Category: Transactional and Investment Banking

ArticlesTransactional and Investment Banking

4 Ways to Invest Your Inheritance

An inheritance is always going to feel like a mixed blessing. On one hand, you’ve lost somebody close to you and are going to spend an indefinite time grieving their passing, while on the other, what they’ve left you is a great opportunity to improve your own life with their legacy. One thing it would be a shame to do is to waste your inheritance by making poor investment choices.

So, if you’ve come into an inheritance recently and are looking for smart ways to spend it, look no further.

Pay your debts

Particularly given recent global events, there are more of us in debt than ever before and paying off debts while also enjoying your life can be an almost impossible task in some situations. Using your inheritance to clear your debts and wipe the slate clean, so to speak, can be an ideal way to honour the memory of your loved ones.

If you are looking to pay off your debts now with an inheritance payment that’s taking time to clear, however, there is a way to ensure you can pay off your debts sooner rather than later. With the average waiting time for inheritance money in the UK at 12 months, you might consider a probate loan, which will allow you to clear your debts as soon as you can by awarding you an advance on your inheritance.

Holidays

So many of us have been struggling with our mental health over the past few years and while paying off your debts is certainly one way to ensure you can breathe a little easier at night, taking some well-deserved time off with the family is another way. Consider investing part of your inheritance in a holiday to allow you to process your grief and repair your fractured mental health.

Home improvements

Anyone that’s ever bought a home will tell you that “the work is never truly done.” Home improvements don’t come cheap though, particularly if you are not the handiest person in the world and would rather get somebody in to do it. That’s why using inheritance money to finance home improvement projects is far from uncommon.

Whether you want to add an extension to the house (a conservatory, perhaps) or finally tear out that awful 80s bathroom, it’s always going to be money well-spent investing in the most valuable thing you own.

Education

What better way to honour the memory of your loved one than by investing in the future of another loved one? Education costs have never been higher, especially University fees. Using a portion of the inheritance to cover education costs for your children is a wonderful way of ensuring something good and lasting can come out of your experience.

ArticlesTransactional and Investment Banking

What to Know About Investing in Telehealth Right Now

Telehealth or telemedicine wasn’t new at the time the pandemic started, but that situation accelerated its implementation and development in significant ways. People can now, connect with health care providers from home or anywhere.

Telehealth or telemedicine lets providers deliver care without the need for in-person office visits. There are several key formats for this approach to health care.

Telehealth can be delivered through a video chat or phone call. Remote monitoring is also integrated into telehealth in some cases so providers can monitor patients when they’re at home. For remote monitoring, a device might gather vital signs to help providers stay up-to-date with a patient’s progress. Telehealth is especially well-suited to the management of ongoing health issues, such as chronic conditions.

The world of telehealth and digital medicine seems on track to continue to grow and be impactful in the healthcare industry. The U.S. is expected to have a shortage of over 120,000 doctors by 2030. With dwindling numbers of physicians and increased demand for health services, telemedicine could be one way to deal with challenges.

For investors, there could be continuing opportunities because of the growth of telemedicine as well. The following are some things to know, particularly from the perspective of investors.

Investing in Telehealth Stocks

Even before the pandemic, there were signals that digital health companies were something investors should keep an eye on. These signals included population growth, disparities in care among demographic groups, and increasing numbers of older people.

The investment case before the pandemic was built on the idea that companies were making health care simpler and more convenient for consumers since a lot of medical interventions don’t actually require in-person doctor visits.

The pandemic led more doctors and patients to try it out, and that shows broader adoption is likely on the horizon. Some experts and analysts feel that telemedicine is actually in its earliest days of adoption.

One of the primary public companies in this space currently is Teladoc. Teladoc offers virtual care services to consumers and employers. Teladoc also offers care services to hospitals, health plans, health systems, and insurance companies.

While the shares gained enormously in the height of the pandemic, analysts say there’s still room for growth in the next decade, especially with regard to the expansion of chronic illnesses and mental health services.

The Global X Telemedicine & Digital Health ETF invests in companies that could benefit from advances in digital health, such as connected devices, administrative digitization, and health care analytics.

ROBO Global Healthcare Technology and Innovation ETF offer telehealth exposure, but it also offers exposure to companies involved in robotics, genomics, and diagnostics.

Insurance companies like Anthem and Humana could benefit from the growth of telehealth because it will help generate savings compared to the costs of traditional care.

Telemedicine vs. Telehealth

One thing investors should be mindful of is that while we often use telemedicine and telehealth interchangeably, there are some subtle differences that can become relevant from an investor’s perspective. Telemedicine is usually a referral to delivering health services through communication networks. Telehealth can actually include connecting patients with doctors but also doctors to doctors and medical devices to both doctors and patients.

There’s more of an element of data and analytics that comes with telehealth compared to telemedicine.

Telehealth can also include nonclinical services, such as administrative meetings, continuing medical education, and provider training.

The Longevity of Virtual Care

Before the pandemic, most people probably didn’t even understand exactly what telehealth is. Now, it’s become the norm for many people. However, even though the pandemic is significantly less severe now, it doesn’t mean the service will be obsolete or unnecessary.

Telehealth could be a high-growth area that could generate strong returns well into the future.

One of the telehealth challenges was from people in rural areas with limited internet connectivity. The Biden Administration announced a $19 million investment to expand telehealth and improve access for rural communities. That’s likely just the beginning of such legislative moves, with Congress having dozens of bills it’s looking at that could expand virtual care.

Telehealth is also growing in popularity for employers, with a recent survey showing that 76% of employers increased their offerings during the pandemic. They also reported they planned to keep these options available for employees.

There’s a big incentive for the government and businesses to continue to push for more access to telehealth—it saves money. It can reduce hospital load, and it’s cheaper.

While it could be a good option looking forward, that’s not to say telehealth investments haven’t faced serious headwinds recently. Teladoc’s shares were nearly halved in value as the economy started to reopen. Some of that was also due to the announcement of Amazon entering the space, though. Amazon announced it was expanding the roll-out of Amazon Care telemedicine to all employees, and the company plans to eventually offer it to other employers.

Analysts feel that any short-term slumps are knee-jerk reactions and don’t reflect the long-term value propositions of companies in the space. Even as the world returns to normal, people will want to find a way to automate or virtually deal with things they see as errands, including basic medical appointments.

Grand View Research estimates the market will grow to a nearly $300 billion industry by 2028, from around $56 billion in 2020.

While there are promising opportunities, choosing the right ones is tough as more and more companies are entering the market. It’s unlikely that more than a few of the current companies will still be viable publicly-traded companies with any notable market capitalization.

If you want to invest in telehealth and telemedicine, as with anything else, do your research. You have to find those options for long-term value with an appreciation for the fact that many of the names you might be looking at currently are undoubtedly going to be gone from the marketplace in a few years.

Transactional and Investment Banking

How to Find and Purchase Land for Development in the UK

Whether you’re looking to expand your property portfolio or purchase land for the first time, this comprehensive guide will provide a clear step-by-step overview of how to buy land in the UK, how much it costs and how it can be financed. 

How to find land to buy

The first step to starting your search is by looking in the correct location. Several channels can be used when looking to purchase land. You can typically find land for sale advertised in a number of ways, including online, through land auctions, in local newspapers and magazines, or through estate agents. 

Stephen Clark from Finbri bridging finance comments, “There are many routes for sourcing land but in my experience, the most fruitful options tend to be direct contact with the owner or through building deeper relationships with local estate agents. You’re able to obtain the ownership details of a plot of land from the Land Registry or many online land search portals. A simple enquiry letter to the owner could be a good first step of opening up communication.” 

Online research: The easiest way to find land for sale in the UK is via an online search. Numerous websites cater to this market, such as Rightmove, OnTheMarket, Zoopla, and Plotfinder. When searching for land to purchase, these sites can allow you to look in a specific area or search by postcode. However, if there is some flexibility in the desired location, it may be worth doing a generic search to determine the average prices and how much the location affects the price.

Estate agents: Another way to find land available for purchase is via an estate agent. This may be considered a more traditional method but can also provide in-depth knowledge of the property market; estate agents will have local knowledge of the area and will usually have a number of properties, including land, readily available to purchase. When using an estate agent, it is essential to get multiple quotes to compare the prices, as they may try to charge a higher commission on the property. 

Land auction: Auctions can be an effective way to secure land at a lower market value, often because the land for sale is in foreclosure, or it is government-owned, and they’re selling it to cover tax repayments. However, it is essential to remember that the buyer’s premium (the fee charged by the auctioneer) and survey costs will need to be factored into any offer made. Auctions are typically a quicker process than purchasing through an estate agent, which would be an acceptable alternative for those looking to buy a property quickly. 

Newspapers and local magazines: A more traditional method of finding land for sale in the UK is by looking through local newspapers and magazines. However, this can be a more time-consuming method, but it may be worth considering if you have a specific location or type of land in mind. 

Combining all these channels can provide a greater understanding of the market to find the best value for money. 

What to look for when buying land

Be certain of your purpose: Defining the purpose, and understanding the possibilities, of your site is the first step in ensuring your purchase fits your requirements. Aim to be super clear with your intent. If your intent is to develop the land for profit then price will also factor into your decision-making and whether the land has planning already granted, and to what extent will affect the price greatly. For example, if you are planning on building a house, you will need to make sure there is planning permission for one or more residential dwellings appropriate to the intended development. 

Brownfield or Greenfield: There are several attributes to consider when purchasing land – there are two main types of land offered, Greenfield and Brownfield. Greenfield sites are undeveloped land; Brownfield sites typically have a structure already built or elements of services laid on where the site once had a property. Usually, it is easier to get planning permission on Brownfield land as there are benefits to the local communities for repurposing such a site. However, Brownfield sites may well require various remediation to the site due to contamination from its previous use. 

Location: Location plays a significant role in determining the land price. Desirable locations with good amenities, such as schools or transport links are highly sought after and this influences the value of land intended for development.

Size: Depending on the land’s purpose, size would be a significant attribute when buying land. Whether this be any potential property development or for agricultural purposes, the size of the land is an essential factor. Therefore, you need to consider if the land size is appropriate for your chosen purpose and large enough for any potential property development. 

Type: The type of land purchased will be dependent on current use, known as its class, whether this is for agricultural use, commercial, residential or industrial. The class type will be a deciding factor when buying land. Natural hazards should be included in this decision process; for example, property developers should not deem a floodplain appropriate for housing development. Whilst the existing class can be changed to another, there are strict planning requirements for this, so advice should be sought when the land being purchased is not currently in the class required.

Planning permission:  In most local authorities, planning applications are decided within 8 weeks, however large or complex applications might take up to 13 weeks. This timeline significantly extends if the decision is against you and you wish to appeal. In some instances land can be sold with permission already granted with the local authority which is clearly of benefit to a developer, however it’s essential to identify if any planning restrictions or covenants are also associated with the land. 

Clear boundaries:   Ensure that the boundaries of the land are clear and there are no disputes with neighbouring properties; this could ultimately lead to further ongoing issues and expenses.

These are the main aspects a buyer should prioritise when looking to purchase land. Awareness of all the potential implications and restrictions of owning land is essential. In addition, it is necessary to conduct adequate research to find the most suitable option. Buying land offers several development opportunities; however, it is essential to consider all attributes before finalising any purchase.

How much does this cost?

The price of land will typically depend on the size, location, and intended purpose. Depending on the region, the average price per acre typically ranges upwards of £7,000. However, this is a general estimation as numerous external factors could impact the price, such as the current market, any potential planning permission needed, and location.

Site Surveyor: A site surveyor is a professional that produces a report detailing the condition of the land being purchased. This report will highlight any potential risks or problems with the land. It is crucial to utilise a site surveyor as they can offer valuable insights that may not have been considered. Using a site surveyor will typically be around £300 – £1,000 per day, depending on the surveyor. However, it must also be noted that contaminated land surveys tend to cost more as they require further investigation. Property developers might also be interested to know that if they’re seeking finance for the development of the land then they will be required by the lender to pay for a valuation survey of the lender’s choosing in addition to any previous one they have had completed, regardless of how recent it was. In some cases it might save costs to seek advice from a lender at the earliest opportunity.

Legal fees: It is essential to utilise a solicitor when purchasing land as they can offer guidance and support throughout the process. They will also help to draw up any relevant contracts. Utilising a solicitor, although incurring additional fees, utilising a solicitor will assist in guiding you through the process and drawing up any applicable agreements. The average cost of using a solicitor varies significantly, but typically it is cheaper to use a fixed rate service; however, this rate will also depend on the purchase’s value and complexity.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT): SDLT will also be applicable when purchasing land in the UK. This tax is payable to HMRC and is based on the value of the property transaction. For example, up to £250,000 has a 0% tax rate, with SDLT rates rising to 12% depending on the value. These rates are for non-residential properties and are subject to change, so they must be checked at the time of the purchase.

Land purchasing can be costly and time-consuming, with many associated fees and taxes. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of all potential costs before making any purchase. Purchasing land offers many opportunities; however, it is necessary to consider all fees and restrictions before finalising any purchase.

Once you have found the plot of land that suits your requirements, you will need to find a method of financing this purchase. The process of paying for land is similar to buying a house. First, you will need to instruct a solicitor who will carry out all the legal checks and draw up the contract of sale. Once both parties sign the contract, a deposit must be paid by the purchaser to the seller, typically around 10% of the purchase price when the contracts exchange. The final payment will be made once the contract is completed. However, numerous methods can be used to fund this process, this includes: 

Land bridging finance:  Land bridging finance is a short-term loan used to purchase land, develop it, and then sell it for a profit. This type of finance is typically only available to experienced developers as these projects often have a high-risk profile. The typical loan amount offered is around 50% to 70% LTV, depending on the planning, security, and lender with terms ranging from 1 to 24 months. This is one of the most popular forms of financing, as property developers can borrow large amounts; typically, high-street banks tend to avoid it due to the high-risk level. Therefore, alternative lenders may be more appropriate in certain circumstances.  BridgingLoan.Org.Uk is a directory that lists all major UK alternative brokers and lenders.

Development finance: Development finance is a loan used to fund the costs associated with developing land. This could include the cost of planning permission, surveys, and the building process. Development finance is typically only available to experienced developers due to the level of risk for the lender. The typical loan amount sought is between 65% to 100% loan to gross development value (LTGDV).

Personal savings: Another method that can be used to fund the purchase of land is using personal savings, this can be used for any purpose and no interest needs to be repaid. This is often the most common method as it doesn’t incur additional costs. 

Final thoughts

Buying land for property development has a significant time resource and financial cost associated with it. The potential for high returns are equally significant and it’s for this reason why property values have increased on a yearly basis for the last decade, with greenfield site values having increased by 7.1%, and urban site values by 5.7% in the last year. Whether any specific plot of land is a good investment relies on multiple factors, some of which may not be truly understood until the development is completed and sold. If in doubt, always seek professional advice before making any significant decisions.

