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Ecommerce explosion: online cross-border sales boom in China offers Irish exporters opportunities

Ecommerce has exploded in China – on current trends half of all of the world’s online transactions will take place in the economic power house this year.

Local Chinese tech champions such as Alibaba, Tencent and JD.com dominate a rapidly-growing ecommerce ecosystem, mostly within China, according to a paper from the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Cross-border sales are increasing, and with an increasingly wealthy population of 1.4 billion, international businesses are keen to crack the market.

Already a number of Irish companies looking to access China are tapping into online channels. Earlier this month, wet wipes maker Irish Breeze signed an agreement to sell through JD.com, one of the largest business-to-consumer online retail platforms in the country and, in July, Larry Goodman’s ABP Food Group entered an agreement with Beijing Hopewise to sell Irish beef through its ecommerce website.

According to the WEF paper, there are five main trends to look out for in China’s ecommerce landscape. One is the growth in cross-border ecommerce between China and the rest of the world. In 2016, cross-border retail ecommerce sales in China were worth $78.5bn (€69bn), a figure set to rise to more than $140bn by 2021.

This is being driven by increasing numbers of Chinese people travelling abroad and being exposed to more international brands and products.

Once they return, they use cross-border eshopping to purchase international products that are either not available in China or are too expensive in local outlets.

In addition, and key for Irish agri-food exporters, the WEF paper finds that Chinese consumers are turning to cross-border eshopping as a way to access international brands due to concerns around consumer and food safety.

Other trends that are emerging in China are the establishment of ecommerce ‘special trade zones’. Since 2015, the country has been setting up pilot trade zones.

The zones provide a streamlined system for cross-border online shopping, with simplified regulations for the faster examination of goods, and easier information-sharing for cross-border ecommerce imports and exports.

Meanwhile, the rise of influencers is also boosting the ecommerce market.

Another trend that is benefiting the Chinese ecommerce economy is the rise of ‘digitally-connected experiential shopping’, a system being used by JD and Alibaba, both of which are opening outlets throughout the country.

Consumers can use technology such as smartphones to scan the barcode of an item in a shop and learn about its source, nutritional information, and price. Delivery to the store can be as fast as 30 minutes. Finally, the paper finds that more and more ecommerce will take place in rural areas.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Adrian Weckler: ‘Beware of Black Friday ‘sales’

In five days, ‘Black Friday’ will occur. You’ll see and hear lots of ads appearing about this. Sadly, it’s a time of the year when retailers spoof a lot about price cuts with no consequence from any regulatory body.

Discounts are exaggerated and recommended retail prices – ‘RRP’ – are quoted that have not been true for months.

Every year I cover this. Every year, I find examples from almost all the big retailers of creative sales claims.

It happens with TVs, laptops, headphones, cameras and all sorts of other tech goods.

And bodies such as the Competition, Consumer and Protection Commission (CCPC) say that they are either toothless or can’t find cases that are bad enough to act on.

Typically, a retailer announces that a TV ‘now costs’ €699, a ‘saving’ of €300 on its ‘RRP’ of €999.

But this is what really happens. It is first listed at €999 in February. Then it is reduced to €899 in May, then to €849 in August and to €749 in October. (This is very normal in the pricing life of a TV.)

Now, as it comes to the end of its shelf life in November, it is advertised at €699.

So your ‘discount’ – if you can even call it that – is €50 on its last regular price of €749.

It’s not even that hard to check, either. In some cases, a quick search using Google’s cached results (which often gives a snapshot of the page two weeks back or so) shows the most recent price before the sale price was posted.

So when the retailer puts a huge sticker on the web page proclaiming that it’s an amazing new discount of €300 off the ‘RRP’ of €999, it’s completely misleading.

Retailers I’ve put this to say that they’re entitled to use, as marketing material, the length to which a product’s price has come down from its original level.

But they appear utterly unperturbed by any worry of being disciplined over it. And why would they be?

