Category: Finance

Financial Advisor
ArticlesFinance

Financial Advisors For Business Owners: Why Owners Need One

Financial Advisor

As a business owner, you are used to putting in the hard work. You have molded the company into what it is today by getting involved in handling all areas of the business, fulfilling every role along the way. This is fantastic for business, but for your personal life and finances, not so much. 

When you are running your business, you are focused on the business. You want the processes to flow smoothly. You want your business to grow. You want to make sure things like customer satisfaction and brand awareness are headed in the right direction. That leaves little time for anything else. And, the truth is, your personal financial situation can suffer. 

 

Planning For the Future

While you are busy focusing on your business, life is still going on. You are still getting older and your family is probably growing and changing, too. Your business is hopefully going to be a part of your future, but there is always the risk of the unknown. Just consider all that has happened due to COVID-19 and how it impacted so many business owners in ways they never could have imagined. In an instant, pandemics, natural disasters, recessions and more can take it all away. Then what? 

You must have a plan for your future, including getting your personal finances in order so that you have some sense of financial security aside from your business. A financial advisor can help you effectively prioritize planning for your future – with a focus on you, not your business. 

Below are a few ways in which a financial advisor can help. 

 

Managing Risk

Whether you started your business from nothing or took over a business, you likely know all about taking risks. In fact, you probably don’t even see them as a big deal. But it is when it comes to your financial health. 

When you combine the thrill of risk-taking and the optimistic outlook for business success, owners don’t usually do well with managing finances. Planning is important – and winging it is not an option. 

 

Selling the Business to Fund Retirement

Many business owners spend their lives building up a business assuming that one day when they are ready, they will sell it and live off the proceeds in addition to any Social Security they have earned. However, this is not a dependable plan at all. 

There is no concrete proof that your business will successfully sell to another buyer. And even if it does, who knows how much your business will be worth at that time – it may not be enough to help you get by. 

These unknowns should be enough to convince you that you need to start planning for a secure future today with a financial advisor. As you keep busy with the day-to-day demands of your business, your trusted investment advisor can be working to help you achieve your financial goals for retirement. 

 

Professional Experience

Your retirement planning is not something that should be taken lightly. There are some things you can learn from the internet. Then, there are those things you should not risk believing because you read it on the internet – and financial planning advice is one of them. 

Don’t leave your future to chance because you read an article on a website. There is no replacement for the education and experience that financial advisors have. Markets and laws are always changing and you need someone who can help you navigate through them, protecting you and managing your risk every step along the way. 

Are you willing to undergo a medical procedure done by someone who reads how to do it online? No – you want a trained doctor. Financial advisors have been trained with the skills and the knowledge to provide prudent investment guidance to help you prepare for retirement. 

 

Mistakes Can Be Expensive

The traits most business owners possess – risk-taking, confidence, and optimism – may cause you to make riskier investments than necessary. Unfortunately, financial mistakes you make due to impulsive moves can be costly.

A financial advisor will bring an objective, well-thought-out strategy that should include benefits such as: 

  • Creating a customized plan to help you meet your financial goals. 
  • Working with your tax professional to manage tax liabilities now and in the future. 
  • Collaborating with your attorney to create an estate plan. 
  • Developing a retirement plan. 
  • Providing investment guidance and coaching to keep you on track. 
  • Organizing your financial life to free up more time for yourself and growing your business. 

 

Working with a professional financial advisor just makes good business sense. And, as a business owner, that’s something you can appreciate. ICC has been providing wealth management services to business owners for decades. To learn more, visit www.ICCNV.com

Budget Tracking
ArticlesFinance

Building a Financially Solvent Way of Life

Budget Tracking

Are you tired of being behind on monthly bills, receiving late notices in the mail, and generally always feeling like you’re one paycheck away from monetary disaster? Since the widespread lockdowns of the last two years ended, many working adults are still in a financial bind and need help getting back on their feet. For some, it’s just a matter of catching up on a few missed payments, but for others, the sting is much worse. If you’re struggling to regain financial solvency or establish it for the first time in your adult life, note that there are dozens of techniques that can bring relief without having to turn your life upside down. While all the following suggestions might not apply to you, it’s best to review each one and consider whether one or more can make a difference for your general solvency.

From using the ABW principle to finding scholarship money for college, there’s likely a hack or tactic that can set your money situation straight. Consider checking all three of your bureau credit scores, making or revising your monthly budget, amassing an emergency fund, being smart about car buying, and aiming for homeownership if you are currently a renter. Here’s how to get started on the road to financial solvency.

 

Use the ABW Principle

You’ve probably heard of the ABW principle in one of its many versions. The letters stand for always be working and are a simple but powerful bit of advice. If you are aiming for fiscal solvency, ABW will keep you above water even when you get laid off from your main job. People who follow the ABW method strive to fill in the gaps in employment by taking on minimum wage work when necessary. Because they never stop working, they’re always receiving paychecks that can usually cover basic bills and living expenses.

 

Be Smart About Paying for College

If you’re planning to earn a college degree, make a financially sound decision and explore all scholarship possibilities before plunking your own money down on tuition, room, board, books, etc. It makes good sense to search for scholarships for college online based on your eligibility and apply for all the ones you have a decent shot at receiving. The great thing about this approach is that no matter how much money you’re awarded, you never have to pay it back. Scholarships are a win-win situation and one method of education financing you can’t afford to ignore. The application process is quick, and you can find out how much money is available in just a few clicks.

 

Monitor Your Credit Scores

You want to build credit the right way and you should check your scores with the three major bureaus at least once per year. Read all the fine print in each report and look for errors. Mistakes are more common than you might think. Additionally, see where you can improve and focus on trouble spots like carrying too much debt on credit cards or making occasional late payments on cars or mortgages.

 

Budgets and Cars

Work hard to stick to a reasonable monthly budget. Consider hiring a credit counselor to help you make one that suits your income and spending needs. Avoid buying new cars. It’s much less costly to buy vehicles that are two or three years old, based on depreciation and general operating condition.

 

Houses and Emergency Funds

If you are a renter, make a detailed plan for buying a home one day. Ownership is the single best thing you can do for your long-term fiscal solvency. Plus, create an emergency fund equal to about three months of income. An e-fund can keep you afloat after a layoff or other financial setback.

Saving
ArticlesFinance

Getting on the Right Track: 5 Ways to Save for What You Want

Saving

Many people view saving money as a challenge. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone. 

According to data reported by CNBC, the average American has $8,863 saved up in a bank or credit union, though that number can drop as low as $2,729 among young adults. 

This can make it harder to make major purchases, such as buying a new car, putting a down payment on a house, or planning a wedding. It may take some time and dedication, but building your savings isn’t impossible. 

Here are five tips to help you save for what you want:

 

1. Define Your Goals

Start by setting a specific goal. What are you trying to buy? How much will you need? For large purchases, you might even want to set smaller milestones along the way to keep yourself focused as you progress toward any larger goals. Apps can be particularly useful in this department, as they help you define your goal and visualize your progress along the way.

 

2. Pay Yourself First

When payday hits, make your savings your first priority. For example, you can set up an automatic transfer that moves money from your checking account to your savings account every payday. This way, you’ll ensure you’re adding to your savings with every paycheck, not just saving whatever money is left over after covering your other bills. Using the right app is also helpful. Monorail app users, for example, can use the automatic transfer feature to split funds into multiple areas, allowing them to set aside money for emergencies or a specific purchase. The best part? Everything is automatic, so you can set it up and save money without even thinking about it.

 

3. Adopt the 50/20/30 Rule

Many people live by the 50/20/30 rule, which means they split their income as follows: 

  • 50% goes to necessities (food, rent, etc.)
  • 20% goes to savings and debt payments
  • 30% goes to lifestyle choices (gym memberships, entertainment, etc.)

For example, if your take-home pay is $4,000, then you should be saving $800 per month. Even if you can’t quite meet the 20% goal, you’ll be surprised how quickly this can add up.

 

4. Ditch the Budget

Not everyone can stick to a budget. According to data from the Pew Research Center, more than 1 in 3 families experienced volatility in their monthly income in 2015, making it harder to create and implement a budget. If this sounds familiar, try tracking your expenses for the month. How much are you spending on housing, clothes, food, and other purchases? Again, this is where tracking apps come in handy. They provide a visual representation of your spending habits, so you can see exactly where your money is going and make adjustments accordingly.

 

5. Think Before You Splurge

It can be painful to deny yourself those small luxuries, like gourmet coffee or takeout. But these “small” expenses can quickly snowball and sabotage your spending goals. If you have trouble cutting back on these little indulgences, limit yourself to only one coffee or meal out per week and, instead, prepare your own food and drinks at home. You may be surprised at how much you can save over time.

