Month: June 2022

Articles

How Profitable are Bitcoin Mining Sites in 2022

Bitcoin mining was one of the most profitable investments you could make in the world of cryptocurrency. It still is, but things have changed for the Bitcoin mining sites, and things look a lot different now than they were just a few years ago. Mining costs have skyrocketed, and it’s no longer an option for small and mid-size investors. That’s why alternatives such as pool and cloud mining have arisen and are becoming more widely used.

Use Cloud Mining to Cut the Costs

The initial investment needed to start mining is too much for most investors, and that’s why Bitcoin mining sites found on Truely.com allow for cloud mining instead. These services enable the users to mine and use cryptocurrency coins without having their own equipment. Instead, the equipment is leased for a fee. This also means profits will be somewhat smaller since fees will take part of it. However, without the initial investment, you can start earning right away and make a profit as soon as you can withdraw the coins to your e-wallet.

The Market Value of Bitcoin

Over the years, there have been fluctuations in the market value of Bitcoin. That’s why investors should be careful if Bitcoin mining sites promise profit out of the investment. The chances are that it will be profitable, but those sites can’t affect the value for which Bitcoin can be sold after it’s mined. However, in the long run, the value of Bitcoin is on the rise. It has risen over the past years and is worth about as much as it once was. This means it can be a safe investment to buy and hold as you would with other long-term assets.

How Much You Can Make

This depends on many different features that you should take into account before investing. The most important of these is how much Bitcoin you can mine within a specific time frame. That’s what you’re paying cloud mining services to do, and the more you pay, the faster the process will be. It also depends on the market value of Bitcoin at the time you decide to sell them. This will change over time, and looking for market trends without getting spooked by them too quickly is essential.

Different Ways to Earn From Bitcoins

Another essential thing to consider is that now there are more ways to earn from Bitcoin than before. This is because the mainstream financial institutions now accept the cryptocurrency market, and the coins are commonly used as a payment method. It’s also possible to lend cryptocurrency as you would lend any other currency. Depending on your arrangement, this is done for interest that you can get in crypto or fiat money. There are also social media sites that pay for content engagement using crypto.

Selling Off Your Cloud Mining Contract

Sometimes, you can sell your cloud mining contract to another investor. For example, it’s possible to sell your arrangement with the Bitcoin mining sites alone or to send the coins you’ve mined so far. This means you can make payments in traditional funds or cryptocurrency, and someone else would continue using your crypto mining contract. Not all providers allow for this feature, but it’s important to look for. It can be used as a safety measure that you can activate in a pinch when you need to leave the mining behind.

Tax Considerations

One of the main reasons Bitcoin was so popular at first is because the profits made from it weren’t taxed since the governments were unprepared for the innovation. This is no longer the case, and Bitcoin is widely used. Unfortunately, that also means it’s taxed similarly to income from other investments. This isn’t a deal-breaker but means that the profits will become smaller than before. When you’re mining crypto coins, the chances are that the mining provider handles the tax and legal part of the process or at least it should be.

Should You Invest in Crypto in 2022?

There’s no answer to this question that would fit all the investors. However, when it comes to general trends, the investment is a good idea since cryptocurrencies are rising in the long run. Therefore, it can be used as a long-term investment to hold for a while. Cryptocurrencies are now widely accepted as a payment method and a smart investment. It’s also an opportunity for small and mid-size investors with cloud mining.

Open Banking Payments
ArticlesBanking

The People Power Behind Open Banking Payments

Open Banking Payments

By Jess Gerrow, VP Marketing, Token

Driven by two complementary, powerful forces – innovation and regulation – open banking is proving to be a seismic shift for payments across Europe.

Reach, cost, conversion, security and user experience – open banking-enabled account-to-account (A2A) payments outperform traditional payment methods in every respect.

It’s, therefore, no surprise that players across the payments value chain are now eagerly embracing them. According to Juniper Research, open banking payments will account for $87 billion of Europe’s transaction volume by 2026. Traditional payment methods, such as cards and cash, continue to lose share and are now projected to account for less than a third of global e-commerce transaction value within the same period.

 

A deep dive into the human element

But a third powerful force behind this explosive growth in open banking payments is often overlooked – and indeed is spoken and written about much less – and that’s people.

At the end of every A2A payment is a person. And in the world of payments, success ultimately depends on human factors, such as how consumers perceive and respond to risk, reward, cost and effort.

This is why we partnered with Open Banking Expo to deliver a data-driven look at the human element that will fuel open banking payments’ march to the mainstream. Earlier this year, we spoke to over 1,100 consumers in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland to tackle a question rarely addressed: who will pay by bank?

The resulting report presents the findings of our deep dive into current and potential users of open banking payments. It’s intended to debunk myths, bust misconceptions and highlight consumers’ appetite for A2A payments. It highlights the attitudes, preferences and behaviours shaping people’s financial and digital lives, and we hope it will help payment service providers and other ecosystem participants adapt to Europe’s changing payment landscape.

 

Here’s what we found

Nearly half (46%) of those surveyed had made an instant bank transfer in the three months preceding May 2022, with the figure as high as 67% in Germany.

And it appears the experience has generally been well received, with 81% of consumers likely to make another A2A payment in the future. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the UK’s status as an open banking pioneer, 85% of British consumers we spoke to will be embracing A2A payments moving forward.

In another clear sign of growing popularity, instant bank transfers now sit amongst the top five payment methods in each of the six countries we covered.

Our research revealed a wide, and growing, range of use cases. For example, in Germany and France, 55% of consumers use A2A payments to pay off loans or credit card debt, whilst 57% in the Netherlands prefer an instant bank transfer when covering subscriptions.

When it comes to buying a car, we found that instant bank payments are now preferred by over a quarter of consumers in all markets, and nearly half in Germany and Italy (47% and 45% respectively). A2A payments are also increasingly seen as a trusted method of sending money to friends and family, with 59% of people in the UK using them for this purpose and 51% in France.

While A2A payments are still associated more with online payments, with almost a third (31%) of Polish consumers using the payment method for e-commerce, we also see signs of adoption in physical stores as merchants integrate them with QR codes and other technology. Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents in the Netherlands said they are using A2A payments for in-store purchases.

 

So what’s next?

In nearly every purchase scenario we presented to European consumers — whether a one-off, high-value purchase like a car or paying off debt, friends or family — they preferred to pay with instant bank transfers over cards. This is huge news for the industry and suggests that the pendulum has swung towards open banking payments.

Who is paying by bank today, and who will be doing so tomorrow? We found the strongest A2A payment adoption rates were amongst consumers in Germany and the UK, particularly those aged 35 to 44. But the footprint is widening, with the greatest appetite for future A2A payments observed in Poland, France and the Netherlands.

People across Europe are becoming more familiar with the benefits of A2A payments, with 58% who have used them saying they were fast, 56% highlighting their ease of use, and 51% calling out their strong security element.

In terms of what would make consumers more likely to make a payment directly from their bank account instead of by card, 59% of those surveyed said an instant discount would attract them to an A2A payment, with 37% saying they would choose A2A payments over cards if they were offered the option to split payments.

As we roll towards the fifth year of open banking in Europe, these are the types of insights that participants in the payments value chain should be aware of as they seek to match their payment offerings to the evolving behaviour and appetites of consumers in Europe.

Articles

What does chartered mean in accounting

What does chartered mean in accounting?

Chartered accounting is a professional designation that is granted to accountants who have met stringent requirements. In order to become chartered, an accountant must complete a rigorous program of study and pass a series of exams. Chartered accountants are held to the highest standards in the profession, and they are trusted by businesses and individuals alike to provide accurate financial advice.

What is a chartered accountant?

A chartered accountant is a professional designation granted by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) to individuals who have met rigorous education and experience requirements. Chartered accountants are qualified to provide financial advice and services to businesses and individuals.

The chartered accountant designation is recognized around the world, and CICA member firms are located in countries across the globe.

Chartered accountants provide a wide range of services, including auditing, taxation, financial planning, and business advisory services. They also work in a variety of industries, such as public accounting firms, banks, and government organizations.

What chartered accountant does mean for your business?

When it comes to chartered accountants, it’s all about trust. A chartered accounting firm is one that has been authorized by a governing body, such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), to provide certain professional services.

This means that the firm has met certain standards and agrees to uphold a strict code of ethics. This is important for businesses because it instills confidence that the chartered accountant they’ve hired is competent and trustworthy.

A chartered accountant can provide a wide range of services, from auditing and assurance to tax advice and planning. They can also help with financial reporting, corporate finance, and risk management. Basically, if you need any sort of advice or guidance when it comes to your finances, a chartered accountant is the person to turn to.

How can a chartered accounting firm help your business grow and succeed?

Charted accounting firms are often seen as a sign of trust and credibility. They have a stamp of approval from a governing body that ensures high standards of education and professionalism are met. chartered accounting firms can provide your business with a range of services, including:

Financial statement preparationTax planning and complianceEntity formation and restructuringBusiness advisoryA chartered accounting firm can provide you with the peace of mind that your finances are being managed by experts. They can also help you save money on taxes and grow your business.

What are the benefits of working with a chartered accounting firm?

When it comes to accounting, there are many different options out there for businesses. You can work with a chartered accounting firm, a general accounting firm, or an in-house accountant. So, what are the benefits of working with a chartered accounting firm?

Expertise: A chartered accounting firm is staffed with experts in the field who can provide your business with the best possible advice.Up-to-date: chartered accounting firms are required to stay up to date on the latest changes in accounting standards and legislation. This means they can provide your business with the most accurate and up-to-date information.Wide range of services: chartered accounting firms offer a wide range of services, from bookkeeping and tax preparation to financial planning and advisory services. This means you can get all the accounting support your business needs from one place.

How can you find the right chartered accounting firm for your business needs?

When looking for a chartered accounting firm, you want to make sure that you are partnering with an organization that has a good reputation and is highly qualified. You can start your search by looking for firms that are members of the Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

Once you have a shortlist of chartered accounting firms, you can then begin to research their individual credentials. Make sure to check out their website and read through their client testimonials. It is also a good idea to contact the firm directly and speak with one of their representatives. This will give you a better sense of the firm’s culture and whether or not it would be a good fit for your business.

Summary.

Chartered accounting firms are professional organizations that have been granted chartered status by a governing body. This status allows them to provide certain services that are regulated by the government. Chartered accounting firms are often highly respected in the accounting industry and are considered to be some of the best providers of accounting services.

