Month: December 2021

Finance Planning
ArticlesFinance

Top Personal Finance Tips

Finance Planning

Getting your finances in order is important, whether it’s your personal life or business. When it comes to your personal life if you are running out of money or you don’t have your finances sorted you will likely become stressed. Here are some personal finance tips you can focus on to help…

 

Pay off any debt you have

Paying off any debt you have is essential for financial stability, especially if you want to start saving. If you happen to find yourself in a lot of debt you can sort out a plan to pay it off gradually. There are options to take out short term loans in the UK if you find yourself running out of money and you need something quickly. It’s only recommended to use these loans if you’re able to pay them back.

 

Make sure you have a plan

Having a plan is the best way to manage your personal finances and there are now cards readily available that can help with savings. Go for a debit card with a money manager setting, this option will enable you to view your spending and transactions in sectors, so you can see exactly how much you have spent on food, travel, entertainment, and much more over the course of a month. If you want to get more organised with your finances, you can set budgets for each section of your spending.

 

Work on having an emergency fund

You can’t go wrong if you have a backup fund, setting up a separate bank for this is a good idea or you can add a savings account to your current account. There are always unexpected life costs that tend to crop up or something will break and you will need to cover the cost of fixing it.

 

Limit your spending

If you are looking to save you can limit your spending in all sorts of places, food is a good start. Instead of buying lunch every day, you can bring your own if you have time to make it at home. You can also try shopping at cheaper supermarkets to help budget and save. Using a bank that shows you exactly what you are spending in certain areas of your life can be beneficial.

 

Work on investing

Keeping your money in stocks and shares is exciting and can be advantageous in the long run. Depending on the type of stocks and shares you invest in, you can earn back a decent amount. If you are a beginner and you want to get better at investing, there are networking communities you can join to gain human insights statistics to help you make better investment decisions.

 

Following some of these tips will help you with your personal finances and can help you gain more financial stability in the future. Saving money and getting on top of your finances is the basis for leading a fulfilling life. If you can manage to follow some of these tips and are consistent you will have your finances in order in no time.

Life Insurance
ArticlesFinance

Everything You Need to Know About Life Insurance

Life Insurance


Life insurance is a topic we don’t like to think about. We’ll be gone when life insurance is most needed. Most of us leave behind loved ones who will be burdened by whatever obligations we leave behind. Many of us are blessed with leaving no obligations behind. At best, everybody’s death incurs funeral costs that must be paid.

Like other insurance, life insurance spreads the risk insured. Metaphorically, life insurance is a gamble. The life insurance company is betting you (along with all other customers) will live long enough (past actuarial life expectancy) to pay sufficient premiums to cover their payout obligation. Cynically, you are betting you will not live long enough to pay premiums above the insurance payout. Otherwise, you would self-insure.

In any case, the option to self-insure is illusory since if we don’t have the self-discipline to save for death, it doesn’t work. Life insurance has an element of forced savings.

 

Taxation

You will have many questions for which you should seek the advice of an experienced life insurance expert, financial adviser, or estate planner. For instance, is life insurance taxable? Yes and no. You can borrow against your policy without tax. You can withdraw cash value tax-free but only to the extent of premium payments. Any excess is taxable as ordinary income. Payout of death benefits to beneficiaries is taxable.

 

Kinds of Life Insurance

Term Insurance

Term life insurance is the most straightforward insurance policy. There is no investment element to it. It is called “term life” because it covers a specified time period. The proceeds are paid out if you die within that time. One-year term policies require annual renewals.

Term life policies are usually the most affordable since the insurance company is only on the hook for a specified time period. Premiums are typically adjusted as you get older and the insurance company’s risk increases. A term policy has no cash value and, therefore, no investment value.

 

Permanent Life

Permanent life policies have a dual purpose. Like term life, it has a risk-spreading function with the insurance company bearing the risk of loss (your death) for which you are paying premiums. In addition, it has an element of a savings account. Over time, your premium payments accumulate some redeemable cash value.

There are three types of permanent life insurance – whole life, universal life, and variable life.

 

Whole life

Whole life insurance has a static premium throughout the policy life. It is similar to uniform mortgage payments with different monthly principal/interest allocations. During your younger years, the insurance company’s risk of loss is lower, so a greater share of the premium creates a redeemable cash value. The insurance company invests the “principal’ element of your premium in the company’s investment portfolio. That is why insurance companies, like banks, are a major financing source for many industries.

Effectively, you are rewarded for staying alive. After a while, you can borrow against your cash value or redeem it.

 

Universal life insurance

A universal life policy is the same coverage as permanent life but has more flexible access to your cash value. For example, once you have accumulated a sufficient cash value, it can be used to pay some of your premiums.

This is all subject to the caveat that changing the amount or frequency of your premiums can reduce the amount of death benefit.

 

Variable life insurance

Like all other forms, the fundamental element of variable life insurance is to compensate the insurance company for bearing the risk of paying out proceeds at your death. The older you get, the greater the risk to the insurance company and the greater the portion of your premium that the insurance company must reserve for loss.

A variable life policy gives you, the insured, more control over the investment of your cash value (i.e., stocks, bonds, or money market accounts). The better the return on that investment, the greater your cash value accumulation.

On the other side of the coin, your poor investment decisions may reduce your cash value and may even reduce the death benefit. Some variable life policies include a guaranty that your death benefit will never be reduced. You can expect to pay for that guarantee with higher premiums.

Rest assured, like Las Vegas, the house does not lose in the long run.

 

Costs and Fees

Life insurance companies are financial institutions, and, as such, you must expect various charges in addition to the risk costs included in your premiums. Those costs include fees for administration, investment management fees, and charges for optional features.

A self-insurance program via a low-risk savings account requires self-discipline that is difficult to sustain. But such programs do not entail such extraneous costs. Those extraneous costs are the price we pay for a forced savings scheme.

 

Security of Your Cash Value and Death Benefits

While life insurance companies are financial institutions, the FDIC or any other government agency does not guarantee life insurance. Insurers are subject to state and federal regulations. Insurance companies are reported by various rating agencies. You should consult these ratings for comfort as to the insurer’s financial strength to pay your death benefits, cash values, or guarantees.

ArticlesWealth Management

Four Tips to Buy and Sell More Lucratively


So much of wealth and finance is about knowing how to best invest the money you do have to make more of it. Sadly, many people don’t know what they are doing when they are buying and selling an item. Whether it’s a car, a house, a boat, or something more niche, learning the ins and outs of both can help you make better purchases and sales. Below are five tips to buy and sell more effectively.

 

Do Your Research

One of the most important parts of buying and selling things is to do your research. It starts with the buying process. You should understand what a good price for the particular item is. What is the condition? How old is it? The location of a home matters. The miles on a car matter. Whatever the item you are looking to buy, you should spend plenty of time researching what the average price is for an item and how much it should cost in varying conditions. It’s important to have an idea of what you are getting into with a purchase.

The same goes for selling. It’s important to be honest with yourself about the condition of what you are trying to sell, how old it is, and if there is any way to make more money on it. Even if you don’t know the particular field or area of expertise, it’s still imperative to look into it. Do your best to find out information about the item you are trying to make money on. Can you fix it up or certify it to make more? There are plenty of questions to ask yourself depending on the thing you are trying to sell, but the most important thing is to do your research.

 

Have All the Documents in Place

Of course, it greatly depends on what you are selling, but if you are looking to make money on something that requires documentation, then you should see to it that you have all the papers you need, notarized if necessary, and ready to go. Any certifications should be laminated and protected. 

If you are selling a car, you will be signing a title over, meaning you will have to know where it is. Sometimes documents can get lost in file cabinets and attics. Even if you are just thinking about selling something, you should bring out all the necessary documents to know what you have, what you don’t, and what you need to get.

 

Be Honest But Careful

When you are buying something, you should ask a lot of questions. Don’t skip the things that pop into your head because you don’t want to annoy the seller. Especially if it’s a big purchase, you should do everything in your power to understand what you are buying. Be upfront with what you are looking for and be careful not to be duped by a crafty seller.

On the other hand, you should also be honest when you are selling, too. This isn’t to say that you need to tell the buyer everything about the item, including all the bad things that have happened to it, but you should be upfront with them about the things they may encounter. For example, you don’t need to tell them that you were in a car accident if the vehicle has been completely restored and repaired. If they ask, you should tell them, but you don’t need to offer this information right away.

