New British Business Bank campaign encourages people thinking about their career options to start their own business and become their own boss via the Start Up Loans scheme
The majority of unemployed people (54%) who have become entrepreneurs through Start Up Loans since 2012 are millennials
Embedding ESG goals could help fintechs become more immersed in sustainable banking, thus improving their market resilience.
An increasing number of businesses are focusing on how to embed ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) goals into their strategies. As the notion of sustainability is gaining more ground in the finance sector as well, Marius Galdikas, CEO at ConnectPay, has shared how fellow fintechs could incorporate ESG practices into their business and what impact it could have on fuelling further growth.
ESG investing has skyrocketed over recent years, as more and more investors have started to consider the impact of their money. This shift in attitude is already well-reflected in the market — last year companies with better ESG ratings had greater returns in almost every month. The finance sector is no exception, with major players boosting their financing goals to trillions of dollars. In the US alone, six largest banks in the country have pledged to eliminate all financing activities related to greenhouse emissions by 2050.
According to Galdikas, although fintechs may not have massive budgets to finance low-carbon initiatives, it should not be a limiting factor to support ESG goals. In fact, neglecting the subject may result in decreased company value and missed opportunities.
“First of all, ESG issues are becoming more important for stakeholders looking to invest long-term. Neglecting the topic may lead to a poor ESG “risk score”, which is closely monitored by business partners and investors. This could negatively impact the company’s reputation, followed by decreased market value, as well as losing the edge against the “more green” competitors,” Galdikas explained.
He also noted a few strategies for how fintechs could become more immersed in sustainable banking and improve their market resilience.
“One of the ways could be setting up “green pricing” for ESG-driven businesses, as in offering tailored pricing options for your services. It could be set case-by-case, taking into consideration how the company operates and what strategies it uses to achieve their business goals. Making sure that they’re consistent in their actions will allow you to sift out potential fraudsters as well,” Galdikas advised.
“Also, take time to overview your current client portfolio. ConnectPay works with digital-only businesses, thus large scale manufacturers or other industries, contributing to high carbon emissions, are not in our client base. Yet fintechs with a wider scope of customers should re-evaluate if businesses they are working with operate with ESG-values in mind.”
Another way to support the sustainability movement is to reorganize in-house processes with a goal to lessen CO2 emissions, for instance, by reducing business trips. “Albeit it may not be as relevant with the ongoing pandemic, which put a halt on international travel, but sooner or later the world will recover, thus it’s important to keep this in mind for future reference.”
While the Environmental aspect usually retains the main focus in the context of sustainability, Social and Governance criteria need to be approached with the same determination. In Fintech, this could be addressed by tackling the gender gap. At the moment, women make up less than 30% of the industry’s workforce. At ConnectPay, however, the team is split almost equally in half, having 48% women and 52% men.
“Diversity in the team inspires new ideas, improves decision-making and leads to higher overall performance, all the while contributing to better integration of ESG goals,” the expert concluded.
By Ben Hobson, Markets Editor, Stockopedia
Read the financial headlines and it would be easy to believe that an investment fortune can be made with just one trade.
While it’s true that some people do get lucky with one “magic” stock during their investment journey, most successful investors build their personal wealth and security over the long term.
Investing is mostly a waiting game. Sticking to a predetermined strategy is key to success in this field – while not letting emotions compromise your judgement.
In the modern age of investing, this isn’t easy. New and experienced investors are being bombarded with more information and ideas than ever before. But in all this noise comes the increased risk of mistakes and misinformation – making the idea of getting quick money sound all the more tempting.
That’s why Ben Hobson, Markets Editor at Stockopedia shares his insights on how to manage your portfolio for the long run.
Have a plan
Investment strategies naturally change over time and making mistakes is unavoidable as markets fluctuate.
Understanding the risks ahead of time and looking at the bigger picture can help you manage the highs and lows so that you stay committed for the long term.
Not only will this give you confidence, but it will help you manage the fear of loss that can lead some investors to throw in the towel.
Everyone is guilty of dipping into savings to fit their needs – whether it be for a treat or a surprise expense – but it’s vital to know precisely how much you’re willing to invest.
For the most part, the longer you remain invested, the more you’re likely to benefit from compounding returns over time. So, being confident that you can afford the amount you have invested today, and in the years that follow, is paramount.
A strategic stance
Investors and investment strategies are all different and investing advice takes many forms and can seem confusing to those starting out. Yet the historical drivers of stock market profits are surprisingly consistent.
Keep it simple and create a strategy around the three factors that many professional investors focus on – Quality, Value and Momentum. This way, you’re aligning with factors that have historically driven the strongest performances in the stock market over time.
Remember that high profitability and cash flows are markers of a strong business and are likely worth looking at. Be vigilant of low or no profits, thin margins, debt and precarious balance sheets – businesses with these are usually worth avoiding.
Valuation is vital when choosing a stock. Unloved shares that can be bought for a snip may offer supersized returns. But paying a fair price for higher quality or promising growth is just as viable.
