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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
Advantages of offshore banks: What they have to offer millennials
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,” 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. 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%. 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.”
 According to Calastone research, as quoted by Investment Week
 According to Bloomberg data, to 22nd October
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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 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:
‘Rainy day’ fund
House deposit or increasing equity
Funds to partake in my hobbies / outside of work activities
Children’s saving account
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.
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/
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/
Santander Consumer Finance is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK delivering an end-to-end digital solution
Santander Consumer Finance (SCF) is expanding its online loan application platform across the UK delivering an end-to-end digital solution for dealers further strengthening its commitment to growing the market.
The national launch of Apply Online which offers e-sign capability means customers can calculate the finance they need, receive immediate approvals and sign documentation at home or in showrooms ensuring that dealers remain in control.
Delivery of the end-to-end digital process has taken nine months since the launch of SCF’s online calculator in December and involved substantial financial and resource investments at SCF.
The calculator has proved popular – customers have generated more than 4.1 million quotes and 51 dealers have signed up for the calculator. Apply Online, which was successfully tested over the past month, is now available to all dealers using the calculator.
SCF’s digital solution is integrated into dealers’ websites and installation takes minutes for dealers who already have the calculator. SCF is providing additional support to help dealers make the most effective use of the digital proposition.
The system is designed to provide a simple, fair and personal experience for car buyers and builds on the success of SCF’s partnership with Volvo Car UK launched in April.
Stewart Grant, Santander Consumer Finance Commercial Director said: “We’ve worked hard to design a market leading end-to-end digital solution which ensures dealers retain control of customer relationships while benefiting from our brand power.
“The financial investment and the time spent by our team in developing and delivering the digital transformation emphasises how committed we are to support our dealer network in maximising sales and profitability within the growing digital market.”
Dealers interested in using the calculator or wishing to register interest in the Online Application platform should contact their Business Development Manager or visit: www.santanderconsumer.co.uk/dealer
Capital on Tap Celebrates the Milestone of Lending Over One Billion Pounds to Small Businesses
In seven years from creation, the fintech company Capital on Tap, celebrates a major milestone of lending over 1 billion pounds to more than 65,000 small and medium enterprise businesses across the UK.
By 2018, Capital on Tap had lent £500m to small businesses, and in the short timeframe that followed to September 2019, has now doubled this number to hit the milestone of £1bn. The quick, two-minute online application has drawn-in customers from various industries who praise the lending service for its ease of use.
The one billionth pound customer Elaine Speirs, founder of Speirs Consultancy Ltd in biopharmaceuticals, said: “It was very easy, very fast. I don’t remember having to have a conversation with anyone, and I got my credit card within a couple of days.”
“The app is really easy to use on my phone, and there’s a website where I can track all payments; it’s just very simple, I don’t really have to think about it.” Elaine continued that “my own bank turned me down as I was a new business, and without even applying for a loan – that was after 25 years of banking history with them, which I was quite taken aback by.”
The Capital on Tap ‘soft searching’ function is ideal for new business owners as it allows customers to find out if they’re eligible for a loan without impacting their credit score. This method challenges typical lenders and empowers customers, particularly benefiting those in rural parts of the UK who could suffer approval delays of up to three weeks. In addition, once the Capital on Tap fund is agreed; the money is available online in a matter of minutes, streamlining the lending function and supporting those who may struggle with traditional lending platforms.
Support given by Capital on Tap has been commonly found to facilitate travel, allowing customers to work internationally without charging any extras. Sean Swart, founder of PICS Consultancy Ltd, highlights that “I am often required to move around as part of my job and the Capital on Tap card removes stress around cash flow created by expenses, mainly those from travel expenditure which is created as a by-product of my job.”
David Luck, CEO at Capital on Tap, commented: “We started Capital on Tap in 2012, with a mission of making it faster and easier for small and medium enterprises to obtain working capital. Since lending money to our first customer back in 2013, I never thought we would have lent over £1bn to more than 65,000 small businesses in just seven years.”
“We have worked to develop a lending platform that not only makes funding easier for small businesses, but also provides a service for traditional banks. Not only do we pride ourselves in supporting small businesses in the main cities, we provide a unique service for those in provincial areas, where traditional banks fall short.”
For more information, visit the Capital on Tap website: https://capitalontap.com/
Hyper-short-term investments: what are millennials investing in?
Despite the stereotype of the younger generation being frivolous with their money, it seems they are actually one of the savviest generations when it comes to turning a profit on their own. While they are hesitant to invest in stocks, millennials and generation Z are tapping into the hyper-short-term investment of fashion and beauty. For example, there’s a huge market for buying and selling trainers at the moment, or in vintage fashion.
In particular, limited-edition trainers have a huge appeal across the world, with people willing to camp outside of stores to pick up a particularly lucrative pair.
According to Business Insider, rich millennials are snapping up art as financial assets rather than as part of a potential collection — 85 per cent of millennials purchasing artworks say they are aiming to sell in the next year. Buying art with the intention of selling it on quickly is known as art flipping, and it’s something of a controversial subject in the art world. There are some who consider the process of art flipping as a potentially devaluing practice that harms the artist and their work.