The bottom line is, there is a difference between lying and omitting details, and you should be aware of this when you are both buying something and selling it. You should expect every seller to omit information, as well. That’s why you should both ask a lot of questions when you’re buying and leave out details when you are selling.

 

Understand the Market

Any investment makes understanding the market of that particular market integral to the process. Buying and selling stocks, for example, is subject to all kinds of factors. Whether you are investing in a company, a car, a house, a boat, or something else, understanding the market for that field will help you spend less on what you buy and make more on what you sell.

Buying and selling are pivotal to growing and keeping wealth. You want your money to work for you. To make that possible, you should learn how to buy and sell more effectively. If you know what you are doing, then every exchange can be more lucrative.

Regulatory Compliance
ArticlesGlobal ComplianceRegulation

Regulatory Compliance and its Importance

Regulatory Compliance


It doesn’t matter what a company’s size or industry is, all businesses need to adhere to specific regulations and laws as a part of their operations. Regulatory compliance deals with a lot of guidelines that organizations must follow by law. For example, this might involve ensuring that employees have a safe working environment.

It can help to take a look at a definition of regulatory compliance in order to understand exactly what it is and how it can be different from other facets of compliance.

 

Definition

To put it simply, regulatory compliance is when businesses follow international, federal, and state regulations and laws relevant to their operations. There are even companies that can help with this – such as businesses that help with Amazon FBA customs compliance. It should be noted that specific requirements can and do vary depending on the type of business and industry. 

Adhering to government laws can differ from other aspects of what’s known as corporate compliance – or adhering to specific internal rules and policies. For example, financial market regulations might differ from specific bank policies. While both of them are critical in order to ensure financial behavior, safety, and integrity in businesses, it’s also important to understand the differences. 

 

Regulatory Environment

Since the regulatory environment constantly evolves, the target for compliance is forever moving. You may come to find that just when you’ve achieved total compliance, the regulatory environment shifts in some way and you need to tweak the approach you take in order to remain compliant. Your business has to be adaptable or it can be put in jeopardy. This can make things extremely difficult. 

 

Failure to Comply

If your business fails to comply, it opens the company up to financial liability and even potential lawsuits. This is why compliance is so critical. Regulatory compliance assists you with protecting the reputation and resources of your business. Consider the time it takes for it to build trust with vendors, prospects, and customers. Much of that depends on how the business behaves ethically. 

Compliance is what lays the foundation on which the reputation of the company is built. There are times when all it takes is a single misstep with compliance and you can break the trust that it took years to build. 

If you fail to be compliant, you may even risk the loss of access to certain parts of your customer base. As an example, if you have a medical business and fail to comply with HIPAA regulations, you might lose access to a variety of insurance companies and even risk losing your state license.

Finally, consider all of the time you’ll need for your business to spend following a violation of compliance, likemanaging an outbreak of E. coli linked to a grower you use or a security breach due to someone hacking into your database.

 

Protection

Regulations and rules are there for a reason. They assist with protecting your customers, your employees, and your entire business. Failure to adhere to the requirements for regulatory compliance can leave you open to risks that go beyond simple fines. As an example, regulations regarding security are in place to protect against things like breaches of data, those regarding finances protect against things like fraud, and regarding safety have been created to keep your employees safe.

These types of regulations haven’t been put into place to make the lives of business owners more difficult, even though a lot of the time they do. Instead, they should be viewed as a benefit to your business as well as to external and internal individuals. 

Stock Trading
ArticlesMarketsStock Markets

Six Essential Stock Trading Tips for Beginners

Stock Trading

To anybody new to the exciting world of stock trading, there are vital steps to consider before and during the process. These keys provide a solid foundation for your investment strategy and needs. Instilling a basic understanding is a key overlooked attribute to successful trading. Below resides the key basis for building a successful investment strategy. Implementing these fundamental basics is the structure that can make all the difference in the world of stock trade. 

 

Chart Your Purpose

The first and most important step of investing is to determine why you are investing in the first place. Are you looking to make a quick buck or gradually expand your portfolio through day trading? Conversely, are you in it for long-term investment? Establishing the foundational purpose for buying and selling your assets can be a cornerstone to your success in market trade and can also minimize losses.

Going into stock trading aimlessly, on the other hand, is a recipe for disaster. Investing without a purpose is often the precedent for large losses while having a plan often leads to investment gains. Instead, be sure to set yourself for success by trading — whether it’s buying, selling, or holding — with a purpose.

 

Chart Your Target

Charting your targets means determining the type of industry or the type of technology that you wish to invest in. Your investment targets should center around the type of product or business you believe has the best upside. If possible, aim your investment targets around a category that you’re familiar with.

 

Do Your Research

Research your targets by observing expert projections and opinions in addition to visiting company websites. Carefully perform your due diligence by familiarizing yourself with the company you are considering investing in. One overlooked highlight to observe when researching websites of potential investments is company standards and safety procedures. 

Company safety became a necessary study for investors after the BP oil spill caused a monumental sell-off. Any company that poses a safety risk can be volatile and can quickly find itself being shorted. In turn, any negative news regarding company safety issues causes a sell-off that can leave you holding the bag. Any company website that boasts OSHA 10 safety training or higher is a good indicator of high company safety standards.

Most importantly, however, be aware of upcoming products or press releases that may be of significance to the target company. Being up to date with the company you invest in is what helps you determine when to buy or sell. Never invest in a company you haven’t personally researched or have no knowledge of.

 

Never Buy At the Rise

Buying shares after a stock has risen considerably is the worst time to invest. Unfortunately, this is one of the biggest mistakes people make when they first begin investing. If you’ve seen a stock rise, accept that you already missed the boat — at least for this go around.

When you see a significant rise over a short period of time, do not take the bait. There’s always a fall, usually hard, after this initial rise. Wait for the gains to ride out until its inevitable and sudden decline This is called buying at the dip, and you’ll be extremely glad that you waited, rather than buying shares at their peak price and having a too-high cost basis.

 

Proper Diversification

Properly diversifying your investments helps you avoid the potential for large losses during unforeseen instances of market volatility. That’s why it is important to diversify with a purpose and not just for the sake of diversifying. Spread out your investments across different industry types, but also make sure you’ve done your research on those industries.

 

Never Panic Sell

When you see your stocks decline or plummet, unless justified by company-shattering news that initiated that sell-off, do not make the rash decision of selling off your shares. Remember that the market tends to fluctuate. Such as is the case in life, and there’s always a rise after a fall, just as there’s always a fall after a rise.

Ultimately, a loss is never a loss until you actually close out your position. But once you hit that sell button and get rid of your shares, there’s no turning back. Many people who panic sell end up losing much more than those who were patient and didn’t make impulsive decisions. Not being rash on the sell button can be the difference between monumental losses and monumental gains.

 

The Final Word

Utilizing the fundamentals provided above is an exceptional guide for any beginner getting their feet wet in stock trading. Use discretion while trusting your instincts when buying or selling. Bear in mind you haven’t truly lost or gained anything until you sell. Patience is as much a virtue in stocks as it is in life unless you’re day trading. Get a feel for market numbers and volatility, as this changes by the day — and even sometimes by the hour. 

ArticlesFunds

Online Business Ideas to Start in 2022

If you want to make money without having to spend time at a 9-to-5 job, launching an online business could be exciting and rewarding. As an online entrepreneur, you can work remotely, hire freelancers, and make money from anywhere.

The goal of starting your own business does not always have to be to get rich. You could start your business with minimal cost, make a reasonable profit, enough to cover all your expenses, and still consider yourself successful. All you have to do is choose an idea that matches your skills and interests, and then find a way to make it happen.

Here are some business ideas to consider.

 

Online Retailing

As a niche market retailer, you will offer a range of products to a smaller group of customers, such as people with specific product interests. Starting a niche eCommerce site is an excellent way to build a profitable online business.

Using the right marketing strategy, you can reach a niche customer base and grow your business organically. To get your online storefront up and running, you only need a dynamic website and a web hosting service like WooCommerce hosting, which provides full-service solutions necessary to optimize an eCommerce site.

Once you have set up your store, focus on developing a high-quality delivery service to ensure customer loyalty.

 

Consulting

Here are some popular types of consulting services that pay well because of their subject matter expertise.

