Category: Funds

ArticlesFunds

Online Business Ideas to Start in 2022

If you want to make money without having to spend time at a 9-to-5 job, launching an online business could be exciting and rewarding. As an online entrepreneur, you can work remotely, hire freelancers, and make money from anywhere.

The goal of starting your own business does not always have to be to get rich. You could start your business with minimal cost, make a reasonable profit, enough to cover all your expenses, and still consider yourself successful. All you have to do is choose an idea that matches your skills and interests, and then find a way to make it happen.

Here are some business ideas to consider.

 

Online Retailing

As a niche market retailer, you will offer a range of products to a smaller group of customers, such as people with specific product interests. Starting a niche eCommerce site is an excellent way to build a profitable online business.

Using the right marketing strategy, you can reach a niche customer base and grow your business organically. To get your online storefront up and running, you only need a dynamic website and a web hosting service like WooCommerce hosting, which provides full-service solutions necessary to optimize an eCommerce site.

Once you have set up your store, focus on developing a high-quality delivery service to ensure customer loyalty.

 

Consulting

Here are some popular types of consulting services that pay well because of their subject matter expertise.

  1. Search Engine Optimization Consultant: Are familiar with organic web traffic and have technical skills with tools like Google Ads and Google Analytics? Then you may want to consider becoming a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultant. You’ll advise companies and organizations on how to increase their search engine ranking and online visibility. You’ll also scout out the competition and give your clients advice about how to outperform them.

  2. Small Business Marketing Consultant: If you have been an entrepreneur, you may be able to share your experience with people struggling to start their own business. You can market yourself by creating a blog or podcast to offer advice and tips to aspiring entrepreneurs. Taking on the role of an advisor will allow you to use your considerable knowledge and hard-won experience to help others succeed in life.

 

Blogging

You can establish yourself as an expert in your industry by starting a blog. It’s a great way to get your name out there, increase the visibility of your products or services, and drive more traffic to your website.

When you’re writing, keep quality and value for your readers in mind. Sharing your thoughts, opinions, and experiences with the world helps you build a personal brand. You can monetize your blog by selling advertising on your site or promoting affiliate links.

 

Affiliate Marketing

You can generate leads and revenue through affiliate marketing. Often people trust the opinion of a friend, family member, or colleague over an advertisement.

Affiliate programs allow you to link to products and earn a commission for sales so you can make money from your website or social media following. This type of advertising will always be around since it’s one of the cheapest ways to reach customers.

 

Lean Into It

If you’re not ready to make the leap into starting your own online business next year, then lean into it gradually. Don’t quit your day job; just start your online business project as a side-hustle.

Making the leap from full-time employment to entrepreneurship can be a difficult decision because it’s a big change with many risks. However, even just starting a part-time business for passive income can mean not having to work a 9-to-5 job while you pursue your dreams.

Asset Management
ArticlesFunds

Seven Critical Ways to Help Protect Your Financial Assets

Asset Management

Protecting your financial assets can mean many different things. It can mean that you want to keep as many of your assets as possible in the event of a divorce. Protecting assets could also mean ensuring that your assets go to the right place in the event of your death. But in this case, let’s talk about how to protect your financial assets in the here and now. There are hackers, identity thieves, and even people looking for opportunities to get some of your money. Here are the easiest ways to protect your financial assets in your everyday life.

 

Keep Your Address Up to Date

You’d be surprised at how much of a risk you’re at when you don’t keep your address up-to-date. While it can be a hassle to get all your addresses changed on your bank accounts and all your investments, it’s easier than ever before to do a change of address online after you move to a new location. If you don’t do this and your account information gets sent to an old address, you’re at risk of people stealing this information.

 

Don’t Give Your Information to Untrustworthy Individuals

It’s important to carefully vet your brokers, your bankers, and your accountant to ensure they are on the up and up. These people will have direct access to all your personal and financial information, which can open you up to getting completely liquidated if any of these people are not doing the right thing. It’s okay to interview multiple people before you decide on who will handle your accounts.

Even with the best research and interviews, you can still be at risk, so you may want to account for any possible scenario. Ask them questions about their cyber security and data security, as well. This will help you determine if there are any potential risks with their system.