The process can also seem more logical than artistic too, as many such purchases are made purely on the work’s monetary value. However, the piece’s social media hype can also spur rich millennials to part with their cash in a hopes of a quick resale profit — Instagram has been highlighted by Adweek as a viable platform for creating social media adoration for artists.
One of the reasons why the younger generations are turning more to side-hustles and reselling as forms of investment is that the turnover is incredibly fast thanks to apps like Depop. There are so many stories about how entrepreneurial millennials are sniffing out limited edition items from the most popular brands, such as Supreme, during their famous limited edition ‘drops’, then rapidly reselling them.
Of course, the initial purchase is an investment, with many resellers spending hundreds of pounds or more on such a venture, but the resale of these goods can certainly turn a profit. It also taps effectively into the Instagram world we’re living in too. Sellers often combine their shop platforms with their social media accounts to merge both modelling and selling the items.
The most sought-after trainers tend to be either limited edition or classic trainers for that much-loved vintage style. People are willing to set up camp outside a store before a particularly hyped drop of limited-edition trainers, in order to grab them at retail price, then sell it on for much higher prices. Some might seek to resell the items quickly, but there’s certainly a case to be made for popping a brand new pair of limited edition trainers away for a few years before reselling in hopes that their much-hyped status will only increase that price tag as the years roll on.
Arguably the biggest market in reselling is that of sneakers and trainers. Much like clothing, the main draw here is in limited edition shoes — but the sneakerhead culture is not anything new. In fact, it began nearly 30 years ago, though it’s enjoyed a huge resurgence in the last few years.
- Enter Tomorrow Europe, a venture capital fund operated by Lead Ventures has gained share in Czech start-up Neuron Soundware, utilizing investments from MOL and Eximbank.
- The Czech start-up analyses sounds and vibrations to detect when industrial machines need maintenance.
- Apart from the Hungarian companies, the EUR 5,7 million investment is also supported by two Czech capital funds, Inven Capital and J&T Ventures.
Lead Ventures continues to expand its portfolio with the help of MOL, Eximbank, together with Czech capital funds. Together, the business partners invested EUR 5,75 million in Czech company Neuron Soundware. The start-up is one of the first companies in the region to implement sound-based diagnostics of industrial machinery, which greatly helps factories using such equipment.
Enter Tomorrow Europe, a capital fund operated by Lead Ventures, supported by MOL and Eximbank used funds from Hungary for its latest /5000 venture capital investment. Together with Inven Capital, a member of ČEZ Group, Lead Ventures gained share in the Czech Neuron Soundware company.
Neuron Soundware was founded as a start-up in Prague in February, 2016. Currently, they employ 20 experts and last year, they had revenue of almost half a million Euros. The company provides AI-based solutions for several industries, including the energy industry. Their software analyses the sounds made by industrial machines, and can detect even the smallest of changes or unusual noises, indicating that the equipment is faulty or in need of maintenance. Their technology is already used by several global corporations, including Daimler, BMW, Innogy, E.ON, Airbus and LG.
“We know exactly how pumps, gearboxes, cylinders, electromotors, or compressors should sound. The sounds of all regular components of a machine are stored in a database. But that is not enough, our artificial intelligence software is able to distinguish problem noises from regular process hum and surrounding sounds, giving the customer the certainty that the machine will not pull off any unpleasant surprises,” says Pavel Konečný, founder and CEO of Neuron soundware.
“Predictive maintenance is a part of Industry 4.0. Neuron’s exciting technology has the potential to create a real break-through in this area. We trust that, with our newest regional investment, this innovative solution can improve the efficiency of several industries,” added Ábel Galácz, CEO of Lead Ventures.
“Start-ups from Central Europe, which have already been tested, have great potential to break through in global markets. As part of our strategy, we are looking for innovative solutions that can increase effectivity of technical processes in industrial services. Like our recent entry into Slovak GA Drilling, our entry into Czech Neuron Soundware is an example of a successful connection of small start-ups with a strong international company for further growth,” said Oszkár Világi, MOL Group Chief Innovation Officer.
The full value of the investment is EUR 5.75. Almost half of that sum is provided by Lead Ventures ETE, using funds from MOL and Eximbank. The rest of the price is covert by Inven Capital and Neuron’s previous investor, J&T Ventures.
Managing over EUR 100 million, Lead Ventures aims to support start-ups with innovative ideas all over the CEE region, assisting them to take their products or services to the global market. MOL has been supportive of the goals of the investment fund before. In March, for example, Lead Ventures signed a EUR 4,2 financing deal with the Slovakian GA Drilling company. GA Drilling focuses on developing a revolutionary electronic plasma technology, creating plasma drills capable of penetrating deeper layers of the ground at a reduced energy cost, making geothermic energy more accessible. As part of the deal, experimental drill heads are now being tested at MOL’s own hydrocarbon facilities.
Inforalgo, the Capital Markets data automation specialist, has announced that Mike Bagguley, formerly COO at Barclays International and a respected financial investment industry leader, has invested in the firm and joins as a board advisor.
Mike, who brings a wealth of experience gained in senior trading and leadership positions across Barclays Investment Bank, approached Inforalgo during a search for firms that offer the opportunity to significantly reduce risk and costs in the market’s businesses.
