5 Things You Should Know About Cloud Security

As more and more businesses shift their data storage to cloud-based facilities, so the conversation about cloud security begins to heat up. While some believe that cloud is far safer than on-premise, others are contesting quite the opposite. It is therefore important to know the basic facts before making a decision on where to keep your data - be it your own personal information or your company's entire library. The cloud security market is growing Whether we like it or not, the cloud market is continuing to expand at a rapid rate, and so is the demand for cloud security. This bodes well for the advancement of security measures and strategies being made available to cloud users. It is predicted that the cloud security market will hit $9 billion by 2019. Strategy is key As with any IT solution, the only real way to keep data as secure as possible is by having a comprehensive strategy. It is no use relying solely on providers to do all the legwork if the inhouse security is not up to scratch. Hackers see cloud as a resource, not a target One particularly unnerving thing that was revealed during the attack on Sony was hackers' ability to utilise the cloud as a resource by renting out servers to launch their assault. There is also the likelihood that more hackers will start to target the cloud itself so as to access large volumes of data in one fell swoop. Storage is perceived as the riskiest cloud app The cloud is best known for its storage and backup facilities, which are used by the cloud security industry itself. More than 50% of respondents to the Cloud Security Alliance's Cloud Usage: Risks and Opportunities Report listed storage as the most risky cloud application. Finance and accounting apps came in second. Controlling adoption is difficult Cloud adoption simply means the gradual transference of data to cloud based services. With more people now bringing their own devices into work, as well as using their own applications, organisations are struggling to keep tabs on where things are being stored and accessed. IT leaders rarely get the chance to fully assess security before a service is adopted by users.

03 February 2016

Banks Reach Tipping Point in the Fight Against Financial Crime

In light of a recession that continues to leave residue in the nooks of society, banks are working hard to regain trust and support from the government and the public alike. The biggest banks are now spending as much as £660 million a year on anti-money laundering compliance. But concerns are being voiced around the matter of effectively tackling risks in a perpetually changing financial crime landscape. A new report from LexisNexis Risk Solutions and the British Bankers Association (BBA) shows a clear frustration felt by the banks at how there is more than enough regulation but inadequate enforcement. The report provides a review of financial crime and its evolving risks and highlights several key points that need to be taken into account if banks are to succeed in the fight against corruption. Of the 200 senior banking and finance professionals who were interviewed, nearly a third think that the Fourth EU AML Directive will have little or no effect - or worse still, a negative effect - on money laundering across Europe. The interviewees identified greater regulatory burdens and increased personal liabilities on compliance professionals as the most significant barriers now blocking banks from being able to combat the challenges of financial crime. There has been talk of a culture emerging where compliance exists only for compliance's sake, and where AML compliance professionals are in short supply. Evolving crime methodologies pose a substantial threat to banks whose enforcement policies and resources are being forced to the back burner in favour of further regulation. More than a third of respondents said that preventing cybercrime was to be their single biggest area of investment over the next two years, followed by fraud and AML. The expansion of mobile and online banking however - especially virtual currencies - was named as the greatest challenge that banks look set to face in the future when addressing financial crime. In a bid to take back the reigns; banks are pushing for more freedom to collaborate with one another, as well as with law enforcement agencies and regulators. It is this collective effort that professionals hope will galvanise the industry as a whole against its common enemy - with a focus on fighting crime instead of exhausting funds on unnecessary compliance expenditures.

18 January 2016

The JM Groups IT Predictions for 2016

Year on year, the information technology industry continues to develop at an astonishing pace. 2016 looks set to be no different, with the likes of cloud-based security and analytics waiting in the wings ready to take centre stage. With this in mind, we decided to dust off our crystal ball to give you our IT predictions for 2016. Security, Security, and More Security With so many high profile hacking scandals going on and increasingly complex techniques being used to commit these crimes, it is safe to say that cyber security will be the top IT priority for most businesses this year. From increasing cyber literacy amongst staff to implementing more advanced security systems, organisations will be making some huge investments to protect their data. Big Data Gets Bigger The words 'big data' have become quite the buzz in recent months. But really we are just getting started. Almost every major industry now utilises big data to draw the most accurate picture possible, using analytics to review and optimise performance like never before. We predict that this trend will move from strength to strength, as more applications embed analytics to facilitate function and convenience. Public services will also continue to be transformed by the power of big data. Up in the Clouds The concept of cloud-based storage is older than you might think. But it is only just beginning to step into the limelight, with 2016 likely to bring it into its prime. The real question however is not how much cloud will come into its own, but who will be given the title of Cloud Service Provider. Like so many touch-and-go digital solutions, cloud storage has seen many players try their hand at the market only to see users stick to the bigger names, thus galvanising the monopoly. We predict that this year will put cloud providers in the ring for the final rounds - the winners probably having the healthiest bank balances. Less is More When it comes to IT offerings the word of 2016 is going to be 'convergence'. No more over-complicated building blocks and no more isolated IT departments. It's all about integration and simplification. Simplification means allowing business needs to define IT, and enabling IT to react quickly. It means having streamlined systems and built-in security with the aim to prevent threats rather than just respond to them.