Finally, looking at trends and history can help you gauge a stock’s performance. Positive momentum is one of the most significant return drivers in investing. Share prices that are rising strongly often continue to do so.
The perfect all-weather portfolio
Stocks, sectors and markets move in their own cycles. When one zigs, the other zags, so think about the roles that each investment type plays in your portfolio and how many positions you feel comfortable with managing.
Any investor worth their salt would recommend spreading out finances across a range of investment types and trying out different strategies.
Diversification between different market-cap sizes, investment styles, industry sectors and even international geographies can protect you from being too exposed to unnecessary risks and can smooth out your investment returns over time.
For example, having your money invested in funds and bonds can be less risky than a volatile stock, but having both could help limit losses and increase the chances of a positive return.
Keeping a balance
When your portfolio is in place, understanding where to prioritise your attention lets you rest easy at night rather than fretting over small changes.
One or two big winners can quickly dominate your allocation, but those big winners can also be life changing.
Don’t get too caught up in your portfolio performance – you need to let your investments breathe. If anything, getting too caught up in the losses can make you miss an uptick in value around the corner.
Overtrading can not only fuel emotional investing, but fees and charges can quickly mount. Trading fees all chip away at your portfolio, so avoid throwing money at unnecessary trades – especially when you’re bored.
Investment totaling £33m has been used to develop an SME mobile banking app, deliver new onboarding functionality and enhanced authentication tools.
The Bank has also launched new value add options for customers such as its Business Concierge service and a preferred Business Insurance provider.
Two years on from its successful £15m award of funding from the Capability and Innovation Fund, The Co-operative Bank has delivered on its commitments to launch value added services such as a preferred Business Insurance provider and a mobile banking app for its SME customers. The Bank is also attracting a higher volume of new customers as the number of business accounts opened was 62% more in 2020 compared with 2019. To date, the bank has also doubled its target of acquiring customers through the Business Banking Switch scheme (achieved 12% against a target of 6%).
With an additional £18m investment from The Co-operative Bank to transformation its SME online banking services, enhancements have been made to products and services that have improved the customer banking experience, this includes a new onboarding process for sole traders and single director limited companies and a more innovative approach to authentication with the use of a soft token app developed in partnership with HID Global.
Key to the delivery of the technological improvements made by the Bank are its collaboration with eight fintechs and specialist partners that have aided the building of its new digital infrastructure. The relationship with fellow Manchester based fintech, BankiFi has been especially valuable as the Bank has worked with BankiFi to deliver two important projects. The main focus of the work between the Bank and BankiFi was the creation of The Co-operative Bank’s new SME mobile app which offers customers a more agile way to bank and supports SMEs who want a more accessible banking service. The app launched on April 13 2021 and has already been downloaded by 14% of its customers. The second project is a new and innovative app based payment solution that will help customers to manage their invoices, receive payments and keep their cash flow moving.
Commenting on the success of the Co-operative Bank’s transformation plan, Director of SME Banking Catherine Douglas said:
“Two years ago we set about transforming our SME Banking Business with ambitious targets for customer growth and committed to a significant investment in our digital capabilities. We’re seeing the successes of that programme as the number of accounts we opened during 2020 was 62% higher when compared with accounts opened in 2019. Our longstanding customers are telling us that the addition of a mobile banking app and improved digital banking experience are really making a difference to how they bank with us day to day.
“We know that the majority of our customers banked with us as we had strong environmental credentials and shared a lot of the same values and ethics that underpin how we do business, but now we are also offering them products and value added services with improved digital functionality that really support their business needs.
“The growth in our customer base in the last year especially has shown that the work we’ve done has genuinely established us as a challenger to the larger SME banking providers and that we are the digital and ESG-led bank of choice for those looking for an alternative to the other UK high street banks.”
Mark Hartley, Founder and CEO of BankiFi said: “As entrepreneurs we lived and experienced how (too) much time is spent on admin tasks, invoicing, chasing payments while still not having an accurate overview of where the business stands. This new Co-operative Bank SME mobile app offers convenience and overview in one single place. We were enthusiastic to work with The Co-operative Bank because of its DNA which is rooted in society and supporting SMEs which are the backbone of UK industry, they are the best launching partner we could have wished for, and as we add functionality, the Bank’s business customers will benefit too.”
Working in work in partnership with innovative fintech businesses such as BankiFi has enabled the Bank to deliver enhancement to its products and services at pace for customers and this collaborative and co-operative way of working has been pivotal to in this process. The success of this approach to working was a key driver to The Co-operative Bank being a signatory of ‘The Fintech Pledge’ and why it will continue to look for other opportunities to work with innovative partners in the future.
As well as forming new connections in the fintech world the Bank launched two of its new propositions by working with established brands Assurant and AXA Insurance. The bank’s Business Concierge in partnership with Assurant offers a market leading package or services such as HR and legal support for businesses, and the Bank also recommends AXA Business Insurance as its preferred provider to customers as it offers cover that can be tailored to meet specific business needs.