“The CCPC has engaged with traders in relation to promotion pricing but we have not taken any enforcement action on this specific issue,” a spokesman for the regulatory body told me.

The spokesman said that the organisation has taken “numerous enforcement actions against traders for various breaches of pricing legislation, which are detailed in our annual Consumer Protection List”.

But a search through five years’ worth of editions of this list shows no complaint or enforcement action relating to misleading sale price notices of the type we see around Black Friday. Part of the problem is rooted in Irish law.

“When running price promotions or ‘special offers’, it’s against the law for businesses to give a false or misleading previous price,” says the CCPC, referring to the Consumer Protection Act of 2007.

“For example, if the business crosses out one price and replaces it with another, lower, price, the goods in question must have been on sale in the same place, or a significant number of outlets, in the case of a chain, at that previous price for a reasonable time.”

The big problem here is what is meant by “a reasonable time”.

Common sense would suggest that if a product is being advertised as being ‘on sale’ at a discount from a previous price, then that previous price should have been in place directly before the sale started, and for at least a month.

But the law doesn’t actually define it, leaving a giant loophole.

“Generally we are not in a position to provide a definitive view on whether a particular commercial practice breaches any legislation,” said the CCPC spokesman.

“Factors such as the context and the significance of the information provided are important factors which need to be considered. However, in relation to your query, the law isn’t specific in relation to the reasonable time.”

One retailer, to be fair, makes some effort to be transparent. On its website, PC World-Currys lists a date range when its ‘reduced from’ price was in place.

(For example, it has a Samsung 55-inch telly for sale at €579. The previous price of €899, it says, was in place “from 19/10/2018 to 08/11/2018”.)

But most retailers don’t bother. Right now, Harvey Norman is advertising a Sony 55-inch 4K HDR television for €949, with a claimed ‘Black Friday’ reduction of €700 from its stated regular price of €1,649.

But 10 days ago, it was being sold by Harvey Norman for €1,299.

That’s still a decent reduction of €350. But it’s half the discount claimed.

Television prices, in particular, decrease at a steady and predictable rate, not once a year. This reduction may be in the normal course of business, Black Friday or no Black Friday.

It appears that the CCPC may be reliant on the public to report errant behaviour, as the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) is.

And at this stage, it’s likely that many people are simply cynical about the whole thing, expecting that shops will always bend the truth a little.

Does that mean it’s okay?

As for the retailers who are engaging in creative advertising, they may argue that they’re simply trying to stay alive in a critically tough environment.

It’s true that they are under unprecedented assault. Just look at the hollowed-out main streets of Irish towns and cities. What used to be a lively, thriving retail landscape is now populated with bookies, thrift shops and chippers.

It’s no coincidence that city streets in Dublin are now increasingly populated with cafes, boutiques, hairdressers and other ‘service’ spaces.

That’s what people see cities for, now, not buying things they can get slightly cheaper – and with less restriction on stock – online.

So retailers might say: ‘cut us a break, here. We’re trying to survive.’

That’s understandable, but a hard argument to make.

An advertised discount should be transparent and contextual. Too many touted deals around ‘Black Friday’ are elastic.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Consumer spending to reach a record €105bn – surpassing boomtime peak

Irish consumer spending is set to reach a record €105bn this year, surpassing the boomtime peak set in 2007, according to a new report.

The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI), a tax relief for home improvements, is fuelling strong growth in people’s spending on their homes, according to the latest Consumer Market Monitor from the Marketing Institute of Ireland and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.

Sales of hardware, furnishings and electrical goods have surged by 14pc this year, making that the highest- growth sector in retailing.

The report’s author, Prof Mary Lambkin, said: “In a market where houses for those trading-up or downsizing are in short supply, the HRI tax incentive scheme has been a major factor driving the trend for home transformation, stimulating a lot of spending on household goods and enhancements, as well as being a considerable support for the building trades and related retail sectors.

