All posts by Akeela Zahair

Invest in Gold
ArticlesFinance

Does It Still Pay to Invest in Gold?

Invest in Gold

There are two sides to every gold coin — investing in gold may be profitable or it can be a losing proposition — and then there’s the truth. The truth is always in the center, and in this situation the reality is based on a variety of criteria that include your investing goals, time horizon, and, ultimately, your investment approach.

Gold, the most malleable of commodities, has suffered a setback in 2021, owing in part to rising bond rates. But even if everything isn’t always perfect, it will always be there. For millennia, gold has been a desirable commodity for investors, serving as a money and a symbol of wealth in many forms.

However, there are a few downsides to gold acquisition. For example, gold does not have a stable rate of return. While there are several advantages to investing in gold, there is one significant disadvantage. Gold is not a reliable source of revenue for investors. Gold has no production, whereas publicly listed corporations generate goods and services that customers value. This is a “severe structural disadvantage relative to other asset classes,” according to Michael Reynolds, vice president of investment strategy at Glenmede. While equities provide dividends to investors and bonds pay interest, Reynolds states that “gold does not spontaneously spawn additional gold.” Rather, you profit from the rise in gold’s price. 

“Gold gets 100% of its rewards from price movement, which may and has resulted in extended periods of underperformance,” adds Reynolds.

However, there seem to be more reasons today to invest in it still. Here are three compelling reasons to invest in gold.

 

Gold is Easy to Sell

Physical gold is available in two forms: gold coins and stamped gold bullion (bars) with a purity level. The gold content, rather than the quality or rarity, determines the worth of your gold.

While this value fluctuates, actual gold is easier to dispose of, which is one of the main reasons investors seek it out. Even if the return rate isn’t what you’re hoping for, there are always customers willing to buy gold.

 

Preservation of One’s Wealth

Many investors have put their faith in gold because of its ability to preserve wealth. Consider the difference between possessing £50 in gold and owning a £50 note in 1980. Because gold has increased in value since then, the value of the gold now significantly exceeds the original £50 investment. The £50 note, on the other hand, has not risen in value and, as a result of inflation, cannot purchase as much as it might in 1980.

 

Hedge

The value of gold is usually inverse with the rest of stocks. This means that it can be a balancing asset for you in your investments. People will buy gold in order to hedge their investments. They know that if the stock market plummets they’ll still be able to use their gold to build their portfolio and trade at that time. Then once the market equalizes again they are able to buy gold bars at a cheaper cost and sell their stocks. No matter how the market is looking, they are able to find balance in their investments and create revenue out of their diversification.

 

Safe Haven

Gold, unlike currencies, is unaffected by interest rate changes and cannot be created to manage supply and demand. Gold is a rare asset that has held its value throughout time and has demonstrated its usefulness as an insurance policy in the case of a downturn in the economy. As a result, many investors perceive gold to be a safe haven — and it’s proving itself right.

Loan Application Rejected
ArticlesFunds

Common Reasons Mortgage Loans Are Rejected

Loan Application Rejected

Without the existence of mortgages, relatively few Americans would be able to realize their dreams of homeownership. So, when submitting a home loan application, you’d do well to remember that a lot hinges on lender approval. Needless to say, considering how much money is at stake with the typical home loan, lenders typically aren’t keen on making unwise bets. As such, homebuyers preparing to start submitting loan applications should familiarize themselves with some of the most common reasons for rejection.

 

Poor Credit

It should come as no surprise that poor credit can be a huge detriment to mortgage loan approval. After all, if you have a history of failing to pay off debt, many lenders are liable to conclude that you won’t be able to keep up with monthly mortgage payments. So, if your intent is to make yourself an attractive borrower, take care to get your credit in order before proceeding to submit any loan applications.

When trying to maximize your chances of loan approval, you’ll want to have the lowest possible debt-to-income ratio. This means getting your credit card debt as close to zero as you possibly can – if not paying it off entirely. This also entails paying off any bills that have been sent to collections in full. Virginians who are looking for Virginia Beach mortgage lenders would do well to get a handle on outstanding credit card debt before proceeding to apply for loans.

You should also abstain from submitting mortgage loan applications immediately after paying down your credit card debt, as your credit score needs time to recover. Furthermore, avoid adding to your debt throughout the loan application process. So, if the need to make any large purchases arises during this time, either pay for them in cash, put them off or borrow money from a trusted friend or family member. 

  

Lack of Credit History

Just as a troubled credit history can hinder your chances of loan approval, so too can a lack of a credit history. While you may view having no credit history as a positive, most mortgage lenders are unlikely to share this opinion. If you’ve never had to make monthly payments or purchase anything on credit, lenders won’t have any evidence of your trustworthiness or reliability with regard to financial obligations. So, unless you have a good cosigner, it’s generally recommended that you take the time to build your credit history before proceeding to apply for a mortgage loan.

 

Insufficient Down Payment

The higher your down payment is, the better your odds of approval are likely to be. Putting forth a high down payment illustrates a firm commitment to homeownership, as well as a strong sense of financial responsibility. As an added bonus, a large down payment stands to lower the cost of your monthly mortgage payments. The more you put down at the outset, the less you’ll have left to pay off.

On the flipside, a low down payment will have the opposite effect. Low payments often give off the impression that borrowers aren’t particularly serious about buying homes and aren’t in a great place financially. So, if you’re hoping to wow lenders from the outset, try to muster up the largest down payment possible.

 

Lack of Regular Income

It’s only natural that mortgage lenders would regard regular income with importance. After all, if someone isn’t making money consistently, how are they going to keep up with monthly mortgage payments, home insurance, property taxes and other house-related expenses? Of course, this isn’t to say that regular income has to come from a traditional job. Pensions, trust funds and strong investment portfolios may also be viewed as acceptable sources of income. So, if you’re currently without a consistent source of income, it’s strongly recommended that you find one in advance of applying for a mortgage loan.  

Since mortgages serve as a gateway to homeownership for countless Americans, all homebuyers should approach the loan application process with seriousness. While it’s not unusual to be approved for a mortgage loan on one’s first attempt, it’s also very common for applications to be denied for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, educating yourself on these reasons can help prevent you from inadvertently sabotaging yourself during the application process. So, if you’re looking to get approved for a good mortgage loan posthaste, be mindful of the factors discussed above.

Finance Goals
ArticlesFinance

Financial Goals to Strive For

Finance Goals

When we are first introduced to the aspect of money, it’s when we see our parents hand over some paper slips and swipe their cards. However, what we don’t realize at a young age is that the funds were used for a purpose. Money isn’t something we spend just to spend. Having financial goals is important for a variety of reasons. For one thing, they’re what propel you forward in establishing security. But maybe you’re unsure of what goals you should be striving for. Here are a few financial goals to work towards.

 

Opening Your Own Business

One goal that many hope to achieve is to put away enough money to start their own business. Businesses, despite how common they are these days, require a lot of funding to get up and running. Some people even dive into their personal savings and retirement account just to launch it. While you’re more than able to pay for everything yourself, it’s good to avoid depleting your savings. Rather than risk everything, you can play it safer if you take out a small business loan. There are companies that commit themselves to ensuring the success of every business they give loans to. In additional to offering favorable interest rates, they can connect their borrowers to a rich, diverse support network.

 

Having Children

Children are the future, but they also cost more money than you’d expect. Similar to opening a business, many people want to have a family of their own. Some people even start planning for it when they get their first job. The average price of child care is between $10,000 to almost $15,000 annually. This goal should also teach you the fundamentals of budgeting and saving your money as well. When you have something as important as a child to take care of, you need to be extremely diligent with your money. Following the 50/30/20 rule into your budget is a great way to get a good grasp on your finances.

The 50% goes to necessities such as child care and rent, 30% goes to whatever you may want and the remaining 20% goes to your savings. If you’re looking to maximize your saving potential, you can combine the 30% with the 20% and have an even 50/50. The first half goes to what you need and the other goes right into your bank account.

 

Take Up Investing

You should know your own net worth before determining how much, if any, money you have to invest since investing is one of those high-risk, high-reward financial goals. Granted, there are many ways you can invest ranging from the traditional stock market to trying your hand at cryptocurrency. The choice is yours to make. Regardless of that choice, however, you need to have an appropriate amount of money to get started. You don’t just throw $20 and expect it to multiply by the hundreds overnight. It’s a process you need to be careful about because the risk can cause almost irreparable damage to your finances.

Personal Loan
ArticlesFinance

What are the Benefits of a Personal Loan?

Personal Loan

There may come a point in your life when you realize that you need (or want) to borrow money. Maybe you want to do this so you can renovate your home. Or perhaps you’re seeking a loan to use for debt consolidation. Thanks to a variety of benefits, a personal loan is one type that you should strongly consider. Here are just a few of the many reasons to get in touch with a personal loan agency.

 

Flexibility

A personal loan can be used in a variety of ways, ranging from home renovations to debt consolidation to paying off medical or educational expenses. Furthermore, you don’t have to explain to the lender how you’ll use the money. As long as you’re using the funds legally, you don’t have anything to worry about. This type of flexibility opens up a world of opportunities. 

 

Variety of Terms

With a variety of loan terms to choose from, you can find the one that best suits your short and long-term budget. Generally speaking, personal loan terms range from 12 months to 84 months. If you’re seeking the lowest possible payment, opt for a longer-term. Conversely, if you want to save on interest and pay off the loan as quickly as you can, a shorter term is the way to go. Before you do anything, compare the monthly payment and overall cost of multiple terms. This will help you understand what works best for your financial circumstances as a whole. 

 

No Collateral 

As an unsecured loan, you’re not required to provide your lender with any collateral. This is in contrast to a secured loan — such as a home equity loan — that requires you to put up collateral to reduce their risk. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that unsecured loans generally have slightly higher interest rates than secured loans. This is the result of the bank taking on more of a risk. If you default on the loan, they don’t have anything to repossess to make up for their loss. 

 

Competitive Interest Rates

Even though a personal loan is unsecured, interest rates are competitive with secured loans. Get the best deal by requesting quotes from three to five lenders. This will give you the opportunity to see what’s available both in regards to terms and interest rates. Note that shorter-term personal loans have a lower interest rate than those with longer terms. This means that you pay less money in interest over the course of your loan if you opt for a shorter term. 

 

Easy to Manage

When it comes to managing your money, it’s critical to implement a system that won’t bog you down. You want to make things as easy on yourself as possible. A personal loan is easy to manage, especially if you have good advice on handling your finances. You’re left with one fixed monthly payment for a predetermined period of time. For instance, you may have a payment of $500 for 36 months. This makes it simple to plan your short and long-term budget. Adding to this, most lenders have an online system for managing your personal loan. You can make payments, view your balance, request statements, and more. 

 

Questions to Ask Your Lender

There are sure to be questions on your mind as you compare lenders and loan products. Here are some to start with:

  • What terms do you have available?
  • What are the eligibility requirements for a personal loan?
  • How long does it take to receive funds?
  • Are you able to send the funds via bank wire? How about a check?
  • How long does it take to receive an answer on my loan application?

Asking questions like these will help you better understand your situation, what’s available to you, and how to proceed.

 

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand the many benefits of a personal loan, you can decide if it makes sense to move forward in the near future. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with taking your time and comparing personal loans to other types of financial products. The most important thing is that you make the right decision at the right time. What are your thoughts on applying for a personal loan? Have you benefited from this type of loan in the past?

Pension Scams
ArticlesFundsPensions

Pension Fraud Is On the Rise – Here’s 5 Simple Tricks to Stay Savvy Against the Latest Scams

Pension Scams

Pension and investment scams can have a serious impact on your financial health, losing you a lot of money. Falling victim to fraud may affect your wellbeing and leave you feeling anxious, stressed, and worried.

New research from Lottie has found a recent rise in scams targeting the over 55’s. Over the last three months, online searches for those looking for support after falling victim to pension and investment scams has significantly increased:

  • 75% increase in online searches on Google for ‘scam help’ and 50% increase for ‘fraud support’
  • 24% increase in online searches for ‘pension fraud’
  • 22% increase in searches for ‘pension scam’ and ‘investment scam’

 

Here’s why pension frauds are on the rise, according to Lottie’s Will Donnelly:

“More people than ever before are seeking online support after falling victim to fraud. With more flexibility in managing your pension at retirement, it is no surprise there has been a recent rise in pension and investment scams.

Fraudsters have exploited the uncertainty around the pandemic and the recent rise of living costs to trick people into transferring over their life savings. Many people choose to retire at the end of March because of a lower rate of Income Tax, so there is now more opportunity to fall victim to pension and investment scams.

Anyone can fall victim to a fraud – especially as they are becoming more sophisticated – but the over 55s are most likely to be targeted, according to previous research by Citizens Advice.

Scammers will often try to persuade you to remove some or all money from your pension fund. They may ask you to invest in unusual, high-risk investments, including overseas property. Or they may contact you out-of-the-blue for a free pension review, promising advances on your pension pot.

Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your risk of falling victim to fraud and we must raise awareness about staying savvy to scams.”

 

Five simple tricks to lower your risk of pension fraud:

Frauds are becoming even more sophisticated, so it is important to stay clued up on the warning signs of pension and investment scams. They can lead you to losing a lifetime’s worth of savings in one moment, so you must stay cautious.

  1. Watch out for warning signs

Scammers will often contact you unexpectedly, whether that is via a phone call, text message or email. Remember – since January 2019, there has been a ban on cold-calling about pensions. So, if you do get contacted and offered a free pension review or investment opportunity, it is likely that it is a scam.

Simply hang up or ignore any unsolicited text messages promising you more money.

  1. Seek financial guidance first

If you are keen to review your pension, there are ways to receive free, impartial advice, including Money Helper’s Pension Wise service. Before changing any of your pension arrangements, seek out impartial financial advice from a reputable source, first.

Take the time to check any investment opportunities before transferring over any money. Make sure that whoever you are dealing with is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and they are authorised to provide you with financial advice.

  1. Keep up to date with the latest scams

It is no surprise that fraudsters are becoming even more sophisticated. An important part of reducing your risk of falling victim to fraud is staying clued up on the latest scams. Age UK provide information on the latest scams – including fake Ukraine fundraisers and fake energy refund emails.

  1. Speak to your loved ones

If you have fallen victim to fraud, do not suffer in silence. Anyone can be susceptible to scams, especially as they are becoming more sophisticated. Even the most careful people can be caught out.

Make sure you speak to your friends and family, as it can feel a huge relief to open up about how you’ve feeling. They can support you in reporting the fraud and help you cope with any stress, anxiety or worry you are experiencing.

  1. Report a scam

Most importantly, do not feel embarrassed about reporting fraud. There are organisations that can support you and you will help them track down the fraudsters. Contact the police via 101 immediately if you feel threatened or if you have transferred money to the scammer in the last 24 hours.

You can also report fraud to the Citizens Advice service – make sure you note down all details about the scam, including whether you have transferred any money, who you have been in contact with and the type of information you have shared.

Finance Funding
ArticlesFinance

How to Fund Your Small Business: Seven Key Options to Consider

Finance Funding

If you need to make a major investment for your business, you shouldn’t be afraid to explore financing options. It’s a good idea to speak with a financial advisor so you have a clear view of how taking on debt can impact your taxes and cash flow.  

There are multiple funding options available for entrepreneurs. Proceeds can be used to purchase new equipment, expand the locations of stores or warehouses, or inject money into your business to help your cash flow. Be sure to check with your lender to make sure the way you want to use the loan is acceptable. 

Here are some of the main financing options available for business owners.

 

1. Crowdfunding financing 

Crowdfunding can be  a great way of funding new projects, primarily through online forums and specific crowdfunding platforms, by raising money from the general public. 

The crowdfunding option works best for consumer-facing businesses that have a product or vision that everyday people can get behind. You can get started on popular sites like Kickstarter®, GoFundMe®, and Indiegogo®

One of the main advantages of using crowdfunding to fund your new investment is that you gain access to a larger and more diverse group of investors. Equity crowdfunding is also an option available to you. It enables public investors to take a proportionate slice of the equity in your business in return for their money. 

But there are drawbacks, such as the fees associated with crowdfunding platforms and, on some sites, the inability to use pledged funds if you don’t reach your funding goal.  

 

2. Equipment financing 

If you need to invest in equipment for your business, you have the option of getting a loan from a lender that’s an expert in your industry. You can then make simple repayments and eventually own the equipment. 

For example, if you run a machine shop business, you would need to make major investments for equipment like lathes, mills, and press brakes. In which case, you could find a dealer that offers financing facilities

Look for a true simple-interest loan with flexible financing structures.

Once you pay back the loan, you’ll own the equipment, which means you have another physical asset as part of your portfolio. 

 

3. Bank loans

Whether you need to purchase machinery or make another type of major investment for your business, you have the option of obtaining a loan from a bank. The key advantages of borrowing from the bank are, as long as you keep up with the repayments, banks generally shouldn’t set restrictions on what you can use the loan for, and you can often get favorable interest rates. 

Also, if you already have an account with the bank, you could get sound lending advice about your options from a financial advisor. 