Whilst the Bank has had success in working collaboratively with others, it has also invested and grown its internal talent and resource that supports its transformation programme, including significant focus on its dedicated Relationship Management team. The demand from new customers meant the Bank went above and beyond its 2020 recruitment target (achieving 114% of recruitment) and has increased its SME banking support teams by recruiting based mostly around its North West heartland.
As a participant in the Business Banking Switch scheme the Bank has grown its customer base with more than 8,000 former NatWest customers joining the Bank since the start of the scheme, with this number set to grow further as the switching deadline approaches at the end of June 2021. This is ahead of the Bank’s original expectations and shows that the Bank’s unique brand and strong proposition is attractive and stands out to UK SMEs looking for an ethical banking alternative.
Catherine Douglas continues:
“We are committed to continually listening to the feedback from the businesses that bank with us and although we’ve made such significant progress so far, this is still the beginning of what we know we can offer our customers, especially with the continued influence of the innovative fintechs and other specialist partners we are working with.
”We want to continue to grow and especially attract more charity and community led organisations as well as truly establishing ourselves as the bank of choice for co-operative businesses. We are continuing to challenge ourselves to have stronger and bolder ESG commitments that stand us apart as the ‘go to’ ethical bank for UK SMEs.”
So, you want to know all about tax fraud? Well, that is one of the duties of every patriotic citizen. We have to educate ourselves on ways in which we can comply with the laws of the land. Else, we may end up paying for crimes we commit through ignorance.
First Things First: What is Tax Fraud?
According to Investopedia, tax fraud is when you or a business entity consciously and deliberately falsifies the required information in filing tax returns. That way, they can limit the amount of tax they are liable to pay.
It is clear now that tax fraud is not just an error. Furthermore, there are different categories of tax fraud, with each of them having diverse penalties. If you do not have proper guidance or advice, what seems to be a small matter can go out of hand.
On the other hand, individuals may not intend to falsify their tax information. It can be accidental tax fraud. This happens when you are not keen during the tax season.
Whichever the intent of the tax fraud, both will cost and put you at loggerheads with the tax collector.
How Serious is Tax Fraud?
The IRS doesn’t pursue tax fraud for every individual. However, when they catch you, the penalty is quite harsh. In such a case, the government will force you to repay your tax coupled with an expensive fine.
The Internal Revenue Service takes it seriously when you file a false return or any other legal document. When upon investigation substantive information turns up, Tax Fraud charges could result. That is a grave crime that could send you to jail for five years if you are found guilty.
The Cost of Tax Fraud in 2021
Tax Fraud is quite common in the US as it is in the rest of the world. For instance, it is estimated that Tax Fraud costs the United States $190 billion a year. In the year 2020, IRS reports identifying tax fraud costing $2.3 billion.
Looking at the cost of Tax Fraud yearly, one can’t help but ask themselves who in the world are these Fraud stars. Well, these are corporations and individuals. Company employees also fall under the “individuals” categories. How do you deal with that as an employer?
How to Prevent Employee Tax Fraud in 2021
You do not know an employee whom you have just hired to work for you. You are looking for the right applicant with the right skills and qualifications to fill a particular position in your company.
The essential quality that you should not overlook is integrity. That goes a long way since you build a partnership on trust. Moreover, that calls for some digging on your part.
It is a popular business principle that your employee is the closest person to you for your business to grow. You have to consider the relationship between you and your employees as a partnership. No matter how “insignificant” their job may seem.
Your company’s success also depends on the input that every worker contributes on the job in addition to honesty. Else, you will see your business on its knees sooner than later.
Therefore, it is best to put in check any possible incident of employee tax fraud before it happens. That is where a background check for employment comes in.
How Employee Background Checks Help Prevent Tax Fraud
It is best to put an axle to the root of the problem rather than the stem. An employee who is dishonest in their tax payment may not be honest in their dealings with the day-to-day duties. So take care of the problem before hiring them.
Pre-employment background checks help you to discover the following information about applicants;
Criminal records, which includes IRS charges.
However, you ought to be careful not to trample on the potential employee’s rights. There is a thin line there. That is why you need a professional to help you do that.
Therefore, background checks on employment play a significant role in uprooting problems such as future tax fraud, among others.
Do You Want to Learn About Tax Fraud? Here are Some Valuable Resources in 2021
From what you have learned so far, you realize who critical it is to guard against tax fraud. If you’d like to learn more about Tax Fraud, here are some great sources for you;
The internet has a lot of information on tax fraud. Below are some credible sources you can search out;
· FedorTax.com has a wealth of knowledge regarding this subject. Mainly because they are Attorneys and Counselors at Law, that is a great place to begin.
· Investopedia.com is also a great place to learn about tax fraud. They have a lot of research done on the subject.
· IRS.gov also informs you on how you can report tax fraud. It is worth your time.
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers. You can visit any IRS center near you to get your questions answered.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service office is another place where you can get help and get more info on tax fraud.
The local library is a great place to get your questions answered. However, if your attendant cannot give you answers, they can direct you to a local organization that will be of great help to you.