“12,179 building contractors have been involved in these projects and, given a multiplier of 2-3 for the number of trades contributing to these projects, that may have supported as many as 30,000 jobs,” she added.

The report said the fall in the value of sterling had boosted buying power for UK-made goods. It aggregates data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the Central Bank of Ireland, the European Commission, and a number of other sources.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Review of expenses scheme angers accountants

One of Ireland’s top accounting representative groups has lashed out at Revenue’s review of the flat-rate expenses scheme, saying 500,000 could ultimately be affected and that some individuals could lose out on gains from the Budget.

Brian Keegan, director of public policy and taxation at Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI), said changes to the scheme coming into effect next year affecting around 80,000 people were “ill-timed and difficult for employers and employees alike”.

Employees are entitled to claim tax deductions on expenses incurred “wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of their employment, to the extent which the expenses are not reimbursed by the employer”.

The flat-rate regime was introduced in order to make administering these claims easier.

It allows workers in certain sectors to claim a certain amount based on the expenses employees tend to occur in their industry.

Now however, Revenue is carrying out a review to see if the amounts being given out under the flat-rate regime are still appropriate. It said people may be affected in different ways, with some industries seeing an increase in the amount workers can claim as flat-rate expenses, while others might see a reduction or the amount removed entirely.

Those who have the amount removed will still be able to claim for expenses, but it will become more cumbersome.

CAI said that though no one should claim an amount to which they’re not entitled, many workers would be put off by the red tape and lose out on a benefit to which they were previously entitled.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

The Irish studio started with just myself…now we have 36 employees.’ Blockchain firms look to Dublin

A growing cryptocurrency ecosystem and availability of tech talent is attracting blockchain leaders, and their companies, to Ireland.

Digital currency exchange Coinbase has most recently helped to expand the crypto economy here, opening an office in Dublin just last month.

At the time, the firm’s UK CEO Zeeshan Feroz said that Dublin, with its diverse talent pool and entrepreneurial spirit, was the “clear choice” when the company considered the location of its second European office.

While the move was part of Coinbase’s Brexit contingency plan, the attraction to this island for many firms working with emerging tech is strong, not least with Brooklyn-based start-up ConsenSys.

Lory Kehoe, who has led the Dublin hub of the “blockchain venture studio” since it opened its doors last April, said establishing a presence here shows there is a vibrant cross-industry and cross-sector blockchain ecosystem in the country.

“Companies like us are looking to attract some of the great tech talent that already exists in Ireland, thanks to the many global tech companies that are based here,” he said.

“Based on the first-hand experience of Jeremy Millar [chief of staff at ConsenSys], he saw that other tech firms had their EMEA presence in Ireland; and he needed a city that was close to London that could help deliver on projects the company is already working on.”

Blockchain technologies store blocks of information that are distributed across a network; they have been embraced by a number of business verticals for the traceability and security they bring to transactions online.

Founded by Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin, ConsenSys was established in October 2014 and currently employs 1,200 people across the globe.

Dublin is ConsenSys’s third hub in Europe and fourth in EMEA, adding to ConsenSys’s network in London, Dubai and Paris.
The multi-functional Irish hub includes a development lab, where engineers build and deliver Ethereum-based blockchain platforms and products stemming from the company’s consulting arm, ConsenSys Solutions.

And this is all run by a team of blockchain experts – which has grown twelvefold over the last eight months.

“The Irish studio started with just myself, quickly followed by two others. We went completely against the grain of a quiet summer with our recruitment drive and now we have 36 employees.”

Prior to ConsenSys, Kehoe was a director with Deloitte where he founded and led Deloitte’s EMEA Blockchain Lab.

He said he was about to take a job in Hong Kong when he got “the opportunity to start a business in my home city about a technology that I’m very passionate about”.

“As managing director, I’m leading such a great team, that I plan on building out to 50 staff by end of the year. We’re currently housed at co-working space Huckletree, while we wait for our new space to be being fitted out.”