ArticlesTransactional and Investment Banking

7 Things to Look For Before Buying Life Insurance for Your Family

Purchasing a life insurance policy is one of the most important decisions you can make for your family, as it will provide them with financial security in the event of your death or other unforeseen circumstances. However, with so many different life insurance providers and policies available, selecting the right one for your needs can be challenging. Factors you should consider include coverage, rates, and the company’s financial stability, just to name a few.
When it comes to life insurance for your family, you want to make sure that the policy you select will provide them with enough funds to cover any final expenses, as well as any debts or other obligations they may have. To help you make an informed choice, below, you will find a list of things to look for when choosing the best life insurance company to support your family.

Know Your Coverage Needs

The first thing you need to do when selecting a life insurance policy for your family is to determine how much coverage you really need. To do this, you will want to consider your current income and debts, as well as any future expenses that may arise. Additionally, it is crucial to consider any dependents you have, as they will also need to be taken care of financially in the event of your death.

Having a clear understanding of your coverage needs will help you narrow down the list of potential life insurance policies and ultimately select the one that is best for your family’s needs.

Compare Life Insurance Quotes

Once you know how much coverage you need, you can start shopping around for life insurance quotes. There are several ways to do this, such as using an online life insurance calculator or contacting various life insurance companies directly.

When comparing quotes, it is crucial to pay attention to more than just the premium amount. You will also want to take the time to read over the policy details to fully understand what is and is not covered. This will ensure that you are getting the most bang for your buck when buying life insurance for your family.

Consider the Financial Stability of the Insurer

It is also essential to consider the financial stability of any life insurance company you are considering doing business with. After all, you want to ensure that they will be able to fulfill their obligations in the event of your death or other unforeseen circumstances.

It may be tempting to go with a less-known or cheaper life insurance company, but this could end up costing your family dearly if the company is not financially stable. To avoid this, be sure to research the financial stability of any life insurance companies you are considering before making a final decision.

Get Professional Help

If you are still feeling overwhelmed by all the different life insurance options available, it may be beneficial to seek out professional help. There are many independent life insurance agents and brokers who can provide you with unbiased advice and assistance in choosing the right policy for your needs.

Working with a professional can help take some of the guesswork out of choosing the right policy for your needs and ultimately give you peace of mind knowing that your loved ones are taken care of financially.

Understand Pricing Factors

When looking for life insurance, it is vital to understand the factors that go into pricing a policy. Things like your age, health, and lifestyle can all have an impact on the cost of coverage. This, however, goes far beyond just the physical factors.

For example, your occupation can play a role in how much you pay for life insurance. If you have a high-risk job, such as one that involves working with hazardous materials, you can expect to pay more for coverage than someone with a desk job. This is because there is a greater chance that you will die while working, and the insurance company needs to account for this risk when setting rates.

Evaluate the Future

It is important to remember that life insurance needs can change over time. As your family grows and changes, so do your coverage needs. For this reason, it is essential to periodically review your life insurance policy and ensure that it still meets your family’s needs.

If you find that your current policy no longer provides adequate coverage for your loved ones, don’t hesitate to update it or shop around for a new one. By evaluating the future and adjusting your coverage as needed, you can ensure that your family always has the financial security they need in case of an unexpected death or other unforeseen circumstances.

Compare Insurance Rates

The final thing to look for when purchasing life insurance for your family is the insurance rates. Like any other type of insurance, life insurance rates can vary significantly from one company to another. For this reason, it is important to compare rates before making a final decision on a particular policy.

There are several ways to compare life insurance rates, such as using an online comparison tool or contacting various companies directly.

To Conclude

Choosing the right life insurance policy for your family is a big decision, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By taking the time to understand your coverage needs and compare quotes from different companies, you can be sure to find a policy that meets the unique needs of your loved ones.

Additionally, don’t forget to consider things like the insurer’s financial stability and any future changes that may occur to ensure that your policy continues to provide adequate coverage for years to come. Once you have found the right life insurance policy, you can rest assured that your family will be taken care of financially after your demise.

ArticlesTransactional and Investment Banking

Retirement: 3 Essential Things to Consider

The prospect of retirement always brings about feelings of excitement and anticipation. You look forward to being free from work and the rigid schedules, travelling and seeing the world, embarking on a new project you have never tried before, and finally resting after years of work. For some retirees, moving abroad is an ideal option. Just being home and around familiar surroundings and people is a dream come true for others. Whatever the choice, when you think about retirement, you think of a comfortable and peaceful life.

While eagerly anticipating your retirement, there are a few essential factors to consider before adapting to the life of a retiree. You have worked hard all your life and want to ensure you can have the lifestyle you have always hoped for. If you have a family, your children are all grown-up and can tend to themselves. Now, you can focus on yourself and your spouse and how you can enjoy life together now that you are retired.

If you are ready to retire and have been conscientious about handling your finances, you can foresee a future where you are comfortable and financially secure. Financial planning is essential to keep you worry-free when you stop working. Fortunately, you can get expert assistance from professional financial advisers like Fingerprint Financial Planning. They can help you make sound financial decisions
beneficial for your retirement.

Here are some essential factors to consider for your retirement.

1.         Your plans after you retire

During the early part of your retirement, it is normal to want to have your much-needed rest finally. After all, you have spent most of your life working hard to earn a living and provide for your family. You may also be thinking of what you can do to occupy your free time and maintain productivity, even if you are retired. It would help to list down what you are interested in and the activities you never had the time to pursue. It can be anything from starting a business to travelling to a dream destination. Study your list and find out which is the most suitable for your life as a retiree.

2.         Your finances

One of the most important things to consider as your retirement approaches are your finances. You need to know whether you have set aside enough money that can allow you to maintain the lifestyle you want. Of course, your retirement expectations differ from those with other plans and ideas about the life they
want to live. When considering your financial state, you should also consider where you intend to spend your retirement and how much it will cost you to live there. Other expenses need to be considered, such as food, utilities, medications, insurance, and others.

3.         Your lifestyle

Most retirees would hope to maintain their lifestyle before retiring. Others have higher expectations, wanting to enhance their standard of living, learn new skills, or live abroad. Whatever you plan to do when you retire dramatically depends on your finances and what you have saved throughout the years to keep your future secure.

Considering these factors, you can make better decisions when you retire.

FX and PaymentTransactional and Investment Banking

Choose Your Online Payment Solution According to Your Products or Services

If you have a business providing a product or service that might interest a lot of people, and you’re tired of having these shoppers abandon your store because they can’t find one convenient way to pay for their purchase, then you should choose online payment options according to your products or services. Use this information to help guide you when researching an online payment solution for your business!

What is an online payment solution?

An online payment solution is simply a platform that accepts payments for your business. With a paying gateway, customers can choose to pay for their purchase using one of the many available options in their location. A merchant account is what allows your business’s online store or shopping cart to accept credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and check payments from shoppers.

Types of online payment solutions

There are two types of online payment solutions: hosted and merchant-hosted options

  • Hosted means that your online solution is stored on someone else’s server (usually PayPal’s). 
  • Merchant-hosted means that your online option of paying is stored on the server that you have control over.

Hosted solutions are usually better for businesses that are just starting and don’t have a strong online presence. Merchant-hosted solutions are more appropriate for businesses who want to control more of their data, especially if they’re handling sensitive customer information.

Reasons for using online payment options for your business

Online payment solutions are used by businesses that sell products and services online. The following sections explain some of the reasons why businesses choose to use them:

  1. Security  

Most businesses want to minimize the risk of fraud, so they choose a trusted bank or credit card company to process their transactions, in the form of hosted online payment solutions. Choosing an online payment solution that’s provided by a trusted bank or credit card company is one way of reducing the risk associated with accepting payments. 

  1. Simplicity 

Many businesses look at the ease of use when selecting an online payment solution. This includes selecting a hosted or merchant-hosted option that makes it easy for customers to complete their purchases. This could mean making sure that any software you choose is easy to install and update. Or it might simply mean choosing a well-designed shopping cart system.

  1. Processing power 

Businesses that sell products or services online need the processing power to process their transactions. The bigger your business gets, the more transactions you’ll need to process, which means you’ll need a payment gateway that has enough processing power for your business. Most credit card companies offer very reliable card-processing services that are available immediately at no cost for small businesses.

  1. Support

Many payment gateways offer excellent customer support, which is one great reason to choose an online payment solution that’s provided by your bank or credit card company. They’ll be available to you 24/7, should you ever have a problem with your registrar (the website where payments are processed).

  1. Cost 

Each payment gateway has a different cost structure. Depending on how many transactions you need to process, and how much processing power your business needs, the cost can vary significantly. The cheaper fees associated with a merchant-hosted option might not be as reliable as credit card companies’ hosted services.

Thus, it is best to run a test to compare the various online payment solutions, and then choose one that meets your business needs.

Paypal

Paypal is a widely used online payment solution. It’s an online, hosted payment gateway with a clean interface and excellent processing power. PayPal is currently owned by eBay, which makes it an ideal choice for eCommerce businesses, since most people are familiar with the company, and know that they can trust them.

WePay

WePay is a nice alternative to PayPal. It’s online, hosted payment solution that’s easy to use. WePay also has a competitive price structure, with fees starting at 2.7% + $0.30 per transaction and going up to 6% + $0.75 per transaction, depending on your volume of transactions and the options you choose for processing your transactions.

Checkout.com

Checkout.com is another popular online, hosted payment gateway. It’s an excellent choice for eCommerce businesses since it’s an online service that offers excellent customer support and the option to accept payments from a variety of sources, including PayPal, major credit cards, and wire payments.

The following are reasons why you might choose to use Checkout.com:

  • Easy to set up – It only takes a few minutes to set up the Checkout.com service on your website.
  • Secure – They offer 256-bit encryption for payments and sensitive data, which means that your orders are processed safely without being intercepted by hackers.
  • Reporting – They provide easy-to-use reporting options, so you can track how many customers you’re reaching with your online store or shopping cart.
  • Customer Support – The quality of their customer support is excellent since they have multiple support options, including email, phone, and live chat. 

This payment gateway works best for eCommerce businesses that sell products and services.

BlueSnap

BlueSnap is another great payment gateway option for eCommerce businesses. They offer two hosted payment solutions, one for eCommerce stores and the other for online retailers. BlueSnap’s online retail solution doesn’t offer a shopping cart that’s compatible with most shopping carts and websites, so it might not be best for all businesses. But since it’s provided by BlueSnap, you can be sure that every order you process through them will be tracked, so you’ll know exactly how your customers are buying from your store or website.

Braintree

Braintree is an online, merchant-hosted payment solution that’s part of PayPal’s Affiliates program. Braintree offers a hosted service that works well with shopping carts and offers one of the lowest fees of any credit card company’s hosted services.

Braintree claims to offer up to 10X the processing power of PayPal’s normal processor. So if you have a big enough business where you need fast payment processing, then Braintree is probably your best choice for an online payment solution for your business.

Conclusion

An online payment solution is something that you can easily implement on your website to help the owners of your business increase their sales and increase the number of customers that they’re able to serve. Choosing the best solution for your business will depend on how you want to make your payments, how many transactions you need to process per day, and how much processing power can be provided by merchant-hosted payment solutions. We hope that this article helps you choose between the various online payment solutions available for your business.

Please comment below if you have any questions about online payment solutions or if we left out any important information.

ArticlesTransactional and Investment Banking

A Short Guide to Buying a Second Property for Letting Purposes

Becoming a landlord in the UK is often regarded as a shrewd way to expand your investments and organically grow your earnings, whether long-term letting to tenants or operating short-term holiday lets in a growing market. But getting into the rental market is a process that should be undertaken carefully. Here are some essential things to understand about buying a property for letting purposes.

What is Buy-to-Let?

‘Buy-to-let’ is the principle of purchasing a property with the express intention of letting it out to another person or business. Many landlords begin their landlord careers by purchasing a new family home, and the renting-out out their first family home. But some landlords choose instead to start their portfolio with the purchase of a property for rental.

The Buy-to-Let Mortgage

If you are looking to purchase a property to begin a rental portfolio, or even simply as a rental property to subsidise income, you will need to do so with a buy-to-let mortgage. A buy-to-let mortgage is a specific kind of mortgage, used when someone is buying for investment as opposed to for personal residential purposes.

A buy-to-let mortgage requires the buyer to provide a larger minimum deposit than with residential properties, with most lenders expecting between 20% and 25% of the total property value up-front. However, many buy-to-let mortgages are also interest-only, allowing the buyer to pay just the interest until the end of the mortgage – at which point the balance can be settled outright.

The Practicality of Letting

Many would-be landlords get into the rental industry as a result of the theoretical benefits. When distilled to the basics, becoming a landlord can seem a simple way to generate additional, passive income and bolster your overall yearly earnings. In practicality, though, renting a property can be much more hands-on – with some key practical considerations to reckon with along the way.

For one, property rental is not the assured income it is often assumed to be. Problem tenants can cause critical cashflow issues, and are legally protected from imminent eviction; meanwhile, maintenance costs can often cut into your overall income. Together, these difficulties make a strong case for the importance of landlord insurance.

Speaking of maintenance, it is your legal obligation as a landlord to provide a bare minimum of comfort and convenience for your tenants and to maintain the property to a certain standard. You can do this yourself or via a property maintenance company, but both have their disadvantages; co-ordinating maintenance yourself can be time-consuming, while third-party property management can be costly.

Lastly, it is important to understand your tax standing as the owner of rental property. Setting up a limited company to conduct your rentals through can be helpful when it comes to tax savings, as corporation tax tends to be cheaper than income tax on property.

ArticlesCash ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

Best Ways to Fund Your Retirement

After a long career, you deserve the chance to enjoy a relaxing and peaceful retirement. A retirement where you get to pursue the passions you never had time for during your career. However, funding your dream retirement can be difficult. Especially if not well planned ahead of time. But there are ways of doing this aside from using your pension. Below, we will explore the various ways in which you can fund your retirement.

Plan Your Pension

For a start, you should try and calculate how much money you’d need a year to live comfortably during your retirement. This differs from person to person depending on their financial status, home ownership and family responsibilities. Either way, you should plan your pension around it. You might increase your pension contributions or consolidate your pensions with the goal of setting yourself up with the money you need for retirement.

Investments

Investments are one way you can try and grow your savings quickly for retirement. They’re volatile – and you could easily lose money – but with some careful investments, you’ll be able to better fund your retirement. If you’re unsure about what investments to make, you could seek wealth management advice from a professional. If you are young then you have the advantage of compound interest on your side, which could drastically change the course of your financial future.

Budget

Funding your retirement is a long-term process and setting up a budget can help you begin to save for it. By working out your incomings and outgoings each month, before setting aside some surplus for a savings account, you can begin to grow your retirement fund and gain peace of mind from having organised yourself so that you don’t lose track of your spending.