Whether you run a company or an employee, tax fraud is a serious crime that will cost you. Therefore, it is vital to learn about tax fraud and guard against committing the crime by all means. Do not forget to do legal background checks on employees to ensure integrity and transparency for a healthy and successful business.
Overall, from 44 police forces in UK, there were 25,717 cases of cheque, plastic card, and online bank account fraud from April 2020 to March 2021
From the 25,717 cases, the accumulative financial loss victims suffered was an astonishing £161,221,800 million
Metropolitan Police had the highest number of cheque, plastic card, and online bank account fraud cases between April 2020 – March 2021, at 4,224
Greater Manchester Police had the next highest amount of incidences at 1,332 and those who fell prey to the crime in Greater Manchester incurred a collective financial loss of £14.3 million
For many of us, online banking and credit/debit cards are an essential part of our everyday lives as they allow us to pay for a multitude of necessities such as food and utility bills. Despite this, they are vulnerable to opportunistic criminals who may defraud an online bank account or use a payment card/cheque that is stolen/forged/cloned by them.
Interested in financial security, MoneyTransfers.com analysed the latest data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau on 44 police forces/constabularies to establish which areas of the UK have experienced the most cheque, plastic card* and online bank account fraud causes from April 2020 to March 2021 (i.e. the financial year of 2020-21).
Cheque, Plastic Card and Online Bank Account Fraud Cases in 2020-21: Overall Findings
MoneyTransfers.com found that there were 25,717 cases of cheque, plastic card and online bank account fraud recorded by 44 police forces between April 2020 to March 2021. During this period, July 2020 (2,349 cases) was the worst month, followed by November 2020 (2,341). Whilst April 2020 saw the least number of cases at 1,851.
Additionally, from the 25,717 cases, the collective financial loss that victims suffered was an astronomical £161,221,800 – that equates to a financial loss of £6,269 per case!
Cheque, Plastic Card and Online Bank Account Fraud Cases in 2020-21: Breakdown by Police Force
Metropolitan Police had the highest number of cheque, plastic card and online bank account fraud cases from April 2020 to March 2021, at a shocking 4,224 reports, the equivalent of 12 incidents per day in the capital. From the 4,224 cases, the accumulative financial loss victims incurred was a colossal £32.3 million.
In second position is Greater Manchester Police with 1,332 incidences of cheque, plastic card and online bank account fraud between April 2020 – March 2021. Victims who fell prey to the crime in Greater Manchester experienced an overall monetary downfall of £14.3 million.
West Midlands Police are in third place as they received 1,265 reported cases of cheque, plastic card and online bank account fraud from April 2020 to March 2021 and from those who were targeted, the financial loss equated to £10.3 million; that is comparable to a personal loss of £8,142 for each individual case.
Thames Valley Police (971), Kent Police (896) and West Yorkshire Police (873) are among the other police forces which recorded over 800 cases of cheque, plastic card and online bank account fraud from April 2020 to March 2021, respectively ranking in fourth, fifth and sixth place.
On the other end in 44th position is Cleveland Police who had only 124 cases of cheque, plastic card, and online bank account fraud.
Slightly above Cleveland Police in 43rd spot is Dyfed-Powys Police, with the Welsh police force reporting 146 occurrences of cheque, plastic card, and online bank account fraud. Despite having a low sum of incidents, the amassed financial loss the 146 victims experienced was still a hefty £558,100k.
MoneyTransfers.com’s top four tips on how individuals can safeguard themselves from cheque, plastic card, and online bank account fraud:
1.) Stay Vigilant
Even though it may feel taxing, it is a good idea to keep a close eye on your monthly bank statement(s) to make sure there is no unusual activity and if there is, report it immediately to your respective bank(s). Likewise, opt to shred any financial documents you intend not to keep.
2.) Avoid Public Wi-Fi Hotspots
Do not use public Wi-Fi hotspots such as those in coffee shops and libraries to access online banking or carry out financial transactions as you cannot be certain how your personal information is being tracked and logged by their respective networks.
3.) Take Online Banking Precautions
Only access online banking via your bank providers official website and not by means such as clicking on a link provided in an email. Likewise, when it comes to mobile banking, only use your bank providers official app and keep the app updated for the latest and strongest security protection.
4.) Have Strong Credentials
Make the password for your online banking as sophisticated as possible – this includes using a combination of numbers, special characters, uppercase and lowercase letters. When it comes to the pin for your bank card, don’t make it very obvious such as the current year (e.g. 2021) or a combination of credentials from your date of birth (e.g. dd/mm, mm/yr etc).
Whether you’re new or a veteran in a real estate business, foreclosure investing is an incredible strategy to pay attention to. It’s understandable to have hesitations. People’s perception of foreclosure investing could easily affect your judgment.
Well, you shouldn’t have to be. Contrary to some beliefs, you can actually use it as your opportunity to start a business venture. You can potentially expand your investment portfolio if you can successfully invest in foreclosed properties. Doing so will also boost your chance to generate revenue.