06 January 2016

Questions You Should Expect in an Interview for a Senior Position

If you are applying for a senior role then you will likely have a fair amount of interview experience. But with a fight for a higher position comes tougher questions - some of which can be deceptively simple. You must be able to think outside the box and calculate your answers carefully, whilst remaining cool and confident. Here are a few 'typical' questions that potential senior professionals should prepare for. Why are you here? A seemingly obvious question that can lead to all kinds of danger zones, the 'Why are you here?' is prompting you to demonstrate your knowledge of the job for which you are applying, as well as your passion for the company and industry. The last thing you should do is talk about your past, and your reasons for leaving your previous job. Think forwards, and answer with direction, purpose and genuine enthusiasm. Leave no room for the recruiter to doubt your commitment. How do you resolve conflicts within the groups and teams you are a part of? This is a loaded question. The employer wants to know how you behave in a crisis, what it takes to rattle you, and how you are with problem solving on a personal level. Your answer will give them insight into your ethics, and how they might fit in with the company's own culture. It is therefore worth stating that you would first familiarise yourself with any standard company practices, before imposing your own onto a situation. As a senior employee you will be expected to exert skills in diplomacy as well as being able to hold authority pragmatically. Tell me about a difficult decision you have made A rhetorical statement that will reveal your management skills - employers need to know that you possess an ability to make decisions, sometimes independently and for the greater good. Even if you have a left-field answer, be sure to relate it back to the position at hand and how it supports your suitability for the role. Is there anything you would like to ask me/us? This question often crops up at the end of an interview and gives you the chance to show some assertion but without overstepping any boundaries. Here, you can put your knowledge of the company and industry to good use, and build a rapport with the interviewer. The subject of money and salary should be avoided at all costs.

21 December 2015

How the TalkTalk Data Breach Could be a Blessing in Disguise

On the 21st October 2015, telecom giant TalkTalk got hacked. With the personal data of 4 million customers in jeopardy, the attack served as another stark reminder of the reality in which we now live. Luckily for TalkTalk, the resulting damage was relatively minimal. 156,959 customers were affected, with 15,656 having their bank details hacked - most of which remained safe from fraud thanks to the codes not being enough for the hackers to make payments. The damage was still rife however as people's trust in security plummeted and TalkTalk estimated the financial hit of the attack to total around £35 million in one-off costs. According to the company's CEO, Dido Harding, that figure covers the response to the incident, the increased volume of calls into the call centres, and the IT and technology costs. It also accounts for 3 weeks' worth of revenue lost as a result of online sales sites being down. Two months on and we are beginning to see the silver lining in this unfortunate scenario. The attack on TalkTalk has kick-started a long awaited campaign for organisations and authorities to recognise the importance of cyber security and the serious repercussions that can come a breach of any scale. A UK parliamentary inquiry into the security of personal data online has been launched, and in the EU, new data protection laws are being discussed and reform plans being made. In its autumn statement, the UK government pledged £1.9 billion to cyber security, which will include a National Cyber Centre in GCHQ as well as a further two centres for innovation based in London and Cheltenham. Chancellor George Osborne says that the aim of these centres is to support talent and drive growth in the cyber security sector. The statement also mentioned programmes for active defence, as well as offensive cyber capability thus signalling at the role that cyber strategy now plays on the world stage. For businesses this means tightening up on security procedures more than ever before: setting aside relevant budgets and integrating security measures into each and every layer within the company; improving cyber literacy and creating strict, consistent policies. The real challenge however, will be encouraging organisations to make the changes as quickly as possible, avoiding bureaucratic stagnation so as to keep up with a rapidly evolving attack landscape.