However, there are disadvantages to getting a bank loan. The application process can be lengthy, eligibility criteria are often strict, and secured loans carry risk. Start by contacting your own bank to discuss your options. If that route isn’t suitable, you can always apply for a loan with another bank.

 

4. Angel investor financing

If your business is quite new, you could have an angel investor on board. Angel investors are high-net-worth private investors that provide entrepreneurs and small businesses with either a one-time investment or an ongoing injection of financial support, in return for ownership of equity in the company. 

When an angel investor is a part of your business, you should approach him or her for funds to cover your major investment needs. 

While investment from an angel investor can be a great way of securing funds for your immediate requirements, funding via angel investors does come with risks, but it usually comes with more favorable terms in comparison to other lending options. Angel investors are often friends or family, so if you want to go down this funding route, start by asking the people you know if they would be interested in supporting your business. 

 

5. Venture capital financing

If you need to make a major investment in your business but haven’t yet actually started earning revenue and profits, you could have the option of venture capital financing. Venture capital investment funds are pooled funds from investors who want private equity stakes in small to medium-sized businesses that have strong potential for growth. 

However, venture capital financing is known to be high risk. The funding option is usually best reserved for new businesses that seek accelerated growth. Tech companies and businesses in emerging industries typically go down the venture capital financing avenue. 

 

6. Peer-to-peer lending

Peer-to-peer financing works like this: smaller-scale investors are matched with a small business that requires funds.

With peer-to-peer lending, you effectively cut out the need for a middleman. You can apply for peer-to-peer financing on various online sites and obtain a loan from a pool of investors. 

Repaying a peer-to-peer loan is similar to repaying a bank loan. You’ll agree to an interest fee upfront. If you should fail to make repayments, the usual debt rules will apply.

 

7. SBA loans

The most prominent assistance program that the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers is a guarantee on loans made through banks, credit unions, and other lenders they partner with. By securing a portion of an SBA loan in the case of the borrower defaulting, the lenders are presented with less risk so they are more likely to offer an affordable loan.

SBA 7(a) loans from $30,000 – $350,000 from banks can be used for debt refinancing and working capital. Working capital includes operational expenses, marketing, hiring, etc. SBA loans can be used to fund new equipment purchases as well. SBA 7(a) loans can also be used for refinancing existing business debt not secured by real estate (such as cash advances, business loans, and equipment leases). With low rates and long terms (10 years), an SBA loan can be a great solution. 

 

Summing up

It’s important that you carefully consider each of the above funding options to determine which is most suitable for your needs. Begin by thinking about your specific requirements and the pros and cons of each investment option.

Then, create a list of the options, with your most preferred financing option at the top and your least preferred option at the bottom. You can then try each option in order. Hopefully, your first option will be able to provide you with the cash you need to fund your major investment. 

To recap, here are the main financing options you have available:

  • Crowdfunding
  • Equipment financing
  • Bank loan
  • Angel investor financing
  • Venture capital investment
  • Peer-to-peer lending
  • SBA loans

 

Don’t be afraid to explore each option in detail. Get answers to any questions you have before you decide on your course of action, and always read the terms and conditions before signing on the dotted line. 

As long as you spend time determining which financing option is the best choice for your specific circumstances, you’ll more easily be able to find the right financing route for you and expand your business further.

Press releases

Wealth & Finance Magazine Announces the Winners of the 2022 Retirement Planning Awards

United Kingdom, 2022- Wealth & Finance magazine have announced the winners of the 2022 Retirement Planning Awards.

Retirement Planning manages and maintains in the background for many reasons. Over the last couple of years, this has become an increasing need. In response to the growing need and unparalleled work carried out, Wealth & Finance Magazine launched the 2022 edition of the programme. We endeavour and aspire to support, encourage, and celebrate both businesses and individuals that are surpassing many challenges, growth, and development with their unmatched talent and expertise. Adapting to the trials they face, they have not only nestled into their industry but taken the lead and inspired others.

Speaking on the success of these deserving winners, Awards Co-ordinator Victoria Cotton said: “When it comes to impeccable business, we are proud to showcase these accolades awarded to a variety of bodies that have excelled in their industries. We sincerely hope you enjoy the rest of 2022 ahead.”

To learn more about our deserving award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the Wealth & Finance website (https://www.wealthandfinance-news.com/awards/retirement-planning-awards/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

Note to editors.

About Wealth & Finance International

Wealth & Finance International (http://www.wealthandfinance-news.com/) is a quarterly publication dedicated to delivering high quality informative and up-to-the-minute global business content. It is published by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting.

Developed by a highly skilled team of writers, editors, business insiders and regional industry experts, Wealth & Finance International reports from every corner of the globe to give readers the inside track on the need-to-know news and issues affecting banking, finance, regulation, risk and wealth management in their region.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media (https://www.aiglobalmedialtd.com/) has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 12 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

Alongside this, we have a luxury-lifestyle magazine, LUXlife, which appeals to a range of high-net-worth individuals, offering them insight into the latest products, experiences and innovations to ensure they can live the high-life to its fullest.

Awards

Showcasing the companies who have worked hard in striving to give their clients the best service and products is important to us. We know and understand how tough making a successful business can be, and so everyone at AI Global Media takes great pride in our awards programmes.

Our awards programmes run across each brand and are completely free to enter, take part in and win. All our winners are offered complementary marketing packages, meaning all businesses despite their size and marketing budget can be rewarded. Additionally, we offer a wider range of marketing materials which winners can purchase for extra coverage on our platform including: cover features, magazine articles and newsletter inclusions.

Extra Income
ArticlesFinance

How to Earn Extra Cash While Working Full Time In the UK

Extra Income

Many immigrants move to the UK to increase their economic status. That is good, as the UK has a lot of opportunities for immigrants. For some, their breakthrough is finding a good job, which a UK skilled worker Visa can guarantee. 

On the other hand, a good job is not enough for immigrants with many financial responsibilities. Well, the way to go is getting a side-hustle that brings in extra income. There are many legal things immigrants can do to increase their income. 

Here, we’ll give you a list of ideas that can help you earn extra cash while working in the UK. 

 

Start a Small Service Business

Skilled people can start a small service business to make extra income. It is easy to grow a service business with word-of-mouth marketing, so start by advertising to people in your direct network and ask them to spread the word. For a service business, the list is long. Just pick a skill you are good at and sell it.

 

Freelance Content Creation

Immigrants with a good command of English and subject matter experts can freelance on the side. Many companies seek writers who can help them with blog posts, marketing copy, website content, etc. Even bloggers are constantly on the lookout for writers, as they don’t have enough time to do all the writing. 

First, it is great you have an adequately edited portfolio of written content that can be shown to potential employees. After that, search for jobs in the freelance marketplace or pitch to blogs that caught your interest. Some tools and software will make this work easier. So, conduct research, find an employer and earn more income.

 

Get Paid to Do What You Love Doing

It’s simple! Document what you love doing in your free time. If you are good at trivia, ask your local bar to host their trivia game. If you love swimming, then offer to teach people swimming. Whatever skills you have, you can teach other people and generate revenue. Whether playing a musical instrument, cooking, driving, dancing, etc., you could organize a fitness class if you are good at sports. You could even teach about your home country’s culture and tradition.

Even if you don’t have a hobby, you could take online surveys or attend focus group discussions. Many companies and organizations conduct consumer and market research, and they are ready to pay for data. So, you can earn some extra bucks (or gift cards) while sharing your two cents about a product you love. You can boost your account balance by becoming a tour guide in your neighborhood.

 

Teaching Online

If you have advanced certification like a master’s degree or PhD, you can teach online. Even if you have a full-time job, you could always teach part-time. Those with specialized knowledge in a particular subject can also tutor students online. To make extra cash, it is best if you know the current curriculum. Nonetheless, if you study the right resources, you’ll do great.

If you intend to migrate to the UK with your advanced certification, you should learn more about the work EB2 Visa to know your eligibility.

 

Rent Out Your Stuff

As an immigrant, it is now easy to make money by leveraging the stuff you own. Many are familiar with Airbnb, where you can rent out your properties. The exciting part is that you don’t need to rent out your whole apartment. By renting out a spare room in your apartment, you can increase your income.

Asides from AirBnB, there are other things you could earn income from. Rent out your car, cameras, parking space, and so much, provided there’s a listing platform.

 

Virtual Assistant

Immigrants with a personal assistant, secretary, or other administrative experience can become virtual assistants. This is an excellent job as you can do it from your home’s comfort and spare time. You can succeed in this role with a computer, internet access, and administrative skills. This job is an incredible way to earn extra even with a full-time job in the UK.

 

Invest In Real Estate

Before now, all the ideas highlighted are all active income streams. How about making money passively? One good way to earn returns is real estate investments. You can start by buying a small condo in a nearby country and let it out to renters and vacationists. Alternatively, immigrants can get started with commercial properties. With as little as 4000 GBP, you can tap into this income stream.

 

Final Words

Getting a side-hustle is a fast way to make extra money and stay on top of your finances. Even with a full-time job, other gigs can be done in spare time to earn extra. 

Big investments
ArticlesFinance

Major Investments You Need to Prioritize

Big investments

You probably know all too well that business can be low when you first open. However, as time progresses and you’ve gained more customers, you might notice you have enough savings to finally invest into your company again. This can be an exciting change and you likely already have a laundry list in mind of things you want to put money towards within your business. But with so many things your business needs, you might not be sure what to prioritize. Here are a few major investments that you need to prioritize.

 

A Fleet

Depending on what kind of shop you’re running, you’re going to need a fleet. A fleet is a group of vehicles that’s exclusively used for a company. It’s used to distribute products and administer services. You might think these vehicles are best suited for grocery stores and restaurants. However, fleets can also be used to advertise as well. Since fleets are composed of multiple vehicles, you’ve probably guessed that you’re going to be spending quite a bit.

However, that’s just for the cars. That isn’t counting the cost of fleet insurance and the necessary technology. Before you can operate your fleet, every vehicle needs to be equipped with the proper technology to ensure driver safety. Dash cams and wireless devices are to name a few. You’ll also need to implement tachographs, ELDs, and GPS tracking systems. These allow you to go more in-depth with the vehicle telematics, which is what allows you to keep track of every operating vehicle in your fleet.

 

Renovations

There are times you need to spend money to make money as a small business owner. Whether it’s adding new equipment or appliances or simply expanding the space, renovations are a key part of any growing business. Adding more space gives you more room to organize things while being able to house more customers and employees. As for the equipment, what you need depends on what business you’re running. If you own a restaurant, for example, you’ll need to have the following:

∙ High-quality refrigerators

∙ Freezers

∙ Ovens

∙ Safety gear

∙ Grease traps

∙ Food processers

∙ Employee Training Programs

If there’s one thing that has allowed your company to thrive, aside from your hard work, it’s definitely the employees. Employees help keep a business stable by tackling the less-demanding tasks while you prioritize more demanding concerns. And since you’re planning on expanding, that means you need to plan on having more workers.

However, you might not be able to single-handedly train everyone you bring on board. That’s why it’s in your best interest to invest into a training program. You’d be surprised at how far an employee training program can take you, and your employees for that matter. It ensures you can trust them to get the job done, attract your ideal candidate and have a serious advantage over your competitors.

 

Invest in Yourself

Investing in yourself may sound a bit unorthodox when it comes to business. We don’t mean treating yourself out to lunch on the company credit card. By investing in yourself, we mean bettering your knowledge and skills to benefit your company further. This could look like personal enrichment courses to better your leadership skills or earning advanced degrees or certifications in your field to level up your expertise. Whatever you decide on, investing in yourself is rarely a losing bet.

 

Your Physical Location

Depending on the nature of your business, the location in which you operate can be another opportunity to invest in your company’s future. If you are a business that relies heavily on foot traffic, maybe relocating your business to a walkable downtown area might make sense for you. If you are operating out of warehouses, maybe a location closer to freeway access to optimize fleet routes is a good choice.

Either way be sure that you do some research before uprooting your operations. In some cases, location matters more than others and you want to be sure that you are not going to negatively interrupt your customer base with a move. If you have employees that are reporting to the office each day that is also something to consider. While it would be impossible to optimize commute times for each employee, recognizing that they have all created routines around your current location and how a move might impact that can go a long way.

Private Equity
ArticlesFunds

Resilience Within the Private Equity Market Can Lead to New Opportunities

Private Equity

Philip Dakin (Managing Director) Restructuring advisory, Kroll.

According to Preqin’s 2021 Global Private Equity and Venture Capital Report, the global private equity market is now worth over $4 trillion. The UK, long the most developed private equity sector in Europe, remains at the centre of this trend. However, as we come out of lockdown there are two sides to this picture—the dry powder available to private businesses, and the impact the pandemic has had on private equity vehicles.

 

Supply and demand meet

COVID-19 has been without a doubt one of the biggest challenges ever to confront the economy. No more so than for the private sector. However, for businesses, both large and small, government support has been available in the form of loan schemes, the job retention scheme (aka furlough) and moratoriums on rent and HMRC liabilities. 

While cash flow may look strong today, the rollback of government support will start within months, and for some, pressure on balance sheets will follow soon after. This is not to say that the financial pressures facing businesses will drive many into insolvency but dealing with an increase in working capital requirements is a challenge facing many business owners in the short term.

Potential changes to capital gains tax are also beginning to focus the minds of many business owners who may now see this as a time to invest or indeed sell.

For many, public ownership has fallen out of favour as an exit strategy, and selling to a competitor, especially in the current circumstances, can have its own business risks. The private equity market has been the beneficiary of a trend that has been happening for over a decade following the last great economic shock of 2008.

With the supply of investment opportunities looking healthy, what does the demand curve look like? 

As mentioned previously, there remains a high level of market liquidity and a strong desire from funders to invest in quality businesses, with private equity funds—a continued firm favourite route—to market for institutions, family offices and high-net-worth individuals. In other words, there is lots of opportunity for investment and acquisition. This has already been demonstrated, with global M&A activity in Q1 2021 being at its highest for over a decade.

However, whilst there is plenty of dry powder, the stage at which a private equity fund was in the normal fund lifecycle when the pandemic hit, will have a potential impact on the success of that fund and its ability to raise its next fund. How the portfolio of investments within a fund have been managed through the pandemic and how they recover post-pandemic will be crucial.

 

Portfolio Resilience

PE firms themselves have faced their own unique issues as a result of the pandemic. Funds briefly stopped active transactions back in March 2020 as economies closed and people were ordered to stay home. All attention was instead focused towards an almost A&E “triage” assessment of their portfolio companies at the start of the pandemic, with origination and portfolio teams working together to support the management teams of their portfolios.

Many sponsor-backed companies struggled to access government-supported loan schemes, such as CLBILS and CBILS, ironically due to EU laws on state aid for “undertakings in distress.”

The typical private equity investment structure using quasi-equity debt instruments to fund investments being the root cause. However, most have taken advantage of the job retention scheme by furloughing employees and sought access to grants and the deferral of accrued HMRC liabilities to weather the storm. Needless to say, in some instances, this has resulted

in a squeeze on working capital, and any top-up funding has had to come from existing lenders and/or equity injections from the PE houses themselves. The question now is how much of that dry powder has been utilised in supporting their portfolios to maintain a status quo for 12 months, and what impact does that have on their ability to make new investments.

But despite the uncertainty, many PE firms are adapting and keen to point to their funders’ patience and understanding in what has been a difficult period for the business world. Equally, there will undoubtedly be opportunities to acquire some assets cheaply as some corporates fail in the post-pandemic market. These may provide bolt-on opportunities for existing portfolio investments or create a new platform investment.

We are without a doubt entering uncharted territory, and unlike previous recessions, the pandemic may have long-term effects on consumer behaviour and business models.

Like all other markets, private equity needs to negotiate the current COVID-19-induced economic crisis. But the sector is immensely well placed to weather the storm because one of the key characteristics of PE is its ability to be nimble and respond quickly to changing trends.

Investment Scheme
ArticlesTax

Enterprise Investment Schemes – Four Tax Reasons That Make Them Great

Investment Scheme

Since 1994, Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS) have been an important tool in the investors’ kit, but many potential investors worry that EIS-eligible businesses are too high risk. Here, Craig Harman, a tax specialist at Perrys Chartered Accountants, explains everything you need to know about Enterprise Investment Schemes, and the tax savings you might be missing out on if you’re not getting involved.

A government-backed initiative, the Enterprise Investment Scheme was designed to encourage individual investors to buy shares in higher-risk companies by offering generous tax reliefs to those who invest. To be eligible for funding under the EIS, a business must be within seven years of its first commercial sale, not have gross assets worth more than £15 million before shares, and have less than 250 full-time employees. It’s true that investing in less established businesses may carry a greater investment risk. However, there is the potential for higher returns and the tax relief available can minimise any loss should the worst happen. 

 

Income tax relief

Of all the benefits of investing in an EIS, one of the most attractive is the income tax relief you can receive. You can claim relief for a maximum annual investment of £1 million, or £2 million if you have invested in a knowledge-intensive company. You can claim for up to 30% of your investment, meaning that you could receive up to £300,000 tax relief a year – or £600,000 for investments in knowledge-intensive companies. This is one of the most generous tax relief schemes currently on offer in the UK.

