Every Wednesday, we delve into the latest fintech updates from across the UK. This week brings updates from Pleo, Habito, Marktlink, Senior Capital, Tesco Bank and Atomico.
UK businesses back return to office
UK business spending on products related to their office space increased 36 per cent in September, following summer months, according to findings from Pleo, the spend management platform, in the first edition of its European Quarterly Spending Report.
In the UK, the report found that 30 per cent of all business spend paid through Pleo in September was for office-related items such as equipment, hardware and office expenses – a 36 per cent increase from the summer months (22 per cent).
James Keating, chief marketing officer at Pleo, said: “Over the past 12 months, we have certainly seen a mentality shift from business leaders and how they view their office.
“The pandemic showed that a business can still operate with a remote workforce but leaders are now remembering the huge benefits of having employees all in one place. It helps teams work better by creating those in-person connections and fundamentally gives businesses a culture vital for any successful business.”
Habito commits to making homes more energy-efficient
Habito, the digital mortgage broker has joined forces with AI-driven proptech startup Propflo, to launch a new tool for the mortgage intermediary sector, GreenVal, to help homeowners make their properties more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
As a result, Habito becomes the first major mortgage intermediary to use such a tool and will work with Propflo and lenders to get homeowners the most suitable finance options.
William Rhind, VP of mortgage advice and growth at Habito, commented: “We know that rising mortgage costs and energy bills are having a real impact on people’s lives, and this partnership will enable us to help our customers to potentially reduce both.”
Luke Loveridge, founder and CEO of Propflo, also said: “Mortgage advisors and lenders are in a unique position to help people make their homes more energy efficient. Habito led the sector in becoming more digital, and is now becoming the clear leader in the sector to help tackle the ~£200billion retrofit challenge.”
Positive signs for UK SMEs
Around 47 per cent of SME leaders have considered buying another business in the past year, according to new research from Marktlink, the independent international mergers and acquisitions (M&A) advisory firm. Of these, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) are planning to purchase another company in the next five years.
UK entrepreneurs emerged as the most likely to have considered buying another company in the last 12 months, when compared to the European average of 39 per cent. Against the backdrop of recent trading challenges and in pursuit of a stronger future for the business, 31 per cent of business leaders have considered selling their company in the last 12 months.
Jonny Parkinson, managing partner at Marktlink, said: “SMEs in the UK have had to navigate a number of hurdles over recent years, but the results reflect that we are beginning to come out on the other side. Resilient businesses that have navigated through the recent challenges of an economic slowdown, inflationary pressures, and higher interest rates, are now beginning to see some light on the horizon as these factors ease.”
A fifth of pensioners set to join the poverty line
During the cost of living crisis, 18 per cent of pensioners in the UK are set to find themselves on the poverty line due to not having enough money in their pension funds; Senior Capital, the later life lending specialist, has revealed.
It also revealed that 13 per cent of over-65s have even had to delay their retirement due to having insufficient funds in their pension pot. However, this comes as further research from Savills has revealed that UK pensioners now hold a record £2.6trillion in housing wealth, making them the most financially crippled yet asset-rich generation in recent history.
Rudy Khaitan, managing partner of Senior Capital, comments on releasing equity and the importance of loan-to-value (LTV): “There is a growing need for new products that offer greater flexibility and choice, particularly in the relatively underserved later life lending market.
“For pensioners or anyone planning for their retirement, LTV is a critical component when assessing your quality of life during your later years, so it’s vital to investigate a multitude of options that can help ease your financial obligations, as remortgaging may not always be the right option. ”
New tailored insurance product
Prestige Underwriting and Tesco Bank have come together to offer insurance to customers who find it difficult to obtain standard cover – due to the risk profile of their home or the use of non-typical construction materials in their property.
Customers unable to get home insurance from Tesco Bank will be directed to Open and Direct to obtain a quote either by phone or online. Those customers who then go on to purchase a policy with Open and Direct will receive an exclusive Tesco referral discount on their premium.
Tim Baxter, head of broker development and partnerships at Prestige, commented: “I am extremely pleased to announce the partnership with Tesco Bank, and the delivery of a tailored solution for Tesco customers with unique circumstances and in need of specialist cover. We will offer customers, through our Open & Direct brand, access to a suite of established insurance solutions developed by Prestige Underwriting, providing flexibility and choice for those individuals with extraordinary requirements.”
UK loses latest share of VC funding
New data published in Atomico’s The State of European Tech 2023 report reveals that the UK has lost the largest share of venture capital (VC) funding invested by country over the last three years.
According to the report, VC funding in the UK from 2021 to 2023 fell by 2.6 per cent on its share from 2018 to 2020. Year-on-year, funding fell by 54 per cent, a much steeper fall than the average across Europe, which stands at 45 per cent.
Claire Trachet, CEO and founder of Trachet, said: “Atomico’s latest report should come as a wake-up call to policymakers looking to regain the confidence of investors in the UK’s start-up scene. As the AI sector continues to the develop, it’s paramount that UK legislators follow in the footsteps of their European neighbours and look towards a collaborative approach towards regulating the sector.”