All posts by Akeela Zahair

Digital Banking
ArticlesBanking

Over a Quarter of Brits Now Have an Account with a Digital-Only Bank

Digital Banking
  • The number of Brits with a digital-only bank account has gone up by a percentage increase of 16% 

  • Almost 1 in 6 Brits (17%) plan to open a digital bank account over the next 5 years

  • The top reason for opening an account was the convenience of banking online for the third year running

  • However, 16% of traditional banking customers who aren’t planning to switch said their bank had been helpful during the COVID pandemic

Currently over a quarter of Brits (27%) say they have at least one bank account with a digital-only bank, according to personal finance comparison site finder.com.

This is a percentage increase of 16% from last year when 23% of Brits said they had an account with a digital bank. It is also over 3 times the amount of Brits who had one in January 2019 (9%).

Finder’s 2019 research found that 24% of Brits intended to have a digital-only account by 2024. However with 27% now having an account, Brits have gone digital 3 years earlier than expected.

A further 17% of Brits intend to join them over the next 5 years, with 11% planning to do so over the next year. This could mean that 44% of Brits could have an account with a digital bank by 2026. If this percentage were applied to the UK adult population, it would equal almost 23 million people.

The top reason for opening an account continues to be convenience that digital-only banks provide, for the third year running (26%). The second most common reason was that users needed an additional account and setting up a digital account seemed to be the easiest option (20%). Customers also wanted to transfer money more easily (19%), making this the third biggest priority.

People wanting a trendy card is still driving signups as well, with 1 in 10 (10%) existing, or future, customers citing this as a reason to get an account.

Despite the increase in digital-only banking customers, the numbers who aren’t considering one have actually risen. Last year, 23% of respondents said they aren’t considering a digital-only bank account, but this has risen substantially to 42% in the latest survey. 

This is likely a result of increased customer loyalty, 58% of those without a digital bank account said they felt as though their incumbent bank had treated them well and therefore had no desire to open a digital bank account. Additionally, 16% felt as though their incumbent bank had performed particularly well during the pandemic. 

Over a third (36%) of those without a digital bank account said they had not decided to bank with digital providers because they preferred to be able to speak to someone in branch. 

Digital banks are still most popular with younger generations, 46% of gen Z say they currently have a digital bank account, with a further 28% intending to get one over the next 5 years. This would mean that by 2026 just under three quarters of gen Z (73%) could have a digital bank account. 

Commenting on the findings, Matt Boyle, banking specialist  at finder.com said: 

“This research shows that digital-only banks are here to stay, with the number of users in the UK rising for 3 years straight. On top of this, Starling and Revolut announced this year that they have made a profit for the first time, really demonstrating that digital banks are starting to become a serious part of the banking furniture. 

“The pandemic has also played a role in the rapid digitalisation of the banking industry, with those who had never experienced online banking having no other choice but to take their finances online. It seems that Brits are starting to realise the convenience that can come with digital banking and this is reflected in our research.”

To see the research in full visit: https://www.finder.com/uk/digital-banking-adoption

Successful Business
ArticlesDue DiligenceRisk Management

Your Business Is Successful: What To Do Next

Successful Business

In the world of business, huge triumphs are hard fought for.

Therefore, it’s important that you don’t squander all that your entrepreneurial journey has meant to you so far. While it can be incredibly difficult to reap any rewards from your own venture, it’s almost just as difficult to retain your success in the days ahead. A balanced, rational approach is undoubtedly needed.

Success is not the end of your journey, but a new beginning. Here’s a few ideas on what to do next.

 

Remain Rational

Even if your finances have undergone a radical makeover in recent times, it’s still important to be level-headed.

In October 2018, The Guardian reported on an American entrepreneur who made millions in commercial radio, but lost it all after falling victim to a textbook investment scam that could have easily been avoided. He died broke. Obviously, there’s a lesson to be learned here.

It’s easy to feel like you’re invincible after success has come your way. However, success can be a fickle thing and provide a false sense of security. No one is above human error and the occasional bout of poor judgement. So, invest by all means, but do so via legitimate channels for a strategic gain, and keep your wits about you.

 

Reward Yourself Smartly

Just as it is easy to fall prey to dodgy investment schemes, its also possible to spend in excess and waste your money via your own volition.

There are people in the world who would claw tooth and nail for a tiny fraction of what you have, so it’s important to not only enjoy your success, but to respect it also. That means utilising it wisely and enjoying the fruits of your labours in a controlled, strategic, and smart fashion.

If you want to dabble in high-end property, for example, then consult million-pound mortgage experts. The dedicated brokers of Ennes Global negotiate the best possible lending terms, and endeavour to provide all their clients with a smooth, clean transaction experience. Answering questions, running calculations, and providing strong advice – it’s all their bread and butter. Every investment you make that’s backed by their services is guaranteed to be a good one.

 

Find the Pattern

Congratulations, you’re successful! Now things need to stay that way.

Coronavirus has widely been reported to be the bane of businesses the world over. However, it’s undeniable that some industries have thrived despite all the doom and gloom. Online retailers, fast food services, and delivery companies have all seen a huge uptick in their productivity and profits. Of course, there’s also the real chance the boom won’t last when the crisis is abated.

Find the pulse of your success as soon as it arrives and ascertain whether it’s a temporary bit of fortune or the product of a real, recurring strategy of your own making. Many businesses ebb and flow, sometimes not staying at the pinnacle of their potential for long, so it’s important to identify exactly what is going right in your firm and sticking to whatever is working like glue.

It’s also important to plan for when outside circumstances like pandemics, the economy, and shopping trends might change. What then? Keep an eye on the future, and make sure your business is flexible enough that it isn’t a one trick pony. That way, things won’t collapse the moment the wind changes, because while firms can experience a huge surge in profits, they can crash into oblivion just as hard also.  

Approved
ArticlesFinance

How to get Approved for Finance

Approved


Applying and then being rejected for equipment finance or loans for your business can be disappointing and frustrating, not to mention time consuming, even more so in the current climate. This is why we are encouraging our businesses to follow the correct process and work with us to process their applications efficiently and have a better chance of securing the best deal possible.

It’s safe to say that lenders do not need an excuse to turn down applications, which means your application needs to tick every box, cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’, in order to give you the best possible chance. Our job is to help you, so here are some of our top tips on how to get approved for finance.

