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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Starting a food business: Q&A roundup

Category : Business

Last week a panel of experts answered your questions on starting up in the food industry. Here are the highlights

Monique Borst is a food business development expert

How can you check if your food business idea is viable?: In my experience, people often mistake their aptitude for cooking or passion for food as a shoo-in for business success. Rather than write a full business plan, one quick and easy way to determine whether your food business idea is potentially viable is to run through this checklist:

1. Do I have a market for it?

2. Do I know how to reach the people who might want this?

3. Do I have the resources, skills and time to do this?

4. Is this something people will pay for?

5. How sustainable is this business?

6. Is the business marketable?

Paul Bray is an associate director at Smith & Williamson

Be sensible when financing your food business: The key message has to be not to over-stretch yourself in the early periods. Start small and grow at a sensible pace, otherwise you will be running around chasing your tail – get a sound start underway and then progress in time, rather than rush.

Jean Edwards is the managing director at Deli Farm Charcuterie

Farmers’ markets are a good way to test your product when starting up: When I started just over seven years ago my only sales were through a regular weekly farmers’ market; it was a brilliant way of getting to market and meeting people, getting feedback and so on. By the end of our first summer I was too busy to attend the market on a regular basis, but would never look back on the contacts that I made from there.

What sort of environmental health regulations arise when starting a food business from home? A lot depends on what type of business you are thinking of starting and where you see your customer base. All food premises have to be passed by environmental health, so I would suggest you have a preliminary meeting with your local environmental health officer (EHO), explain exactly what you are intending to do and they will advise you. Remember your EHO is a source of free information – use them as a resource and not the enemy!

Miranda Ballard is the co-founder at Muddy Boots, a beef burger company

What to think about in terms of location: You’ll know where you should be by doing research into the market and your demographic. Go where your customers are so that you’re surrounded by them and you can start selling to them. Remember to be where you want to be too – no point living where you’re not happy. There’s no point taking all the risks and stresses of having your own business if you’re not happy with where you’re living. What’s best for the business is also what’s best for you – there’s more chance the company will survive if you’re happy.

You can still be a British brand with ingredients sourced elsewhere: We’re a British food brand, from a marketing and content perspective. Some of our ingredients (tomato puree, garlic, black pepper) are imported. We’ve seen all those prices go up in the past 18 months because of transport, labour and production. The idea that all food produced in Britain will stay in Britain doesn’t acknowledge the foods that can’t be grown or produced here – our taste buds will have to revert after these glory years!

Think carefully about how you use social media: In the past month, I’ve been really thinking about social media for small businesses. I think there’s a danger that the massive national or global platform that it brilliantly provides can actually sometimes be too wide a marketing spread for the small business. What I mean is, we all know that we’re meant to find our demographic and then target them, to the point of excluding everyone else. I worry that small businesses can get distracted with the cross-demographic appeal of social media. It’s important to remember you have to work hard to find and appeal to your own demographic – a like or a retweet from someone in your demographic is much, much more valuable than 100 from those outside it.

Roopa Rawal is the co-founder at Devnaa, a luxury Indian-inspired confectionery company

Know your brand: Be really passionate about your products and do everything you can to build a good reputation for your brand – interact with consumers as much as possible. Customer care is really important especially with food, as even though ingredients are all written down people will want to be assured of the taste, quality of ingredients, allergy information and so on. The best part is that if they like it they will definitely go out and tell everybody they know about it.

Quality of food is paramount at the moment: I think more so than with healthy eating, consumers are becoming more aware of the quality of what they eat and drink. As people have become more health conscious they’ve also realised that the quality of what they consume plays just as big a part in maintaining their health – even if they want a treat.

Philippa Taylor works at Grand Union PR, a food PR company

Think about how you portray yourself online: Make sure that you have a domain name which is unique to you for a hosted website which you can customise yourself, and that your website is set-up to either sell online, act as a brochure or both. Drive traffic to your site by regularly updating it with seasonal and limited edition products, newsletters, competitions, recipes and testimonials and so on. Link all your promotion together on the social media channels you use and push customers towards your website. Set up Google Analytics so that you can see what works and what doesn’t.