 

Loss relief

Of course, returns are not guaranteed when investing in early-stage companies, and indeed most investments carry an element of risk. However, the EIS provides attractive loss relief at your marginal tax rate. When you combine this loss relief with the income tax relief you receive when investing in an EIS eligible company, you greatly reduce the amount of capital you have at risk.

 

They support small/medium businesses

Since its launch in 1994, the EIS has been pivotal in helping small to medium, new starter companies in the UK achieve vital growth capital. Over the last two decades, the scheme has helped EIS businesses access billions of pounds which might otherwise have been ploughed into lower risk companies. The EIS stipulates that those receiving investment under the scheme must use it to grow their business – increasing revenue, customer base and number of employees. This means that you can be sure that your investment is helping small businesses to thrive, while providing valuable jobs and services to local communities.


Profits are tax free

Another initiative of the EIS are the Capital Gains Tax advantages. For most non EIS investments, any returns will be liable for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) above the CGT-free personal allowance. When you invest in an EIS, provided you meet the conditions, all growth in value is exempt from CGT, meaning you can achieve a greater net profit, while saving your personal allowance for other investments.

 

The use of the scheme is subject to detailed conditions. Therefore, it is important these are met otherwise your investment may not qualify. If you have any doubts, it is best to seek advice from a specialist EIS accountant. 

Anti-Money Laundering
ArticlesRegulation

Enforcing Sanctions and Combating Money Laundering

Anti-Money Laundering

Creating beneficial ownership registers is an important step in combating money laundering and evasion of sanctions but it has to be done in tandem with ensuring public access and information accuracy. 

The discussion around beneficial ownership registers has made many headlines in the last few years but has intensified recently in the context of the war in Ukraine and the global sanctions imposed on Russian businesses and politically affiliated oligarchs. Sanction circumvention is however a reality through the use of asset ownership concealment schemes and doing business via countries that have not joined or committed to the global sanctions efforts.

Wally Adeyemo, deputy U.S. Treasury secretary even issued a warning to anyone assisting Russia in bypassing the economic sanctions by way of shell companies or crypto currencies. “What we want to make very clear to crypto exchanges, to financial institutions, to individuals, to anyone who may be in a position to help Russia take advantage and evade our sanctions: We will hold you accountable,” said Adeyemo.

The main purposes of establishing and maintaining Beneficial Ownership Registers are to deter Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, to help enforce sanctions and to identify those who seek to conceal their ownership and control of corporate entities. Such registers will ensure that the ultimate owners/controllers are identified and that this information is readily and publicly accessible.

 

Shell companies and nominees

In order to comprehend the issue of beneficial ownership, we need to understand some of the terminology : a beneficial owner is commonly defined as a person who ultimately owns or controls an asset. Shell companies, according to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, are a key feature in schemes designed to disguise beneficial ownership. History, and a long list of leaked documents such as the Panama Papers, have taught us that shell companies often enable money laundering, sanctions circumvention, tax evasion and other unlawful activities. According to sources, tax evasion costs governments globally close to $427 billion in losses each year. Europe loses $184 billion a year, more than half of which is from private tax evasion. 

Another vulnerability of beneficial ownership registers is the practice of using nominee directors and shareholders. The role of these “straw-men/women” is to conceal the identity of the real company or asset owners. This is often done using undisclosed agreements which essentially allow for one individual to hold shares of a company in the name of another person. While the appointment of nominees is legal in many countries, this practice is seen by the FATF as a cause for grave concern.

 

The benefits of beneficial ownership registers

Ieva Tarailiene, who holds the positions of Head of Registry practice and principal consultant roles at NRD Companies and served as interim CEO of the Lithuanian State Enterprise Center of Registers explains. “It is clear that if a business wants to hide the ultimate beneficiaries, the real shareholders, and to conceal its links with sanctioned persons or hide the origin of ill-gotten capital, it is likely to find ways to do so. However, imposing an obligation to provide mandatory beneficial ownership information to public authorities, to registers, will make it easier for law enforcement agencies to identify illegal activities or attempts to bypass sanctions. Failure to provide such information or falsifying data should carry serious consequences”.

In the last few years, both the FATF and the EU have issued recommendations and directives relating to beneficial ownership. FATF’s Recommendation 24 states that “Countries should ensure that there is adequate, accurate and timely information on the beneficial ownership and control of legal persons that can be obtained or accessed in a timely fashion by competent authorities”. The 4th EU Anti Money Laundering Directive (AMLD 4) from 2015 required member countries to establish beneficial ownership registers and “ensure that corporate and other legal entities incorporated within their territory are required to obtain and hold adequate, accurate and current information on their beneficial ownership, including the details of the beneficial interests held”.

As this 2021 illustration demonstrates, some countries in the EU have failed to establish such registers while others have imposed a myriad of obstacles — geographic access restrictions, registration requirements, paywalls, and public access limitations.

Transparency International has also called for a number of fixes to ensure global standards for improving beneficial ownership transparency including closing loopholes such as the use of nominees and clearly defining the term “beneficial owner” which differs between jurisdictions. To illustrate the inconsistencies in global regulations and according to the World Bank, registering beneficial ownership was mandatory in only 64 economies in 2020 (out of 191 economies included in the sample), and more common amongst high income economies. Beneficial ownership disclosure requirements in certain world regions are substantially lower — 20% in East Asia and Pacific; just over 20% in Sub Saharan Africa; and just under 30% in Europe and Central Asia.

Ms. Tarailiene concludes that “registers of beneficial owners are at the heart of a robust system aiming at financial transparency. Register of beneficial owners is a starting point towards a more transparent business environment and an essential part in a system to fight ill-gotten wealth, money laundering and terrorist financing, and circumvention of sanctions. Governments should take steps to not only establish the registers and make them freely accessible, but should also build mechanisms to validate the accuracy of the beneficial ownership information provided to them. Such mechanisms would require the involvement of other agencies such as Financial Intelligence Units and other law enforcement agencies to uncover false fillings and deter others from doing so”.

Investment Account
ArticlesBanking

Saving Through Investment Accounts: 4 Options You Should Know About

Investment Account

Big moments in life require a purposeful plan toward saving money. This is true whether you’re hoping to purchase a home, plan a big wedding, send your kids to college, or retire early. 

However, it’s not as easy as simply putting money aside. If your savings aren’t earning any interest, you’re not only missing out on an opportunity to make more money but you are, in fact, also losing it due to inflation.

The trick is to find the right balance between risk and interest-earning potential. In particular, you want to choose a low-risk option that will yield a substantial return over time. Fortunately, there are many options that offer exactly that. Here are the pros and cons of the four major low-risk options:

 

1. Education Accounts

The most popular payment option for post-secondary education expenses is a 529 savings plan. These tax-advantaged savings plans can be opened on behalf of the beneficiary (college-bound teens) — and anyone can contribute to it. However, the account owner — not the beneficiary — ultimately retains control over the funds.

  • Pros: The 529 savings plan involves fairly low maintenance and is easy to set up. There are no contribution or high aggregate limits, and contributions are considered gifts to the named beneficiary. The income grows tax-deferred, and distributions are tax-free — as long as they’re used to cover qualified education expenses.
  • Cons: If the distributions aren’t qualified, they will incur an income tax, as well as a 10% penalty (there are a few exceptions, though). Investment options included in the 529 plan are limited to a static portfolio that should reduce the risk. Account fees can vary significantly, so make sure to choose a low-cost 529 plan that will cover your family’s specific needs. 

 

2. Standard Brokerage Accounts

This type of account offers a wide portfolio of investment opportunities, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and more. Brokerage accounts are subject to taxes, and you must be age 18 or older and have a Social Security number or tax ID to own one. This is a good choice if you plan to save for more than five years.

  • Pros: You can open a brokerage account as an individual or share it with a spouse or a relative. There’s no limit on contributions, and you’re free to withdraw your money at any time.
  • Cons: Ultimately, you’ll need to pay taxes on the interest or dividends your portfolio earns, as well as any gains made by selling your assets.

 

3. Retirement Accounts

Similar to standard brokerage accounts in terms of investment opportunities, retirement accounts differ in taxation and withdrawal conditions. The most popular retirement accounts are traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Some companies offer 401(k) investment opportunities, in which your employer matches any contributions you make up to a certain amount; it’s usually 5%. To qualify for an IRA, you have to have earned an income.

  • Pros: The greatest benefit of IRAs is that your funds grow tax-free. Plus, traditional IRA contributions are tax-deductible. Of course, there are some limitations to this rule, so make sure to research them.
  • Cons: Contributions to an IRA are limited, and your money will be tied down until you reach retirement age — unless you’re willing to pay a penalty to access these funds early. There are some exceptions to early withdrawals. After age 72, you’ll have mandatory withdrawals with high penalty fees if you don’t utilize them (50% + taxes).

 

4. Children’s Investment Accounts

Each of the previous options requires that the owner is age 18 or older. However, there are also a few options for custodial accounts that can be owned by minors. 

The two main types of children-owned accounts are custodial brokerage accounts and custodial IRAs. Assets in custodial brokerage accounts can be typical investments (i.e., stocks, bonds, cash, etc.) or even tied to real estate. Once placed into the account, the funds cannot be transferred to another beneficiary, but they can be used for any purpose. 

Conversely, children are eligible to open a Roth or traditional IRA if they’ve earned an income through a custodial IRA. The funds are not taxable, and there are no withdrawal penalties.

  • Pros: These types of accounts are easy to set up, and there are no income or contribution limits. There are also no penalties for early withdrawals and no restrictions on how the funds should be used. The income is taxed at child rates and the contributions are tax-deductible. 
  • Cons: Custodial accounts count as a child’s asset, so they might not be eligible for financial aid such as student loans or grants. And once the child owning the account becomes an adult, they will be liable for taxes on income gained at the regular tax rates.

 

Choose the Right Investment Savings Account for Your Needs

Finding the best savings options that fit your circumstances may not be limited to one type of investment account. In fact, you may decide to split your savings into short-term and long-term options, giving you more flexibility to save for goals you’re anticipating in the next few years. Once you’ve assessed all your available options, you’ll gain greater clarity on the best route to guide you and your family toward financial freedom.

Traditional Banks vs. Online
ArticlesBanking

Traditional Banks Must Innovate to Survive

Traditional Banks vs. Online

Philippe De Backer & Juan Gonzalez

Arthur D. Little

The traditional banking sector is in serious trouble. In an age where the digital economy is kicking over the traces of the old world, customers are falling out of love with conventional high street banks and are starting to embrace new, more agile financial service providers.

If traditional banks are to survive and remain relevant, urgent action is needed to transform their business into one that is more suited to the demands of the 21st century consumer. They have to move on from just exploiting their pre-existing markets, and instead embrace innovation and develop an ‘ambidextrous’ mindset and culture.

 

Banks challenged by new entrants

The magnitude of the challenge facing traditional banks is immense, with the signs of a financial revolution everywhere. For instance, Europe’s three largest ‘neobanks’ – Revolut, N26 and Monzo – have 23 million registered users between them and that number is continuing to grow. The scalable business models of the neobanks give them an easy advantage. Their lower cost structure, lower capital requirement and greater flexibility in introducing products make them nimbler and more adaptable to changing consumer demands.

There are also incursions into the market from businesses that look very different from traditional financial institutions. For example, Amazon Cash enables customers to load money from their Amazon account on to a card and use it to buy products at physical retailers. Google has launched a physical debit card linked to a Google Wallet account. And the Apple Pay app further removes consumers’ mental association between day-to-day financial transactions and traditional banks. Meanwhile, supermarkets and high street brands have become post offices, banks, and bureaux de change.

 

Adopting an explorer mindset

To survive and potentially thrive, traditional banks need to adopt an ‘ambidextrous’ approach. That means balancing short- and long-term priorities and exploiting existing markets while experimenting with new ones – capitalizing on historical strengths while also embracing radical change.

The problem is that banks have remained in ‘exploit’ mode for too long, the consequences of which are now catching up with them. Now, they have to learn from businesses with an ‘explorer’ mindset if they are to continue to remain viable. These are firms focused on experimentation, risk-taking, discovery and innovation. They are more flexible and comfortable in the presence of uncertainty than their exploiter counterparts, creating an environment from where interesting innovations can emerge.

Neither exploration nor exploitation is inherently good or bad. The key is to achieve a working equilibrium between the two. The ambidextrous bank must balance short-term value drivers with the need for innovation to drive growth and transformation.

 

Becoming ambidextrous

To become truly ambidextrous, traditional banks will need to do much more than just reduce costs or add more features to existing products and services. It will necessitate a total rethink of its business model to enable the bank to differentiate itself in a marketplace that, on the one hand, is becoming increasingly commoditized, and on the other, is transforming beyond recognition.

Against this challenging backdrop, the most important thing that banks can do is find the right person to lead them to an ambidextrous future. This appointment needs to be an inspirational and entrepreneurial leader who understands the need for transformation and is willing to take risks and think differently – rather than merely maintain the status quo.

He or she must be a mix of innovator and optimizer: someone who can resolve the exploration-exploitation dilemma by replicating the drive and technology innovation of a digital start-up, through risk-taking and experimentation – while simultaneously squeezing the most from the organization in the short-term.

It’s also vital that new blood is brought in at the executive level to nurture and stimulate the ambidextrous mindset. There should be a widespread mix not just of age and gender, but of technology skillsets and digital acumen too, all of which are critically important in challenging a board’s traditional assumptions that hold it back from change.

Timid board members who hide behind the excuse that transformation initiatives will disturb business-as-usual miss the point. In a world of neobanks and digital fintech, disrupting business as usual is precisely what needs to be done. And if they feel they cannot, or prefer not to, participate in this, then they should make room for someone who’s willing to do what’s necessary.

In the wider economy, it’s easy to spot ambidextrous businesses: Amazon and Alphabet are clearly two companies that have blended left- and right-brain capabilities to spectacular effect. Yet there are also companies in the financial services sector that have also combined the efficient exploitation of traditional markets with digital risk-taking and service innovation.

A great example of this is DBS, Singapore’s largest bank, where radical change has been driven by Piyush Gupta, a CEO with an explorer mindset. With Gupta at the helm, DBS has taken a leap into the digital future. By adopting the cultural vision of a ‘27,000-person start-up,’ DBS has successfully repositioned itself, developing new products and services and delivering the type of growth and financial performance that has seen it go from a traditional regional player to being recognized as one of the world’s most forwarding-thinking and innovative banks.

To remain competitive in this new world of digital finance, the traditional banking model has to change. But banks will only succeed if they see this transformation for what it is: a fundamental reconfiguration. It is not a gradual, incremental set of improvements – instead, it’s a total shift in both mindset and operations.

As such, creating an appropriate culture must be a top priority for the CEO of any truly ambidextrous organization. He or she must also ensure that innovation permeates every cell of the business as part of the transformation process.

For while there’s still money to be made in traditional financial services, it soon won’t be sufficient to support the huge and unwieldy corporations that conventional banks have become. Banks must innovate and diversify now, or face obsolescence.

 

Philippe De Backer is managing partner and global practice leader of financial services at Arthur D. Little. Juan Gonzalez is a Partner at Arthur D. Little. They are co-authors of Disruption: The Future Of Banking And Financial Services.

Investing
ArticlesMarkets

4 Things to Consider When Investing This Year

Investing

Before you make any vital alterations to your investment portfolio, make sure you are considering your long-term financial goals, especially during a period of volatile market changes. 

Investing out of fear and sudden ups and downs can lead to strange changes to your financial future that could have been served better with patience and strategy.

 

Tenant Credit Reports 

Instantly issue tenant credit report checks instead of being stuck wasting time manually pulling credit data on potential tenants that you are going to be entrusting your rental property to live in.

Credit reporting services permit you to efficiently and quickly screen potential tenants with real-time credit data and top-notch support to avoid tenant defaults.

Ensure that your tenants meet your qualifying requirements and minimize your exposure to potential legal action by streamlining your tenant qualifying process.

You can orchestrate soft-pull credit reports from Equifax, match potential tenants’ credit data to your requirements, and invite them to make a formal application request. Criminal and eviction reports are easy to generate, with easy integration to your platform.

 

Fractional Short-Term Rental Investing  

Fractional ownership is a method that allows you to purchase a percentage of shares in a high-dollar asset such as a jet, yacht, or real estate. 

Just as the name implies, the asset is divided into several fractions to make the cost of entry more accessible and lessen the burden among several like-minded people. 

It wasn’t long until fractional ownership ventured over into the stock market. Some brokers offer fractional-share trading of high-priced stocks like Amazon and Tesla, making these pricier stocks more accessible. 

Typically you decide how much money you want to invest, and then they’ll tell you how much of the share you can own. This method can be very appealing to new investors who are looking to start small. 

Even if you have the necessary funds to purchase an entire share, it’s a great way to diversify your portfolio and try your hand at more than one. Some brokers allow you to buy fractional shares in $1 or $5 increments, but some are even as small as one cent. 