 

Use Antivirus Software on all Your Devices

When you type in your login information or account information into a computer that’s been compromised with viruses and malware, you’re putting your finances at risk. Hackers can record keystrokes and use that information to log in to your accounts and liquidate your assets. Antivirus software protects you from getting your systems bogged down with viruses and other malware. These sneaky hackers get in through emails, unsecured websites, and even through your wireless connections. Using anti-virus is one barrier you can put in place to protect your assets.

 

Get Liability Insurance

Are you a homeowner or rental property owner? Do you own a business with a physical location? Then having liability insurance is critical. If someone gets hurt on your property or your property harms another, you want insurance to cover everything. Without the right amount of insurance, you’re at risk of litigation that could impact your wealth and finances for decades to come. And if you own rental properties, liability insurance will help you protect your assets if any of your tenants get injured on the property.

 

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

One of the risks in investing and keeping your money in bank accounts is that if a breach occurs, or something else ever happens to that company, all your assets are at risk. It’s best to have more than one account at different places to ensure your money is spread out and diversified. Not only should your investment portfolio include more than just stocks at Target, but it should also include accounts in more than one banking institution. In the event of any breach or catastrophic loss, you would still have assets in other places.

 

Have Both a Will and Living Will in Place

Another thing to think about when it comes to your assets and financial future is who will inherit it if you die or have control of it if you are temporarily incapacitated. By considering these things while you are healthy and in your right mind, you can be sure that all your assets go to the right people — or are used in the right ways while you’re not in control. Additionally, it ensures that your wealth doesn’t get liquidated unless you give explicit consent.

 

Are Your Assets Safe?

Protecting your financial assets while you’re alive is important if you want to maintain your wealth. Not only can it keep your money safe, but it can also protect you from other types of financial fraud. You might not think you’re at risk, but with the right safeguards in place, you can help keep your financial assets protected in all ways. 

ArticlesFunds

Who Is Eligible for Pre-settlement Funding?

When the negligence of another party causes painful and disabling injuries, the lawsuit and negotiations to get the compensation you need and deserve take time. Staying home from work to recover from your injuries takes a financial toll as you try to find a way to pay medical bills and living expenses while waiting for a settlement.

 Pre-settlement funding provides an immediate solution to your cash-flow challenges. A funding company gives a cash advance against the anticipated settlement of your personal injury case that can be used to relieve some of the financial pressures. There are, however, eligibility requirements to meet in order to receive funding.

 

What is pre-settlement funding?

A cash advance made by a funding company based on its evaluation of the value of your personal injury lawsuit and the likelihood of a settlement or judgment in your favor goes by many names, including:

  • Pre-settlement funding

  • Lawsuit funding

  • Pre-settlement loan

  • Lawsuit cash advance

  • Lawsuit loan

  • Litigation financing

These and other names describe the same product, which is an offer of a cash payment representing a portion of what a funding company believes your lawsuit settlement or judgment to be worth. The money advanced plus the fees charged by the company are repaid from the proceeds of the judgment or settlement.

Unlike bank loans that are based on your creditworthiness and ability to repay the debt, pre-settlement funding entirely relies on the funding company’s evaluation of the lawsuit. Your income or ability to repay the money advanced is not a factor in determining whether you are eligible for pre-settlement funding.

The advance and fees are repaid from the settlement or judgment from the lawsuit. If you lose the case, the lender absorbs the loss. The typical pre-settlement funding arrangement does not impose on you any personal obligation to repay the money.

 

How do lenders determine eligibility for pre-settlement funding?

Each company that offers to advance money against the outcome of your lawsuit has the ability to set its own eligibility requirements as a result of limited government regulation of the industry. Some of the most frequently encountered eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Existence of a lawsuit: You may apply for a cash advance at any stage of the case, but a lawsuit must be pending in court at the time you submit it.

  • You must have a lawyer handling the lawsuit: Funding companies obtain the information needed to evaluate your case from the lawyer representing you.

  • Type of case: Personal injury cases and other types of lawsuits likely to end in a judgment or settlement awarding money to the plaintiff. For example, a lawsuit seeking an injunction or other type of non-monetary relief would not qualify for funding.

Underwriters for the funding company look at the extent of your injuries and the evidence proving that the other party was at fault to evaluate the value of the claim and the likelihood of the lawsuit ending in a settlement or judgment in your favor.