Equity release

Another option for your retirement fund is an equity release mortgage to increase your cash pot. This is where you sell a portion of your property’s value in return for instant capital while retaining the right to live in your home. This can be an excellent way of funding your retirement without jeopardising your future.

Work longer

For many people, funding retirement will mean working longer. The thought of having to continue your career for another few years can seem daunting, but it can provide you with the money you need to live a comfortable retirement. Deciding to work longer should be part of a wider financial plan though if it’s to be used correctly.

The importance of financial planning

Ultimately, funding your retirement is underpinned by careful financial planning, regardless of the strategy you select. Any of the strategies above should be part of a wider plan to save for the retirement you want, rather than making a sudden decision to receive a cash injection.

Saving for retirement should be something you work on over many years. And by starting your financial planning now – with some of the strategies above – you’ll be all set to work towards securing yourself a comfortable retirement.


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ArticlesCash ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

How To Transform Your Business In 2022

Business transformation means making changes within your company in line with current trends. A lot has changed in the way we work over the last 2 years, and with the economy taking a hit in 2022, adapting to the current economic climate is essential – from implementing a marketing strategy to drive sales or updating the way you work to increase productivity – it can all have a positive impact. Read on to find out more about how you can transform your business this year.

If you’re struggling with your finances, business or personal, and you are faced with an unprecedented expense, a payday loan can help you in an emergency.

Reflect on strengths and weaknesses

Before you can transform your business for the better, you’re going to need some idea of where you need to improve. Take the time to reflect on what you think would be advantageous for your company, and what you are doing well. Make a list that is easy to refer to, and you can use this to make various changes that could be beneficial to your business. For example, if you had a business plan pre-pandemic, the plan you had in place then, may not be able to get you where you want to be now. Various aspects of the business have changed, like what customers are expecting, as well as how they prefer business to operate, e.g., contactless payments, click and collect. If you think your business has a weakness, make time to rectify this.

Update your software

If you’re operating with out-of-date, old software, updating to a new system may be advantageous to your company. Not only does this mean you can run your business smoothly, with less downtime for IT issues, but it can also enhance your company, making it easier for you to operate and store customers’ data. Modern software can open doors for your company and make your workplace more efficient. You could decide to work with a cloud computing programme, which allows for improved collaboration and gives your workforce the option to work from anywhere if they can – this can improve employee flexibility and satisfaction.

Marketing

Every business needs some type of marketing or online presence in 2022 – if you’re not promoting what you have to offer online, you could be missing out on new customers and sales. After the pandemic, a lot of businesses have had to move their sales online to ensure they’re not missing out on profit. But marketing is also important to spread the word about your business – if your company is not online, a huge chunk of your target audience won’t be able to find you. Invest in marketing and social media this year to spread the word about your company, and your products and attract new customers.

Improve communication

Whether it’s with customers or your staff, improving communication is vital. Lack of communication is one of the main reasons customers stop using a certain product or service – and it’s one of the easiest things you can do! Communicating clearly means you can be more transparent, solve issues easily and work together to come up with solutions. You can implement improved communication throughout your company by training your staff to have a productive dialogue with customers and co-workers. As communication becomes clearer, you will see a big difference in the way your company works.

Create a positive workplace

Company culture can make or break a company and the way that it runs. You should create a set of beliefs amongst your employees at all levels, in a way that increases productivity and improves positivity. You could do this by creating a reward system for your employees to show that you value their work, keep an upbeat attitude when interacting with your colleagues, as well as try your best to resolve conflicts as soon as you can. Showing your employees that they are appreciated and that you are doing all you can to make the company a better place, will improve company culture. It will also help you to retain valuable members of your team and increase efficiency.

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ArticlesTransactional and Investment Banking

Most Successful Forex Traders in 2022

Forex traders around the world have achieved different levels of success. Keep reading to learn about the 5 most successful forex traders in 2022.

In forex trading, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of who the most successful traders are. However, by examining the traits and habits of some of the most successful traders in history, we can begin to understand what it takes to be a successful trader. In this article, we will take a look at five of the most successful forex traders in history and explore what made them so successful.

5 Traits of Successful Forex Traders

1. They Have a Plan

All successful traders have a well-defined trading plan that they stick to no matter what. This plan will outline their entry and exit criteria, risk management rules, and any other important parameters. Having a plan helps traders stay disciplined and prevents them from making impulsive decisions that can lead to losses.

2. They Take Responsibility for Their Actions

Advanced traders know that they are solely responsible for their results. They do not blame the market or outside factors for their losses. Instead, they take responsibility for their actions and learn from their mistakes. This allows them to move on quickly and focus on making profitable trades in the future.

3. They Manage Their Risk

All successful traders know how to manage risk. They never trade with more money than they are comfortable with and always use stop-loss orders to protect themselves. By managing their risk, they ensure that they can stay in the game even if they have a few losing trades.

4. They Stay Patient

Successful traders know that patience is key to success in the forex market. They are not looking for quick wins but instead focus on making long-term profits. This requires them to be patient and wait for the right opportunities to enter the market.

5. They Keep Learning

The most profitable traders never stop learning. They are always looking for ways to improve their trading strategies and increase their knowledge of the markets.

By continuing to learn, they are able to adapt to changing market conditions and find new ways to make profits.

5 Most Successful Traders in Forex

1. George Soros

He is a world-renowned currency trader and is known for his large positions while trading the British Pound in 1992, which earned him the title “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England.” He is also the founder of Soros Fund Management, LLC. He has an estimated net worth of $8 billion and his renowned trade shorting the British pound happened on a day known as ‘black Wednesday’. This event was characterized by the withdrawal of the pound sterling from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. It earned George Soros over a billion dollars, making him one of the most successful forex traders even in 2022.

2. Bill Lipschutz

He is known as the ‘sultan of currency’ and is the current head of Hathersage Capital Management. Lipschutz began trading currencies while studying at Cornell University in the 1980s. He is said to have made $250 million for his firm in one year. In an interview, he once said that “The forex market is always moving. Most people lose because they try to pick tops and bottoms; I sell weakness and buy strength.” This quote just goes to show how important it is to focus on the trend rather than trying to pick reversals.

3. George Van der Riet

Currently works as a full-time trader and is also a popular public speaker on financial markets. He focuses mainly on technical analysis and has developed his own unique trading approach which he has successfully used to trade forex, stocks, and commodities. He is a South African hedge fund manager and currency trader. He is currently the head trader and director of the Global Forex Institute.

4. Andrew Krieger

He is a former currency trader at Bankers Trust. In 1987, he made large bets against the New Zealand dollar, which earned him the nickname “The Kiwi Killer”. He has an aggressive trading style and his strategic trades involving the New Zealand dollar make him well known to date. After identifying that the NZD was overvalued, he opened short positions in 1987 which earned him millions of dollars.

5. Paul Tudor

This American hedge fund manager and currency trader founded Tudor Investment Corporation in 1980. He is also a philanthropist and supports many causes through his foundation. Just like Andrew Krieger, Paul was able to effectively predict and take advantage of the market crash in 1987. This trade earned him up to a million dollars.

These five traders are some of the most successful in Forex history. They have all made fortunes by correctly predicting market trends and taking advantage of them. While their trading styles may vary, they all share one common trait: they are patient and never stop learning. By following their example, you can improve your chances of success in Forex trading.

 

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ArticlesBankingPrivate FundsTransactional and Investment BankingWealth Management

Minted Launches Market-First Precious Metals Savings App

Three young work colleagues stood together, looking at their phones and smiling

Minted, an FCA licensed UK-based fintech company, has launched a new savings app, aimed at making precious metals accessible to all. The platform’s easy-to-use app allows customers to invest as much or as little as they want each month, and to withdraw their physical gold if they wish.

 

The brainchild of founders Hamzah Almasyabi and Haroon Siddiq, Minted is tapping into a national savings mindset and breaking down traditional barriers to investing in gold. Through the platform, savings plans start from as little as £30 per month, with users buying gold of the highest purity from an LBMA approved delivery partner. Minted also provides customers with free insurance and the option to store their gold for free in a high-security London vault.

 

Gold is well-known globally as a ‘safe haven’ asset, which holds its intrinsic value and performs well compared to equity investments on a short and long-term basis. At a time of significant stock market volatility and low interest rates, gold offers investors stability and growth potential.

 

Minted’s app has been designed with user experience in mind, making it easy to open an account and start saving. The app allows users to control regular savings plans and see detailed insights into account balances. Once they have saved enough for a gold bar, customers can then withdraw or sell their physical gold, if they choose. Users can pay by credit or debit card, as well as PayWithMyBank and other e-wallet options.

 

Becky Hutchinson, MD at Minted, said: “Right from the start, we wanted to make investing in gold a possibility for absolutely everyone. There is no reason why it should still be thought of as the preserve of the extremely wealthy or experienced investors. These are uncertain times and investing in precious metals can provide stability and the prospect of strong growth.

 

“We’ve worked hard to ensure that our app is easy to use, intuitive and gives customers just the right amount of information to guide their investment decisions. The fintech sector is evolving rapidly and the boundaries are constantly being pushed in terms of the investment products and services coming to market. It is extremely important to us that our platform stands out from the crowd.”

 

Unlike other investment options, which simply offer investors exposure to gold prices, Minted’s customers actually own physical gold and can withdraw or sell at any point they choose. By investing incrementally, even customers with relatively little disposable income can build their own precious metals portfolio over time. Currently, Minted offers gold bars ranging in size from 10g to 1kg and is set to add other precious metals to its platform.

 

Hutchinson continues: “People may have various reasons for choosing gold: diversifying their investments, building an emergency fund, putting away money for their families in a safe place or simply saving enough to splash out on a big purchase. We believe Minted offers options for everyone, and we are extremely proud to be bringing this new product to market.”

 

Minted’s platform is live in the UK. Visit www.theminted.com for more info or search for ‘Minted’ on the App Store and Google Marketplace.

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How to start your investment journey and increase your income

How to start your investment journey and increase your income

Looking to save money for a down payment on your first house? Not sure how to invest that new inheritance? Or perhaps living through a global pandemic has inspired you to start an emergency fund?

There is never a “perfect time” to begin investing. While diversifying your assets may be the last thing on your mind this year, the good thing is that all you have to do is start. Let’s explore some ideas that will inspire you to begin your investment journey, no matter how much money you have in the bank.

 

Open A High-Interest Savings Account

If you have extra cash you are not using for your immediate expenses or that stimulus check is starting to burn a hole in your pocket, you may consider opening a high-yield savings account. With a high-yield savings account, you can start investing with any amount and still have the option to access the cash quickly in the event of an emergency.

There are many banks that offer options for high-yield savings accounts online that still allow access to cash if needed. Opening a savings account is a risk-free way to begin your investment journey, and there’s no better time than now to get started, no matter your age. Thanks to compound interest, your money will grow much faster than if it were sitting in your checking account, and you’ll be less tempted to spend it!

 

Invest In Real Estate

If you’re looking to diversify your assets, investing in real estate is a low-risk and lucrative alternative to investing in the stock market. When you invest in real estate, you are purchasing a house, condo, or apartment with the intent to find tenants and collect the rent as a profit each month.

Many investors prefer real estate as it provides a tangible, physical asset that can be accounted for and controlled. Real estate also has the potential to appreciate over time as your property’s value goes up, allowing for an additional profit upon eventual sale. If you are considering flipping a house to sell for a profit or investing in a rental property to diversify your assets, consider getting an investment property loan to get started. Just be sure that if you’re investing in a property to become a vacation rental property, you also invest in a luxurious interior to increase your return even more!

While this seems like a no-brainer investment option, there are risks involved with real estate as well. This is less of a casual investment, as you’ll need to do quite a bit of research to get started, and rental properties cannot be quickly liquidated if you need extra cash. You also need to consider additional costs such as hiring a contractor for repairs or a property manager to handle the upkeep of your building, not to mention the potential headache of dealing with renters. Despite all this, the stream of passive income and the advantage of owning a tangible asset that can only appreciate over time, make a real estate investment well worth the risk.

 

Invest In The Stock Market

Many would recommend you invest your hard-earned money in stocks, and experts predict the stock market has the ability to give you the highest potential return over time. When you buy stocks, you are essentially buying a tiny piece of a given company, and the stock market gives an average of 10% annual return on investments according to the S&P 500.

 A benefit to investing in stocks is that you can choose to get as involved as you want or stay hands-off in your investment strategy. If you are interested in the stock market and have the confidence to make your own judgments, it can become a fun pastime choosing where to invest your money. If you aren’t confident yet in your knowledge of the stock market, it’s easy to get started with a beginner-friendly app like Fidelity or SoFi.

The downside in this investment option is that there is some risk involved; the value of stocks can decline over time, and making an unlucky investment can actually cost you, which is the opposite of what we want! If you like the excitement of a little risk or prefer a hands-on investment approach, the ebb and flow of investing in the stock market may be for you.

There are so many options when it comes to investing your money, and the first step is knowing what type of investment is right for you. Start exploring one of these ideas to increase your income and begin your investment journey today!

Alternative Investments
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Beginner’s Guide to Alternative Investments

Alternative Investments

Alternative investment assets like collectibles, art, cryptocurrency and loans are attracting an increasing number of retail investors by offering low buy-in, high returns and efficient diversification options

Every few years the line between traditional and alternative investment opinions is re-drawn, as many alternative investment options become more and more mainstream. Everything outside the traditional investment options that are typically accessed through traditional financial institutions –  falls into the category of alternative investments. They do not include, what is now considered traditional investment options: ETFs, gold, bonds, pension funds, and others.

Alternatives category may include both physical and virtual assets, spanning real estate, art, fine wines and aged alcohol, rare items, cryptocurrency, loans, private company debt or ownership, and collectibles. There is no limit to collectible investments, as value can be found in designer sneakers, baseball cards, or even Barbie dolls.

Alternative investments can create both long-term appreciation and immediate income streams. One of the most active investor groups in alternative investing is retail investors – in other words individual investors, who want to take an active role in propelling their own financial success.  One of the most active groups, drawn to alternative investments is a millennial cohort, who exert skepticism about the power of pensions to really secure their retirement, as well as a propensity to learn to operate an alternative portfolio. Technology now allows to ensure sufficient diversification with only a few clicks, and to branch out into immediate passive income or short-term high-return opportunities. 

Five most popular alternative asset classes

1. Real estate. Part of the real estate investment market can be considered a traditional asset class – after all, even banks own real estate and hold on to it as a long term investment strategy. It’s an all-time classic to store value and a potential tool to expand earnings during positive market cycles. The biggest disadvantage of real estate are the big upfront costs and relatively low liquidity, if ownership is outright. That said, the modern – alternative investment options have become available in the real estate market, including real estate investment trust (REIT) and partial or fractional ownership ventures. Retail investors can now invest in various real estate projects by owning a part of its development and then receiving interest once it is developed.