“Inforalgo’s approach is enormously appealing, because it rationalises the technology and operating platform that firms need to manage,” he said. “Its portfolio of powerful data integration solutions allow transactions to be recorded, processed and reported in a single action, reflected end to end, electronically aided by smart automation. These independent, smart data automation solutions remove considerable pain for financial institutions and broker-dealers, allowing them to get on with doing optimal deals without worrying about how everything will be input, processed and reported.
“In this volatile market where new opportunities come and go quickly, and international regulators are continuously updating and adding to transparency and reporting requirements, Inforalgo has identified a sweet spot with a series of high-impact solutions that are unmatched,” he added.
“Inforalgo has an unrivalled track record as platform-independent data connectivity and compliance automation specialists, and its expansion into automated cross-jurisdictional regulatory reporting is further confirmation that it is ahead of the industry curve.”
Commenting on Mike’s appointment and his injection of funds to support the company’s next growth phase, Jordan Ambrose, Inforalgo’s CEO, said, “We are delighted and honoured to have Mike’s involvement and investment, and excited to be building out our senior management team at this pivotal point in our company’s development and expansion. Mike brings with him a wealth of industry experience and insight, and we look forward to his invaluable input.”
Nevion, award-winning provider of virtualized media production solutions, today announced that it has agreed with Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. (“Sony”) to establish a strategic partnership in the area of IP-based solutions for broadcasters and other industries. To reinforce this partnership, Sony will also become a leading investor in Nevion by acquiring a minority stake in the company through a share purchase agreement.
In recent years, Nevion has established itself as a leading provider of IP media network solutions for the real-time transport, processing, monitoring and management of the video, audio and data signals that are used in production. This partnership with Sony will allow customers to benefit from more advanced, fully integrated and standards-based media production solutions that combine outstanding media network technology with world-leading equipment such as cameras and switchers. These solutions will make it easier for customers to move to IP in their facilities and in remote production, as well as improve their ability to create content – for example through better sharing of resources.
“This is an exciting alliance for Nevion, its customers and its partners,” said Geir Bryn-Jensen, Nevion CEO. “It is based on very complementary solutions, products and know-how, and will allow us to offer a lot more to our customers, both existing and potential, than we have been able to until now. It will also give us a much greater scalability and reach.”
“Through this strategic partnership, we will be able to expand our end-to-end IP solution offerings that allow customers to produce live content connecting multiple locations”, said Mikio Kita, Senior General Manager, Media Solution Business Division, Professional Products & Solutions Group, Sony Imaging Products & Solutions Inc. “Working together with Nevion, we will deliver an integrated and optimal experience for our customers.”
Nevion’s CEO, Geir Bryn-Jensen concluded: “This strategic partnership with Sony is a real vote of confidence in Nevion, its vision, its strategy, its people and its IP-based media network solutions. We look forward to working closely with Sony to maximize the benefits for our customers.”
For more information about Nevion and its solutions, please visit the Nevion website.
West One loans founder and CEO of TAB Duncan Kreeger has launched a fractional ownership proposition, TAB APP. Investors, once the app is fully launched, will be able to invest in commercial and residential property in three clicks.
Duncan has created a simple explainer video to make the complicated world of fractional ownership, rental yields and investing simple for potential users. Visit app.tabldn.com for more information
Watch the video below
Duncan Kreeger said: “Having worked within the property and financial services industry all my life I’ve long thought about how I can make a serious change to make people’s lives easier and allow the general public to have access to rental returns without the heavy investment of a BTL purchase. That’s why I bring you TAB APP, we’ll give users long term sustainable returns on commercial and residential property from investing from £1,000. I’m delighted with what we’re creating with my app developers Elemental Concept.”
The TAB APP is not yet ready for users to download and invest, this will be coming within the next month as the APP is currently going through the first batch of user testing. Users can register to test the app by emailing [email protected]
Blockchain for Business Summit starts today as part of TechXLR8, London Tech Week’s flagship event. Now in its third year, the summit leaves hype, speculation and cryptocurrencies behind to focus on real-world use cases from industries and business leaders who are reaping the rewards of blockchain right now.
Daniele Mensi, CMO of NextHash, spoke at the Global Blockchain Congress in Dubai and gave the following commentary:
Digital securities, Security tokens, tokenised securities or investment tokens are Financial securities that are compliant with SEC regulations and can provide investors with equity, dividends, revenue or profit share rights. With Digital Security offerings, the lack of complexity ensures that fundraising can be consolidated and the reduced need for middlemen means that investors experience a shorter lockup period. Often, these digital securities represent a right to an underlying asset such as proof of real-estate, cashflow or holdings in another fund. These benefits are all written into a smart contract and the digital securities are traded on a blockchain-powered exchange.
Because the blockchain market is decentralised and active 24/7 by nature, it is in a state of virtual liquidity when compared with the traditional financial markets. That is, one can trade 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and the market is never closed.
Ana Bencic, President of NextHash, has provided commentary on the potential of blockchain technology.