 

Have a target outcome in mind

Lenders will either provide finance for your equipment, to help support your business and its operations, selling to customers, such as a frying range for a chip shop, oven for a restaurant or squat rack for a gym. However, you may require a business loan, which may support your business by helping to invest in equipment, stabilise cash flow as well as giving you money for a rainy day. By establishing which of these two target outcomes is suitable for you and your business, you can ensure you get the right finance for the right reasons, giving your business the best time of investment.

 

Get the right equipment

Most lenders prefer equipment in a good condition from a recognised supplier, such as those we work with at Johnson Reed. The finance for your equipment will be secured against the value of the asset, therefore the working condition, type and origin of the equipment will help to reassure the lender that it can help your business, whether its use is directly or indirectly connected to turnover, in order to be sure your business can repay the finance. This gives the lender confidence in your business and the investment.

 

Have a rationale

Your business is more likely to be accepted for finance if you have a clear rationale or business plan for the purchase. By answering the following questions:

What is the finance for?

How will it be used?

How will it benefit your business

How will it help you generate turnover?

the lender will be able to clearly see the plan for the business, how it can generate revenue using the finance, giving confidence to the lender to accept your rationale and confidence that you can make repayments. Being prepared and knowing your business inside out, as of course you do, is exactly how you can you can boost your chances to secure that all important investment for your business.

 

Check your credit score and documents

By having your credit score in order (we use Experian), with updated history, addresses, details and information, as well as any documents ready-to-hand. Having information and documents such as bank statements, accounts, ID and rationale for investment can all help to ensure your application is processed quickly and efficiently, without delays or hesitation from the lender.

 

Think like an underwriter

You need to install confidence in underwriters when applying for finance. They are paid to assess your application by scrutinising every aspect of it, to establish whether there are any doubts about you or your business, and its ability to succeed in repaying the finance that you need. Therefore, it makes sense to think like one, try and visualise what they are thinking when processing your application. Are you presenting the best case for your business to be approved? Are you presenting a clear rationale, with up-to-date documents and reasoning behind any questions they have regarding your business? The answer to these questions needs to be ‘yes’ to give your business the best chance.

 

We know how important investing in your business is, and how it has to be done right. This is why we offer hands-on support to our clients in securing their funds, at the best price, because rates matter, to us and to you, when it’s your business.

If you are interested in a business loan, equipment finance or leasing from Johnson Reed, visit our website, drop us a call (0161 429 6949) or an email ([email protected]).

Finance
ArticlesBankingTransactional and Investment Banking

2021’s Major Investment Risks – But Why it Could Be a Year of Massive Opportunity

Finance

Investment headwinds will “still exceed the tailwinds” in 2021 – but there could be more “major opportunities now than in perhaps the last 10 years” if you know where to look.
 
This is the bold and, given 2020, perhaps surprisingly optimistic forecast from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.
 
It comes as investors around the world focus on rebalancing portfolios for 2021, after a year no-one expected.
 
Mr Green says: “2020 was a year for which nobody had planned.
 
“This included investors, many of whom were caught spectacularly off-guard by not having properly diversified portfolios, which left them open to untold financial risks.
 
“Looking ahead to 2021, it is likely that investment headwinds will still exceed the tailwinds – but, I believe, that there are also more major investment opportunities to be had in the next year than perhaps in the last decade.”
 
‘Headwinds’ are the factors that likely weigh on growth and returns, and ‘tailwinds’ are those that can be expected to boost growth and help drive positive returns.
 
He continues: “The major long-term headwind from the fallout of 2020 is unemployment, which will hit demand, growth and investment.
 
“There’s also the roll-out of a mass global vaccination agenda which will be a lengthy process and logistical minefield, plus there are the ‘vaccine sceptic’ concerns to address.
 
“Meanwhile there are geopolitical issues that could impact on investor returns. These include the significant readjustment that will need to happen following Brexit, U.S.-China trade relations which are likely to become increasingly competitive especially in the tech sector, and the rising border tensions between India and China, amongst others.”
 
However, despite the significant headwinds, the deVere CEO flags three major investment tailwinds in 2021.
 
“First, the rollout of the Covid vaccines which means economies can be expected to begin solid recoveries,” he says.
 
“Second, President-elect Joe Biden will enter office and his administration promises a more predictable approach to trade and foreign affairs – and the markets like certainty.
 
“And third, it is likely that governments will continue to offer fiscal support packages as their economies recover from the pandemic, offering a ‘floor’ for markets.”
 
Mr Green goes on to add: “To quote Einstein, ‘In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.’
 
“This is why, after such a monumental crisis, I believe that if you know where to look and act appropriately to build your wealth, there could be plenty of key opportunities to come.
 
“The pandemic has accelerated history, speeding up and exacerbating major trends in just a few months, that ordinarily might have taken decades to be fully realised.”
 
He maintains that the global economy, how we live, do business and interact remains fundamentally changed.  “It is doubtful the world will go back exactly to how it was pre-Covid – there are many aspects of the ‘new normal’ which people like and support, just a home working.  As such, some of the major shifts are unlikely to be reversed,” he notes.
  
“As such, investors need to look for the lower entry points of quality companies to top-up their portfolios and, critically, they need to bear in mind how the world has changed. 

“Their portfolios must reflect the future, not the past.”
 
Mr Green concludes: “Headwinds will surpass tailwinds in 2021 as the world readjusts, but it’s essential that investors stay invested. As we know, history has shown us that stock markets tend to go up over the long-term.
 
“But as the world moves ahead to a post-pandemic era, it’s crucial that investors ensure their portfolios are suitably diversified across asset classes, sectors, currencies and regions, so as to make the most of the considerable opportunities that will inevitably present themselves.”

Finance Management
ArticlesFunds

Beating the City – Could it Pay to be Your Own Fund Manager

Finance Management

By Ben Hobson, Markets Editor, Stockopedia 

For investors, it’s an incredibly unsettling time. Uncertainty continues to sweep the stock market and it’s anyone’s guess just how far the economic impact of coronavirus will spread. 

Some sectors have been sucker-punched by the crisis, such as airlines, leisure and travel. In a few cases, companies are facing a battle for survival. 

However, you can beat the City with a little know how. 

Ben Hobson, Markets Editor at Stockopedia explains why now might be the perfect time to break free and run your own investment portfolio.