2. Art, valuables, and collectibles. Once again, just like property ownership, some collectibles like fine wine or paintings are quite traditional – accessible to exclusive investor circles, with very high-buy in cost. The alternatives that are accessible to a wider audience, like baseball cards, or designer sneakers are easily researched on online marketplaces, like eBay. Some items can be owned outright in physical form, requiring some care and protection. But it is also possible to fractionally own any of the collectibles, including in-game items and virtual goods with residual value. This asset class has unpredictable returns with relatively difficult average appreciation, but can outperform other asset classes as an insurance. Companies like Masterworks and Otis are allowing retail investors to purchase shares in fine art pieces or unique collectibles. 

3. Crypto-assets. A hot and highly volatile asset class, which allows for both passive buy-and-hold strategies, and for trading. The chief advantage of cryptocurrencies is the relatively easy entry, with the potential to operate and hold the assets in a personally protected wallet, instead of relying on brokers or other third parties. Challenger banks, like Revolut, or  payment platforms like Paypal have integrated digital asset trading on their platforms – making it even more accessible. With recent cryptocurrency popularity, a new alternative investment asset class became popular – NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) – which are centered around collectibles, such as digital artwork, sports cards, and rarities. One trending platform would be NBA Top Shot, a place to collect non-fungible tokenized NBA moments in a digital card form.

4. Loans. Interest-bearing investments in packaged loans can bring transparent, predictable returns that outperform traditional investments. While investing in loans gives short-term returns, loans should be viewed as long-term investments. This asset class has a low entry point, while some platforms, like Mintos also sort potential investment in loans with a risk tolerance profile. It is important to diversify investment in this asset class in order to achieve stable income over time.  Investing in loans is also accessible to multiple economic areas.

5. Private company investments. Private equity and company loans are asset classes sometimes reserved for accredited investors. Because of the risky nature of private companies, some of the investments are only available to accredited buyers. Private equity is also off-limits to most retail buyers, due to its riskier nature and the higher barrier to entry. Loan investments can sometimes circumvent this limitation, by offering business loans for partial ownership and relatively low sums. More accessible option, albeit not very liquid, would again be fractional investment, or crowdfunding, which is available through platforms like Crowdcube.

Final thoughts 

Alternatives are bound to grow. Research by Prequin shows robust growth of alternative investments, to as high as $14 trillion in 2023. The Prequin report covers private wealth managers, but alternative investments are also open to retail owners, due to their variety and enhanced technological access.

The growth potential of the alternative investor sector also means adequate liquidity and price discovery will happen as more buyers join in. Fees are one of the hurdles that diminish the real returns of investment, but the more apps and investment hubs pop up, the more competition to offer low fees, increase service quality benchmark and attract investors.

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Looking for the Right U.S. City for Your U.K. Business Expansion? Here’s What You Need to Know

Expand business


We are used to reading about U.S. businesses expanding to Europe. We often overlook the growing trend of
E.U. based businesses expanding to the U.S. There are many good reasons a U.K. company, in particular, would be interested in expanding to a location across the pond. Those reasons include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Virtually no language barrier

  • Cultural familiarity

  • Similarity between currencies

  • Relatively stable and predictable political system

  • Robust economy relative to other places

Although the U.S. is a mess right now relative to more stable periods from the past, it is still a viable capitalistic republic with a functional economy ripe for a strong rebound. Coronavirus is not just a U.S. phenomenon. We are in a pandemic. Everyone is having to deal with it at some level. There is also political unrest in much of the world. The U.K. is still unpacking what it means to no longer be a part of the E.U. 2020 was a reality for everyone. The real emphasis is on how we recover worldwide. U.K. businesses and U.S. consumers can benefit each other in the recovery process. When looking for a U.S. expansion city, here are a few things to consider:

 

A Livable City

Before looking too closely at any single metric, what you need is a livability assessment. Is the city the kind of place where your potential customers would want to live? If expanding to New Jersey, you wouldn’t just look at the housing market in Jersey City. You would assess the overall reality of living in Jersey City.

Livability scores are based on a variety of factors. Two of the most important factors to consider are crime and housing prices. Boston, NYC, and San Francisco are not the most livable solely on the basis of stratospheric housing costs. But a place like Jersey City would still be in the running because of the high safety index and reasonable cost of living. Obviously, there is more to consider. When you are opening in a new city, you have to consider more than your market. You also have to consider your workforce. Your employees might not be able to afford to live in a city where the cost of living is too high. When you move your business to a city, you become a part of that city and that community. Pick a city where you wouldn’t mind calling home.

 

A Stable Economy

One of the markers of a stable economy is a survey of foreclosures in the area. It is clearly a bad sign when the foreclosure rate is moving in the wrong direction. You can also look at the price range of properties in foreclosure. If the upper end of the housing market is suffering high foreclosure rates, that is a much bigger problem than foreclosure at the lower end of the range. That is where most foreclosures would be anyway.

You also need to look at economic markers over time. A place where things are great one year but horrible the next will not be a good location on which to base the economic future of your company. It is better to expand to a place that has slightly less money, but is more stable and predictable.

 

Transportation Infrastructure

What is the average commute time for workers in that city? Long commute times indicate poor transportation and housing options. Commute times would be shorter if people could live closer to work. If people are commuting from two cities away, that says something about livability.

It also has indications for retail success. Ease of moving about in a city affects who can shop at your stores. If it is hard to get to, it will be hard to attract customers. Look for a place where there is good public transportation and walkable neighborhoods.

There are many good reasons to consider expanding your business to the U.S. Just be sure to pick a city that is highly livable, economically stable, and easily navigable.

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Top 10 International Money Transfer Companies You Need to Know

Money transfer

The relevance of international money transfer companies is growing fast. It’s because slow and expensive bank wire transfers are a big problem for many people. Businesses need cheaper transfers for making and accepting payments. International investors need them as much as small business owners. Losing up to 3% on each transaction (bank transfer cost) can make their investments unviable. Most of all, migrant workers need these transfers as the cost of remittances matters a great deal for them and the global economy. There are also international travelers and other people who mostly use these services for convenience.

All in all, the demand in this market is high and it’s no surprise that dozens of money transfer providers sprung up all over the world. However, not all of them are equally good and trustworthy. As this industry is not well-regulated yet, it’s essential that you choose a provider with extreme care. The following International Money Transfer Top 10 list will help you find the best provider based on your needs. Bear in mind that while there are many great companies that offer affordable transfers, they also have specializations. Therefore, you should consider the type of transfers you need in order to choose the best company for you.

Top 10 International Money Transfer Companies to Fit Every Customer

Western Union

Western Union is, possibly, the most well-known yet most disliked money transfer provider worldwide. No matter negativity surrounding this company, it deserves a place on any top list for international money transfer companies because no other company can reach this far. In fact, for many migrant workers Western Union is the only available option.

This is a money transfer provider focused on remittances and it has an unmatched network of offices worldwide. The company supports 145 different currencies and offers in-person cash pickups even in the most remote places. Literally, there are Western Union money transfers in areas where no other international money transfer companies operate and even banking is severely limited.

That said, Western Union transfers are very expensive. They are the most expensive in the industry. The level of customer service and overall customer support is also not very good. The company has thousands of negative reviews on platforms like Consumer Affairs and BBB Customer Complaints.

The exact cost of the transfer depends on the currency, destination, and transfer amount. The company itself is highly trustworthy and regulated by multiple authorities. Western Union has been in business since 1851. It remains one of the most reputed names in the industry despite high transfer costs.

MoneyGram

MoneyGram is another reputed and remittances-oriented veteran in the money transfer industry. This company was founded in 1940 and it keeps growing and improving even through the current crisis. MoneyGram transfers are also quite expensive. However, it’s on the top 10 international money transfer companies list due to its wide global reach. The company offers cash pickups and supports 58 currencies for online transfers. Note that more currencies are supported if you make a physical transfer through a shop.

There is no minimum transfer amount, so MoneyGram is well-suited for small remittances. But transfer fees and currency exchange rates offered by the company are rather unfavorable. The cost of a transfer can reach 10% to some more remote destinations, like Ethiopia. Also, MoneyGram has multiple negative customer reviews.

It’s important to note that MoneyGram is a licensed and one of the most reliable international money transfer companies. It’s also regulated by multiple financial authorities, like the FCA. Therefore, for all that these transfers aren’t cheap, you can be sure they are 100% safe.

Xoom

Xoom is another great money transfer provider for remittances. It allows you to send transfers, no matter how small, to 131 countries and supports 79 currencies. Xoom earned its place on the top 10 international money transfer companies list due to the fact that it offers cheaper remittances. It also has a very good mobile app and is generally a user-friendly service.

However, at the moment Xoom allows you to send money only from Canada and the USA. Within those countries it’s also a very popular service for small personal transfers. These transactions are very cheap and fast. International money transfers through Xoom will cost more as the transfer amount increases. That’s why it’s a good service for remittances but not the best choice for large investment or business transfers.

TransferWise

TransferWise is currently the biggest among the “new generation” of international money transfer companies. It’s valued at $5 billion, which means it’s grown by about $1,5 billion in the last year alone. This company offers the cheapest international small transfers you can find today. Due to its fixed currency exchange margin and the minimum transfer amount of $1 it’s perfect for remittances and other small personal transfers. However, note that TransferWise doesn’t offer discounts for high-volume transactions.

The company is innovative and growing fast, including its global coverage. It’s also transparent in its pricing and highly safe. It’s regulated by multiple financial authorities, including the FCA. It’s also one of the few licensed to work in the US.

The level of customer satisfaction for TransferWise is very high. The mobile app and online transfers are very user-friendly.

Notably, TransferWise offers some of the lowest foreign currency exchange rates for international money transfers. These rates are unmatched for small transfers. The only reason it’s not currently the leader of the top 10 international money transfer companies list is that TransferWise’s global reach is not yet as wide as Western Union. However, considering its rate of growth and popularity, this might change soon.

OFX

OFX is one of the most notable international money transfer companies today due to the high versatility of its services. This is an online-based company with 10 offices worldwide and 115 bank accounts. Due to this, OFX can offer cheap and fast international money transfers to both businesses and individuals.

The minimum transfer amount with OFX is $100 and the company offers rather low exchange rates and fees. This is why it’s well-suited for small transfers. But most importantly for businesses and investors, OFX has flexible margins. Therefore, the larger is your transfer, the cheaper it will be.

Moreover, the company has a corporate desk and offers very helpful services for businesses and investors. This includes hedging and dedicated currency guidance.

Customer satisfaction rate for OFX is high and the company is regulated by the FCA and other relevant authorities. All transfers are available at zero fees and the company is transparent and traded publicly. Its yearly turnover is around $20 billion. As online international transfer companies are, in essence, currency wholesalers, the large volume is what allows them to keep FX rates low.

One small issue that customers report with OFX is that waiting times for support can be long.

Payoneer

Payoneer is somewhat limited in its functionality and types of transfers you can make through it. However, it offers such a great balance of price and ease of use that it deserves a place among the top 10 international money transfer companies. It also must be noted that the company is constantly growing and improving. Just recently it announced a $3.3 billion deal with SPAC: Betsy and it’s going public. Already Payoneer offers very fair currency exchange rates and transfer fees. The new announcement shows that we can expect it to get even better soon.

Payoneer money transfers have a huge global reach and the comp-any is popular with online merchants, expats, travelers, etc. There are no good high-volume discounts. That’s why it’s not the best for large transfers. However, it’s an excellent solution for quick and cheap small-to-medium transfers. 5 million people are using Payoneer already and the majority of customer reviews are positive.

One of the best Payoneer features is that it allows freelancers to easily withdraw payments they accept from clients through a Mastercard. The solution is also a good choice for SMEs that need to accept payments from multiple countries.

AirWallex

AirWallex is one of the international money transfer companies targeting the eCommerce sector. This company offers secure and reasonably affordable transfers and is rather popular worldwide. Please note that one cannot use AirWallex as a private client to make small transfers. However, online merchants can benefit from this service greatly as it’s secure and regulated by many authorities, including FINTRAC, FCA, ASIC, and HK Customs and Excise Department. Exchange rates offered by the company are very good.

At the moment, AirWallex supports 50 currencies. It’s open for business clients from Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, and China. There is no minimum transfer amount and fees are very low.

There aren’t many customer reviews of this company available online. However, those that exist are mostly positive. AirWallex was founded only in 2015. But it managed to build a solid reputation of reliability within its niche. It’s also known to have a very good app. The company is growing steadily and already has eight offices worldwide and over 300 employees. Its turnover has reached $3 billion a year and it currently plans expanding to the US market.

WorldFirst

WorldFirst is one of the online money transfer industry veterans. Recently this company has undergone a major overhaul. It was purchased by Alibaba Group and with this huge influx of funding it managed to rise fast. Today WorldFirst offers the best FX margins in the entire industry. It’s one of the best solutions for making large transfers at a fixed margin. Due to its close association with Alibaba, the company also offers a wide range of useful services for eCommerce merchants.

All in all, WorldFirst is near the top 10 international money transfer companies because it’s nearly impossible to find a cheaper and more reliable solution for businesses and independent investors. It’s not the best option for small transactions because the minimum transfer size is $1000.

The company is transparent in its pricing and supports over 130 currencies. It has multiple offices worldwide and accepts clients from all over the world, except for the USA. Customers usually praise low rates as well as great service. WorldFirst is rather innovative and its apps are highly advanced but easy to use.

In fact, using WorldFirst international money transfers is so easy you can make a transaction in a few minutes. The registration process takes less than a minute. The company’s global reach is unmatched by any of its direct competitors (Currencies Direct, Moneycorp, TorFX).

Moneycorp

Moneycorp is among those international money transfer companies that are rapidly growing and improving today. Just recently it announced joining Shortlist to provide simple and affordable payments for freelancers. This is a good reminder that despite being an industry veteran (founded in 1962) the company thrives on innovation. Its annual turnover is near $40 billion now and Moneycorp prides itself on working with high-wealth clients.

This is one of the top 10 international money transfer companies that are perfect for investors and businesses. The company offers lower rates for large transfers and many additional services, including guidance from currency experts. Note that Moneycorp has won numerous awards and has the highest D&B rating in the industry.

The minimum transfer is only $50, which makes it possible to use Moneycorp for small private transfers as well. However, the provider has the best rates saved for customers who make high-volume transactions. The company has offices in several European countries, the US, the UAE, Hong Kong, Brazil, and Australia. It’s regulated by multiple authorities, such as the FCA, ACPR, and FINCEN. It supports 120 currencies and over 90% of all customer reviews are positive.

Currencies Direct

Currencies Direct is another of international money transfer companies that work primarily with high-wealth clients. It offers many helpful services for investors and business owners. This includes offering expertise on global real estate investments.

The company has a $7.5 billion annual turnover and 22 offices in different countries. It offers some of the best exchange rates for high-volume transfers. It also offers a very efficient and friendly multi-lingual customer support service.