Fractional ownership in real estate offers a way to invest in property without having to take on the entire cost by yourself. 

In most cases, a special purpose vehicle is created. A group of people pool their resources to share ownership in a home or vacation property, eliminating the need for a large sum of cash or hefty loans. 

All of the investors are deeded as equitable title owners and share in both the perks of the amenities as well as the cost of upkeep. This makes it an affordable option for luxury resort vacation homes that might otherwise be out of reach. 

Fractional owners also share in the gains and losses that come along with property ownership. If the home’s value grows over five years, everyone’s share in the home grows as well. 

If the co-owners receive income from the property, everyone gets their proportioned share of the income brought in. Each co-owner is also responsible for their share of the property taxes, which may go up as the property’s value goes up. 

With fractional properties, the property is usually maintained by a third-party management company in which the buyers would split that cost proportionally as well.

 

Invest in vacation rentals like stocks

Earn a passive income from the highest-yielding asset class in real estate with vacation rentals. Get started with as little as $100.

What are some of the many benefits that are associated with fractional short-term real estate investing with a company like Here for vacation rentals? 

Get in on properties that are situated in stable, high cash-flowing vacation markets that put it in a position to garner long-term returns on investment.

You can get your hands on totally passive income investment opportunities that come with full-service property management that allows you to not be bogged down with time-consuming tasks in order to keep the properties earning for you. 

Fractional ownership makes it possible for you to actually own shares of the vacation rentals property that you decide to get involved with and yield the results with a much lower barrier to entry and investment cost than you would be looking at if you decided to be the sole owner of the house. 

You will receive economic rights in the underlying property that include potential net rental income, tax benefits, and appreciation that you are entitled to. 

You will be in partnership with the company Here with a vacation rental and receive fractional ownership, which means that Here has a direct ownership interest in each property, so all the responsibility doesn’t fall on your shoulders. 

This is a Limited Liability Company (LLC) investment situation, so each 

property is held in an LLC and protected with property insurance that prevents you from being stuck with personal legal liability.

 

Be Careful of Investing too Much in an Individual Stock 

Lessen the risks of investing by diversifying your investments. 

You’ll be financially vulnerable and open to significant investment risk if you pour too much money into your employer’s stock or any individual stock because if it does poorly, or even worse, the company tanks and goes bankrupt, that is all money you will lose right along with. 

 

Investing with the Robinhood App 

Using the digital investment app called Robinhood allows you to have access to thousands of fractional shares.

Robinhood is appealing for newer investors who may not have a whole lot of liquid cash to put into the stock market for stocks, options, crypto, and ETFs.

There are no trading or commission fees, account minimums, or account maintenance fees.

Robinhood allows you to invest in thousands of stocks with as little as $1 for any amount that you want; you will get your dollars converted to portions of company shares and funds to help reduce risk and build a balanced portfolio. 

You get to enjoy stock trading in real-time, with trades that are implemented during market hours getting executed at that time to allow you to be aware of the actual share price. 

Unsecured Loans
ArticlesFinance

Unsecured Personal Loans FAQ

Unsecured Loans

Large unsecured personal loans are sizeable loans not protected by collateral. You don’t have to provide any asset like your home or car as collateral to get approved for large unsecured personal loans.

The lender must trust your intention to repay and base the loan’s approval on your affordability or ability to repay the amount you borrow.

 

How Do Large Unsecured Personal Loans Work?

Large unsecured personal loans involve a contract or agreement between you and the lender. You’re allowed to borrow a large lump sum of money on the basis that you agree to repay within the promised timeframe.

You get a fixed amount of money when you’re approved and pay the money back plus interest over the chosen term until you settle the loan.  You’ll get a fixed interest rate for large unsecured personal loans and will usually repay in monthly instalments.

You can see the current and best rates on the Times website, allowing you to easily compare rates.

Lenders will look at your monthly income and expenses to determine affordability when assessing your application. They’ll also consider your credit history to determine how you handle your finances and your likelihood of repaying the loan.

A large unsecured personal loan is your best bet if you’re looking for a substantial amount of cash that you can repay by spreading the cost through a series of manageable monthly instalments.

 

Features Of Large Unsecured Personal Loans

Easy Online Application

You can quickly borrow large unsecured personal loans online from anywhere in the UK. Most lenders allow you to borrow through a quick and easy online application process. The entire process takes place online, from requests and approval to funding.

 

Quick Approvals And Payouts

Applications for large unsecured personal loans are approved quickly within an hour because you don’t have to prove ownership or the value of an asset. You get quick approval and feedback online, and some lenders offer same-day payouts.

 

Zero Risk to Your Assets

There’s no risk of losing your valuable assets in a large unsecured personal loan since you’ll not use any collateral to secure the loan. Your property cannot be seized and sold to recover the outstanding loan balance if you default.

 

High Loan Amounts

With large unsecured personal loans, you can access a more considerable lump sum of cash than typical short-term unsecured loans like payday loans. Your credit score can influence the amount and terms you get. A good credit score will enable you to access the amount you need without restrictions or stringent limits.

 

Uses of Large Unsecured Personal Loans

Unlike some secured loans that must cover particular expenses like buying a home or car, you can use large unsecured personal loans to cover a wide variety of financial needs. Common uses include:

  • Home Improvements

One great way to invest back into your property and improve its value and curb appeal is through home improvements. However, they can be pretty costly. Large unsecured personal loans can help you get the finances you need to cover the costs of your desired home improvement project.

However, as Mortgageable.co.uk explains with regards to home improvement loans “keep in mind that each lender will use their criteria when assessing your application, and some may view you more positively than others.”

Whether it’s a new kitchen, bathroom, extensions, conversions, maintenance, or repairs required, large unsecured personal loans can help you fulfil your needs.

 

  • Debt Consolidation

With debt consolidation, you combine multiple high-interest debts into one. A large unsecured personal loan can help you consolidate all your debts and cover the total amount, so you’re only left with one lender to repay. Instead of dealing with multiple lenders every month, you’ll only be making a single repayment.

Large unsecured personal loans can help you get a breath of fresh air if you’ve been struggling under the weight of multiple high-interest debts. It will drastically reduce your monthly expenses and make it easy to manage your bills.

 

  • Personal And Business Financing

Large unsecured personal loans can help you finance small and large personal financial needs and purchases. You can buy or achieve what you need or desire now and pay later through affordable monthly repayments.

They can help you buy a car, home, land, advance your education, finance your dream wedding, or simply take a much-needed vacation.

Businesses also require a cash injection from time to time. Large unsecured personal loans can help you cover current and future business financial needs like stock, equipment, resources, new premises or expansion.

 

Large Unsecured Personal Loans with Bad Credit

If you’re worried that your bad credit score will affect your unsecured personal loan application, worry no more.

A bad credit score is no longer a financial death sentence but only a hiccup when you need a loan. Although it can be challenging to get large unsecured personal loans with bad credit, it’s not impossible.

A loans adviser can provide guidance and connect you to understanding lenders specialising in giving large unsecured personal loans to borrowers with bad credit in the UK.

Instead of focusing on your past financial troubles, they only consider your current situation and affordability based on your monthly income and expenses.

With easy monthly instalments, you can comfortably make repayments on time, which will reflect positively on your credit score. Your credit score will improve and show lenders you’re a reliable borrower.  

 

What Happens If You Don’t Repay Large Unsecured Personal Loans?

Although you don’t risk losing any of your assets when you fail to repay or default on large unsecured personal loans, you’ll still face various consequences.

The default or missed payment will be included in your credit report for up to six years, impacting your ability to get credit in the future. You’ll also face penalties and fees for missed payments.

Lenders also have a legal right to try and recover their money in some way when borrowers fail to repay. It includes filing court actions against you, like arranging a county court judgement (CCJ) that can appear in your credit record for six years unless you repay the total amount in a month.

 

Can I Get a Large Unsecured Personal Loan When Unemployed?

Yes. Not being ‘formally employed’ does not disqualify you from accessing large unsecured personal loans. Many understanding lenders in the UK welcome all kinds of borrowers and accept all income types.

You may be unemployed but still get some form of income from part-time work, freelancing, benefits, trust proceeds, dividends, child support and many more.

As long as you can afford to repay the loan with income from any source, you can qualify and get approved for large unsecured personal loans.  

Tax
ArticlesTax

Tax Considerations When Managing Cross-border Payments

Tax

Nick Farmer is an international tax partner at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP.

To read more about the top tax challenges facing UK businesses, read our white paper here.

From selling products and services to global customers to interacting with other group companies, many businesses are entering into cross-border transactions on a regular basis. Despite their growing prevalence, the tax implications of such arrangements can sometimes be overlooked.

To protect profit margins, it’s vital that businesses develop a clear understanding of their tax position before entering into international contracts and that they seek upfront expert advice.

In recent years, technological developments have enabled UK-based businesses to connect with global customers more readily. The availability of more support and information for SMEs considering trading overseas is also behind an increase in international transactions. Despite this, many decision makers are failing to give the associated tax implications the attention they deserve.

One reason why international tax considerations may not be at the top of the management agenda for many businesses is the common misconception that it will always be possible to obtain relief for overseas taxes back in the UK. This isn’t always the case and failing to consider tax issues at the right time can lead to unwelcome surprises. Tax may also fall outside the remit of those leading a company’s commercial operations and there should be clear internal policies to make sure it is not overlooked before it is too late.

To avoid this scenario, it’s important for businesses to consider their tax position carefully when drawing up contracts. For example, in some jurisdictions, such as in the Middle and Far East, UK-based companies may suffer ‘withholding taxes’ when receiving payments from a customer. Other taxes that may need to be considered include VAT and customs duties, as well as state and local taxes that may arise in a particular territory. If services have been delivered on the ground in another country, there is a risk that a permanent establishment may be created, and this could give rise to local corporate tax and local payroll-related taxes.

Before entering into a contract with overseas customers, decision makers should identify what taxes arise, and when, the tax treaty position with the relevant country and any relief that might be available in the UK. Businesses should also investigate any local tax registrations that are required in the jurisdiction they’re trading with.

Undertaking this process in advance allows for the tax implications to be clarified and included within contractual agreements. This will help to avoid any unwanted, unforeseen tax consequences, and will also enable the business to consider if any additional tax costs can be passed onto the customer by way of increased prices for products and services.

In order to agree the international tax position, it will often be relevant to discuss the matter with the overseas customer. For example, does the customer expect to withhold any tax on payment, and would any specific documentation, such as a certificate of residency, enable the business to take advantage of a lower tax treaty rate? However, it’s also vital to have the accuracy of such advice verified by a tax professional. In particular, getting support from UK-based advisers with strong international connections enables companies to experience the best of both worlds by learning about the tax implications of overseas transactions from a 360-degree perspective.

Another area of taxation that businesses need to be aware of is ‘transfer pricing’. This affects multinationals or groups that are transacting between related companies in different countries. In this case, transactions should be priced on an arms-length basis. This is a hot topic for tax authorities and may require additional reporting as part of the tax compliance process. The UK Government has also recently consulted on plans to introduce transfer pricing reporting for corporate tax returns, in a view to improve transparency and better enable HMRC to identify the tax risk on particular transactions.

The international tax landscape is changing rapidly and as overseas transactions become increasingly common, more countries will take steps to protect their tax revenues. As such, it’s crucial for UK businesses to keep a close eye on any changes and avoid making any general assumptions about their international tax position, as rules and treatments could vary widely between jurisdictions.

By carefully researching local tax laws and seeking expert support before entering into commercial agreements, decision makers can avoid any costly surprises and maximise their profit margins when trading across borders.

Bad Credit Loan
ArticlesFinance

How to Get Bad Credit Loans For Low CIBIL Score

Bad Credit Loan

Sometimes it’s almost impossible to foresee a financial crisis until it strikes when you don’t have money in your pocket or any friends and family that can lend you the funds you need. Even worse, you can’t qualify for loans from specific lending platforms due to poor CIBIL scores. 

If you’re in this situation, don’t panic. There are various ways or things you can do to secure bad credit loans, even with a poor CIBIL score. So without further ado, let’s jump straight into it. 

 

How to Get Bad Credit Loans For Low CIBIL Score

1. Choose Collateral-based Loans

Collateral loans are one of the best ways to compensate for your poor CIBIL score, as they don’t consider it when offering the loan. It may require you to give up your valuable jewellery, shares, or even profit until you repay the loan. 

Once your assets have been made as part of the loan deal, you’ll be in a position to select the best suitable lender you want for bad credit loans. You should pick the lender regarding the interest rates they offer, the period, and terms. 

However, default payments in collateral loans are dangerous as the lender will seize your collateral asset to compensate for the amount you borrowed as well as the interest rates charged. Therefore, you should abide by their policies and pay-up as the contract provides. 

 

2. Identify a Guarantor

Having a credible guarantor is by far one of the best techniques for securing a loan, especially if your CIBIL score is low. Your guarantor might be a colleague, family member, or your best friend. Of course, your guarantor must have a high CIBIL score for any lender to accept you. 

 

3. Look For a Co-Applicant

Finding a co-applicant with a good income source is another terrific method to get a bad credit loan despite a poor CIBIL score. However, the co-applicant will have to come from within your inner circle, preferably a family member who will be alerted to your intention to secure a loan. 

The co-applicant and the guarantor will pledge to take the burden of paying the loan if, for whatever reason, you fail to repay the outstanding balance. However, the co-applicant and the guarantor will still have to meet specific criteria before the loan discussions can be held. 

 

4. Demonstrate Your Creditworthiness

A poor CIBIL score doesn’t just come from late or default payments. On the contrary, it might be due to not using credit cards regularly, or maybe you haven’t sought out a loan before. However, if you can prove to the lenders that you have a steady and reliable source of income, then you will qualify yourself for a loan. 

The worst lenders may need your bank statements and payslip, and after they conduct a proper review, you’ll go directly into the loan terms and conditions. 

 

5. Be Conservative While Borrowing

If you’re sure you have a poor CIBIL score, then requesting a considerable sum of money from lenders will be almost financial suicide. Let’s face it; no lender will be willing to give anyone with a poor credit score vast amounts if they don’t meet the essential criteria. So asking for a large sum automatically disqualifies you. 

However, all this can change if you go for a reasonable amount of money. Requesting realistic loans will give the lender time to gauge if they can offer the loan. However, if they issue you a loan despite your bad CIBIL score, expect to pay a high-interest rate.

 

6. Go For  Online Lenders

Many individuals are moving away from traditional ways of securing loans as they have extreme requirements to meet before they listen to your loan plea. Fortunately, online platforms like Gday Loans can work with credible lenders who offer loans regardless of your CIBIL score. 

You’ll only have to fill in an application form which they’ll review within minutes and give you feedback; then, the next step will be to connect you with your desired lender or the lender that fits your needs. However, the interest rates might be slightly higher due to the bad CIBIL score but rest assured you’ll secure the loan. 

 

7. Establish Lending Criteria In Advance

Even though most people ignore the eligibility criteria, it still plays a pivotal role in securing loans with a poor CIBIL score. That being said, you should conduct proper online research on which platforms you match with and if they can offer you a loan regardless of your bad CIBIL score. 

Of course, most lenders will want to know your CIBIL history and score. The reason behind this is that they’ll want to evaluate if you are credible or if you have that desperate trait that lenders dislike in borrowers. 

However, if you manage to find the most suitable lender that can offer you a loan without diving deep into your CIBIL score, you’ll have won. But until then, you have to do due diligence and keep checking various lending platforms and the criteria they require their borrowers to meet. 

 

Wrap Up

Even though securing a loan with a poor CIBIL is almost impossible, there are platforms such as G’day Loans that are willing to connect you with their credible lenders so that you secure bad credit loans. 

So if you need a loan, even with a bad CIBIL score, try Gday Loans so that you get the financial assistance you need at reasonable interest rates and repayment periods. 

Fintech Regulation
ArticlesFinance

Making Regulation Work In Fintech

Fintech Regulation

“Upskilling supervisory officers is the answer to making regulation work for the Fintech Industry while safeguarding the integrity of the sector” argues FinTech regulatory veteran Tony Brown

Tony Brown, Head of Compliance & MLRO of IFX Payments

The state of regulation as it stands, in my opinion, doesn’t hinder Fintech’s chances of success per se but the constant evolution and moving benchmarks does act as a major blocker. 

The exciting prospect of Fintech is our agility and ability to get products to market, however, the regulatory environment is in a constant state of flux and regular compliance updates mean that development teams often have to re-scope or sometimes completely redesign late in production.

For me there’s no question that the ethics and values that the current regulatory regime is built on have to remain the same, but the measurements for demonstrating successful application of these needs to change, and fast.

 

Traditional FS vs Fintechs

We are trying to apply outdated benchmarks of traditional financial services and banking to a new-age of products and businesses. Fintechs are operating more and more like a Silicon Valley tech company than a Canary Wharf bank, and this approach is what breeds innovation. 

Even amidst the rapid growth of the industry, regulation has remained pretty stagnant, while our means of complying with it has been completely revolutionised. Put simply, the issue for the industry is not the regulations ‘themselves’, but the fact that we are still trying to compare FinTech to Banking, and it simply is not the same thing.