Kehoe said that his team will be moving to its new 6,000 sq ft home at Silicon Docks, “minutes from Google”, in January of next year. The space has capacity for 100 people and Lory said that ConsenSys plan to “fill the space that we move into; we’re hiring a person every week”.

In addition to building out the blockchain ecosystem in Ireland and EMEA, Kehoe said that the intention is to grow out his team and continue to focus on team diversity.

Earlier this year, the European Commission appointed ConsenSys as an adviser to the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, a two-year initiative aimed at helping the European Union accelerate blockchain innovation.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Startup diary: There are three rules that every startup needs to follow for sales success

Once you have users for your online product, how do you sell to them? This an important question. I often speak to aspiring founders about their ideas and the first question I always end up asking is: “Who will give you money and why?”

The need to ask this question is a remarkably frequent occurrence. Even if the founder’s pitch was really great, I almost never walk away understanding exactly how the business will make money. The unfortunate reason is that often the founder themselves does not really know.

You shouldn’t feel so bad about that if you are just starting a company. Mark Zuckerberg couldn’t answer this question for a long time, and only figured out how to make money from the mobile Facebook app by inserting ads into the newsfeed many years into his journey.

That said, he had lots of users, which you probably don’t.

The most important reason to be able to answer this question properly is that you should value your own time. You are investing your blood, sweat and tears, not to mention lost earnings, and perhaps some actual savings, into a new venture. You really should have a very clear idea about how it will make money.

And yet all the fun is in product development. People tend to start businesses in fields that they know and understand, and feel the pain that their product solves so keenly so it’s all they can think about. This is a necessary, but not sufficient, part of building a business (and getting it funded).

You have to put just as much time into understanding how the money will flow from your customers to you. What is your ‘value proposition’? Successful growing businesses are based not just on a fair exchange of value, but on creating new value. Think about all the business value that Microsoft Office has created – this arguably far exceeds all the money Microsoft ever made from it. By rights, if they wanted a ‘fair’ price, you should need a mortgage to buy their products.

So how do you start thinking about this question? It’s not good enough just to have a pithy elevator pitch answer, or point to a group of customers.

It’s all about the details.

To follow up a good idea with lots of little ones (as ‘Father Ted’s’ Dougal might put it) you need use some structure to help. I’m going to use three angles to look at different aspects of this and I’ll compare the approaches I took in my last business (nearForm.com, an IT consultancy), and in my current startup (voxgig.com).

First, ask yourself how long it takes, as well as how much it costs, to close a sale. What does the ‘sales cycle’ look like?

Second, is your product ‘mission critical’ or can it be shelved when times get tight?

Third, how do your customers find you – what is your ‘route to market’?

The sales cycle can be a real killer. One of our best customers in nearForm took two years to decide to work with us and six months to pay the first invoice. The higher your price, and the more effort it takes to adopt your product, the higher up the management chain you have to go.

You’ll end up needing to meet multiple people, all with different agendas, and probably have to present to more than one committee. You may never even meet the final decision-maker. And after all of that, you may get handed off to ‘procurement’ who want to knock your price down by 5pc or more.

Selling custom software development is a hard business to scale (which is one of the reasons I got out of it) and revenue is ‘lumpy’. By this I mean that it comes in big, infrequent payments. Managing your cash flow when your revenue is large but unpredictable is a nightmare.

If your product or service involves large payments and long periods to close sales, then you’ll need to make sure you can survive in the meantime. It’s no good thinking up something that big companies need, without knowing how you’re going to deal with this problem.

One way, that can be wonderfully successful, is to get the big companies to pay up front and fund your product development. This is much harder to do than it looks and you’ll need to rely on deep industry contacts and pre-existing credibility. If you don’t have those, good luck.
For voxgig, we follow the alternative path of freemium conversion. Get users to see value in the free but feature-limited version and then upsell them on the professional feature set when they are ready.