11 December 2015

Tech-driven jobs you wont believe exist

There's no doubt that technology has changed the face of our world in so many ways, including the different options that there are for making a living. There's a whole range of weird and creative jobs that exist today that would have been completely inconceivable a decade ago. If you're looking for an inspired change in career then here are a few of the most exciting: Flying drones (or a Certified UAV pilot) For many of us, drones are something we associate with the military but they are about to have a much wider impact - everything from taking photos through to delivering packages can potentially be done by drones and with the likes of Amazon already adding them to their delivery options, this looks like a pretty secure job for those looking for a role with transferrable skills. Augmented reality architect Virtual reality is not new but this exciting technology has potential uses across a whole wide range of different industries. Whether you want to apply your skills to films, music videos or video games, or a different industry entirely, such as healthcare or property, this is one skill set that's only going to increase in value over the next few years. 3D printing The technology behind 3D printing has yet to really take hold of the mainstream consumer mindset but it's already gaining momentum with businesses looking for its efficient and economic precision. We have already seen 3D printing on the runways of the world and the potential for this technology to be applied across sectors is huge from the food industry to accessories and machinery. Given that the technology behind 3D printing can only improve and develop, it's an industry on the up and those who are able to make it happen could be in great demand. Quantified self assessment auditor This may not sound like a particularly fun or engaging job but the quantified self assessment auditor is essentially the digital driven version of the personal trainer. This role is built around an ability to analyse all the statistics that we now generate about ourselves in our daily routines, from heart rate to miles walked and calories consumed. The quantified self assessment auditor uses the data that has been gathered by an individual piece of wearable tech and uses it to produce tailored diet and fitness plans. Whether these appeal to you or not, there realm of tech jobs is a growing one - if you'd like some help finding the right role for you then get in touch with the team at JM Group.

02 December 2015

Why the UK Needs more Digital Skills Training

Given the digital revolution that the UK has encountered in the last decade you might be surprised to discover that the one thing our workforce - and potential workforce - really lack is digital skills. A House of Lords report from February of this year entitled Make or Break: The UK's Digital Future found a shortage of medium and high-level digital skills in the UK that could soon begin to affect the wider economy, rather than simply being limited to individual career paths. Digital skills training, said the House of Lords report, is required at all stages in the UK talent pipeline, including primary, secondary, further and higher level education. Digital jobs are on the rise We have begun to move more and more of our lives online and businesses are increasingly digitising more and more of their processes, so it makes sense that in the very near future a vast proportion of available jobs will require someone to have a good set of digital skills. Without skills training we risk alienating people from significant sectors of the working economy. Staff shortages will be a problem It's not just issues for individuals that are likely to crop up if the UK doesn't improve its digital skills training but many employers will most likely feel this bite too. The 'right' candidates may become few and far between and better incentives and more competitive packages could be the only way to ensure that the best quality candidates are recruited. Computer science graduate numbers are dropping It's an odd fact to see the numbers of those doing such a relevant degree falling when all around us computers are (potentially) taking over much of the business and consumer world. However, in 2011 there were just 56,025 UK people who graduated in computer science - that represents a fall of 23.3% over a decade. A lack of digital skills could stunt growth. While some believe that the only sector to be affected by this skills shortage will be the tech sector, in fact the problems are likely to be spread much wider and to have a knock on effect on many other industries too. Recent estimates indicate that the UK is already losing a potential £2bn per year from unfilled roles requiring digital skill and this can only rise as the gap between availability and need gets wider. For those looking for roles in the digital sector the JM Group has a wide range of options - contact us for more information or take a look at our website.

23 November 2015

DevOps Spending Hits 1m for a Third of UK Organisations

DevOps is a word on the tip of many tongues right now. It has taken the IT industry by storm and blasted its way into some of the world's biggest organisations. But what is it exactly? Why have a third of UK organisations dug so deeply into their pockets to get DevOps on their side? By definition, the word DevOps is a clipped compound of 'development' and 'operations'. It is the intersection of software engineering, technology operations and quality assurance, and is a method that acknowledges the interdependence between these areas. When employed within an organisation, the purpose of DevOps is to help produce software products and services, and to improve operations performance - more efficiently and effectively than the traditional means of several segregated departments. Its primary focus is on the communication, collaboration, integration and automation across each component. The reason behind DevOps dramatic rise in demand is its commitment to four universal elements, crucial to the success of any business: speed, quality, control and cost. Results pay, and DevOps is continuing to prove its worth with almost every client. In the UK alone, more than a third of organisations are now investing a 1million minimum into DevOps, with 77% of businesses setting aside some sort of dedicated budget. Its popularity sits on a global scale too, with an estimated 80% of Global Fortune 1000 organisations expected to adopt DevOps by 2019. For those working in the sector, things can only get better. Employment is up and so are the salaries and overall job security. Anyone with proficient skills in DevOps-related tools such as Puppet and Chef has a strong hand in the game of IT recruitment, and many organisations are overlooking conventional qualifications in favour of an aptitude in the DevOps field. The JM Group specialises in Digital and IT sector roles so speak with one of our trained consultants or check our website for details regarding the last DevOps roles.

09 November 2015

The JM Group joins forces with Staffing 360 Solutions

The JM Group has become part of Staffing 360 Solutions, a NASDAQ listed company in the recruitment industry with operations in the US and UK. In the UK the business is known as Longbridge and like The JM Group, is a very client focussed business with experienced consultants who specialise in finance, sales and marketing and law. The JM Group saw a good fit in terms of culture, style of business and commitment to client service. Key facts The JM Group will continue to be led by its current senior management team The JM name and brand, with its strong reputation built over 35 years, will not change The high levels of service provided by JM consultants will continue and their new colleagues at Longbridge can offer additional areas of recruitment expertise.