 

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Saving money takes discipline and self-control, but the rewards are well worth it. So, define your financial goals, adopt the 50/20/30 rule, and otherwise be mindful of your spending. Bottom line: Make things easy. To that end, you can simplify your financial plan by using apps that make it easier to track your expenses, build your emergency fund, and help you achieve your financial dreams.

Investment Research
ArticlesFinance

How to Perform Smart Research Before Investing

Investment Research

Investing in individual stocks is risky, especially if you haven’t done it before. Many people are too scared to do it, so they stick to buying low-cost index funds instead. 

However, don’t let them scare you. We think investing in individual stocks is a good idea and many experts agree with us. Aside from the fact that you’ll know what you’re investing in, mixing things up will also diversify your portfolio.

To do that, you need to perform smart research before investing. 

Now, if you’re not comfortable doing that on your own, you can contact Triad securities. Their experience will help you maximize your investment without too much effort. But if you’re ready to fly solo, here are some tips on how to perform research.

 

1. Understand the Company’s Business

Before you start investing in individual stocks, you need to be familiar with the industry you’re planning on investing in. The American stock market can be divided into 11 sectors:

  1. Energy 
  2. Materials 
  3. Industrials 
  4. Consumer discretionary 
  5. Consumer staples 
  6. Healthcare 
  7. Financials 
  8. Information technology 
  9. Communication services 
  10. Utilities 
  11. Real Estate

Now, experts state that it’s best to include stock from all sectors in your portfolio. That’s easily done by investing in index funds because you’re not hand-picking a company. But things are different if you want to invest in an individual stock. You need to know what the market is like in the company’s industry if you want to invest smartly.

A company selling food won’t perform the same as a company selling cars, right?

 

2. Look at the Finances

The companies’ financial reports are probably the best source of information relevant for investing. Now, people get scared when they hear words like earnings per share, but don’t panic – you’ll master them in no time.

The two most important financial documents you should look for are Form 10-K and Form 10-Q.

Form 10-K is an annual report that includes audited financial statements – the company’s balance sheet, the sources of income, and how the company handles cash, revenues, and expenses. Form 10-Q, on the other hand, is a quarterly update that doesn’t include audited financial statements. While the latter may not be as reliable as the form 10-K, both are equally important and contain valuable information.

Since these reports have lots of numbers and words you may not be familiar with, here’s a little glossary:

 

Revenue

Revenue refers to the total amount of money a company has earned during the specified period. There are two types of revenue: the operating revenue and the nonoperating revenue. 

The operating revenue is the amount of money that company has generated from its core business, while the nonoperating revenue typically comes from one-time business activities. Naturally, the first one is more important and reliable.

 

Net income 

This is the amount of money a company has made once the operating expenses, taxes, and depreciation are subtracted from revenue. 

 

Earnings per share (EPS)

Earnings per share show a company’s profitability on a per-share basis, which allows you to easily compare it with other companies. It’s calculated by dividing earnings by the number of shares available for trading.

 

Price-earnings ratio (P/E)

There are two types of P/E ratios you should be familiar with: a trailing P/E and a forward P/E.

A trailing P/E is calculated by dividing the current stock price by EPS, while a forward P/E is calculated by dividing the stock price by forecasted EPS in the next 12 months.

Keep in mind that since a forward P/E relies on potential EPS, it’s not as reliable as a trailing P/E.

 

3. Get Familiar with the History and Compare

Just because the company is doing well this year doesn’t mean it’s been doing that way in the past. For that reason, you should dig deeper and look beyond the newest financial statements.

We suggest that you use websites like Google Finance and Yahoo! Finance to perform research on historical data. Look into the financial statements from the previous years, as well as price charts and such. 

This way, you’ll be able to tell you how resilient the company is, as well as how it reacts to market fluctuations and challenging situations. 

 

4. Ask the Company’s Employees and Management

Most large public companies have investor relations departments that cooperate with potential investors by providing them with financial details, plans, and other potentially relevant data. They should be able to answer your questions about any press releases you might have come across, for instance.

So, don’t refrain from approaching them. Ask questions and pay attention to the information they give you. Are the company’s employees well-informed? Are they confident about things you’re talking about?

Also, pay attention to the management team and the company’s board of directors. If they’re all company insiders, they may not be able to objectively assess the management’s actions.

 

5. Never Stop Learning

It’s important to always be in the loop. Things can change in the blink of an eye and you need to be ready for that.

Blogs and email newsletters from reliable sources can help you do that. Books are also a valuable source of information, but so are magazines and online articles. Steer clear of forums, groups, and other sources with unverified advice. They might get it right from time to time, but you shouldn’t rely solely on those.

 

Conclusion

While index funds are a great way to start investing, individual stocks offer many advantages. 

For instance, unlike with index funds, you only pay a fee when buying and selling stocks. There are no annual management fees. You also won’t struggle with managing your taxes because you’re the one deciding when you want to buy or sell the stocks. 

So, investing in individual stocks is risky if you’re not prepared to do your research before the investment. But it definitely pays off. 

Third-Party Logistics
ArticlesFinance

How Investing in a 3PL Can Help You Save Money

Third-Party Logistics

Using a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) provider can lessen the financial burden of warehousing, fulfillment, and transportation for your start up business.

The supply chain is complex. A product must first be developed, prototyped, and then delivered. After that, demand must be generated for the product. Customers that require your items will purchase in bulk. This sort of attention is good for business, but it may be stressful. You’ll need to handle inventory, packaging, and distribution. This might be overwhelming for small and medium-sized businesses. This is where a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) company can help!

 

Third-Party Logistics Services Save Money

A 3rd party logistics company can help organizations of any size from start up to a large enterprise. These logistics geniuses can save you time, energy, and money by streamlining your supply chain management. Here are five reasons to work with a 3PL:

 

1. More Business Focus

Managing inventory and delivery can be difficult especially if you are a smaller company lacking resources and staff to manage it. These painstaking duties frequently distract you from other commitments. Working with a 3PL provider makes it easier for business owners to keep up with their hectic schedules. Logistics specialists store items and distribute things to clients efficiently. This frees up time for your staff to focus on the business’s core mission.


2. You Have a Logistics Team Leading the Way

Time is money in business. As a business owner, you can’t afford to lose time on the shipping procedures. One of the main benefits of partnering with a 3PL is the knowledge and direction of a seasoned supply chain veteran. These logistics services quickly handle your inventory, delivery, and returns. With these professionals on your side, you can be certain that they are working to constantly keep shipping rules and procedures updated and are working to your advantage.


3. You’ll Never Need to Buy Equipment

Logistics technology is not only costly but also difficult to set up. You’ll also need to train personnel on how to utilize the system. Not to mention, the space needed to store physical product can be expensive. Why go through all of this when a 3PL already has the tools, space, and expertise? Maintaining this complete IT procedure is routine for them. A 3PL expert keeps up with new shipping technologies. They manage all upgrades and technical maintenance, ensuring the best possible service for each customer.


4. Greater Speed and Lower Shipping Costs

3PL experts work relentlessly to improve shipping. Freight hauling is costly, but 3PL suppliers have more negotiating leverage. Your logistics firm has ample room to handle many loads. This reduces travel and saves money on transportation. Most 3PL providers already cooperate with other private shippers, saving time and money. Additionally, many 3PLs have multiple warehouses across the country to store items and ship from for efficiency.


5. Investing Early in a 3PL

Every firm wants to grow and be profitable, but growth too quickly can strain resources and degrade product quality. Investment in a 3PL early on allows for faster growth and less internal conflict down the road. 3PLs can help you grow your business by lowering transportation costs, providing flexible storage, and monitoring inventory and quality. A capable 3PL can help you solve your most difficult logistical difficulties and remove any logistical roadblocks.

Invest in Gold
ArticlesFinance

Does It Still Pay to Invest in Gold?

Invest in Gold

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gold is Easy to Sell

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

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

 

Preservation of One’s Wealth

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

 

Hedge

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

 

Safe Haven

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

Finance Goals
ArticlesFinance

Financial Goals to Strive For

Finance Goals

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

 

Opening Your Own Business

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

 

Having Children

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

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

 

Take Up Investing

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

Personal Loan
ArticlesFinance

What are the Benefits of a Personal Loan?