This has a lower cost of sale (direct sales don’t scale here), but still have a relatively long sales cycle, as the system needs to prove itself first. This is why most software-as-a-service businesses need significant initial funding. Once you have proven the conversion to paid accounts works, you can use even more funding to drive marketing and sales activity, because you know it works.

There are many variations to the sales cycle, both it terms of timing, cost of sale, staffing and so forth. You need to really understand how this will work in your business. As a founder, you’ll also need to work the front lines to deeply understand how your customers think.

The second aspect is to understand if you are ‘mission critical’. Clearly if you sell oil to the army, you are not going to suffer much from budget cuts. But most businesses do not have that luxury. An IT consultancy is particularly vulnerable to this problem. You’re often building new projects that are unproven, without strong internal sponsors. When times get tough, nobody will stick our their neck to keep you alive. This problem would often keep me up at night.

In voxgig we sell to the marketing department – they are the people who organise events. This is also a dangerous place to be. Marketing budgets get cut ruthlessly in a downturn. Of course, on the flipside, they are very generous and relatively loose when things are going well – look at the vast proliferation of online marketing tools to see how easy it is to sell into this group, especially if you can provide some form of measurement. As the American retailing pioneer John Wanamaker (he invented the price tag) was fond of saying: “Half my advertising budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half.” (And no, it wasn’t David Ogilvy – why would he say that? He sold ads.)

The trick is to find a group of loyal internal supporters, and to become part of their daily work processes. You have to find a group of people that absolutely need your product and will defend it internally. In our case, event collaboration software, we remove so much manual labour from the running of events that our users will fight tooth and nail to keep us in their companies-they’ve said so.

The other thing you can do is be a “rounding error” compared to the business process that you are supporting. If a company spends €500,000 on events a year (that’s small for our target customer base), then spending €20,000 on us is not going to raise too many red flags. The events budget may get cut, but you still need to run events – try to be a fixed cost.

Third, consider your ‘route to market’. For an IT consultancy it is a literal route – getting on planes, flying to customer offices, doing meeting and pitches. Flying to conferences to give talks and network. It’s all hands-on because you need to build trust. The promise of an online subscription business is that you have a much lower cost of sale.

In reality, you end up with significant Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) in the form of online marketing (content production, advertising, customer support). Especially if you do not have strong network effects.

If each customer primarily uses your product just for themselves, and does not get a better ‘service’ if other customers also use the product, then you have a steep hill to climb competing on features – better move to San Francisco and start talking to some US venture capitalists.

Alternatively, you can look for ways to make your product better when more people join it, like LinkedIn, Slack and even Facebook.

(Newsletter update: 4,928 subscribers, and an open rate of 15pc. Podcast update: 12 downloads last week – we’re just about to start taking our first steps promoting the podcast, as we now have three episodes of ‘Fireside with voxgig’ up on iTunes – this is enough to start looking credible).

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Fifth of employers consider quitting Dublin to beat spiralling costs

One in five employers are considering moving outside of Dublin due to rising costs, according to the latest ‘Quarterly Employment Market Monitor’ from Cpl Resources.

This comes on the back of new figures from the Central Statistics Office showing that property prices continue to rise. While the median, or middle, price for a property nationwide at the moment is €255,000, in Dublin this rises to €364,998.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Gráinne Barry, regional operations director at sports data company Stats, said that cost was a factor in the US-headquartered firm choosing Limerick over Dublin as its EMEA headquarters.

“There were three main factors behind choosing Limerick; availability of talent, the size of the city, and from a cost perspective it is very attractive compared to Dublin,” Ms Barry said.

Meanwhile, Susanne Kerins, head of marketing at Cora Systems, a project management solutions company based in Carrick-on-Shannon, said that the company’s decision not to locate its main office in Dublin had now turned into an advantage.

“We are finding that people want to move out of the big hubs such as Dublin and London for a better work-life balance and a reduction in their cost of living,” Ms Kerins said.

Overall the CPL report finds that there continues to be growth in business sectors which are largely representative of foreign direct investment in Ireland.