There are many benefits to working with a chartered accounting firm. Chartered accountants are highly trained and experienced professionals who can provide a wide range of services. They are also subject to strict regulations, which ensure that they provide high-quality services.

When choosing an accounting firm, it is important to make sure that it is chartered. This will ensure that you are working with a reputable and high-quality firm. If you are looking for chartered accounting firms in your area, you can use the internet to find a list of firms that are chartered by the government. You can also ask your friends or family for recommendations.

Managing Mortgages
ArticlesRegulation

How to Navigate the Housing Market Like a Pro

Managing Mortgages

Whether you’re looking for a house to buy or are out to sell your home, you need to navigate the market well to succeed. Most people prefer to sell or shop for houses during spring when it’s warm, green, and sunny. During this season, sellers can showcase their homes to potential buyers better.   

But besides appearance, most buyers pay attention to the selling price attached to homes. They contend with various challenges, including multiple bids, low home inventory, mortgage rates, and steep prices. Although there’s always hope for a balanced housing market, buyers can take specific steps to approach their search for a home confidently.   

If you’re looking to buy a home this year, these five strategies will help you navigate the housing market like a pro:   


1. Get Your Mortgage Pre-Approved  

Before searching for a house, get your mortgage pre-approved by your lender if you don’t plan to pay cash. A pre-approval means the lender has thoroughly investigated your finances and established your eligibility for the loan based on existing conditions.   

It places you at an advantage as most sellers want to deal with buyers who have taken such serious steps. A pre-approval also shows you are both able and serious about buying a house. In hot markets, most sellers turn down offers from buyers who don’t have pre-approval letters. Neglecting this step can cause you to miss out on the home you want. Thus, you can find a broker here if you need a pre-approved mortgage to buy your dream house.

 

2. Clarify Which Aspects Matter Most to You In a Home  

To navigate the housing market like a pro, you need to clarify which aspects matter most to you in a home. While a mortgage pre-approval presents you as a serious buyer, it also gives you an idea of how much you can afford to spend on a home. Having a solid budget allows you to determine the aspects that matter most to you in a home and the ones you can compromise.  


3. Get a Highly-Qualified Housing Agent 

The other thing you need to navigate the housing market like a pro is a qualified agent who has your best interests and understands the local market well. Getting a good real estate agent with in-depth knowledge of local communities and solid expertise offers you a huge advantage when buying a home.   

Such an agent brings reasonable sales prices and understands how fast homes sell in specific locations. You can benefit from their insights on zoning rules, neighborhoods, social amenities, and even schools in localities that you’re considering. While it’s possible to consult a listing agent when purchasing a house, getting a real estate agent allows you to come up with compelling offers in line with your needs.   

The agent can negotiate a good deal on your behalf while guiding you through the selling or buying process to avoid costly delays or mistakes. 

  

4. Support An Offer With a Big Deposit 

When buying a house during the peak season, you need to boost any offer with a considerable deposit. If you can get the funds, paying off a generous amount on the home you want causes sellers to perceive you more favorably. To them, a large deposit reflects goodwill and motivation to make the purchase. Generally, the deposit is applied to the down payment or loan closing costs.   

Withdrawing from the deal for reasons not provided in a contract contingency can mean forfeiture of the deposit to the seller. But this shouldn’t worry you if you have no plans of withdrawing from the deal. Moreover, you can recover the whole amount if it’s discovered that the property has problems or if you cannot obtain title insurance.   

 

5. Be Ready to Act Fast  

You’ll need to act fast to benefit from competitive offers in the housing market, particularly in the peak seasons of summer and spring. In most cases, homes sell within days during these seasons. Any viewing delays can cause you to miss out on great offers. You can benefit more if your agent prepares the way sellers want to avoid wasting time qualifying counter offers.   

 

Final Thoughts 

The housing market can be challenging to navigate, particularly when buying or selling a home for the first time. However, you don’t have to struggle and miss out on opportunities that peak real estate seasons bring. You can navigate the market like a pro by applying the five strategies discussed above.   

Financial Investment
ArticlesFunds

Tips to Help You Financially Prepare for Your Golden Years

Financial Investment

If there’s one goal that everyone shares, it’s definitely saving as much money as possible. In this day and age, money is used for pretty much anything ranging from the obvious necessary purchases to building up financial security. The latter is the most commonly sought-after goal, and for good reason. Having an adequate amount of financial security is how people remain stable even after the time comes for them to retire. Granted, maintaining financial security isn’t always the easiest thing to do for some people. But this is mainly not knowing how to effectively do it. There’s a lot more to financial security than simply saving money. In this article, we’ll be going over tips to help financially prepare for your golden years.

 

Put Your Money Towards an Investment

One of the best ways to start building financial security is to consider putting your money towards a lucrative investment. You might think that this will have the opposite effect of obtaining financial security as investments of any kind comes with their own risks. Risks, in investment terms, are the potential situation where you lose value in your assets or your money as a whole. In fact, you’d be surprised at how many people avoid investments because of risk alone. Although there’s nothing wrong with being cautious, investing your money doesn’t mean you’ll always be doomed to failure.

The truth of the matter is that you can keep risk at an all-time low by simply doing your research first. Many would-be investors end up failing solely because they weren’t prepared and didn’t understand what they were doing. You can start by choosing a method that appeals to you. This can be participating in the traditional stock market to investing into real estate. Both are solid investments to try as both can yield a considerable profit if done correctly.

 

Consider Selling Your Life Insurance Policy

At some point during your life, you might have purchased a life insurance policy. You bought it with the sole intention of ensuring your family had a prosperous life after your demise. However, what if we told you that death isn’t necessary for you and your beneficiaries to receive a payout. You can, instead, sell your life insurance policy through a life settlement. A life settlement is a financial process where you surrender the policy rights to a third-party buyer. The buyer can be either an individual person or an entire company. Regardless, they’ll pay you a lump sum of money that varies on the overall value of the policy.

The amount you get can be up to 30 percent, but it does vary on the life settlement company and buyer. Furthermore, if you’re trying to sell a term policy, you need to make sure it can be converted into a whole one. Term policies aren’t generally sold because there’s no value to them. But if it can be converted, you shouldn’t have a problem selling it. But since the life settlement sector is still new, you might have a harder time finding your way through the process. You can look up a guide that better explains how everything works for more information.

 

Budget Everything Out

Budgeting may already be something that you’re already accustomed to. However, you might not be budgeting extensively. A comprehensive budget is one of the most useful tools you can have in your life. It’s how you can maintain a solid grasp on your finances. In fact, knowing exactly how much you owe and what you can save every month is just another factor in having proper financial security. Go over your bank statements and see how much you’ve made. Then calculate how much you spend on your monthly expenses. This will give you insight into what you’re paying for each month. This also gives you the ability to cut out any unnecessary expenses that don’t belong there. You can cut your expenses by about 20 percent by getting rid of these types of expenses. If you are not a paper and pen or spreadsheet fan, there are financial apps that can help you stay on budget without much output or maintenance on your end.

 

Don’t Spend More Than You Need To

A very common reason why people don’t have enough money is because they often spend more money than they have to. Splurging is a common spending habit among many people. While it’s normal to want to buy what we want, it’s important to learn self-control. You’d be amazed at how self-control can help you save hundreds every month. The money you spend on little things, like a subscription, eating out or a trinket at the store can be put in your savings account.

Production Management
ArticlesRegulation

6 Ways AP & AR Automation Software Boosts Business Productivity

Production Management

Accounts payable and receivable automation tools facilitate easier AP and AR processes management through a robust platform. Automation software provides clear visibility and better control over data collection and financial processes.

Studies show that about 55% of businesses use manual processes to handle financial data. However, over 40% of SMEs plan to adopt AP automation solutions. Now is the best time to explore the numerous benefits of automation and determine whether it’s appropriate for your organization.

 

1. Shorter Processing Times

AP and AR automation technology helps your team to process invoices faster. In the absence of automation, invoice processing can take as long as two weeks since the team must confirm the figures and get the necessary signatures for approval. On the other hand, automated AP solutions cut the processing time to as short as one day.

Invoice processing involves multiple stages, and you can use tools like OCR to scan and index your invoices and minimize manual data entry. Since the filing system is digitized, you don’t have to rummage through piles of paper to find a specific invoice. Most importantly, cloud storage allows business managers and department heads to access invoices in real-time for a quick approval.

 

2. Minimizing Human Errors

Manual invoice processing and data entry create room for errors. Whether it’s document misfiling, loss, or payment mistakes, errors can occur at any stage, and the reasons may not be easy to eliminate. Typically, AP and AR errors can cost your company in various ways. Backtracking and error resolution often consumes a lot of time that could be used to perform essential tasks. Additionally, human errors can lead to duplicate payments, overpayments, or compromise your reputation.

Erroneous invoices can cause unnecessary frustrations to your finance team and hamper effective communication. It’s crucial to have a reliable tool that validates entries and pinpoints errors. The automated AP system can identify inconsistencies and facilitate seamless collaboration among stakeholders through unrestricted access to files.

 

3. Better Oversight and Transparency

Manual filing processes are hectic, time-consuming, and often make it impossible to get a complete picture of the entire process. It’s easy to think that sophisticated automation tools will obscure operations visibility. However, these systems increase visibility by offering real-time access to data.

AP automation software gives you a comprehensive view of payment cycles to enhance oversight. For instance, you can identify critical constraints like payment delays and monitor the individuals responsible for approvals. Most importantly, real-time reporting and detailed oversight accelerates payment cycles to ensure your vendors are paid on time. In addition, the footprints left by the automated process make it easy to identify and expose fraudulent transactions and ensure sustainable financial growth.

The increase in transparency facilitates data-driven decisions on various business issues, including when to pay suppliers and how to achieve optimum efficiency when scaling operations.

 

4. Enhanced Compliance Monitoring and Efficient Process Control

Legal and regulations compliance and establishing trackable audit trails are some of the reasons why accounting professionals and financial advisors are essential to any business. When you don’t have the appropriate systems and tools to control business processes, there is a high chance you’ll overlook vital details like PayPal fees.

Since companies face numerous fraud-related issues, it’s essential to have a system that limits the use of specific functions or flag and report inappropriate processes. Automatic AR and AP software creates transaction archives that help track invoices, processing stages, and authorization rules for better compliance with IRS regulations. In addition, modern invoice management solutions have superior integration capabilities meaning you can link the tools with your accounting software for better process control.