05 November 2015

Data Manipulation: The Latest Cyber Threat

The dominating fear surrounding cyber crime has always been one of data theft, and rightly so. The biggest cyber attacks so far have involved data theft on monumental levels, bringing about all kinds of threats and consequences. But security experts are now voicing their concerns towards a new possibility - one potentially far more sinister - and that is data manipulation. The theft of data has always posed two significant compromises: the confidentiality and availability of information. With manipulation now perching on the horizon however, a third compromise looms - the integrity of information. By changing and manipulating sensitive digital data rather than just stealing or deleting it, cyber criminals have the power to affect critical infrastructure systems. This in turn then affects the ability for authorities to make decisions, if they cannot trust the information they are receiving. With more advanced threats comes the need for more advanced security measures, which is in itself a precarious talking point that triggers much debate between governments, organisations and the general public. For all a government can do to protect its country, there remains a fine line between what is acceptable and what is a violation of personal privacy. In this, the jury is still very much out. One thing is certain - it is more important than ever for people and organisations to adopt a holistic approach to their cyber security, and to embed it into their culture. This means accepting cyber security as a part of everyday life, taking responsibility and not leaving everything to IT experts. With the Internet of Things continuing to expand, so does the window of opportunity for data theft and manipulation. Many data breaches are a result of human error and could so easily be avoided, simply by increasing cyber literacy amongst the general population. Something that all security experts agree on is the need to get off the back foot and start taking things more seriously. Cyber security should not be employed as defence but as prevention, and innovation to get ahead of any upcoming threats. If you are cyber security professional looking for a new opportunity the JM Group trained advisor can find you a role to match your skill set. Check out our current roles or contact an advisor.

02 November 2015

Is HMRC Revoking Contractors Rights to Expenses?

The last few years have seen several legislative changes brought into play in a bid to clamp down on unscrupulous practices by a number of payroll firms. In the Autumn Statement of 2014, the Government went on to highlight the growing use of overarching employment contracts by some service providers, which allow their employees to benefit from tax relief on things they would not ordinarily be able to claim. On paper, this may seem all fair and well. However, following the release of this year's budget, it was announced that tax relief on travel and subsistence expense is going to be greatly restricted for employees of umbrella and limited companies, who are under the 'supervision, direction and control of the end user'. This latter phrase has become an underlying cause for concern amongst many contractors across the UK - the main issue being the dubious ambiguity of HMRC's definition of SDC, and who exactly should fall into its category. Even at face value however, the knock-on effects could extend beyond the contractors themselves and right into the hearts of their relevant industries as more contractors become liable for PAYE and NI. For example, the costs of hiring a contractor in the IT industry could rise two-fold. Firstly because there will be less contractors as the market shifts to more permanent opportunities. Secondly, contractors who fall within the SDC division will increase their rates to account for the loss of expenses and increase of PAYE and NI costs. One potential outcome is that end clients will have to take responsibility for advising recruitment consultancies as to whether the roles fall within or outside the scope of SDC. Meanwhile, contractors who are declared as working within SDC are likely to request a pay rise, change contracts to a non-SDC assignment, or even start to look for permanent opportunities. The document itself - Employment Intermediaries and Tax Relief for Travel and Subsistence is still in its consultation stage, and can be commented on until the 30th September.

22 September 2015

Are IT Salaries on the Rise?

Working in IT has long been recognised as a means of earning a decent income. But recent shifts in the market have led to an increase in average salary across a wide range of IT roles and there is evidence to suggest this trend could continue. It may be an obvious thing to point out, that technology advancements coupled with years of underinvestment are driving business change in the UK. The growth and innovation that has come from this change however is prompting the need for additional IT talent across multiple sectors. Investments are being made to expand and galvanise infrastructures, with budgets extending to enable systems implementations, network upgrades and new security initiatives. In a bid to meet these more demanding in-house IT requirements, recruitment levels for technology professionals are at an all-time high across almost every industry and sector. Another element of change comes with the shift towards more permanent and well-paid positions; accounting for on going projects and initiatives, as well as continual IT risk security and domestic expansion. Further to this, is the growing number of businesses looking to nearshore or reshore their IT functions back into Europe and the UK. The result of all this appears to be that technology professionals are in strong demand and short supply, thus putting the ball firmly in the candidate's court. According to Computerworld's 2015 IT Salary Survey of IT professionals in the US, 74% of participants named an increase in salary as the biggest influential factor in changing their job. The survey also revealed that 64% had received an internal pay rise in the last year. These internal pay rises set against the increased average salaries hint at employers getting savvy to the wants and needs of IT pros who are, at the present moment, sitting rather pretty. The only thing that technology buffs need to be aware of is that all of this is only applicable to the top talent. So if they are to really cash in, they must be at the top of their game and able to demonstrate the skills and technical expertise that companies are so desperately looking for. If this is you and you want to find out more about what jobs are on offer, as well as reviewing your current salary, simply speak with one of our trained consultants or check our website for details.