“Cryptocurrency trading spearheaded the rise of blockchain and these now provide a conduit between investors and businesses, utilising the technology to provide secure transactions for companies and institutions. As blockchain technology grows ever more popular with investors and traders everywhere, countries and companies that have adopted the technology at an early stage will be the front runners of this new technology. Others would be wise to use London Tech Week as an opportunity to see the true benefits of blockchain in financing businesses and get involved in tomorrow’s unicorns now.”
Earlier today, Ocado announced a £17 million investment into the vertical farming industry, including an investment into Jones Food, Europe’s largest vertical farm. The investment into Jones Food, represents one of the largest investments into a UK agritech company so far this year. Law firm, Ashfords LLP, advised Guinness Asset Management, the majority shareholder of Jones Food, in the transaction.
Vertical farming is an emerging industry in which crops are grown indoors in controlled environments, reducing waste, water and pesticides. Ocado has stated that it will use its know-how in automation and distribution to make Jones Food more efficient and potentially integrate it with other Ocado services to be able to deliver fresh products to customers within an hour.
Giles Hawkins, Corporate Technology Partner at Ashfords commented: “We’re delighted to have worked with Guinness Asset Management on this transaction. Vertical farming as in industry has attracted a lot of venture capital investment over the years, but is only now beginning to deliver as energy costs decline and the technology and know-how have developed. We are looking forward to seeing what the company will do with Ocado’s backing.”
The Ashfords team was led by Giles Hawkins and included Jonathan Groves and Nicola Manclark.
Launches Symphony Market Solutions to Address Growing Industry Need for Automation
Appoints Mrs. Queenie Chan as New Head of APAC
Symphony Communication Services, LLC, the leading secure team collaboration platform, is doubling down on investment in workflow automation and global growth. Ahead of its annual Innovate Asia Conference, and alongside the concurrent announcement of its latest Series E fundraise of $165 million, the company today revealed:
- The launch of Symphony Market Solutions to address the growing need in financial services for system integration, digital transformation and workflow automation
- Reaching a milestone 1,000 unique bots created and running on the Symphony platform
- Appointing Mrs. Queenie Chan as the new Head of APAC to lead growth in the region
“Symphony, trusted by over 405 companies and 450,000 users, has already proven that its unique security and compliance model is indispensable to companies who care about data security and sovereignty. With the foundation of our business solidly anchored we are now focusing on how we can deliver the deepest benefits of our platform to our global community, who rely on the Symphony to perform mission critical work every day,” said David Gurle, founder and CEO at Symphony. “Deep value, for us, means providing users better and faster ways to work. Doubling down on workflow automation with Market Solutions is the first step in achieving this vision.”
Further information and demonstrations regarding today’s news will be shared live at Symphony’s annual Innovate Asia Conference, held in Singapore on June 13, 2019.
Symphony Solves Complicated Workflows With Launch of New Market Solutions
Symphony today launched Symphony Market Solutions to address the growing need for workflow automation in financial services and other sectors.
Symphony Market Solutions is a suite of standardized, licensable software solutions purpose-built to simplify and automate complex and time-consuming workflows. Market Solutions will include: financial services workflow tools purpose-built for automation of trade life-cycle, enhancing client services across banking and wealth management and more; and enterprise integrations and workflows for IT, operations, sales, HR, developers and more. Symphony customers are already using these Solutions to achieve business outcomes including improved client experiences and employee productivity.
Specific Market Solutions available for customers today include a new workflow tool called SPARC, which lets Buy-side and Sell-side traders seamlessly shift from real-time conversation to RFQ negotiation, all in the same chat room; and other solutions such as integrations for Salesforce, ServiceNow, Confluence, Jira and GitLab.
Since introducing its Software Developer Kit (SDK) in 2018, Symphony clients have developed more than 1,000 unique bots operating on the platform today. This number indicates the growing interest within the financial services community to leverage Symphony for key workflow automation initiatives. With Market Solutions, Symphony is now taking this to the next level by offering customers packaged and licensable solutions for the most requested workflows and automations.
“When we looked at the sheer number of bots that customers were developing, and we began to see patterns emerge when customers talked about the use cases they were looking to solve with them. This led us to identify the need for a standardized set of workflow automations that could be deployed across the Symphony community – as opposed to bespoke development of proprietary bots,” said Goutam Nadella, EVP of Symphony Market Solutions. “Our Market Solutions can help alleviate the pain of the most complex, time consuming activities for our customers, while also helping them enhance the services they provide to their own end customers. Symphony customers will be able to install turnkey workflows to automate the completion of RFQs or even resolve a trade break, so that our users can better focus on what they do best: making the strategic decisions that their client depends on.”
All Market Solutions are built, licensed and supported by Symphony. Additionally, as part of the Market Solutions offering, Symphony also provides a wide range of licensable third party applications to enhance and facilitate customer’s digital transformation and workflow automation initiatives.
Symphony Names Mrs. Queenie Chan as Head of APAC to Lead Regional Growth and Development
In her new role as Head of APAC, Queenie Chan, formerly Head of North Asia, will lead Symphony’s expansion in this key region. Symphony is already well-established in the region: it hosts offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo and 32% of its users are located across eight key APAC countries including China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, India and Hong Kong.