The growing number of unicorns and the billions in investment suggests success is not hindered by current regulation, but with some alignment and free reign to be creative, the possibilities for our sector are endless. I mean, let’s not forget why the FinTech sector and Challenger Banks were born. Doing things quicker, cheaper and safer for customers. By no means do I think the supervisors are extinct, but they are some pace behind the industry leaders and the gap is only getting bigger.

 

So what next?

We are all currently working on our Operational Resilience Plans that are due for completion 31st March 2022, and personally I have found this exercise to be extremely beneficial.  

Our approach has been to break down business critical tasks per department, conduct a thorough analysis of the effectiveness of the function and find a minimum operating standard for each component.  We have taken this even further by adding a ‘worst case scenario’ factor into each business unit and built a Plan B and even a Plan C to make sure we can continue to serve and protect our clients at all times. 

I believe the government can roll this approach out across multiple industries, starting with those sectors considered ‘key workers’ during the pandemic. Protecting client funds is of the utmost importance to the financial sector, but look at the pressure the NHS has faced over the past couple of years, and they are protecting people’s lives!  Sometimes we have to take stock and figure out what is truly important, and for me, when the chips are down, assets and revenues should not be our only priority.

 

The role of the regulator

Before any regulation or guidance is updated, I would like to see the regulator spend a significant amount of time upskilling its officers to better understand the sector. Even spending time on site at the bigger Fintechs to simply observe how these firms interpret compliance and the unique and exciting ways they go about meeting the standards would be hugely beneficial. Having spent a long time myself auditing in the sector, I have been blown away by the ability of our sector to innovate and replicate. It’s naïve, if not completely wrong to assume our regulator knows everything about what we do and how we do it.  I think we need to open our doors to them and educate the regulator on how they can better supervise us. This is mutually beneficial as a more knowledgeable supervisor means more alignment with governance and dare I say, more innovation.

We cannot measure new products and services with old metrics.  If there is a disparity in the regulatory approach it needs to be acknowledged rather than simply carrying on doing things the same way, because it has always been done this way.  Educating Fintechs and upskilling supervisors so that they are at least looking at the same things in a similar way is imperative.  Then Supervisors can figure out the benchmarks for good practice, and regulation can follow.  I often feel that as an industry we are slow to react and then are left to make things fit, then we all sit and scratch our heads when we are left with square pegs and round holes and so the cycle repeats.

Precious Metals
ArticlesMarkets

The Benefits of Investing in Precious Metals

Precious Metals

Precious metals have been considered a valuable commodity for centuries. At one time, gold and silver was the primary form of currency. Unlike other currencies, these metals have retained their value over time, which is why many investors still use them today.

Here are some of the overarching benefits to keep in mind if you’re considering a precious metal investment strategy.

 

Self-Directed IRA Options

One of the main aspects of precious metal investments that investors enjoy is the ability to open a self-directed IRA. This familiarity makes investing in precious metals more comfortable, approachable, and manageable. As an investor, you maintain control of your assets, determining if and when to sell or buy. 

If you already have an IRA or 401(k), you can even use the assets to perform a rollover into a gold IRA (the umbrella term for precious metal investments). Take some time to research the best gold IRA companies and discuss your options with a financial advisor to find the best path forward.

 

Low Market Volatility and Risk

The aspect of investing in precious metals that makes it so appealing to many investors is the low risk and minimal market volatility. While it’s impossible to rule out the potential for market volatility, most precious metals— gold, in particular— are recession-proof and operate separately from stocks and bonds. 

Many investors use precious metals as their safe haven account— a failsafe to protect some of their assets should periods of economic distress occur. The value of gold and silver continued to rise through the great recession and the pandemic, while other investments toppled. Precious metals are considered more stable and predictable than real estate and other alternative investments.

 

Ideal for Diversification

The continuous increase in value, low risk, and market stability make precious metals an ideal alternative investment for portfolio diversification. 

It’s worth noting that precious metal investments aren’t without flaws. They have extra costs associated with brokerage and storage and lack the same tax advantages and short-term payoffs as other investments. I.e., you won’t see the return on your investment until you sell. 

However, these features are why it’s considered an alternative investment for diversification rather than a primary investment strategy. Talk to a financial advisor to determine whether this alternative investment is the right form of diversification for your investment goals.

 

Tangible Products

There’s something powerful about having a physical commodity to represent your wealth. In our digital world, currency is largely intangible; you won’t find stacks of cash sitting in a vault to access when you need it.

As precious metals are tangible, they also offer simple liquidity. When you decide it’s time to sell, you work with your broker and custodian to make it happen; there’s minimal red tape and fanfare. This feature also contributes to its value as a safe haven investment.

 

Various Formats

In addition to several types of precious metals in which to invest, there are also various formats. When you purchase precious metals, you can choose from coins, bars, and rounds. Keep in mind that you can’t purchase precious metals yourself then transfer them into an IRA; you require a broker to manage the purchase of approved products.

Investing in precious metals isn’t for everyone, but it’s a diversification strategy worth considering. If you’re evaluating alternative investments, consider these benefits of precious metals. 

E-Health
ArticlesMarketsStock Markets

Here’s Why You Should Invest In eHealth Stocks

E-Health

As the eHealth market continues to soar, Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Advice at Freedom Finance Europe, sheds light on this trend and three of the top undervalued eHealth stocks to watch.

The global eHealth market only continues to grow, driven by rising awareness throughout the pandemic of the benefits offered by digital solutions. From remote monitoring tools to telemedicine, eHealth has come into sharp focus for healthcare professionals across the globe.

In turn, retail investors looking to maximize their portfolios are jumping on this trend. As an increasing number of investors look towards eHealth as a means to both combat critical health issues and generate high returns, organisations are seeing demand for digital applications soar. 

In light of this, let’s explore the growing popularity of the eHealth market and the trends associated with this growth. More importantly, let’s take a look at how investors can pick eHealth stocks that are right for them, as well as three undervalued eHealth stocks to watch.

 

The continued growth of the eHealth market

Analysts are expecting eHealth to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.1% during the forecast period of 2022 to 2027, with the expectation of the eHealth segment generating revenue of £46.7 billion in 2022 alone. China is expected to be the largest eHealth market in 2022 with £13.8 billion in revenue, followed by the US with £7.7 billion in revenue.

The major growth drivers of eHealth include the development of technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as increasing demand for health management. In recent years, the number of Internet applications in healthcare have increased exponentially. Using the Internet, healthcare professionals can deliver medical information to consumers more efficiently. 

In particular, technological advancements in electronic health records (EHR) are driving the adoption of eHealth solutions, thereby contributing to the growth of the overall market.

 

The impact of the pandemic on eHealth

The growth of the eHealth industry accelerated during the pandemic as various technologies were used for remote monitoring and health management, including technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. The pandemic also forced various governments to quickly shift patient care and records to eHealth, due to long lockdowns and the fear of further spreading of the virus. In turn, this led to a significant market growth. 

This trend is expected to continue as awareness about the benefits of eHealth become more apparent. Even as the pandemic fizzles, digital health is expected to maintain its strength as healthcare providers and patients take advantage of new technologies and innovations.

Telemedicine remains one of the most important drivers of eHealth as it has increased access to healthcare, reduced person-to-person contact, and ensured continuity of care, as well as providing care for non-Covid emergencies.

 

How to pick the right eHealth stock for you

Investors can find the best eHealth stocks by following the standard parameters for selecting high-growth investments. Looking at revenue growth trends is a suitable place to start. It is typically a pretty good indicator that the company is doing something right. Even small, regular improvements over a long period can be a positive indicator. Both earnings growth and value must go hand in hand for the stock to be worth investing in.

You should also look at a company’s financial statements, which are often available on its investor relations website, both quarterly and annually. This will enable you to see whether revenue and / or profits are growing or declining. Companies that show positive profit growth tend to have financial and operational stability.

Ultimately, a stable eHealth company will possess certain characteristics: revenue growth, keeping debt at a low or medium level, competitiveness in its industry, and effective leadership.

 

Three stocks that are undervalued in the eHealth sector

1. Teladoc Health (TDOC) is arguably one of the brightest representatives of eHealth providers and received a solid boost from the pandemic. The company specializes in telemedicine services – providing medical care remotely over the Internet or phone, which was heavily needed during the pandemic. 

The global telemedicine market is expected to grow at an average rate of 32.1%, reaching an expected £486.9 billion in 2028. With the industry’s steady growth, Teladoc Health seems poised to reap the benefits. 

The bullish long-term outlook for Teladoc Health is supported by the fact that it is already a dominant player in the industry. As of January 2022, the company has a customer base of 76.5 million paying members in more than 12,000 companies. Despite Covid’s diminishing impact on the healthcare industry in 2021, Teladoc was able to increase its number of paid memberships by 50% year-on-year.

This is a clear sign of acceptance of the company’s virtual healthcare services. Teladoc Health is also growing through several strategic mergers and acquisitions. These deals boost earnings by helping to maintain engagement and expand the organisation’s geographical presence. 

Between 2021 and 2025, Teladoc is targeting annual revenue growth of 25% to 30%. This will likely be supported by an increase in paid visits from members, combined with growth in average revenue per member. 

2. American Well Corporation (AMWL) operates as a telemedicine company that provides digital health care. Its application offers emergency care, pediatric care, therapy, population health management, telepsychiatry, pregnancy and postnatal care, and breastfeeding support. 

The company also provides telemedicine equipment, peripherals, TV sets, tablets, and kiosks. There is upside potential to the average target price of £5.97 (about 120% upside).

 

3. 1Life Healthcare, Inc. (ONEM) operates a membership-based primary care platform under the One Medical brand. The company has developed a digital health membership model based on direct consumer enrollment, as well as employer sponsorship. 

Its membership model includes seamless access to digital health services combined with an invitation to in-office health care, which is typically covered by health insurance plans. The company also offers administrative and management services under contracts with physician-owned professional corporations or One Medical Entities. There is upside potential to the average target price of £18.37 (about 172% upside).

Cryptocurrency
ArticlesMarketsStock Markets

Three Promising Crypto ETFs to Watch

Cryptocurrency

With investors persistently looking for new ways to diversify their market portfolio, Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Advice at Freedom Finance Europe, outlines three promising crypto ETFs to consider over the next few months. 

Cryptocurrency continues to catch the eye of many investors, with the demand for digital currencies growing significantly year on year. Offering greater choice, independence, and opportunity in their finances, cryptocurrency is a great investment for those willing to accept that this type of trading often comes with risk. 

As part of this trend, crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are soaring in popularity amongst investors, by making it as easy to invest in Bitcoin as it is to buy popular stocks. On top of this, rather than attempting to pick a high-earning crypto yourself, an ETF offers exposure to a basket of different cryptos and provides easier access to the world of cryptocurrency.

In light of this, let’s take a look at the benefits of investing in crypto ETFs and three of the most promising crypto ETFs to watch over the coming months.

 

What is a crypto ETF?

An ETF is a pool of shares or assets that are grouped together, then sold on a stock exchange. This effectively allows for a variety of shares or assets to be owned through the ownership of just one share in the ETF.

A crypto ETF is very similar to your standard ETF. However, rather than tracking an index or basket of assets, a crypto ETF tracks the price of one or more digital tokens. This enables you to leverage the price of Bitcoin without having to learn the intricacies of how Bitcoin works.

Many investors are interested in crypto ETFs due to the benefits they bring at relatively low effort. Whether that be flexibility with trading, diversifying your portfolio, or lower cost of ownership, ETFs are a simple and easy way of gaining exposure to Bitcoin. 

 

The top three crypto-ETFs with the highest growth potential

1. The Siren Nasdaq NexGen Economy ETF (BLCN) is one of the first ETFs to focus on blockchain technology. With assets under management (AUM) at £142.5m, the fund tracks an index of global companies committed to blockchain development. Although the index committee is not active, it has broad authority in selecting companies. 

The main criterion used to evaluate a company is the level of material resources it has committed to researching, developing, supporting, and expanding the use of blockchain technology. It appears that distributed ledger technology, the blockchain, will play a central role in the economic transactions of the future. 

Given the recent weakness amid a general market correction, BLCN shares could be an interesting buy after breaking resistance of £27.3, in which case a move towards £34.95 is likely, making the growth potential 28.0%.​

2. ​​​Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK) is an actively managed portfolio, mainly composed of global blockchain-focused stocks. With assets under management (AUM) at £671.6m, BLOK seeks to invest in companies developing or using what it calls “transformational data sharing technologies”, primarily focusing on blockchain technology. 

Blockchain, the technology that drives Bitcoins, is a distributed peer-to-peer ledger that facilitates transaction recording and asset tracking in the business environment. The growing blockchain ecosystem is a rapidly changing environment that includes many different industries because of the large number of applications. This relatively young market has great growth potential as the number of users increases and developers continue to create the so-called new Internet. 

Should it break resistance at £24.2, a growth of 34.4% is likely, changing the levels towards £32.52.

3. ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO) provides access to Bitcoin (BTC) dynamics in an ETF shell. The fund does not invest directly in Bitcoin but invests in Bitcoin futures, this is worth keeping in mind as there may be some lag in the price of Bitcoin. 

Bitcoin futures are traded in contango, which means that the next month’s price is higher than the previous months. Every time the fund sells futures contracts closer to expiration, it sells the cheaper contract to buy the more expensive one. This process affects the fund’s net asset value (NAV), which causes it to lag slightly behind spot Bitcoin. Nevertheless, this ETF is the most affordable way to have exposure to Bitcoin via stock market instruments. 

Overall, BTC dynamics have been good lately, on the back of rising demand, BITO stock could be interesting to buy after breaking resistance at £18.5, the growth potential of 36.3% is possible, making a new price of £25.22. 

Unregulated Investment
ArticlesFinance

Unregulated Investments – Will This Discourage Potential Investors?

Unregulated Investment

The authors are Rob Goodhew, director, Restructuring Advisory, Ben Boorer, associate managing director Business Intelligence and Investigations (BII) and Patrick Crumplin, director, Expert Services at Kroll

Unregulated investments, many of which are high-risk, not only in the sense of the asset class but also potentially in terms of the underlying assets, and some of which are just outright scams, have become a major problem in the UK. Since the introduction of pension freedoms in April 2015, the UK has seen a growth in unregulated, unlisted, high-yield investments being marketed and sold to members of the public, often as low-risk opportunities. While such investments might seem low-risk at first glance, not least because of the security and assurances set out in the promotional materials, claims of such high returns in an era of low interest rates should raise alarm bells.

Research highlighted by the FCA in 2019 indicated that 42% of pension savers, equivalent to over five million people, could be at risk of falling victim to one or more of the common tactics used by pension scammers. Illustratively, if each of those potential investors had £50,000 to invest, the potential prize for those promoting and running such schemes would be a staggering £250 billion (bn). It’s not surprising that scheme operators, whether scammers or not, might want to access that kind of money.

Classifying such investment schemes is not straightforward, but there are certain features that characterize the problem. There are many types of underlying businesses, schemes and assets on offer such as property development, foreign exchange, cryptocurrencies, agriculture and forestry, precious metals and even sports betting. In terms of property development, there has been a proliferation of unregulated investment schemes marketed as unitized property-backed investments, such as parking spaces in a carpark, storage units, or rooms in hotels, student accommodation and care homes. Typically, investors are offered high-yield bonds or loan notes with a range of maturities, often over a longer term, meaning that capital could be tied up for some time. Advertised returns are regularly up to 10% or more and some schemes include an attractive buyback clause.

Given the underlying income-generating “bricks and mortar” assets, it’s easy to see why such opportunities might be attractive. It’s a logical proposition that appears safe, but the reality may be quite different. If the advertised returns weren’t challenging enough in the current low-interest environment, commissions of up to 20% or more that are usually paid to sales agents or “introducers,” together with sometimes equally high management fees or other payments to the scheme operators, can be crippling, potentially causing a systemic flaw in the investment model. After operating costs have been paid and possibly other debt serviced, the underlying business should have a strong performance to be able to repay the original capital invested—and all of this assumes that the scheme runs perfectly and is not just being a scam from the outset. While some unregulated investment schemes might be well-intentioned initially—potentially adding to the attractiveness of the scheme at the time of promotion—they may go on to face challenges with their investments and their operations.

This can result in issues snowballing over time to the point where the situation is irrecoverable. It may be the case that investors find out about such issues too late after attempts have already been made to recover the situation; by that time, investments might have become compromised, with value lost.

Of course, it’s important to have a good understanding of the investment opportunity beyond the glossy brochures, websites and sales talk from the beginning. Investment propositions can appear immensely attractive and credible, but it is vital that investors have a proper understanding of the true nature of the underlying business, any discretion the management might exercise to use capital, the legal structure, the nature of the financial instrument being offered, the involvement of introducers/agents and their fees and regulated parties, security over underlying assets, the trading history of the management team, and the rights of the investor.

Most of the drivers that contribute to the sale of high-risk, unregulated investments have existed for some time now.