Offline, think about taking information and images from your website and using them in leaflets at markets, on pop-up banners at events, and as press releases for journalists.

This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To receive more like this you can become a member of the Small Business Network here.

Poll shows gloom and doom for decades as citizens fear for living standards

Category : Business

YouGov-Cambridge surveys shows majorities in Germany, UK and US remain pessimistic about economic future and personally hit by slump

Clear majorities across the western world claim to have been personally affected by the economic slump that most citizens expect to drag down living standards for decades to come, according to YouGov-Cambridge.

The academic polling thinktank found 57% of Britons, 64% of Americans and 54% of Germans had been personally affected by the economic problems of their countries during the last five years to a “great” or “fair” extent. The French, whom happiness researchers routinely find are given to accentuating the negative, are gloomier – 80% of them claim to be feeling the pinch personally.

More shocking than the reporting of present penury is abject pessimism that sets in when YouGov-Cambridge’s questioning turned to the future. Respondents were asked whether, despite the recession, they were “basically confident that our children’s generation will end up enjoying a better standard of living than our generation, just as our generation has mostly been better off than our parents”, the reassuring rider reminding them that – whatever the ups and downs of the cycle – the slow miracle of economic growth has eventually touched most family’s lives, by roughly doubling the size of the world’s big economies every 30 years. But even after this prompt, 19% of Britons, 15% of Americans, 16% of Germans and 17% of the French agree with this statement. Instead, overwhelming respective majorities of 64%, 65%, 66% and 59% incline to the view that “the younger generation will find it harder than ours to enjoy a reasonable standard of living”.

Within the British economy particularly, there is evidence that recent personal experience is feeding through into a dismal view of distant future horizons. Only 15% of those who have suffered materially from the recession incline to the view that the rising generation will end up better-off in the end, compared to 27% – nearly twice as many – of those who have escaped the big squeeze. In the other economies, the link between personal experience and expectations for the distant future are far more muted, suggesting that the recession may be exerting a particularly divisive effect on British psychology.

A separate series of questions on the opportunities available to young people also suggested that recession-hit Britons are becoming gloomier in a distinctive way. The 57% of Britons, for example, who believe that “whereever you start in life, enough hard work will bring you success”, is very much in line with the 61% of French respondents who say the same, but in Britain the recession-hit are considerably less-likely, by some 14 points, to take this cheery view than those who are not feeling the personal squeeze, whereas in France personal experience makes no substantial difference.

In Britain alone, YouGov asked a near-identical question in August 2012, and at that point 59% feared that the younger generation would find it harder, as against just 23% who then feared that the young would find it tougher to achieve a reasonable standard of living over the course of their lives. The 64%-19% split of British opinion in favour of pessimism today represents a four and a half point swing towards gloom since mid-2012, a likely response to the run of mostly negative economic news over the last 20 months.

Heineken Selects Triple Point Strategic Planning and Procurement Solution to Manage Commodity Price Volatility

Category : World News

Europe’s Largest Brewer Standardizing on Triple Point to Support Global Commodity Procurement

Read the original here: Heineken Selects Triple Point Strategic Planning and Procurement Solution to Manage Commodity Price Volatility

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Let’s Gowex S.A. (LGWXY: OTC Pink Current) | GOWEX signs an agreement with the Italian operator Bluwireless

Category : Stocks

GOWEX signs an agreement with the Italian operator Bluwireless

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How Mary Jo White can win over her skeptics

Category : Business

Dear Ms. White: Your biggest detractors could become your biggest fans. Here’s an eight-point plan you should follow.

Read the rest here: How Mary Jo White can win over her skeptics

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Budget 2013: Extra 400,000 people to be caught in 40% higher tax band

Category : Business

George Osborne is fuelling outrage among his own supporters with one in six taxpayers now paying tax at the 40% higher rate

George Osborne is facing growing calls to cut taxes on middle class incomes after drawing nearly a million extra people into the 40% tax band since becoming chancellor, with another 400,000 expected to join their ranks in the coming tax year.

Twenty five years ago, when Conservative chancellor Nigel Lawson introduced the 40% band, only one person in 20 paid the higher rate. A quarter of a century on, Osborne is fuelling outrage among his own supporters with one in six taxpayers now paying tax at the 40% higher rate.

