Course Connect Case Study: Lloyds Banking Group

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Thanks to Caron Ricciardi, Senior Business Development Manager, for providing a case study from Lloyds Banking Group who are partnered with our Banking and Finance module here at UWE Bristol.

What is Course Connect?

Course Connect Partnerships help bridge the gap between academia and industry and contribute to the practice focus of our programmes. Businesses can partner with us to co-create knowledge and help educate our students by supporting a module on a taught programme for two years.

You can contribute through live cases studies, guest lectures, co-designing the curriculum mentoring or sponsoring students and student competitions, and providing internships or placements.

Please give a short bio and history of your business:

‘When Lloyds Banking Group was formed in 2009, it brought together many well-known, financial-sector brands, including Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows. Our combined history stretches back more than 300 years, and encompasses a diverse range of businesses.’

How is your business getting involved with Course Connect?

‘We provide support for the banking and finance programme, complimenting the programme modules through a variety of activities, for example:

  • Interactive presentations on Robotics and Money Laundering
  • Giving new starter students an introduction to the soft skills needed in business
  • Helping 2nd and 3rd year students with mock interviews, CV feedback and assessment centres to fully prepare them for careers after graduating.’

What interested you about being a Course Connect partner?

‘We want young people to get a great start to their working life, sharing our experiences, knowledge and skills is a great way to help make that happen. This approach aligns to our Group purpose of Helping Britain Prosper.’

What is your feedback so far?

‘Personally I feel we have built a robust relationship with the lecturers and course directors / leads. This is complimented through Lloyds’ seat on the UWE Board, where in collaboration with other local businesses we help to shape the discussions for course content and direction.  As an employer, we look to add value by ensuring the courses provide a ‘true to life’ perspective for students.’

‘When talking about our relationship with UWE internally to my Lloyds colleagues, I class us as an “integral partner for the programme”.’

If you would like to find out more about Course Connect or would like to become a partner, please email bbec@uwe.ac.uk.

Can blockchain restore trust to the fund management and audit industries?

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Nish Kotecha, Chairman of Finboot, and Bryan Foss, Visiting Professor at Bristol Business School argue that blockchain could provide a solution to the recent audit and fund management scandals.

Blog originally posted on Accountancy Age.

Blockchain could provide a solution to restore trust in the fund management and audit industries, according to Nish Kotecha, Chairman and Co-founder of Finboot, and Bryan Foss, Independent Director and Visiting Professor at Bristol Business School.

Kotecha and Foss cite fund manager Neil Woodford’s Equity Income Fund as a perfect example of how blockchain could have prevented such a scandal.

“Not too long ago, Neil Woodford was still regularly being heralded as a “superstar” manager and the “Oracle of Oxford”. How different the story is today,” they said.

“Ultimately, the Equity Income Fund did not do what it said it would, and Woodford ran it unchecked. If investors had been fully aware of the investments being made into unlisted and illiquid stocks, would they have kept their money in?

“There can be no doubt that it’s in the best interest of investors that information is readily available to enable timely decisions to be taken. Dissemination of such information should not be left to the whim of the fund manager who relies on investor trust.

“Ultimately, trust requires transparency to validate integrity. Adopting technologies such as blockchain into the reporting and audit framework of a public fund could provide a fresh approach so that investors can avoid being caught in a Woodford-like situation.

“For instance, an investor-facing blockchain could be programmed to release updates on a fund’s portfolio at regular intervals without further approvals from the fund manager. The constant release of data in a predefined format would provide evidence of the fund’s status, forcing the fund manager to operate within the automated reporting schedules and ensure that the fund’s share price is a fair reflection of its valuation,” they said.

Could blockchain prevent audit scandals?

Similarly, Kotecha and Foss argue that a blockchain solution could have prevented and detected fraud like in the Patisserie Valerie scandal earlier this year.

“Had blockchain been used to underpin the accounting framework of the company, it’s likely the thousands of false entries that were discovered as fraudulent would never have been approved by the distributed ledger technology.

“The time-stamped links of blocks could reveal alterations or tampering to the recorded transactions, as well as providing an immediate insight into the performance of the company at any given time,” they added.

But how far away is a genuine blockchain solution from becoming a reality? On this Kotecha and Foss are more cautious.

“While many may suggest that this type of solution is available, few are able to provide an enterprise grade solution that can provide ease of use, integration and scalability within a private blockchain environment. Finboot’s blockchain middleware and application suite can provide this today through proof of concept projects that can be operationalised rapidly as the basis for long term incremental developments.”

Audit reform still necessary

Technology has often been mooted as a potential route out of the audit crisis in the UK, but Kotecha and Foss stopped short of saying it negated the need for reform altogether.

“Audit reform is necessary to tackle the increasingly sophisticated financial environments in which we now find ourselves. However, technology can be part of the answer. The FRC Labs and accounting firms are evaluating ways in which technology can be used to reduce audit risks and improve transparency and verification capability. Blockchain, for example, can be used to improve trust in the process while also reducing time and money for a full audit procedure. Technology should be a partner to audit reform,” they said.

Kotecha and Foss believed that perhaps most importantly, blockchain would provide a secure immutable and auditable solution to both sectors.