07 September 2015

Is Information Sharing Key to Security Success?

In May this year the Wassenaar Arrangement got its first proper airing, introducing new export regulations with the intention of extending restrictions on export and sale of intrusion software and software vulnerabilities. The changes could affect a very broad number of businesses, from those that are offering penetration-testing packages through to those producing software that scans for vulnerabilities. The wide-ranging nature of the extension has been very publicly criticised by Google, which has stated that it believes it to be "dangerous broad and vague" and, in basic terms, simply just not practically feasible. Tens of thousands of export licences Of course, Google has phrased its objections in a fairly broad context, drawing attention to the "significant negative impact" the regulations would be likely to have on the open security research community. But Google's objections are not just in the interests of the community in general but with respect to its own administrative burden too - the new regulations would put Google in the position of having to request perhaps tens of thousands of export licences, something that would be hugely costly and take up significant resources. Difficulties with vulnerability disclosure The search engine giant also makes the point that the consequent demands of the new regulations could introduce huge delays with respect to bug vulnerability disclosure processes and the like and states that "you should never need a license when you report a bug to get it fixed." Google's solution is "standing license exceptions for everyone when controlled information is reported back to manufacturers for the purposes of fixing a vulnerability" as this would protect those researching and reporting vulnerabilities, exploits, or other controlled information. Google's argument is that the Wassenaar Arrangement could otherwise result in vulnerability disclosure becoming too difficult so that those who are discovering issues look to less above board sources to generate a return for what they've discovered. Information sharing Information sharing is another much more credible alternative as far as Google is concerned. It believes that multi-nationals should be able to engage in multi national information sharing on intrusion software, without the need to obtain a licence for it as is proposed. We all know that, in theory, licensing seems a logical way to structure and control the vulnerability market but there needs to be a balance between disclosure, internal company policies and realistic expectations in order for any changes to work. Most of all, Google has insisted that clarity is the most important element - or we could just end up with one big, costly, global mess.

24 August 2015

What is the future of SDN?

Software Defined Networking (SDN) is still a relatively emerging architecture that allows network administrators to manage network services through abstraction of lower-level functionality. This abstraction is ideal for efficiently developing new applications, making SDN a great tool for delivering innovative services in a more timely way. SDN also centralises the intelligence of a network system and this makes network utilisation more flexible and, as complexity is hidden from operators, SDN is also easy to operate and maintain. It was perhaps with Google's step onto the SDN bandwagon in 2011 that this technology started to really become a telecom technology trend, rather than an obscure academic idea. Google's intervention illustrated how SDN is able to go beyond its data centre origins and introduce WAN cost and efficiency benefits and this triggered a hive of activity around using SDN. Companies such as Verizon Communications, AT&T, NTT Communications Corp and Telstra Corp have all announced the incorporation of SDN in some way, shape or form over the past two years. With this stage has come the really hard questions that need to be answered if SDN is to progress from being simply a technology trend to architecture that can be properly implemented, integrated and commercialised. As a result of the stage that SDN has reached, it's still hard to determine exactly what the future will be and drawing concrete conclusions is almost impossible. However, there are a number of issues that will affect what happens to the future of SDN that are worth taking a look at in order to get some idea of its potential longevity. Security Cyber security is a frontline issue for just about everyone right now but the security of SDN and NFV networks has not really had a lot of airtime. Given the way that SDN is developing, however, this is likely to become one of the main issues in the very near future. Real life examples For some time it hasn't really been clear what might be possible with SDN, both economically and technically, but there are now some compelling real world examples, with a significant concentration around WAN automation in general. Overcoming IP and optical integration IP and optical layers can be logically integrated through software control and management using SDN, providing a new option for this architecture. SDN overcomes multi-vendor interoperability, which has always been the missing link when it comes to uniting these different layers.

13 August 2015

How Will 5G Change the Telecoms Industry?

As most of us continue to get to grips with our new 4G gadgets, without even really understanding or experiencing their true potential, the telecoms industry is already ploughing on with 5G test beds. But what is 5G? Well, this is the thing. As yet it remains little more than a concept; a future-vision cast out by the telecoms industry with view to preparing us all for our technological needs in years to come. Which, considering the unprecedented growth of the Internet of Things and the demand for wireless connection, could be seen as a critical component of global infrastructure. Traditionally, each generation of mobile technology has sought out to fix the problems that arose in the past. With 5G, the focus is more of a 'prediction' than a remedy. Think 2020. Of course so much can and will happen that no one can possibly know what the final outcome will be. But here are just a few examples of what to expect from the current idea of 5G: It will be ridiculously fast with huge bandwidth capacity Battery life will be greatly increased Smart Cities will become a reality It will be almost unbreakable [apparently] Technically speaking, all this will be possible thanks to 5G's ability to provide coverage at the higher end of the frequency spectrum, known as millimetre waves, thus helping to alleviate over-capacitated small cell networks. It is likely to be working in conjunction with existing network technologies and bands currently used for the deployment of 3G and 4G. Of course there is no exact prediction as to how and when 5G will make its impact, but there has been plenty of talk suggesting UK and Europe as likely pioneers thanks to companies such as Ericsson who are already busy test-driving 5G devices. KT Telecom also hinted that the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeonchang could see the first commercial rollout of the technology. Whatever the future holds, if 5G lives up to any of its promises, things could get very interesting indeed.