 

Keep your costs down 

Ideally, you want to keep the annual costs of running your own portfolio below 2.5% to beat the cost of owning a fund. 

Fund expense ratios are often listed very appealingly at, for example, 0.75%, but this often fails to take into account a layer of hidden fees and transaction costs that can easily take the true cost of investing in a fund up to and beyond 2.5% or even as much as 4% annually. 

Diversification can deliver higher returns and buffer against market downturns, but you don’t need upwards of 100 stocks to benefit, like in many mutual funds. After all, as the number of stocks you own increases, so do the costs of rebalancing the portfolio. 

The optimal level of diversification for a portfolio is arguable, but some luminaries have argued that you only need 6-8 stocks to get the lion’s share of diversification benefits. Research shows that 15 stocks in a portfolio can give 87% of the benefits of full diversification. 

From our own analysis, it starts to pay to be your own fund manager when you’ve got £25k to invest or more – but even trading smaller sums can provide valuable experience as you build your portfolio. 

 

Give every stock a role  

Try and take a more portfolio-based approach and think about your overall strategy. That means worrying less about individual stocks (narrow framing) and seeing the bigger, long-term picture. 

Narrow framing is when you make decisions without thinking about their wider impact, like the effect of a stock purchase on your portfolio. This can lead to all sorts of potentially costly mistakes and could mean your portfolio becomes over-laden with stocks that all have similar characteristics, leaving you over-exposed. 

Instead, give every stock a role that serves the rest of the portfolio. That mix might include large-cap blue-chips, small-cap growth plays, fast-moving cyclicals and perhaps some dependable defensives. And follow a firm strategy and fight the instincts of selling winners and holding losers. 

 

Resist the urge to react  

Fund managers are well trained to keep a level head. After all, it isn’t their money they’re winning or losing. 

Being your own fund manager is a time-consuming activity and with your own money at stake, it’s easy to become oversensitive to market movements.  

However, checking your portfolio too much or becoming emotionally wrapped up in day-to-day market shifts means you’ll be likely to miss the opportunity to reap the rewards of holding on for an uptick in value. Don’t forget that each trade  costs you in fees, which can add up over time and eat away at returns.  

To anchor your thought processes and protect against that urge to react instantly to market movements, make sure you build and refine your own investment strategy, then apply it consistently across your portfolio.  

 

Time to go global 

Home bias can increase risk and cost money in terms of missed opportunities.  

It’s never been easier to go global with your investments, with electronic markets and masses of company information available at your fingertips, so if you’re managing your own portfolio there really is no excuse not to look further afield for the best investments.. 

Investing is always risky and prudence is required when dealing in unfamiliar markets – but exercising caution and demanding a margin of safety is always good practice regardless of where you are investing . 

One way of partially addressing this concern is to rule out developing markets (or use ETFs) and focus instead on the big, global indexes. 

You can also mitigate concerns around a lack of knowledge of overseas markets by sticking to systematic, factor-based investing methods. This approach analyses a share’s core fundamentals – like value, quality and momentum – over time to project future rises or dips in value, which can help to minimise the risks of behavioural biases and knowledge gaps. 

Crypto currency
ArticlesFinance

3 Signs That Crypto Is Going Mainstream

Crypto currency

 

This Bitcoin bull run is different from 2017’s because cryptocurrency is showing all the signs of going mainstream in the next couple of years

For a long time, cryptocurrency was the preserve of a small group of tech enthusiasts and hardcore libertarians. This began to change in 2017 when Bitcoin hit staggering heights and the front pages of most newspapers. After the great crash of 2018, however, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies dropped off the radar of mainstream consciousness.

Bitcoin was still a popular asset but primarily one for savvy individuals trading on exchanges and consumers making derivatives bets via smartphone apps. But the latter half of 2020 saw a change. Today, all the signs point to crypto going mainstream and becoming part of our daily lives.

 

1. The PayPal Effect

With over 305 million active accounts and a merchant network of 22 million, PayPal has a large reach. This is why the company’s bombshell announcement that it would start allowing users to buy, and more importantly spend, cryptocurrency was so big. Users would be locked into PayPal’s network, which will not be enough for crypto purists. But it provides an easier way than ever before for people to buy and sell cryptocurrency.
PayPal’s decision will help to normalize cryptocurrency for large numbers of people and merchants who would never have considered it before. The key is that most people are familiar with how PayPal works. So it provides a frictionless way for merchants to accept crypto payments without being forced to integrate new tools into their e-commerce packages. In other words, it makes cryptocurrency simple.
The decision has come with some limitations. For the moment, it is limited to the United States. And perhaps more important, users will be unable to withdraw cryptocurrency from the PayPal wallet. This means that PayPal is acting as a sort of “crypto gateway,” rather than allowing users to truly own and control their cryptocurrencies.
That being said, the deal is still significant and represents a leap forward in crypto education and acceptance.

 

2. Institutional Capital Is Obsessed With Bitcoin

The most recent Bitcoin bull run differs from 2017 because it is being fuelled in part by institutional investment capital. Household names in the investment world, including Grayscale, MassMutual, and even Goldman Sachs, have jumped headfirst into the world of cryptocurrency. Indeed Greyscale now has over $19 billion in crypto-assets and that figure looks set to grow.
This rush of investor capital is significant as it represents a “stronger hand” than many of the retail investors currently in cryptocurrency. Many companies that are betting on crypto will be looking to hold their assets for the long term. One of the more ambitious claims was from Microstrategy, which is looking to hold onto its newly acquired BTC for 100 years or more. 
In theory, this capital increases the underlying value of Bitcoin. This effect is compounded because the supply of Bitcoin is capped at 21 million. This means that scarcity will cause an increase in value as demand continues to rise. In the long term, this will lead to other cryptocurrencies being lifted by Bitcon’s rising tide, as investors late to the party seek a better deal with more affordable options.
 