 

Learning more about pre-settlement funding

Get advice from your personal injury lawyer about whether a cash advance against the outcome of your lawsuit would be a good option for resolving current financial challenges. If it is, compare the rates and terms offered by different pre-settlement funding companies before submitting an application.

Financial advisors looking over spreadsheets and graphs
ArticlesCorporate GovernanceFundsLegalPensions

How Can Pension Schemes Align With ESG Goals?

Financial advisors looking over spreadsheets and graphs

 

By Tracy Walsh, partner in the pensions team at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson

Pension schemes and the industry as a whole are responding to the zeitgeist of ESG investing. Last year, the Universities Superannuation Scheme, the UK’s largest pension scheme, announced that by 2023 it will have divested from companies involved in tobacco manufacturing, coal mining and weapons manufacturers, where this makes up more than 25% of their revenues.

The government has chosen not to impose targets onto pension schemes and is instead hoping that all schemes can learn from the actions of some larger schemes like this that have set ambitious ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investment strategies, and in particular those that have voluntarily adopted net zero targets for their investments. Pension schemes will need to engage much more with their asset managers, understand what net zero really means, and be prepared to better interrogate their managers over their fund selection and how this is being monitored.

That will require Trustees to be more clued up, and to have a much different investment strategy, than perhaps they have been in the past. But the effort is likely to be worth it, for their scheme members. ESG investing is proving to be very attractive to millennials (Trustees may be surprised by just how many of their members fall into that bracket), and is bucking the assumption that ESG investing means lower returns.

Research from Bloomberg has shown that the average ESG fund fell in value by just half the decrease registered of other funds in the S&P 500 index over the same period during the Covid-19 crisis. All of which is good news for DC fund values, and also for DB schemes that are seeking to rely less and less on the employer going forward.

Trustees should not focus solely on the “E” in ESG though. The social credentials of companies seeking investment are just as important and it seems that those companies with solid scores in their area have also performed better during the pandemic, and members will likely expect further and better particulars from their schemes about how those scores are arrived at, and how it has shaped the investment strategy for the scheme.

So how can trustees ensure that managers engage positively with investee companies on their behalf? There are some key actions Trustees should take, in order to exercise the right degree of influence and accountability among their fund managers:

 

Awareness:

Trustees should educate themselves about the S and the G in ESG, not just the E. Ask the managers and other advisers to provide training on how to interpret information, and what sources are being used to asset the ESG credentials of funds (especially social factors, such as labour standards and diversity). This will enable the Trustees to better monitor their managers and understand and interrogate the information provided by them, and in turn, managers will be forced to engage positively with investee companies

 

Accountability:

Trustees should make clear in their SIP and their risk register what their position is in relation to ESG, and how they will review the performance of their managers and investments against that position. Don’t just use boiler-plate assurances that the asset manager’s policies are consistent with the Trustees’ ESG beliefs. The voting policy is an excellent tool, even where voting is delegated, and would set out how schemes check their manager’s approach (some asset managers’ policies currently offer limited coverage of social topics) and the steps that will be taken where the managers’ voting choices diverge from the scheme’s voting policy.

 

Leadership:

Require your managers to be signatories of the UK Stewardship Code. If you are a qualifying scheme, you should also sign up, to show that you are walking the walk as well.

 

Follow through:

Select managers whose approach to ESG and sustainability issues is in line with that of the scheme, and choose those that can demonstrate that they fully integrate ESG considerations into their investment process.

Tracey Walsh
Tracy Walsh
Private Equity
ArticlesEquityFunds

Bite Investments Launches Private Markets Portfolio

Private Equity
  • Bite Investments is launching its first ever commingled private markets product to meet the needs of high-net-worth investors and wealth managers

  • The fund is a one-stop solution offering a diversified strategy mix to support wider portfolio objectives

  • By expanding access to private markets, Bite solves an acute problem in wealth management

Bite Investments, a digital asset manager and fintech company specialised in alternative investments, launches the Bite Private Markets Portfolio, offering investors the opportunity to access a diversified allocation to alternatives with one investment.

From this week, investors can get diversified exposure across investments strategies, geographies, and fund managers in one ticket. The Bite Private Markets Portfolio will allocate capital into 8-10 underlying top-tier funds, assessed and selected by Bite Investments’ expert investment team. The minimum investment size is $100,000 and the core sectors are: Healthcare, Information Technology, Software, Business Services, Financial Services, Consumer, and Industrials.