  1. Search Engine Optimization Consultant: Are familiar with organic web traffic and have technical skills with tools like Google Ads and Google Analytics? Then you may want to consider becoming a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultant. You’ll advise companies and organizations on how to increase their search engine ranking and online visibility. You’ll also scout out the competition and give your clients advice about how to outperform them.

  2. Small Business Marketing Consultant: If you have been an entrepreneur, you may be able to share your experience with people struggling to start their own business. You can market yourself by creating a blog or podcast to offer advice and tips to aspiring entrepreneurs. Taking on the role of an advisor will allow you to use your considerable knowledge and hard-won experience to help others succeed in life.

 

Blogging

You can establish yourself as an expert in your industry by starting a blog. It’s a great way to get your name out there, increase the visibility of your products or services, and drive more traffic to your website.

When you’re writing, keep quality and value for your readers in mind. Sharing your thoughts, opinions, and experiences with the world helps you build a personal brand. You can monetize your blog by selling advertising on your site or promoting affiliate links.

 

Affiliate Marketing

You can generate leads and revenue through affiliate marketing. Often people trust the opinion of a friend, family member, or colleague over an advertisement.

Affiliate programs allow you to link to products and earn a commission for sales so you can make money from your website or social media following. This type of advertising will always be around since it’s one of the cheapest ways to reach customers.

 

Lean Into It

If you’re not ready to make the leap into starting your own online business next year, then lean into it gradually. Don’t quit your day job; just start your online business project as a side-hustle.

Making the leap from full-time employment to entrepreneurship can be a difficult decision because it’s a big change with many risks. However, even just starting a part-time business for passive income can mean not having to work a 9-to-5 job while you pursue your dreams.

Finance risks
ArticlesFinanceRisk Management

Three Financial Risks You Don’t Want To Take

Finance risks

Risky and business are often said together as if they were two sides of the same coin. At some level, all business is risky. You cannot accomplish anything worthwhile without taking a few risks. Marriage is a risk because you might lose your shirt (and end up with a broken heart for good measure). But for many people, it is still worth doing. University is a risk because you might get stuck with a student loan you can’t pay off and a degree that doesn’t land you your dream job. Even so, you would be foolish to avoid going for fear of failure. 

Starting your own business is also risky. Depending on how big you decide to go, you might have to take out a second mortgage and risk your home, your good credit, and your ability to provide for your family in the future. That is a lot of risk to take on, especially considering the percentage of businesses that fail in the first five years. For the record, you should not risk your home for your business. Your family means more than the success of your passion project. There will be other business opportunities. You should know when to retreat and live to fight another day. That is just one risk that is ill-advised. Here are a few others.

 

Passing Up Good Opportunities

There is such a thing as opportunity cost. When you pass up good opportunities to enhance your business, that can be just as bad as leaping at bad opportunities. Knowing the difference is often what separates failure from success. One of the great new opportunities is the addition of smart lockers to your retail outlet. These are just a few of the benefits:

  • You gain a business relationship with the people in your community.

  • You make the community safer by providing secure package pickup.

  • You add a useful service to your businesses with little investment in time or money on your part.

 

Furthermore, customers benefit by:

  • Not having to worry about porch piracy.

  • Not having to worry about missing an important delivery.

  • Having a nearby place to send packages.

 

There are some opportunities that are too good to be true. They almost always are. And there are other deals that are too good to pass up. Many businesses that fail did so because they passed up opportunities that could have helped them succeed. Don’t let fear stop you from taking advantage of good opportunities that come your way. Saying “no” could be even more of a risk than saying “yes.”

 

Failing to Have a Backup Strategy

Do you know why cybersecurity crimes such as ransomware attacks keep happening? It is because they work so well. They work because people keep making the mistake of thinking it couldn’t happen to them. They think it couldn’t happen because they are such small and insignificant targets. The reasoning is very bad, and it gets worse the more you explore it.

Your biggest risk is the failure to have a prevention plan for cybersecurity attacks. Ransomware is a pretty easy attack to execute. It is also pretty easy to thwart. What you need is a good backup of everything that matters so that no one can hold your valuable data hostage. It should be a daily backup of a system that is only attached to the computer long enough to perform the backup. You should also have a cloud backup solution for everything in case your backup gets corrupted. In the security industry, it is said that two backups are really one. And one backup is really none. Failure to have a good backup strategy is a risk you should never take.

 

Never Invest Without Good Research

This one is one of the most obvious and also one of the most ignored rules of investing there is. People who invest on the basis of hot tips lose everything very fast. Another way this happens is through emotional investing. You really like a company for personal reasons so you invest heavily in their stock. This is a recipe for failure. If you don’t have time to do the proper research before the investment window closes, let it close and do better the next time. 

Your business is always balanced on the knife’s edge of success and failure. Avoid failure by taking advantage of good opportunities, engaging a good backup solution, and investing only in well-researched financial products. Failure to do any of these things is a risk you can’t afford to take. 

Financial Health And Wealth
ArticlesFinance

Tips to Improve Our Business’s Financial Health and Wealth

Financial Health And Wealth

As a business it is important that we focus on our financial health and find way to grow our long-term wealth. If we have not built up enough wealth one hiccup can tragically cause us to have to close our business. To grow our wealth, it is important to have a clear understanding of our current finances, understand some of the common trends that are occurring, and be able to respond flexibly when we face challenges.

 

Understanding Our Finances

On a basic level our finances include the difference between how much we own, and how much we owe to others. While we might think of this in terms of if we can pay our bills, it also means understanding if we have the money needed to respond when

something goes wrong. If we can always pay our bills but have no wealth saved up, a simple increase in the price of raw materials could put us out of business. 

No business wants to balance that close to the edge of uncertainty. Often the best way to understand our finances is to do regular audits. These audits might look like general financial audits or doing a FedEx audit to see if we can get a better contract with our shippers. The better we understand our own finances the better we will be able to plan for future wealth growing opportunities.

 

Using Financial Trends to Plan Ahead

There are several predictions around what is going to occur in 2022. For example, trends in payments suggest that more customers will be making payments on internet based devices such as smart home assistants or smart watches. In addition, trends suggest there will be a need to really be able to target customers based on their buying habits. We won’t be able to simply target everyone in a general demographic and still hope to succeed.

It is important to understand trends because it is easy to lose wealth investing in the wrong infrastructure for our business. We all know of businesses who jumped onto the internet early and thrived and businesses who struggled with changes and slowly faded away because they could no longer reach their customers. We also know of businesses who invested in technology but soon found the type of technology they had invested in was no longer relevant. These kinds of missteps can really impact our businesses financial health.

 

Importance of Being Flexible 

The businesses that can be the most flexible are the businesses that typically experience the most financial growth. There are a whole host of reasons why we need to be flexible if we want to succeed in the long term. We need to be flexible when we face supply chain issues. We also need to be flexible with how we engage with customers. If we can adapt to our customers, we can create stable long term revenue streams that we can depend on and use to create long term wealth.

For example, we may find that creating a subscription is a great way to increase sales.

Shifting to a subscription model has proven to be profitable for many of us and leads to more predictable revenues. One of the reasons such a model works so well is that customers get our products regularly and are automatically charged so we do not have to worry about them forgetting to buy our product or purchasing our product in a manner where it does not have time to get to them before they need to use it. 

We all would love to be able to grow the wealth of our business so that we can expand and reach even more customers. To do so it is vital that we understand our current financials and where we can make cost adjustments. We also must understand trends in wealth management and finances. Finally,we must be flexible so that we do not fall behind. 

Today more than ever before it is challenging to turn around a business if it starts to fall behind. If we hope to be a thriving business, it is important that we make sure to stay on

top of our finances. In addition, if we can build up our wealth, we can consider using some of that wealth to help support meaningful community programs that help others.

Asset Management
ArticlesFunds

Seven Critical Ways to Help Protect Your Financial Assets

Asset Management

Protecting your financial assets can mean many different things. It can mean that you want to keep as many of your assets as possible in the event of a divorce. Protecting assets could also mean ensuring that your assets go to the right place in the event of your death. But in this case, let’s talk about how to protect your financial assets in the here and now. There are hackers, identity thieves, and even people looking for opportunities to get some of your money. Here are the easiest ways to protect your financial assets in your everyday life.

 

Keep Your Address Up to Date

You’d be surprised at how much of a risk you’re at when you don’t keep your address up-to-date. While it can be a hassle to get all your addresses changed on your bank accounts and all your investments, it’s easier than ever before to do a change of address online after you move to a new location. If you don’t do this and your account information gets sent to an old address, you’re at risk of people stealing this information.

