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Risk & Regulation Round-up: August 2018 to July 2019

Welcome to the latest Prism-Clarity round-up of key announcements and developments in UK financial risk and regulation.

It won’t have escaped your attention that, far from being a quarterly update, it’s been over a year since my last one. The demands of a corporate contracting role since last November have affected my ability to provide more timely updates. Still, here we are, and will aim to resume doing this update on a more regular basis in future.

As a result of the long gap, my reporting in this note is even more selective and summarised than usual. So I include the usual curated links to underlying source stories or documents for the reader who wants more detail.

And to help readers pick up any stories I don’t cover in detail, I also include selected links to publications and announcements from individual regulators’ websites.

*** Note: The articles in this blog do not constitute advice, but please contact me here for further information, including where to get the best advice. ***

In business or in employment pt 2: updated thoughts on IR35

Two years ago I went off the beaten track and wrote a blog on what is a vexed topic for many freelancers – IR35 – sometimes known as the ‘off-payroll working rules’.

These HMRC rules were introduced in 2000. They’re designed to ensure that contractors are not disguising what in reality amounts to an ’employment’ relationship with their client, to benefit from the tax advantages of operating through a limited company.

Some of my colleagues found the blog useful, thankfully. But as much as anything it was an internal thinkpiece. A way of proving to myself (or even HMRC if they ever came knocking) that I know about the criteria and can argue credibly that I am legitimately outside IR35.

This blog updates that thinking in the light of things that have happened internally in my business, and in the IR35 world itself, since I wrote the original piece.

[As before, please note: this blog does not represent advice. This is a contentious topic. If in any doubt, consult your accountant or a professional HR adviser.]

Image by Jessica Knowlden on Unsplash

“Mainly dry for most”: compulsive hedging language in weather forecasting

One thing is certain about the British weather: its uncertainty.

That uncertainty will only increase over time as the polar ice melts, sea levels rise, the jetstream gets further disrupted, and one-in-a-thousand-year events start to occur annually.

Pity then the intrepid British forecasters whose every word is hung onto nightly by farmers, fishermen, event organisers, sportspeople, families and dog walkers – and insurers.

Coming up with the right scenario from hundreds of computer-modelled scenarios is hard enough in itself. Finding the right language to describe the selected outcome – to deliver with airy reassurance, grim precision or obvious glee – is even harder.

So it’s hardly surprising that forecasters are inclined to be not very definitive in their predictions. The risk to reputation is one thing. More than thirty years on people still chuckle at poor Michael Fish and his quote, inevitably taken out of context, from the afternoon of 15th October 1987.

The economic risk to the farmers and fishermen is another thing. The weather matters meaningfully to many. Livelihoods and even lives are at stake: best to not get it wrong.

Still, couldn’t the forecasters be a bit less – well – vague?

Kings Cross Concourse

Tender at heart: the X Why Z of tender bids and sales copy

Tender bids and sales copy are not the most glamorous side of B2B copywriting, yet still form the vital beating heart of many writers’ daily lives.

Business writing is all about impact. And nowhere is impact more necessary than in a tender. Livelihoods are at stake. The impact of success is great: the impact of failure greater.

The principles and motifs of clear business writing feature heavily in any good tender bid. And they apply just as much to the wider art of writing effective sales copy.

The two formats – bids and sales – are closely related. Both represent the essential DNA of good business writing, the archetype, the X Why Z.