“After having spent 15 years in Capital Markets in Asia with banks including CSLA, Barclays and Goldman Sachs, I wanted to join a high growth technology firm. Symphony was definitely the right choice as it has offered me an incredible opportunity to grow myself and the business,” said Chan. “I am very proud and grateful to the global Symphony team, and of our accomplishments to date in Asia. I can’t wait to embrace wholeheartedly the next opportunities as we introduce Symphony Market Solutions to the market.”
The rise of cryptocurrency is to be seen as a democratising force within the global economy. For example, secured token offering, has emerged as a true competitor to the traditional Initial Public Offering (IPO) for growing businesses. Judging from the growing acceptance of cryptocurrency by countries and companies, it is predicted that institutional investors will move towards secure cryptocurrency investments over the next decade, if not earlier. Ana Bencic, President and Founder of NextHash explores this phenomenon in more detail.
Uber Technologies Inc.’s large initial public offering launched in May and the ride-hailing app has run into some trouble. Uber proposed to go public with a $120 billion valuation, to be pitched by financiers at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs ahead of its IPO. Nonetheless, the company eventually listed with a $75.5 billion market cap. The New York Times elucidated that institutional investors, many who privately owned Uber stock, would not purchase additional shares at a higher price. Uber had received in excesses of $10 billion from institutional investors and private equity firms, among other investors, according to the report and many bought their Uber shares at valuations below $61 billion.
The ride-hailing giant priced its IPO on Thursday 9th May at $45 a share, raising a minimum of $8.1 billion and putting Uber’s IPO well behind some of the other, large offerings on the U.S. market in recent years. Facebook Inc raised $16 billion its offering in 2012, while Visa Inc. raised close to $18 billion in 2008 and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. brought in around $25 billion in 2014.
Initial Public Offerings can offer companies the prospect to raise new equity capital; to monetise the investments of private shareholders such as corporation founders or private equity investors and to enable simple trading of existing holdings or future capital raising by becoming publicly traded enterprises.
Nevertheless, for companies looking to list, there are potential drawbacks. Foremost, there is the risk that the required funding will not be raised. Additionally, the cost for accounting, marketing and legal professionals to get to the point of an IPO can be sizeable. It might also necessitate a significant amount of time and effort from the management team, potentially disrupting them from their primary task of running the business. Furthermore, as in Uber’s case, there is a. While no promises can be made in these circumstances, many may be looking at the recent state of these tech unicorns (privately held start-up enterprises valued at over $1 billion) such as Uber and even Facebook may have people pondering if the next big thing will follow the same path.
Aside from financial sacrifice, the time and effort to get to the IPO stage and the administration required once a company has gone public or floated, is considerable. For companies at the front-line of technological advancements, time is of the essence. According to Street Directory, an IPO typically takes between six and nine months. In some cases, this procedure can take up to 18 months. For high-growth businesses, this kind of interval may well bump potential unicorns off their path to a £1 billion valuation and present their rivals with a huge advantage. So what other prospects do highly scalable businesses have?
The cryptocurrency market provides distinctive opportunities for businesses in need of access to vital growth finance and for investors desiring access to potential unicorn businesses at an early stage. This is made likely by cryptocurrency platforms’ capacity to operate across borders, an advantage that isn’t possessed by conventional markets.
In April, the French parliament permitted a ground-breaking financial sector bill which aims to encourage both cryptocurrency traders and issuers to set up in France. Organisations looking to issue or trade both existing and novel cryptocurrencies will soon have the option to apply for official accreditation. The scheduled certification process exhibits a degree of official acknowledgement of the cryptocurrency marketplace. Bills like this enable French investors to trade and invest cryptocurrencies, as well as facilitating businesses to be traded as a Secured Token Offering which would give investors, traders, and entrepreneurs a way to trade and exchange tokens for cryptocurrencies, bringing the ecosystem into the cryptocurrency world. In exchange for charging tax, France is laying the foundations for the Europe-wide adoption of cryptocurrency trading.
France is pushing for the European Union to adopt a regulatory framework on cryptocurrencies.
There has been a largely positive attitude towards cryptocurrency by several countries. Malta, Slovenia and France are strong examples of those who are encouraging the implementation and use of cryptocurrency for trading and investment. The ability to invest or trade freely and across borders is an attractive prospect for businesses, who are able to receive financial investment from foreign parties.
New technologies are allowing businesses that are not in a jurisdiction that has cryptocurrency regulation in place yet to be included in the new, second generation of scaling business investment.
With Brexit on the horizon for the UK, economists are making their forecasts about how the worth of the pound will be affected. Due to the interdependence of the pound and euro, some have claimed that in either of the potential outcomes- there will likely be some loss in value to these traditional forms of currency. Cryptocurrencies offer an alternative to traditional, fiat currencies for both consumers and companies, due to their unique advantages of being decentralised, transparent and wholly unaffected by the Brexit situation
With incongruent regulation and legal frameworks throughout the globe, platforms that empower a corporation or investor in one jurisdiction to trade or exchange tokens or currency with another trader in another country with a different statute could open the doors to potential unicorn companies to thousands of family offices, hedge funds and institutional investors in a matter of years. In the medium term, platforms that give businesses access to global growth finance could help developing countries and the wider global economy grow at a truly competitive rate to their Western counterparts.