 

Don’t Give Your Information to Untrustworthy Individuals

It’s important to carefully vet your brokers, your bankers, and your accountant to ensure they are on the up and up. These people will have direct access to all your personal and financial information, which can open you up to getting completely liquidated if any of these people are not doing the right thing. It’s okay to interview multiple people before you decide on who will handle your accounts.

Even with the best research and interviews, you can still be at risk, so you may want to account for any possible scenario. Ask them questions about their cyber security and data security, as well. This will help you determine if there are any potential risks with their system.

 

Use Antivirus Software on all Your Devices

When you type in your login information or account information into a computer that’s been compromised with viruses and malware, you’re putting your finances at risk. Hackers can record keystrokes and use that information to log in to your accounts and liquidate your assets. Antivirus software protects you from getting your systems bogged down with viruses and other malware. These sneaky hackers get in through emails, unsecured websites, and even through your wireless connections. Using anti-virus is one barrier you can put in place to protect your assets.

 

Get Liability Insurance

Are you a homeowner or rental property owner? Do you own a business with a physical location? Then having liability insurance is critical. If someone gets hurt on your property or your property harms another, you want insurance to cover everything. Without the right amount of insurance, you’re at risk of litigation that could impact your wealth and finances for decades to come. And if you own rental properties, liability insurance will help you protect your assets if any of your tenants get injured on the property.

 

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

One of the risks in investing and keeping your money in bank accounts is that if a breach occurs, or something else ever happens to that company, all your assets are at risk. It’s best to have more than one account at different places to ensure your money is spread out and diversified. Not only should your investment portfolio include more than just stocks at Target, but it should also include accounts in more than one banking institution. In the event of any breach or catastrophic loss, you would still have assets in other places.

 

Have Both a Will and Living Will in Place

Another thing to think about when it comes to your assets and financial future is who will inherit it if you die or have control of it if you are temporarily incapacitated. By considering these things while you are healthy and in your right mind, you can be sure that all your assets go to the right people — or are used in the right ways while you’re not in control. Additionally, it ensures that your wealth doesn’t get liquidated unless you give explicit consent.

 

Are Your Assets Safe?

Protecting your financial assets while you’re alive is important if you want to maintain your wealth. Not only can it keep your money safe, but it can also protect you from other types of financial fraud. You might not think you’re at risk, but with the right safeguards in place, you can help keep your financial assets protected in all ways. 

Transactions
ArticlesFinance

Accepting More Good Transactions: 6 Steps to Prevent False Declines

Transactions

Listen to this and tell me if it sounds familiar: a customer is browsing your online shop, and they’ve decided to buy one of your products. It’s unsurprising; you’ve worked hard across your business to get them to this far — great products, good marketing, and fantastic shopping experiences are no happy accidents. Finally, they type out all their payment, delivery, and personal details, and hit that all-important complete purchase button.

But the payment fails. It hasn’t been authorised. Has it happened to you before?

It’s a more common (and frustrating) problem than you may think. 15 per cent of recurring credit card payments decline, according to Visa and Mastercard. Some industries exceed the 30 per cent mark. Neither you nor your customer can understand why it’s happened; their details are correct and they have credit, why wouldn’t it work? All you’re given is a message such as ‘do not honour’ — there’s really no further action you can take.

Ultimately, your customer walks away disappointed and unlikely to return. Not only have you just lost a sale, but you may have lost a lifetime customer.

The cause of declining a genuine customer is named as a false decline. It’s neither your own nor your customer’s fault, but these types of declines cost UK businesses upwards of £1.6 billion in revenue.

Fortunately, there are six simple solutions to accepting more good transactions and preventing those pesky false declines that are hurting your business. Here, we explore how online payments work and how you can boost your business.

 

1. Provide more data

Issuers authorise or decline payments based on evidence. Providing more merchant-side data to issuer banks and payment companies allows them to better assess the risk of each transaction and determine if they are legitimate.

According to large issuers such as Capital One and Amex, submitting additional data from the merchant-side leads to a one to three per cent increase in authorisation rates and significantly reduces false declines.

This can be achieved with Transaction Risk Analysis (TRA) tools, where fraudulent orders can be filtered out and good orders (enriched with data from the merchant checkout) are sent to the issuer for approval.

 

2. Use quality fraud tools

Managing your fraud rate begins by using your own tools. And there are multiple benefits to using them. Not only will merchants lose less revenue through illegitimate orders and increase confidence in their processes, but they can also help build a reputation with the financial institutions.

Retailers that use machine learning and artificial intelligence to send cleaner traffic to banks reinforce the idea that their orders are more likely to be legitimate. The reverse happens to those who don’t manage their fraud – sending higher rates of fraudulent orders to banks gives the merchant a bad reputation, and bad orders become an expectation. We shouldn’t need to ask which reputation you want to achieve.

 

3. Authenticate payments when required

The way that payments are authorised is changing, particularly for those in the EU and the UK. This is thanks to the introduction of the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and Strong Customer Authentication (SCA). It requires customers to prove their identity at checkout to authenticate payments.

The new regulation steps up all orders, considering them as high risk unless they are exempt or excluded from the new authentication requirements. Merchants can ensure there’s less friction at the checkout through intelligent SCA exemptions and exclusions management.

These systems allow customers to have an easier checkout experience with less friction, meaning more orders for your store. Combined with quality fraud protection solutions, your business can build a record of clean transactions. Objectively, banks should become less conservative in authorising payments. High authorisation rates can spiral into even higher authorisation rates. It’s a good cycle to get into.

 

4. Accept digital wallets

You should be discerning when selecting a payment service provider. For instance, be sure you’re able to accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other digital wallets. Why? Because they require two-factor authentication to complete their purchases. Not only does this create more merchant-side data, but it’s also more likely to pass through fraud filters.

 

5. Enable card account updater

Many payment processors can automatically update your customer’s saved card details if they expire or are renewed. This stops any awkward declines that may require returning customers to enter new information that would add additional touchpoints to your checkout. Check with your processor and find out if they offer an account updater and that it’s updated.

 

6. Payment routing

Use payment routing solutions to analyse your particular payment ecosystem. It uses historical data to determine the transaction route which is most likely to result in a successful authorisation. Customer payment preferences and behaviours are different all around the world, so this is especially useful if you cater to an international market.

 

 

Merchants should carefully consider their authorisation optimisation strategy. It can make a real difference to your everyday conversions. Better authorisation processes don’t just benefit your business, it creates better experiences for your customers and incentivises future visits to your ecommerce store.

ArticlesFunds

Who Is Eligible for Pre-settlement Funding?

When the negligence of another party causes painful and disabling injuries, the lawsuit and negotiations to get the compensation you need and deserve take time. Staying home from work to recover from your injuries takes a financial toll as you try to find a way to pay medical bills and living expenses while waiting for a settlement.

 Pre-settlement funding provides an immediate solution to your cash-flow challenges. A funding company gives a cash advance against the anticipated settlement of your personal injury case that can be used to relieve some of the financial pressures. There are, however, eligibility requirements to meet in order to receive funding.

 

What is pre-settlement funding?

A cash advance made by a funding company based on its evaluation of the value of your personal injury lawsuit and the likelihood of a settlement or judgment in your favor goes by many names, including:

  • Pre-settlement funding

  • Lawsuit funding

  • Pre-settlement loan

  • Lawsuit cash advance

  • Lawsuit loan

  • Litigation financing

These and other names describe the same product, which is an offer of a cash payment representing a portion of what a funding company believes your lawsuit settlement or judgment to be worth. The money advanced plus the fees charged by the company are repaid from the proceeds of the judgment or settlement.

Unlike bank loans that are based on your creditworthiness and ability to repay the debt, pre-settlement funding entirely relies on the funding company’s evaluation of the lawsuit. Your income or ability to repay the money advanced is not a factor in determining whether you are eligible for pre-settlement funding.

The advance and fees are repaid from the settlement or judgment from the lawsuit. If you lose the case, the lender absorbs the loss. The typical pre-settlement funding arrangement does not impose on you any personal obligation to repay the money.

 

How do lenders determine eligibility for pre-settlement funding?

Each company that offers to advance money against the outcome of your lawsuit has the ability to set its own eligibility requirements as a result of limited government regulation of the industry. Some of the most frequently encountered eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Existence of a lawsuit: You may apply for a cash advance at any stage of the case, but a lawsuit must be pending in court at the time you submit it.