“The promise of alternatives is excess of returns in comparison to risk. For far too long, individual investors have not been able to capitalise on this. Through technology, we are now pleased to offer them exceptional access to the best parts of private markets via a single ticket investment”, says Henry Talbot-Ponsonby, Co-Founder and President at Bite Investments.

 

Companies are staying private longer

There has been a profound change in the way companies grow and raise money, by staying private. Their eventual success may never actually be accessible via public markets. This means investors who ignore private markets now, may be limiting their potential for the future.

Not only has there been a growth in in the number of private firms, but since 2000, buyout asset value has grown 3.5 faster than public equity market capitalisation, according to Bain’s Global Private Equity Report 2020.

“Historically, individual investors have neither had access to top fund managers, nor have they been able to reap the benefits and value created as companies stay private for longer. Tomorrow’s unicorns may never even go public”, says Anna Barath, Investment Director at Bite Investments.

 

Technology removing barriers for growth investing

Private equity has been one of the best performing asset classes globally over the last 3 decades, according to McKinsey’s Global Private Markets Review 2020. However, due to a combination of high fees, high minimum investment amounts, and lack of access to top funds, wealth managers, RIAs and IFAs have not been able to access this investment strategy. As a result, high-net-worth investors are under-allocated as compared to other investors.

“By making alternatives more accessible to our clients, we are helping them diversify instantly. Using technology, we enable individual investors to access, unlock and invest bite-sized amounts into some of the most exciting private markets strategies out there”, says Henry Talbot-Ponsonby, Co-Founder and President at Bite Investments.

 

The growing market for private equity

Estimates predict that private investment markets will grow. A Deloitte Insights article forecasts global PE assets under management to reach almost US$6trillion in the next four years and it has shown great resilience to recent downturns, including the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-09 and the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020-21, as shown in McKinsey’s Global Private Markets Review 2021.

“With the public markets not generating alpha to satisfying levels and the current low-interest rate environment, investors are turning to the private markets. Our new Private Markets Portfolio is suitable for clients looking for long term capital appreciation with alpha outperformance potential provided by co-investments and venture capital strategies”, says Anna Barath, Investment Director at Bite Investments.

 

A seasoned team

All funds are assessed by Bite’s investment committee before being offered to investors. The selection basis includes, but is not limited to, underlying fund market opportunity, team, track record, fund terms and fit with Bite’s investor base.

The investment team has advised on over $13 billion of capital raises and conducted in-depth due diligence on over 100 funds and co-investments. Fund and direct commitments made across private equity, private credit, and real assets are in excess of $4.2 billion total.

Pension
ArticlesFundsPensions

Pension Awareness Day: Expert Advice for Tradespeople On How to Prepare for Retirement

Pension
  • One in eight (13%) older tradespeople (55-64s) have no financial plan for retirement 

 

Preparing for retirement can be challenging, and it can be difficult to know where to start. In fact, recent research by IronmongeryDirect found that one in eight (13%) tradespeople approaching retirement age (55-64s) don’t have any financial preparations for retirement. 

So, what do you need to know about saving for retirement? 

IronmongeryDirect has partnered with Fabian Taylor, senior associate and chartered financial planner in Nelsons’ wealth management team, and George Stainton, senior wealth manager at Hoxton Capital Management, to reveal helpful tips for tradespeople on how to prepare for retirement.

 

1. It’s never too late to start

While it’s recommended to begin planning for retirement as soon as possible, IronmongeryDirect’s research found that more than one in ten (13%) tradespeople approaching retirement age don’t have a financial plan in place. Thankfully, it’s never too late to make a start.

Fabian said: “Contributions to a pension attract tax relief from the Government. So, for every £80 you contribute, tax relief of £20 is added, making the total contribution £100. 

“As a general rule of thumb, you should try to save half the age at which you started as a percentage of your salary. For example, if you start saving at age 20, then you should contribute ten percent, but if you start at age 30, you should aim to save 15%.”

 

2. Saving early makes things easier 

While it’s true that you can start saving at any point during your career, it’s sensible to begin putting aside money for retirement as early as possible.

Many young people have the advantage of being able to use workplace pension schemes, but for those who opt out, are ineligible, or are planning on saving additional funds, starting early has major benefits.