 

5. Better Workplace Collaboration

Improving the speed and visibility of your invoice processing with a digital solution ensures that all parties involved in various processing stages have access to necessary files and data. This feature facilitates real-time collaboration and efficient file sharing for seamless workflows. Since the tools have cloud capabilities, team members and stakeholders can access invoices to clarify, dispute, or approve the process regardless of their location.

Typically, smooth workflows and consistent progress mean team members are less likely to experience frustrations that come with constant disputes. Also, process automation minimizes manual data entry, meaning your workers have enough time to consult the relevant departments and log critical discussions to solve discrepancies without much strife. Ideally, breaking down collaboration barriers in your organization increases worker satisfaction and performance.

 

6. Customizing Business Processes

You can enhance the productivity of your accounting department by customizing the invoicing process to fit the workflow requirements of your business. Most invoice automation software allows custom configurations to focus on specific areas that improve productivity. This means you can establish a growth-oriented workplace culture using digital solutions that are tailored to suit your specific AP processes.

If you get invoices through different channels like fax and email, capturing the data using OCR technology for rapid compiling may be the best option to improve productivity. On the other hand, if your invoices follow a unique route for approvals, you can customize the automatic workflow to follow a channel that saves the most time.

Most importantly, you can personalize the tools to balance employee workloads. For instance, you can channel invoices to multiple employees and share responsibilities or onboard more team members to projects with strict deadlines.

 

Endnote

Manual handling of AP and AR is an intensive process that can leave your employees tired and frustrated, leading to numerous errors. Accounting departments realize these processes bring unnecessary burdens.

Automation eliminates most of the challenges of AP and AR processes, including human errors, processing time, and compliance to enhance productivity. As more finance departments adopt digital transformation, implementing AP and AR automation tools can give you a competitive edge.

Stormy Market
ArticlesMarkets

Dividend Aristocrats: A Safe Haven In a Stormy Market

Stormy Market

With the market continuing to take a turn for the worst, Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Advice at Freedom Finance Europe, explores three dividend aristocrats as a potential safe haven for investors wanting to see steady cash flow within a time of uncertainty.  

In times of market turbulence, one of the safest investments is in the so-called dividend aristocrats — companies that have consistently paid and raised dividends for more than 25 consecutive years. Today only 65 companies belong to this exclusive club. Although many dividend aristocrats are not high-yield investments, they provide their shareholders with a steady cash flow, even in domestic and global economic crises. We have selected three of the most undervalued dividend aristocrats for investors to consider.

 

Three dividend aristocrats for investors 

Polaris (PII) specialises in the manufacture and sale of high-capacity off-road vehicles and snowmobiles, motorbikes, and powerboats. Unlike most dividend aristocrats, the company has not yet reached its financial maturity: its revenues have grown at an average annual rate of 12.03% over the past five years. At the same time, management believes that sales will grow by an average of 7% to 9% a year over the next five years, and the customer base could grow by 50% over the next ten years. Notably, the fastest-growing segment of the company’s customer base is millennials.

In addition to revenue growth, Polaris maintains a high level of efficiency. In the most recent reporting period, return on assets (ROA) reached 8.38%, and return on equity (ROE) was 39.46%. The company can maintain high profitability thanks to its strong competitive positioning and leadership in its target markets.

Two years ago, Polaris earned its status as a dividend aristocrat. The company delivers a dividend yield of 2.57% with a payout ratio of 31.12%. However, dividends are not the only tool Polaris uses to reward shareholders. Through buybacks, the company’s management plans to reduce the number of shares by at least 10% over the next five years. Wall Street analysts value the stock at £107.43 ($131), implying a 29.7% upside potential.

 

V.F. Corporation (VFC) specialises in manufacturing, marketing, and selling branded clothing, footwear, and related products in North and South America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. The company’s portfolio includes well-known brands such as The North Face, Timberland, Vans, and Supreme. In its long history, VFC has survived 24 economic recessions, two depressions, three financial crises, inflation from -2.5% to 20%, interest rates from 0% to 20%, 11 bear markets, and dozens of corrections and rebounds. That said, the company continues to thrive.

Despite short-term disruptions due to supply chain issues and economic weakness in China, we believe that VFS will grow faster than most competitors and maintain its brand recognition advantage in the longer term. As a result, management forecasts that sales will grow by an average of 7 to 8% in the coming years. 

VFS generates more than £857 million ($1bn) a year in free cash flow on equity, and its capital expenditure has averaged just 2% of sales over the past decade. Thus, the company is accumulating significant cash flow to expand its brand portfolio further.

VFC has a solid track record of returning cash to shareholders. The company has steadily increased its dividend over the past 50 years. The current yield is 4.18%, with a payout ratio of 68.64%. At the same time, management has voiced a target to provide shareholders with a compound return of 14% to 16% in the coming years through dividends and buybacks. The average price target from investment banks is £48 ($59), implying a growth potential of 27.8%.  

 

Walmart (WMT) is an American company that operates the world’s largest wholesale and retail chain, dating back to 1962. Walmart’s retail network includes more than 10,000 shops in 27 countries. 

Walmart has several growth drivers in the long term: the company’s e-commerce segment is still growing and has a low penetration rate. In addition, Flipkart India, in which Walmart has a 75% stake, is planning an IPO in 2022-2023, which could lead to a revaluation of the company’s stock.

Regardless of market conditions, the share price will be supported by dividends, which the company has been paying out steadily since 1989. The current yield is 1.86%, with a payout ratio of 27.23%. According to a Wall Street consensus, the fair market value of Walmart shares is £129 ($157), which provides investors with a 31% upside potential.

Articles

Why Will Cryptocurrency Be the Future of Money?

Cryptocurrencies are in the news once again as prices for coins like Bitcoin crash ever further on the back of institutional sell-offs, recession fears and the looming prospect of rising interest rates. Stocks in crypto businesses have followed in lockstep, putting the whole ecosystem of cryptocurrencies in jeopardy.

However, many still believe that cryptocurrencies still have the potential to revolutionise the financial industry and upend how we buy and sell. To understand why, we’ll look at what the originally stated objectives of cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, and the things that crypto cash proponents point to when defending their argument that coin will eventually be king.

What is the main purpose of cryptocurrency?

Since they were first conceived, the main stated goal of cryptocurrencies has been to cut financial institutions out of payment transfer in favour of a decentralised, peer-to-peer model. In Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, they argue that the current system is flawed since non-reversible payments are not possible, with this impacting the freedom of citizens to trade with one another without the continual oversight of banks and governments.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies differ from the opaque transaction systems currently used by publicly broadcasting every transaction and recording it on a public ledger (the blockchain) that can’t be edited by any one user.

Transactions are based on cryptography, not trust in a bank to behave correctly. As Nakamoto puts it: “The root problem with conventional currencies is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust.”

Why will cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin be eventually used as currency?

Nowadays, the uses of cryptocurrency are broadening. Firstly, as the price of currencies has risen and fallen, spread betting sites are now offering users the opportunity to use crypto for spread betting transactions. As the value has gone up, many have used crypto as an asset to buy and sell for profit. And many businesses have sprouted up based on blockchain technology.

All these are well and good, but what about the original objective? Well, many still believe that, even as the price yo-yos, you’ll be able to buy a cup of coffee with Bitcoin in the future.

The main reason for this is the growth in positive institutional moves regarding crypto. Banks, hedge funds, and even businesses like Tesla have all made crypto investments in the past few years, signalling a sea change in how crypto is perceived.

Institutions like Deutsche Bank predict that cryptocurrency users will quadruple by 2030, arguing that regulation of the crypto markets will stabilise the value of coins – after all, who can trust to pay with a coin that is worth a chocolate bar one day and a Michelin-starred meal a month later! This will make them more likely to be seen as a legitimate currency and therefore much more likely to gain mass adoption.

Of course, all this is still speculation: only time will tell whether cryptocurrencies are adopted as a day-to-day means of paying for products and services and Satoshi Nakamoto’s dream becomes reality.

Credit Report
ArticlesRegulation

4 Factors That Can Have a Huge Impact On Your Credit Score

Credit Report

Credit is an important aspect when it comes to an individual’s personal finances. There are times you need financial assistance to execute projects needing large capital. Financial institutions will offer you this assistance through loans. However, most will assess your credit history before giving you these loans. 

Credit history contains data on how you handled previous debts. It’ll show if you defaulted on a payment and the like. This information helps financial institutions assess your risk factor before handing you out a loan. It’s said that if you’re a risky borrower, lenders are less likely to lend you the money.

They’ll get to take a peek at your credit history on your credit report which shows your credit score too. Credit scores mainly range from 300 to 850, though some go up to 950. Here, the higher your credit score, the more desirable you are as a borrower to the eyes of creditors. 

As a potential borrower, are you wondering what aspects contribute to your credit score? The following aspects are said to affect your credit score:

 

1. Current Debts

When looking for financial assistance, having several outstanding debts isn’t ideal. Financial lenders will interpret this as an inability to manage your finances. They’ll conclude you can’t pay them up on time with all the existing financial baggage. How do they assess your debt?

Most will apply to your credit card, a mortgage, a student, or a car loan. They’ll check the remaining balance for you to complete loan payments. On credit cards, they’ll get your credit utilization ratio, which is the difference between your credit card balance and credit limit. The bigger this ratio, the higher of a risk you’re to lenders.  It’s always advisable to limit your credit card utilization to 30% or less. Beyond it and you’ll come off as an irresponsible spender.

Any lender will resist lending you money when you already have huge debts. It’d help to minimize your debts as much as possible to improve your credit score.

 

2. Credit Age

Credit age refers to the period you’ve had your line of credit like a credit card. The focus is on how long ago you got your first line of credit. Why does it even matter, you may ask?

An old credit card shows lenders you have experience handling credit. It’ll positively impact your credit score, making lenders feel confident to lend you money. However, your credit history age will only positively impact your credit score if you previously made timely payments to your credit balances. Most lenders will find this information on your credit tradelines, including when you opened your accounts.

 

3. Number of Accounts

When looking to avail more funds through limits, you’ll get several credit cards. Yes, you’ll achieve your goal, but what impact does this have on your credit score? In most cases, it’ll negatively affect your credit score. How?

With many cards, you have many debts to pay within a billing cycle. Depending on the amount you’ve spent on each, you’re likely to find it challenging to make payments. You might completely default or end up making late payments. Doing this increases your debt and negatively affects your payment history, aspects which significantly decrease your credit score.

It’d help to have one or two credit cards that you can easily manage to pay within the agreed period. Keep tabs on your credit health too.