IT and telecoms has grown its number of jobs postings by 16pc since the same quarter of last year, while science, engineering and supply chain as a sector had a 9pc growth in the same period.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Adrian Weckler: ‘Why cities bend over for tech’

Imagine Google and Facebook employing 20,000 people in Dublin. What sort of power would that bring? What effect would it have on the city, its economy, its infrastructure, its culture?

If you don’t think this could happen, think again.

Figures last week showed that the two companies now employ 11,000 people between them, with another 5,000 expected in the coming three to four years.

Given their track record, you can probably top that up by a couple of thousand.

Does that make Dublin a web industry town?

Does it mean that the Government feels impelled to water down its occasional acidic rhetoric about Facebook, such as the letter sent to Mark Zuckerberg by Communications Committee chairperson Hildegarde Naughton last week, slamming Facebook for “fake news” and demanding he appear to testify in front of the UK House of Commons (of all places)?

Will it result in even stronger co-ordinated objections from ministers to EU proposals such as the digital tax that was seen off by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe last week?

And what will it mean for third-level curriculums, work culture, the ‘gig economy’ and the prospects for those who don’t work in high-paying digital companies?

These are questions we should probably start asking now.

Because one way or another, Dublin looks like it’s in transition.

Rents are rising, suits are disappearing. Electric scooters just went on sale in the shops of Ireland’s second-largest mobile phone operator.

And it’s a one-way street. Corporate power in cities which sit a tier below the Londons, New Yorks and Berlins of this world is stronger than ever.
In Lisbon, where I spent a chunk of last week, the Web Summit wrapped up a sell-out four-day event.

Its currency has risen to that of a strategically important tech company in recent years, a fact reflected in cold market value – Portuguese authorities recently agreed a €110m deal to keep the event there.

They didn’t do this for no reason. I was one of the 70,000 people there and here’s the truth: it’s both impressive and influential. Forget all of the hot air you read about Paddy Cosgrave’s political outbursts, which have little to do with the actual Web Summit now. There’s genuinely no other large tech conference in the world where you can meet the variety of executives and founders as that one. It has scaled very, very well and is now a must-attend event for several big companies. Even Apple was there this year (and they go to almost nothing outside their own big events).

But whatever influence the Web Summit has on Lisbon pales in significance when compared with what Amazon is currently doing.

For those who haven’t been following it, the retailing and cloud giant is currently holding a beauty contest among US cities as to where its second headquarters (‘HQ2’) will be based.

Its primary offices are in downtown Seattle. But last year it announced that it would create a second US headquarters with the promise of 50,000 jobs and an average employee salary of $100,000 (€88,250).

Predictably, cities have prostrated themselves trying to win the corporate contest.

Chicago promised billions in tax breaks. Philadelphia pledged to restructure its entire business tax regime, while Tulsa, in Oklahoma, said it would match any other tax proposals and exceed them. In all, Amazon received official tender bids from 238 cities.

It even drew up an official ‘shortlist’ of 20 cities in January of this year, promising a conclusion by December.

The whole thing caught the public’s attention as Jeff Bezos soared to over €100bn in net worth, making him the world’s richest person.

It now looks like Amazon has selected its winner, with multiple reports claiming that it is splitting the 50,000 jobs between two venues and is in late stage discussions with Crystal City in Virginia (just outside Washington DC) and Long Island City in New York. (Other reports say that the decision has not been made yet.)

So was it a mistake for all of those cities to bend over backwards so publicly?

To city mayors, the temporary fawning probably seemed worth the embarrassment.

Fifty thousand high-paying jobs is the closest that any city can get to striking oil. Through associated income, retail and property taxes, it promises more money for services and infrastructure.

Local colleges expand and an inflow of highly skilled people occurs. It’s the direct opposite of a brain drain.

Dublin is not immune to this. So let’s keep our eyes open on what’s coming next.

Last week, Facebook signalled that it foresees building its headcount in Dublin to 7,000 in 2021.