  • People are free to invest their funds as they wish. The risk is to savings in whatever form, but pension freedoms have significantly increased the amount of funds available which has attracted the attention of investment scheme promoters seeking capital.
  • There is no requirement to take advice when drawing down a pension or investing, and research suggests that most people don’t take advice when accessing their pension funds.
  • The low interest rate environment remains.
  • Regulations permit the marketing of such investments to certain types of investor.

 

Compounding the above, COVID-19 may have made the situation worse. In addition to the obvious economic influences and stresses, lockdown has forced us to operate in a more virtual world, and we are more isolated and vulnerable than usual.

The marketing of unregulated investments to individuals is restricted to “high-net-worth” and/or “sophisticated” investors. However, potential investors qualifying as high-net-worth or sophisticated may not necessarily fully appreciate the risks associated with the investment, and those classifications do not provide immunity to old fashioned sales tactics and unconscious bias. Further, the assessment of an investor as high-net-worth or sophisticated is essentially one of self-certification and takes moments to complete. In reality, many of these schemes are marketed using persuasive or even high-pressure sales tactics to ordinary people, who may have raised funds by cashing in pensions or other life savings, through inheritance, or even through refinancing their home.

The authorities are well aware of the issue, but is enough being done? The UK government introduced a ban on cold calling in relation to pensions that came into effect in January 2019.  At the same time, the FCA was investigating London Capital & Finance, which collapsed later that month. So, there are legacy issues, but has the problem now gone away? Unfortunately, the answer to that appears to be no. There have been public awareness campaigns, which are important, and the FCA does, on occasion, take action against unregulated firms, but resourcing and the potential scale of the problem outside the regulatory perimeter mean that not very much has changed. The ban on pensions cold calling was a welcome step forward, but it may have had little impact on the promotion of high-risk, unregulated investments.

On a more positive note, the Work and Pensions Committee recently conducted a major inquiry into the problem of pension scams, making a range of recommendations in relation to reporting, prevention, enforcement and victim support. Additional legislation has also recently been passed or is in the pipeline. The Pension Schemes Act 2021 received royal assent earlier this year, providing for new preventative regulations and new enforcement powers for the pension regulator. Separately, the FCA recently issued a discussion paper to canvass views on changes that can be made to strengthen the FCA’s financial promotion rules for high-risk investments and for authorized firms which approve financial promotions. Positive steps indeed, but all of this takes time to put in place and to become effective.

In the meantime, if such a scheme collapses, the fallout may be complicated by poor record keeping, complex group structures, intra-group lending and the existence of charges over the underlying assets. This means that it might not be straightforward to establish what happened, and there may be competing claims for the remaining assets. More clearly needs to be done to prevent it from getting to this stage in the first place, but for investors who find they have a problem with their investment, they must understand their rights under the investment documentation and be aware of their options in terms of recovering their money.

Bear and Bull Market
ArticlesMarkets

How to Trade Bull and Bear Markets in Denmark

Bear and Bull Market

Many traders trade in Denmark, but it’s not always easy to make money in the markets. Read this article, and you will see why trading can be hard in a market that is in a bear trend.

But, there are also possibilities you can profit in a bull market.

There are several trading strategies to make money when the markets are trending, but if you want an easy way to get started with trading, one kind of strategy will help shorten your learning curve. You can also check out Saxo for more info.

 

So what is swing trading?

At its core, swing trading means opening positions for short periods. It could be anywhere from hours/days, or even weeks. The idea is to generate more income during a trending market and limit the risk when trading sideways or during a bearish market. This article will focus on swinging trade in bull and bear markets.

You should try taking trades that fit your daily schedule to swing trade. Depending on what works best for you, it could be after university, lunch break or even after work. You can not expect to make money if you plan your day around trading because there are only 24 hours in a day.

It would be challenging to stay focused if you tried swinging trades all day. But, when done right, it will be a simple, fun and easy way of increasing your income without working too much.

Swing Trading in Denmark, in the finance world, has two general types of markets. There is a Bull market and a Bear market. In a bear market, prices go down, and all investors lose money, but in a bull, market prices go up, and you can make money if you know how to trade it correctly.

 

A Bull Market

In a bull market, traders who have bought stock can profit from a price increase – this is because they will be able to sell the stock for more than they bought it for or sell it later at a profit even though they have already made their money back now that the price is higher.

So now what? You want to buy those stocks as well! A popular investing strategy called dollar-cost averaging lets you invest small amounts of money over some time to minimise risk.

So you could buy shares at regular intervals, but what is there left for you to do?

If prices go up, it’s apparent that it goes well for the stockholders and means that other traders who want to trade in this market might be put off because they think that the markets are not trending down.

It means that swing trading will be difficult because you won’t find any opportunities until the price has reached resistance or support levels where other traders will start retaking positions.

So basically, swing trading is difficult when prices move sideways; there isn’t much movement, so the chances are high that many people will sit on their hands until the next trend appears.

 

A Bear Market

When bearish trends are long-term, they can be difficult to trade because there are no clear entry points. The best way of trading in a bearish or down-trending market is investing in the trend.

If you wait for proof that prices go lower before buying any shares, then you could end up waiting forever! It means that if you buy too soon, your losses will be more significant when the price starts going up again.

 

Bottom line

Several strategies help you trade in a down-trending market without the high risk involved when trying to buy after prices have gone up. You can try short-selling instead of using your own money to buy stocks when bearish trends appear on your chart. Short selling involves borrowing stock from someone else, selling it and hoping to repurchase it later at a lower price.

Financial Crisis
ArticlesFinance

Ukrainian Crisis Worsens Financial Difficulties in the UK

Financial Crisis

Research by KIS Finance has revealed that as a direct result of the rising cost of living, 57% of people in the UK are either already struggling financially, or expect to do so in the very near future.

With no solution to the war in Ukraine in sight, the situation is set to get much worse, as the economic impact of the crisis starts to hit home here in the UK.
Against a backdrop of rising inflation, which is already at its highest level in almost 30 years, and increasing food and energy costs, the situation in Russia and Ukraine will add further upward pressure on prices in the UK.

With some experts now predicting that inflation may reach as high as 8.3% in April (far higher than the 7.25% predicted by the Bank of England back in February), the average UK household is facing a very challenging time.

 

Key Statistics

KIS Finance’s research found:

•27% are already struggling financially as direct result of the rising cost of living.

•30% anticipate financial problems in the very near future as the impact of rising prices bites.

•35.5% of 18 – 24 year olds report they are already financially struggling.

•36% of over 55’s are worried that the financial pinch will hit them shortly as prices continue to rise.

•The South East is the area most affected to date, with 30% already struggling financially.

•22% of 18 – 34 year olds have had to take an additional job just to make ends meet.

Over a quarter of people are already struggling financially

As the impact of rising inflation starts to really bite, over a quarter of those surveyed report struggling to make ends meet. With real wages in the UK predicted to be lower by 2026 than they were in 2008, this worrying trend looks set to remain for some time.

The Resolution Foundation has forecast that current inflation will mean that the typical UK household income will fall by around £1000 a year in real terms. That’s a fall on a scale that we’ve not seen since the 1970s and one that will lead to many more people struggling to make ends meet.

Research by KIS has found that only 30% of people report a rise in pay since before the pandemic, whilst 70% have seen their wages either stagnate or fall. Against this backdrop, the effect of high inflation rates, alongside the growing impact of the crisis in Ukraine, are set to have devastating results for many households.

 

Cost of everyday essentials are soaring

Fuel costs are soaring

As a direct impact of the conflict in Ukraine, oil prices are continuing to rise at an unprecedented rate. Costs were already soaring before the conflict, but now oil prices are at their highest level in 14 years and the price of gas has doubled. In the UK it’s predicted that this could mean that the average household fuel bill is likely to be in the region of £3000 per year. Something that could push many families’ budgets to breaking point.

Whilst the UK only gets 6% of its oil and 5% of its gas from Russia, the impact on the global market and particularly Europe, which relies far more heavily on Russian fuel, will have a knock on effect on prices here in the UK.

Petrol prices have soared in the UK since the invasion of Ukraine, with unleaded prices increasing by 3.5% and diesel prices by 4% in just 2 weeks. With prices continuing to rise things look set to get even more desperate for UK households.

 

Food price rises set to place a further strain on household budgets

Families are also facing hikes in food prices, as the impact of events in Ukraine hit global food supply chains. Whilst we don’t directly import many foodstuffs from Russia, shortages elsewhere may impact on other countries’ ability to export food items to the UK.

In addiation, large quantities of fertiliser are imported into the UK from Russia and rising costs will certainly have an impact on the cost of farming here at home. As the world’s biggest exporter of synthetic fertiliser, Russia in responsible for more than a fifth of the supply of urea, which is a key fertiliser used in the UK. Increases like this in production costs will certainly further impact on food prices here at home.

 

Rising global metal costs leading to multiple price increases

We’re also likely to see price increases across a range of items which rely on the supply of various metals as a key component. With Russia as a leading supplier of metals across the globe, the impact of shortages will hit numerous industries, from canned foods to car production. Some car manufactures have already suspended production in Russia. With Toyota and Volkswagen operating large scale manufacturing hubs there, the impact is likely to be felt in the lack of availability of new cars back here in the UK.

 

A third fear that the worst is still to come

In our survey, nearly a third of people reported genuine concern that rising prices and the increasing cost of living would have a negative impact on their lives in the very near future. Whilst some have been able to make use of savings built up over lock down to help meet increasing costs, this temporary buffer won’t last for long and the impact of a permanently higher cost of living is a real worry for many.

As energy prices soar, pushing up both the direct cost for heating and powering our homes, and the indirect cost of other goods and services, the impact on household budgets is one that few can ignore.

 

Young people hit the hardest by rising costs

Over 35% of those aged 18 to 24 are reporting that they are already struggling to get by financially. Research by the think tank Demos, has found that young people are currently the hardest hit and face the ‘greatest uphill battle’ to make ends meet. With potentially higher levels of debt and lower incomes, it’s this generation that may find it the hardest to take on additional expenses as costs rise.

As their expenditure increases on day to day living, their ability to save is likely to be hard hit. For many this will mean that the dream of saving a deposit to get onto the property ladder will now be even less of a reality than before.

 

22% of young people forced to take additional jobs

As many of those aged 18 to 24 struggle to make ends meet, nearly a quarter have had to take an additional job to get by. Whilst people may choose to have a second job to supplement their income, many young people are now finding that they have no alternative if they are to manage financially.

When asked why they took on an additional role, some responded that they were worried about job security and took on other jobs in case their primary role was at risk in the future. Whilst this may boost their finances in the short term, the additional pressure of longer hours and juggling multiple jobs may well take its toll on the well-being of those that find themselves in this situation.

 

36% of over 55’s are worried that things are going to get a lot worse

Whilst younger people are already feeling the impact of the rising cost of living, those aged over 55 are the most worried about the impact on their finances in the coming months and anticipate finding themselves in difficulties soon. Whilst they may have higher levels of savings, anyone who is thinking about retirement in the next few years may now be reconsidering whether they can afford to do so.

 

South East the hardest hit

30% of those in the South East report already being in financial difficulties as a direct result of rising costs. Whilst average wages may be higher, increases in living costs are being acutely felt by those living there. As interest rates now rise, those with large mortgages will feel the pinch even more as monthly repayments increase alongside other rising costs.



Holly Andrews, MD at KIS Finance comments on the findings:

“Many households have already been struggling over recent months as they have seen their real wages fall as inflation rises. As the impact of the events in Ukraine start to hit our economy, we know that even more people will be facing difficult times making ends meet.

The interest rate rise to 0.5% in February has already impacted on the housing market, with banks and building societies withdrawing over 500 mortgage products from the market in March. In fact we are now seeing the highest average rates in 7 years for a 2 year fixed mortgage. The Bank of England’s decision to increase interest rates has been in response to increasing inflation, but with the current global uncertainty and related price increases, we may be facing a further rise from the next review later this month.

With the cost of borrowing increasing alongside the rising cost of living, those saving for a deposit will find this even more challenging. Similarly those applying for a mortgage may find it more difficult to meet income requirements, as disposable income is hit by the rising cost of essentials.

As everyday costs rise finding ways to save money is becoming even more important. Set out below are some of our top tips for saving money on petrol costs”.

Digitalisation Finance
ArticlesFinance

How Digitalization Is Impacting Financial Services

Digitalisation Finance

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that the majority of our financial services were mainly accessible in person. You had to visit your local bank branch or financial service business to access help, and it was a time-consuming process for all involved.

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in how we access the financial services we require. The majority of finance-related processes are being carried out online, allowing businesses, customers, and employees to benefit in a range of ways. You may know that the entire financial industry has been transformed, but you may be surprised to learn that digitalization is impacting financial services in some of the following ways.

 

Accepting Loan Applications Online

Whenever you needed to borrow small or large sums of money to purchase a house, car, or something else, you often needed to set time aside in your day to visit a loan provider.

Now, we have programs, software, and technology like MeridianLink API to move the entire process online. Most credit unions run such applications to streamline the whole application process for both businesses and potential customers.

Using benchmarks, algorithms, and customer information, decisions about lending can be made online in just minutes rather than with human intervention in person.

 

Greater Consumer Trust

New technology can be daunting, and not all consumers have been quick to adjust to online banking and other financial and technological advancements. However, consumer trust is growing with more and more services going online.

It has also been accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As technology has enabled us to access financial services without visiting a physical business location, the average person has become more trusting as they slowly learn just how many exciting and innovative features they have been able to take advantage of in the online space.

Now, traditional financial institutions are worried. At least 88% are concerned about losing revenue to fintech companies.

 

Innovative Auditing Strategies

Audits are an integral part of confirming a business or company’s transparency. Companies are not always managed by their owners, so the owners can hire professionals to vet fiscal information and ensure all financial statements within a business are a fair and accurate representation of the business’s actual position.

This was traditionally a long and arduous process, but digitization has transformed it for the benefit of the auditor and company being audited. Technology is now an integral part of the auditing strategy, providing them with better access to company data and an improved means of investigating that data. The result can generally be a high-quality audit that delivers excellent value to stakeholders for peace of mind in their financial position.

 

Improved Customer Relationships

Artificial intelligence (AI) used to be something we feared when watching it take over in science fiction and horror films. Now, it’s a helpful and practical technology we can integrate into most industries and businesses, and something that we even reward companies for having.

AI regarding customer relationships has been a game-changer in many companies. A combination of machine learning and AI has allowed us to gather as much data as possible about our customers to understand them and provide a better service. We can also make decisions based on real-time data and provide hyper-personal and relevant services for customers.

AI has even enabled us to create chatbots that work alongside humans and make business practices more efficient. Chatbots have allowed customers to take care of minor issues by themselves, rather than relying on human staff members to step in and solve them. With this technology, businesses may notice increased productivity levels and efficiencies that may not have been possible before.

 

Money Savings

The cloud has been a primary driver in cost reductions, efficiency, flexibility, and scalability. Rather than spend tens of thousands of dollars housing bulky servers and being limited in data security and accessibility, businesses can now utilize this innovative technology and transform their business models in the process.

Many financial institutions have taken advantage of the cloud’s benefits and have undergone the great data migration. While there may be some risks associated with the cloud, the money savings have been enough to lure in millions of businesses in their droves.

Clients can choose the level of service they need, get rid of traditional hardware, and enjoy on-demand service. It has truly had a dramatic impact on financial services and many other industries.

As the years have passed, technology has become more advanced, and businesses have been transformed. While you may be aware of the role it plays in your everyday life, you may not have realized just how many companies have been able to streamline their services for the benefit of their bottom line and their customers’ experiences.

Finance market
ArticlesFinanceMarkets

Financial Market in Athens Now on the Road to Recovery

Finance market

The business world has previously reeled from the economic impact brought on by Covid. The financial-market implications of the pandemic has no doubt been huge but despite this, key markets in the Eurozone are now slowly recovering.

 

Economists’ Forecast Trajectory of the Recovery

In recent weeks, Greek economists have begun putting out more positive forecasts on Athens’ economic growth, With the Omicron now fully managed, reopening efforts have began and global supply chains are now slowly getting back in order. In fact, passenger traffic just increased by 50% despite the 2021 May lockdown in Athens.

 

Business Travel Also Projected to Rise

With passenger traffic soaring at its highest peak yet, business travel is also projected to increase. Using luggage storage in Athens is a simple way to enjoy all your stops in the city without the hassle and stress of hauling your luggage around with you. There are just a few simple steps to store your luggage for the day:

  • Search online for the best location to drop off your luggage
  • Book your luggage with that location
  • Drop off all your luggage
  • Begin your ultimate day trip!

 

Greek Islands to be Revived

The government has planned a structural revamping for Greek Islands’ transport system as early as 2020 which came in time in the revival efforts of its travel market. The government, in partnership with Volkswagen, is aiming for a more sustainable way to travel within the island especially since it’s slowly reopening its doors.