The minimum transfer with Currencies Direct is $100 and the company charges no transfer fees. It’s regulated by the FCA, SARB, FINTRAC, and FinCEN. It also has a Level 1 D&B rating and supports 39 currencies.

Bottom Line: International Money Transfer Companies Are Changing the World

As globalization is growing billions need to be transferred worldwide every year for business and personal purposes. Money transfer companies with their cheaper and more efficient transactions are going to become the new norm for international payments. This means that we can expect more competition in the industry, which will prompt even better offers.

Saving money
ArticlesBankingRegulationTransactional and Investment Banking

Simple Ways to Save Money That Often Go Overlooked

Saving money

One of the most fundamental concepts of generating wealth is knowing how to save money. When you master the art of stretching your earnings further, you have more resources to invest and save towards a more secure future. While shopping around for the best price, using coupons, and other common savings tactics are ideal, other strategies go overlooked, costing you hundreds of dollars each year. Continue reading to learn more. 

 

Skip ATM Fees

When you need access to cash, the ATM is the fastest way to retrieve it. It saves you from standing in long lines at the bank and allows you to get money 24/7. Be that as it may, you incur a fee when you use ATMs outside of your bank’s network. The fee might only be $2-5, but when you calculate that over the number of times you use the ATM in a month, it adds up. Not to mention, most banks charge an additional fee for using out-of-network ATMs. You can save several dollars every year by merely using no-fee ATMs or making purchases using the debit card linked to your bank account. 

 

Overdraft Protection

Even the most financially organized person can overlook a bank transaction. You forget that your cell phone bill is on automatic withdrawal. The funds aren’t available in your checking account. The payment gets returned, and you’re left with a $25-$35 fee to cover. While setting reminders can reduce the chances of overdraft fees, there’s another solution – overdraft protection. This is an “insurance” policy offered by banks where transactions totaling more than your available balance are honored or paid using a linked savings account, saving you hundreds in fees each month. 

 

Rebates

Using coupons or taking advantage of sales when making a purchase are common ways to save money, but they’re not the only solutions. Most people tend to overlook rebate opportunities. Though not applied at the time of purchase, rebates can quickly add up. If you frequently shop online, applying for an Amazon rebate could save you hundreds of dollars on everyday purchases. Believe it or not, there are several cashback and rebate programs you can sign up for to save on everything from groceries to apparel. 

 

Buy Generic

As a consumer, you’ll always pay for the brand’s name and reputation, from your medications to your clothes. For example, a pair of athletic shoes from Payless shoe store will cost you less than a pair you purchase from Nike. Since Nike is the more popular brand, it will always be more expensive than a generic brand from your local retailer. However, if you dig deeper, you’ll learn that these shoes are made in the same factories using the same materials, ultimately providing you with the same quality. So, it’s safe to say that you would save yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars by being open-minded about generic or lesser-known brands. 

 

Timeliness

When it comes to wasting money, timeliness is a huge factor. When you don’t pay your bills in a timely manner, you incur late fees, penalties, and sometimes added interest. Depending on how frequently you practice this behavior, you could be watching hundreds of thousands of dollars go down the drain. You can remedy this problem by ensuring that you pay your bills on time. Set up automatic payment plans or set reminders to ensure that you have the available funds to cover the bill. If you’re having difficulty keeping up with the due dates, talking with service providers about making adjustments is recommended. 

As the saying goes, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” On the surface, these habits may not seem like much. Incurring a $2 ATM or $35 overdraft fee, spending more on a popular brand, or missing the deadline for a utility or credit card bill seems minuscule, but if you were to add it up over the course of a month or year, chances are you’d be surprised. Keep more of your money in your pocket by developing better financial habits and taking advantage of the resources available to help you save more each day.

Female Investor
ArticlesBankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Here Is What Your Company Can Do to Attract More Women Investors

Female Investor

Women make up about 50% of the population while controlling only 30% of the wealth. This is the worldwide statistic that is set to dramatically change in the right direction over the course of the next decade. As bad as the numbers appear, they actually represent good news. This is a big improvement that is set to continue. Women’s growing wealth prompts the need for changes in the banking sector. That said, it is not all good news. MSN goes on to say:

“Although a third of the world’s wealth is under women’s control today, four in ten wealthy women are currently not involved in the management of their family finances compared to only one in ten men.”

Dramatic change is afoot. And that foot will be wearing Prada. More women are bursting through the glass ceiling, as well as the glass walls and glass doors. You want to be on the right side of history, as well as the right side of your growing female clientele. Here is hot to make sure they do business with you as opposed to your competition:

 

Speak Directly to Women

It is never the right thing to address someone indirectly. If you have a question for a woman, don’t ask her male partner or associate. Speak to her directly. Advertisers often make this mistake. Your marketing does not need to talk down to women. It needs to talk directly to women.

If your healthcare services include women’s health issues, you need to make sure you are speaking to that target audience. If you don’t know how to do that, bring in a healthcare public relations firm that can. If you want to target investment products to women, you are in luck. You have an audience that is rapidly growing. They already want to do more investing. You just have to craft your message so that you are making a direct appeal to the customers you want to attract.

One of the best ways to draw and not repel women investors is to put women in charge of the sales and marketing efforts. Men are used to talking to other men in ways that would be counterproductive when talking to women. The best way to speak directly to women is to let a woman do the speaking.

 

Go Where the Market is Ready

Gender egalitarianism is not alive and well in many parts of the world. Change is happening everywhere. But that change is much slower in some places as opposed to others. If you want to attract more women to your investment platforms, start in the places where more women are empowered to respond to your message.

Women investors in loans rose by 43% in Europe in 2020. Europe has a long history of empowered women. It is a good place to find women investors. The U.S. requires a bit more nuanced effort. Women control a great deal of wealth in the States. 20201 saw the swearing in of the first female vice president. It is overcoming a checkered past with regard to women’s rights. But the market for women investors is set to explode as millions of women become more empowered. Go where the market is ready to reap the greatest rewards.

 

Provide More Offerings Suitable for Women

One of the best things Apple did with Apple Watch was to make two sizes. They never marketed the smaller watch for women. But since women tend to have smaller wrists, it is a sensible option. It is a product useful for women without it being festooned with pink flowers.

When possible, design products to be unisex. When not possible, include an option suitable for the other 50% of the market. If you want women to invest in your company, make it a company that offers something for everyone.

Women are 50% of the population. It will not be long before they are at least 50% of the controlling influence of wealth. Their investing power is here, and growing. You can partner with this new generation of investors by appealing directly to them, being there when the market is ready, and giving them a reason to invest in your company by having offerings suitable for everyone. 

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ArticlesBankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Women Investors in Loans Rose by 43% in Europe in 2020

female investor stock market
Mintos, the largest marketplace for investing in loans in Europe, saw a stable increase among women investors in the EU, with the sharpest growth in Estonia, where women constituted 36% of all newly registered Estonian investors. Meanwhile, Germany led the way with the highest number of women investors overall. 
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Mintos, the leading alternative investment marketplace for investing in loans in Europe, has reported an increase in women investors in 2020. The company, which holds 40% of the market share in the EU, saw women investors increase by 43% over the course of 2020. Women constituted 15% of the total 363,312 investors on the marketplace that houses the majority of women retail investors in Europe. 
The most active women investors in loans last year were based in the Baltic region, most notable when looking at the proportion of investment activity by gender in a county by country comparison. In Estonia, women made up 36% of all the country’s newly registered investors last year, while in Latvia and Lithuania the number was 25% and 18%, respectively.
In terms of total number of women investors, Germany led the way with 3160 women investors, who constituted 13% of all investors. In Estonia, there were 2129 new women investors, while in Spain—1442.
“The fact that an increasing number of women consider and actually start investing is a victory to everyone, knowing how underrepresented this group of investors is,” said Martins Sulte, CEO and Co-founder of Mintos. “It also shows that alternative investments, especially loans, are an attractive asset class for women investors.”
The demographic breakdown also shows that the average amount of first investment among women investors, who chose to invest on the marketplace ranged from €20 to €1300. Women investors who chose their first investment amount on Mintos in the range from €0-50 were from countries such as Germany, Denmark, Finland, Andorra, Serbia, Monaco. Investors from Austria, Estonia, Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Lithuania, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Italy, Romania, Belgium, Slovakia, Hungary, Greece, Sweden, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway and the Netherlands chose from €50 to €200, while Irish, Icelandic and Albanian investors leaned towards the €200-1300 investment level.
The company also reports that an average woman investor had an outstanding balance of €2,028 at the end of the last year, compared to €4,164 at the end of 2019. The company links this to women investors being more cautious last year due to the impacts of the pandemic, even though the total number of women investors increased. In January 2021 the investment volumes steadily increased, yet it is too early to make any projections at this moment in time.
The total interest earned among all women investors on Mintos at the end of the year was €11.5 million, with the average amount of interest earned per woman investor depending on the country and start date. In Germany, the average interest earned by the end of 2020 was €929, while in the Baltic countries of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania it was €315, €727 and €849, respectively.
The overall interest in alternative investments among women has been an encouraging trend globally. With more women joining the workforce earlier and staying longer, women now control about $72 trillion of the world’s investable wealth, a number expected to grow as years pass.
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Why People Are Going Gold As An Investment

gold money investment


Gold is one of the safest investments available, apart from a savings account. This is because of its stability, even in uncertain times. In the past, owning gold was quite controversial because of the worries surrounding its price fluctuation and potential instability. Now, however, more people choose to invest in gold as part of their overall assets because of its many benefits. For one, investing in precious metals is a good way to protect your savings.

When you hear about the benefits of investing in gold or buying gold products, most people associate it with investing in jewelry. While this is certainly a key component to any well-rounded portfolio, gold itself is a much broader asset. Gold can be used to buy or trade almost anything – bonds, mutual funds, stocks, commodities, and even estate. If you’re looking for a way to diversify your portfolio but are worried about your investments in gold being exposed to more risk than other assets, then look into investing in precious metals as a part of your portfolio.

Here’s why people are turning to gold as one of their investment options:

1. You Can Start Even With Only A Small Amount

One of the greatest advantages of investing in gold like Oxford Gold is that you don’t need to have a substantial amount of money to start. You can begin, even with only a small amount. Hence making it a very accessible option even for those with limited funds to start with at the moment.

Even if you start small, the key is for you to slowly increase your investment, so you can stabilize it in the long run.

 

2. It’s A Very Safe Investment

Gold is considered to be a safe investment. As an investment, it won’t lose its value unlike other stocks and bonds, which are very susceptible to the volatile market.

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll encounter any problem with the value of this precious metal. You can easily earn a lot of money with your gold investment and even increase your wealth within a short time.

 

3. It’s A Stable Hedge Against An Unstable Market

Gold is one of the most stable assets that you can choose to invest in. Even when the stock market goes down, gold continues to retain its value. Therefore, you can consider it as a very safe investment choice.

The thing with gold is that it’s a very limited asset because it’s a precious metal. This stays the same, even if the demand does increase. Because of this, the price continues to go up. This situation makes it a very stable hedge against an unstable market.

 

4. It Gives You A Good Return On Investment

One of the other reasons why gold is also becoming a very popular investment form is that it guarantees a very good return on investment.

There are several factors that influence the rate of return that a precious piece of metal can offer. First, it’s very easy to mine and sell the metal. Second, it doesn’t require too much investment capital to start off with. You can simply start selling jewelry and coins to get started.

With these two factors alone, you can rely on a faster ROI. This means you can start paying back whatever capital you spent on your gold. The profits will also come in faster than expected. It can bring your financial status a sense of security.

 

5. It Protects Against Inflation And Economic Fluctuations

If there’s a dip in the value of currencies around the world, owning precious metals such as gold or silver is a great way to protect yourself against the fluctuations in the value of money.

Because of its value being tied to the U.S. dollar, precious metals are usually the safest investments out there. They don’t depreciate like other assets. This protects you against inflation, as you know the value of your gold investments stays stable, at least.

This makes gold a good form of long-term investment. You don’t have to worry about it losing its value over time. It’s something that can keep increasing in value on a regular basis, so you have great security in knowing they are protecting your wealth.

It also increases the likelihood that if you do sell your assets, you will receive a high enough amount to cover your losses, if you incur any. This can also help provide economic stability for you, particularly when you’re going through big changes, such as newly starting a business, for example.

 

6. It’s Easy To Diversify

The last benefit to investing in gold, in particular, is that they’re easy to diversify. There are so many different investments you can make with them. You can invest in fine gold jewelry, gold coins, ETFs, gold bars, bullion, and coins, for instance.

Gold bars are smaller than bullion coins and are less susceptible to theft. If you want a simple, low-risk investment, invest in gold bars. You can purchase them at banks or from online brokers, and you can store them in safety like a safety deposit box or a bank safe.

Diversification is a great way to increase the value of your investments and protect yourself in case of a crash. Investing in just one gold investment can diversify your portfolio significantly, and you don’t have to sell your holdings to take advantage of these diversified investments.
In the past, investors used to get along just fine without diversifying their portfolios. However, the world’s economy has changed, and most investors have had to deal with the global recession. It’s thereby imperative for investors to start diversifying their portfolios to protect themselves from these negative indicators.

 

Conclusion

Investing in gold is a very good choice for you, even if you’re a newbie investor. These reasons above are precisely why so many have gotten into investing in gold as their choice. The key is for you to just learn more about it and make sure that you understand everything there is for you to know about gold investing. You can learn so much more about it and comprehend it in totality, depending on your risk tolerance, liquidity, and risk level. In doing so, you know that you’re on the right path towards the proper way of investing in gold.

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ArticlesBankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Investing Full Time: What You Need to Know

investing for beginners


Do you dream of pursuing a career in investing but are unsure where to start?


Lets start with the basics

Investments. A broad term that can be used to describe the purchase of a large form of collateral, such as a house or other class of asset. Or smaller item investments can also be used to describe a luxury watch, a prime example of this is when an Air Force Vet purchased a ‘Cosmograph Daytona Oyster Rolex’ back in 1974 for $350, later to find out the exact model is now worth $700,000 in 2020. 

However big or small you want to start your investment journey, as long as you’re prepared to make a long-term commitment your life goals are achievable.

Although investing can increase your wealth whilst staying ahead of inflation, there are always risks involved with ANY investment – which is why it’s important to diversify your portfolio.

Putting this in simpler terms: increase your chances by dividing your capital into various opportunities covering diverse and alternative markets.

 

Do you need a minimum amount to invest with?

To become a retail investor you can start out with under £1000, which you can build on over time. Although most private equity or pre-IPO opportunities have a required minimum investment amount. The offering entity also have to ensure they have enough assets under management (AUM) to achieve their investment goals and cover overheads.

 

Broaden your horizons

If you’re a seasoned or more experienced investor, you may feel passionate about stocks and bonds, but have you considered private equity investment opportunities? These have outperformed the traditional investment asset classes this year.