Personal Loan

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

 

Flexibility

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

 

Variety of Terms

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

 

No Collateral 

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

 

Competitive Interest Rates

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

 

Easy to Manage

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

 

Questions to Ask Your Lender

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

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

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

 

Final Thoughts

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

Finance Funding
ArticlesFinance

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

Finance Funding

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

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

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

 

1. Crowdfunding financing 

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

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

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

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

 

2. Equipment financing 

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

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

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

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

 

3. Bank loans

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

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

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

 

4. Angel investor financing

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

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

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

 

5. Venture capital financing

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

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

 

6. Peer-to-peer lending

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

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

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

 

7. SBA loans

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

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

 

Summing up

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Extra Income
ArticlesFinance

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

Extra Income

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

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

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

 

Start a Small Service Business

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

 

Freelance Content Creation

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

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

 

Get Paid to Do What You Love Doing

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

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

 

Teaching Online

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

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

 

Rent Out Your Stuff

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

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

 

Virtual Assistant

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

 

Invest In Real Estate

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

 

Final Words

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

Big investments
ArticlesFinance

Major Investments You Need to Prioritize

Big investments

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

 

A Fleet

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

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

 

Renovations

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

∙ High-quality refrigerators

∙ Freezers

∙ Ovens

∙ Safety gear

∙ Grease traps

∙ Food processers

∙ Employee Training Programs

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

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

 

Invest in Yourself

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

 

Your Physical Location

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

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

Unsecured Loans
ArticlesFinance

Unsecured Personal Loans FAQ

Unsecured Loans

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

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

 

How Do Large Unsecured Personal Loans Work?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Features Of Large Unsecured Personal Loans

Easy Online Application

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

 

Quick Approvals And Payouts

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

 

Zero Risk to Your Assets

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

 

High Loan Amounts

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

 

Uses of Large Unsecured Personal Loans

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

  • Home Improvements

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

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

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

 

  • Debt Consolidation

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

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

 

  • Personal And Business Financing

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

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

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

 

Large Unsecured Personal Loans with Bad Credit

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Can I Get a Large Unsecured Personal Loan When Unemployed?

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

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

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

Bad Credit Loan
ArticlesFinance

How to Get Bad Credit Loans For Low CIBIL Score

Bad Credit Loan

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

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

 

How to Get Bad Credit Loans For Low CIBIL Score

1. Choose Collateral-based Loans

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

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

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

 

2. Identify a Guarantor

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

 

3. Look For a Co-Applicant

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

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

 

4. Demonstrate Your Creditworthiness

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

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

 

5. Be Conservative While Borrowing

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

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

 

6. Go For  Online Lenders

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

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

 

7. Establish Lending Criteria In Advance

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

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

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

 

Wrap Up

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

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

Fintech Regulation
ArticlesFinance

Making Regulation Work In Fintech

Fintech Regulation

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

Tony Brown, Head of Compliance & MLRO of IFX Payments

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

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

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

 

Traditional FS vs Fintechs

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

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

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

 

So what next?

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

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

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

 

The role of the regulator

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

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

Unregulated Investment
ArticlesFinance

Unregulated Investments – Will This Discourage Potential Investors?

Unregulated Investment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Financial Crisis
ArticlesFinance

Ukrainian Crisis Worsens Financial Difficulties in the UK

Financial Crisis

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

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

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

 

Key Statistics

KIS Finance’s research found:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over a quarter of people are already struggling financially

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

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

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

 

Cost of everyday essentials are soaring

Fuel costs are soaring

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Rising global metal costs leading to multiple price increases

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

 

A third fear that the worst is still to come

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

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

 

Young people hit the hardest by rising costs

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

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

 

22% of young people forced to take additional jobs

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

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

 

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

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

 

South East the hardest hit

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



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

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

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

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

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

Digitalisation Finance
ArticlesFinance

How Digitalization Is Impacting Financial Services

Digitalisation Finance

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

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

 

Accepting Loan Applications Online

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

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

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

 

Greater Consumer Trust

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

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

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

 

Innovative Auditing Strategies

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

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

 

Improved Customer Relationships

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

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

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

 

Money Savings

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

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

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

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

Finance market
ArticlesFinanceMarkets

Financial Market in Athens Now on the Road to Recovery

Finance market

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

 

Economists’ Forecast Trajectory of the Recovery

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

 

Business Travel Also Projected to Rise

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

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

 

Greek Islands to be Revived

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

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

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

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

 

The Economy of Athens

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

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

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

 

Authentic Greek Businesses: Food, Trade & More

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

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

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

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

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

 

Market Outlook for Athens

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

Salaries
ArticlesFinance

How to Help Employees Stretch Their Salaries

Salaries

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

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

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

 

1. Financial education

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

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

 

2. Financial wellbeing services

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

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

 

3. eVouchers and cashback cards

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

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

 

4. Salary sacrifice schemes

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

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

 

Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, comments:

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

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

Digital Marketing
ArticlesFinance

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

Digital Marketing

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

 

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

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

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

 

A Change in Progress

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

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

 

Understanding Each Customer’s Needs

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

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

 

Every Channel needs to be connected

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

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

Card Payment
ArticlesFinance

Card Payments Vital for Side-Hustlers

Card Payment

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

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

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

Other key findings:

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

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

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

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

Business Investment
ArticlesFinance

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

Business Investment

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

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

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

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

 

What are small-cap stocks?

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

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

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

 

The top 4 small-cap stocks to watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alternative Investment
ArticlesFinanceStock Markets

6 Alternative Investments to Consider in 2022

Alternative Investment

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

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

 

1. Cryptocurrency

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

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

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

 

2. Peer-to-Peer Lending

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

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

 

3. Fine Art

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

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

 

4. Real Estate Investment Trusts

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

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

 

5. Cannabis

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

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

 

6. Precious Metals

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

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

Electric car
ArticlesFinance

Will Your Bank Account Benefit from You Buying an Electric Car?

Electric car

Thinking of buying an electric car? Great choice. Electric cars are environmentally friendly, provide an improved driving experience, and have lower running costs. It’s fair to say that they are the future of our mobility.

But how much does it actually cost to buy and run an EV, and how does that compare to petrol and diesel fuelled cars?

Here is a breakdown of the most common electric car expenses and how to minimise them.

 

Buying price

It’s a well-known fact that the purchase price for an electric vehicle is quite high. However, that initial investment turns out to be cheaper in the long run. But how much does an electric car cost?

The price will vary depending on several factors: model, make, specifics of the vehicle, as well as whether it’s a new, used, or financed car.

The average cheapest price for a new electric car in the UK is £17,350 and for the most expensive one it’s £138,826. Petrol and diesel cars are significantly cheaper. The average price for a small new car is £14,500 and for an SUV it’s £25,500. In terms of used electric cars, you’re looking at £16,684 for the lowest average cost and £63,870 for highest. Nevertheless, the prices for used petrol cars have soared in the last 17 months, raising the average price to £15,288.

The good news is that EV’s are predicted to become more affordable as new models penetrate the market from 2021, according to ABI Research’s 2021 Trend Report. While up until recently the options were pretty much limited to Renault Zoe, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model 3, new more cost-effective models have become available. These include models such as Vauxhall Corsa-e, Fiat 500, and Renault Twizy.

As more European countries transition to green mobility in efforts to combat climate change, governments are implementing new policies that target EVs. The UK, for example, has announced a two-step phase-out of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. This will urge more people to switch to electric cars. According to Statista, there were 175,000 sales of plug-in electric vehicles in the United Kingdom in 2020 (Figure 1), and 104,634 new registrations of battery electric vehicles (Figure 2).

If a new car is not within your budget range, there are many used electric cars available, such as the Mazda MX-30 which you can find at the used Ford Bolton dealership. Moreover, the UK government is offering an electric car grant which pays 35% of the purchase price of a new model, up to £2,500. This is part of the government’s attempts to encourage people to switch to EVs by 2030.

 

Charging costs

Electricity is cheaper than petrol or diesel, which means that you’re winning on the charging cost when it comes to EVs. The cost depends on the battery size, the manufacturer, and the location of charge points.

An electric car’s battery capacity is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh), and it’s made from lithium ion. According to Electric Vehicle Database, the average battery capacity is 61.3 kWh. The biggest one belongs to Tesla Cybertruck Tri Motor which has a capacity of 200 kWh. On the other hand, the smallest capacity is attributed to Smart EQ forfour at only 16.7 kWh.

There are three ways to charge an electric car: at home, at the workplace, or at a public charging point.

 

Electric car charging at home

Home charging is the most convenient and cheapest of all. You can either use a domestic 3 pin socket or a dedicated home EV charger. The latter typically delivers about 7kW of power and will cost you about £800, and a 3 pin socket delivers about 2.3kW. This power will affect the time it takes to charge your EV.

So how much would it cost you to charge your electric car at home? For example, if the battery capacity is 54kwH, the electricity tariff is 17p/kWh, then it will cost you about £9.20 for a full charge. Use the following formula to calculate how much it will cost you to charge your car at home: Tariff (e.g. 17p/kWh) * Battery size (e.g. 54kWh) / 100 = Cost to fully charge (e.g. £9.20).

 

Electric car charging at work

Most workplaces offer free charging, others offer a time-based tariff. Alternatively, you might receive some other type of deal as an employee incentive.

 

Electric car charging at public points

Public charging points are available at most motorways, service stations, supermarkets, and car parks. The cost between these can vary. Some places offer free charging while places like Lidl charge about 26p/kWh. If we take the example of a car that has a battery capacity of 54kWh, the calculations will be as follows: Tariff (26p/kWh) * Battery size (e54kWh) / 100 = Cost to fully charge (£14.04).