With such plans, you can now set sail and take an all-day cruise to the islands of Poros, Hydra, and Aegina in the Saronic Gulf.  While breathing in the salty sea air and stunning views of the three islands, you get to immerse yourself in the beauty and history of these Saronic Islands. enjoy these activities throughout your day:

  • Entertainment on board such as Greek dancing and music
  • A buffet lunch
  • Plenty of time to leisurely stroll the islands and shop
  • Opportunities for guided tour of the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina Island

On this all-day excursion, these islands take you back in time when you walk down the marbled-cobbled streets and take in the historic stone buildings. With no wheeled vehicles allowed, you can easily imagine that hustle and bustle of carts, donkeys, and mules on the island of Hydra.

 

The Economy of Athens

Athens, being the capital of Greece, has a rich economy and the same can be said of it’s culture and history. It experienced sharp downturn in 2020 when it comes to economic growth although it has been forecasted that it’s set to experience a five-year trend of increased economic freedom.

With the economy on the road to recovery, visits to historical sites in Athens are also set increase.The top sites to see in Athens include:

  • Acropolis of Athens: located cliffside above the city, holds some of the most significant ancient buildings of Greek history such as the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike.
  • The Temple of Olympian Zeus was a former temple dedicated to the “Olympian” Zeus who was the head of the Olympic gods
  • Panathenaic Stadium hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896 is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble.
  • Mount Lycabettus is a limestone hill located in central Athens. You can take a railway that climbs the hill to the highest point in the center of the capital city.
  • Odeon of Herodes Atticus is a stone theater on the southwest slope of the Acropolis of Athens. It was built by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia. It was a venue for music concerts and now holds the Athens Festival each year from May to October.

 

Authentic Greek Businesses: Food, Trade & More

As a city rich in trading imports and exports, the city is no doubt alive with amazing food and goods selections. Mealtimes in Athens may look a little later than what you are used to. Lunch time is usually between 1:30 and 3:00, and dinner is usually between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. Some of the most touristy places will serve food at earlier hours, however you may not see many locals in attendance. 

Also, breakfast is not the most important meal in Greece and many places do not offer it. If you’re looking for restaurants where gourmet food is more important than the price, here are some of the favorites in Athens:

  • Aleria Restaurant serves contemporary Mediterranean food using the best seasonal ingredients and area known specialties. Their wine list includes top artisanal wines from local producers and from around the world.
  • Kuzina is located on a rooftop terrace overlooking the city and giving Acropolis views. The menu changes throughout the year, only offering a few year-round dishes. Dinner is served from 5:00 p.m. to midnight.
  • Geros Tou Moria is a 90- year-old tavern that serves classic Greek dishes while you enjoy music and dancing each night. You can sit outdoors under the grapevines with views of Acropolis or sit inside closer to the music and dancing.

If you’re looking for authentic but medium-priced food, here are some of the top options:

  • The Old Tavern of Psarras opened in 1898 and is known for their fresh seafood, meat, and vegetarian options. This casual atmosphere offers live music, house wine, and outdoor seating.
  • Kostas is known for their gyros and souvlaki in the heart of the city. They offer pork or beef with fries, fresh veggies, and their signature tomato sauce. This is the best option for food on the go as the seating is limited.
  • O Thanasis has the best gyros, souvlaki, and kebabs, and is also located in the heart of the city. They offer more seating along the pedestrian street just off the Monastiraki Square. If you’re looking for a restaurant with flexible hours, they are open all day from 9:00am to 1:30 a.m.

 

Market Outlook for Athens

From its economy to financial landscape, you now have everything you need to plan if you’re planning to invest or take a trip to the capital city of Athens. Whatever you decide, you can do so much more if you store your luggage all day in one location as you conduct your business.

Salaries
ArticlesFinance

How to Help Employees Stretch Their Salaries

Salaries

The number of people finding it hard to keep up with bills and credit commitments has doubled since the start of the pandemic, leaving many with an unsustainable burden of debt. Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows expenses are only set to mount, finding that households on low incomes will spend nearly on fifth of their income on energy bills by April.

With this comes a new source of stress and anxiety for employees, as well as a renewed impetus for employers to consider their staff’s financial wellbeing. Poor financial wellbeing can be a key contributor to several mental health conditions, and if left unchecked, it can start to affect employees’ ability to function at work.

To offer support during this time, employee benefits expert Sodexo Engage shares how  to help employees stretch their salaries and improve their financial wellbeing.

 

1. Financial education

Historically, financial literacy has received little time in the classroom, leaving many unaware of the risks associated with certain financial products. In fact, research conducted by Profile Pensions revealed that one in four millennials find pensions confusing, and more than half (53%) wish their employer would explain pensions and benefits to them.

Through financial education, employers can turn the dial and play a key role in making their staff aware of the options available to them – not just while they’re in debt, but also by advising on preventative measures for the future. Offering calculators and cost comparison tools can help employees work out the best approach for them and how much cheaper an alternative could be to their existing credit cards and loans.

 

2. Financial wellbeing services

While nearly a quarter (23%) of employees report their organisation has amplified their focus on financial wellbeing in response to the pandemic, the CIPD only found small improvements in activity to promote financial wellbeing other than signposting people to external sources of advice.

There is no shortage of financial wellbeing initiatives that employers can provide to close this gap. For instance, helping employees to access a loan, which is paid back through their salary, could be a welcome first step to achieving financial security. It also means that employers can offer loans to a greater range of employees than the high street and help them consolidate any debts that may have accumulated. Additionally, Christmas savings clubs and holiday saving programmes are other tools that can help people plan for a large expenditure and offer financial resilience.

 

3. eVouchers and cashback cards

eVouchers and cashback cards are another effective way to maximise the spending power in people’s pockets and ensure your employees can benefit from discounts on things that they really want. In a Mastercard survey, 41% even said gift cards were the top item on wish lists in 2021, highlighting their value to consumers today.

Employers can also offer their teams a cashback card, which gives them a percentage of what they spend on a purchase back in their account. Cashback cards are more than just a way for employees to treat themselves but can go a long way in cutting down the costs of everyday expenses. For an employer, they can also be used to reward your staff by topping up their card instantly to celebrate anything from long-service, an on-the-spot reward, or a promotion.

 

4. Salary sacrifice schemes

Salary sacrifice programs can be especially beneficial for employees, and often make much-needed services far more accessible. Salary sacrifice allows employees to deduct a portion of their monthly pay and put it directly towards an essential expense, such as childcare, a railcard, a new phone, or private health services. In fact, over half of British businesses are leveraging the salary sacrifice benefits available for workplace pensions.

Through salary sacrifice certain services are much more attainable, such as childcare, may be available at a reduced rate compared to those offered to the public. Many of these services can be essential support for employees and not only minimises their financial woes but reaffirms their value to an organisation.

 

Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, comments:

“The enduring cost of living crisis has left many feeling the pinch, making it crucial that employers support their teams with a truly holistic approach during this time. While a salary raise may seem like the obvious solution, it’s not the only way to help employees with their finances. Whether this entails taking the time to educate their staff or providing benefits that help stretch their salary, employers should dig deep to ensure their workforce takes the right steps to financially secure their future.

“It’s important to bear in mind that money woes can also be a leading cause of stress and anxiety. It can often result in poor physical health too, such as sleep loss or stress-induced headaches. As such, financial education or salary sacrifice schemes also play a key part in ensuring the overall wellbeing of a workforce and should not be neglected.”

Digital Marketing
ArticlesFinance

Omnichannel Sales or How to Raise Revenues to Help Finance New Projects

Digital Marketing

Sometimes, things change so fast that we barely have time to take the wave, or we simply miss it entirely. When you find yourself in the second case, it can be quite a long way to swim back, in order to catch the next one. Some companies found themselves in that position, in regards to omnichannel sales, and saw their revenues come crashing down. That means less money to finance new projects. Here is what you need to know so you stay afloat in 2022.

 

Omnichannel Sales: A Must in Today’s World to keep Wealth Afloat

If you want your customers to only call on your phone line or send you an e-mail, for any need they may have, then you have definitely missed something, over the last few years. Whereas before companies controlled their sales pipeline, directing customers to the communication mean of their choice, today customers hold the power and will contact them as they please, through the channel of their choice. And if they can’t do so, they will simply look for the product or service they need, elsewhere. That will translate into important loss of revenues, which is needed to finance the development of the company.

Omnichannel sales may seem like a blessing for someone that doesn’t know much about running a business, but for those that do, it can easily become the biggest nightmare they have ever face. How do you make sure you cover all bases, when there are so many? By controlling your online marketing. That means your social media outlets, your website, as well as the way you communicate through e-mails. And to do so, you can definitely use the help of professionals such as the ones you will find at https://www.12handz.com/.

 

A Change in Progress

It is never easy to keep revenues steady inside a company. Even less so in the digital era, with such a high level of competition around. But to think that the pandemic has created the huge change, that is omnichannel sales, would be wrong. For sure, it helped increase the tendency, as workers were doing their job from home, and thus preferred to be in contact with their suppliers in different ways. But it started years before, as a recent research from McKinsey showed.

Between 2016 and 2021, the number of channels used by B2B buyers has grown from five to ten. The study also indicated that two-third of B2B buyers now opted for remote human interaction or digital self-service, at various stages of their relationships with the company. That is what explains the need for the information to be made available and easily reachable. If a buyer “has to” call a company, instead of finding the information he needs online, this could be a sufficient issue for him to start looking elsewhere to buy that same product or service. And you know what that means: Less revenues to finance new projects and to support the current ones.

 

Understanding Each Customer’s Needs

The customers needs have to be addressed throughout the course of their interaction with a company. It starts when they first hear about it, and ends at the moment that they finally decide to buy. It is also true about the long-term relationship, which will have to be handled in the same manner. So how can marketing help to make sure that it all goes as planned? First, it should direct the customer where it wants it to go, and advertising is the best way to do so.

For example, if it uses one of its social media to reach new targets, it should be prepared to have them go somewhere on the main website, where they can get the information they will need, in order to understand what they can expect in the future. There, customers should be able to talk to someone, if need be. That is why there has to be some kind of chat line available for them to do so. Even if it is just an AI answering basic questions. If there comes a point where it can’t continue that conversation, it will transfer the information to a live person, who will then handle the customer’s request.

 

Every Channel needs to be connected

It is crucial that all channels made available are thought together, at the same time, so that they provide a smooth path for customers to follow. The smallest miscommunication between the various departments of the company, that speak with customers, can be a cause for losing them, and the revenues they bring in that keep the finances at a comfortable level.

This customer journey needs to be revisited regularly, to maintain order in the communication process. All the time, keeping in mind that looking out for each customer’s “happiness,” in its relationship with the company, is the main goal that needs to be followed. That way, your bank account can also be smiling, while new projects are being brought to life, so they can create even more revenues for you.

Retail Investment
ArticlesMarkets

Retail Investments: The Top 3 Stocks to Watch Amidst the Rise In Online Shopping

Retail Investment

With the online retail boom set to continue, Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Research at Freedom Finance Europe, outlines three of the top investment opportunities to watch out for 

The appeal of well-known brands in the retail sector remains attractive to consumers and investors alike. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns were enforced at various times over the past two years, increasing the demand for online services which has acted as a catalyst for retailers’ financial performance.

In fact, online sales are expected to grow by 16.2% year over year, with an increasing number of retailers jumping on the eCommerce train to meet the ever-changing demands of consumers.

In light of this, Maxim Manturov highlights the top three retail stocks to watch that can deliver strong returns at an optimal level of risk.

The top 3 retail companies to consider

1. Crocs is an American company that designs and develops shoes and accessories for everyday wear. Crocs is currently looking to acquire rival Heydude with the aim of expanding its product portfolio and increasing its addressable market of customers. In turn, this will help to increase the organisation’s sustainable sales growth, cash flow and overall operating margins, which will contribute to a rapid reduction in debt. The acquisition is expected to take place in Q1 2022 and will expand the size of Croc’s addressable market to £92bn ($125bn).

It is also important to note that over the same period in the last two years, Crocs continues to report excellent financial results. In Q3 2021 alone, the company reported a revenue of £461.4m ($625.9m), which is an increase of 73% and 100% respectively. We recommend buying Crocs at £69.6 ($94.8) and hold until it reaches £140 ($190), which should take between 3-6 months and should see a growth potential of 100%.

2. Capri Holdings is a multinational fashion holding company. It develops and promotes clothing, footwear, accessories and perfumes for the world-renowned brands Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo and Versace.

In November, the company reported Q2 fiscal 2022 results that exceeded analysts’ expectations. Against this backdrop, the company’s management has increased its revenue and profit forecasts for the entirety of 2022. Revenue forecasts now stand at £3.9bn ($5.3bn), which is a significant increase from the previous forecast of £3.8bn ($5.15bn).

Capri Holdings is keeping up with the times and tries to participate in existing trends. For example, it has a presence in the NFT token market and creates luxury items for the metaverse. In so doing, the brand wants to be closer to the young, profitable generation.

Capri Holdings is also gradually reducing its debt burden. The company’s debt has now fallen to £840m ($1.14bn) and its cash position is £172m ($234m). The FCF level is stable at £123m ($167m) in Q4 2021. In other words, the company has no liquidity problems. We recommend buying Capri Holdings at £52 ($70.7) and selling at £58.9 ($80), which should take 6 months and see a growth potential of 13.2%.

3. Revolve Group is an online retailer and clothing manufacturer offering around 50,000 models of clothing, footwear, accessories and beauty products from 1,000 different manufacturers. One of the most alluring reasons to invest in Revolve is the company’s business model, which allows the sale of products only through its own online marketplace.  This helps save on-premises rental, property maintenance and third-party platform commissions.

The business also has dynamic inventory management that helps to estimate demand for products and increases inventory turnover rates. This leads to a significant increase in business margins and revenue growth.

On top of this, Revolve has successfully continued to improve its financial performance. The company’s Q3 2021 revenue rose 62% year-on-year and 58% year-on-year to £179.9m ($244.1m) in 2019, with the Revolve brand accounting for the bulk of the revenue at 83.7%. At the end of 2021, several investment houses raised their targets for Revolve shares, such as BMO Capital Markets, Morgan Stanley, and Raymond James.

We recommend buying at £44.5 ($60.6) and selling at £47.9 ($65), which should take 6 months and see a growth potential of 7.3%.

Card Payment
ArticlesFinance

Card Payments Vital for Side-Hustlers

Card Payment

YouLend research highlights the importance of remote and cashless payments for entrepreneurs running a business alongside their day job – for sales and accessing finance

The side-hustle phenomenon has taken off in the last two years, with recent data highlighted by embedded finance provider YouLend suggesting more than half of Brits with side jobs started their enterprise during the pandemic.  Responding to a risk of lost income during the pandemic is likely to have been a motivator for many of these ‘side-hustlers’. The rise of easy access to online sales platforms as well as the greater acceptance of card payments have also contributed to the growth of the ‘second job’ culture and YouLend research highlights the importance of remote and cashless payments to this side-hustle economy.

The new YouLend data found that 16% of all businesses are now side-hustles, and business owners with a separate main day job place more importance on online and cashless trade than other entrepreneurs.  Most entrepreneurs accept remote payments, although side-hustlers are more likely to do so – 86% of side hustlers accept payments online, over the phone or via email/SMS, compared with 71% of all respondents to the YouLend research.

Other key findings:

  • Online sales are vital to both types of entrepreneurs – 61% of side-hustlers and 68% of all respondents
  • Almost half of side-hustlers sell from home (44%), compared to less than a third (32%) of the average entrepreneur
  • 86% of side-hustlers accept remote payments, compared to 71% of all businesses
  • 70% of side-hustlers said card was their preferred method of payment compared to half of all businesses surveyed

The cash flow advantages of card acceptance are also more keenly felt by side-hustlers; 82% said card acceptance has a positive impact on their cash flow, compared to 42% of all respondents.  Selling online and accepting card payments also has advantages for side-hustlers when it comes to accessing finance for business growth.

YouLend research conducted in 2021 highlighted the shift in how SMEs that trade online are accessing the funding they need, and a shift that is particularly relevant for side-hustlers. Central to this transformation is the change in who businesses see as their key partners.  Taking over from banks, payment service providers and website/webshop providers are ranked as the most important business partners by SMEs. In this role, they are well-placed to provide access to finance as part of a merchant’s normal transaction flows.

“Payment service providers and website/webshop providers are well-placed to offer an embedded finance solution at the point where merchants need financing” explained Mikkel Velin, CEO of YouLend. “They understand their merchants well. And they can deliver a seamless experience because they have robust, real-time data on merchants’ trading activity which can be used by an embedded finance platform like YouLend to make tailored finance offers in minutes rather than days or weeks. The precise risk calculations and automation mean capital can be extended to a wide range of merchants, including side-hustlers, in minutes.  And, crucially, the financing is repaid directly from their sales, thereby helping them manage cashflow effectively.”

Business Investment
ArticlesFinance

Investing in Small Companies: The Top 4 Small-cap Stocks to Watch in 2022

Business Investment

Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Research at Freedom Finance Europe, explores the growing popularity of small-cap stocks and the top stocks to watch in 2022

Investing in small companies can be a good decision. Despite their size, certain organisations will punch above their weight and generate substantial returns.