 

4. Payment History

Generally, lenders want assurance that you can pay them off within the agreed period. Your payment history will help them gauge this.

If you’re prone to making payments after the due date, your credit score is likely to decrease. The same will happen if you extend late payments for an extended period. Most lenders will give you a grace period of around a month to clear off your loan. In case of failure, they’ll forward your account to collectors who’ll seek the payments on behalf of your lender. The involvement of a third party to help clear your debt will greatly affect your score, leading to bad credit.

Most lenders will avoid lending you money if you’ve got a poor payment history. They’ll believe you’ll give them a hard time during repayment, making you a high-risk client.

 

Conclusion

Your credit score is important to your life’s financial aspect. This feature has shown you the factors that impact your credit score. With this information, you can ensure you maintain a high credit score to assist you when the need arises.

Articles

13 Legitimate Ways to Get Money Online

Do you want to learn about some of the best ways to get money online? If so, you have come to the right place! In this blog post, we will discuss 13 different methods that you can use to make money from home. 

There are a number of ways to make extra money, and you don’t have to look far to find them. Sites like Speedy Cash offer a variety of opportunities to earn cash, and you can also find many other sites that offer similar opportunities. 

Online Surveys

One of the most popular ways to earn money online is by taking online surveys. Companies are always looking for feedback from consumers, and they are willing to pay good money for it. There are a number of different survey companies out there, so you can sign up with a few and start earning right away.

Selling Products Or Services Online

If you have a knack for creating products or providing services, you can make a nice income by selling them online. There are a number of different platforms that you can use to sell your wares, such as Etsy, eBay, and Amazon.

Freelance Work

Another great way to earn money online is by doing freelance work. There are a number of different websites that connect freelancers with clients, such as Upwork and Fiverr. If you have a skill that you can offer, such as writing, graphic design, or programming, you can find plenty of work through these sites.

Starting a Blog

A blog can be a great way to earn money online. You can use your blog to promote your own products or services, or you can sell advertising space to other businesses.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a great way to earn money by promoting other people’s products or services. You can sign up with affiliate programs for companies such as Amazon, eBay, and Clickbank, and then promote their products on your website or blog. When someone clicks on one of your links and makes a purchase, you will earn a commission.

Social Media Marketing

If you are good at promoting products or services on social media, you can make a lot of money through social media marketing. You can sign up with companies that offer social media marketing services, or you can work as a freelancer and offer your services to businesses.

Creating And Selling E-Books

If you enjoy writing, you can make money by creating and selling e-books. There are a number of different platforms that you can use to sell your e-books, such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. You can also sell your e-books through your own website or blog.

Creating And Selling Online Courses

If you have expertise in a particular subject, you can create and sell online courses. You can use a platform like Udemy to create and market your course, or you can sell it through your own website or blog.

Becoming a Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is someone who provides services to businesses from home. There are a number of different tasks that a virtual assistant can perform, such as customer service, bookkeeping, and social media management.

Providing Consulting Services

If you have experience in a particular field, you can provide consulting services to businesses. You can use your experience to help businesses improve their operations or to advise them on new projects.

Online Tutoring

If you have expertise in a particular subject, you can provide online tutoring services. You can use a platform like Tutor.com to find students, or you can promote your services on your own website or blog.

Creating And Selling Online Courses

If you have expertise in a particular subject, you can create and sell online courses. You can use a platform like Udemy to create and market your course, or you can sell it through your own website or blog.

Participating in Online Focus Groups or Forums

You can make money by participating in online focus groups or forums. You can sign up with companies that offer these services, or you can promote your services on your own website or blog.

The Bottom Line

There are a number of legitimate ways to make money online. If you have the skills and the experience, you can find work as a freelancer or you can start your own business. If you are able to build up a good client base, you can make a lot of money through online work.

Crypto market on a phone screen
ArticlesMarkets

How to Best Diversify Your Investments

Crypto market on a phone screen

Keeping all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea, and this is something that certainly holds true in the world of investments. You need to make sure that you are diversifying your portfolio as best as you can, to ensure that your investments can be well-protected should something happen. The more diverse a portfolio you have, the more stable it will hopefully be.

 

Lots of Assets

The easiest way to diversify your investments is to spread your wealth and try several different areas of investment. It is easy to get trapped in one area, such as stocks, when there are in fact so many different types of trading for you to do. Looking into what cryptocurrency trading or forex has to offer can really give you some perspective on just what is waiting for you out there in the world of investments.

You could look into a more traditional area such as real estate and bonds. Though there is a flurry of interest around some of the newer areas of the market, as things like crypto really are something of a novelty, looking to the more traditional investment opportunities can yield some good results. Even if you start with nothing more than your 401k, look to some of the options out there that can help you to acquire more assets and spread your wealth a little more.

You could even look at acquiring traditional tradeable assets like oil or soybeans! These are often traded by larger corporations who use them as ways to hold and move their own wealth. Though you might not be trading on quite the same level, there is no reason why you cannot choose to purchase some of these to then use as part of a diversified portfolio.

 

Research

As soon as you commit to any type of trading, you need to make sure that you are properly educated on the subject so you don’t make poor choices. The goal here will be to make money in some way, preferably over a long period of time if it is for the purposes of a retirement fund. Put the time in to research and find the deals that you think are best for you to make.

This is especially important as there can be a lot of jumping on the bandwagon in some trading circles. Something might prove to be incredibly popular and attractive and will cause lots of investors to flock to it. This can devalue it, as everyone is interested, or it could even be a scam that pulls the rug out from everyone and leaves them with nothing.

Research and education are also vital in helping you to stop spreading your wealth too far. You want a portfolio that you know you can easily maintain. If you invest in everything interesting that comes your way, you could quickly find yourself with a bloated portfolio with too many assets to feasibly control. Keep things neat and manageable with maybe 30 or so investments. This should give you plenty to play with without making you feel overwhelmed.

 

Keep an Eye on Your Commissions

A big part of diversifying your investments will always be finding the right exchanges and platforms to do so from. Nowadays, there are so many aspects and factors to look out for, with every platform offering something a little different. You need to make sure that you find one to work with that will offer you the level of support that you need. Some platforms can auto-invest or at least find you the best options. Others can be a lot more hands off, and can be nothing more than the platform through which you make these investments.

However, you have to make sure that you pay close attention to any fees or commissions that you have to pay in order to use the platform. Some might be monthly fees, others could be per transaction. Both have their positives and drawbacks, so you need to make sure that you choose the style that suits you best.

What you need to watch for is how much you are spending on these fees. For example, fees per transaction can quickly add up – especially if you are an active investor and trader. This could seriously cut into any profits you might make, and you will still have to pay some commission even if you don’t make anything! Ensuring that you have the right platform will be incredibly important, no matter what.

 

If you are going to create a portfolio of investments, you need to make sure that it is as diverse as possible, so you can be certain that your money is properly protected. After all, there are so many ways in which your investments could be upset. The more diverse a portfolio, the more stable it will be overall. Take the time to investigate some of the other types of investment that you could make. There are so many sectors that you could look into. One could capture your attention that you have never thought of too, and so you could discover something entirely new. Take a look at what the world of investments can offer you now!

Gold Investment
ArticlesFinance

Understanding Why Gold Is a Safe Investment

Gold Investment

Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Advice at Freedom Finance Europe, explores why now is a good time to invest in gold.

The risks associated with stronger sanctions against Russia by the West have pushed investors and traders to look towards safer assets. Gold is one of them. Since the beginning of the year, the metal has increased 7.5% in value, rising to £1,466 an ounce. 

While the volume of gold in the global economy is limited, an increase in demand for this asset has sent stock prices soaring. In turn, the metal is expected to generate substantial returns in 2022, as it is seen as a hedge against major economic and geopolitical disruptions.

For investors looking to protect their investment portfolios, analysts have broken down three potential investment ideas with different risk levels. 

 

What is driving the industry growth for gold?

Demand for gold tends to rise due to global political confrontation. In turbulent times, money depreciates, companies’ shares decline in value, and virtual currencies become unstable. In such cases, investors turn to gold, which is an asset that does not change and grows in the long term. 

While experts say that gold does not protect against inflation, the reality is different. The five-year correlation between gold prices and the CPI (Consumer Price Index) is 0.79, reflecting a stable long-term relationship. If inflation is persistent, it will lead to higher gold prices. As a result, the number of gold miners across the globe will also rise. 

For example, the policies of the Federal Reserve System (Fed) and other central banks under Covid-19 caused a wave of liquidity. Inflation, which was initially thought to be temporary due to supply problems throughout the pandemic, turned out to be a long-term structural issue for the global economy. The consumer price index rose to its highest level in almost 40 years and investors increasingly looked towards gold as a safe investment.

 

Three gold investments to watch

1. VanEck Gold Miners ETF Units (GDX.US)

The VanEck Gold Miners exchange-traded fund (ETF) tracks the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index (GDMNTR). This index covers 50+ companies from 9 different countries, the top 5 companies being: Newmont Corporation, Barrick Gold Corporation, Franco-Nevada Corporation, Agnico Eagle Mines Limited, and Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. 

The VanEck Gold Miners ETF has £11.9 billion assets under management (AUM). With its entry price in shares sitting at £28.3, its target price of £34 means the company has a growth potential of 20% over the next 12 months. 

Metal prices have already risen by 11% since the start of the year. Buying units of the VanEck Gold Miners ETF offers the potential to benefit overall from the upward trend in the industry. It is a risk-weighted investment. 

 

2. Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. (WPM.US)

Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. is a multinational streaming company, which specialises in precious metals such as gold, silver, and palladium. Wheaton’s current portfolio includes 24 active mines and 12 projects under development. These assets have a useful life of more than 30 years.

Wheaton has an innovative streaming business model where it finances mining companies to develop and expand their projects. In return, the company receives the production of one or more metals at a discounted price. In addition, Wheaton generates income on rising metal prices, making it more attractive than other mining companies. The costs are predetermined and the average operating margin is 76%. 

Wheaton’s increased financial performance and production volumes signify that this business is full of promise. Over the past three years, the corporation’s revenue has grown at an average rate of 15% – reaching £910 million in 2021. 

The company also demonstrates improvement in its operating and net margins. Each estimate was up by more than 45% year on year (YoY). Net profit for the same period was £571.9 million. For 2021, free cash flow was at £333.3 million.