Unless Osborne reverses decisions he set out in the autumn statement, it is estimated that an extra 400,000 people will become higher rate taxpayers in the 2013/14 tax year, bringing the total to a record of 4.3 million people.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies thinktank estimated the figure could go as high as 5 million over the next three years, as the starting point for paying 40% tax is to be cut from £42,475 to £41,451 from 6 April, and is then planned to rise by just 1% a year thereafter.

Meanwhile, the 267,000 people paying the 50% top rate will see their tax take fall on 6 April when it drops to 45%.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “At successive budgets and autumn statements, George Osborne has failed to cut the overall tax burden and instead chosen to take with one hand while he gives with another. With national insurance on top, the higher rate is the real 50p tax band and the chancellor has dragged more and more people into that punishing rate of tax. At the budget, he needs to give middle class families a break and stop increasing the tax burden on families struggling after the recession.”

Figures from HMRC reveal that in the 2010/11 tax year, when George Osborne became chancellor, 3.02 million people paid tax at the 40% rate. The figure rose to 3.86 million in the 2012/13 tax year and will break the 4 million barrier in April when the starting point for paying 40% tax is reduced. Behind the rise is what economists call “fiscal drag” – when thresholds for paying tax fail to keep pace with growing earnings. In 1991/92, 24.1 million people paid basic rate tax and 1.6 million paid higher rate, but in 2012/13, 25 million paid basic rate tax and 3.86 million paid higher rate.

The government said focusing on the widening number of people caught by the 40% band fails to take account of more generous personal allowances, which means that more of the average worker’s pay is tax-free. From April, the personal allowance jumps from £8,105 to £9,440, barring any last minute changes in the budget.

“The lowering of the tax bands where more tax becomes due has dragged more people into higher rates of tax. This is the trade off for taking those on the lowest incomes out of tax,” said Francesca Lagerberg, tax partner at Grant Thornton. HMRC estimates that higher personal allowances have taken 2.2 million people out of the tax net over the past three years.

But the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants said that by lowering the starting point for 40% tax even new entrants into the jobs market, and many more pensioners, will be entering a tax band once seen as the preserve of the wealthy.

Chas Roy-Chowdhury, ACCA head of taxation, said: “It looks good for the government to say that they are extending the personal allowance, but it is only true for the ever shrinking population of 20% taxpayers. By dropping the threshold for the 40% income tax bracket, many hardworking people who will begin paying 40% for the first time will lose the benefits of the increased personal allowance and they will need to pay additional tax on such things as savings and dividend income.

“This is no longer the 1980s where only a small number paid the 40% income tax. Many people who are working but struggling at the lower end of that bracket will not get much respite from an increase in the personal allowance. The chancellor of the exchequer should use the budget to give taxpayers a much-needed boost and raise the personal allowance for all income tax rates, otherwise it is being less than honest.”

Fission Energy to Present at 25th Annual ROTH Conference

Category : World News

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – March 15, 2013) - Fission Energy Corp. (“Fission” or the “Company”) (TSX VENTURE:FIS)(OTCQX:FSSIF) today announced it will present at the 25th Annual ROTH Investment Conference being held from March 17th to March 20th, 2013 at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California. Fission’s Chairman and CEO, Dev Randhawa, will be presenting on Monday, March 18th, 2013 at 8:30am PST.

Go here to read the rest: Fission Energy to Present at 25th Annual ROTH Conference

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Exposed: bank’s high-pressure sales culture continues

Category : Business

A Halifax insider describes how the push to ‘sell, sell, sell’ continues, despite the regulator’s finding that such incentive schemes contributed to recent mis-selling scandals

An employee of Britain’s biggest banking group has described a “disheartening and demotivating” sales culture that pressurises staff into selling financial products to customers in order to meet strict points-based daily targets.

The man, who did not wish to be named, but we will call David Elliott, works as a financial consultant for Halifax. He says his job chiefly entails trying to sell insurance to customers. “I’ve been a counter clerk, banking adviser, financial adviser and now I’m a financial consultant – so I’ve been at every level there is in a retail bank. It gradually gets worse the higher you climb the ladder and now I’m at the highest seller point in banking and the pressure is abnormal,” he says.