George said: “If younger people are not contributing to a pension scheme, then they should make sure they have some sort of structured savings in place. Getting into the habit of saving for retirement earlier in your career will make life much more comfortable as you get closer to retirement. Let us look at a simple calculation to prove this.

“If someone needs to have a retirement pot of £500,000 at the age of 55, they will need to save £441 per month if they start at the age of 25 and see a 7% return on their investment each year. If they start saving at 35, this figure increases to £1,016 per month and dramatically increases to £2,783 per month if they start at 45 years old.”

 

3. Take advantage of workplace schemes

For tradespeople who work on an employed basis, they should look to enrol in their workplace pension scheme, if they have not already.

This means that they will be saving throughout their career, with additional top-ups from their employer, and while tradies should still aim to set up a private pension, a workplace scheme provides a safety net in the meantime. 

Fabian said: “If you are 22-years-old or older, earning over £10,000 and employed by a company, you will be automatically enrolled into your company’s workplace scheme. Through this, a minimum of 8% of your earnings, split between yourself and your employer, between £6,240 and £50,000, will be invested into your pension. If it is affordable, you should consider increasing contributions. If you opt out of this workplace pension, you are missing out on money from your employer.”

George said: “Thankfully, with the help of auto-enrolment, younger people are better equipped than ever to start saving for their retirement early. As the majority of the young working population will be contributing to some kind of workplace pension, they are able to benefit from the effect of long-term saving and compounded growth.”

 

4. Remember to plan ahead and save if you’re self-employed

Those working on a self-employed basis, unfortunately, do not have the same auto-enrolment to a workplace pension scheme that employed people do, so therefore it’s important that you make your own preparations and plan ahead for your retirement.

Fabian said: “Draw up a budget to see what you can afford to contribute each month, and do some research into the best place for you to put it that allows for investment growth and tax relief. Even if it is a small amount, every little helps.”

“Assuming a growth rate of five percent, if you were to contribute £50 per month to a pension at age 25, the pension could be worth £76,301 by age 65. However, if you don’t start saving until age 35, the pension could be worth £41,612 by age 65. The longer you wait to save in a pension, the more you may have to pay in later in life to save enough to meet your needs in retirement.”

Regardless of your age, it’s always best to prepare for retirement in advance. By ensuring that you’re making the most of workplace pensions where available, as well as saving privately, you can place yourself in the best position to enjoy retirement in comfort.

For more information and advice, visit: https://www.ironmongerydirect.co.uk/blog/tradey-retirements 

ESG Digital
ArticlesFunds

New Paper Predicts the Rise of Custom Equity Portfolios for Institutional Investors

ESG Digital

Managing customised equity portfolios in-house is one of the biggest trends to develop over the next few years among institutional investors, according to a new report from quant technologies provider SigTech.

In his whitepaper ‘How custom equity portfolios are disrupting pension funds’ ESG and index investing,’ Daniel Leveau, who manages SigTech’s strategic initiatives for institutional investors, argues that the combination of digitising the value chain of the investment management industry, ESG taking centre stage in the investment process and investors’ need to customise their equity investments, has created new opportunities for the industry. 

“Five years ago, the idea of creating and executing your own index strategies in-house would have been a daunting task. Today, it is 100% achievable. Custom equity portfolios allow institutional investors to define the investable universe and tailor their investment strategy to incorporate specific ESG policies and to directly hold individual securities”, comments Leveau. 

“By applying the concept of alternative indexing methods, investors can gain exposure to various risk factors that are optimal for them. One might want global equity exposure with larger downside risk, another a larger bias to small caps, whereas a third investor might desire a stable income from dividend payments. The same goes for ESG. No two ESG policies are alike. By owning the securities directly, investors can decide to what degree they want to be an active owner through voting and direct engagement.

“Investing is not about searching for an existing product that offers the best possible fit to the investor’s needs. It is about creating a product that 100% fulfils the investor’s requirements.”

Below we look in more detail at how ESG and indexing can be combined effectively and how the digitisation of the investment management sector now enables transparent, customised solutions that are created in direct alignment with the asset owner’s requirements.

 

ESG and indexing in combination

How does combining ESG and indexing work in practice? Today, investment products are mostly offered in “one size fits all” versions in the form of mutual funds or ETFs. An increasing number of index products that implement ESG policies have entered the market recently, but it is unlikely that these are fully aligned with an individual investor’s specific ESG policy. Aside from a lack of alignment, investors struggle with ESG rating agencies which often assign wildly divergent ESG scores to companies. 