The electric cars charge point network is well-developed. According to Statista (Figure 3), there were 27,222 publicly available slow electric vehicle chargers (EVSE), and 6,248 fast EVSE chargers in 2020 in the UK.

 

Petrol or diesel fuel costs

On the contrary, to fuel a car with petrol or diesel, you’re looking at paying much more, especially with the increasing fuel prices. The current petrol price in the UK is £1.45 per litre. This means that if a car has a 50L tank capacity, the price to fill a full tank is: Fuel price (£1.45 per litre) * Fuel tank capacity (50L) = Cost to fully fill (£75.50).

 

Insurance and Tax

The cost of your electric car insurance depends on the model of your car, your driving history, years of experience, and the type of cover you wish to take out.

Traditionally, electric car insurance has been quite costly, but it’s also seeing a decrease due to the rising demands for EVs in the UK.

Based on recent data collected by MoneySuperMarket, the average cost to insure an electric car is £612.95. This is about £5 cheaper than that of a diesel car and slightly more expensive than a petrol car insurance which averages at about £574.50.

Tax-wise, electric cars require a £0 vehicle tax, while the vehicle tax of a petrol car is about £155.

 

Maintenance

Electric car engines consist of very few moving parts compared to their fossil-fuelled counterparts. This means that they are cheaper to maintain than petrol or diesel cars.

Nevertheless, EVs still need to be serviced regularly, and that could cost you around £5,000. Luckily, most electric car manufacturers offer an eight-year warranty or a warranty for the first 100,000 miles.

For a standard petrol or diesel car, the car service costs average at about £270 a year, but that can vary depending on the required repairs.

Electric cars present you with an initial costly investment which turns out to be more sustainable and cost-effective in the long run. So, the answer is yes, your bank account will definitely benefit from you buying an electric car, alongside the environment!

Financial Pitfall
ArticlesFinance

Four of the Most Common Financial Pitfalls to Avoid in 2022

Financial Pitfall

With the new year finally here, now’s a good time as any to start being more financially responsible. Even if you’re an avid saver, falling into a financial pitfall is much easier than you may think. This is why it’s important you take the necessary steps to prevent losing control of your finances. It all starts by knowing what kind of issues there are to avoid. Here are four of the most common financial pitfalls to avoid in 2022.

 

Frivolous Spending

You’d be amazed at how much money people spend for no reason. Perhaps you’ve even done it yourself by seeing that once in a lifetime deal or something you wanted caught your eye and you just couldn’t resist. Some people even spend money just to be a part of a buzzing trend. Either way, needlessly spending is a surefire method to drain yourself of valuable funds.

Sure, the occasional splurge here and there is completely fine. Everyone does need to treat themselves every once in a while. However, there’s a difference between treating yourself and wasting your money. Don’t let the temptation fuel impulsive decisions. You’ll be surprised at how much money you can save by simply looking the other way.

 

You Don’t Have a Budget Set in Motion

Budgeting is a skill everyone needs to know. A budget is a financial plan you set for yourself by going over your monthly income and expenses. How it works is that you calculate the total amount of money you earn and subtract various costs from it to see how much you’re left with. These expenses can include:

∙ Mortgage payments or rent

∙ The utility bills

∙ Groceries

∙ Insurance payments

∙ Car payments

∙ Paying for gas

∙ Eating out

Another expense involved in your budget are student loan payments. Student loan payments can cost more than your average expense, which can leave you with very little left over. To prevent yourself from being depleted of savings, a great option is to refinance your student loans into a new one through a private lender. A private lender is ideal when it comes to refinance student loans. They can lower your lower interest rates and usually offer better repayment terms overall.

 

Not Putting Savings into a Retirement Account

Eventually, your duty in the workforce will come to an end. When that happens, you’ll lose your main income stream, which is why putting money into a retirement account is imperative. While you can start putting money into the account at any time, it’s highly recommended you start doing so at your earliest convenience. You can even open a retirement account as young as 18 years old.

 

Not Having Emergency Funds

Perhaps the most impactful financial pitfall is not having emergency funds to help protect your assets and to fall back on in a time of need. You never know what can happen in life. You or a family member may need extensive medical care or you may find yourself not having enough of your primary funds to pay bills. This is where your emergency funds come in. The recommended amount of emergency savings should be at least three months of your monthly income.

Man in business attire checking the cryptocurrency market on his tablet with computer screens moitoring other investments in the backgorund
ArticlesFinanceFundsInfrastructure

How To Utilize Cryptocurrency In Your Business

Man in business attire checking the cryptocurrency market on his tablet with computer screens moitoring other investments in the backgorund

 

Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual coins or tokens that use cryptography to secure their transactions and to control the creation of new units. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized, which means they are not controlled by governments or financial institutions. Bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency, was created in 2009. Since then, a number of new cryptocurrencies have been introduced.. Cryptocurrencies hold a variety of potential applications, from providing a more secure means of payment to facilitating cross-border transactions. As the popularity of cryptocurrencies grows, so too does the importance of understanding what they are and how they work. This blog post will provide an overview of cryptocurrencies, discuss some of the key features that make them unique, and how to utilize them In your business.

 

Why Consider Using Cryptocurrency in  Business?

Bitcoin is used by more than 2,300 businesses in the United States. A growing number of firms all over the world are making use of bitcoin and other digital assets for a variety of investment, operational, and transactional purposes.

The usage of cryptocurrency in business presents a slew of possibilities and challenges.

There are both unknown perils and powerful incentives. That is why organizations that want to use crypto in their operations need to have two things: a clear understanding of why they are doing it and a list of questions they should think about.

 

What can crypto offer your business?

Cryptocurrencies are still a relatively new phenomenon, however, let’s take a look at some of the benefits that crypto can offer your company:

  • Transparency in Transactions: Cryptocurrencies are public, unchangeable, transparent records of value transfers that may be recorded and kept in a public ledger. They are verified, and they can’t be easily hacked or controlled. This assures that cryptocurrency transactions are safe and secure.
  • Low transaction fees: Banks add transaction fees and taxes to every digital payment. It’s easy to understand since they have to pay their workers, rent the buildings, and pay utility bills. Transactions using cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies are not the same. Because they commence on online platforms, they have lower transaction costs, which makes them more popular and profitable among firms.
  • You can take cryptocurrency anywhere: Cryptocurrencies can be kept in a digital wallet (wallet) that you may manage from your computer or smartphone. This wallet allows you to take your cryptocurrency with you wherever you go, making it more convenient for your business.
  • Protected customer privacy: The problem of cybersecurity is still one of the most significant drawbacks of digitalization. We hear about major data breaches that expose people to identity theft and financial loss. The buyer can choose the type and amount of information they provide in a cryptocurrency transaction, which makes it extremely anonymous. Offering crypto as a payment option makes it more appealing to customers who place a high value on their data privacy.

 

How can you earn passive income?

Earning a passive income is the goal of many business owners. But, what is a passive income and how can you earn one? A passive income is an income that you earn without actively working for it. You can invest in dividend-paying stocks, rent out the property, etc. But there is another easy option to earn passive income is to stake your cryptocurrency. This is the best way to earn crypto staking rewards. By holding onto a certain amount of tokens in a specific blockchain network, you can earn rewards for participating in the network’s governance. So if you’re looking for some new investment opportunities, consider staking your cryptocurrency and earning rewards.

 

Is It Possible To Pay Employee Salaries With Cryptocurrency?

In recent years, the cryptocurrency market has exploded in value, with Bitcoin and Ethereum becoming two of the most valuable digital assets in the world. Due to this meteoric rise, many businesses consider using cryptocurrency as a form of payment. There are certain advantages of paying employees salaries in digital currencies:

  • Speed: Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether, and other digital currencies can be sent up to 95% faster than traditional wire transfers.
  • No Boundaries: More and more organizations are operating remotely these days. Cryptocurrencies may be sent and received around the world with ease. That is why, for businesses with workers working from other nations, crypto payments may be a more convenient option for a worldwide workforce.
  • Attracts Better Talent and New Clients: Crypto is drawing the interest of the most forward-thinking and tech-savvy employees since it is a young, rising sector. Crypto is drawing the interest of the most forward-thinking and tech-savvy employees since it is a young, rising sector. When future employees choose a company to work for, one of the most important aspects will be payroll provider. When you begin paying employees in digital currency, you gain the attention of other crypto firms and startups, possibly attracting new customers and partners.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many benefits that cryptocurrency has to offer. Whether it’s for your business or personal use, the advantages of using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other digital currencies should be considered as an investment opportunity. With all the information we have provided in this article, hopefully, now you feel more confident about investing in a new form of currency!