27 July 2015

Press Release - JM Appoints 2 New Directors

The JM Group is pleased to announce two senior appointments within the company. Adam Drew and Fiona Eddy were invited to become Directors of the JM Group (IT Recruitment) Limited and we are delighted that they have both accepted. Fiona Eddy has been appointed Director with immediate effect. Fiona brings to the board her deep experience of relationship management and client development as well as her extensive knowledge of contract recruitment gained during her18 year career at JM.     Adam Drew has been appointed Finance and Operations Director with immediate effect. His broader role across the business will include full responsibility for Finance, HR, IT and Operations.     Stuart Milton, Chairman of The JM Group, commented: "We are delighted that Fiona and Adam have joined us on the Board, their appointments will be key to the future success of the group. The JM Group offers a full compliment of recruitment services, including executive search, selection, contingent permanent, contracts and interim services.

24 July 2015

96 % of UK Corporations Hacked: Is Anyone Really Safe?

New data has revealed a staggering percentage of UK corporations reporting security breaches. The hacks appear to be for a number of reasons, namely to steal, change or publicise important data. According to the government-commissioned 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey conducted by PwC, 90% of the bigger organisations polled reported breaches - more than 10% up on last year's figures. Smaller firms have also seen a leap in successful hacks, with 74% now admitting to being left vulnerable to attack. The survey also showed that the majority of businesses expect their incident rate to further increase in the coming year. What is perhaps most disconcerting however is the nature of the attacks, which are predominantly being targeted by outsiders via the use of malicious software. While many firms are doing what they can to protect themselves from cybercrime, there remain a significant number of UK businesses - 9.1% - that have yet to implement any kind of safeguarding procedure. This trend is by no means exclusive to the UK either. In the world's longest running and most comprehensive research on senior financial executives, the latest round of data from the Global Business Outlook Survey shows increased hacking to be a global issue. 92% of polled businesses across Europe have been hacked, with 23% not acting to prevent attacks. More than 80% of firms in the US have been breached, with a further 85% across Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is clear then that cybercrime is not going to go away anytime soon. But with so many businesses failing to protect themselves, the real problem seems to be a little closer to home. Thus the role of the in-house ITC security team is becoming more important than ever.