The divergence is attributed to how the rating agencies define and measure ESG performance. Many of the criteria are hard to measure and assigning a rating for a specific criterion is often not as precise as using input from a firm’s financial statement. This ambiguity around ESG performance makes it hard to form a universal standard for ESG ratings.

Apart from this suboptimal situation, investing in a pooled investment vehicle – as opposed to owning the individual securities directly – such as an index fund or an ETF, makes it even more difficult for an investor to become an active owner. A pooled investment vehicle only gives the investor indirect ownership of a security. Investors don’t have the right to vote at a company’s annual meeting and it is more difficult to actively engage with these companies to constitute change. Lately, large institutional investors have increasingly come under fire for being anonymous owners and not taking full responsibility over their investments. 

Instead, Investors would be better off tailoring equity investments according to their desired risk factor exposure and incorporating their unique ESG policy. “One-size-fits-all” products are not the solution, investors need to embrace customisation and direct ownership of securities.

 

Digitisation

The commoditisation of investment strategies (e.g., through rules-based products such as index and smart beta products) is driven by technological advancements and has resulted in fee pressure for asset management products. Gradually it is also impacting the distribution process. Instead of offering pre-packaged products, fully transparent customised solutions are created in direct alignment with client’s requirements. To enable investors to profit not only from efficiency gains, but also from customisation, scalable turnkey solutions are now offered by service providers.

 

Rethinking equity portfolios

The investment management industry is undergoing tremendous change. Indexing and ESG are reshaping investor portfolios, whereas digitisation is impacting the industry’s entire value chain. Investors no longer need to look for an existing investment vehicle that is most closely aligned to their needs. They can now create a bespoke product that meets their requirements fully.  Custom equity portfolios are expected to become one of the biggest growth areas in asset management and are one of the industry’s most exciting new developments.

Woman chatting online with a laptop
ArticlesInfrastructure

Best Service Management Conversational Tech Company 2020

Woman chatting online with a laptop

 

Increasing productivity and efficiency for its clients, Aisera’s cloud-native management software is becoming the go-to option for companies across the board. With a vast array of capabilities that is only growing, its work is one of the most exemplary when it comes to intuitively automated personal interactions. 

 

Aisera’s AISM Architecture is a fully optimized team management service that is completely cloud enabled and fully end-to-end. Using a single AI platform across a multitude of services and allowing the accomplishment of multiple tasks all supported by the same software, it is multi-function and an invaluable business tool for the streamlining of processes across the board. Aisera provides service automation and empowers its clients to operate faster and more accurately. Improving business uptime, improved productivity, cost reduction, and consumer-like self-service for employees and customers, it cuts down on the manpower needed to handle basic processes and in-house operations by automating those with an intuitive and teachable AI interface. 

 

With Aisera, a client can turn their business into a high-volume resolution engine that is scalable to their business. This is one of the ways in which it makes itself highly cost effective, as its product can be scaled to match any company and their operations, ensuring that no client receives something too big or too small to handle what they need it to. Its self-service resolutions are quick and accurate, whilst allowing both customers and employees to enjoy a personalized and proactive AI service experience. In this way, it seeks to go against the notion that AI query resolution programmes are impersonal and clunky, ensuring its solution is empathic and well-designed. The platform itself is efficient and organized, allowing all encompassing AI Service Management that drives an efficient and automated service experience. Based on the principles of conversational engagement and workflow automation, it gives all users direct access to the tools their need to be more productive easier. AI and RPA solutions handle the direct interactions with end users. 

 

These programmes are concierge-grade, and with the technologies behind them being top of the range, they can help with everything from HR and sales to customer service and internal operations. Furthermore, AI Service Management integrates seamlessly with existing ticketing systems, knowledge bases, call centres, and customer service processes to automate those resolutions in a matter of seconds. Programmed with the ability to understand intent, sentiment, and ambiguous messages that other AI solutions find difficult, its clients and their end-users find themselves impressed by Aisera’s digitized multistep employee conversations. This has been especially pivotal in the past year with the advent of a majority work from home culture. Without the ability to simply cross an office and ask a colleague, Aisera’s services allow them to get an answer quickly and efficiently without having to wait for a co-worker to be available to chat. 