3. A Crypto Ecosystem Is Being Built

The other success story of 2020 is Ethereum, which has grown by more than 455% to $723. This impressive growth has been driven primarily by an explosion in DeFi apps, and the much-anticipated update to Ethereum 2.0.
DeFi apps are designed to mimic real-world financial instruments and have attracted around $14 billion in locked crypto assets. The most popular so far have been lending apps and decentralized exchanges.
The apps work using smart contracts and the vast majority use the ERC20 token protocol. This means they use the Ethereum blockchain. These smart contracts enable decentralized apps to do things like allowing P2P crypto exchanges and lending without the need for a 3rd party adjudicator.
The problem is that each contract functions as a transaction and so needs to be approved by validators on the Ethereum blockchain. The sheer popularity of DeFi apps has led to a significant slowdown in 2020, which some saw as a block on growth. The Ethereum 2.0 update will go some way towards fixing this via a switch to Proof of Stake, which will improve scalability.
If the Ethereum 2.0 update proves to be workable, it could be a bedrock upon which a fully decentralized crypto ecosystem is built. This will enable crypto holders to access financial services without being forced to use fiat currency and could open up a whole new world.

 

Crypto Is Here to Stay

Perhaps the biggest sign that the world is warming up to crypto comes from JPMorgan’s own Jamie Dimon. The famous executive was one of the more vocal voices comparing Bitcoin, and by extension cryptocurrencies generally, to a scam akin to the famous Dutch tulip mania. Now he openly admits that Bitcoin and the technologically underpinning it has potential, but it is simply not his “cup of tea.”
With even staunch skeptics coming around, it’s clear that cryptocurrency is here to stay and you may even find yourself using your own crypto wallet in the near future. If you aren’t already, that is.
digital payment
ArticlesBankingFX and Payment

FICO UK Credit Market Report November 2020

digital payment

New Data Raises Concerns About Post-Christmas Payments as Consumers Raise Card Spending

Global analytics software provider FICO today released its analysis of UK card trends for November 2020, which reflects the mixed financial fortunes of UK consumers as well as highlighting the continuing debt waiting game.

“Our new data shows that despite the introduction of the second national lockdown, credit card spend increased in November, as Christmas shopping got underway, boosted by Black Friday,” explained Stacey West, principal consultant for FICO® Advisors.

“Spending on UK credit cards is now only 2.6 percent lower than a year ago; either consumers are feeling confident enough about their finances to increase their spending levels or they simply need the cheer of Christmas to counteract the continued gloom of COVID-19, whether they can afford it or not. The concern is that a proportion of spend is being funded by the current government financial support for those on furlough. Payment holidays on existing credit agreements are also probably taking the pressure off outgoings and giving some consumers a false sense of financial wellbeing.”

“There could be a real issue after Christmas as payment deferrals come to an end in early 2021 and furloughs at the end of April (unless they are once more extended). Christmas debts will be unmanageable for some. The sudden introduction of tier 4 and the anticipation that these measures will be in place for months means extra pressure and hardship on many businesses, especially at one of the most profitable times of year.”

 

Spend on UK cards increased and percentage of payments to balance dropped

Average spending on UK credit cards increased by £19 to £638 in November and is now only 2.6 percent lower year on year.

But the percentage of payments to balance fell for the first time since June. The percentage paying the minimum amount on their cards also increased for the first time since June and was especially noticeable for accounts opened less than a year.

 

Increase in missed payments

The one missed payment rates continue to be dynamic, reducing in November; for accounts open less than a year, the percentage of accounts missing one payment reached over a two-year low. However, the average balance on accounts missing one payment is now only £4 lower than a year ago.

Of greater concern is the percentage of accounts and balances with two missed payments, which increased for the fourth consecutive month. The average balance on these accounts grew to over a two-year high in November. Here too, there has been large annual growth in the average balance, which is now £252 higher than November 2019. For three missed payments it is £411 higher.

West added: “We are now starting to see that consumers missing payments have higher average balances. There are also signs that once a payment is missed, this is never recovered. A robust pre-delinquency process is, therefore, more important than ever to prevent the customer going down the collections route. Pre-collections treatment can open the dialogue on the sensitive subject of financial difficulties and help avoid negative actions and increased stress once payments start to be missed.”

Equity Crowdfunding
ArticlesEquityFunds

Research Says Equity Crowdfunding Makes Firms More Appealing to Future Investors

Successful equity crowdfunding campaigns make companies more appealing to future venture capital financing, reveals new research from Trinity Business School.

According to research from Dr Francesca Di Pietro, Assistant Professor in Business Strategy at Trinity Business School, firms that successfully obtain equity crowdfunding, in which people invest in a company in return for shares in that firm, are more likely to attract future venture capital financing.

The researchers suggest that this is because receiving equity crowdfunding signals an entrepreneurs’ quality, as well as the firms’ market appeal, making the company more appealing to venture capital investors.

In undertaking the study, the researchers used a dataset of 290 UK firms that had successfully fundraised using two prominent equity crowdfunding sites.

Di Pietro and her colleagues also analysed and compared how different shareholder structures impacted the likelihood of future venture capital investment, finding that firms who used the nominee shareholder structure (in which shares are held and managed by crowdfunding platforms in place of actual shareholders) were more likely to receive subsequent venture capital finance than companies using a direct shareholder structure.

The research adds to discussions around the entrepreneurship and signalling theory by recognising the role of crowdfunding as a mechanism for companies to signal their value using those who have already invested.

Dr Francesca Di Pietro, Assistant Professor in Business Strategy at Trinity Business School, says:

“For entrepreneurs: If you are thinking about launching an equity crowdfunding campaign, you may want to consider the “nominee shareholder structure”, i.e. one legal shareholder (i.e., the nominee/platform) that holds the shares on behalf of the crowd investors.”

This research was published in the Journal of Corporate Finance.
ArticlesMarkets

MarketFinance Lends £342m, End of Term Report Shows Trends and Insights

 

More loans, larger businesses and a regional shift – these are some of the trends and insights that fintech business lender MarketFinance observed during 2020.

 

Key insights
  • MarketFinance lent a total of £342.4m across all solutions, over the first 11 months of 2020. Representing a 3.4% increase in total lending over the same period in 2019 (£331.1m)

  • The profile of companies using invoice financing changed significantly during COVID-19. Those businesses using invoice financing were both larger than usual (an average turnover of £2.1m, compared to £1.3m in 2019, a 60% increase) and received 83% more financing on average than they did in 2019

  • Businesses in London, Hertfordshire, the East of England and the South West experienced the greatest drops in invoice financing year on year, with a 45% decrease in London alone. These geographies are hubs for the Support Services and Information & Communication industries, indicative of how hard these sectors have been hit by COVID-19

  • Demand for business loans soared with a 13-fold increase in loans between Q2 and Q3 2020. The majority of loans (60%) were made to businesses in Support Services, Wholesale & Retail Trade, Manufacturing and Construction.