Managing finance
ArticlesFinance

Year-Round Advice for Managing Financially During Seasonal Holidays

Managing finance


Throughout the year, there are plenty of seasonal holiday to celebrate whether it be Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, or New Years. Depending on your individual beliefs, you may have additional times of celebration. Often, these times are for eating, drinking, and celebrating with loved ones.  However, these times of year can also prove to be quite stressful financially. Especially, if they call for gift-giving or organising an event like a family party. Whatever the occasion, there’s plenty of ways to keep on top of things financially for these times without the need to over spend.

 

Plan Ahead

When seasonal events occur during the year, the last thing you want is to fork out a payday loan to cover the expenses. A top piece of advice would be to plan of yourself to avoid such financial pressures. Invest in a calendar to you can pinpoint all the important dates during the year. This way you can remain mindful of how much potential money you will need to spend, whether you need to buy gifts, and it also provides you with an opportunity to budget. It’s important not to leave things to the last minute. Take advantage of seasonal sales too. That way, you can save yourself time and ease the stress when these events come around.

 

Party Hard but Party Money Smart

Whether you’re celebrating Easter, Christmas, New Year or Thanksgiving, whatever the occasion there is no doubt going to be a party with friends and family. We know full well that the more partying to be had, the more opportunity to spend money increase. Whatever the occasion, let your hair down but be mindful of how much you’re spending. When it comes to spending money at social events throughout the year, one piece of advice would be to set aside budgets for this. Taking a calendar, you can look ahead of yourself and create social budgets at the beginning of each month and work from there. In some cases, looking two months ahead of yourself would be more organised.

 

No Need to Be Extravagant

When social events occur throughout the year, particularly the more special occasions, it’s easy to spend. Whether you’re spending money on a new outfit, hair, make-up, shoes for yourself or buying gifts to mark the occasion. There’s nothing wrong with learning to be a bit more frugal since these times are all about having fun. When it comes to dressing up for occasions, why not haul your local charity shops to find a second-hand outfit at a fraction of the cost? Plus, gift-giving doesn’t need to cost the earth. Some of the most thoughtful gifts are the ones that are handmade or bought with sentimental intention.

 

Don’t Try and Pay for Everything

Hosting parties and events throughout the year can add up. Even having the family round for a Sunday dinner every week cuts into your monthly food budget. Let alone the idea of hosting lots of celebrations. If you need help easing the financial pressures, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Even if we have loads of space in our home, it doesn’t always mean we have loads of money. If it’s a dinner you’re hosting, you could ask each guest to bring a dish with them. Not only does this ease your wallet, but also makes dinner more interesting. Family occasions, whatever the celebration, are a team effort.

 

Take Time Out

For some of us, the year can be filled with all kinds of social events to look forward to. Remember to take time out for yourself, especially around the bigger events. If you have any paid annual leave, take advantage, and get paid while you have some fun. Each month, set aside small budgets for self-care so you can look after yourself all year round while having fun with family and friends.

Bad Credit
ArticlesFinance

Improving Your Finances with Bad Credit

Bad Credit

So, you have bad credit. While credit doesn’t make up our finances, it plays a significant role. When you have bad credit, it can be because you don’t have enough money to pay back the money you owe. If you don’t owe anyone anything and still have bad credit, it’s necessary to get whatever small loan or credit you can to start building your score. Improving your finances with bad credit isn’t impossible. If you continue reading below, you will be able to find out how you can improve your finances with bad credit.

 

Pay Back What You Owe

The most important thing to do is pay back that money you owe. When you have debts to a bank, creditor, or another type of lender, the most important thing to do for your financial well-being is to give the money back. Not only will it increase your credit score, but you will also be able to avoid high-interest rates. You might need cash now but paying back your debts is imperative to living a healthy financial life. To improve your finances, it is pivotal to pay who you owe.

 

Take Out a Loan

If you have paid back the money you owe and still have bad credit, it might be a good idea to take out a loan. You are probably hesitant to get a loan for obvious reasons, but you must build your score somehow. Luckily, there are many different types of loans that you can take out when you have bad credit.

Of course, the most important thing is to pay back the money immediately to increase your credit score, but if you can pull it off it’s a way to kill two birds with one stone. Applying for a loan can provide funds and increase your credit score at the same time. For example, if you have a mortgage a HELOC with bad credit is a loan that refinances your mortgage by using the home as collateral. It’s a way to improve your credit and keep more cash.

 

Get Approved for a Basic Credit Card

With bad credit, you might think you can’t get approved for a credit card. This may not be the case. You should try to get a basic credit card with a small limit and low-interest rates. You can put purchases on the card and pay it off to build your credit score. Getting approved for a credit card is a great way to get your hands on some funds and boost your credit score while you’re at it. Be careful not to put too much money on the card, though. If you can pay off the money immediately, you will be able to improve your financial standing.

 

Make an Investment

Whether you have good credit or a bad score, you can make an investment in something. It doesn’t matter if you are investing in a business, yourself, a property, or something else, making an investment is something you can do for your finances with bad credit. If you have a little money and want it to work for you, investments are a great way to do that. It doesn’t matter what your credit score is, businesses and people will take your money for an investment. Your credit score doesn’t come into play when you are giving someone money.

 

Create a Financial Plan

Whatever your financial situation is, you should create a plan to get your finances in order. Your financial plan should include building your credit score and standing. It doesn’t matter where you are at now, if you have a plan to improve your financial situation and life overall you will be a lot better off. Creating a financial plan is integral to your economic well-being. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. What matters more is where you’re going.

Improving your finances can be difficult, but if you remain steadfast and do your best to put a concise plan into place you will be a lot better off. Credit doesn’t necessarily determine your prosperity, but it is an indicator of how you are doing when it comes to money. Whatever your situation, putting in the time and effort to both raise your credit score and improve your finances will pay off in the end. You won’t regret alleviating the stress that comes with it.

Card Payment
ArticlesFinance

Navigating Through A2A Payments

Card Payment

Account-to-account (A2A) payments are an evolution of the ever-changing payments landscape. The solution enables to cut out third parties and transfer payments directly from customers’ bank accounts to the merchant. By helping to carry out payments at speed and low costs, the technology encompasses the vast potential for businesses of any size or industry.

The framework’s potential seems to be backed up by the success of Open Banking startups, focusing on refining it further. Although only gaining momentum, A2A payments could potentially greatly reshape the market as we know it—a change payment service providers (PSPs) have to be prepared for.

 

Facilitating customer journey

On the face of it, it is one of the most primitive forms of transferring digital funds. Let’s say, User A has an account in Bank X and wants to transfer funds to User B. When User A agrees to exchange funds for services, provided by User B, they are immediately transferred directly from User A’s bank account to User B’s, hence the name account-to-account.

However, the real potential of A2A payments lies behind the customer’s journey. Let’s go back to Users A and B. Traditionally, in order to make payment, User A would need to first get a hold of User B’s bank details, such as company details, bank account number, sometimes a short code, bank details, an 8 or 11 character code called BIC, SWIFT and a payment reference number, which can either be a number or text, sometimes a bit of both.

The process does not end here—the person then has to log in to his online bank, input all aforementioned details, authenticate, and then—find a way to prove to User B that he has actually made a payment.

Some banks now offer an option to print a completed transaction slip as PDF immediately, others require more effort to get some sort of proof. Usually, these PDFs have no signed authorization by a bank employee, hence, they can be easily forged; unless one goes the paper route, which is a bit on the dear side. Thus, User B will need to log in and verify whether the funds have really hit the banking account.

While local payment schemes like ‘Faster Payments’ in the United Kingdom or SEPA Instant in the European Union provide the convenience of getting the funds virtually instantly, not all banks are part of this scheme, and funds might only arrive 3 hours later, or even the next day; in some cases, such delay could have direct consequences. Hence, a merchant is faced with a dilemma—to trust a PDF, that might be forged, and send the goods or provide services anyway, or delay the service until funds really hit the account.

A2A payments enable to streamline the cumbersome process, and cut off hours of waiting.

 

Rivaling long-standing card dominance

It is no wonder why, for a long time, cards have dominated online commerce. Even though they require a much more elaborate communication mechanism than an A2A payment, it was actually the trust framework, provided by major card issuers and processing centers, that made it so attractive to use.

Card schemes verify that user A has enough funds and instruct the bank to freeze the agreed-upon amount as well as inform User B that they will be deposited into User B’s account. In addition, User A knows that, in case the seller sold something different than was agreed, s/he could get the money back—the dreaded “chargeback”—so user B is kept honest.

Let’s go back to the transaction between User A and B, however, instead of a traditional account-to-account transfer or a card payment, let’s utilize what is called Payment Initiation Service (PIS) in Europe; then, at the checkout page, s/he sees a list of banks rather than fields to input a myriad of payment details.