Wheaton’s current shares price is sitting at £36.29, while its target price is sitting at £45.45. In the period of 12 months, this means the company will potentially grow by 25.2%. Alongside this, the company shows exiting business growth, a strong balance sheet, high-profit margins, and efficient quality of capital structure management.

 

3. Hecla Mining Company (HL.US)

Hecla Mining acquires and develops mines, as well as sells gold, silver, lead, and zinc. The company and its subsidiaries supply precious metals internationally and to the US. Over the past year, Hecla Mining has derived a large proportion of its revenue from gold and silver sales – 42% and 34% respectively. 

The business has accumulated impressive reserves of gold and silver in the last few years, which should also catch investors’ eyes. Silver reserves increased between 2020 and 2021 from 188 million ounces to 200 million ounces. As part of this, the company increased proven and probable reserves by 6%, or 11.5 million ounces, compared to 2020. For gold, proven and probable reserves increased by 14% from 2.4 million ounces to 2.7 million ounces. This helps to ensure the long-term sustainability of the company. 

Between 2018 and 2021, the company showed significant business growth. Revenue growth during this time stood at an impressive 42.5%, with profits reaching £612.11million in 2021. In the same year, free cash flow was sitting at £85.61 million and Hecla posted a net profit of £25.51 million. In 2022, the growth rate of these indicators is expected to maintain this momentum. 

 

Hecla Mining today is a low-cost, high-margin, high-growth company with an extremely healthy balance sheet. 

Calculating Costs
ArticlesWealth Management

Freelancers Should Look for ‘Self Employed’ Mortgages

Calculating Costs

Today is the 16th of June, which is National Freelancer’s Day and the Suffolk Building Society is offering guidance to freelancers about what actions they can take to help qualify for a mortgage. While freelancers may operate under different business structures, such as being a sole trader or a limited company, mortgage lenders tend to group everyone together under a ‘self employed’ banner.

Suffolk Building Society’s Head of Mortgages, Charlotte Grimshaw, said: “Nowadays, many more mortgage providers are inclined to lend to freelancers than perhaps they once were. Some providers offer specific self employed mortgages, while others offer freelancers access to standard mortgage products, as long as they meet certain criteria. So if you don’t see any ‘freelance’ mortgage products it doesn’t necessarily mean the provider won’t lend to you.”

 

Supporting evidence for a mortgage application

If an applicant is employed, much of mortgage lenders’ reassurance and comfort comes from payslips as it shows stability of employment and proof of earnings but as this isn’t feasible for freelancers, lenders will look at other ways to evidence work history and current employment status. For most freelancers, this will mean providing evidence of contracts, company accounts or self assessment tax forms (SA302s).

Suffolk Building Society explains that in general, freelancers need to ensure their work and contracting history is comprehensive and up to date. This includes making sure that their online profile, on sites such as LinkedIn, is representative of their current work.

Charlotte Grimshaw explains: “As mortgage lenders, we’re not trying to catch people out – we really do want to help people buy their dream home. Whether an applicant is a freelancer or not, it’s all about looking for positive supporting evidence.”

Freelancers are not exempt from all the usual checks that lenders undertake for other applicants either, so it’s well worth them scrutinising their own credit report to make sure it’s clean and up to date i.e. all addresses are the same, credit repayments are correct and up to date, no County Court Judgements are present, etc. Similarly, make sure all expenditure is declared and bank statements can be accounted for.

Charlotte Grimshaw concluded: “Having been made redundant during the pandemic, many people turned to freelancing and in most cases, they haven’t looked back as they embrace the autonomy and freedom of being their own boss – but some may be a little concerned if they need to apply for a mortgage for the first time or remortgage their existing property. However, the barriers that freelancers once faced in getting a mortgage are coming down, as lenders embrace different, and often multiple, sources of income. 

“There are plenty of mortgage products for freelancers out there but start by researching ‘self employed mortgages’ rather than ‘mortgages for freelancers’. Don’t get too bogged down in worrying about whether your business structure will be suitable for a specific lender as most are adept at understanding the different ways freelancers are paid – just make sure your finances are organised, comprehensive and up to date.”

Suffolk Building Society has collated a list of useful points to help freelancers be better informed, should they need to apply for a mortgage:

 

Considerations for all freelancers:

  1. Many people, but especially freelancers, gravitate to their bank to obtain a mortgage in the belief that their bank will understand their finances and will be more likely to lend. This is not necessarily the case, especially for freelancers whose finances may be more complex than an average mortgage applicant’s. Finding a specialist mortgage lender who can understand your business gives a much higher chance of a successful application. 
  2. Lenders will understand that different industries make payments in different ways i.e. a videographer may be paid at the end of a project, whereas a marketing consultant may invoice once a month. As long as the freelancer is being paid in what is considered a ‘normal’ way for that industry, lenders tend to take a favourable view.
  3. There is generally no minimum age for freelancers to apply for a residential mortgage, whereas buy to let mortgages often have a minimum age of 21, 25, or even 30. If someone has a proven history and deposit, their age should not hold their application back.
  4. Similarly, there is no legal maximum age limit for freelancers to apply for a mortgage, but lenders will set their own criteria. 
  5. If freelancing is a side hustle (as opposed to an individual’s main source of income) most lenders’ standard position is to use 50% of their freelancing work in affordability calculations and the individual should be prepared to provide tax returns as evidence that this income is sustainable.

 

For freelancers running a limited company:

  1. Two years of company accounts are usually required for freelancers running their own business – some lenders may consider less.
  2. Make sure company accounts are filed on time – late filing could ring alarm bells with the lender.
  3. Different lenders will have different affordability criteria and may base their mortgage offer on salary and dividend, net profit or retained profit. It is worth speaking to an accountant to properly understand the relevant figures before applying for a mortgage.
  4. If a freelancer has switched their business model from sole trader to limited company but doesn’t have two years’ worth of accounts, the lender may take a favourable view if the individual is in a similar industry or sector.
  5. Some lenders will take the average of two years’ accounts, others will base their lending decision on the worst year – whether that be year one or two. Freelancers who have had a particularly poor year (such as due to the impact of the Covid pandemic) but can explain why, will still be considered for a mortgage.
  6. Freelancers who are concerned about having a poor year before applying for a mortgage can ask their accountant for an estimated projections letter to support their case.

 

For freelancers operating as a sole trader:

  1. Two years of operating as a sole trader is usually the minimum required to apply for a mortgage. Some lenders will prefer more and some will accept less but two years is a good rule of thumb.
  2. Keep all paperwork related to freelance work – from contracts, to bank statements, invoices and remittance notes as a lender may ask to see it.
  3. It can be helpful, but not always essential, to have a separate bank account to keep track of business expenses and income away from personal finances. If not, be ready and able to clearly demonstrate the difference in personal and business funds.
  4. Lenders may use a day rate calculation such as five times the value of daily contracts, multiplied by 46 or 48 weeks (to allow for some downtime/holiday etc). The S302 form will be used as a way to calculate previous earnings based on submission to HMRC so this needs to be available.
  5. If the applicant’s freelance work is in the same sector as their previous employed job, then an application can sometimes be supported by evidence of PAYE income in the form of P60 forms.

 

For freelancers operating under an umbrella company:

  1. There are mortgage providers who will lend to freelancers who use an umbrella company but it is usually best to engage the services of a specialist mortgage broker for advice on this front as the application can be more complex. Much of the guidance above still applies in terms of demonstrating clarity of earnings and stability of contracts.
Articles

Here’s Why Bitcoin Will Never Move To Proof-of-Stake

Bitcoin has been around for over a decade now, and is by far and away the most important and high profile cryptocurrency on the block.

Underpinning the design of Bitcoin is the concept of proof-of-work (PoW), which is basically a mechanism that allows for transactions on the blockchain to be verified by having all users complete complex calculations.

The alternative to this approach is proof-of-stake (PoS), which aims to deliver similar levels of security without needing the same amount of processing power or energy to complete. Instead, users stake tokens to verify transactions, achieving consensus democratically.

Some altcoins have been made for PoS, while others like Ethereum are moving from PoW over to what is seen as a more efficient and eco-friendly alternative. So why does it seem like Bitcoin will forever be tethered to PoW?

The importance of security

The main benefit to Bitcoin steering clear of PoS is the added security which comes with the more energy-intensive angle on verifying transactions and confirming consensus across the network.

When you buy Bitcoin from an exchange like http://swyftx.com/au/buy/bitcoin/, or you transfer funds between wallets independently, this transaction is effectively overseen and validated by every other user on the chain.

The upshot of this is that not only do you get comprehensive security and transparency, but you also avoid scenarios of double-spending, which can come about where digital assets are involved.

The might of mining

The community of miners who have helped grow and perpetuate Bitcoin over the years is vast and ever-expanding. This is largely because mining in a PoW context is rewarded handsomely, so there are strong incentives to continue running such operations, and thus less of an inclination among the Bitcoin community to ditch this lucrative aspect of the ecosystem.

If the move to a PoS approach was made, miners would be the biggest losers. And since many mining pools are managed by influential individuals or organizations, the amount of opposition to abandoning PoW is always going to be immense.

The relevance of scale

There may be a growing number of PoS cryptocurrencies out there, but none have yet come close to matching the scope and scale of Bitcoin.

Being the biggest player, with the largest market cap and the most media attention focused on it, Bitcoin is simply an unknown quantity when it comes to rolling out a PoS migration. This level of uncertainty and risk is simply not tolerable in a project of this size, and so many are happy to continue swallowing the steep energy burden of PoW.

The element of control

The decentralized ethos of Bitcoin and the role of PoW go hand in hand, with the former being facilitated by the latter, allowing decisions to be made without the oversight of a central, governing body or any other individual or organization for that matter.

The fear is that migrating to PoS could dilute this control infrastructure, and even lead it to be manipulated and subverted to a greater degree.

The impact of value

Finally, Bitcoin is an asset with a value that can fluctuate like any other. But because it is entirely digital, it’s important to have a way of tying its worth to the world outside the mining rigs and wallets where it resides.

With proof-of-work, the value of Bitcoin is more easily measured, because there are of course costs involved in creating each new block and overseeing every transaction which takes place.

So in short, the obstacles standing between Bitcoin and a shift to proof-of-stake are so significant as to make this effectively impossible.

