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Intelligent Partnership and UKBAA Launch First Accredited Angel Investing Qualification



Intelligent Partnership today announced that it is teaming up with the UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) to launch the Angel Investing Accreditation – the new official qualification to promote effective investments in Britain’s small businesses.

With the numbers of angels in the UK set to grow, it’s vital that new angels can access the education and resources they need to invest with confidence. Without the appropriate skills and knowledge, enthusiastic but inexperienced investors may run the risk of losing their money. For these reasons, Intelligent Partnership and the UKBAA are launching an e-learning angel investing qualification.

Intelligent Partnership is the UK’s leading provider of education and insights on alternative investments and produce award winning annual industry reports for the EIS, VCT and Crowdfunding sectors, as well as providing IFAs with training on investing in small, unquoted companies.

They are now taking that offering online, where it can be accessed by a much broader audience and will be aimed at angel investors, both current and prospective.

The course will be accredited by the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI), and SFEDI, the standards-setting body for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and comprise three levels:

  • Introduction to Angel Investing – a 45 minute short online course aimed at anyone who is interested in knowing more about angel investing;
  • UKBAA Angel Investing Qualification – a new Level 5 Diploma qualification recognised by Ofqual, the registered quality standards agency.
  • UKBAA Accredited Angel Investor – individuals who have made investments in small businesses and can demonstrate their knowledge and experience will be able to be validated as a UKBAA Accredited Angel Investor.

There is an assessment at the end of each level, and ongoing criteria need to be met to retain the accreditation.

Angels who achieve the qualification will have been through course content covering all of the important elements of angel investing, including sourcing opportunities, putting together deals, due diligence and tax planning. The content is being developed by Intelligent Partnership in conjunction with the UKBAA and current successful angel investors. Course participants will also be given access to the latest research and resources on angel investing, and put in contact with existing angel networks.

Angels who achieve the Accredited Angel Investor qualification will be investors who already have experience of successfully investing in early stage companies, and will be qualified to play the role lead angel in a deal, or to head up an angel network or syndicate.

Guy Tolhurst, MD of Intelligent Partnership said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with the UKBAA on this initiative. We know from our work training financial advisers in this area that once people acquire the skills and experience they need, they invest with much more confidence. The Angel Investing Accreditation gives everybody the chance to get themselves to that level, safe in the knowledge that they are learning from independent experts.”

Angel Investment fulfils a vital role in the economy by supporting entrepreneurs and remains the most significant source of equity for early stage businesses.  It is estimated that £850m per annum is invested by angels annually in the UK, more than 2.5x the amount of Venture Capital invested in early stage small businesses annually.

George Osborne acknowledged the importance of investment in early stage companies in the budget and announced measures extending entrepreneur’s relief to further encourage the growth of Angel Investment.

Under the new rules, business angels and other investors will no longer have to hold a minimum of 5 per cent of a business to qualify for entrepreneurs’ relief; nor will they have to be an employee or director of the company. Entrepreneurs’ relief of 10 per cent will be available on gains from newly issued shares from unlisted companies (but including those on the Alternative Investment Market) on or after March 17th 2016 and held for a minimum of three years from April 6th this year.

These new incentives, combined with the suge interest in online equity crowdfunding (which grew 295% from £84 million raised in 2014 to £332 million in 2015), and the popularity of tax-advantaged venture capital schemes such as the EIS (£1.5bn raised in 2013/14 and £12.3bn raised since the scheme’s inception in 1993), mean that the numbers of people making Business Angel investments are set to grow from the estimated 18,000 angel investors that already exist.

The UK does not have a compulsory accreditation requirement, unlike the US where Angel Investors are now required to be accredited and must prove that they have sufficient income or assets in order to make investments in small businesses. Up to now there has been no formal means to verify that an individual has the ability and competence to make investment decisions. Under the FCA, individual private investors in the UK must prove that they are high net worth or sophisticated, but this is a self-certification process. At the same time we have a light touch process for crowdfunding which requires self-certification and a short test of understanding of the risks.

Julia Groves, Chair of UK Crowdfunding Association said: “Early stage investment is becoming more diverse than ever as Angel-led crowdfunding opens up access for entrepreneurs to a wider range of funders. And we all know there is much more to backing than money: these investors can also bring the skills, experience and networks to UK entrepreneurs to help them succeed.”

“Having opened up the market to this next generation of investors, we now need to provide them with the tools and education to assess both the opportunities and the risks. This is another excellent initiative from the UKBAA and I expect several of the equity crowdfunders to be amongst the first to sign up.”

Jenny Tooth OBE, CEO of UKBAA, said: “As the trade body we are uniquely placed to establish these new quality standards for angel investing, bringing new confidence into the market at a time when so many individuals are attracted to back small businesses. Accessible online this will enable new and less experienced investors across the UK, to gain recognised skills, leveraging the experience and insights of seasoned investors for a more informed approach to backing growth stage businesses. We will also be able to accredit quality training being delivered by our investor members around the regions.”

Michael Blakey, serial tech investor and UK Angel Investor of the year 2015-16, said: “Having been investing for many years, I know that it takes some time to acquire the knowledge and skills to choose which businesses to back and achieve a successful portfolio of investments. The new UKBAA Angel Investing Accreditation offers the opportunity for new investors to access this experience and get more quickly up to speed, whilst recognising those investors in the market who have the skills and competence to make good decisions” .

Simon Calver, ex CEO of LoveFilm, partner at BGF Ventures and chair of UKBAA, said: “It is vital that we have a strong and effective Ecosystem to support angel and early stage investment across the UK. The new UK Angel Investor Accreditation will underpin this by building the capability and capacity of the investment community across the UK to fulfil their key role in supporting the growth and scale up of UK businesses”.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands



Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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