 
Q1 and Q2 2020

The UK’s economic prospects showed signs of turning early in 2020, as Brexit-related uncertainty began to fade. Despite the promising start to the year at MarketFinance, with larger businesses borrowing, this upward turn halted suddenly when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. The country and economy, effectively, went into lock down at the end of March. However, during this time when UK GDP crashed by 2.2% across Q1, it was also the first sign of the coming shift for many companies towards new alternative financial mechanisms.

As of Q2, 46% of businesses reported that income was down by 50% and so the number of companies using invoice finance dropped by 35%. However, while smaller companies with a narrow spectrum of business activity looked to other financial solutions, larger businesses with diversified workflows (and therefore revenue streams) were able to continue using invoice-backed facilities to boost their cash flow. The average revenue of these companies was over double what it had been during the same period the previous year, growing to £2.1m, an increase of 127%. In fact, while approved company applications for invoice finance went down, invoice values actually went up. The average size of an invoice being financed increased significantly in Q2 in comparison to the previous four quarters.

 

Q3 2020

MarketFinance became an accredited CBILS lender and so the quantity and concentration of loans advanced increased by a significant 13 times compared with Q2. Interestingly, over a third (36%) of all loans to manufacturing companies went to those based in the Midlands.

Anil Stocker, CEO of MarketFinance commented: “Small businesses will play the pivotal role in the UK’s economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic, and we are confident that the bounce back will, with the right support, be swift. These linchpins of our economic fabric will require innovative, sustainable and tailored financial solutions that are fit for purpose in a post-pandemic world. It is up to all of us – accountants, brokers, business advisors, banks and lenders – to continue to step up to the plate and help these businesses survive and thrive.”

 

Q4 2020

Invoice finance was showing gradual growth as of mid-November 2020, suggesting some normalisation of business activity, despite the second UK lockdown. Although the number of companies using invoice finance per quarter dropped by 55% from Q1 to Q2, the figures for Q4 appear to be trending up on both Q2 and Q3. There’s some way to go before we see levels return to those of 2019, but there’s every sign of businesses recovering well as we move into 2021.

COVID-19 continues to affect global supply chains. Manufacturing, Wholesale & Retail Trade, and Construction companies have sought further funding to see them through the pandemic and beyond. Manufacturing companies received 19% of all MarketFinance loans across industries. 32% went to companies in the Midlands, 21% to companies in London and another 21% to companies in the South West, also continuing the trend from Q3. Facing significant challenges to both importing and exporting, Wholesale & Retail Trade companies received 15% of loans across industries, with 40% of these to companies in London.

Anil Stocker added: “Of course, the challenges and uncertainties that 2020 has presented won’t end come January. Businesses will have to navigate the aftermath of COVID-19 for months to come. However, although a lot of businesses have felt a negative impact over the past year, many have executed successful pivots and taken advantage of new opportunities that presented themselves. We’re hopeful that this strong comeback signals we’re already past the worst of the situation. We’ve also been incredibly proud of business support networks up and down the country. They’ve rallied together to support businesses throughout the year and we expect to see this support continue. We’re excited to carry on providing SMEs with the working capital they need to grow, innovate and build towards a successful future.”

Online shopping
ArticlesMarkets

Online Retail Sales Growth Shows Lockdown 2.0 killed the High Street’s Revival, Says ParcelHero

ParcelHero says today’s ONS retail figures show e-commerce devoured over 31% of early Christmas spending as the High Street shut up shop once again in November.
November’s retail sales estimates, released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reveal the High Street’s loss was online’s gain. Online sales spiked by 74.7% in value as early-bird Christmas shoppers hit the internet in record numbers.
The home delivery specialist ParcelHero says that the closure of non-essential stores across England for the second time this year caused the value of overall retail sales to fall back in November -4.1% compared to the previous month. This had a devastating impact on town centre stores’ sales but created record sales online.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT, says: ‘England’s High Streets became ghost towns once more, as shoppers hunkered down in the warmth and safety of their own homes to snap up thousands of early Christmas bargains. Black Friday had an epic lead-in this November and Brits made the most of it by snapping up online bargains at Amazon and their favourite stores. The boom in online sales was so strong that it dragged up the volume of all retail sales by 2.4% compared to November 2019.
“This was great news for online retailers but highly challenging for their delivery partners as the value of department stores,” online orders increased by 157.2% and household goods stores and non-food sites saw sales rise by 124.7%. The sheer volume of home deliveries will have had a knock-on effect as Christmas orders really kicked in early this month.
“It’s no coincidence that the second lockdown was topped and tailed by the failure of well-known names such as Edinburgh Woollen Mill at the beginning and Debenhams and Topshop at the end. This was a truly dark month for the High Street with names such as Peacocks, Jaeger and Burton also collapsing into administration. Clothing stores reported the sharpest decline in sales volumes in November with a monthly fall of -19.0%. Retailers said that, despite extensive online Black Friday promotions, the enforced closure of stores had affected sales. Clothing sales were still a whopping -30.5% below pre-pandemic levels seen in February.”
“However, many retailers have woken up and smelled the Christmas gingerbread-flavoured coffee. 86.9% of businesses remained trading during Lockdown 2.0 suggesting that, despite store closures, many were able to continue to trade online.”
“Both consumers and retailers need to proceed cautiously for what remains of this year to avoid the impact of still soaring online sales. The beginning of the week is being dubbed ‘Manic Monday’ as last-minute orders are expected to swamp courier networks. For more information on how retailers can reduce the impact of the second wave by comparing carriers,” prices and services, see ParcelHero’s updated guide at https://www.parcelhero.com/en-gb/uk-courier-services.
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ArticlesEquityFunds