Cryptocurrencies have spent the last few years in a stage of growth and maturation. The emergent importance of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies is easy to grasp today. From the snowballing rate of adoption of Ethereum and Bitcoin by conventional institutions, the instituting of digital-assets trading platforms and the implementation of cryptocurrency-specific legislation by numerous countries both inside and outside of the EU- cryptocurrency is seeing far greater adoption by both institutional and private traders/investors. With the ability to invest in a corporation from anyplace in the world, quicker than by traditional means and with a far greater potential for a swift return on investment, cryptocurrency offers manifold unique and substantial advantages that have fortified it a lasting place in society.
Series F, Led by Goldman Sachs, Enables Company to Quickly Grow Revenues, Headcount & Global Footprint
Aryaka®, the global leader in managed SD-WAN, today announced it has closed a $50 million Series F round of funding led by Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing. This brings Aryaka’s total funding to $184 million. Additionally, it was announced that Matthew Dorr of Goldman Sachs will join Aryaka’s Board of Directors as a Board Member, and Michael Kondoleon will join as an observer. Goldman Sachs will be joining existing investors including Trinity Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Nexus Venture Partners, InterWest Partners, Presidio Ventures, Third Point Ventures and DTCP.
The funding will be used to scale business operations, grow revenues and hire exceptional talent, as Aryaka continues to see larger deal sizes and global customer expansion.
“We’re constantly evaluating the market for high-growth companies that are leaders in their space. Our research shows that Aryaka offers a compelling solution for the SD-WAN market that continues to grow exponentially including increased adoption of SD-WAN managed services,” said Matthew Dorr, vice president at Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing. “We decided to invest in Aryaka because of their highly differentiated offering, strong customer base, global footprint and their experienced management team.”
“We are pleased to receive this investment from Goldman Sachs. This new investment allows us to further accelerate our business momentum and endorses our growth strategy,” said Matt Carter, CEO of Aryaka. “We are extremely well positioned to help our customers drive WAN transformation and their multi-cloud and application performance initiatives; all while being delivered ‘as-a-service’.”
In the last twelve months, Aryaka has continued to accelerate business growth, which has resulted in thousands of globally managed sites and significantly larger annual recurring revenue (ARR) streams. The Company has also brought in seasoned members to its leadership team, established new go-to-market partnerships and continued to build out a best-in-class global network of points-of-presence (POPs). These POPs have been supplemented with global Network Operations Centers (NOCs) and 24X7 support.
As multi-cloud requirements have grown, Aryaka has cemented partnerships with the leading public cloud providers including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google, Oracle and others. These partnerships allow Aryaka to offer the industry’s best managed cloud connectivity options and deliver a true, multi-cloud solution. In addition, through partnerships with Palo Alto Networks, Symantec and Zscaler, Aryaka brings a full-fledged security solution to the edge.
Aryaka’s continued innovation around its orchestration platform, connectivity solutions, edge devices, WAN optimization and security software all combine to form the most integrated solution in the industry. Aryaka is the only SD-WAN platform that has both the technology stack as well as a highly available global network that offers managed services at scale. This platform provides customers a seamless solution and delivers the best possible end-user application experience. Aryaka currently has more than 800 global customers, including JAS Worldwide, HMSHost International, Makinohttps://www.aryaka.com/press/sd-wan-revolutionizes-manufacturing-it/], [Pilot Freight, Element Solutions, Allegis, and City & Guilds Group.
For more on Aryaka, please visit: https://www.aryaka.com/
Visit the Aryaka blog: https://www.aryaka.com/blog/https://www.aryaka.com/blog/
Follow Aryaka on Twitter: @AryakaNetworks
Visit Aryaka on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/aryaka-networks/
GODWIN Group, the UK-based property development and investment company, has continued its growth, recently opening a London office to add to its existing bases in Nottingham and Birmingham.
Godwin is already creating links to Greater London, the South East and South West of the UK and further expanding the geographical scope of Godwin Developments’ commercial and residential portfolios.
The new location will also provide important access to London’s financial network and wealth-raising opportunities for Godwin Capital, the investment arm of the business.
Andrew Mitchell, group investment director of Godwin Group, said: “As a leading international financial centre, London is a key location for Godwin Capital to enhance its corporate profile, provide expansion opportunities and access to one of the world’s deepest pools of capital.
“The build-to-rent (BTR) sector continues to grow apace; operators are looking to take advantage of improved yields and a wider selection of sites across the UK as infrastructures improve and lower land prices make development lucrative.
“Many of the key players in this market are based out of head offices in London. Godwin Group’s new London office is strategically located to provide this vital link, local contact and expertise for its regional businesses.”
The London office launch comes after a number of high-profile new hires at Godwin Group. Staff numbers have increased by 60% as the firm’s growing number of regional projects has expanded.
Recent successes include planning approval for Godwin’s proposed new BTR scheme of 201 apartments at The Landmark development in Derby, Godwin Capital’s launch of innovative new investment products and the launch of the group’s BTR brand called Core Living – which plans to build up to 2,500 new homes over the next four years.