How Foreclosure Occurs
But first, you need to understand why foreclosures happen. It starts when someone decides to acquire a property. One may own a property without paying the entire cost at once in terms of down payment.
Typically, people can settle the payment for a small portion of the total cost, usually around 3-20% of the price, and borrow the remaining amount. The borrowed amount shall be payable within 2-3 years, depending on the contract term.
Unfortunately, accumulating money needed for the payment may not be easy as allocating thousands of dollars for such may be difficult. Or their earnings may not be enough to meet this obligation.
Hence, it’ll be stipulated in the loan agreement that the property they’ll buy will also serve as your collateral. If they lose the capability to continue the payment, the lender will confiscate the property. Real estate lien allows lenders to withhold such property if they fail to pay off such debt.
During foreclosure, the lender repossesses the property, and they lose the right of its ownership. The lender will then sell the property to catch up with the amount they lent you. Thus, the lender gets the right to dispose of your property.
Should You Buy Foreclosed Property?
There’s absolutely a good reason for purchasing a foreclosed property. As mentioned, these properties can come cheap. Thus, it can create enticing profit margins, which are not common on other real estate properties. Being a new investor, it’ll be a wise decision if you would start with such an investment.
Conducting Analysis For Investment Property
No matter how cheap or promising the foreclosed property is, you can’t be impulsive when investing in foreclosure properties. You can ensure a successful investment property if you don’t hurry to buy the first ones you see. Thus, it would be best if you do your due diligence before buying one.
This is in the form of conduct an analysis of the particular property you wish to acquire. When conducting your analysis, you should look for the best properties that could indicate the highest ROI. Hence, the higher the number you can potentially earn, the more promising it becomes for an investment.
Finding Foreclosed Homes
Try to be resourceful if you want to buy a foreclosed home as there are several ways of finding foreclosed properties. One of which is going to the local County Recorder’s Office to check the list of foreclosing homes.
You can also visit websites and read the local newspapers to check foreclosed homes for sale. Furthermore, auction houses which conduct foreclosure sales can also give you a list. You may also seek help from the local real estate agents to help you find foreclosed homes.
Additional Cost Of Foreclosed Property
One of the considerations in real estate investment is, buying such properties will generally involve additional costs intended for the renovation.
The real estate investment strategy concept is to acquire foreclosed properties that require renovations below the current market price. So, you must be ready to settle the additional expenses.
Utilizing The Experts
If you’re serious about investing in foreclosures, you must bring experts to your team. One of the people you can trust is a qualified agent. You must understand that there’ll be plenty of tasks that demand time and effort when investing in foreclosures. It’ll be tough for you to carry out everything on your own.
From obtaining funds to doing the renovations, you’ll need experts to help you. With that in mind, here are some key players you can add to your team:
Property Manager: You’ll need a property manager to take charge of marketing your property. Your property manager will also be responsible for collecting the rent and managing the homes for their maintenance once you start using the foreclosed property to generate real estate income.
Loan Officer: Loan officers may not be necessary if you have the whole amount ready to buy a foreclosed property. If not, you should find a loan officer to help you with a mortgage or any form of financing so you can purchase the property. You must establish a harmonious relationship with a loan officer when looking for financing, particularly if you ‘e planning to acquire numerous properties.
With the great opportunities investing in foreclosed properties, you may want to start now. Gone are the days you’ll feel intimidated by this kind of venture. With the right knowledge about investment foreclosed property, you’ll know you’re doing the best thing.
However, remember this venture doesn’t guarantee success unless you put hard work and exert more time into it. Before you begin with your business, you must equip yourself with a team. Get the best people in your team and maximize their expertise. You’ll soon enjoy high profits from your investments.
Becky Hutchinson, Managing Director at Minted, an investment platform which allows individuals to buy and sell gold bullion.
In light of the ‘new normal’, parents and grandparents are looking for new ways to gift, virtually or otherwise. But in a climate of stock market volatility and low interest rates, are traditional financial investments still a solid choice, and could gold bullion be a safer bet?
There’s no doubt about it, Premium Bonds have earned their reputation as a safe and steadfast savings option. First introduced by the Government in 1956, these tax-free bonds from the National Savings and Investments (NS&I) agency are now UK’s biggest savings product, with about 22 million people having over £86 billion invested in them. Every £1 Bond is given a unique number and all numbers are put into a computer called Ernie (which stands for Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment), which draws monthly winners. For years, they have been popular to give as presents to children under 16. The parent or guardian named on the application looks after the Bonds until the child’s 16th birthday, when they are entitled to a gift that will hopefully keep on giving.
In December 2020, however, the prize fund was cut considerably and due to the drop in the Bank of England base rate, NS&I also reduced the odds of winning. As a monthly lottery, the closest thing Premium Bonds have to an interest rate is their annual prize rate, which currently stands at one percent. This is based on the average pay out, depending on the number of bonds owned and, while it isn’t completely accurate, it does allow for an estimated calculation to be made about interest gained in a year.