UK Medicinal Cannabis Company Eco Equity Hits £18.3 Million Funding Target

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Company set on being a leading supplier in Europe as market opens up
UK-based medicinal cannabis company Eco Equity, owned by  private equity fund vehicle JPD Capital, has raised £18.3 million to enable it to become one of Europe’s leading suppliers of medicinal cannabis.
Eco Equity – founded in 2018 – is a London-based company with operational facilities in Zimbabwe, including a state-of-the-art greenhouse cultivation facility, having secured one of five licences to cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes in Zimbabwe in late 2018. Cultivation was due to start as scheduled in the second quarter of 2020, however coronavirus has delayed that until the end of Q4 2020.
Eco Equity has been operating under the corporation structure of medicinal cannabis investment vehicle JPD Capital since its inception and recently closed round two of its fundraising, having reached the target of £18.3 million (US$24.3m).
Jon-Paul Doran, CEO of JPD Capital, said: “Research has shown that there are tremendous benefits from medicinal cannabis for people with illnesses such as epilepsy, arthritis and many more.”
He added: “We want to position ourselves as one of the leading pharmaceutical producers of medicinal cannabis. As a low-cost producer we believe we can bring the produce into the UK through the right channels at a price point which makes it accessible to people who desperately need it.”
Medicinal cannabis was legalised for prescription in the UK in 2018, joining the growing number of countries around the world have already legalised medical cannabis or are considering doing so.
Eco Equity is currently a private listing and was offering pre-IPO shares at £0.10p each at its inception in 2018, after a recent audit by Baker Tilly in 2020 Eco Equity was valued at US$210m (£163m) and shares valued at US$0.72 (£0.56p).
Eco Equity is now a fully funded entity within the JPD Capital portfolio and is now engaged in rapid scaling of its operation and infrastructure to achieve fully operational status. The company is expected to generate US$57.7 million (£43.3m) in gross revenues when fully operational, with EBT of nearly US$33.8 million (£25.4m).
Said Jon-Paul Doran: “We are thrilled to have been able to close our second round of funding for London based Eco Equity and see our first portfolio entity become fully funded.  Since launching over two years ago, our flagship operation with cultivation in Zimbabwe has grown from strength to strength and we are pleased to be able to reward our investors.”
Eco Equity’s Managing Director Tommy Doran in Zimbabwe said: “The coronavirus pandemic has caused issues for many organisations this year, and it is always particularly tough for new industries to avoid collapse. The medicinal cannabis industry has continued to show resilience in the face of adversity, and with the company set to begin cultivation at the beginning of 2021, we are looking forward to the year ahead, rather than looking back on what has been a difficult year across the globe.”
As part of its Q3 and Q4 2020 activities, which require the company to transition from fund raising activity into cultivation and supply for its wholesale customers. Eco Equity has negotiated significant off-take contracts, securing the sale of all produce and ensuring Eco Equity is cash flow positive in 2021, this will generate significant and scalable revenue as the company moves towards an IPO next year.
The third quarter of 2020 was also a period of strategic collaborations for both Eco Equity and JPD Capital. Eco Equity started a Research and Development collaboration with the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) a Zimbabwe-based scientific institute dedicated to “technopreneurial” leadership. 
JPD Capital began its collaboration with the UK Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG) chaired by Crispin Blunt MP, who advocate evidence-based drug policy. The group exists to find and examine the evidence to support policymakers in reducing harm and securing the benefits of evidence-based drug policy.
JPD Capital has also announced its expansion into Europe, including the creation of medicinal cannabis company Íbero Botanica, a joint venture between Verdex Group and JPD Capital, with facilities in Almeria, Spain.  
Verdex Group is an EU licensed Spanish company for research, cultivation and production of cannabis for medicinal and therapeutic pharmaceutical medicine. Verdex Group owns and operates two greenhouse cultivation sites and over 100 hectares of outdoor sites across the Andalucía region in the south of Spain.
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ArticlesFamily OfficesWealth Management

Optimize Office for More Wealth

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A personal workplace should act as a reflection of yourself and highlight your abilities professionally. You want your office to attract wealth and emphasize your talents. To do so, the space should be unique but well-equipped to handle new opportunities as they arise. In the room, you should feel confident and in-control of your future. To potential customers, your office puts them at ease and subconsciously reassures them of your professional abilities.
Here are five ways you can optimize your office for more wealth.

1. Organize Clutter

Clutter makes people feel stressed, while organization systems ease frustrations. It’s pretty simple to decide which would be better to implement in a home office. Takes some time to declutter, and encourage your employees to do the same.
You’ll experience a boost in productivity and potential clients will feel at ease knowing they are working with someone who is professional, organized and efficient.

 

2. Update Wall Design

Sleek new wall paneling adds an element of sophistication to any work setting. Your office should represent your personality without distracting customers from your work. Wood-paneling provides a sense of history, while providing a cozy and custom feel. You want to feel comfortable, while still working in a professional setting that emphasizes productivity.
Optimizing for more wealth means your office should be ready for new opportunities should the situation present itself. By updating your wall design, you’ve prepared a custom office space without compromising design or functionality. It will act as the perfect backdrop for your next client meeting or virtual conference.

 

3. Highlight Achievements

Your office is the perfect place to display your degrees, award and certifications. While working it will motivate you to strive for success. It will also highlight your accomplishments without seeming overly flashy. Reminding yourself and your clients of your achievements will attract wealth and confidence, helping you to reach your goals.
Remember to choose the awards and certifications you’re most proud of that also relate back to your industry. The goal is to look successful without making the space feel cluttered.

 

4. Prioritize Lighting

Lighting can make or break an office space. Natural lighting is proven to boost wellness and productivity, while poor lighting is related to drowsiness. Research also demonstrated a reduction in eyestrain and headaches when natural light was present in work-environments.
While you should prioritize natural lighting, it’s also important to have brightly lit interiors for when the sun begins to set. Aim to have a variety of personalized lighting on desks as well as overhead lighting that will reflect off of the walls and ceiling.

 

5. Emphasize Sophistication and Functionality

Find the balance between furniture that is sophisticated but also functional. You need to feel comfortable to work more efficiently. Look for products which are ergonomic and promote good posture. While you want your office to look fashionable, it’s crucial that your furniture and equipment remains practical.
Subconsciously people trust those who dress sharp and care about their image. As an extension of your professional self, a sophisticated office space will garner more respect than a mismatched room. With respect comes greater opportunities and a stronger reputation, allowing you to charger higher prices.

 

Act the Part

Use these five ways to optimize your office for more wealth. Remember, designing a classy and sophisticated workspace only gets you so far — you need to act the part too. Dress professionally and look well-groomed each day, whether you work from home or go into the office. When you look good, you feel more confident and it impacts your productivity and other’s perception of you.
ArticlesFinance

PayPal Will Soon Include Bitcoin on Its Platform — Is This Good News?