Stephen Pratt, group land director of Godwin Group, said: “Godwin Group has seen huge growth over the past months. Our new London office will allow us to accommodate further expansion plans and look to reach new markets in our key sectors.
“These are exciting times for Godwin Group and we are looking forward to expanding our network even further with the opening of our London office.”
Visit Godwin Group on https://www.godwingroup.co.uk/
Huq Industries, the leading geo-behavioural consumer research platform, today announces £1.4M in new funding led by 24 Haymarket. Huq’s real-world consumer research datasets and cloud-based market analysis tools help customers across media, finance, real-estate and retail make informed and effective business decisions. This investment will be used by Huq Industries to support the acquisition of research data for use both in existing markets, and meet to demand for its products internationally.
Conrad Poulson of Huq Industries said:
“This investment enables Huq to accelerate the commercialisation of our platform across our key verticals and geographies. 24 Haymarket together with our existing shareholders provide us with both the funds and the network to support Huq through a very exciting phase of its growth.”
Alex Warren of 24 Haymarket commented:
“In 2018, Huq commercially validated its unique geo-behavioural data with major players in the out-of-home sector. This capital raise will allow Huq to grow its proprietary international data, capitalise on the global out-of-home opportunity, and expand into other large target markets like finance and property. A Chief Commercial Officer has been recruited and the board strengthened to support this growth. Huq is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the growing appreciation of the value of such data amongst a broad and diverse enterprise customer base.”
About Huq Industries
Huq Industries was founded in 2014 by Conrad and Isambard Poulson together with Alexander Fairfax to accurately measure and predict offline consumer trends. Over 90% of retail spend still takes place in the real world. Measuring this behaviour reliably and at scale leads to sought-after insight, but is hard to achieve using conventional methods.
Huq Industries partners with mobile app publishers to collect first-party geo-spatial data from across the globe. This data is then abstracted to identify real-world consumer insight and trends. Huq’s customers and partners include professional investors, leading market research and media agencies alongside some of the world’s largest real-estate owners.
About 24 Haymarket
24 Haymarket is a premium deal-by-deal investment platform focused on high-growth businesses, investing up to £5 million in any particular company. 24 Haymarket’s Investor Network includes several highly-experienced private equity and venture capital investors, seasoned entrepreneurs and senior operators. We invest our own capital in direct alignment with entrepreneurs and typically seek board representation to actively support their growth agenda. Since inception in 2011, 24Haymarket has invested in more than 50 high-growth businesses.
Bad debt is a sum of owed money which has been outstanding over time and the prospect of it being repaid has diminished, making the debt unrecoverable. This is typically a result of the debtor going into liquidation or administration as they are out of money. As a business owner, you are at high risk of building up bad debt as you will trade with a number of different suppliers and customers, some of which may not have a dependable track record for borrowing, writes Keith Tully of RBR Advisory.
In order to protect yourself from bad debt, it’s vital to put measures into place and recognise the warning signs. An accumulation of bad debt can attack working capital, soon having detrimental effects on the financial health of your business. Late paying customers can create cash flow issues by causing a slowdown in income which limits the amount of cash available for the business.
A late invoice can easily turn into bad debt if it is left outstanding for a prolonged period of time. By tacking late payment early in the process and putting the correct protections into place, you may have a higher chance at recouping the money. By recognising the warning signs of bad debt, you can mitigate it and guard your business by following a few simple steps:
If you hold suspicions that a customer is unserious about making payment, carry out a credit check which is essentially a risk assessment exercise. This will highlight the consumer’s attitude to borrowing, their financial behaviour and whether any legal action has been taken against them. A quick search on Companies House will also show you whether the business is solvent, a basic indicator that the business has cash available.
In some cases, word of mouth can give you a true opinion of the business you are dealing with. Social media is an easily accessible platform which houses reviews directly from consumers. Carry out a quick search on social media to read what others are saying about them, both positive and negative. This will give you a taste of the character of the company through the click of a button.
Deposit, interest and penalties
In order to ensure that your time and labour proves worthwhile and profitable, ensure that you request for a deposit to be made which demonstrates financial commitment. If the payment falls into the bad debt category, this will only apply to a fraction of the overall funds as the remaining would have been paid as a deposit which protects your business to an extent.
In the event of missed payments, consequences should be made clear early in the process to prevent outstanding payments from maturing into bad debt. This could include adding interest or a penalty to penalise the business from missing payments. If the business is experiencing financial difficulties, this may prompt them to communicate their financial status.
Scheduling a series of payment reminders is one of the first steps you can take to mitigate bad debt. By prompting for payment ahead of the due date, the business will be aware of the upcoming payment. Displaying clear payment information on each invoice will also make it easy to make payment as the information will be readily available. Scheduling frequent reminders after the payment date has passed can help flag up the outstanding invoice and it may just be as simple as a reminder that is required for payment to be made.
Distributing the risk of bad debt by spreading your client base can prove beneficial in the long term. As a small business, winning a contract with a large enterprise is an achievement, both financially and in reputation. However, if your business takes the risk of becoming dependable on service solely from the large business, you fall into the trap of failing to spread your business proportionally. If the bigger business fails to make payment on time or becomes insolvent, you run the risk of cutting off your only stream of income, pushing your own business into decline.