But winning may be harder than it seems. According to Money Saving Expert, only 30% of people with £1,000 in Premium Bonds win £25 or more per year. And, over five years, someone with £1,000 in Premium Bonds and ‘average luck’ is expected to win roughly £50. While that may seem a lot of money to a child who’s been gifted Bonds, any parent knows that £50 doesn’t go far in today’s society.
When it comes to investment options, however, Premium Bonds are as safe as they get. Operated by NS&I, which is backed by the Treasury rather than a bank, funds are easy to access and there is little-to-no risk of losing money – only a small gamble around any potential ‘interest’. However, while this level of financial security was once a significant perk, all UK-regulated savings accounts are now protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) under the savings safety rules. This extends up to £85,000 per person, per bank, building society or credit union – £35,000 more than the maximum deposit allowance for Premium Bonds.
So, is there an alternative safe-haven investment option, with a better interest rate and without a savings cap? There is and it’s far older than Premium Bonds. Gold was one of the first precious metals to be used by humans as a trading commodity and, to this day, remains a stable choice. Many children’s books tell stories of gold – from pirates to royalty – and, in sport, a gold medal has always been associated with winning. From a very young age, the intrinsic value of gold has been ingrained in most people’s minds.
Aside from the glitz and glamour, perhaps the biggest difference between gold and Premium Bonds is that gold is a tangible asset. Investors can handle their physical gold and store it as they wish or even liquidate an asset if needed. Gold doesn’t just sit pretty either; while its price may fluctuate, historically and over the long term, it trends higher. Currently, the average growth rate per year is nine percent, considerably greater than bonds or current interest rates. With this in mind, £1,000 invested in gold could be worth around £1,538 after five years.
With the popularity of the finite resource growing, more user-friendly and flexible tech-focused routes into gold investment are appearing, making gifting the precious metal much easier. Features such as reward points for referring friends and family also provide an incentive for parents to start building up points for their children. With investment platforms like Minted, people can either purchase gold with a lump sum or save set amounts every month, starting at £30. Once enough has been saved for a gold bar, the physical gold can either be stored in a secure London vault or withdrawn – something any child would be proud to own.
Despite its high-class status, gold is much more than just a luxury good and can be a viable option for every investor, at any age. As markets continue to fluctuate and interest rates drop, the price of gold could remain on its upward trajectory for some time. No matter the state of the current economic climate, the metal will always be a must-have addition to anyone’s investment portfolio and, with growing options to transfer gold virtually, the best kind of gift.
With retail, hospitality and leisure businesses opening again, and demand for suppliers, manufacturing and construction greater than ever, it is important that companies have the facilities to expand, grow and invest in the future. With cash flow becoming one of the main concerns for SMEs in the last year, it’s important to get the balance right, and with mainstream lenders come long waiting times, increased scrutiny and endless criteria, more business are seeing their applications for loans, finance and leasing being rejected than ever before. This level of scepticism has a significant impact on businesses and their operations
However, alternative finance is an option that cannot be underestimated, and has the ability to support suppliers, businesses and their clients in selling more and investing in their products and services. There are many reasons why businesses are turning to alternative finance, and will continue to do so.
Mainstream lenders have different processes to alternative lenders, and therefore business plans and propositions with genuine strength and durability can be misunderstood or ignored. We specialise in being a common sense lender, listening to your story and finding out how we can make finance work for you, rather than the other way around. Common sense means decisions are made by people who understand your industry and what you want to achieve.
This is, and should be, important for any business owner. It affects your bottom line and how your business operates financially, which is crucial to ensuring you succeed. By offering competitive rates, alternative lending is an attractive option for businesses who may be in doubt about the value for money they can get elsewhere. It’s important for us, and it’s important for you, that’s why we make it a priority to secure competitive rates for your business.
More so than ever the queues have been getting longer, processing time and waiting for decisions is not what you should be doing when trying to secure finance to improve your business. Our team work directly to ensure all necessary steps are completed in an efficient manner to give you the best chance of getting your funds quickly, as we understand how important every second is. Alternative lending means you have a dedicated team working tirelessly to help you and your business, your clients and your customers.
Experts in your sector
Knowing your sector and industry gives us alternative finance the edge, because we work closely with suppliers, customers and industry bodies to understand what makes it tick and what’s important. That’s why when you bring us some Quirky Kit that banks or lenders may not see as valuable, we make it our mission to help you secure it. There’s not much we haven’t seen, and it can be frustrating dealing with people who don’t understand why you need your equipment, what it’s for or how it can benefit your business. By specialising in this area of equipment finance, alternative finance has a significant advantage.
Improve cash flow
It’s important to keep on top of cash flow, and it can be a dilemma when you want to invest but don’t want to spend. Using alternative finance to secure a loan or equipment finance for your business you can improve your service or product, make it more cost effective, more efficient and increase revenue, allowing you to take care of overheads, bills, wages and other expenditures. This allows you to keep any cash you have for a rainy day, whilst also improving your business. You can find out more on how to improve your cash flow by viewing our guide here.