“Once the data is uploaded onto a blockchain, it is immutable and auditable. Improving the quality of the source data is an important factor to ensure that accurate data is uploaded and this can be achieved through a variety of mechanisms, such as direct data feeds from the point of capture (e.g. from completed stock exchange trades, etc). Overlaying a programme of random periodic audits will then dramatically reduce the time and cost for a full audit procedure while improving confidence and trust in the process, hopefully making such events like Woodford an anomaly.

“More validated, immutable information will generate trust in the fund management market and audit industry as a whole. The choice between investing in public market funds and private market funds should be left to the investor, and public fund managers should be prevented from changing their reporting framework because it suits them. Likewise, listed companies should adhere to a fully transparent corporate reporting process that is not susceptible to distortion. In both cases, there is a clear argument for an automated blockchain that can act as a “single source of truth” for the benefit of investors, on whose trust the share price of listed entities partially depends,” they concluded.

The British College International Students Visit

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Recently Bristol Business School hosted a group of international students from Nepal who are studying UWE Bristol courses in their home country. Thanks to a partnership with The British College (TBC), students are able to study our BBA Business and Management and MSc International Management programmes in Kathmandu.

The British College offers an unforgettable academic experience, transcending international boundaries with thought-provoking incision. Being the pioneering International College in Nepal, they also provide their students with international exposure and experiences.

It was fantastic to welcome a small group of these students to our facilities at Bristol Business School for a day. They were given a tour of the building including visiting the state-of-the-art Law Courts and Harvard Lecture Theatres, followed by a presentation from Hilary Drew, AHOD for Partnerships (BIM).

Carolyn McNicholas, Link Tutor for TBC, was there to support the visit and meet the students over a lunch provided. She says, “It was a pleasure to meet with the TBC students and be able to give them an idea of what it is like to study at UWE. This will hopefully be the first of many future visits by TBC students to UWE.”  

If you would like to find out more about our global partnerships head to the UWE Bristol website.

UWE Bristol sponsor ‘Start-Up Business’ award

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The Business Leader Awards is a prestigious event that showcases the region’s outstanding companies and recognises the entrepreneurs who run them. Each year the awards bring together hundreds of leaders in business, education and government along with VIPs and celebrities for one gala evening. This year the gala was held on 26 September at Ashton Gate Stadium.

UWE Bristol were proud sponsors of the ‘Start-Up Business’ award and headed to the evening full of excitement to see who would win this esteemed category. The evening of the awards was great fun, with the fantastic Michael Portillo hosting the gala and some fantastic food being served.

We would like to wish a huge congratulations to winners of the Business Leader Awards, especially, Smart Futures Training (previously AAA training solutions) who won the UWE Bristol sponsored Start-Up Business Award.

Business leader awards sponsors 2019

Top 5 tips to engage with your employees

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Interview with Dr Gareth Edwards, Associate Professor of Leadership Development

Gareth Edwards Headshot

Dr Gareth Edwards is an expert in dispersed leadership from a community perspective and leadership development.

Gareth recently chaired the ‘Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement’ Conference at the Bristol Business School. The event was focused on harnessing people’s skills and resources to boost productivity and save costs. There was also a focus on creating and sustaining employee engagement during challenging times.

Here, Gareth gives us his top 5 tips for engaging with your employees:

1. Make sure that you have a two-way conversation with organisational colleagues. It’s not enough to just open a dialogue or enter into a consultation. Employees need to feel like they’ve been part of a meaningful conversation and that their ideas have been discussed and explored. The decisions need to be strategic but with input from employees at all levels.

2. Consider the links to your organisations history. Include in the engagement dialogue a commentary about the purpose of the organisation and how this ties into current strategy and planning. Some firms have an innate family feel, others less so, but there is always a way to connect back to the roots of a company and explore engagement through heritage.

3. Think about the links between leadership and engagement. Good practice would warrant elements of distributed leadership whereby you recognise and reward examples of teams leading themselves within the organisation. It’s important to let this happen organically and promote excellence positively.

4. There is definitely something to consider around the subject of culture. There is no ‘right’ culture but it’s vital to recognise the importance that some people attach to this. Think about your organisation’s culture, how people reflect on this and link best practice to core values and behaviours.

5. Most importantly, have fun! Employees work hard and that should be recognised and encouraged, alongside social activities and a family friendly ethos. Things such as Away Days should have strategic and planning focuses, but some time should equally be spent on social activities. Things can be too formulaic, so try to find the right balance.

If you’d like to read more about leadership and engagement read the CITB’s snapshot report on ‘Building engagement: Encouraging leadership in construction’.

Take advantage of degree apprenticeship SME funding with UWE Bristol

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15 May 2019 15:00 – 17:00

Register here

Are you interested in upskilling your workforce and does the cost of training seem a barrier to accessing local talent?

This event provides an opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from existing businesses who have apprentices at UWE, and how to make it work. In addition to this, we will be highlighting upcoming degree apprenticeships and further opportunities for your business to train your employees at degree level with the funding available.

UWE Bristol is the only university in the region with funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to support non-levy employers and has secured funding to support apprentices from Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

David Barrett, Director of Apprenticeships at UWE Bristol, will welcome you to the event and alongside the Degree Apprenticeship Hub team will be able to help identify your training needs and suitable solutions.
Spaces are limited for this event, so please register below.

If you have any questions about this event or degree apprenticeships please feel free to contact Ellen Parkes.

We are looking forward to meeting you and beginning the degree apprenticeship partnership journey.

The event takes place in the University Enterprise Zone on Frenchay Campus from 15:00 – 17:00.

Register here