 

Aisera’s services also learn quickly and efficiently, picking up on nuances and working practices exclusive to the company it is managing so it can adapt to them. Aisera combines user and service behavioural intelligence with supervised and unsupervised NLP, NLU, and NLG in order to do this. Furthermore, it connects to existing systems, tailoring itself to work with over 400 different connections such as ITSM, CSM, Alerting, Monitoring, Chat Provisions, and RPA. It is also both no-code and cloud-native, requiring no additional resources or onboarding for getting it set up – it just works. Aisera also offers clients the option of improving productivity by use of its catalogue of over 1200 pre-built workflows. With all this in mind, it’s no wonder Aisera has become the trusted AI integration platform for so many businesses, and it looks forward to helping streamline the work of many more businesses in
the future.

 

For business enquiries contact Kim del Fierro at AISERA vai aisera.com

Close up of a welcome mat that reads
ArticlesReal Estate

Study Reveals: First-Time Buyers’ Biggest Fears

Close up of a welcome mat that reads


● Over a third of first-time buyers fear experiencing a ‘house value drop/negative equity’
● More than a quarter (26%) of first-time buyers worry they won’t be able to match their deposit saving rate to the rate of house price rises
● 11% of people fear ‘breaking up with someone after buying together’

Figures* show that there are approximately 39,000 Google searches on average for ‘properties for sale’ in the UK per month. Despite clear interest in the property market, this buying process can be particularly challenging for those getting onto the property ladder for the first time.

But what are first-time buyers really worrying about? The mortgage experts at money.co.uk surveyed 1,501 first-time buyers to discover what they are most fearful of when it came to buying their first home.

Top Five First-Time Buyers’ Fears Revealed:

Fears %
1. House value drop / negative equity
31
2. Saving enough deposit vs rise in house price
26
3. Unable to afford your mortgage long-term
22
4. COVID-19 influencing a spike in prices
13
5. Breaking up with S.O. after buying together
11


The biggest concern raised by first-time buyers is experiencing a ‘house value drop/negative equity’. In fact, 31% of respondents said they are worried about their property becoming less valuable than the remaining value of their mortgage.

Nisha Vaidya, mortgage editor at money.co.uk, said: “There are a few things you should keep in mind if you want to avoid negative equity. Firstly, it’s important to make sure you pay the market value for the property, so don’t shy away from negotiating on the asking price.

“Secondly, the larger your deposit, the more equity you will have in the property. So, if you are able to save enough, putting down a bigger deposit is a good idea.”
While putting down a larger deposit is a great way to unlock lower interest rates and better mitigate shifts in house prices, over a quarter of first-time buyers said they are worried that they wouldn’t be able to save at the same pace as the rise in house prices.

Nisha Vaidya, a mortgage editor at money.co.uk, offered these tips for saving for a deposit:
● Setting a budget: In addition to understanding how much deposit you’ll need, there are other costs to consider when purchasing a home, such as survey costs, solicitor or conveyancer fees and insurance. But by setting a budget, you’ll be able to plan out your savings targets and start saving for your ideal home.
● Cut the cost of your rent: You’ve probably asked yourself the question ‘How to save money for a house’ multiple times, but one way is by paying less rent to free up more cash for your deposit fund. If you live alone, consider moving into a house share or living with family to save on rental costs.
● Get a lodger: If you live alone and have space, taking in a lodger can be a great way to help subsidise the cost of renting and give you extra money to save for a deposit. Before you begin your search for a new flatmate, check your landlord is happy for you to share their property and sub-let a room.

The third most common worry experienced by first-time buyers is being ‘unable to afford your mortgage long-term’ – a concern experienced by 22% of respondents. 

Nisha Vaidya added: “If you are worried about affording your mortgage, there are ways a buyer can get support. This type of support can include: a payment deferral, an extension to your mortgage term and a change to your mortgage type. If you are looking to buy a new home but have financial worries, using the Help to Buy scheme could offer you the support you need. 

This Governmental scheme offers buyers an equity loan they can use to help buy a new build home, allowing buyers to purchase a property with a 5% deposit and receive a loan for up to 20% of the property value, which will be interest free for 5 years. The buyers must then take out a standard mortgage for the remaining 75%.”

Moreover, the pandemic has affected us in many ways, and it has created new concerns in different aspects of our lives, including financial ones. The survey conducted by money.co.uk reveals that 13% of first-time buyers fear ‘COVID-19 influencing a spike in prices’.