Freedom to grow your business
Another benefit of alternative finance is the freedom to grow your business. This means that we will support you in how you plan to use the loan or finance, as you know your business better than anyone, meaning you know how to make it succeed, and keep to your ongoing commitments. Compare this to mainstream lending which may require more detail and may be more strict with the delegation of your agreement, we want you to have freedom.
Whether you’re in manufacturing, engineering, hospitality, leisure, or any other industry, alternative finance can be a great option to support your business in its next stage, helping to increase revenue, decrease costs and improve service to your customers
When remodeling your commercial property, one of the most important considerations is the return on investment (ROI). You want to make your property attractive to others so they’ll stop in or use your business. Plus, your clients and other companies see your building often, so you want to portray the right picture to them.
Any time you put money into your commercial property, you want to get that money back or even get more than what you put into the investment. Here are five renovations with the best ROI in 2021 to keep your business booming.
Remodeling the Kitchens
Most commercial properties have a kitchen of some sort or even kitchen appliances in a break room. Remodeling a kitchen in any building is bound to increase the property value. Freshening up the kitchen can be affordable, and it will have a great ROI in the end.
Add in some energy-efficient appliances and a new backsplash or countertop for a simple remodel. You don’t have to be fancy with it. Just keep it updated and modern.
Implementing eco-friendly appliances and systems in your commercial property will lead to savings in energy usage. If your energy system is outdated, it’s time to take it out and invest in something newer and more efficient.
You can get a new heating and cooling system, install low-flow plumbing, put in a cool roof, and upgrade your windows. These investments will help you save money on utility bills and attract customers who have environmentally charged ideals.
Updating Safety Features
Older commercial buildings can be hazardous, especially if you haven’t renovated them for many decades. Safety should be your number one priority as the owner or operator of a commercial building if you have numerous clients and employees working there every day.
Safety features might include a fire alarm system, burglary alarms and even a designated shelter for inclement weather. Adding in new safety features will decrease the risk of a worker or visitor getting injured. Safety renovations will save you time and money overall.
Investing in Curb Appeal
The outside of your property is just as important as the inside when it comes to return on investment. Curb appeal renovations often bring in the highest ROI. Every time someone comes to your property, the first thing they see is the outside of your building.
Every year, take the time and money to invest in curb appeal. Add new mulch, keep the lawn looking trimmed and green, and add plenty of walking space for clients and customers. It will attract more people to your business when the outside looks just as clean and neat as the inside.
Upgrading the Cosmetic Features
Finally, you can boost your ROI by renovating the cosmetic features of your commercial property. For example, old flooring, chipped paint and fixtures that aren’t doing your building justice won’t bring you in as much money as possible.
Take the time to investigate your property and take note of things that could use improvement. Install new flooring, doors, lighting fixtures or anything else that needs to be updated. Keeping things fresh and modern will do wonders for your ROI.
Get to Work
Begin these renovations as soon as possible. Investing in your commercial property in these ways will bring you the highest return on your investment this year.
For the payments market, government-backed digital currencies could accelerate innovation by setting novel technology benchmarks, as well as rearrange some of the entry barriers for new companies looking to set up shop.
A recent survey of central banks has revealed that 86% are actively doing research into central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), 60% are already in the experimenting phase and almost 15% doing pilot testing. With CBDCs heavily gaining traction across governments worldwide, Marius Galdikas, CEO at ConnectPay, has discussed how this technological solution could impact the payments market players.
The idea of CBDCs has been circling around for a few years now, however, with the growing attention towards cryptocurrencies and money digitalization in general, banks are now focusing on how to put the idea into practise. For instance, the Bank of England together with HM Treasury has created a dedicated task force to explore potential use cases of CBDC in the UK market, as well as monitor international developments regarding the topic. Norway is pushing ahead with CBDC, too, while China is already in the process of testing digital Yuan out in the real world.
“CBDCs could be a game-changer for the payments industry. Aside from the clear benefits, for instance, low-cost cross-border payments or boosting financial inclusivity, it could also enhance domestic payments system resilience, slightly shifting dependence from the international payment processing networks,” Galdikas said.
According to Galdikas, CBDCs could be a major catalyst for the payments market, as government-issued digital currencies would be as easily accessible as current e-money payment methods, yet, in some respects, it could surpass what current market players have to offer.
“Although it has immense potential, the idea still has a long way to go. Essential decisions need to be made concerning how state-backed currencies could inherit the properties of cash, for instance, working offline or addressing the double-spending problem. Also, it’s highly likely that the central banks will not take on the responsibility to develop and implement the technology themselves, yet will want to retain the control of the currency itself,” Galdikas explained. “There is no best way to address these types of questions and that’s why specialized teams and task forces are being assembled — to come up with an approach that would combine different tools into a single solution.”
“Therefore payment service providers will have to step up their game to match the benefits CBDCs would bring to the table, which means moving up into a higher gear when it comes to innovation and delivering unique market solutions. They’ll have to be more strategic in communicating their strengths and value proposition to their target audience, too,” he added.