However, investors looking to capitalise on small-cap stocks should be aware that this type of investment often comes with risk. For example, smaller companies tend to trade less frequently than bigger corporations, meaning shares can be difficult to sell.

With this in mind, Maxim delves deeper into the rising popularity of small-cap stocks and why traders should do their research before choosing to invest. He also sheds light on some of the leading small-cap stocks that are likely to gain traction this year.

 

What are small-cap stocks?

Small-cap stocks are shares of a company with a total market value between £300m and £2bn. Like larger market players, investing in a smaller organisation can have substantial growth prospects. However, they tend to offer returns in the long term, as right now they lack the resources of larger-cap companies.

This can make them more vulnerable to bearish sentiment amongst investors, as well as negative developments. These vulnerabilities, in turn, can increase the volatility of a small-cap business. Investments in such companies are particularly risky during an economic downturn, as issuers are unprepared for sharply falling market demand.

It is therefore imperative for any investor looking to buy shares in a smaller organisation to do their research and diversify their investments wisely. Small-cap stocks are definitely something to consider, but they should not make up your entire portfolio.

 

The top 4 small-cap stocks to watch

1. PDC Energy (PDCE) is an independent oil and gas producer that is developing the Wattenberg field (Colorado) and the Delaware Basin (Texas). In 2021, crude oil prices posted their biggest annual gain since 2009 and the sector continues to recover in 2022. S&P Global Market Intelligence said PDC Energy received a strong buy consensus recommendation from 15 Wall Street analysts.

The average target price for PDC Energy stock is £60.7 (about 41% up). Market participants are positive about the asset base of this small-cap company, as well as its ability to generate FCF well above its weighting.

2. Tenable Holdings (TENB) develops software for the new cybersecurity category, Cyber Exposure. Tenable is changing the way we think about data protection by providing customers with information about the surface of a possible attack. In doing so, vulnerabilities extend not only to the servers and infrastructure of a typical corporate network, but also to assets such as cloud infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and operating technology (OT), including industrial control systems.

A holistic approach to cybersecurity will help the company’s customers make effective strategic decisions in this area, as well as prevent and remediate threats. Tenable Holdings has an average target price of £58.8 (about 57% upside).

3. Coinbase (COIN) is a cryptocurrency exchange that is more of a mid-cap company. It makes sense to bet on it in the long term due to the fact that blockchain technology deserves approval. In the short term, however, Coinbase Global stock is one such asset that is currently ‘suffering’, despite the fact that it is the largest digital asset platform in North America.

 An investment in Coinbase can serve as a kind of diversification investment in the digital economy. In other words, if digital assets remain, COIN stock is a reasonable passive bet on the cryptocurrency market as a whole. The average target price for Coinbase stock is £294 (about 93% up).

4. DigitalOcean (DOCN) is a US-based open source cloud infrastructure provider. The company shows steady earnings growth: for the first three quarters of 2021, DigitalOcean’s revenues almost equalled those for 2020. Plus, DOCN’s operating cash flow is growing rapidly, while its losses are decreasing at a substantial rate.

DigitalOcean now has a global network of 8 data centres located in major data centres, including Frankfurt, Bangalore, New York and San Francisco. The provider is positioned to be easy to use, unlike competitors such as Amazon Web Services from Amazon. The average target price for DigitalOcean shares is £92.4 (about 107% up).

Alternative Investment
ArticlesFinanceStock Markets

6 Alternative Investments to Consider in 2022

Alternative Investment

The investment marketplace is broader now than ever before. Everyday investors aren’t limited to the traditional array of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Alternative investments once reserved for the very wealthy are finally accessible to smaller retail investors. And the landscape changes every day.

Which alternative investment strategies are most likely to pop in the coming year? In this article, Yieldstreet takes a look at six of the most promising investment possibilities outside the conventional marketplace. Some are proven sources that continue to pay off year after year. Others are burgeoning industries and practices that may emerge as mainstream investments themselves. 

 

1. Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is arguably the highest-profile alternative investment of the last decade. In 2021, the mania only got louder. Early investors in cryptocurrency enjoyed some great returns last year. Digital currency exchange Coinbase went public in April, a sign of the growing legitimacy of crypto. Bitcoin and Dogecoin hit their highest market caps yet.

But is it too late to hop aboard the cryptocurrency train? We don’t think so. While cryptocurrency is still a volatile commodity, its growing acceptance in traditional marketplaces is a sign that it’s inching toward the mainstream. Still, there’s ample room for cryptocurrency to grow.

You can’t be blamed for hedging your crypto bets until the market relaxes. And you should still be judicious with your investments, especially in “flavor-of-the-week” coins. But if you’ve been on the fence about cryptocurrency, this might be the year to take the plunge. 

 

2. Peer-to-Peer Lending

P2P lending is growing as a viable alternative investment. The concept is simple: investors lend money directly to borrowers without a financial intermediary like a bank. Lenders set their interest rates in line with their risk assessment. It’s a choice for those who need money quickly or have spotty credit records.

There’s an elevated risk in P2P lending. The lender has to factor in the chance that the borrower will default on their payments. But the P2P lending marketplace is accelerating. Some analysts expect it to reach a value of nearly $560 billion in the next five years, with an annual growth rate nearing 30%. Discerning investors may want to take a closer look into P2P lending this year. 

 

3. Fine Art

Fine art is traditionally viewed only as a potential investment for the very wealthy. But that belief is changing. Thanks to the openness of the digital marketplace, retail and smaller investors now buy artwork as long-term investments in more significant numbers than ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many traditional galleries to shift their marketplaces online. As a result, the art market unexpectedly grew by 15.1%, according to Motley Fool. Wealth managers embrace the trend and are increasingly recommending investing in fine art to their clients. 

 

4. Real Estate Investment Trusts

Private REITs let you invest in real estate that generates revenue without you having to do any of the grunt work—management, rent collection, upkeep, and so forth. After taking a hit at the beginning of the pandemic, REITs are starting to gain ground again.

Although the post-pandemic future is still a bit cloudy, investment experts expect an economic rebound. This includes some workers coming back to the physical workplaces after a couple of years of working from home, which bodes well for the prosperity of REITs, at least in terms of generating passive income. 

 

5. Cannabis

Cannabis continues to edge toward the mainstream. The recreational drug is rapidly shedding its stigma as many US states decriminalize marijuana use and possession. The cannabis marketplace is still volatile, as many stocks experienced a rollercoaster ride in 2021.

But the train has left the station. Cannabis industry data provider Headset expects the market to hit $45.8 billion in value by 2025. While the industry may spend the first half of 2022 shaking off last year’s unpredictability, cannabis investors may find the climate more palatable in the second half. 

 

6. Precious Metals

Gold, silver, platinum, and palladium are still considered to be safe bets in times of economic upheaval. In that sense, they’re not entirely “alternative” investments, but they still exist outside the mainstream marketplace. Especially as part of a self-directed IRA, precious metals still hold long-term value.

Investors who don’t like the relative illiquidity of precious metals can still take advantage of their value appreciation with exchange-traded funds (commonly known as ETFs). Gold, silver, and platinum ETFs are bought and sold on the exchange just like traditional stocks. They’re easy to buy into and just as easy to get out of.

Real Estate Money
ArticlesFundsReal Estate

Tips for Making Money in Real Estate

Real Estate Money

If you’ve dreamed of making money in the world of real estate, now is the time to learn about the process. With the right preparation, you can reduce the chances of inflation while growing your wealth. There are plenty of ways to use the market to your advantage.

 

Consider Real Estate Crowdfunding

You might have heard of crowdfunding as a way to help someone who needs money for something, but it can also work in real estate. Many investors will put their money together to invest in a property. You will earn a specific amount of income from that space. One of the benefits of crowdfunding is that you don’t have the responsibility of owning it yourself. Buying shares of properties allows you to earn rental income and appreciation. You can browse homes, choose a property, buy your shares, and start bringing in extra funds going forward.

 

Consider a Turn-Key Property

In some cases, an investor will want to sell their investment prematurely. They might need the funds for something else or simply no longer want to be a landlord. The home may still have tenants in it when they sell it, and it is called a turn-key property. One of the benefits of acquiring this type of real estate is that the home will start to bring in income immediately. You also do not need to spend time getting it ready for tenants. Plus, you will not need to worry about how to pay for the home’s expenses if there are not tenants in it. Of course, a transfer of ownership can leave tenants wondering what the new landlord will be like, so try to make this as smooth for your new tenants as possible.

 

Taking Advantage of Appreciating Value

Over time, much real estate starts to appreciate. This is the opposite of depreciation, as homes begin to increase in value. Many times, you don’t have to do anything to see this gain in value. It increases equity, or the difference between your mortgage and the property’s value. There are a few ways that homes can gain this value. For example, renovating the home can improve the value. Improvements to the bathroom, kitchen, or outside make it more desirable. And adding more energy-efficient appliances or windows can also boost the value. By continually making improvements, you can start boosting the value to earn a bit more income. On the other hand, as the area becomes more desirable to live in, the home’s value will go up automatically.

 

Renting Out Real Estate

When you are a real estate investor, you have many options for renting out homes. This involves allowing tenants to use the space in exchange for a fee paid on a regular basis. These tenants may not be able to or wish to purchase their own space. There are multiple ways of using this method to build wealth throughout your life. One of the more common rental types is long-term properties, where the tenants will make the space their home. Typically, landlords of residential properties have yearly leases. At the end of the term, you can offer a renewal if you wish. The tenant can choose to either renew this lease or move out.

As rent is typically paid on a monthly basis, this is a great method for building wealth. That’s because many other kinds of investments do not pay a cashflow on a monthly basis. The rent should cover the property taxes, any mortgage payments, maintenance costs, insurance, and any other costs. The amount after all expenses is paid is your profit.

 

Consider a Short-Term Rental

The other option is short-term rentals. This protects you from having to deal with tenants year-round. You will still own the property, but the lease will be much shorter than a year. Vacationers or travelers can choose to stay in the home for a length of their choosing. This could be overnight, a few days, or a few weeks. This is a good option if you have a second home you only want to use every now and then. Of course, part of managing your rental property in this fashion means you will need to be around to clean the home after each renter, and if there is a problem, you will need to have a plan for how to deal with it if you are not around.

Online Banking
ArticlesBanking

Growth of Digital-only Banking Customers Stalls for the First Time

Online Banking

The number of people saying they have an account with a digital-only bank has stalled for the first time in 4 years, new research from personal finance comparison site finder.com shows.

Around a quarter of the population (27%), equivalent to 13.9 million people, say they currently have an account with a digital-only bank, which is the same figure as last year. This is the first time during 4 years of tracking digital banking adoption in the UK that Finder’s poll has shown the figure flatlining.

But growth appears to have been slowing for a while, with the number of digital-only banking users rising from 9% in 2019 to 23% in 2020 before a more modest rise last year, when it rose to 27%.

 

The reasons behind traditional banks’ fightback

3 in 10 (31%) respondents said they have absolutely no intention of opening a digital-only bank account in the future and gave reasons why.

The top factor was that over half (55%) of these people feel like they have always been treated well by their current bank. Similarly, around 1 in 6 (16%) also said their traditional bank had been helpful during the COVID pandemic.

As the world begins to return to normal, the second most common reason was that customers prefer having the option of face-to-face communication with their bank (35%).

A worrying finding for the digital-only banks is that a quarter (25%) of those not intending to switch cited a lack of trust in new banks as the reason.

 

Growth still on the horizon for digital-only banks though

Despite the slowdown in new recruits, digital-only banks can still look forward to welcoming 18% of the population over the next 5 years, according to the research. This includes 1 in 10 (10%) UK citizens who plan to open an account within the next 12 months.

If everyone followed through with their intentions, 44% of the population would have a digital-only bank account by 2027, equalling a whopping 23.2 million people.

For the fourth year running, the top reason for those who have gone, or intend to go digital-only with their banking is convenience (27%). Linked to this, 1 in 4 (24%) wanted a new account and thought doing so with a digital bank was the easiest option.

1 in 5 (21%) said they want to transfer money more easily, and 18% thought the apps of digital-only banks are better.

A lack of trust isn’t just a factor for those who prefer traditional banks – 1 in 10 ( 11%) customers, or potential customers, of digital-only banking say they don’t trust traditional banks.

 

Young generations continue to be the biggest market for digital-only banks

Digital banks are still most popular with younger generations, with 41% of Gen Z saying they have a digital bank account and a further third (34%) intending to get one within the next 5 years. This would mean that by 2027, three-quarters of gen Z (75%) could have a digital bank account. The silent generation (born between 1928 and 1948) remains the generation that is least keen on digital-only banks. Just 7% said they have an account currently.

Commenting on the findings, Michelle Stevens, banking specialist at the personal finance comparison site finder.com, said: 

This is the first year that our research hasn’t seen growth in the number of people using digital-only banks and it’s clear that traditional banks are adapting to an increasingly digital landscape. This seems to have played a significant role in the dropoff of new customers for digital-only banks as their first-mover advantage in the app space gets diminished. 

Traditional banks such as Halifax have also seen net gains after improving their digital products and offering switching incentives – including to existing customers – something that digital-only banks haven’t done yet. Halifax has just won Finder’s Banking Customer Satisfaction Awards for 2022, with some customers in our survey praising its app.

It isn’t all about digital though as there’s also a significant number of Brits who value having a physical branch to visit and trust traditional banks more. While the digital-only banks may not be able to compete with having a presence on the ground, they will be concerned at the lack of trust some customers appear to have in them.

Rainy day fund
ArticlesFunds

It’s Time You Had a Rainy Day Fund. Here’s How to Start One

Rainy day fund

When it comes to our finances, we know all about budgeting for our monthly outgoings. Your rent or mortgage, electricity, gas, council tax, and any other bills you might have are regularly occurring and straightforward to budget for.

 

What about the unexpected?

We know that sometimes things go wrong, but what if we haven’t budgeted for them? A 2021 study revealed that 19% of us have savings of less than £100, while the number of people who aren’t actively saving has risen from 12% to 21% since 2019.

 

Why do I need a rainy day fund?

If you drive and you’ve experienced an unexpected fault, such as a tyre puncture or faulty brake pads, you’ll know that the costs can add up quickly. Unexpected expenses can crop up from many areas of our lives, so it makes sense to account for them.

A rainy day fund is smaller than an emergency fund, which is recommended for longer-term financial issues such as a job loss and should consist of three to six months of living expenses. That doesn’t mean that you can’t build up a healthy pot of cash for unexpected costs though – we recommend putting towards your rainy day fund every month.

 

How much money should I have in my rainy day fund?

A rainy day fund is a safety net in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as a lost or broken phone, tyre punctures on your car, or an emergency boiler repair. How much you save may depend on your personal circumstances – if you drive, it’s sensible to account for the costs of a car breakdown as well as these other common problems. If you don’t drive, you might not need to put as much away.

Having an understanding of the rough cost of these surprise incidents will give you an idea of how much to put away. Making a list of the most likely problems and working out how much they’d cost if they happened is recommended.

For example, gas boiler repairs cost between £150 and £400 on average, so putting away a minimum of £150 will help you cover that cost. If you break your phone screen and you don’t have insurance, you could be looking at a bill of up to £316.44 for the latest iPhone models.

 

How can I start up my rainy day fund?

Now that you understand the importance of a rainy day fund, let’s look at how you can put one together. Many people find the idea of starting to save overwhelming, especially if you don’t have a lot of money left at the end of the month after your expenses.

If you already have a structured budget and you’re aware of your monthly outgoings, you’ll know how much disposable income is left at the end of the month. This is a good place to start – so if you have £300 a month left over, you might want to put half of that into your rainy day fund, or even £100 a month.

By working out how much you can afford each month, you’ll be able to work out how long it will take to reach your rainy day fund goal. If you’ve worked out that you’d need £1,000 to cover a broken boiler, a smashed phone screen, and car faults, and you put £100 away each month, you’ll hit that target in 10 months. But once you’ve reached that goal, you don’t have to stop contributing – if you can afford to, keep adding to your rainy day fund! You might even be able to finance something that you want, like a new car or a holiday, rather than only accounting for the unexpected.

 

What if I can’t afford to contribute that much?

For many of us, £100 a month isn’t realistic. In fact, even £25 a month might feel like too much, and that’s okay. There are solutions available to people who find it difficult to put lump sums away, such as apps that round up your spending to the nearest pound, putting that extra money into a savings fund.

Reviewing your current bills to see if there are any savings you can make is also a good idea – especially if there’s no wiggle room in your budget at all. By using price comparison sites, you could get cheaper bills on your gas, electricity, phone, broadband, and more.

It’s unlikely that you’ll have the best deal for all of your monthly outgoings, so this could save you a decent amount of money that you could then put into savings. Searching for better deals on your energy supplies alone could save you up to £350 a year. That’s a lot of money you could be putting into your rainy day fund.

 

Life contains a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and many of them come in the form of important but unforeseen expenses. There’s an adage that these things always happen at the worst time, and if you don’t have a rainy day fund, they could hit your finances hard. The amount of money in your rainy day fund will depend on your personal circumstances, but if you don’t already have one, now is the time to start saving.