Javed Khattak, CFO of cheqd
ArticlesFinanceRegulation

Going Above and Beyond for Success

Javed Khattak, CFO of cheqd

cheqd is a new revolutionary company that is striving for the betterment of the future. It is creating a world in which individuals have total control over their personal data – an issue that is becoming increasingly prevalent thanks to the rise of technology. Javed Khattak is the company’s devoted CFO, named CFO of the Year in 2018, reclaims his title as CFO of the Year in 2022.

cheqd is building a better future – one where consumers and organisations can establish trustworthy relationships, control their personal data, and maintain a sense of security. cheqd firmly believes that companies should not make money off people’s data without their consent. This means their informed and clear consent, not just pressing ‘I agree’ when the convoluted terms and conditions are displayed. To make this a reality, cheqd provides solutions that enable verifiable credentials to be transferred between stakeholders in a trustworthy, secure, and efficient manner.

By extension, cheqd endeavours to support and enhance the current data economy business models and establish the flexibility and incentive to create new ones. As such, it achieves this by offering bespoke commercial models and governance structures, which have all been built upon cheqd’s own public permissionless blockchain network. This network features cheqd’s dedicated crypto-token (CHEQ) which is used as a form of payment within the ecosystem. In addition, the company supplies a suite of mobile and backend software tools that self sovereign identity (SSI) vendors can embed in their own client-facing software.

Consequently, the company, through great passion and devotion, has acquired numerous achievements. For example, CHEQ has been listed on Osmosis, the largest decentralised exchange in the Cosmos ecosystem. In addition, the Company has also successfully bridged its token onto the Ethereum blockchain allowing access to CHEQ in the Ethereum ecosystem as well. It is already listed on two centralised crypto exchanges; Gate.io and Bitmart, with more exciting news in the pipeline. Over 60 validators were welcomed on board once the cheqd network was launched, including 20 self-sovereign identity application vendors, digital identity start-ups, investors, and Cosmos-native or cross-chain network validators. The network has been an enormous success, and already millions of CHEQ tokens have been traded.

cheqd’s clients are expected to include governments, public organisations, multinational companies, banks, financial services companies, Web3 projects, and consultancies that handle personal documents and identification. “But it won’t stop there,” explains Javed Khattak, CFO, “we will be able to serve any client that needs to identify a unique person or object, real or virtual.” There are numerous examples as to how this could work – for example, in the event that a self-driving car fuels up at a charging station, both objects would be able to identify each other’s identity with the aim to pay for the transaction using the same ecosystem.

The SSI industry and market is mostly untapped and continuously growing; we seek to introduce a plethora of benefits to the market, helping save billions worth of money while improving ‘security’ of personal credentials for individuals. cheqd aims to become the market leader in doing so and I believe, is already leading the pack,” Javed states.

Behind the company is a team that Javed describes as a ‘family’. He believes that prior to hiring, it’s important to ensure that the individual shares the same values and that they’ll be compatible with the existing internal culture. In addition, each team member should be both exceptional and passionate about their area of expertise. cheqd’s team meets the aforementioned criteria – the team share the collective goal to be a force for good in the world, and they are inspired to leave a positive legacy. Despite its global reach, there is a great effort to remain in contact and support each other.

The close-knit family feel comes as no surprise – with a team of empathetic, creative, and fun people, cheqd has cultivated an environment where individuals can thrive. Fraser Edwards, co-Founder and CEO, and Ankur Banerjee, co Founder and CTO of cheqd both agree that the company wouldn’t be the same without Javed.

Ankur shares, “Javed has absolutely been critical to the success of a young and ambitious startup like cheqd. From the very first conversation that we had, I saw that unlike everyone else we spoke to about coming onboard as CFO, Javed had a real passion for the blockchain space. Instead of just being nterested in the numbers and finances, I’ve always appreciated that he takes the time to understand the technology and product aspects and contributes meaningfully to building out our product roadmap.”

Fraser tells us, “I still consider ourselves at cheqd extremely lucky to have Javed as part of the team and still remember myself and my co-Founder, Ankur, being shocked by the quality of his application for a company so young as ours. Javed brings a unique and priceless combination of deep experience, endless imagination and focused pragmatism that mean we have achieved far, far more than we would have without him.”

With regards to the acceleration of the firm, Fraser adds, “The speed we have been able to execute with, $3.3m raised, product launch, over 60 partners, inside a year is a huge advert for his skillet. On a personal level, I already see Javed as someone who will be a lifelong friend, one of the many benefits I’ve had from cheqd.” Not only does Javed know how to improve the workplace – for the sake of people’s freedom and positivity – but he knows how to elevate a business, in line with goals, values, and ever-evolving dreams. Therefore, cheqd is not simply about numbers and finances, it is about friendship and exploration of goals for employers, employees, and clients.

Internally improving each service it offers, Javed guarantees cheqd’s technical strategies reach every layer of its clients business. Fraser shares, “It’s genuinely refreshing in this deeply complex space at the intersection of Web 3.0, digital identity, and privacy technology to see someone like him who also is keen on the ethical aspects of what freely-accessible digital identity can do in terms of improving financial inclusion.” A balance between financial security and growth, alongside human connection, is where businesses need to be. And Javed achieves this for his team with his expert knowledge and guiding hand.

All of these comments reflect the entire company overall, as Javed has led it to accomplishment time and time again. A significant portion of the company’s success can be attributed to Javed, who serves as cheqd’s Chief Financial Officer. Prior to his position at cheqd, Javed led businesses in a variety of capacities, including as a Founder, a CEO, CFO, and CTO. Throughout his career, he has established and still leads multiple successful businesses, such as Seerbytes, Zisk Properties, Zisk Investments, and Javed Khattak Consulting. His success in business has led Javed to sit as a Board Member and Advisor to several other companies, including regulated funds.

Moreover, Javed is a highly-skilled mathematician, who is a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the UK. He writes, “I truly believe maths is the mother of all sciences. In addition, I don’t like being confined to a particular role or a subject. And at times I have found the modern day world to be puzzled by it. But there are countless examples of polymaths throughout history who have helped change the world. While I don’t consider myself a genius, I certainly believe that polymaths make for better professionals and their cross-disciplinary exposure sparks creativity as well as offers them the ability to view a problem from several lenses.”

Within the business, Javed revels in his involvement in the different areas, as this allows him to gain a 360-degree view. As a result, he maintains a deep understanding of the challenges and problems and is equipped to use them to drive results-based outcomes. This is, in part, one of the reasons why Javed enjoys working with cheqd and its team. Both Fraser and Ankur welcome Javed’s drive and passion to be more than just a CFO for the project.

In essence, he has done it all – but his success over the years has come with many challenges. Throughout both his professional and personal life, Javed has used challenges to bolster his learning. “I don’t believe in shortcuts,” he says, “I have found that, often, doing the right thing is the most difficult of options available in a given situation. The higher the stakes, the more difficult it is. But over the long term, if you have the patience to persevere, it pays off in a big way!”

His approach to his role as CFO has made him a hit amongst his colleagues – Eduardo Hotta, the Head of Marketing and Community, testifies that Javed has contributed a great amount to structuring cheqd’s finances and navigating the company through unexplored blockchain regulatory waters. Eduardo continues, “through his impressive skills, he managed to decrease our burn rate and therefore increase our company’s runaway. Another important thing to mention is his contribution in shaping cheqd’s amazing work culture.”

It appears that for Javed that the work never ends – but this is the way he likes it. He is entirely devoted to his work and is excited about the future of cheqd, along with the ways in which he can contribute to its success. In 2022, cheqd is developing core identity functionalities, and helping its partners in bringing to life successful use cases within their industries. cheqd is in the process of adding a deeper integration for its network and token into the Cosmos and other blockchain ecosystems, which will help the company to further engage with the market. Furthermore, the company is exploring the emerging Web3 use cases, such as DEX ecosystems, DAOs, NFTs, Gaming, and DeFi applications, which it will leverage for its network strength.

For business enquiries, contact Javed Khattak at cheqd via http://www.cheqd.io or http://www.javedkhattak.com.

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What Is the Difference Between ABN and CAN?

Business

In the last few years, Australia has not only become one of the fastest-growing economies but has also strengthened its startup ecosystem significantly, with a whopping 5.8%  growth. As a result, there is a dramatic surge in the number of new businesses, and existing startups are experiencing rapid growth. That makes Australia one of the best places to start your own business.

However, like anywhere else, there are a few critical steps you need to undertake before you get a business up and running in Australia. First, you need to understand whether you need an ACN vs. ABN number when forming your new business. Knowing what your business requires beforehand can ensure it operates legally from the beginning.

If you’re looking to start a business in Australia, here are the main differences between ABN and ACN numbers to help you know what applies to your business:

 

What is an ABN?

An ABN is an 11-digit number unique to every business for identification purposes. An ABN number is issued by the Australian Taxation Office. If you’re looking to start a business in Australia, you must register for an ABN number, no matter the size or structure of your business. All businesses must have an ABN number, including non-profit organizations, partnerships, trusts, companies, and even sole traders. Your ABN is used by the government primarily for taxation purposes and for tracking your business operations.

Failure to apply for an ABN can mean that it’s operating illegally. You must register for an ABN and have it displayed on all your company documents, including

  • Tax returns
  • Invoices
  • BAS
  • Receipts
  • Letterheads
  • Orders
  • Estimates
  • Statement of accounts
  • Any other business correspondence

 

How to apply for an ABN

You register for an ABN with the Australian Tax Office. The registration process is usually easy since you can do it online, and you don’t need to pay any fee to register. You can also have a tax agent or BAS agent register for the ABN on your behalf, but for a fee.

The information you’ll need to complete your ABN registration will often depend on the business structure you’re applying for. However, you’ll typically need to provide your name, date of birth, email address, physical address, and the TFN of associated persons.

Once you’ve registered, the ATO will take less than 24 hours to review your application and issue you with your ABN number, which will apply for the lifetime of your business. You must update any changes to your ABN, like a physical address change, within the first 28 days.

You should cancel your ABN immediately should your business get closed, sold, or end its operations in Australia. Once canceled, you should lodge outstanding returns and activity statements and fulfill any payment obligations.

 

Benefits of an ABN

Besides enabling you to run a business legally in Australia, other advantages of acquiring an ABN include;

  • Makes easy for the government, community, and stakeholders to identify your business
  • Allows the government to easily track your business operations
  • It makes you eligible for GST registration, helping with GST credits claims, or claiming business costs like stationary
  • Stakeholders, such as suppliers, can easily confirm details in business invoicing and orders
  • It also gives you access to government services
  • If your business doesn’t pay taxes, such as non-profits, your ABN helps confirm your business structure

 

What is an ACN?