While outlining the benefits, Galdikas also noted how this would impact market newcomers. “CBDCs would definitely set an even higher standard for greater technological competence, which means setting up shop for new businesses is going to need a lot more investment from the get-go.”
“That said, I believe that some of the barriers would drop, for example, the requirement that only credit institutions have access to payment systems, such as SEPA. All in all, the CBDC, with inherent properties of cash, would allow for a wide variety of innovative financial solutions,” he concluded.
This could be a pivoting moment in the industry, which would greatly contribute to building a more financially inclusive society. However, a lot of questions must be addressed before then, with the main ones being technological implementation, as well as privacy concerns, which might arise due to CBDCs being state-backed.
Gone are the days when gold was limited only to jewellery or to décor. When you think about the history of gold, you’ll find that many families have passed it on from one generation to the next as an asset. And, you should, too, particularly if you’re in business. Investing in gold can contribute so much to counter risks, making it a good strategy for risk management.
Whether or not you’re a seasoned businessman, it doesn’t change the fact that risks for businesses are always present. You can never really determine when a sudden change in the economy will happen, much like how the world was struck by unprecedented changes last year. Hence, you need to adopt effective asset protection strategies and make some crucial considerations to avoid dire consequences. One of the best options today is through investing in gold.
To convince you further of its viability, here are some great ways gold investments can help in business risk management:
1. It Offers Security of Value
One of the most compelling advantages of investing in gold is that its price will be consistently going up. Gold brings forth security of value, and this security can help smoothen out rough seas that your business might go through.
With gold, it’s normal that, sometimes, the price will go down, but it’ll always go back up again. For instance, if you bought a piece of jewellery five years ago and had it assessed by a jeweller, the value will have already increased. This becomes even so much truer with bigger gold bullions or assets, which businesses typically invest in.
With an appreciating asset, this means that you’re earning passive income. Should your business fall into the risk of low income, you can have a hedge through your asset. As a result, your financial portfolio may not suffer as much as it would’ve without this stable investment.
2. Offers Protection Against Inflation Risks
One common enemy of businesses, small or big, is inflation. If you’re not careful about following through the flow of inflation, it may kill your investment. This means losing everything you’ve worked so hard for.
Given this inherent risk of inflation in the economy, it’s never advisable just to put all your business resources in cash. Physically, the cash is kept in a bank, yes, but its value will deplete in a few years because of inflation.
Here’s a simple illustration of such a scenario: USD$100 in the past could buy you more than it can today. So, for instance, with your business, USD$10,000 can give you more today than it could ever do five to ten years from now.
To protect your business against inflation, it’s a good idea to place your eggs in different baskets so you can have a mix of stable assets. One of these stable assets is gold. There are online portals like https://learnaboutgold.com/ that can give you a better idea of how gold works as a stable asset to provide a hedge against inflation. Typically, this has something to do with its growth and stable history.
Such benefit is very advantageous to businesses, given that inflation usually comes along with dire effects. Some of the negative effects of inflation include the following:
If inflation continues to soar, this means that customers of your business will have lesser purchasing power. In effect, they may buy less from your business than they used to in the past.
Inflation can get out of hand, whereby businesses’ employees will also demand more in terms of their wages simply because their current salary could no longer buy them as much of their needs as it used to. When you’re forced to increase salaries, this means lowered profit margin for your business as well.
Inflation can also lead to disruptions in business planning, resulting in lower investments.
3. It Keeps Your Inventory Stable
When prices continue to soar because of inflation, this affects not just the purchasing power of customers, but also that of businesses. This is a risk that’s inherent as there really is no controlling the possible instability of economies. If your business puts too much faith on cash savings, then chances are you’ll succumb to an unstable inventory level.
Investing in gold can help you cover up the value losses of your cash savings. When the value of your cash gets too low, such that your inventory suffers, that’s when you can sell or trade gold, or make gold investments. You, then, can use the proceeds to level up your inventory.
With this, in a way, your business is protected against this business risk. Imagine how much you’d lose if your inventory won’t be able to keep up. You aren’t just losing profits, but you’re also losing potential customers that would’ve stayed happy doing business with you.
4. It’s A Good Way to Save Money For The Future
Over time, your business may need to expand so it can keep up with growth and competition. If you don’t have expansion in mind, then you’re not maximizing your business’s potential.
However, to achieve this business goal, you’ve got to save for it. Not only do you need to have a regular flow of income coming in, but you’ll also need to have money for your future investments. This means that your business has stable assets to keep up with the cost of future investments.
Apart from protecting your business against inflation, as explained in the sections above, having gold assets is also a good way to save business income for the future.
With the list above, now, you can clearly see that there are many benefits to choosing gold as your investment. When other assets don’t offer that much of a stability, gold is there to save the day. But, before you get too excited, don’t forget that it’s not always going to be positive all the time. Any investment form, gold included, isn’t without risk. The key is for you to ensure you’re investing in good providers, and that you’re able to weigh all pros and cons for your business before making a decision.