In a FundRise report titled “Why Private Markets Outperform Traditional Publicly-Traded Stocks and Bonds” it concludes how the evidence strongly supports the view that an allocation of 15% or more of a portfolio to private [investments] leads to higher returns and should be taken seriously by all investors.

 

Be prepared for risk

All investments involve some degree of risk. If you intend to purchase securities – such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds – it’s important that you understand before you invest that you could lose some or all of your money. … The reward for taking on risk is the potential for a greater investment return.

 

Don’t sell at the first sign of profits!

It’s a wise tactic to allow your investments time to mature as they will likely continue to increase. It is however advised to exit a trade in decline as soon as you can. If you follow this rule, the money you make on your positive investments will far outpace any failed opportunities.

 

Keep your finger on the pulse

If you’re going to pursue a full-time career in investing you will need to access analytical industry insights and keep informed regarding new opportunities or evolving market conditions. Platforms such as Investopedia, Forbes, Bloomberg to name a few will keep you well informed.  

 

The more you learn, the more you earn…

Not only can you interact with digital platforms and even turn on your notifications to receive regular updates… reading some world-renowned books that feature some of the most successful entrepreneurs will help. Investment books are a key element of your personal development and can develop a money-making mindset.

 

Some of the most popular books for a guide to investment:

Rich Dad Poor Dad (1997) by Robert Kiyosaki

The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America

Beating the Street (1993) by Peter Lynch

The Intelligent Investor (1949) by Benjamin Graham

Think and Grow Rich (1937) by Napoleon Hill

If you want to invest, educating yourself is a key part of that process. To conclude, anyone can become an investor, starting small and begin progressing into new markets is always a good place to start.

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ArticlesFinanceTransactional and Investment Banking

“The Modern Investor” Setting New Investment Rules

Businessman investor


Retail investors have made quite an impact on the stock market recently, although several seasoned investors deem them as amateurs set to make wrong decisions and lose their wealth. Other experts believe modern investors are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

There is a lot of focus on addressing the modern investors, who are mostly millennials and became a more visible investor group in 2020 by investing heavily in tech stock, seeing the opportunity to hedge against the potential inflation and at the same time exploring alternative investment asset classes. Some seasoned investors are saying the modern investors are just chasing a trend and playing with fire, while others believe the cohort should be taken seriously.

Who is the modern investor?

Modern investors are predominantly millennials, both in age and spirit. Though most of them, especially in the US, have yet to acquire more wealth than their predecessors, baby-boomers, millennials are a growing power in the investment world, already influencing the current industry.

The driving force behind modern investors’ ability to change the industry is technology. From robo-advisors to gamification, tech-savvy investors are increasingly relying on and using apps and the internet. When once investing was a privilege accessible only to well-off citizens, now technology has made it only a few clicks away, presenting a plethora of opportunities to invest not only in the traditional assets like stocks or bonds, but also alternatives like arts, wine, loans, and others. 

Contrary to the general view, modern investors are well-informed. A survey by Accenture revealed that 90% of financial advisors believe their millennial clients are more aware about their investing options than they were five years ago, indicating that the interest and engagement in investing is nevertheless growing.

Alternative investments – crucial part of modern portfolio

Blackstone research on new investor behaviour also shows that alternative investments are rising in popularity as investors are seeking alternative investments to find yield, some for higher returns, or protection from rising rates, or a haven against market volatility.

As modern investment portfolio changes, adapting to potential market changes may require a search for new sources of funding. One of the growing alternative investment asset classes— popular with millennial investors—is investment in loans. Their biggest advantage is higher returns in comparison to passive income instruments, in addition to being a more predictable alternative to growth stocks. As a debt-based product, investment in loans is also less volatile.

“Modern investors have shown everyone in the past year that they are a force that needs to be taken seriously,” said Martins Sulte, CEO and Co-founder of Mintos, the leading alternative investment platform for investing in loans in Europe. “We have worked closely with this investor segment, with over 370 000 retail investors on our platform, who give us feedback that they turn to alternative investments, and investing in loans in particular, as a means to manage their savings or create them.”

Mr Sulte also added that modern investors are more prudent than the industry might think, seeing diversification and alternatives as a way to future-proof their portfolios. 

“We see a trend towards diversification even within our platform, which indicates that modern investors are not reckless as some make it out to be,” he said. “With pensions funds or bank accounts offering low savings rates, we see people search for better options and find passive investing as a solution for higher returns. While we cannot compare investing in loans to savings accounts at a bank due to both being entirely different forms of financial service and risks involved in any form of investing, we do understand and lately witness in greater amounts the interest for making money work much more for oneself.”

Conclusion

For many modern investors, especially those using trading apps, a retail portfolio may include a rather random selection of assets. That said, the retail investors are quick learners and are not as naive as some observers deem them to be. Undoubtedly, there are those that follow the trend, but the modern investors are making their moves and the market is responding accordingly. 

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ArticlesBankingMarketsStock MarketsTransactional and Investment Banking

What Has Covid Taught Investors

Covid stock investors
  • 44% of investors are now looking to back UK-based companies rather than global firms –  9,629,000

  • 45% of investors feel their ‘risk-appetite’ has increased due to Covid-19, as traditionally safe investments in big companies are no longer viable – 6,942,000

  • 27% of investors are looking to invest in sectors created by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as PPE, social distancing equipment and virtual solutions – 5,674,000

  • 19% of investors believe the coronavirus pandemic has opened more investment opportunities than it has closed – 6,278,000

Investing was one of the most unpredictable aspects of 2020 for anyone concerned with the market, whether that be a sophisticated portfolio or just a workplace pension. The stock market crash at the start of the lockdown and continued economic disruption has left many wondering what the future will hold, while soaring tech stocks have added further complexity to an ever changing market. But what has the Covid pandemic taught investors? 

The overall effect of this period has led investors to reconsider what they are doing with their investable assets. To understand this shift, SME investment specialist IW Capital has conducted nationally representative research to uncover the sentiments of the UK’s investors.

 

Look beyond the panic

Each period of disruption, like that felt last year, offers opportunity for companies to adapt quickly to the changing times and although there has been a lot of worry and negativity surrounding the new lockdown restrictions, we have to look to the positives with one of them being the roll out of the Covid vaccines. Working with both entrepreneurs and investors, there is a clear desire from the small business community for growth investment and to take a big step growth-wise this year. With a 12% increase in new businesses starting up during 2020 compared to 2019, 2021 is set to create some exciting investment opportunities for investors throughout the country.

 

The unexpected happens 

This year has taught us that the unexpected does happen. Investors need to look to the future and prepare for the unexpected to improve financial resilience. This could be by having liquid assets or a rainy-day fund you can use if investment values fall, which is particularly important if you’re drawing an income from investments. Having options for when the unexpected does occur should be part of any investors financial plan and is something that has been brought to the forefront for many as a result of the pandemic. 

 

Maintain a diverse portfolio

The Covid pandemic has had a far-reaching impact across a variety of sectors, however some industries have been affected far more than others, with travel and hospitality being forced to close for months at a time and unable to trade. In contrast, the pandemic has created opportunities for some sectors too, such as manufacturing and biotech. While a diverse portfolio will still have suffered volatility, it can help lessen the impact. Investing in a range of assets, industries and locations can help spread the risk. When one investment falls, another may perform better helping to create balance.

 

Don’t overreact to market volatility

When the pandemic first hit and the stock market plummeted, many investors began to panic and looked to sell shares in order to avoid potential future losses, but when investing, a long-term time frame and goal is so important. Short-term volatility is often smoothed out once you look at investment performance over a longer time frame. It can be frustrating to see that investment values fell in 2020, but when you look at performance over the last five years, for example, you’ll probably still see an upward trend.

 

Luke Davis, CEO of IW Capital:

“Investing and investing wisely has never been easy by any stretch but this year has been particularly difficult for investors at every level. 2020 demonstrated the value of long term investing and future planning. The stock market crash in March triggered a real halt in investment, and although the market hasn’t fully recovered, there has been strong growth since November and in places in the US share indexes are actually higher than the last year. 

“There have been winners and losers from each stage of the pandemic with sectors like travel feeling the true impact of the pandemic and others like online solutions seeing growth and opportunity in a time of financial turmoil. But, this is true of any world event and has forced investors to look to be more future facing.”

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

Finance

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

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

Offshore banking
ArticlesBankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Advantages of offshore banks: What they have to offer millennials

Advantages of offshore banks: What they have to offer millennials


James Turner Headshot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ArticlesBankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Why Are Crypto Transaction Speeds So Important?

bitcoin transaction

Why Are Crypto Transaction Speeds So Important?

Would you wait five minutes to make a purchase in-store? Probably not. And this is why crypto transaction speeds remain the biggest roadblock to adoption.

Bitcoin credit cards, PayPal crypto purchases, DeFi apps for Ethereum. Mainstream cryptocurrency adoption seems closer than ever. But we’re still missing a piece of the puzzle. Slow transaction speeds and lack of scalability mean that cryptocurrencies are still unsuitable for day-to-day use and relegated to the world of traders and investors.

 

Transactions Need to Be Fast to Be Usable

The big challenge faced by the major cryptocurrencies is transaction speed and network load. Let’s put the scale of the challenge into context. Bitcoin can process just 5 transactions per second. Compare that to Visa’s 1,700 transactions per second.

Additionally, Bitcoin transactions need to wait for a new block to go through, which means it could be ten minutes before a transaction is actually verified.

Take a moment to imagine how you pay for your groceries. If you decide to pay with cash, it is instantaneous, free, and private. If you pay with a credit or debit card, it’s fast, low-cost, but not private in that it leaves a trail that can be used to determine your purchase. If you decided to pay with Bitcoin? It’s slow, high cost, but private.

Now let’s look at it from the merchant’s perspective. Cash can be processed as fast as the cashier can put it in the till and is effectively free. Visa is easy, eliminates the risk of employees stealing, and is cheap.

Bitcoin is slow, hard to liquidate, and could cost the company a lot of money in terms of wasted time and processing fees. At the moment there are simply very few reasons for large merchants to accept cryptocurrency.

Additionally, the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies fluctuates significantly. This can be good for companies like MicroStrategy that is estimated to have made over $100 million in profits on its Bitcoin holdings. However, difficulties assessing the true value of a transaction with a volatile asset could cause losses for a merchant, or open them up to accusations of overcharging if processing takes too long.

 

Proof of Work Consensus Is Part of the Problem

Another key problem is scalability. Even if merchants were to decide that cryptocurrency was worth their time, a sudden rush of new users would lead to Bitcoin, and any other Proof of Work (PoW) blockchain, facing significant congestion problems.

PoW requires networks of computers, or miners, to solve complicated equations in order to validate and secure blocks of transactions. Each block takes around 10 minutes to process and can hold around 500 transactions.

In order to ensure their transactions are added to a block, earlier users can offer miners an additional fee. As more users vie to use the network, increased fees are needed to speed up processing times. This creates high costs and significant bottlenecks.

As long as this problem persists, any attempts by merchants to adopt cryptocurrency will simply cause more problems, making it unsuitable for day-to-day use.

 

Second Layer Solutions Could Solve the Challenge

There are a number of proposed solutions to these problems. Setting aside the sea of altcoins that promise to fix the perceived problems with cryptocurrency, there are two main solutions being proposed: alternative forms of consensus and second layer solutions.

 

Proof of Stake

Ethereum, and the planned 2.0 update, is the first major attempt at integrating Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus methodology. Ethereum 2.0 will roll-out a new PoS compliant blockchain called Casper.

This will allow users to “stake” Ethereum in order to validate transactions. This will have two main effects. The first is that miners will no longer be necessary, making transaction times and costs more predictable. The second is that it will provide a way for users to monetize their Ethereum without liquidating, improving stability.

However, there are concerns about Proof of Stake. In particular, there are fears that it monopolizes power in the hands of crypto whales, undermining the decentralized nature of the network.

 

Second Layer

This is part of why most solutions for Bitcoin are focused on building a second layer that would remove the need for small transactions to be immediately recorded on the blockchain.

The most prominent proposal is the Lightning Network. This network would allow two users (for example a shop and card issuer) to open up a channel with each other. Thus they could redistribute funds between their new channel, which works as a shared wallet.

Once both parties want to confirm the transactions, they close the channel and the final balance is stored on the blockchain. This methodology is not dissimilar from the way small businesses often deliver cash to the bank at the end of the day. And it would be simple to implement with the right infrastructure.

 

To Become Currency, Crypto Needs to Be as Simple as Cash

In order for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to supplant cash, developers need to think about why cash and credit cards work so well. Any crypto alternative needs to combine the privacy of cash with the ease of use of credit.

To do that cryptocurrency users will need to embrace alternative solutions like PoS or the Lightning Network. It will likely be some time until you can pay for your groceries with Bitcoin, but don’t discount that possibility just yet.

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ArticlesTransactional and Investment Banking

Gold: Let’s get physical

gold bullion

Gold: Let’s get physical

By Shahid Munir, co-founder of MintedTM

It has been a turbulent year for the economy as a result of Covid-19, so it is no surprise that interest in gold has risen sharply within the investment world. The financial shock caused by the pandemic has left currencies and markets across the globe in vulnerable and unpredictable positions. With that in mind, more investors are turning to gold as an alternative way of strengthening their investment portfolio.

However, with the price of gold continuing to rise alongside its popularity, what is the best way to invest in the precious metal and how can new investors take a leap into the world of gold for the first time?

 

Gold, a safer option?

Gold has been synonymous with wealth and prosperity for hundreds of years. Coins were first introduced in 550 BC and quickly became the global currency before paper money came into existence. Ever since then, the precious metal has been an integral part of the globe’s wealth portfolio. During times of economic instability, gold is often looked at as somewhat of an oasis, compared with other investment options. With a history of retaining its value even when currencies and markets are in flux, gold remains a favoured asset as a result of its fundamental, intrinsic value anywhere around the world.

Despite the uncertainty the pandemic has caused, gold’s price continues to rise, potentially heading towards $3,000 per ounce in the near future. Now, with increasing numbers of people seeking a stake in this safe haven asset, the demand and the value for the precious metal will likely continue to rise in months to come.

 

Understanding gold investment

When investing in gold, it is important to note that it should only make up a portion of an investment portfolio, rather than the entirety. However, whilst signposting about ways to invest in other financial products, such as ISAs or premium bonds, is clear, there are multiple ways to invest gold, many of which aren’t often discussed.

A popular way that investors choose to own gold is through a mutual fund or Exchange Traded Fund (ETF). An ETF requires customers to pass their money over to a fund that will then pool it together with other investors’ money to buy a specific amount of gold, storing it in a high security vault. Although both mutual funds and ETFs work in a similar manner, mutual funds invest in gold mining companies, unlike ETFs, which invest in physical gold bullion. It is important to note that with both ETFs and mutual funds, investors do not own physical gold and are therefore more exposed to market fluctuations. Some ETFs, despite being described as ‘physically-backed’, are also not backed by physical gold, which can also be a risk to investors.