  • You must have a lawyer handling the lawsuit: Funding companies obtain the information needed to evaluate your case from the lawyer representing you.

  • Type of case: Personal injury cases and other types of lawsuits likely to end in a judgment or settlement awarding money to the plaintiff. For example, a lawsuit seeking an injunction or other type of non-monetary relief would not qualify for funding.

Underwriters for the funding company look at the extent of your injuries and the evidence proving that the other party was at fault to evaluate the value of the claim and the likelihood of the lawsuit ending in a settlement or judgment in your favor.

 

Learning more about pre-settlement funding

Get advice from your personal injury lawyer about whether a cash advance against the outcome of your lawsuit would be a good option for resolving current financial challenges. If it is, compare the rates and terms offered by different pre-settlement funding companies before submitting an application.

Finance Planning
ArticlesFinance

3 Times to Spend Money to Make Money as an Entrepreneur

Finance Planning

As a small business owner, it is obvious that your main goal is to make, and save, as much money as possible. Even though, especially in the early years, every penny spent can feel like it is going to be the one that shuts you down, that is not always the case. In fact, in some cases you need to spend money to make money. If you are confident enough in your plan and process to be able to analyze data, look at the numbers, and trust long term projections, you can begin to understand why, in business, sometimes tightening up the purse strings is holding you back.

 

To Modernize Software Solutions

In today’s world, you just cannot get away with some of the primitive business practices that you used to be able to, and still experience growth and prosperity. You might be able to hold steady, or see a slight uptick, but if you want to increase your opportunity for profit and sustainability you need to invest in modern software solutions that best suit your needs. In spite of the fact that technology can be stressful to some, it exists to alleviate that stress, so after the initial period of adjustment and some inevitable growing pains you are likely to wonder why you waited so long in the first place.

Logistics companies understand this all too well. Being able to do things like track vehicles and monitor maintenance issues with human power feels like a pipe dream as consumerism shifts to mostly online entities and the demand for high performing logistics companies increases. Proper software is a way to increase efficiency while reducing costs, in spite of the upfront spending to purchase and implement the program into your business. You can utilize a guide on fuel management systems and how they can increase efficiency and reduce costs, which is something that even the savviest data analyst would struggle to do by hand.

 

To Accelerate Growth

Online businesses especially understand that sometimes you need to spend a little to make a lot, if you want to grow. Starting out from your laptop at your kitchen table can only take you so far. While this is of course how some of the most successful businesses started, allow yourself to think ahead to where they are now, and how you can get yourself there.

If you are growing a retail business, your delivery system is critical in this quest. It can be a delicate balance to determine how and when to spend money in expansion efforts. If you expand too much too soon and the demand for your product does not follow, your overhead will be too high, but if you hold back for too long and your demand significantly exceeds your businesses capabilities then you risk losing customer to competitors who are better equipped to handle the volume. Find a pace that feels just outside your financial comfort zone, enough that it makes a difference but not so much that you’ve put all your eggs into one basket so to speak.

 

To Build the Right Team

Any successful business owner will tell you, it does not matter how smart you are, how good your idea is, how hard you personally work, if you do not have the right team in place to carry out your vision, it’s not going to happen. Your employees are on the ground level, the ones who are championing for your dreams all day every day, and sometimes you have to make significant investments to secure the right people. Money is one of the biggest ways to incentivize employees to do a good job, so that of course is an expense, but what about the other parts of a company culture that can make or break how they feel about how hard they work?

In this example you do not always need to spend thousands and thousands of dollars, but it is essential that you allocate some of your business budget towards employee morale and retention. These efforts can range from investing in desks that convert from sitting to standing, to show that you genuinely care about their health and wellness to randomly gifting gift cards for things like coffee, or meal delivery services, to make their workday experience a little more exciting.

Payment Trends
ArticlesFinance

2022 Predictions in Payments and Fintech

Payment Trends

John Lunn, Founder and CEO of Gr4vy 2022 Predictions

2022 is fast approaching, and with it comes resolutions and predictions for the year ahead. It bodes the question: what may the new year bring? Will Open Banking continue to dominate, and what technology will rise to the top?

 

1. The Rise of Tokenization

Data security will continue to be a struggle for the payments and fintech industries. As a result, we’ll see the further rise of tokenization and tokens to replace sensitive data with a non-sensitive digital equivalent to keep consumer data secure. 

Companies like Visa, Mastercard and Amex will continue to utilize tokenization as a means to protect credit card information. There are also rumors of interchange rate savings for banks, but there could be savings for those who start to use Visa and Mastercards network tokenization products. 

However, it won’t be a one size fits all proposition. Payment orchestration platforms that allow for tokenization and are PCI compliant will be crucial. Retailers and merchants will use these platforms to circumvent having to tokenize through just one payment service provider. Instead, they will opt for payment orchestration platforms that allow them to tokenize in many different places and provide a better user experience. 

 

2. Open Banking will Accelerate in 2022

Interchange rates will increase in 2022. As a result, merchants will face higher costs to accept credit card payments. We’re already seeing interchange rates affect the fintech and payments industry with news of Amazon no longer accepting Visa cards in Britain. 

Before with Open Banking, there was a problem with the user experience, but now the technology and companies offering it have caught up. Payment orchestration platforms have also made it easy to implement and provide open banking options at checkout, so merchants have a strong reason to offer it as a payment option. 

To that end, Open Banking will continue to be a hot topic in the year ahead. And, for merchants, it will be more lucrative with no chargebacks while allowing customers to pay directly from a bank account. Open Banking will serve a whole population of underserved customers who may not have access to a credit card. And when combined with payment orchestration, it will provide a better retail checkout experience. 

 

3. Cloud Native Solutions will Help Retailers Stay Competitive

Digitalization or moving to the Cloud has accelerated during COVID-19, driven not only by the considerable growth in online shopping but also by the ability of in-house teams to run infrastructure when working from home. 

This shift toward cloud-hosted solutions and headless commerce will continue its momentum. When you couple this with the massive skill gap developing due to the lack of cloud engineers, you see the increasing need for no-code solutions that are cloud native. 

2022 will be the year of headless commerce backed by no/low code backends that will allow today’s retailers to scale and innovate at the speed they need to in order to remain competitive.   

 

4. Alternative Payment Types will Gain Prominence in 2022

2022 will be the year Bank to Bank Payments, Wallets and other payment types rise to prominence. Credit cards’ share of checkout will continue to decline at an accelerating pace driven by increases in interchange rates, as well as consumer preference with millennial and GenZ consumers. 

 

5. Payments Are Getting More Complicated – It’s Time Retailers Take Note

A big trend in 2022 will be around embedded banking or embedded finance. For example, being able to embed credit card applications and creating checking accounts within other people’s apps.  

Consumers, however, are expecting more, and everything is getting more complicated. It used to be that merchants could offer just one or two payment methods at checkout, such as credit card payments. With the rise of ACH payments, wallets, Buy Now Pay Later, and more, customers demand alternative ways to pay and greater flexibility. 

 

Retailers will need to shift in 2022 and offer various payment options and experiences at checkout. As a solution, I expect we’ll see payment orchestration take center stage with retailers adopting payment orchestration platforms that are no-to-low low code to add new payment methods quickly. Alternatively, merchants will be able to utilize the ability to offer greater payment options at checkout as a marketing tool while also increasing customer loyalty by delivering customers the payment options they desire.

Articles

How to Get a Loan if You Don’t Have a Job in 2022

Every year, more people are faced with unemployment. While some workers are able to make ends meet by turning to temporary side jobs, others struggle to pay their bills or maintain a lifestyle that they can’t afford without a steady income.

If you’re currently unemployed, you might be wondering how to get a loan if you don’t have a job in 2022. This article shows you basic things on how to find an alternate source of income without coming up short on cash flow.

What Do Lenders Need To Approve A Loan?

Before we start discussing how to get a loan if you don’t have a job, it’s important that you understand the basic requirements to get approved for a loan. While these requirements can vary from lender to lender, there are some things that most financial institutions look for.
Strong Credit History
This is a must for any loan application, whether you are getting an auto loan, mortgage or personal loan. If you have bad credit, it will be even more difficult to get approved for a loan since lenders will want to ensure that they won’t be out all of their collateral if you fail to make payments. If your credit history isn’t the best, you should try other options to help you get approved.
Credit Score
Lenders will also look at your credit score while evaluating your application. This lets them know where you stand in terms of paying off your debts and how likely you are to miss payments or default on the loans altogether.