It said that its new 14-acre ‘campus’ – the old AIB headquarters opposite the RDS in Ballsbridge – is being taken on a long lease “with capacity for an additional 5,000 employees”.

The tech giant was careful to say that this isn’t quite the same as a jobs announcement. But its history here shows that when it takes extra space, as it did last year in a separate building in Dublin’s East Wall, it fills it.

So here’s a new projection for 2022: there will be 20,000 people between Google (currently with 7,000 people here) and Facebook.

There’s certainly no sign of either company letting up.

Google and Facebook are primary drivers in Dublin’s work ecosystem.

Everything from property prices and rents to staff availability and office culture now has a flavour of the big two mixed up somewhere.

By the looks of things, it’s about to become more concentrated.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Foreign legion: Just 3pc of men who move abroad are doing it to follow their partner’s career path

A quarter of women who move abroad to live do so because their partner accepted a job overseas – but the same is true for only 3pc of men.

This is according to the 2018 HSBC ‘Expat Explorer’ report.

With males accounting for six in every 10 expatriate workers, they make up the majority in almost all 31 countries examined in the report.

Only Ireland and Turkey host more female expats than male, and that was by just one or two percentage points.

Just 27pc of women moved to progress their own career, compared with almost half of men, and only half of female expats are working full-time.

In contrast three-quarters of their male counterparts are in full-time employment. “This year we have uncovered some unexpected trends in expat living, including what it means for women, the importance of a social life, how expats define themselves, and even the long-term psychological impact of living overseas,” said head of HSBC Expat John Goddard.

On a country-by-country basis Ireland jumped 10 places for expat living. The country now ranks 18th overall.

The annual report from the bank takes into account a number of factors when producing its rankings, including disposable income, economic confidence, quality of life and career progression.

It also looks at domestic factors such as healthcare and quality of childcare.

Seven years ago then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny promised to make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business by 2016.

However it is another small country that is leading the way for expats, with Singapore topping the ranking for the second year running.

Singapore outperformed Ireland in most areas.

There were some places where Ireland performed better than the Asian economic giant, including in the area of work-life balance, culture, quality of life, and ability of expats to make friends.

Factors behind Singapore’s strong showing included the fact that almost half of all expats in Singapore moved to progress their careers.

And though more than a quarter simply wanted a challenge, many more (38pc) wanted to improve their earnings.

This can be achieved there, with earnings an average of $162,000, (€141,800). Expats in Singapore can expect to bring in $56,000 (€49,000) more than the global average.

While just over one in four of the expats in Singapore have originally been sent by their employer, almost half (47pc) have stayed in the city for the quality of life on offer for them and their family.

Overall Ireland performed better than the UK – which ranked 22nd, and the US, which ranked 23rd.

More than 22,000 expats were interviewed as part of the report.

Article Source: http://tinyurl.com/kbwqb42

Monday 12 November 2018 Why can’t I add son to our car’s policy?

My son is 19 years old and he started college in September. He stays in Dublin Monday to Friday and comes home most weekends. He would like to be added to our car insurance, even though he may only use the car two-three times a month, but it would be useful to have him insured. My insurance company has told me he cannot be added because he is under 25, but all his friends seem to be driving their parents’ cars on their parents’ policies, so I don’t understand their reasoning. A lot of these kids are on their provisionals, but he has had a full licence since May. The car is nothing fancy, a five-year-old Golf 1.4

Andrew, Co Dublin

Insurers in general are suspicious when parents request their young son or daughter to be added to their policy for fear that the young driver is actually the primary user of the vehicle. It has been the case in the past where parents have done this to get a cheaper premium. This move is ill-advised, and the policy will become null and void in the event of the claim if the insurer investigates and uncovers the true driving situation.

However, your case is different – but unfortunately you are being affected by this practice. Certain insurers have strict rules and will under no circumstances add drivers under 25 years old – this very much sounds like your company, so you will need to change insurer.