For some, investing in gold mining stocks through a mutual fund may be a better option than an ETF. A mutual fund will invest in a company that mines, however as investments will be contingent on the success of the company, rather than the value of the gold itself, investors will be exposed to any stock market turbulence or changes within the company that could affect this. Anyone investing in gold mining stocks should be prepared to carry out extensive research into the right gold mining companies, before selecting one to invest in.

Some investors may wish to own physical gold bullion and could therefore consider buying gold coins or bars. Whilst buying directly from dealers requires customers to ensure the gold is of a high purity level, and to ensure that they arrange suitable storage, tech platforms, such as Minted, make the process much more straightforward. Minted’s customers can choose how much money they want to invest as part of a regular savings plan, and the gold is stored in a high security London vault. Once enough has been saved for a gold bar, there is the option to either keep it in storage, or to withdraw it and have it delivered.

Unlike the other methods of investing in gold, owning gold bullion gives people complete control over their investment. With the opportunity to sell gold either back to a dealer or via the market, owning bullion is a relatively easy method of buying and investing in gold. 

 

So, should you invest?

The pandemic has sent ripples through the financial world, that will no doubt leave scars for years to come. This being said, the value of gold remains particularly strong, and many first timers are looking to invest.

Simply put, there is no set way to invest in gold; it depends on individual situations, appetite for risk, and long-term goals. For those seeking potentially higher returns in the shorter term, buying gold mining stocks or gold ETFs may be the better choice. However, for those looking to have more control over their investment, buying gold bullion could be the best choice. The price of investments cannot be influenced by bankers or politicians, has value all over the world, and can be stored and sold however customers choose.

digital europe
ArticlesMarketsTransactional and Investment Banking

Should Investors Stay Underweight Europe? Three Reasons Why It’s Time to Reconsider That View Now

digital europe

Should Investors Stay Underweight Europe? Three Reasons Why It’s Time to Reconsider That View Now

After a decade encompassing Brexit and the euro crisis, and amid disappointing returns relative to other markets, many investors have written off European equities, but River and Mercantile’s James Sym believes that stance now needs to change.

Investors underweighting European equities now run the risk of missing the recovery in the region, according to Sym, manager of the recently launched ES R&M European Fund, with the continent offering attractive valuations, a leading position in up and coming sectors, and political unity.

Europe’s major equity indices have lagged the US and other regions so far this year, with the double-digit gains seen in some US markets far ahead of country-specific and broad indices on the continent.

However Sym, who joined River and Mercantile this year, says this disparity has created a glaring opportunity for investors.

“European equities have been unloved and under-owned since last year, with August the first month that investors started to return to the asset class[1],” he says. “Turning points are often the best moments for relative returns – but it is critical to position ahead of that.”

Below, Sym outlines three factors as to why investors should be reconsidering their European exposure now.

 

1. A better crisis

The time to own European assets is when the region is making top down political progress towards convergence. That was true with the establishment of the euro in the cycle from 2002, it was true post “do whatever it takes”, and it is true today.

In some ways Europe needs a crisis to spur it into action. For years it has been obvious that for the euro to be sustainable there needs to be balance sheet mutualisation across Europe and fiscal transfers. The coronavirus crisis has finally catalysed this move, which should serve to bring the cost of capital down for unloved companies across the continent.

Under the recovery fund plans, the European Commission is likely to become one of the biggest AAA-rated bond issuers in the world. The initial issue was 14 times oversubscribed[2]. This gives the periphery access to capital markets under the same terms as Germany or the Netherlands. Additionally, the net effect of the grant element of the structure is that German taxpayers are paying for peripheral infrastructure investment. This should bring down the risk premium for the region and be good for growth.

 

2. Leading position in ESG

“In a post-Covid environment, the world is coming Europe’s way. Simply put, European stakeholder capitalism was never the ideal light-touch regulatory environment which big tech needed to thrive. This has been a big drag for equity returns as the FANG phenomenon drove US equity returns. However, pre-eminent themes for the next cycle, such as energy transition, are areas in which Europe excels and it has companies well placed to deliver this. Meanwhile, the regulatory noose is starting to circle some of the large US technology companies. At the very least it should be, or become, a more level playing field.

 

3. Unloved stocks

“With outflows for most of the last year, many investors find themselves underweight the region now, while index levels remain far below their highs – unlike other regions, such as the US.

“Year-to-date, the MSCI Europe index is down 14%, while the MSCI World is up 3%[3]. There is a relative valuation opportunity, and it looks even more attractive if you drill down further.

“The landscape in Europe is one that is full of growth funds which are (clearly) full of growth stocks which have outperformed. But if you look elsewhere, there are some really attractive opportunities that offer investors a great chance to take part in an economic recovery post the Covid disruption.

“While interest rates stay low, government spending stays high. We now see the mechanism for populism to ultimately lead to inflationary outcomes which if it transpires would set up a potentially difficult market for many clients.” 

 

[1] According to Calastone research, as quoted by Investment Week

https://www.investmentweek.co.uk/news/4019853/uk-equity-fund-outflows-hit-record-gbp-2bn-june-august-deal-jitters

[2] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_1954

[3] According to Bloomberg data, to 22nd October

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ArticlesTransactional and Investment Banking

Post COVID-19 Trends: 31% Of Wealthy Individuals Intend to Support the Economy by Buying A Small Business

business investment

Post COVID-19 Trends: 31% Of Wealthy Individuals Intend to Support the Economy by Buying A Small Business

Brown Shipley, a Quintet Private Bank, has announced the results of a comprehensive research study of the nation’s wealthy. The survey of over 4000 UK consumers included a representative sample of over 800 of the nation’s ‘wealthy’ – defined as those with more than £100,000 in assets that they can readily access, 350 of whom have more than £250,000 in assets.

The research looked at how the wealthy had amassed wealth and what they want to do with the money they have, with some surprising results. Perhaps of most interest in the times of uncertainty with COVID-19, one in five (19%) of those with more than £250,000 in assets said they intended to buy a small business in the future to keep themselves busy, and a further 35% said they are planning on investing in a new business to help kickstart the economy post COVID-19.

Just under half of those wealthy individuals surveyed said they would leave an inheritance (48%). This increases slightly to 53% of those with more than £250,000 of investible assets. The research suggests that 1 in 5 (c10 million) UK adults fall under our definition of ‘wealthy’, which suggests that 5 million families may not receive an inheritance.

For those with more than £250,000 in assets, apart from leaving an inheritance, the other plans for their wealth include:

  • One in two (52%) will use the wealth to spend money on themselves, for example on  holidays; whilst one in six intend to buy luxury items, such as an expensive car or yacht (17%)
  • This is almost the same as those that wish to support a worthy cause (19%)
  • Almost six out of ten (59%) will use their wealth to fund their retirement

Whilst half plan to leave an inheritance, four in ten (39%) plan to gift some of their wealth to their families.

Regardless as to whether the wealthy plan to leave money when they pass on – the lack of planning for the future is of concern.  Only four out of ten (40%) say they had plans in place to pass on their wealth to minimise the tax paid by beneficiaries.  One in three (34%) say they will put in place plans in the next five years to minimise tax on their beneficiaries; whilst one in five (22%) say they never will.

Commenting on the research, Alan Mathewson, Chief Executive Officer of Brown Shipley said, “Whilst it is great to see that there could be significant reinvestment by the wealthy in UK businesses post COVID-19; it is worrying that so many haven’t made plans for their estates.  Solid financial planning is about wealth preservation today and having a wealth plan to meet future needs and we believe all can benefit from putting their estate in order, today.”

The research also reveals how today’s wealthy gained their affluence.  One in three (30%) of the nation’s wealthy credit an inheritance for contributing to their wealth; whilst 56% cite earnings from salaried work; and one in five (18%) say it is down to their entrepreneurialism.  Perhaps surprisingly one in twelve (7%) say that a lottery win; or gambling has helped them become affluent.  Other factors that the wealthy say have helped them amass financial assets include the performance of their pensions (44%); and investments (34%); whilst one in four (27%) have been helped by the property market.

whisky
ArticlesMarketsTransactional and Investment Banking

Why Whisky is the Safest Investment to Make Right Now

whisky

Why Whisky is the Safest Investment to Make Right Now

Whisky Investment company Braeburn confirm why investing in whisky during economic uncertainty is a lucrative and sustainable asset for any portfolio.

Throughout history, whisky has proven a reliable investment even in time’s of economic decline. Whisky proved a popular choice during the Great Depression, and recent market behaviour would suggest that ‘liquid gold’ will continue to have significant financial gain despite the current climate.

“Societal turbulence is often a time when investors take stock of their portfolio and examine new ways in which they can protect and profit from their savings, this global pandemic is no different.” states Braeburn’s Sales Director, Samuel Gordon.

Whisky investment has been rising in popularity over the last decade, by 582%, according to The Knight Frank 2020 Wealth Report. This report also shows sales of scotch to India, China and Singapore rising by 44% in the first half of 2018 alone. However, in actuality, it’s whisky casks specifically, that offer the security and consistency that evade traditional asset classes.

With the surge in demand for single malts, distilleries are struggling to keep up. The process for crafting quality spirits that enthusiasts desire, happens over lengthy periods of time. Distilleries ultimately can only make and store so much resulting in a continually increasing value. As a result, independent bottlers, blenders and other investors are known to pay highly and quickly in current secondary markets.

While economic uncertainty can bring new levels of volatility to traditional financial markets like stocks, shares and housing. Samuel explains that whisky doesn’t follow these market trends and isn’t impacted by the reactive and turbulent swings of traditional investments.

“Instead of decreasing during periods of economic downturn, historically, whisky casks have increased in value. When whisky remains in its cask, its continuing is maturation process. Over years, the whisky interacts with the cask, taking on beautiful and unique flavours from the wood. Although in time, there is a golden moment to bottle whisky, in general, the longer it’s left the more distinguished and deep the flavour becomes along with the ability to demand a higher resale value.”

Unlike other industries that are impacted by developing technology and evolving consumer behaviour, the whisky industry is prized on its heritage and historical methods. Whisky has maintained consistency through every type of economy and returns are still on the rise.

Over the last five years, casks have earned an average of 12.4% per annum. The average cask doubles in value every 5 years with casks from popular distilleries earning even higher returns. This again, is due to the maturation process which allows whisky to ride through difficult times whilst still increasing in value. Instead of the cask values rising and falling violently with political and economic changes like the traditional stock market, whisky is left to mature in the cask, only to appreciate in value.

Whisky casks offer diversification into tangible assets allowing investors to enhance their portfolio across different asset classes. Traditional ‘paper’ investments puts future success solely in an endeavour outside the investors control. With whisky casks, no matter what happens in the economy, the whisky can always be bottled and sold, even if the market is down or a distillery closes. With an asset grounded in intrinsic value, an investor can safeguard wealth.

An important factor in whisky cask investment is that is offers further security against forgery or fakes. Unlike art, antiques and even bottled whisky, whisky casks mitigate this risk because the Scottish Government requires that they are stored under strict oversight.

Casks are stored in government bonded warehouses that are required to keep meticulous records. Because of this careful and impartial monitoring, investors can be confident in the provenance and value of their casks.

Samuel concludes,

“Whisky casks are a unique investment. They offer unique characteristics and can complement a portfolio in good times or bad. With a real, intrinsic value whisky casks are unlike any other tangible asset. And with the demand for authentic, mature single-malt casks on the rise, they’re more lucrative than ever.”

markets
ArticlesTransactional and Investment Banking

Ten Credit Markets Warnings Signalling Long-Term Alpha Opportunity

markets

Ten Credit Markets Warnings Signalling Long-Term Alpha Opportunity

The longest equity bull market since the Second World War led to high valuations and increased leverage. Now as the cycle turns, valuation multiples will inevitably contract and high debt levels will put pressure across the capital structure.

The weak structure of the credit markets and reduced liquidity will likely lead to increased volatility, more downgrades, increased default rates, lower recoveries and stronger terms for new lenders in a post Covid-19 world.

Below, Marc SYZ, managing partner of SYZ Capital, highlights ten warning signals that encapsulate the deteriorating fundamentals and illustrate the potential long-term alpha opportunities for alternative investors.

 

Complacent credit agencies

Since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), we have seen a sharp deterioration in net leverage across the board. As an example, BB rated bonds are now more levered than single B bonds were in the GFC. The inevitable rating downgrade to come can therefore only be a lagging indicator.

 

Corporate leverage expands threefold

Since 2009, GDP has grown 47% – from $14.6trn to 21.5trn – while corporate credit markets have increased almost threefold. While US household debt has marginally increased by 10% over the period, and housing related debt has remained stable, the sub-investment grade market has vastly expanded, both in high yield bonds and leveraged loans.

 

Elevated leverage puts PE under pressure

Leverage has gone up on average 1.5x across the board since the GFC, and even 3-4x for some cyclical sectors – such as retail, travel and leisure. These will be the first to suffer. Looking at LBO loans, the debt level is also significantly higher. The leverage for large LBOs is even more extreme, with a debt/EBITDA ratio greater than 6x for roughly 60% of universe – double its pre-crisis average.

 

EBITDA adjustments on the way

The published leverage ratios above may be misleading as adjustments – such as add-backs, proforma, etc. – often account for 20% of published EBITDA, which leads on average to a 1x leverage increase from published numbers.

 

Growth of weakening covenants

Covenant-lite loans have increased significantly since the GFC and now represent more than 80% of the $1.2trn US leveraged loan market. Without these protections, company performance can deteriorate materially before triggering a credit event.

 

Rising default rates

Annual default rates peaked at about 10% in the last recessions – reaching about 13% during the GFC. This time around, as a direct result of no or little covenants, we expect a much lower default rate in the short term, but deteriorating metrics and potentially higher default rates by the end of 2020.

 

Lower recoveries

The absence of covenants allows borrowers to ‘kick the can down the road’, as lenders do not have the possibility to exercise oversight and act before it is too late. This time around, we should expect lower recoveries, as the credit event will likely occur when the financial conditions and balance sheet of the borrower have materially deteriorated.

 

Passive investor base

Since the GFC, we have seen a tremendous growth in passive investment products, or actively managed ones with rigid investment mandates often associated with liquidity mismatch. As per leveraged loans and particularly relevant for the private equity industry, their ownership is dominated by CLOs, which in turn are owned by a variety of bank

and nonbank lenders. Most of these passive investors have ‘bucketed’ mandates and may become forced sellers upon a downgrade.

 

Lack of liquidity

Market making activities significantly declined since the GFC because many banks exited the business and those remaining had to shrink this activity. As an example, dealer high yield inventories fell from $40bn to $3bn, and overall corporate bonds inventories declined from $250bn to $30bn.

 

Rise in volatility

As the credit agencies catch up with downgrades, this will cause many distressed opportunities as some passive investors will be forced to dispose of securities that no longer fit their mandate.