When it comes to getting a personal loan, a credit score is often times necessary. If you don’t have one, you might consider taking advantage of free credit monitoring services such as Credit Karma to help establish yours.
Regular Income
The lender will also want to see that you have the ability to make the loan payments on time, which means that they need to verify your income by checking tax returns and other documentation. If you don’t have any regular income coming in, there are options available for those who need loans during unemployment.

Can I Qualify For A Loan With Alternate Income?

It will be hard enough, but it is possible. While you might have your employer automatically deduct your paycheck, the lender isn’t going to want to take a chance on a potential default.

As mentioned before, if you don’t have any income to speak of but have a strong credit history, you could consider using one of the many guaranteed loans for unemployed available in order to get the money that you need while you’re looking for a job or otherwise unemployed.

What To Consider Before Taking Out A Loan While Unemployed

A lot of people who find themselves unemployed may be tempted to apply for a personal loan in order to make ends meet while they look for a new job. If you choose to do this, there are some things that you’ll want to consider first.
High-Interest Rates
The interest rates on personal loans are usually higher than payday loans, and some lenders will even charge you penalty fees for paying your loan off early. Before you apply, be sure to take into account any extra charges that could result in a final payment that is much more expensive than what you’d expected.
Know The Interest Rate
Before you take out the loan, it’s essential that you know the interest rate associated with it. If you don’t, the loan could end up being more expensive than intended, which will only worsen your situation in the foreseeable future. If you have any questions regarding interest rates and more, simply contact your lender or check their website for more information.
Terms And Conditions
As with any loan, you need to satisfy specific terms and conditions before your application can be approved. For example, most personal loans require a minimum credit score in order to qualify for the lowest rates and an income of at least $1,000 per month to qualify for the highest rates.

Plus, you’ll also have to agree to stick to the terms of your loan, which may include a set repayment schedule that involves payments made automatically by either the lender or your employer.

Where To Get A Personal Loan For Unemployed

One of the most common places for someone who needs a personal loan during unemployment is their local bank or credit union. However, if you’ve already maxed out all of your lines of credit with them and still need a personal loan while unemployed, there are other options available. As mentioned earlier, there are other options available when it comes to getting approved for an online loan, such as The Guaranteed Loans.

The Bottom Line

Since the economy is still in a state of flux, there will likely be more people who find themselves unemployed in 2022 than we usually see in years past. Those who find themselves in these types of situations can take comfort in knowing that they have options available to them if they don’t already have a steady income. Just remember that no matter what you do, you have the opportunity to get a loan even if you don’t have a job.

Stock Trends
ArticlesCapital Markets (stocks and bonds)Markets

The Top Stocks to Watch Out For in 2022

Stock Trends

Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Research at Freedom Finance Europe  

 

The global economy is gradually rebounding back to its pre-pandemic state, but with 2022 just around the corner now is the time to be researching and identifying the stocks that are most likely to perform well in the coming year. Since the start of 2021, the S&P 500 Index is up another 21.3%, but while most industries are showing signs of recovery, there are many businesses that have started to deliver promising double-digit growth.

Trying to navigate the investment path and settle on which of these high-growth companies will yield the greatest return can often be a difficult task. With this in mind Freedom Finance Europe have outlined three of the top stocks to watch out for in 2022.

 

Meta Platforms (FB)

Facebook currently remains the largest social media group in the world, with more than two billion active users a month interacting with each other via its many apps. Facebook announced its third quarter results on 25 October, and for this reporting period, revenue rose 35% year-on-year to $29 billion. In addition, net profit was $9.2 billion. Facebook’s digital advertising business still continues to grow steadily, which is partly to do with the soaring demand from small businesses, retailers and entertainment venues such as restaurants. In addition, the meta-universe – a market expected to reach $280 billion by 2025 – represents explosive growth potential over the long term. The average target price is at $405 (about 21% upside).

 

Visa (V)

The opening of the global economy will have undoubtedly been a boom for the credit card company Visa as consumers began increasing their spending on travel, holidays and restaurants. However, even though there are now more competitors within the field, Visa still has a significant market share. Visa’s shares are relatively lagging, but this creates an attractive entry opportunity. The company is also taking steps to stay ahead of the curve by acquiring a number of smaller financial technology companies to help expand its presence in digital payments. There is also talks of Visa even experimenting with cryptocurrency payments. The average target price is at $275 (about 30% upside).

 

Alibaba (BABA)

Alibaba has an excellent business and a large market capitalisation. However, the biggest risk comes from Chinese regulators. The company currently has a market capitalisation of $457bn which is down more than 50% from its peak in the fourth quarter of 2020. This being said that doesn’t seem entirely reasonable, as nothing has fundamentally deteriorated at Alibaba. The Chinese government’s actions are difficult to predict, so Chinese derived companies may bear more risk. However, now, at these prices, this risk can be factored into the price, which looks very attractive, and if regulatory hurdles disappear next year, perhaps Alibaba shares will come back to life and continue to rise. The average target price is at $240 (about 97% upside).

Blockchain Tech
ArticlesMarkets

Blockchain Technology Delivers ‘Scalable Efficient CBDC’

Blockchain Tech
  • Eesti Pank and Guardtime research project confirms role for digital bill money systems in CBDC deployment

  • KSI Cash per transaction energy use is just 70 µWh (micro-Watt hours) compared to 0.1 Wh for Visa and 1 MWh for Bitcoin

 

Blockchain technology can play a key role in the development of Central Bank Digital Currency  CBDC) platforms worldwide, a joint research project by Estonian Central Bank Eesti Pank and leading European deep tech company Guardtime has found.

The study set out to investigate the technological and operational frontiers of blockchain technology and its use in the context of CBDCs using KSI Cash, a digital currency technology based on the KSI Blockchain.

Testing confirmed that digital bill-based money systems are linearly scalable and highly efficient delivering end-to-end payment times of 0.6 seconds based on speeds of up to two million bill transactions per second.

Crucially it delivered a much smaller carbon footprint and lower energy use than current instant payments platforms – per transaction energy was just 70 µWh (micro-Watt -hour), compared with 0.1 Wh (Watt hour) for Visa and 1 MWh (Megawatt hour) for Bitcoin (1 Megawatt hour is one trillion micro-Watt hours).

The summary report written by Rainer Olt and Tiit Meidla of Eesti Pank and Luukas Ilves and Jamie Steiner of Guardtime says:

“The CBDC platform we deployed proved to perform well. The system was tested at speeds of up to two million bill transactions per second, where it operated with faster transaction times, lower energy use, and a smaller carbon footprint than current instant payment platforms.”

Central Banks worldwide are considering the introduction of both retail and wholesale CBDCs with countries including China with the e-Yuan and the Bahamas with the Sand Dollar launching or making retail versions widely available. The European Central Bank had decided to proceed with more intense investigations into a retail digital Euro while the Bank of International Settlements says 86% of Central Banks are conducting research or pilot schemes.

Eesti Pank and Guardtime’s research demonstrated its CBDC platform can integrate with existing e-ID schemes, making Know Your Customer checks easier and onboarding users into the system. Privacy preserving architectures can be made compatible with analytics needed for anti-money laundering monitoring.

Digital bills provide the privacy and programmability benefits of tokens but can also be held in account-like wallets, while the custodial layer used in the test enabled compatibility with conventional payment infrastructures.

KSI Cash’s security model delivers cryptographic verifiability of system operations without compromising privacy and the system proved to be resilient and resistant to insider and

outsider attacks. It also provides resistance to quantum attacks.

The project measured resource load during testing and an indirect assessment of the carbon

footprint of the system showed emissions of 32 tonnes of CO 2 per year, assuming a 14kW

power requirement.

Energy needs of one bill payment were estimated at 0.000000070 kWh (70 microwatt-hours) which is equivalent to 0.000016 g of CO 2 (16 micrograms). The table below shows the comparable figures for Visa and major cryptocurrencies.