Blockchain tech is going mainstream as the traditional finance world begins to embrace its disruptive potential.

Bitcoin and Ethereum are the market leaders when it comes to cryptocurrency investment by institutions or consumers trading in retail markets. And it’s no secret that both digital assets have helped create many millionaires. But it’s the technology that undergirds it that has the power to change the world.

Blockchain has plenty of applications but centralised blockchains could help to ease the many problems that currently plague our international money-transfer system.

Slow, Expensive Transfers Remain a Major Pain Point

A big challenge for financial institutions is cross-border and cross-country transfers. This is because there is a heavy reliance upon correspondence banks and other middlemen. One of the early attempts to ease this problem came from blockchain company Ripple.

Ripple is better known for its payment network and protocol, rather than its currency (XRP). The project uses an open-source peer-to-peer decentralized platform that acts as an agnostic form of money transfer. It does this using RippleNet, a network of institutional payment providers like banks and money services businesses that leverage Ripple’s technology.

Ripple uses a network of “gateways” to serve as the link between two parties who want to make a transaction and provide liquidity to the system. This helps the company avoid the problems faced by traditional currencies. It also keeps transaction fees as low as $0.00001. Reportedly, one-third of the world’s major banks are already using the platform.

Traditional Fintech Companies Are Jumping on Blockchain

The success of Ripple hasn’t gone unnoticed. For some time now, a number of companies have been toying with blockchain technology. The most recent, and impactful, was the fintech giant PayPal. While there have been many other fintech companies adopting crypto, like Revolut, the news that PayPal was making it possible to buy and sell Bitcoin made big waves.

The company confirmed that users in the US would be able to trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash using their PayPal accounts. The service will be rolled out to Vemo and other geographical areas over the first half of 2021 and users will be able to use their cryptocurrency to purchase goods and products via PayPal.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies saw a sudden price rise as many traders and investors learned the news. It was generally seen as a sign that cryptocurrency had taken another big step towards the mainstream.

But there is a problem. PayPal users will not be able to withdraw cryptocurrency from the company’s ecosystem and there is a good reason for it.

Bitcoin Isn’t Ready for the PayPal Effect

Bitcoin still suffers from a scalability problem. During any major rise in transaction volume, the waiting times for a single Bitcoin transaction increases significantly. This “PayPal effect” could have a disastrous impact on the reputation of cryptocurrency.

There are around 350 million users and 26 million vendors in the PayPal ecosystem, compared to Bitcoin’s estimated 190 million users. To understand the impact that this sudden influx of users could have, it is useful to look at how the DeFi craze impacted Ethereum in September.

As the number of DeFi apps exploded, the transaction costs on the network skyrocketed. In September, miners made over $160 million, a 39% increase from the month before. This was due to an increased number of transactions triggered by DeFi. Now imagine if Bitcoin suddenly gained 350 million more users, few of whom really understand how blockchains operate.

This would be a massive problem. Visa is able to process around 1,736 transactions a second. Currently, Bitcoin can guarantee less than 5 transactions per second. And as more transactions hit the blockchain, their costs will skyrocket. Until Bitcoin can move away from Proof of Work consensus, the PayPal effect remains a major threat.

It’s Not All Bad News

In order to combat this effect, PayPal has decided to make it possible to access cryptocurrency through their network, and not withdraw it. Other limitations will help to keep down the volume of cryptocurrency taken into the network and mitigate the impact — at least until second layers such as the lightning network are in place to reduce scalability problems.

The good news is that PayPal has opened up an easier way for people to become acquainted with using cryptocurrency. It has the potential to normalize the practice of paying for goods and services using it, something which is currently difficult to impossible except for niche purchases such as VPNs.

This change would have two important effects:

  • It makes it easier for vendors to justify accepting Bitcoin. As more vendors adopt cryptocurrency payments, the utility for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will increase significantly, and more people will see it as a viable method of payment.

  • It might shock the crypto community into accelerating to make solutions more scalable, either by shifting towards Proof of Stake as Ethereum has. Or by adding in second-layer solutions.

While many crypto enthusiasts won’t be happy with PayPal’s closed garden, this is a positive step towards the mainstream. It will take time before PayPal is able to open up withdrawal features, but they likely will if regulations and scalability allow it.

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ArticlesWealth Management

Can You Use Precious Metals For Retirement?

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The appeal of precious metals, for many investors, is difficult to pass up, particularly gold bullion. It’s one of the most popular and sought-after investments in the entire world, especially since it can provide lucrative returns for any retirement account.

While investing in precious metals for retirement is a good idea for any investor, there are several essential things to keep in mind. For instance, most 401k retirement plans only allow for direct ownership of pure gold (such as gold coins), or else you risk being barred from investing. In most cases, this isn’t an issue for regular investors, but for those with a lot of money tied up in precious metals like gold, it can be a huge problem. Fortunately, there are more ways to invest in precious metals that don’t involve direct ownership of gold itself.

Buying Physical Precious Metals 

Many people wonder if buying physical precious metals for retirement is a good idea. The answer to this is that there are many reasons that physical precious metals are an excellent investment. It is, however, important to consider certain factors before investing in these precious metals so you’ll know if this is a good idea for you. Here are some of them:

  • To ensure that you’re getting the most out of investing in these precious metals for retirement, make sure that you’re realistic about the amount of money you can use to purchase because this will vary depending on your current lifestyle. You should also make sure you’re choosing a reliable precious metal investment dealer like Orion Metal Exchange that can help you with buying and selling such metals.

  • It’s also essential to think about the amount of money you’ve saved in the form of a 401k or other retirement account. While these accounts offer tax benefits, they’ll only be available to people over the age of 60. This means if you want to use the money in these accounts to purchase gold and silver, you would need to be able to come up with at least six to eight figures as a down payment on the gold and silver alone. 

If you want to find a way to increase your retirement income, then purchasing physical precious metals is a great way to do it. Buying these types of metals is also an excellent way to diversify your portfolio. If you’re not familiar with physical precious metals, you may want to talk to a financial advisor to help you choose which precious metals you should invest in.   

