible For A $20,000 Pay Out?

In 2017, credit monitoring firm Equifax exposed data belonging to 147 million people. Now, those affected could be eligible for a pay out.

In 2017, credit monitoring firm Equifax exposed data belonging to 147 million people. Now, those affected could be eligible for a pay out.

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Equifax suffered a huge breach in 2017 that exposed information including the social security numbers of 147 million people. Earlier this week, it emerged that the credit monitoring firm will be fined $700 million–and $425 million of that is earmarked for people affected by the breach, according to a site set up for those impacted.

Equifax breach compensation: How to claim

Potentially, millions of people could receive some kind of pay out as a result of this 2017 breach. So, how do you find out if you are eligible? Equifax has  set up a simple tool you can use to check.

There are two types of claim: Equifax is offering up to 10 years of free credit monitoring, or if you’d prefer, $125. The other option is to apply for a cash payment, which is capped at a hefty $20,000 per person. This covers serious repercussions from the breach such as losses from unauthorized charges to your accounts; the cost of freezing or unfreezing your credit report; or fees to accountants and attorneys.

Meanwhile, people could also be compensated for the time they spent dealing with the breach, at $25 per hour for up to 20 hours.

The process for filing a claim has already begun and you have until January 22 2020 to apply. The actual pay outs will happen January 23 2020 “at the earliest,” according to the FTC. You can also sign up to get email updates about the settlement.

Equifax: What the future holds

The Equifax breach was the result of poor cybersecurity practices and could have been prevented–it happened because the firm failed to patch a web server. And in May the firm suffered another major blow after Moody’s slashed the rating outlook on the firm, according to CNBC. It was the first time cybersecurity problems have been cited as the reason for a downgrade.

So things aren’t looking great for Equifax as it moves to repair the damage caused by the massive 2017 breach two years later. “I think Equifax is so damaged as a brand: The failures to protect sensitive data are so widely known, they have to figure out a path towards redemption,” says Ian Thornton-Trump, security head at AmTrust Europe.

On the outside, the firm remains positive in its outlook. “This comprehensive settlement is a positive step for U.S. consumers and Equifax as we move forward from the 2017 cybersecurity incident and focus on our transformation investments in technology and security as a leading data, analytics, and technology company,” said Equifax CEO Mark W. Begor in a statement.

Moving forward is certainly something Equifax will be keen to do. Perhaps now it is compensating affected customers, people will start to trust Equifax once again. But at the same time, because of the information impacted combined with massive scale, this hack will still go down as one of the worst in history.

I’m a freelance cybersecurity journalist with over a decade’s experience reporting on the issues impacting users, businesses and the public sector. My interests within cybersecurity include critical national infrastructure, cyber warfare, application security and data misuse. I’m a keen advocate for women in security and strive to raise awareness of the gender imbalance through my writing.

Source: Equifax Breach: Are You Eligible For A $20,000 Pay Out?