 

Table: Comparison of per transaction energy use (given in Wh per transaction. 1 MWh = 1,000,000,000,000 µWh)

 

Bitcoin

Ethereum

Visa

Algorand

KSI Cash

1 MWh

170kWh

0.1Wh

36 mWh

7 μWh

 

Women in Business
ArticlesBanking

Metro Bank Reveals How the Pandemic Has Made the Loan Process More Accessible for Women

Women in Business
  • Lack of funding, mentoring & child care key issues for women in business

  • Metro Bank reveals how the pandemic has made the loan process more accessible for women

  • Metro Bank’s Investing in Women Code helping to transform women’s businesses

 

The Government wants to increase the number of female entrepreneurs in the UK by 50 percent by 2030 – the equivalent to nearly 600,000 businesses led by women. This target followed the 2019 Review of Female Entrepreneurship which reported on the barriers faced by women starting and growing businesses in the UK.

The three key barriers to growth were identified as women being unaware of funding available; a need for more local mentoring and networking and greater family care support.

The UK’s community bank, Metro Bank, has a dedicated team tackling funding, mentoring and networking for female business leaders.  The team is reviewing all aspects of the Bank’s products and services to make them more accessible to women across a range of backgrounds.  Drawn from colleagues across the business, the team has also worked with external bodies to ensure they are maximising the opportunities for women in business and encouraging start-ups to get off the ground.

“We know from industry research that not only are fewer businesses led by women​, but also female-led businesses receive less funding at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey and are less likely to scale up in size and turnover,” explains Kerry Reynolds, head of Metro Bank’s investing in women committee.  “We are specifically trying to address these issues by targeting female-led industries and providing more opportunities for women to build businesses skills and increasing our business networking events to help women meet advisors and find mentors.

Metro Bank is working to ensure colleagues have a greater awareness of the issues that women running businesses face including running education events led by female business owners and presentations from external bodies like UK Finance.  Ironically the pandemic also helped.

As Kerry Reynolds explains; “We quickly realised that by being forced to short circuit the loan process when we supported the Government’s pandemic Bounce Back Loan scheme – women found using our 24/7 portal more convenient, less formal and scary. We are now looking to offer this short circuited process going forward, cutting our reliance on the more formal face to face meetings and presentations of old.”

Each Metro Bank store has a dedicated local business manager to support all local businesses and start-ups in its community.  The business managers give practical support for business customers – be that the complementary use of an office in the store to conduct business meetings or advice on the business. Lisa started Daisy’s Dog Empawrium selling accessories for dogs. When the pandemic hit, her Metro Bank local business manager, Kelly helped Lisa get funding to switch her business model to online and she hasn’t looked back since.

Raising money for growth is a key issue facing lots of business owners.  Metro Bank offers an invoice finance lending facility – literally as a company raises an invoice they can borrow against it, before the invoice has been paid.  This proved to be the perfect solution for Debi Scott based near Exeter.  Debi was experienced as a logistics recruiter and in 2012 bought part of a franchise from Driver Hire which helps businesses find the help they need.  Debi soon realised she would be infinitely more profitable if she owned the whole franchise, but as a single person with sole responsibility for her mortgage, was not keen to take on any more traditional debt.  Debi approached a number of banks, but found Metro Bank the most innovative and responsive.  “By borrowing against the invoices I raise, my business presents a more diverse, less risky portfolio and invoice finance lending also circumvents gaps in cash flow helping me to keep the business on a more even keel.”

An established publican based in Liverpool, Fiona Hornsby decided to launch a new pub right in the middle of a pandemic at the end of 2020.  “Not an ideal time to launch a pub I grant you, but the site came up and it was too good an opportunity to miss.  Metro Bank has always been very supportive and whilst I managed to fund the purchase without taking on any more debt with the bank, I knew their continued support would make growing the business easier as I have an excellent working relationship with their local business manager.”

Metro Bank business customers also receive free membership to Enterprise Nation. Enterprise Nation provides access to its 100,000 members with networking advice and support through blogs, webinars, business news and services. Blogs include advice on everything from how to impress a lender, how to successfully speak in public to the five tax mistakes to avoid as a company director. A full calendar of webinars includes everything from how to start up a business with no start-up funds to pricing your products and services.

Articles

Why Successful Companies Invest in a Global Mobility Program

Successful companies like Vodafone, Johnson & Johnson, and HSBC have all adopted global mobility programs. Indeed, the use of global mobility has contributed to the success of those companies.

In this modern 21st century world, businesses from all kinds of sectors are starting to see the benefits of global mobility programs and are following the likes of Vodafone.

Let us take a closer look at why successful companies are investing in global mobility.

What exactly is global mobility?Header text goes here

Are you wondering: what is global mobility? Well, the term refers to the process of physically moving employees around the globe.

Companies of all sizes are beginning to move their workers to different countries for numerous beneficial reasons.

After exploring the following reasons for why successful businesses are embracing global mobility programs, you are sure to want to consider adopting a program for your company.

Attaining Top Talent

Keeping top talent can be challenging for companies these days.

More and more businesses are introducing innovative benefits and incentives to attract and attain the best employees.

With more competition between companies than ever before, one way in which businesses can attract and attain talent with the ideal skills, qualifications, and attributes, is to provide travel opportunities.

Young talent is especially hard to find and young professionals are wanting to travel more than previous generations.

Therefore, when companies offer top talent positions in other countries, those employees remain happy in their work and are much more likely to be loyal to the companies they work for.

Putting Talent in the Best Place

Happy employees equal productive and loyal employees. So, companies benefit from moving top talent around through global mobility programs as much as the employees benefit.

The number one way in which global mobility is beneficial to companies is being able to place the best people in the right positions.

Putting talent in the best place is of course something every business should do, but when companies extend the practice to global locations, they can ensure all their worldwide operations run smoothly and efficiently.

Accessing a Larger Pool of Talent

Global mobility programs are not only about placing your home-soil workers in other countries. It is also about moving around professionals from other countries.

With a solid global mobility program, companies can access a global, diverse workforce, meaning they have access to a much larger pool of talent.

Speeding Up the Time it Takes to Launch New Products

Companies that create and sell products need to get to market quickly to ensure they remain a step ahead of their competitors. To achieve that, businesses need to deploy their talent quickly into new and existing markets.

By having a global mobility program already in place, companies can speed up how quickly employees are sent from one location to another.

In turn, that means the businesses can enter new markets first, build the market share, and expand their global brand.

Creating Consistent Company Values Throughout the World

To create a successful global brand, a company needs to be consistent in its operations and values in every country.

By placing the right talent in the best places, companies can ensure that their brands are consistent in every way.

Furthermore, when companies have strong values, it attracts the best talent. Company values are especially important to young professionals. Bland and faceless corporations have become outdated.

So, maintaining consistent company values around the world is very important, and having a global mobility program in place can ensure those values are upheld.

Christmas Shopping
ArticlesFinance

5 Things Shoppers Need to Know When Using Klarna for Their Christmas Shopping

Christmas Shopping


The Buy Now Pay Later sector has grown rapidly in the last year with millions of people across the UK using firms such as Klarna and Clearpay to spread the cost of their online shopping. While they can be a useful tool for those who want to manage payments, they can form a very slippery slope for those who don’t fully understand what they’re getting into.

Although it has been in talks for the last few months, the sector still remains unregulated so consumers have little protection when compared to regulated products such as credit cards and overdrafts.

Holly Andrews, Managing Director at KIS Finance and personal finance expert, outlines five things that shoppers need to know about the UK’s biggest BNPL service, Klarna, while using it for Christmas shopping this year.

 

You will pay interest with their financing option

There are different payment options when it comes to using Klarna, and it’s very important to fully understand which method you’re using and the implications of doing so.

Klarna will often be advertised as interest-free, which is true if you use their ‘pay in 30 days’ option. This is a form of invoice which gives you 30 days to pay off the full balance, and for this you won’t be charged any interest or fees. This is also true of their ‘instalments’ option which allows you to pay in 3 equal instalments over 60 days.

However, if you use their financing option to pay in monthly instalments, then you will be charged interest on this. If you are eligible for this option, you can pay for your shopping in equal instalments over 6 to 36 months, and you will be charged a maximum APR of 18.9%.

Before you purchase anything using Klarna, you must read the terms and conditions so you know exactly what you’re getting into. Make sure you also take the interest into account when you’re calculating how much you can afford to borrow and pay back.

 

It can affect your credit score

If you use either Klarna’s ‘pay in 30 days’ or ‘instalments’ option, only a soft credit check will be carried out. This will not affect your credit score and other lenders will not be able to see this on your report. Klarna says that your credit score will not be affected even if you fail to pay within the specified timeframe.