  • You can find a wide range of metals in the form of coins, bars, and even jewelry. Because of their value, when you sell them in the future, they’ll bring you more money than when you started. Bullion coins are also a great way to help protect your investment against inflation. These coins are also easy to sell when you need to get rid of a large amount of cash. Many gold and silver coins are available, and you sell them more than their worth because they’re more likely to increase in value than any other type of materials. 

Buying physical gold or silver for your retirement investment may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it can save you much in the long run. The benefits of buying physical precious metals for retirement are extremely strong. It’s easy to see why so many people decide to invest in these valuable pieces. 

Investing In Precious Metals Stocks 

Precious metals stocks work just like any other stocks—you invest in them, hoping that the company will succeed and that the value of the stocks you purchased will go up. In the case of precious metal stocks, however, the company in the equation refers to one that focuses on the mining, refining, selling, or any other aspect of precious metals production or distribution.

There are several types of precious metals stocks, including the following:

  • ETFS or exchange-traded fund stocks are a type of investment where you don’t really own actual precious metals. Instead, what you have are assets which are backed by these precious metals.

  • Mining stocks are shares issued by companies that mine precious metals. These prices of these stocks are often directly linked to the price of the precious metals themselves. Other factors that affect the price of mining stocks are political turmoil, economic fluctuations, the success of mining ventures, and even miners going on strike.

  • Precious metal certificates aren’t really considered as stocks, but they’re also a type of investment that doesn’t require holding actual precious metals. For instance, if you purchase a gold certificate, you’ll get a document that states you own this amount of gold. This is a less popular option nowadays, especially because of the company that issued the certificate goes under, the certificate is essentially worthless. 

One of the best benefits of investing in precious metals stocks for retirement is that it’s an investment tool designed to help people with limited investment funds better manage and preserve their wealth. They offer an excellent way to ensure that your money is protected against possible threats to your finances, such as losing your source of income, inflation, and even natural disasters.  

To take advantage of the benefits of investing in precious metals for retirement, you should understand the ins and outs of the investment, including the risks associated with this type of investment. It’s a good idea to contact your investment advisor or insurance broker to learn more about how you can maximize your retirement savings. With the right knowledge, investing in precious metals can prove very lucrative because you can get a great return on your money.  

Conclusion 

Now the answer to the question of whether precious metals can be an investment for retirement is yes. The two most popular ways to invest is by buying physical precious metals or getting stocks. When you buy physical precious metals, you can have gold coins or bullions that you can sell in the future. As for stocks, precious metals are known to withstand market fluctuations, so you can have higher chances of diversifying and growing your retirement portfolio.

Digital banking
ArticlesBanking

My Digital and Ecospend open up banking services for the Quantum Workforce

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Accounting and payroll services for the temporary labour market transformed by Open Finance

Today Quantum Employment Design (QED) leader My Digital announces its collaboration with Ecospend Technologies Ltd, a pioneer in digital payment services and Open Finance. The new digital service will provide the disruptive innovation that UK accounting services need for the modern Quantum Workforce ushered in by the changing labour markets of the pandemic.

Powered by Ecospend’s Open Banking technology, My Digital will provide leading-edge accounting and payroll services to the temporary labour market by offering:

– Faster payments and instant receipt for work completed with strong authentication & authorisation of payments to heighten security

– Enriched financial data for umbrella companies, recruitment agencies and Professional Employer Organisations with AI-driven data analytics to improve relevance to clients

– Full GDPR compliance for data handling for My Digital’s clients, who will have complete access to their data and the ability to manage their consent in real-time

The gig economy, which has long been subject to outdated systems and methods, is ripe for dramatic change as Quantum Employment continues to rise, with one in seven workers in the UK on flexible contracts. Ecospend and My Digital’s collaboration is an early and compelling entrant to this exciting new marketplace which is driven by young people with high expectations of digital banking.

“We are very pleased to be helping My Digital bring authenticated account information rapidly and efficiently to its clients using our Open Banking infrastructure,” said Metin Erkman, founder and CEO of Ecospend. “We see My Digital’s platform leading the way in bringing the benefits of Open Banking to the business community,” Erkman added.

John Whelan, CEO of My Digital concluded, “Open Banking is a transformational change for businesses, and we are delighted to have partnered with Ecospend to deliver this banking service for those supporting the Quantum Workforce. Our aim is to accelerate the evolution of QED to match the needs of a growing sector which is increasingly digitally savvy. Our partnership with Ecospend means we are now moving into a higher gear and able to deliver on the expectations for digital banking.

The collaboration is fully operational. Ecospend and My Digital are looking forward to a long and fruitful partnership and leading the way in the temporary labour market of the financial services marketplace.”

Offshore banking
ArticlesBankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Advantages of offshore banks: What they have to offer millennials

Advantages of offshore banks: What they have to offer millennials


James Turner Headshot

Contrary to popular belief, offshore banking isn’t just for the super-rich, nor is it illegal. 

In reality, and with professional advice, the average person can open a perfectly legal offshore bank account within a matter of hours – ideal for busy, on-the-go millennials.

For the generation facing increasing financial challenges, it is more important than ever for millennials to acquire savings sooner, rather than later. With climbing house prices, higher relative costs of living, and the need to save more money for retirement, many millennials are planning their futures’ by setting up savings accounts in overseas institutions. But is this the most secure way of holding your hard-earned savings?

While the answer to this question is largely dependent on individual circumstance, there are many potential benefits to banking offshore; from earning higher interest rates and tax benefits, to having the ability to bank in foreign currencies. Offshore banking can be particularly beneficial for those who regularly travel overseas for work, as it allows you to receive multiple currencies without the need to pay for exchange fees. As such, there’s no risk of you losing out on exchange rate fluctuations.

Banking with confidence and having more security is a significant factor for people choosing to bank offshore. It can offer greater asset protection against possible future threats, such as divorce lawyers, creditors and legal action – which is essential for millennials with substantial amounts of money. This makes offshore banking a secure solution for managing your money well. However, it is worth noting that the security of your savings will depend on the regulations of where your bank is based.

For an added level of reassurance, many jurisdictions also offer strict, financial privacy and confidentiality agreements. This means that your personal information will not be passed on to any third parties, so your assets are shielded to safeguard your individual or company information.

At Turner Little, we offer privacy-assured banking to suit your bespoke needs. Whether you’re an individual or a business, our services include arranging bank accounts and credit cards with both UK and offshore institutions. So get in touch with us today and see how we can help you prepare for your future.