While you need to have an ABN regardless of your business structure, you should only apply for an ACN number if your business is structured as a company. An ACN is a unique number consisting of nine digits to identify your company. If your business registers for both the ACN and ABN numbers, your ACN number will be the last nine digits of your ABN number.

Unlike the ABN, you register for an ACN with the ASIC or Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Like an ABN, your ACN is used to identify your company and track its day-to-day business operations. Other stakeholders can also use it to know about your company’s information, like the business structure. Your company’s ACN number must be displayed on all your official documents and online information, including

  • Advertisements
  • Order for services and goods
  • Your company’s website
  • Invoices
  • Estimates
  • Statements of accounts
  • Letterheads
  • Receipts
  • And any other documentation related to your company

 

How to apply for an ACN

Registering for an ACN is done through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. You pay a fee to register for ACN. The fee is subject to change, so ensure you confirm the exact fee to pay before applying. You can also ask your accountant or lawyer to help you with the ACN registration.

Some of the critical things you need to consider when registering for an ACN include your company structure, company name, business operational model, and obligations to fulfill as a company. Apart from the ACN, you need to also apply for an ABN number.

 

Benefits of an ACN

Registering your business as a company automatically makes it a separate legal entity. As a business owner, this benefits you hugely since it lowers your risk and liability. Other benefits of having an ABN number include:

  • It gives stakeholders access to any information about your company.
  • Your ACN helps legitimize your business
  • You require it for legal compliance

 

Endnote

To legally operate a business in Australia, it’s crucial that you know whether you need to apply for an ABN or ACN number. And as you’ve seen, both the ABN and ACN are identification numbers but with completely different purposes. For instance, no matter the structure or size of your business, you must apply for an ABN with the Australian Tax Office before starting operation.

Applying for an Australian Business Number or ABN helps identify your business to the government and the community. It’s also for tracking your business operations by the Australian Tax Office and ensuring you stay compliant with the tax laws at any given time. On the other hand, you’ll need to register for an ACN number if your business is structured as a company. Understanding the differences between these identification numbers can help ensure your new business or company fulfills its legal obligations.

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EB5 Visa: How to Choose The Right Regional Investment Center


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/marketing-man-woman-exit-7414276/

As an EB-5 investor, you’ve already made an important choice: opting for a Regional Centre investment over a direct EB5 investment.

While this is undoubtedly an impactful decision, it’s not the only one you’ll have to make when investing in the US and self-petitioning for a green card. After all, the Regional Centre project you choose will determine your chances of success.

Here are the essential tips to keep in mind to choose the right regional investment centre, minimize investor’s risk, and secure a green card for yourself and your family.

Learn About The Regional Centre’s Reputation and History

In the best-case scenario, EB5 Visa Investments involve a minimum capital of $1,050,000 – or $800,000 for investments in Targeted Employment Areas. With so much money at stake, you should not rush through your due diligence. But, when you are conducting research from abroad, how can you be sure what Regional Centre to trust?

While USCIS publishes a list of approved Regional Centres, choosing one of these projects does not guarantee that a regional centre is safe, compliant with security laws, or risk-free. That is why you should start your search by reviewing the centre’s reputation and history.

Some of the aspects worth assessing include:

  • Entity designation
  • The centre’s finances
  • The staff’s and management’s qualifications
  • Fees and additional costs
  • Communication style

Pro tip: beware of red flags! If a regional centre seems disorganized or withholds documentation of information from you, you might not be dealing with the most transparent or honest partner. Even more importantly, stay clear of centres and projects that make “no risk” claims!

Assess Regional Centre’s Track Record

Of course, a record of successful past projects does not guarantee the success of the one you are about to invest in. However, checking a Regional Centre’s track record can tell you a lot about the business models they use, investor relations standards, and rates of success.

Some of the metrics you might use to compare the viability of different Centres include:

  • Number of completed projects
  • Number of approved and denied I-526 (“Immigration Petitions by Alien Entrepreneur”) applications
  • Number of investors who successfully received temporary and permanent green cards
  • Average investor returns and ability to return the capital invested

When making an EB-5 investment, your capital must be “at-risk” to qualify, meaning that there is no guarantee that you’ll see returns from your project.

However, looking at the regional centre’s track record, you can minimize your risk and increase your chances of making a successful investment!

Review The Investment Project and Expected Returns

Investing in a Regional Centre’s project is an excellent option for investors who are looking to take a hands-off approach, invest in real estate properties abroad, and minimize their immigration risk. Indeed, compared to direct investments, regional centre projects make it easier for investors to create 10 full-time jobs, thus fulfilling the job creation requirement and securing a permanent residence permit.

However, returns can vary from project to project, and you should choose your investment wisely. Aside from reviewing the Regional Centre’s track record and business model, you should check that:

The developer does not rely on foreign investors’ money
The contractors and professionals involved are qualified, reputable, and experienced
The project can support the creation and maintenance of 10 full-time jobs for each investor involved and can count on indirect job creation
The Centre operates in a thriving sector or industry that you know well or are familiar with
There are other EB-5 investors involved
You should also assess the investor relations standards and make sure that you’ll be kept up to date about progress, milestones, and expected returns.

Work With a Specialized EB-5 Visa Attorney

If you don’t know how to start searching for the right Regional Centre, or you wish to find guidance, consider working with a specialized EB-5 visa attorney, financial advisor, or investment broker.

Don’t forget that both your likelihood of scouring a green card and the capital investment are at stake. So, make sure to find the professional support you need to carry out due diligence and choose the right regional centre for your needs.

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A Dozen Ways to Make Your Financial Services Business Friendlier to New Investors

Entering the world of finance and investing can be scary for new investors, unfamiliar with how it all works.  The more foreign and intimidating, the less likely the business is to attract new investors.  About 94% of American households have a bank account, but fewer than 60% of American adults own any kind of stock. That means there are literally tens of millions of potential customers out there who would benefit from good financial advice and services. 

There are three big themes within the advice below.  The first is to take as much of the mystery out of getting started as possible.  The second is to make sure your branding shows your softer side.  The third is to use your new clients to continue to evolve and get better.

Display Your Fees

The biggest reason people do not seek the help of financial experts, even when they would really benefit from such services, is that they believe it will be too expensive.  Many would-be investors let out a huge breath of relief when they learn that financial services are actually quite affordable, but until they know, they are nervous.  Since many people are concerned about being embarrassed at possibly not being able to afford the rates, your company can remove that initial obstacle by publishing fees right up front. 

Explain How You Make Money

The second part of being upfront and transparent is to explain how your firm makes money.  People hate the feeling that they might be getting taken advantage of.  The less they understand how you make money, the more they will worry that they are being cheated.  Customers don’t want to feel foolish.  Build trust by explaining your business model. 

Give Something Away for Free

Give the people browsing your website something without needing an account or paying money.  Even something as simple as an online calculator to help a potential customer figure out what compound interest would look like at different interest rates can make customers feel like you respect their independence and participation in the investing process. 

Provide Beginner Education Tools

It’s common practice to set up an FAQ page.  Go one step further and provide a glossary of terms.  Not only will having key terms and phrases on your site give you better search engine ratings, but you will increase the chance that your new customers will come to the table better educated, saving your staff time getting them up to speed.

Soften Your Brand

There are three components to branding your company as approachable and accessible, especially as compared to your peers.  The first is to describe how your business is friendlier.  The second is to use imagery that shows you have empathy for your customers.  The third is to underscore your branding with how your customer wants to be viewed because they use your services, such as being responsible or heroic.

Put a Face to Your Company

People hire firms, rather than doing it themselves, because they want help.  So, make the experience as personal and personable as possible.  Put the faces of your employees front and center in your media, to show that you are also people.

Have a 24/7 Live Answering Service

No one enjoys listening to a list of prompts and pressing what they hope is the right number for the correct extension that will, maybe, hopefully, lead to the person they need.  Give anyone taking the initial step of reaching out to your company a person to talk to, right away.  Simply put, use a live answering service when your office is closed. 

Help the Community

Show up for the community you want to do business with.  If your target zip code is holding a neighborhood clean-up, order some corporate t-shirts and get in there.  When the high school in your target town is putting on a musical, buy an ad in the program or sponsor the set design.  Customers who see you helping will believe in the quality of your company.

Learn to Speak without Jargon

Using sophisticated language is great when your customer is sophisticated.  It’s awful when your customer has no idea what you mean.  Using industry terms when speaking to new customers will make them feel alienated and even embarrassed.  Tell your staff, if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough. 

Ask Customers for Feedback

Be willing to learn as you work.  Ask current customers what they like and don’t like about what you do.  Take what they say seriously.

Encourage Honest Reviews

Whether you like it or not, many people will feel more comfortable being honest when they don’t have to say negative things to your face.  When clients leave reviews, read them.  Some may be sour grapes, but there are lessons to be learned from all types of feedback.

Ask Questions in New Places

Soliciting feedback from existing customers only gets you information about the demographics you already have.  If you are looking to expand, spend time listening to the people from the segments you don’t have yet.  Notice that this is about listening, asking questions and then listening some more, not about giving a sales pitch.  If you want to operate differently, you have to learn what you don’t already know.

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Top Advantages of Outsourcing

Outsourcing is a business practice in which you contract with an external party in order for them to take care of specific tasks as opposed to hiring fresh staff or assigning those tasks to your existing staff. It’s quite a popular method for businesses to lower their costs for operation and to streamline those operations while still keeping a handle on the more essential functions.

Outsourced positions might be occasional, such as taking on an accountant to do the yearly taxes. On the other hand, they might also be a normal part of your business operations, such as outsourcing in higher education if your business happens to be in that field. This can ensure you have the best the world has to offer while they can remain in their own countries and homes, reducing your overhead. 

Advantages of Outsourcing

The businesses that you outsource your jobs to might be independent consultants or they may just be other large corporations. It doesn’t matter what size they are, outsourcing your operational tasks can provide you with a vast array of benefits. From large corporations to sole proprietorships, businesses of every type and size can take advantage of outsourcing to assist with company growth and expansion while making sure expenses are kept as low as possible. 

Core Activities

During periods of quick growth, the back-office operations of your business might tend to expand. Because of this, it can tie up your financial and human resources to the detriment of the core activities that are what made your business what it is in the first place. As an example, if your business gains a massive contract that will greatly increase the volume of your purchases over a brief period of time if you outsource those purchasing responsibilities, you’ll free up quite a bit more time and personnel in order to focus on the actual contract. 