Once the bank at which User A holds funds is selected, s/he is taken to an authentication page, where login details and authentication is needed. What happens next is the gist of A2A—instead of having to enter details of User B account, User A already sees all details pre-filled, and s/he only needs to verify the payment, which is completed in several seconds.

Since an intermediary—PSP—has guided User A who made a payment, it can confirm to User B that payment has successfully been executed, even if funds have not reached user B account; the same way card schemes do.

Thus, if cards have been working for decades, why the rise of A2A?

 

Benefits for merchants

From a merchant’s perspective, A2A payments can bring tremendous benefits. First and foremost, they are much cheaper. In comparison, card acquiring will set you off at least 0.85% or more, depending on the deemed risk of your operations, while A2A can cost as little as 0.25 EUR, like a typical bank transaction.

Moreover, depending on the product one is selling, card chargebacks can become truly troublesome. If merchant witnesses a case of fraudulent use of cards, and his/hers ratio of chargeback goes over 1%, the seller will automatically be deemed high-risk by card issuers and get completely different rates—or might lose the ability to collect via cards altogether.

With A2A, fraud is more difficult, as one would need to acquire not only the login to an online banking platform but also to the device used for 2-factor authentication, usually a phone and two passwords—one used for logging in and another one for payment authorization. Some banks might still use SMS for a one-time password, but this is getting rare.

Finally, the speed. A2A is a simple bank transfer and 60% of European PSPs have already joined the SEPA-INST scheme, all banks and building societies in the UK have joined the Faster Payment scheme, which means funds sent via A2A usually arrive in seconds. This means funds are available to merchants quicker and, given how difficult cash management might be for a small business, A2A transfers might help avoid costly credit lines or factoring.

 

Drawbacks of A2A payments

From a consumer’s (User A) perspective, there is not much of a difference. One could argue that this is, in fact, the biggest drawback why A2A payments have not replaced traditional card acquiring. In fact, it would be great to see an account-to-account solution that requires fewer steps than paying with a card, especially with the advent of 3D Secure 2.0, a new authentication protocol for online card payments.

A2A has largely been enabled by banks opening up their infrastructure to fintechs due to Open Banking regimes that called for the right of bank users to share their account information with 3rd parties. But the quality and the methods in which different banks and banking groups are providing access to their bank account holders’ information is incredibly diverse, often complicated, and sometimes—simply does not work.

The second biggest drawback is consumer protection. While traditional card schemes have offered almost unparalleled ability to request your funds back at any hint of dishonesty or simply distaste, one will have to prove fraud, or be at the mercy of the merchant, to get an A2A payment reversed. This is due to the fact that standard bank account payments were built with traditional banking in mind—paying salaries to employees or vendors for commonly used services, e.g. carpet cleaning; not something like herbal pills that help to concentrate or sleep better, from a company in Seychelles.

 

Future of A2A and the role of PSPs

A2A payments have a few great advantages over traditional card acquiring for merchants, however, there are a few potential risks to consumers that need to be considered; though, from a consumer’s perspective, the process is about the same. Even though A2A transfers are more difficult to exploit by criminals, users will need to cover additional steps if s/he sends funds to a shady merchant of their own will.

To summarize, the future looks bright for A2A payments—the in-the-works integrations that some banks currently have are bound to become more refined, as the myriad of fintech players keep encouraging them to create a more functional flow. Some big banks themselves are starting to offer A2A collections for merchants, as they do not want to see their profits seeping through the holes of open banking directives. There are markets, for instance, the Netherlands, where A2A payments already dominate and make up more than 60% of all online transactions, so it is not a question of if, but rather when.

Once key players saturate the market, A2A will become a commodity payment and PSPs will again need to concentrate on what matters most—easy and personalized customer experience and value-added services to merchants.

Finance Planning
ArticlesFinance

Top Personal Finance Tips

Finance Planning

Getting your finances in order is important, whether it’s your personal life or business. When it comes to your personal life if you are running out of money or you don’t have your finances sorted you will likely become stressed. Here are some personal finance tips you can focus on to help…

 

Pay off any debt you have

Paying off any debt you have is essential for financial stability, especially if you want to start saving. If you happen to find yourself in a lot of debt you can sort out a plan to pay it off gradually. There are options to take out short term loans in the UK if you find yourself running out of money and you need something quickly. It’s only recommended to use these loans if you’re able to pay them back.

 

Make sure you have a plan

Having a plan is the best way to manage your personal finances and there are now cards readily available that can help with savings. Go for a debit card with a money manager setting, this option will enable you to view your spending and transactions in sectors, so you can see exactly how much you have spent on food, travel, entertainment, and much more over the course of a month. If you want to get more organised with your finances, you can set budgets for each section of your spending.

 

Work on having an emergency fund

You can’t go wrong if you have a backup fund, setting up a separate bank for this is a good idea or you can add a savings account to your current account. There are always unexpected life costs that tend to crop up or something will break and you will need to cover the cost of fixing it.

 

Limit your spending

If you are looking to save you can limit your spending in all sorts of places, food is a good start. Instead of buying lunch every day, you can bring your own if you have time to make it at home. You can also try shopping at cheaper supermarkets to help budget and save. Using a bank that shows you exactly what you are spending in certain areas of your life can be beneficial.

 

Work on investing

Keeping your money in stocks and shares is exciting and can be advantageous in the long run. Depending on the type of stocks and shares you invest in, you can earn back a decent amount. If you are a beginner and you want to get better at investing, there are networking communities you can join to gain human insights statistics to help you make better investment decisions.

 

Following some of these tips will help you with your personal finances and can help you gain more financial stability in the future. Saving money and getting on top of your finances is the basis for leading a fulfilling life. If you can manage to follow some of these tips and are consistent you will have your finances in order in no time.

Life Insurance
ArticlesFinance

Everything You Need to Know About Life Insurance

Life Insurance


Life insurance is a topic we don’t like to think about. We’ll be gone when life insurance is most needed. Most of us leave behind loved ones who will be burdened by whatever obligations we leave behind. Many of us are blessed with leaving no obligations behind. At best, everybody’s death incurs funeral costs that must be paid.

Like other insurance, life insurance spreads the risk insured. Metaphorically, life insurance is a gamble. The life insurance company is betting you (along with all other customers) will live long enough (past actuarial life expectancy) to pay sufficient premiums to cover their payout obligation. Cynically, you are betting you will not live long enough to pay premiums above the insurance payout. Otherwise, you would self-insure.

In any case, the option to self-insure is illusory since if we don’t have the self-discipline to save for death, it doesn’t work. Life insurance has an element of forced savings.

 

Taxation

You will have many questions for which you should seek the advice of an experienced life insurance expert, financial adviser, or estate planner. For instance, is life insurance taxable? Yes and no. You can borrow against your policy without tax. You can withdraw cash value tax-free but only to the extent of premium payments. Any excess is taxable as ordinary income. Payout of death benefits to beneficiaries is taxable.

 

Kinds of Life Insurance

Term Insurance

Term life insurance is the most straightforward insurance policy. There is no investment element to it. It is called “term life” because it covers a specified time period. The proceeds are paid out if you die within that time. One-year term policies require annual renewals.

Term life policies are usually the most affordable since the insurance company is only on the hook for a specified time period. Premiums are typically adjusted as you get older and the insurance company’s risk increases. A term policy has no cash value and, therefore, no investment value.

 

Permanent Life

Permanent life policies have a dual purpose. Like term life, it has a risk-spreading function with the insurance company bearing the risk of loss (your death) for which you are paying premiums. In addition, it has an element of a savings account. Over time, your premium payments accumulate some redeemable cash value.

There are three types of permanent life insurance – whole life, universal life, and variable life.

 

Whole life

Whole life insurance has a static premium throughout the policy life. It is similar to uniform mortgage payments with different monthly principal/interest allocations. During your younger years, the insurance company’s risk of loss is lower, so a greater share of the premium creates a redeemable cash value. The insurance company invests the “principal’ element of your premium in the company’s investment portfolio. That is why insurance companies, like banks, are a major financing source for many industries.

Effectively, you are rewarded for staying alive. After a while, you can borrow against your cash value or redeem it.

 

Universal life insurance

A universal life policy is the same coverage as permanent life but has more flexible access to your cash value. For example, once you have accumulated a sufficient cash value, it can be used to pay some of your premiums.

This is all subject to the caveat that changing the amount or frequency of your premiums can reduce the amount of death benefit.

 

Variable life insurance

Like all other forms, the fundamental element of variable life insurance is to compensate the insurance company for bearing the risk of paying out proceeds at your death. The older you get, the greater the risk to the insurance company and the greater the portion of your premium that the insurance company must reserve for loss.

A variable life policy gives you, the insured, more control over the investment of your cash value (i.e., stocks, bonds, or money market accounts). The better the return on that investment, the greater your cash value accumulation.

On the other side of the coin, your poor investment decisions may reduce your cash value and may even reduce the death benefit. Some variable life policies include a guaranty that your death benefit will never be reduced. You can expect to pay for that guarantee with higher premiums.