The weakest segment of the market is the lower investment grade BBB bonds. As these get downgraded to sub-investment grade in an environment characterised by limited liquidity and a much smaller natural audience for high yield paper, the price drops of such ‘fallen angels’ will be important.

Downgrades will trigger forced selling. Such forced selling will occur in a low liquidity environment, creating excessive price drops and volatility. The current environment will create various opportunities for our flagship strategy across its investment verticals.

Distressed investing, restructuring, litigation financing and secondaries appear to be well positioned, but also private equity, as not all companies will be equally affected. High growth can still be found in a recessionary environment for patient, disciplined, diligent and selective investors.

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Cash ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

An IF-ISA Can Get You Onto The Housing Ladder 7 Years Faster Than A Cash ISA

housing ladder

An IF-ISA Can Get You Onto The Housing Ladder 7 Years Faster Than A Cash ISA

The latest research by leading peer to peer lending platform Sourced Capital, part of the Sourced.co Group, has looked at how best to invest when it comes to saving for a house in order to save years’ worth of painstaking saving.

Cash ISAs have become a popular way for many to stash away the cash with the aim of climbing the ladder, with the Help to Buy ISA in particular helping many save that all important deposit.  

While buyers can no longer take advantage of the scheme there are a whole host of Cash ISA saving accounts that average a return of 2.12% a year with a maximum annual investment of £20,000 allowed.  

This means that investing £20,000 a year on the current average UK house price of £235,298, and when taking into account the addition of compound interest, maximising the benefits of a Cash ISA would see you pay off the cost of a property in 10 years compared to the 11.8 years it would require to save £20,000 a year with no benefit from interest.  

With the lower cost of buying in Northern Ireland and Scotland, it would take 6 and 7 years respectively, instead of 7 and 7.7 years saving £20,000 a year straight up, and in the North East a Cash ISA can also cut your saving time to 6 years instead of 6.5. 

In London, you’re looking at a longer saving stretch of 19 years although this is marginally better than saving for 23.8 years without the help of an ISA.

However, investing in an Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) through a peer to peer platform such as Sourced Capital could help you pay off your property much faster, with annual returns hitting 10% and higher.

With backing from the UK government, showing their confidence in the sector, there is now encouragement to invest in property through peer to peer lending. The IFISA is a category of ISA which was launched in April 2016 for UK taxpayers. Previously, there have been two main types of ISA: Cash ISAs and Stocks and Shares ISAs. Similar to these ISAs, the IFISA allows you to invest money without paying personal income tax. This enables you to invest your money into the growing peer to peer market. 

Like cash ISAs Each tax year, you get an allowance of up to £20,000 to put into IFISAs which you can distribute across your different ISAs should you wish to. In addition, you can transfer your previous year’s ISA investments into your IFISA.

While this investment option allows for a much quicker return across the board, nearly 3 years faster in the UK as a whole, the time saving is most notable in London where an IFISA investment could accrue a big enough saving pot to buy in the capital at a cost of £475,458 in just 12 year’s, as opposed to 19 year’s via the average Cash ISA – a seven year difference! 

Stephen Moss, founder and MD of Sourced Capital, commented: 

“Record low interest rates over such a prolonged period have been great for those looking to secure a mortgage, however, those still trying to accumulate a savings pot have suffered where the rate of interest is concerned.

As a result, the consumer has become savvy when it comes to saving and the market has been flooded with a whole host of options to make our money work harder. While some Cash ISAs are proving popular, the peer to peer sector has really led the way with some of the best rates of return and whether you are trying to save a mortgage deposit, or pay off your property completely, there are a number of platforms like Sourced who can help you reach your goal far quicker than some of the more mainstream options.  

As always, the biggest hurdle is educating the consumer on the additional options open to them and although their capital may be at risk, investing via more professional platforms in the peer to peer sector can bring a much better return.”

boring money
BankingCash ManagementTransactional and Investment Banking

New Charges Calculator Tackles ‘Shocking’ Lack of Clarity in the Investment Industry

boring money

New Charges Calculator Tackles ‘Shocking’ Lack of Clarity in the Investment Industry

Consumer investment site BoringMoney.co.uk has launched an independent fee calculator which provides investors with a single simple £ fee across 20 leading platforms and robo advisors.

According to research from the company’s 2019 Online Investing Report, two thirds of investors are not fully confident they understand what fees they are currently paying. Additional Boring Money testing shows that even those who feel confident often miscalculate in reality, as a result of complex fee structures and ambiguous additional charges.

Holly Mackay, CEO of Boring Money commented: “Trying to work out what we pay for investment services remains shockingly difficult. Customers tell us they want to see a single £ fee, but instead they have to build complex Excel spreadsheets with multiple inputs to try and work out what each provider costs.”

The Investment Fee Calculator – found at www.boringmoney.co.uk/calculator – enables investors and would-be investors to compare fees across 20 leading investment providers. In an industry first, the calculator also pulls in both customer ratings and the Boring Money rating so that customers can choose whether to focus on price alone, or take a broader view of the service.

Although designed to be simple to use – with pre-programmed assumptions for those who don’t know how many trades a year they make, or how exactly their investments are split between funds and shares – more experienced investors can override these assumptions to tailor the calculations more accurately.

Alongside the unveiling of the calculator, Boring Money is also launching a campaign for fairer fee disclosure.

Mackay says: “There’s endless talk and very little action. We know that customers want to see fees in simple £ amounts. We know they want to be able to compare.

“We are calling on the industry to improve this fundamental part of disclosure and acknowledge that transparency is not the same as clarity. We think every part of the chain – from platform to asset manager – should have some way for consumers to understand in simple £ terms what any given investment would cost. So they can make informed and confident decisions.” 

The campaign comes against the backdrop of the FCA’s recent Investment Platforms Market Study, in which the regulator very clearly stated that it expects the industry to show “progress in making charges more accessible and comparable for consumers who are shopping around”.

Major players in the industry have shown support for Boring Money’s cause.

Andy Bell, Chief Executive of AJ Bell Youinvest commented: “Seeing an investment platform’s charges in pounds and pence is significantly easier for people to understand than percentages. It’s something we’ve provided on our website for a while now and the Boring Money calculator is a good addition to research tools available to investors.”

Highlighting the importance of understanding fees, he added: “Price isn’t everything of course and people will also want to look at service and the reputation of the platform provider, but making sure you have the best value platform for your needs can save thousands of pounds over a long term investment.”

fintech
FX and PaymentTransactional and Investment Banking

New Financial Technologies Are Changing Lives

fintech

New Financial Technologies Are Changing Lives

By Ronald Miller, CEO, Paysend

Fintech is revolutionising traditional financial services and helping to change lives. PwC, the professional services firm, reports that the majority in the banking sector believe at least some part of their business is under threat by the fintech revolution. 

New fintech firms are disrupting traditional financial services and are giving birth to a whole new generation of starts ups.These start ups are changing the way we move money around the world with significant and positive economic and social implications.

Most financial services used to be the preserve of big businesses.  Now new technologies are automating processes, reducing start-up costs and making it possible for challenger brands to disrupt this industry. However, the changes we witness are creating far more than a shift of power from big business to new players in the sector. 

Fintech is giving consumers greater control of how they pay, hold and spend money.  It is creating a revolution in the way that funds move between people and countries. Global money transfers, where workers in one country send money to their families back home, is not a new phenomenon. 

However, World Bank figures show that there are now 270m people globally who live outside their home country, sending an estimated $689bn home.  This is almost ten times as much as it was in 1990.

Very often these transactions are life changing for those that send or receive them. Money earned in the UK often goes further in emerging economies.  Some of it goes to provide seed money for small enterprises and family businesses.

Global money transfers will soon overtake foreign direct investment as the biggest inflow of capital into developing countries.  In some countries, the money received will represents a third of their total GDP.

Technology has helped foster this dramatic rise. What was once a laborious, slow and expensive process to move money across borders is now simple, quick and low cost. Fintech has made it easier than ever to move money around the world. 

Over the last two years, at Paysend we’ve helped nearly 1.3m customers transfer money to more than 70 countries worldwide. We grow by each day as more people use our service for instant and flat-fee transfers. We believe in the power of technology to ease money transfers to allow more people to benefit from it and as a result imnprove their lives.

Ronald Millar is CEO at Paysend, the UK-based global fintech company, with a unique card-to-card money transfer technology, serving 1.3m customers worldwide.

investments
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

British Business Investments makes £15m Tier 2 capital facility available to PCF Bank

investments

British Business Investments makes £15m Tier 2 capital facility available to PCF Bank

 

British Business Investments (BBI), a commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank, has announced a new £15m Tier 2 capital facility to specialist bank, PCF Bank.

PCF Bank has a long history as a specialist financier of vehicles, plant and equipment. Established in 1994, and launching banking services in 2017, PCF Bank has helped more than 18,000 customers with purchasing business critical assets for their businesses.

The facility will enable the Bank to draw on additional capital as required, allowing it to utilise capital in an efficient and earnings enhancing manner as the business grows. This investment could support up to an additional £125m of asset-based lending to UK smaller businesses.

The £15m capital investment is a Tier 2 capital facility provided through BBI’s Investment Programme, which is designed to increase the supply and diversity of finance for smaller businesses by boosting the lending capacity of challenger banks and non-bank lenders. Since it launched in 2013, the Investment Programme has committed over £900m to providers of finance to UK smaller businesses.

Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO of British Business Investments, said: “This commitment to PCF Bank supports British Business Investments’ objective to increase the diversity of supply of business finance. Banks like PCF help diversify the finance market, and in turn contribute to more choices for smaller businesses across the UK.”

Scott Maybury, CEO of PCF Bank, said: “PCF has been helping UK SMEs purchase the assets they need for over 20 years. Since launching as a bank in 2017 we have been able to increase the size of our lending book driving profitability in a sustainable way. This facility from British Business Investments will allow us to continue to grow and support the UK private sector.”

The Investment Programme unlocks increased development capital to speciality lenders and challenger banks serving smaller businesses and enables BBI to support the development of diverse finance markets.

Retirement fund
Cash ManagementPensionsTransactional and Investment Banking

Retirement fund is top saving priority for Brits

Retirement fund

Retirement fund is top saving priority for Brits

 

Over half (58%) of Brits wish they had invested in their future and retirement at an earlier age, according to new research by savings and mortgage provider Nottingham Building Society, known as The Nottingham.

The survey of 2,000 UK adults looked at the biggest saving priorities for the nation, and what age we wish we had started investing in different aspects of our lives, from health and careers to money management. A retirement fund was ranked as the biggest saving priority, despite only 29% of respondents admitting to actively saving towards their future.

The top ten most important saving priorities for Brits are:

  1. Retirement fund

  2. ‘Rainy day’ fund

  3. House deposit or increasing equity

  4. Holiday fund

  5. Funds to partake in my hobbies / outside of work activities

  6. Debt repayments

  7. New car

  8. Children’s saving account

  9. Children’s education

  10. Wedding fund

Debt repayments didn’t make the top five saving priorities for the nation, however, of the respondents who are currently saving, paying off or planning to pay off their debt, this saving was ranked second in importance, indicating that those who are currently in debt are prioritising this over saving for other factors such as a house deposit (ranked fourth in importance), or a new car (ranked seventh).

However, when it comes to what Brits are actually saving for, the most common goal was a ‘rainy day’ fund, with over a third (34%) of Brits currently saving towards this. Interestingly, more than double are saving towards a holiday (29%) than a house deposit (13%), despite a house deposit being ranked as a higher priority overall.

When it comes to the ages the nation wish they had started investing in different aspects of our lives, Brits found that they wished they had invested towards their retirement at age 31, when on average they actually began investing at 39 – almost a decade later. On average, UK adults begin saving towards a ‘rainy day’ fund at 34, despite wishing they had started at 28.

Retirement data

 

Jenna McKenzie-Day, Senior Savings Manager at The Nottingham, said: “Our research found that on average, homeowners wish they had begun planning to buy their first home three years earlier than they started, with a similar picture being painted for those saving for their future. Interestingly, it found that Brits wish they had started their retirement fund a staggering eight years before they actually began saving.

“Whether you are saving for your first home or starting your retirement plans, products such as the LISA, which is available for those looking to plan for their future, offer a 25% government backed bonus on annual savings  up to £4,000, those extra eight years of savings could have increased their future savings by a potential £8,000 – making it the perfect product to start your saving journey.”

To find out more about the Nottingham’s LISA, visit: https://www.thenottingham.com/lifetime-isa/

CX-Platforms
BankingTransactional and Investment Banking

Purpose-Built CX Platforms ensure banks are meeting the needs of vulnerable customers

CX-Platforms

Purpose-Built CX Platforms ensure banks are meeting the needs of vulnerable customers

 

FCA consultation shines spotlight on fair treatment, putting pressure on financial services to implement suitable solutions.

In July, the Financial Conduct Authority announced the launch of a consultation on proposed guidance for firms on the fair treatment of vulnerable customers. As a leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions, Clarabridge, Inc., is stressing the ability of dedicated technology to maintain compliance and ensure fair treatment of all customers. Without it, the firm says, banks and financial services companies are in danger of failing customers and breaching regulations.

The Clarabridge solution is widely used in the finance sector, and it is already helping companies to develop interactive dashboards to assist contact centre and customer service staff in monitoring the experiences of vulnerable customers.

“Any time customers make contact, it is not always easy for customer service agents to quickly understand their challenges,” said Jagrit Malhotra, Managing Director EMEA at Clarabridge. “Vulnerable customers may face a variety of difficulties and obstacles that affect their interactions. Our technology allows banks and financial institutions to analyse these interactions in great detail, thereby uncovering the sentiments that customers are expressing, the effort that they are making to access services, and how this can be improved to enhance the overall journey.”

The FCA has stated that whilst many firms have made significant progress in how they treat vulnerable customers, there needs to be more consistency. It says that in some cases, a failure to understand their needs is leading to harm.

In the last six months, Clarabridge has designed tailored dashboards for a prominent UK bank and a leading insurance company to help them analyse data from sources such as phone calls, web chats, email and social media posts. By identifying and addressing negative feedback, including that from vulnerable customers, financial organisations can prioritise improvements to help these customers while also addressing areas of compliance or regulatory risks.

“Financial services companies can ensure fair and consistent treatment of customers by proactively identifying the root causes of problems,” continued Malhotra. “The news features reports of banks discriminating against the disabled in overdraft charges, for example, or failing to indemnify vulnerable customers against fraud. We can use highly advanced analytics to help organisations quickly tackle issues, consistently meet FCA guidelines, and gain a deeper understanding of the very real needs of their customers.”

Clarabridge’s AI-powered solution also meets the banking industry’s need for fast-turnaround implementations. Its modules are customised to the unique workflow of the industry and include Complaints & Compliance Analysis, Digital Experience (Mobile App & Website), Branch & ATM Experience and Contact Centre Experience.

To learn more about this solution for retail banking and other industries, please visit: https://www.clarabridge.com/solutions/industry/banking/