Sales targets are everywhere, and products translate into points which are added to a branch total, he adds. Loans and home insurance attract the most points, and there are also points for generating new leads from customers.

On Friday, Lloyds Group, which owns Halifax, said in its annual report that it was “Reviewing and developing incentives continually to ensure they promote colleagues behaviours that meet customer needs and regulatory expectations”.

The bonus pool for employees has been cut, and Lloyds said the average pay out was £3,900 last year, but Elliott suggests there is still a big focus on sales. He told us how, throughout the day, staff discuss how much they have sold and how they can sell more. He outlined to The Observer a typical series of meetings – up to four a day.

■ Meeting one, 9am to 9.35am

“All sellers and managers sit at a table with the customer information that is in each seller’s diary for that day. Each seller is grilled about which products customers can be cross-sold. Either that or they are referred to another seller to sell them something. That leaves people so disheartened and demotivated it’s untrue. How can you know a customer’s needs without ever speaking to them?”

■ Meeting two, 11.30am (15-20mins)

“A check-in, in the same room with a member of counter, banking hall, sales and management staff. We all write on the board what sales have been done that day. These are transferred into “points” and the branch roughly has to do 5,000 points per day. If we are behind, everyone at that check-in is grilled on how to get more points .”

■ Meeting three, 12.30pm (15-20mins)

“The same as meeting two. If sales aren’t being met, all advisers who don’t have appointments are forced to cold-call existing customers about potential products they could want.”

■ Meeting four, 3pm (15-20mins)

“Pressure is put on staff again to find more points from customers before 5pm.”

The revelations come almost six months after the Financial Services Authority told banks and building societies to clean up their act following a review of the sales culture at Britain’s biggest financial firms.

The regulator concluded that many, if not all, of the recent mis-selling scandals had dysfunctional incentive schemes at their root.

At some banks there are signs the culture could be changing. Co-operative Bank, Barclays and HSBC have all removed sales targets from staff pay. Elsewhere, however, it seems to be more of the same. Although Lloyds Group has made some changes and introduced an element of bonus linked to customer services, Elliott says he feels like “part of a used-car salesman sketch” and is unhappy with the way the bank seems entirely focused on making sales. “They tell colleagues ” sell to a need”, but they can’t because they have to sell, sell, sell,” he says. “Any product from mortgages to bank accounts could be the next PPI, because of the pressure to sell.” He says he has complained to line managers and has been told to “like it or leave” and he says he has done the job required of him. But, he says, after several years at the bank: “I’m just infuriated.”

Job adverts for similar roles on the Lloyds Group site talk of “delivering the highest standards of customer service and suggesting the right products in each situation”, but the mention of sales targets is not far away.

An advert for a personal banking adviser in Peterborough, paying £16,020-£19,700, describes the ideal candidate as someone able to “meet and exceed personal sales, cross sales and quality referral targets, contributing towards the branch team’s service and sales targets”. Excellent customer service and experience are also named as key, but come after sales in the job description.

A Halifax spokeswoman said branches had short meetings throughout the day but these “are designed to review all aspects of the customer experience”. She added: “This includes looking at whether there are opportunities to make customers better off.”

The spokeswoman said: “We have a clear reward framework for colleagues that ensures we recognise behaviours that are focused on achieving correct customer outcomes and excellent service. Branch targets for both service and meeting customer needs are set on the basis of the local market and resource levels in that particular location.”

She added: “We have taken steps in the past year to ensure as much as possible that there is no product bias in our framework. We also have a number of quality controls in place. This includes monitoring sales to ensure that colleagues have met customer needs appropriately and communicated important information clearly … We also have clawback mechanisms in place for any colleagues who make inappropriate sales.”

Exposed: bank’s high-pressure sales culture continues

Category : Business

A Halifax insider describes how the push to ‘sell, sell, sell’ continues, despite the regulator’s finding that such incentive schemes contributed to recent mis-selling scandals

An employee of Britain’s biggest banking group has described a “disheartening and demotivating” sales culture that pressurises staff into selling financial products to customers in order to meet strict points-based daily targets.