Rest assured, like Las Vegas, the house does not lose in the long run.

 

Costs and Fees

Life insurance companies are financial institutions, and, as such, you must expect various charges in addition to the risk costs included in your premiums. Those costs include fees for administration, investment management fees, and charges for optional features.

A self-insurance program via a low-risk savings account requires self-discipline that is difficult to sustain. But such programs do not entail such extraneous costs. Those extraneous costs are the price we pay for a forced savings scheme.

 

Security of Your Cash Value and Death Benefits

While life insurance companies are financial institutions, the FDIC or any other government agency does not guarantee life insurance. Insurers are subject to state and federal regulations. Insurance companies are reported by various rating agencies. You should consult these ratings for comfort as to the insurer’s financial strength to pay your death benefits, cash values, or guarantees.

Finance risks
ArticlesFinanceRisk Management

Three Financial Risks You Don’t Want To Take

Finance risks

Risky and business are often said together as if they were two sides of the same coin. At some level, all business is risky. You cannot accomplish anything worthwhile without taking a few risks. Marriage is a risk because you might lose your shirt (and end up with a broken heart for good measure). But for many people, it is still worth doing. University is a risk because you might get stuck with a student loan you can’t pay off and a degree that doesn’t land you your dream job. Even so, you would be foolish to avoid going for fear of failure. 

Starting your own business is also risky. Depending on how big you decide to go, you might have to take out a second mortgage and risk your home, your good credit, and your ability to provide for your family in the future. That is a lot of risk to take on, especially considering the percentage of businesses that fail in the first five years. For the record, you should not risk your home for your business. Your family means more than the success of your passion project. There will be other business opportunities. You should know when to retreat and live to fight another day. That is just one risk that is ill-advised. Here are a few others.

 

Passing Up Good Opportunities

There is such a thing as opportunity cost. When you pass up good opportunities to enhance your business, that can be just as bad as leaping at bad opportunities. Knowing the difference is often what separates failure from success. One of the great new opportunities is the addition of smart lockers to your retail outlet. These are just a few of the benefits:

  • You gain a business relationship with the people in your community.

  • You make the community safer by providing secure package pickup.

  • You add a useful service to your businesses with little investment in time or money on your part.

 

Furthermore, customers benefit by:

  • Not having to worry about porch piracy.

  • Not having to worry about missing an important delivery.

  • Having a nearby place to send packages.

 

There are some opportunities that are too good to be true. They almost always are. And there are other deals that are too good to pass up. Many businesses that fail did so because they passed up opportunities that could have helped them succeed. Don’t let fear stop you from taking advantage of good opportunities that come your way. Saying “no” could be even more of a risk than saying “yes.”

 

Failing to Have a Backup Strategy

Do you know why cybersecurity crimes such as ransomware attacks keep happening? It is because they work so well. They work because people keep making the mistake of thinking it couldn’t happen to them. They think it couldn’t happen because they are such small and insignificant targets. The reasoning is very bad, and it gets worse the more you explore it.

Your biggest risk is the failure to have a prevention plan for cybersecurity attacks. Ransomware is a pretty easy attack to execute. It is also pretty easy to thwart. What you need is a good backup of everything that matters so that no one can hold your valuable data hostage. It should be a daily backup of a system that is only attached to the computer long enough to perform the backup. You should also have a cloud backup solution for everything in case your backup gets corrupted. In the security industry, it is said that two backups are really one. And one backup is really none. Failure to have a good backup strategy is a risk you should never take.

 

Never Invest Without Good Research

This one is one of the most obvious and also one of the most ignored rules of investing there is. People who invest on the basis of hot tips lose everything very fast. Another way this happens is through emotional investing. You really like a company for personal reasons so you invest heavily in their stock. This is a recipe for failure. If you don’t have time to do the proper research before the investment window closes, let it close and do better the next time. 

Your business is always balanced on the knife’s edge of success and failure. Avoid failure by taking advantage of good opportunities, engaging a good backup solution, and investing only in well-researched financial products. Failure to do any of these things is a risk you can’t afford to take. 

Financial Health And Wealth
ArticlesFinance

Tips to Improve Our Business’s Financial Health and Wealth

Financial Health And Wealth

As a business it is important that we focus on our financial health and find way to grow our long-term wealth. If we have not built up enough wealth one hiccup can tragically cause us to have to close our business. To grow our wealth, it is important to have a clear understanding of our current finances, understand some of the common trends that are occurring, and be able to respond flexibly when we face challenges.

 

Understanding Our Finances

On a basic level our finances include the difference between how much we own, and how much we owe to others. While we might think of this in terms of if we can pay our bills, it also means understanding if we have the money needed to respond when

something goes wrong. If we can always pay our bills but have no wealth saved up, a simple increase in the price of raw materials could put us out of business. 

No business wants to balance that close to the edge of uncertainty. Often the best way to understand our finances is to do regular audits. These audits might look like general financial audits or doing a FedEx audit to see if we can get a better contract with our shippers. The better we understand our own finances the better we will be able to plan for future wealth growing opportunities.

 

Using Financial Trends to Plan Ahead

There are several predictions around what is going to occur in 2022. For example, trends in payments suggest that more customers will be making payments on internet based devices such as smart home assistants or smart watches. In addition, trends suggest there will be a need to really be able to target customers based on their buying habits. We won’t be able to simply target everyone in a general demographic and still hope to succeed.

It is important to understand trends because it is easy to lose wealth investing in the wrong infrastructure for our business. We all know of businesses who jumped onto the internet early and thrived and businesses who struggled with changes and slowly faded away because they could no longer reach their customers. We also know of businesses who invested in technology but soon found the type of technology they had invested in was no longer relevant. These kinds of missteps can really impact our businesses financial health.

 

Importance of Being Flexible 

The businesses that can be the most flexible are the businesses that typically experience the most financial growth. There are a whole host of reasons why we need to be flexible if we want to succeed in the long term. We need to be flexible when we face supply chain issues. We also need to be flexible with how we engage with customers. If we can adapt to our customers, we can create stable long term revenue streams that we can depend on and use to create long term wealth.

For example, we may find that creating a subscription is a great way to increase sales.

Shifting to a subscription model has proven to be profitable for many of us and leads to more predictable revenues. One of the reasons such a model works so well is that customers get our products regularly and are automatically charged so we do not have to worry about them forgetting to buy our product or purchasing our product in a manner where it does not have time to get to them before they need to use it. 

We all would love to be able to grow the wealth of our business so that we can expand and reach even more customers. To do so it is vital that we understand our current financials and where we can make cost adjustments. We also must understand trends in wealth management and finances. Finally,we must be flexible so that we do not fall behind. 

Today more than ever before it is challenging to turn around a business if it starts to fall behind. If we hope to be a thriving business, it is important that we make sure to stay on

top of our finances. In addition, if we can build up our wealth, we can consider using some of that wealth to help support meaningful community programs that help others.

Transactions
ArticlesFinance

Accepting More Good Transactions: 6 Steps to Prevent False Declines

Transactions

Listen to this and tell me if it sounds familiar: a customer is browsing your online shop, and they’ve decided to buy one of your products. It’s unsurprising; you’ve worked hard across your business to get them to this far — great products, good marketing, and fantastic shopping experiences are no happy accidents. Finally, they type out all their payment, delivery, and personal details, and hit that all-important complete purchase button.

But the payment fails. It hasn’t been authorised. Has it happened to you before?

It’s a more common (and frustrating) problem than you may think. 15 per cent of recurring credit card payments decline, according to Visa and Mastercard. Some industries exceed the 30 per cent mark. Neither you nor your customer can understand why it’s happened; their details are correct and they have credit, why wouldn’t it work? All you’re given is a message such as ‘do not honour’ — there’s really no further action you can take.

Ultimately, your customer walks away disappointed and unlikely to return. Not only have you just lost a sale, but you may have lost a lifetime customer.

The cause of declining a genuine customer is named as a false decline. It’s neither your own nor your customer’s fault, but these types of declines cost UK businesses upwards of £1.6 billion in revenue.

Fortunately, there are six simple solutions to accepting more good transactions and preventing those pesky false declines that are hurting your business. Here, we explore how online payments work and how you can boost your business.

 

1. Provide more data

Issuers authorise or decline payments based on evidence. Providing more merchant-side data to issuer banks and payment companies allows them to better assess the risk of each transaction and determine if they are legitimate.

According to large issuers such as Capital One and Amex, submitting additional data from the merchant-side leads to a one to three per cent increase in authorisation rates and significantly reduces false declines.

This can be achieved with Transaction Risk Analysis (TRA) tools, where fraudulent orders can be filtered out and good orders (enriched with data from the merchant checkout) are sent to the issuer for approval.