13 July 2015

A New Segmentation for Retail Financial Services

Courtesy of JM Guest Blogger Anne Boden of Starling Bank. We all know the context. Despite billions of pounds of investment in new propositions, brand "refreshes" and other marketing, trust in the UK banking sector is still at an all time low. There is very little actual differentiation between the main retail banking players, and almost no perceived distinction when you ask customers. If people bother to move at all, they are pushed out by bad service, unexpected fees or lack of product competitiveness, and are pulled to an alternative by little more than convenience of alternate branch or until recently joining cash incentive. But we believe the market is on the tipping point of major change. There is a new generation of players that have or are about to launch. Many will play in the traditional retail banking space, but differentiate by channel or customer experience. Some are taking one element of the services traditionally delivered by the banks, and either offering a best in class experience or serving previously under-served audiences. This is the sort of market disaggregation that has happened in the US, and we believe is inevitable in the UK as well. This article attempts to take this moment in time, and capture who's doing what, in order to help the uninitiated navigate this increasingly complex, brave new world of how the UK population can manage their money. Big banks and traditional challengers The players here are well known. Defined, and some would say hampered, by their history and, in most cases, their high street presence. Legacy systems restrict innovation, and large customer bases restrict the ability to expand quickly to meet evolving customer expectations. The likes of TSB and Williams & Glyn have been forced into existence by EC mandates to increase competition post financial crisis but are simply "a chip off the old block" encumbered with legacy without the scale of the originating big bank. I'm not sure this is where you would start if you really wanted to create a new and agile player likely to introduce some true competition. The exceptions to this are the new players of Metro and Virgin Money. That said, there was much expectation set at the launch of both players, but little delivery beyond making slightly better what was annoying customers - faster account opening, branch hours more reflective of a busy, urban audience, and some small product innovation. Savings and mortgages - building societies as was plus new entrants For some time yet, there will still be power in the savings and mortgage space, occupied by those that can offer increased value. This is mostly driven by their ability to price competitively in moments of key market demand. It will be interesting to see how this sub-category of brands retain relevance as the generations who remember the power of the building society model mature. Currently price is still their biggest draw to younger generations, but the lack of investment in defining their brands beyond this rational hook may result in further disaggregation in this space, as we've seen in other lending markets. The supermarkets and other retailers This sector saw large levels of investment between 2012 and 2014, but it feels like focus has returned (out of necessity) to their core business of grocery. Trust remains an issue - many people seem happy to take out insurance or a reward based credit card, but very few are moving their current account relationship. Why does a banking licence matter? So one of the key questions we get asked is why we are bothering to apply for a banking licence? And the answer is simple. For the time being, the word 'bank' is still the frame of reference that people look to in terms of where to securely keep and manage their money. Alongside this, there is still an element of trust that comes with the increased regulatory supervision imposed on the banks. Most importantly of course, it provides the maximum available protection for customers' money, with balances being underwritten by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme to the tune of £85,000 per customer, per bank. As we come on to some of the disaggregated products hitting the market, there is a common misconception that this means money is protected in the same way. And of course, whilst they are regulated, the same level of protection isn't offered. The next generation of banks The simplest way to think about the core of new market entrants is that they will effectively replicate the full set of products and services a traditional retail bank has, just through all or a subset of digital channels. Necessary branch based services (e.g. paying in cash or cheques) will still be offered, but via a third party arrangement. That's not to say this reference to the traditional product set is a bad thing in any way. Customers still frame their decision around the core set of products that have existed for many years. And the advantage all of these players have is in building the majority of their systems for current market requirements, enabling them to both avoid the sins of the past and hopefully deliver genuine innovation in customer experience. Some are specialising based on audience - OakNorth and Civilised are focusing more on the small business audience; Lintel believe there is untapped potential with foreign nationals, but the majority still see the advantage in servicing a broad base of customers. How will Starling be different from this? We believe there is an opportunity to go further than just replicating a full set of retail banking products, and focus on delivering an exceptional, mobile-first experience for the core customer need of money management, by building a single, best in class, current account. As highlighted in previous blogs, why do customers have multiple products that do slightly different shades of the same thing? The mental accounting piece aside (because that can be solved in other ways), it's because banks have spent years telling customers they need them. And why? Because selling (and it was selling) complex products, with opaque charging models made really good commercial sense! Of course, like all new players, we will be looking to right the many wrongs proliferated by the category. But in focusing on a single product build, all of our investment in the customer experience will be concentrated on the things customers need and use the most. Neo-banks If you look at the US and some of the European markets, you can see another area of growth that is likely to hit the UK market soon, in the form of so-called neo-banks. These brands claim to deliver the best in class digital experience, with none of the risk of a balance sheet - so they effectively put a layer of information management over another banks' product set. The challenge with this is that customers' funds and effectively the bulk of the relationship is held with the partner bank, and so in creating those hand-offs, such as in the on-boarding process, this can still be onerous. Simple and Moven are probably the most well known names in this space, with Number 26 starting to grow their reputation across Europe. Monese will be the first player to launch in the UK, currently schedule for summer 2015. Whilst full details on their proposition are yet to be revealed, current messaging features the ease and speed of account opening, as well as the lack of hidden fees - but transparency is easier when you don't allow customers to borrow any money at all. Pre-paid debit cards The grouping of brands that have the greatest potential to cause customer confusion have to be the pre-paid debit cards. Many are calling themselves a "bank", without needing or possessing a banking licence, and/or promoting their "current accounts", without offering the full spectrum of benefits customers have come to associate with this nomenclature. Or at least certainly not offering the same level of free banking as is currently offered by the retail banks. Now this may lead to a greater level of transparency for the sector overall. As one of the brands quite rightly claims, no banking is truly free in the UK, as all businesses need to make money somewhere. The danger though is that currently, many of the players in this space are a viable offer for those that can't pass the credit scoring required for a full current account with the banks, and would rather have the additional benefits offered (although at a cost) beyond historical "basic" bank accounts. Whilst transparent in terms of charging, I would argue that customers will pay a premium to go via this route. For some it is worth the monthly cost - for those without credit history or credentials, the security of an FSCS scheme and the absence of overdraft facilities is irrelevant. It is better to have a card than no card at all. However, it is sad that the people who least afford services sometimes pay the most and social inclusion in the financial system remains a challenge. Payments and digital wallets As payments and mobile technology evolves, some would argue whether you need a card at all. As NFC technology advances, secure mobile or wearables payments should become the norm. The two biggest barriers in the UK currently are the roll-out of technology at the merchant end, with many terminals still not taking contactless, let alone mobile, and there are still large populations of customers for whom security is a concern. Of course services such PayPal, and others like ApplePay, Google Wallet, and Amazon offering a digital wallet still ultimately need to be "funded" from somewhere or only currently house existing, traditional card details. But what are the barriers in the future to them to create their own cards and / or fully-fledged current accounts? When this happens, markets such as the pre-paid cards will cease to exist, forcing those brands to evolve or die. FX / international payments Whilst a much smaller market, international payments has not remained static either, with Transferwise leading the charge to take business away from what it says are the cost prohibitive bank services. I wouldn't rule out the old school Western Union and Money Gram however, who still benefit from large volumes of usage by foreign nationals, and are looking at their own innovation to stay relevant in a digital age. The lending market will continue to evolve Finally, it will be interesting to see what happens in the lending space after the flurry of new entrants, and market disaggregation in recent years. With much regulatory focus on the payday lenders, we may see some contraction here. What will be interesting is to see who in the peer-to-peer space is really set to weather any sort of storm (touch lots of wood that we won't see a financial crisis like the last anytime soon). The attractive rates are bringing in the savers, in an environment of rock bottom rates everywhere else. But as rates start to rise, how much of a return will customers be willing to trade off for their FSCS protection? So what? Ultimately, what's the desired outcome of all of this increased competition? Well of course, it should be to ensure customers will have more choice. And that is the agenda that should be driving what ever proposition the brands of the future create. Courtesy of JM Guest Blogger Anne Boden of Starling Bank.This article first appeared on Anne Boden's Linkedin Blog which can be found here