However, using Klarna’s financing option will mean that a full credit check will be undertaken. This can affect your credit score as it will be classed as a ‘hard search’ and other lenders will be able to see this on your report when you make future credit applications. Your credit score may also be negatively affected if you fail to keep up with the monthly payments.
Again, make sure you read the terms and conditions so you know the full implications of which option you’re taking out.

 

Debt collectors can be called

Whichever payment option you use, debt collectors can be called upon if you repeatedly fail to pay under the specified payment terms.

Klarna says that they will do everything they can to avoid this. They will send you multiple reminders about your payments and they will do what they can to find an alternative payment arrangement. But if you ignore their reminders and the debt remains unpaid after several months then this will be passed to a debt collection agency.

You must remember that when you use a BNPL service, you are entering into a legally binding credit agreement. If you do not take it seriously and continue to let your debt build up then there can be very damaging consequences, including affecting your ability to obtain a mortgage in the future.

 

You may be charged fees for using a credit card with BNPL

Some users have been charged fees by their bank when using a credit card with Klarna’s ‘instalments’ option. Tesco Bank, Halifax, and Bank of Scotland have been named specifically for doing this.

This is likely because the bank is classing the Klarna transaction as a cash advance, and therefore applying cash advance fees. This is because you’re not paying the retailer directly.

This fee is not charged by Klarna and they are unable to prevent it, so it’s important that you watch out for this and change the card that you’re using if you are charged fees.

 

What to do if something is wrong with your order

If you receive a product that you didn’t order, or a product that is faulty or broken then you can pause your Klarna instalments. You need to sort the issue with the retailer, but you also need to let Klarna know that there has been a problem. You can do this on the Klarna app.

By doing this, your payment plan will be paused until you resolve the issue with the retailer, and then they will inform Klarna if any refunds need to be made.
If you are unable to resolve the issue with the retailer directly, then you can provide the information to Klarna who will then investigate further. This can take 30 to 50 days before a decision is reached.

Net Worth
ArticlesWealth Management

Why Is It Important to Know Your Own Net Worth?

Net Worth


For most people, figuring out their net worth doesn’t seem particularly essential. As long as you know you can afford your bills, you might not be too worried about how much you’re deemed to be worth from a financial planning perspective. However, the reality is that knowing your net worth could be more important than you realize.

More than just a descriptor of what you have in your wallet and your bank account, your net worth refers to the amount by which your assets exceed any liabilities you have. In other words, it’s the difference between how much you own, and how much you owe. If your assets are more valuable than your liabilities, this means you have a positive net worth. Alternatively, if you owe more than you have in assets, your net worth is negative. This can be more common than most people realize.

 

What Does Net Worth Actually Tell You?

Calculating your net worth isn’t just about seeing how much debt you’re in or making yourself feel bad about your current financial situation. Rather, your net worth gives you an overview of your financial situation at any point in time. If you calculate your net worth now, you’ll be able to see the full result of what you’ve earned and spent until now.

Sometimes, the figure you get when you calculate your net worth is a shock, and this could mean you need to take note of your current budget and figure out how you’re going to improve your financial standing going forward. Alternatively, if you’re doing well, you might find that you can confidently continue living in a way similar to what you know now. When you calculate it on a regular basis, your net worth can essentially be seen as a financial report card which allows you to check how you’re doing from a financial perspective.

 

What Are Assets and Liabilities

To calculate your own net worth, you’ll need to consider the full value of your liabilities, or your loans, and what you owe, and the full value of the things you have. For a lot of people, assets can be difficult to define. For instance, if you found yourself in a difficult financial situation and you needed to access money fast, would you be able to figure out where you can look for money?

While some people will immediately consider things like bank accounts, investments, and brokerage accounts as assets, there are other things to consider too. You can check out a full guide here on how to choose the right life settlement company for selling your life insurance. If you’ve already paid a significant amount of cash into your life insurance policy, then that policy is an asset to utilize that also contributes to your net worth.

Your liabilities, on the other hand, can fluctuate, including everything you owe money on. This includes both ‘good debt’ like mortgages, and other loans, like personal lending, credit cards, loans for your vehicles, and so on. Sometimes it can take a lot of time and effort to understand your entire net worth completely. Remember, even your student loans are included.

 

Knowing Makes You More Mindful

Although calculating your net worth can take some time and effort, it’s actually quite valuable in the eyes of most financial advisors. Regardless of what your financial situation looks like now, knowing your net worth can help you to build wealth throughout your life, plan for your future, and improve your standing long-term. Ultimately, as you get older, and pay off more of the liabilities connected to your name, the value of your net worth should grow. The most important thing to remember is knowing where you stand financially should help you to become more mindful of your spending, so you’re better prepared to make sound decisions with your finances.

Once you know your net worth, if it’s negative, your aim should be to get rid of your loans as quickly as possible. A negative net worth doesn’t mean you need to buy more valuable assets. Rather, you should look to get out of debt as soon as you can, so your assets begin to outweigh what you owe. If your net worth is positive, you can begin to think about other ways of continuing that growth trajectory in a positive way. Either way, this could mean you decide to talk to a financial advisor.

Investment Increase
ArticlesFinance

Hidden Costs When Investing and How Not to Get Hit

Investment Increase


By Annie Charalambous, Head of Communications at
ETX Capital

According to recent figures, Brits plan to increase their investments by almost a fifth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – with Gen-Z traders most keen to jump on the markets.

But are those looking to boost their profits paying over the odds without realising? A recent study claims UK investors often pay up to six times more in fees than advertised, costing some traders up to tens of thousands of pounds long-term.

ETX Capital is committed to shining a light on common hidden fees that can trip up new traders. Here’s how you can avoid feeling the pinch.

 

Taxing times

New traders are often unaware that profits made on their stocks and shares are subject to tax, in the same way they pay tax on salary earnings.

If your investment earnings are over £12,300 in a single year, you will have to pay Capital Gains Tax. This will either be 10 or 20 percent, depending on your annual income tax band.

However, married couples can ‘pool’ their tax-free allowance – meaning they can collectively earn up to £24,600 in trading profits each year without contributing Capital Gains Tax.

Some alternative savings vehicles also offer a larger tax-free allowance. For example, you can stash up to £20,000 each year in an ISA and earn interest on your cash.

For those looking to diversify their portfolio, many gold and silver coins are also exempt from Capital Gains Tax as they are technically legal British currency.

 

Commission costs

As with any commercial service, fund managers and platform providers that help traders set up and manage their investments will charge fees for their service.

However, the size of these costs can catch out unsuspecting investors. According to research, commission costs average 1.03 percent in the UK – around double the equivalent fees in the US.

While these costs are unavoidable for those who need support managing their investment funds, it is possible to reduce them. Research investment platforms and fund managers to ensure you find the most cost-effective commissions for your assets.

Alternatively, you may be able to avoid commission if you have the knowledge of the markets and are comfortable with the risk. If so, there are plenty of accessible platforms that will educate you on how to manage your stocks, forex, commodities and more. Although, keep in mind that you’ll likely have to pay fees to trade on these platforms.

 

Not that Stamp Duty

All stocks bought in the UK valued at £1,000 and over are subject to Stamp Duty Reserve Tax (SDRT). At 0.5 percent of the asset price, this can soon add up.

This tax is usually absorbed as part of a total fee charged by a fund manager. However, if you manage your own investments, you’ll need to submit details of your assets to the government in good time to skip late payment fines.

While SDRT marks a relatively small fee compared to the rewards on offer for successful investors, many may still wish to diversify their portfolios to avoid mounting tax bills. A common example is adding corporate bonds, which are exempt from SDRT.

 

Farewell feels

Many budding investors starting their trading journey simply aren’t thinking about what happens when you withdraw funds or transfer them to another platform. And for some, this means getting hit with unexpected ‘exit fees’.

These charges are typically written into the terms and conditions of an investment service and while many platforms and brokers have recently agreed to waive exit fees, there are still plenty leaving traders with a shock when the time comes to withdraw cash.

Exit fees are usually charged as a percentage fee of the withdrawn sum, which can represent a significant cost for longer-term investors.

It’s important to check for exit fees, which may also be referred to as ‘redemption fees’, before signing up for a platform or partnering with a fund manager. And those looking to escape these charges should look for providers that simply don’t apply them in the first place – or at least check the expiry date.