Selected larger institutions are notorious for making late payments to smaller suppliers, a topic which was high on the agenda during the Spring Statement. Following a clamp down on late payments, the Chancellor proposed that auditors of listed companies should report on the performance of late payments in annual reports. The role of the Small Business Commissioner was also established in 2017 to ensure fair payment to Britain’s small businesses and resolving payment disputes for smaller businesses.
For example, in the event of Carillion, many small businesses were forced to liquidate as a result of late payments from Carillion. Following the demise of the construction firm, the business owed thousands of businesses and was known to breed a late payment culture in which smaller suppliers were a non-priority.
A statutory demand is a formal action which is taken to request for payment from a company, this is issued before a winding up petition. The statutory demand gives the debtor 21 days to make payment or reach an agreement. If the debtor fails to fulfil the statutory demand, you are able to request to wind up their company in an attempt to compensate for the bad debt.
Winding up petition
As a final and more pressing resort, taking legal action can speed up the process of retrieving owed money. If standard methods of recovery have failed, this may be an effective option which can help set your business back on track. A winding up petition is a court order taken out against the debtor. If granted by the court, they will call for the compulsory liquidation of the business unless the amount owed can be realistically repaid or terms renegotiated. This is a costly and lengthy process so if you are able to settle the manner out of court, it could protect your business from incurring court fees.
Understanding and mitigating bad debt can protect your business from having to write off debt when in reality it can be recovered. Bad debt can bite a large chunk out of your working capital, restricting investment activity and posing financial hurdles which could hinder the business from prospering.
Sun Global Investments, an international financial services firm based in London with specialism in the emerging markets, acted as the Sole Arranger for a new Rupees 10 Billion (around USD 150 Million) 3 year Masala Bond for India’s Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited (“HDFC”).
The bonds were priced at a yield of 8.22% annually.
The issuance is part of HDFC’s US$ 2.8bn Medium Term Notes Programme listed on the International Securities Market of the London Stock Exchange.
A masala bond is a rupee-denominated bond issued to overseas investors. The bonds are settled in US Dollars.
Speaking about the Masala Bond issuance, Mihir Kapadia, the CEO of Sun Global Investments said, “This is another benchmark Masala Bond placing, continuing our association with India’s financial institutions to allow global investors the ability to access high quality Indian credit.”
Commenting on the transaction, Ajay Marwaha and Arjun Kapur, responsible for providing Capital Markets and Corporate Finance advice said, “There is an increasing awareness and interest amongst international institutional investors in issuances from Indian corporates.”
The London Stock Exchange has become a global home for Masala Bonds with a strong track record of supporting rupee denominated bonds to fund India’s rapidly growing economy.
Sun Global Investments focuses on providing investment banking and capital markets solutions to corporates from Emerging Markets, as well as helping international investors access opportunities in those markets.
HDFC is one of the largest providers of mortgages in India. It was established in 1977 and was the first specialised Mortgage Company in India. It is a financial conglomerate with interests beyond the mortgage market.
Sometimes overlooked by smaller funds and companies, there has been a surge in focus on investor relations, the investment equivalent of customer service, in recent years, with many businesses now dedicated entire websites, job roles and even departments to the practice. Staff Writer Hannah Stevenson discusses the importance of good investor relations in today’s financial market.
Following the implementation of GDPR, consumers, investors and businesses around the world are becoming increasingly aware of every communication they receive from a company.
As such, compliance, in all its forms, is now even more important to businesses than ever before, and in the financial and investment space this is as vital as it always has been, if not more so. Whilst it has always been crucial to success in the investment market, now compliance, and assuring investors of compliance, has been bought to the fore.
For example, the recent announcement that the UK Government is suspending its Tier-One Investment Visa Programme, with a view to making important changes to this to combat the risk of money laundering. Bruno L’ecuyer, Chief Executive Officer of the Investment Migration Council, made the below comment on the changes and how these would affect investors.
“The UK government may not have much influence with the European Parliament these days, but it has provided an object lesson in how to manage investor migration sensibly and for the benefit of its citizens.
“According to reports, potential investors will have to agree to undergoing a thorough audit of their financial assets, proving they have control of the required capital for at least two years, and will require audits to be undertaken by suitably regulated UK firms.
“Most notably, it appears the UK government recognises the value of investment migration and desires any investment made by individuals to have a greater impact on the UK economy, which is why it is apparently looking at scrapping its own government bond option in favour of directing investment into active and trading UK companies.”
As Bruno highlights, the importance of audits and transparency in this space is as vital as ever, and firms need to be able to prove to both their investors and the authorities that they are acting properly and are fully compliant with all relevant regulations to ensure their continued success.
This is why investor relations have, over recent years, become a vital aspect of any company, fund or asset manager. Many multinational companies, such as Hitachi, Etsy and the Coca Cola Company all operate their own investor relations departments, showcasing the increasing focus companies are putting on the role.
After all, as client satisfaction and feedback become buzzwords within the corporate space, it makes sense that investor relations should also increase in importance, and many companies and investors are now embracing this side of their business. Through strong communication and specialist support, companies, investors and fund managers can ensure that their investors remain on-side and that they understand that their money is in safe hands.