You will then need to prove to potential insurers that you are the main user of the car and that your son will only use the car on occasion. This may take a bit of work, but by taking the following steps you will end up with the best deal. Ask your current insurer to confirm in writing that you have been with them for eight years and have had no claims during this time. Also ask them for written confirmation that they have insured the Golf since the purchase date, and get a copy of the VLC to show you have not just bought this car today.

This will help you prove to the potential insurers that the car has not been bought for your son, but has been used by you and you are only changing insurer now because you need to add your son to the policy. Taking expert advice in a situation like this will improve your chances because a broker will have experience in dealing with insurers and so will be able to present your case in such a manner that it appears genuine.

Insurance gap
My home insurance policy expired in the first week of October, which is our own fault as both my wife and I thought the other had dealt with the payment. I have since spoken with the insurance firm to pay the premium and they are now saying they will not renew our policy because we didn’t renew before the expiry date. I have gone online to get quotes but because we had a claim in 2017 for €3,800 and I let this policy expire, no one will quote me. I now feel the legal route with my own insurer is my only option as I have been told they are legally obliged to insure me. I really don’t want to have to take legal action, but is there any simpler way of having this rectified?

Peadar, Co Wexford

In recent years insurers have really tightened up their rules when it comes to accepting home insurance policies. They are now quite strict in their approach to writing policies and unfortunately, having a ‘gap in cover’ is a complete red flag to some insurers – so much so that, as you have experienced, they will refuse a policy on this basis. I think you may have been slightly misinformed as to an insurer’s legal obligations in this type of situation.

It is a common myth that your home insurer must cover you, but there is actually no legal requirement for them to do so.

However, all is not lost. Based on the information you have given and the assumption that there has been no other claims or anything out of the ordinary, then if you go to an insurer that doesn’t have strict ‘gap in cover’ rules and also allow for a claim with the past five years, you should be able to take out a new policy at a reasonable premium.

This combination of insurer might be tricky to find, and you may well be online all day and not find one, but a good broker will get this sorted for you in minutes. Time is of the essence in your case, so my advice is to immediately speak with a broker and you will get cover and the price won’t be as bad as you think.

Winter sports cover
We have unexpectedly been given an opportunity to go, as a family, on a winter ski holiday. However I have checked our family travel insurance policy documents and winter sports is specifically listed as ‘not included’. To buy a new policy with another insurer where winter sports is included is very expensive as I need cover for myself, my husband and three teenagers. Do I have any other options?

June, Co Westmeath

As a first port of call, I suggest you talk to your insurer. Listing cover as ‘not included’, would normally mean that there is an option to include. It may well be the case that you wisely chose at the time of taking out the policy to exclude this cover, as you didn’t think it would be something you would need. Most insurers will allow you to add this cover back into your policy as long as you haven’t started the holiday. This should cost no more than €10- €15 to add onto your policy.

Just one more tip – check what activities are excluded in the policy, like sledging or snowboarding – be very clear about what is covered and not covered especially with teenagers. Enjoy the holiday.

No NCB on company car
I have been employed as an accountant with a large multinational for the past seven years with the full use of a company car but now I am now looking to start my own business. I have been checking various insurance quotes for a new car, but because I don’t have a no claims bonus, the quotes are all coming in at in excess of €1,500. I have always had my own policy and never had a claim. I haven’t had any accidents, or claims or penalty points. Is there anything I can do to get a lower premium?

Brona, Co Louth

Okay, I am going to assume that because you say you had full-time use of this vehicle for the seven years, coupled with the fact that you have had no accidents or claims, my guess is that the insurers you have spoken with do not allow discounts for company vehicle use. The good news is there are insurers that will take into account the driving experience you have, and based on this they will allow you a similar discount to that given to drivers who have a no claims bonus. My advice is to get a letter from your employer stating you have had full-time use of company vehicle and that you have no claims, bring this letter with you to a broker that has access to the insurers I mention above, and you should then see the prices dramatically reduce.

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