03 July 2015

Top Tips When Job Hunting

When it comes to job hunting, the smart money is on those candidates who manage to achieve maximum results with minimum effort. Increase your chances of getting the role that you want and take all the hassle out of the process, with out top tips for job hunting. Don't just wait for the work to come to you. It might sound like a lot of effort but actually you're saving yourself time to go proactively seeking jobs rather than applying at the same time as everyone else. You may be able to apply for a role before others get the chance to or you might simply benefit from demonstrating enthusiasm or being the first CV in the pile - search for opportunities via social media, the websites of the companies you want to work for, by contacting HR teams and looking for signs that a company might be recruiting, such as deal news, new partnerships or client announcements. Network heartily. This doesn't mean standing around in stuffy rooms clutching a glass of warm wine. Make sure your social media profiles are up to date and compelling and make contacts online. Don't waste your energy attending every event in your industry, research those that are likely to have the best attendees for connections and then go and perform at your networking best for a couple of hours and come home with all the connections you need without breaking a sweat. How can you stand out? Yes, most CVs need to tick certain boxes for certain jobs but you also need to make sure there is something that differentiates you from the rest. You might want to start your CV with a short, compelling personal statement, or you could even opt for a gimmick - send your CV with some Easter chocolate, for example. Focus on the company, not the job. If you know you want to work for a specific business then become their biggest fan. Interact with them via social media, be a brand ambassador and contribute to their digital marketing. Brands want employees to love their products and services as much as they do so this is a great way to get noticed. Create your own job. This is ambitious but if you think a company is lacking a certain position then tell them about it. You'll need to back this up by researching the business, and the market, stating what they're missing out on without it and what benefits you would bring. Make sure you communicate this to the right person too - it's usually better sent to a partner/manager level employee, rather than HR or recruitment.  

29 June 2015

Introducing the New JM Group Website

For the past 34 years, JM Group has been helping talented IT, Change and Digital professionals and leaders find their next career opportunity. In that time we have also witnessed the birth of the digital sector and its extraordinary development. As a result, we were able to extend our client base to include companies and individuals from across these fields. Having reached a point where we are representing the most cutting-edge people in the IT and digital sectors, it seemed only right that our website reflected this. Which is why we would like to announce the launch of our new and improved site - aimed at giving clients and candidates the best online experience, wherever they may be. With a mature client base which includes leading organisations within the financial industry and global corporates, Director Louise Smith said, "Over the last few years our focus has also extended to Digital professionals and we have updated our website to reflect this and also to allow interested clients and candidates to find out more about us whether sat in the office or on the move. Our new website allows us to communicate more effectively with our network of candidates. It incorporates responsive design with a carefully constructed layout, intended to make navigation as simple and hassle-free as possible. Its entire content has been completely overhauled with improvements made to its management and SEO capability. Access to useful blog material has been made easier than ever, and we were adamant that our candidates were the main focus for the new layout and functions. We also hope that the new website will help to increase the potential client attraction, driving clients and candidates towards it thus boosting the ROI. 2015 has so far been a very busy and productive year for JM Group. We have been working exclusively with a leading infrastructure organisation to build an in-house IT function of 40 people. We have also collaborated with a new bank and leading investment management firm to identify Senior Leaders. Our interim practice has grown too, with a particular focus on Change and Programme Management Skills. If you are a candidate looking to work in Business Change, IT or Digital, or a client wanting to hire new talent for your company, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

22 June 2015