The man, who did not wish to be named, but we will call David Elliott, works as a financial consultant for Halifax. He says his job chiefly entails trying to sell insurance to customers. “I’ve been a counter clerk, banking adviser, financial adviser and now I’m a financial consultant – so I’ve been at every level there is in a retail bank. It gradually gets worse the higher you climb the ladder and now I’m at the highest seller point in banking and the pressure is abnormal,” he says.

Sales targets are everywhere, and products translate into points which are added to a branch total, he adds. Loans and home insurance attract the most points, and there are also points for generating new leads from customers.

On Friday, Lloyds Group, which owns Halifax, said in its annual report that it was “Reviewing and developing incentives continually to ensure they promote colleagues behaviours that meet customer needs and regulatory expectations”.

The bonus pool for employees has been cut, and Lloyds said the average pay out was £3,900 last year, but Elliott suggests there is still a big focus on sales. He told us how, throughout the day, staff discuss how much they have sold and how they can sell more. He outlined to The Observer a typical series of meetings – up to four a day.

■ Meeting one, 9am to 9.35am

“All sellers and managers sit at a table with the customer information that is in each seller’s diary for that day. Each seller is grilled about which products customers can be cross-sold. Either that or they are referred to another seller to sell them something. That leaves people so disheartened and demotivated it’s untrue. How can you know a customer’s needs without ever speaking to them?”

■ Meeting two, 11.30am (15-20mins)

“A check-in, in the same room with a member of counter, banking hall, sales and management staff. We all write on the board what sales have been done that day. These are transferred into “points” and the branch roughly has to do 5,000 points per day. If we are behind, everyone at that check-in is grilled on how to get more points .”

■ Meeting three, 12.30pm (15-20mins)

“The same as meeting two. If sales aren’t being met, all advisers who don’t have appointments are forced to cold-call existing customers about potential products they could want.”

■ Meeting four, 3pm (15-20mins)

“Pressure is put on staff again to find more points from customers before 5pm.”

The revelations come almost six months after the Financial Services Authority told banks and building societies to clean up their act following a review of the sales culture at Britain’s biggest financial firms.

The regulator concluded that many, if not all, of the recent mis-selling scandals had dysfunctional incentive schemes at their root.

At some banks there are signs the culture could be changing. Co-operative Bank, Barclays and HSBC have all removed sales targets from staff pay. Elsewhere, however, it seems to be more of the same. Although Lloyds Group has made some changes and introduced an element of bonus linked to customer services, Elliott says he feels like “part of a used-car salesman sketch” and is unhappy with the way the bank seems entirely focused on making sales. “They tell colleagues ” sell to a need”, but they can’t because they have to sell, sell, sell,” he says. “Any product from mortgages to bank accounts could be the next PPI, because of the pressure to sell.” He says he has complained to line managers and has been told to “like it or leave” and he says he has done the job required of him. But, he says, after several years at the bank: “I’m just infuriated.”

Job adverts for similar roles on the Lloyds Group site talk of “delivering the highest standards of customer service and suggesting the right products in each situation”, but the mention of sales targets is not far away.

An advert for a personal banking adviser in Peterborough, paying £16,020-£19,700, describes the ideal candidate as someone able to “meet and exceed personal sales, cross sales and quality referral targets, contributing towards the branch team’s service and sales targets”. Excellent customer service and experience are also named as key, but come after sales in the job description.

A Halifax spokeswoman said branches had short meetings throughout the day but these “are designed to review all aspects of the customer experience”. She added: “This includes looking at whether there are opportunities to make customers better off.”

The spokeswoman said: “We have a clear reward framework for colleagues that ensures we recognise behaviours that are focused on achieving correct customer outcomes and excellent service. Branch targets for both service and meeting customer needs are set on the basis of the local market and resource levels in that particular location.”

She added: “We have taken steps in the past year to ensure as much as possible that there is no product bias in our framework. We also have a number of quality controls in place. This includes monitoring sales to ensure that colleagues have met customer needs appropriately and communicated important information clearly … We also have clawback mechanisms in place for any colleagues who make inappropriate sales.”

3D printer stock sinks on sales miss

Category : Business, Stocks

Shares of 3D Systems fell more than 20% at one point.

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