Lower Costs

There are times when needing a new location or purchasing equipment can be more than a bit prohibitive. In cases such as these, it can lower your costs if you outsource as opposed to opening an international operations facility. If your business growth results in the need for additional office space, try outsourcing some of your simple operations like data entry or telemarketing instead of moving to a larger location. This might be much more cost-effective when compared to the cost of expansion and is both less expensive and more efficient than relocating. 

Promote Growth

Some operations have incredibly high overhead costs. However, you may just want to offer them in order to satisfy the demands of your customers, expand on your business model, or be more competitive in the marketplace. If the cost of expansion in order to oversee these operations yourself is prohibitive, you might want to consider outsourcing. This would also be a good option if it would take too long to implement the changes, or if it would create an inefficiency in your overall business model. 

Get the Most from Outsourcing

Businesses often consider outsourcing purely in terms of the savings it can offer them, however, outsourcing can offer so much more. As a business grows, outsourcing might just be the ideal solution to promote innovation, disrupt the industry, and gain access to a variety of new skill sets that can reposition your business in the market. 

When you think about how outsourcing can assist you, don’t limit your thoughts to the cost of outsourcing versus the cost of overseeing a task with your people already on staff. Whether it’s through marketing your business, expanding production, or anything else, outsourcing can provide you with an opportunity to grow, innovate, and rise above your competition.

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How to Start Planning for Retirement

Being able to retire is a goal that many people have in life and want to work towards. Because of the finances involved in being able to retire comfortably, coming up with a retirement plan should start as early as your 20s. If you’re older now and you’re just starting to think seriously about it, don’t stress because you can still make it happen. 

Have a Retirement Plan

A retirement plan or a 401(k) plan is one that you contribute to each paycheck. A lot of companies offer these, and it’s easy to select the percentage you want to take out of your check each time so it goes directly into your retirement savings account. If your company does not offer a 401(k) plan, you can still get an individual one and receive the same type of benefits. 

Companies that do offer retirement plans often match a portion of what you put into savings up to a certain amount. This helps you get more money to add to your 401(k) account without you needing to go out of your way to do anything different. A good thing about retirement plans is that you’re in control of what goes in there. If you want to increase the percentage you add each payday, you can change it at any time. 

It’s important, however, to keep in mind that this money is for your retirement savings. Even if there’s an emergency, you should consider all other options before even thinking about tapping into these funds. 

Get the Most Revenue From Your Business

One of the biggest benefits of having your own business is you’re in complete control over your earnings. If you have a steady revenue now, there could still be some ways that you can make it even better, such as with software to help with shipping carrier updates

Don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit and learn from your leading competitors. Just because you have things in place that are working for you does not mean you should avoid changing things. Change is a good thing and can help increase your earnings.

Avoid Accumulating Debt 

Debt is something that can impact your retirement goal. If you keep accumulating it, you’re going to have to keep paying it off, and it’s just a never-ending cycle. The best thing you can do is avoid accumulating debt. If you have debt now, work on paying that off and try not to get any more. 

Avoid credit cards, and do not make big purchases until you save up enough money to buy them yourself. Debt is associated with high-interest rates and it can be hard to get on top of it. For any debt you currently have, it’s helpful to make payments that are higher than the minimum due so you can pay it off faster. 

Determine How Much Money You Need 

For a successful retirement, you will need to calculate how much money you think you’ll need. You can get a rough estimate by calculating your needs based on your current income, but this isn’t always helpful if you make changes to advance your career and make more money. 

A general way you can calculate a rough estimate is by figuring out what your annual spending is and then multiplying this by 25. This should allow you to take out 4-percent of that savings each year to live on. If you’re later to the game with saving for retirement, you’ll just need to find ways to save even harder. 

Learn How Retirement Benefits Work 

When you work, a portion of your earnings goes into Social Security. These are benefits you should be able to receive when you’re able to retire. These benefits should be part of your retirement planning, but should not be your only source of income because you’ll only get a certain amount per month, and that likely will not be enough. You can determine online how you can qualify and what your estimated monthly benefits will look like. 

No one is ever too young to start seriously thinking about retirement. The more you’re able to put into it, the more comfortable you’ll be when you’re able to retire.

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Assessing Startups as an Angel Investor

The startup industry has become a growing source of financing for new businesses, and the public market is playing an increased role every year. Angel investors are also growing in numbers, eager to find and support these ventures with timely investments. The challenge for angels is that many new companies consider varying degrees of success, challenges, and potential returns. As an angel investor, you might find yourself frustrated that many startups are at such early stages of development, and hard to assess their potential.

Angel Investing

Angel investors are anyone who invests in startup companies, whether in their seed stage or at a later stage. They typically have a deep technical knowledge of the sector and can provide valuable feedback on the business plan and strategies undertaken by the startup. In addition, angels can provide capital to new businesses in ways that may not be possible through any other financing source.

As an angel investor, you can play a critical role in the success of startups by assessing them early and providing crucial feedback to management. The six steps below should help you do that, but even with these simplified steps, it is essential to remember that there is more to it than simply reading a pitch deck or business plan.

Get to Know the Business

This step is crucial for an investor in the seed stage. Your role is to understand the business and its potential, and the industry it works within. To get this information, spend time with management talking through their go-to-market strategy, technology platform, and target market. Be sure to ask questions that help you understand how they will grow and make their company successful.

Assess Their Risk Assessment

The best business leaders know how to take risks without being reckless. They also know how to assess risk and take action accordingly. With this in mind, angel investors need to assess a startup’s risk assessment. Let’s say you’re thinking about investing in a comedy club trying to open new locations in other cities. Do they have their employees participate in active shooter training drills? Are they prepared for the possibility of another pandemic-related lockdown? These are the sorts of things you need to know before choosing to put your money behind a seemingly promising startup.

Review Financials

Determining financials for a venture capital deal may not be relevant for angel investments. However, startups are constantly raising capital through rounds, and knowing the numbers is essential. Angel investors want to understand how the business will grow, whether they are in the seed stage or later. Founders should be able to forecast where they expect the company to be at all locations.

Understand the Growth Drivers

Understanding the potential of a business as an angel investor will be more challenging than assessing its financials. The critical question that needs to be answered is how a startup will grow. This step involves looking at growth drivers, e.g., technology, market penetration, marketing, sales, etc., and whether they are realistic and achievable. Growth drivers are critical because they will use them to assess the growth potential.

Understand the Competition

Assessing competition is also a critical step for an angel investor. Although competition can be challenging, it is essential to understand how startups will differentiate themselves from the competition and position themselves in the market. The key is not to look at a single idea but instead to know how the company will execute its strategy and position itself in the market against its competitors.

Assess the Team, Execution, and Financials

This step is vital for both seed-stage and later-stage investors. The team is critical because it will execute all of the above. Management should have plans for hiring the right talent to execute their strategy. Investors also like to see that management has a strong track record and network. As an investor, you also want to see that the company has a sound financial plan, starting with revenue projections, investment needs, and a breakdown of how it will utilize the capital.

Share Your Work

Angel investors should not rely solely on their judgment to decide whether an investment is suitable for them. Instead, they should share the work they did in the previous steps with other experts in the field that they trust, who may be able to provide more critical feedback. The reason is simple: as an investor, you want to protect your investment, and it is essential to have other eyes look over your work before making a final decision.

The steps outlined above are just a snapshot of what an investor should be doing when reviewing a startup. An angel investor is tasked with evaluating many different areas to come up with a conclusion. For example, suppose there is a company that has raised funding through rounds and needs more. In that case, the investor should evaluate whether they will receive the capital they need or be better off securing new investors that may have a better market position or have more money in hand.

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Here’s How to Make Credit Work for You Instead of Against You

It is hard to live in modern society without any form of credit. You can’t get an apartment without passing a credit check. Unless you happen to have $30,000 doing nothing in the bank, you are not going to get a new car without credit. Even a potential spouse might want to see your credit report before tying the knot. It is a pretty good idea that more people should consider. If you haven’t checked in a while, you will want to take a look at your credit report so that you can see what might be holding you back.

If you’re not careful, credit can do more harm than good. Even if you’re careful, things sometimes get out of hand. Once they do, it is a short distance between bad and worse. No one wants to admit they have a credit problem because it is embarrassing. It suggests that you are irresponsible and bad with money. It brings everything about your decision-making into question. When a person’s credit card is rejected at the check-out counter, they always insist that it is a problem with the company. No one wants to admit that they messed up in such a socially awkward way. If this has happened to you, consider the following ways to get control of your credit before it gets control of you:

Get a Credit-Building Loan

Whether it is for debt consolidation or an emergency purchase, you are going to encounter a situation that requires more money than you have in a bank. You are going to need a loan. Regardless of what kind of loan it is, you are going to need to provide background information and possibly documentation. It is already a little embarrassing that you have to apply for a loan. Don’t get rejected because you don’t know where your birth certificate is.

Get a replacement birth certificate now when you don’t need it so you can have it ready when you do. A birth certificate will serve as one of the two forms of ID when needed. Some types of applications require it regardless of other ID you present. The important takeaway is that you will not be able to get a loan to repair your credit or any other reason without the proper documentation.

Savings

It doesn’t have to be one or the other. You can deploy a strategy of combining credit and savings to get the things you want. Step one is to save enough money to purchase the item you want and set that money aside. From there, you can use your credit card to purchase the item. Use the money you set aside to make your payments. To avoid interest payments, you can pay the balance the moment it is due. That way, you build credit without incurring interest or worrying about not being able to pay it off later.

You can also save money for the things you want and only reserve your good credit for things you absolutely need. Doing this successfully means you have to have the discipline of knowing the difference between the two and not rationalizing the one for the other. We can easily convince ourselves that what we want and what we need are the same thing. The real key to knowing the difference is asking yourself if the purchase can wait for a few weeks or if it has to be done right now. If it can wait, it should wait until you have built up some temporary savings. You still get what you want while protecting your credit.

Apply for Credit Before You need It

When you use credit strictly for emergency purposes, you don’t know when you are going to need it. If you are uncertain about your credit status, One of the best ways to find out is to apply for a reputable credit card and see if you can get it. Some will worry about whether applying for credit will hurt their credit. That is not the biggest concern if you don’t get it. The bigger concern is discovering why you didn’t get it so that you can correct the situation for when you need it. If you do get it, hang onto it so that you will have a safety net if things go bad at a later time.

Credit is neither bad nor good. It is all down to how you use it. Get all of your documentation in order so you can apply when needed. Use credit to complement savings. And apply before you need it so that you can correct any issues that come up.