 

2. Use quality fraud tools

Managing your fraud rate begins by using your own tools. And there are multiple benefits to using them. Not only will merchants lose less revenue through illegitimate orders and increase confidence in their processes, but they can also help build a reputation with the financial institutions.

Retailers that use machine learning and artificial intelligence to send cleaner traffic to banks reinforce the idea that their orders are more likely to be legitimate. The reverse happens to those who don’t manage their fraud – sending higher rates of fraudulent orders to banks gives the merchant a bad reputation, and bad orders become an expectation. We shouldn’t need to ask which reputation you want to achieve.

 

3. Authenticate payments when required

The way that payments are authorised is changing, particularly for those in the EU and the UK. This is thanks to the introduction of the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and Strong Customer Authentication (SCA). It requires customers to prove their identity at checkout to authenticate payments.

The new regulation steps up all orders, considering them as high risk unless they are exempt or excluded from the new authentication requirements. Merchants can ensure there’s less friction at the checkout through intelligent SCA exemptions and exclusions management.

These systems allow customers to have an easier checkout experience with less friction, meaning more orders for your store. Combined with quality fraud protection solutions, your business can build a record of clean transactions. Objectively, banks should become less conservative in authorising payments. High authorisation rates can spiral into even higher authorisation rates. It’s a good cycle to get into.

 

4. Accept digital wallets

You should be discerning when selecting a payment service provider. For instance, be sure you’re able to accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other digital wallets. Why? Because they require two-factor authentication to complete their purchases. Not only does this create more merchant-side data, but it’s also more likely to pass through fraud filters.

 

5. Enable card account updater

Many payment processors can automatically update your customer’s saved card details if they expire or are renewed. This stops any awkward declines that may require returning customers to enter new information that would add additional touchpoints to your checkout. Check with your processor and find out if they offer an account updater and that it’s updated.

 

6. Payment routing

Use payment routing solutions to analyse your particular payment ecosystem. It uses historical data to determine the transaction route which is most likely to result in a successful authorisation. Customer payment preferences and behaviours are different all around the world, so this is especially useful if you cater to an international market.

 

 

Merchants should carefully consider their authorisation optimisation strategy. It can make a real difference to your everyday conversions. Better authorisation processes don’t just benefit your business, it creates better experiences for your customers and incentivises future visits to your ecommerce store.

Finance Planning
ArticlesFinance

3 Times to Spend Money to Make Money as an Entrepreneur

Finance Planning

As a small business owner, it is obvious that your main goal is to make, and save, as much money as possible. Even though, especially in the early years, every penny spent can feel like it is going to be the one that shuts you down, that is not always the case. In fact, in some cases you need to spend money to make money. If you are confident enough in your plan and process to be able to analyze data, look at the numbers, and trust long term projections, you can begin to understand why, in business, sometimes tightening up the purse strings is holding you back.

 

To Modernize Software Solutions

In today’s world, you just cannot get away with some of the primitive business practices that you used to be able to, and still experience growth and prosperity. You might be able to hold steady, or see a slight uptick, but if you want to increase your opportunity for profit and sustainability you need to invest in modern software solutions that best suit your needs. In spite of the fact that technology can be stressful to some, it exists to alleviate that stress, so after the initial period of adjustment and some inevitable growing pains you are likely to wonder why you waited so long in the first place.

Logistics companies understand this all too well. Being able to do things like track vehicles and monitor maintenance issues with human power feels like a pipe dream as consumerism shifts to mostly online entities and the demand for high performing logistics companies increases. Proper software is a way to increase efficiency while reducing costs, in spite of the upfront spending to purchase and implement the program into your business. You can utilize a guide on fuel management systems and how they can increase efficiency and reduce costs, which is something that even the savviest data analyst would struggle to do by hand.

 

To Accelerate Growth

Online businesses especially understand that sometimes you need to spend a little to make a lot, if you want to grow. Starting out from your laptop at your kitchen table can only take you so far. While this is of course how some of the most successful businesses started, allow yourself to think ahead to where they are now, and how you can get yourself there.

If you are growing a retail business, your delivery system is critical in this quest. It can be a delicate balance to determine how and when to spend money in expansion efforts. If you expand too much too soon and the demand for your product does not follow, your overhead will be too high, but if you hold back for too long and your demand significantly exceeds your businesses capabilities then you risk losing customer to competitors who are better equipped to handle the volume. Find a pace that feels just outside your financial comfort zone, enough that it makes a difference but not so much that you’ve put all your eggs into one basket so to speak.

 

To Build the Right Team

Any successful business owner will tell you, it does not matter how smart you are, how good your idea is, how hard you personally work, if you do not have the right team in place to carry out your vision, it’s not going to happen. Your employees are on the ground level, the ones who are championing for your dreams all day every day, and sometimes you have to make significant investments to secure the right people. Money is one of the biggest ways to incentivize employees to do a good job, so that of course is an expense, but what about the other parts of a company culture that can make or break how they feel about how hard they work?

In this example you do not always need to spend thousands and thousands of dollars, but it is essential that you allocate some of your business budget towards employee morale and retention. These efforts can range from investing in desks that convert from sitting to standing, to show that you genuinely care about their health and wellness to randomly gifting gift cards for things like coffee, or meal delivery services, to make their workday experience a little more exciting.

Payment Trends
ArticlesFinance

2022 Predictions in Payments and Fintech

Payment Trends

John Lunn, Founder and CEO of Gr4vy 2022 Predictions

2022 is fast approaching, and with it comes resolutions and predictions for the year ahead. It bodes the question: what may the new year bring? Will Open Banking continue to dominate, and what technology will rise to the top?

 

1. The Rise of Tokenization

Data security will continue to be a struggle for the payments and fintech industries. As a result, we’ll see the further rise of tokenization and tokens to replace sensitive data with a non-sensitive digital equivalent to keep consumer data secure. 

Companies like Visa, Mastercard and Amex will continue to utilize tokenization as a means to protect credit card information. There are also rumors of interchange rate savings for banks, but there could be savings for those who start to use Visa and Mastercards network tokenization products. 

However, it won’t be a one size fits all proposition. Payment orchestration platforms that allow for tokenization and are PCI compliant will be crucial. Retailers and merchants will use these platforms to circumvent having to tokenize through just one payment service provider. Instead, they will opt for payment orchestration platforms that allow them to tokenize in many different places and provide a better user experience. 

 

2. Open Banking will Accelerate in 2022

Interchange rates will increase in 2022. As a result, merchants will face higher costs to accept credit card payments. We’re already seeing interchange rates affect the fintech and payments industry with news of Amazon no longer accepting Visa cards in Britain. 

Before with Open Banking, there was a problem with the user experience, but now the technology and companies offering it have caught up. Payment orchestration platforms have also made it easy to implement and provide open banking options at checkout, so merchants have a strong reason to offer it as a payment option. 

To that end, Open Banking will continue to be a hot topic in the year ahead. And, for merchants, it will be more lucrative with no chargebacks while allowing customers to pay directly from a bank account. Open Banking will serve a whole population of underserved customers who may not have access to a credit card. And when combined with payment orchestration, it will provide a better retail checkout experience. 

 

3. Cloud Native Solutions will Help Retailers Stay Competitive

Digitalization or moving to the Cloud has accelerated during COVID-19, driven not only by the considerable growth in online shopping but also by the ability of in-house teams to run infrastructure when working from home. 

This shift toward cloud-hosted solutions and headless commerce will continue its momentum. When you couple this with the massive skill gap developing due to the lack of cloud engineers, you see the increasing need for no-code solutions that are cloud native. 

2022 will be the year of headless commerce backed by no/low code backends that will allow today’s retailers to scale and innovate at the speed they need to in order to remain competitive.   

 

4. Alternative Payment Types will Gain Prominence in 2022

2022 will be the year Bank to Bank Payments, Wallets and other payment types rise to prominence. Credit cards’ share of checkout will continue to decline at an accelerating pace driven by increases in interchange rates, as well as consumer preference with millennial and GenZ consumers. 

 

5. Payments Are Getting More Complicated – It’s Time Retailers Take Note

A big trend in 2022 will be around embedded banking or embedded finance. For example, being able to embed credit card applications and creating checking accounts within other people’s apps.  

Consumers, however, are expecting more, and everything is getting more complicated. It used to be that merchants could offer just one or two payment methods at checkout, such as credit card payments. With the rise of ACH payments, wallets, Buy Now Pay Later, and more, customers demand alternative ways to pay and greater flexibility. 

 

Retailers will need to shift in 2022 and offer various payment options and experiences at checkout. As a solution, I expect we’ll see payment orchestration take center stage with retailers adopting payment orchestration platforms that are no-to-low low code to add new payment methods quickly. Alternatively, merchants will be able to utilize the ability to offer greater payment options at checkout as a marketing tool while also increasing customer loyalty by delivering customers the payment options they desire.