This is not the only fear people have as a result of Covid-19. With many people becoming remote workers, confusion has arisen in regard to where it’s best to buy, in the eventuality of going back to the office. 5% of respondents have said they have concerns regarding the ‘uncertainty about location with working from home [WFH]’. 

Couples who buy together have also admitted that a big concern is ‘breaking up with someone after buying together’, with 11% of people fearing a separation could create difficulties with property related matters. 

Nisha Vaidya, a mortgage expert at money.co.uk, said:

“Getting on the property ladder can be a nerve-racking experience for first-time buyers, as being misinformed can cost greatly – whether it’s losing out on a dream home or losing a lot of money in the process. However, the best thing first-time buyers can do is do their homework thoroughly before embarking on this journey.
“Being equipped with the right information will cut the risk of encountering unpleasant scenarios that many first-time buyers fear, such as experiencing negative equity or being unable to afford a mortgage long-term. Once you are confident in your knowledge the process should be less risky and more exciting.”

Methodology
● Mortgage experts at money.co.uk conducted a survey in which 1,501 people participated. The question “As a first-time buyer, what is your biggest fear?” was asked.
● The survey sample is broken down as follows: 56.5% male respondents, 43.5% female respondents. 8.5% were aged 18-24, 19.5% were aged 25-34, 13.7% were aged 35-44, 17.0% were aged 45-54, 22.9% were aged 55-64 and 18.4% were aged 65+.
● Geographically, 77.7% of respondents were from England, 15.6% of respondents were from Scotland, 6.1% were from Wales and 0.7% of respondents were from Northern Ireland.

*Figures provided by https://ahrefs.com/.

Savings
ArticlesFinanceFunds

The Nation’s Most-Searched Savings Strategies… and How to Access Them

Savings

By Annie Charalambous, Head of Communications at ETX Capital


Britain is pinching its pennies. According to the FT, UK household savings have increased nearly 2 percent in the last quarter as 20 million Brits commit to saving more of their income after the pandemic settles. That being said, many Brits aren’t sure where to start when it comes to managing finances.

We’re taking a look at how the nation is researching its savings options, revealing the UK’s most-searched strategies and we’ll even explain how to take the first steps towards them.

 

1. Premium bonds (368,000 monthly searches)

Premium bonds are a unique, interest-free way to save. You buy the bonds (in this case, a minimum amount of £25, and a maximum of £50,000) from NS&I, and each month you enter a prize draw in which your odds are 34,500 to 1, and you can win between £25 and £1 million. You won’t earn interest on your bonds, but instead, it’s the interest that funds the prizes.

Anyone can buy premium bonds, and this can be done on the NS&I website. Your money is secure in premium bonds and you can cash out all – or part of – your bonds at any time.

 

2. Lifetime ISA (74,000 monthly searches)

Lifetime ISAs are specialised savings accounts designed for those aged 18 to 40 to save for retirement or a first home. They allow you to save up to £4,000 each tax year, and the government adds 25 percent to whatever you contribute.

Anyone within these age limits can open a Lifetime ISA with a bank or building society. They can be paid into until you turn 50, however, money can only be withdrawn once you turn 60, or to buy a first property once the account has been active for 12 months. If you withdraw money before these key dates, you’ll lose your government contribution.

 

3. Savings accounts (74,000 monthly searches)

A savings account is a traditional bank or building society account, which lets you deposit money and earn interest each month. Savings accounts often have a low, if any, minimum starting amount, anyone over the age of 18 can open one, and your money can typically be withdrawn at any time. For these reasons, savings accounts are a common, low-risk approach to saving money.

 

4. State pension (74,000 monthly searches)

The UK state pension is a weekly financial sum for retirees. Anyone with 10 years of National Insurance contributions or more is eligible for some level of the state pension – with 35 years qualifying you for the full amount.

State pensions can currently be claimed once you turn 66, however, this is set to increase to 67 in 2028. The basic state pension is £137.60 per week but you may be able to claim more, depending on your earnings over your career.

 

5. Bonds (49,500 monthly searches)

A bond represents a loan, typically given by an investor to any government or company, which agrees to buy it back at an agreed date, with interest.

Anyone can buy bonds. Savings bonds can be accessed from banks and building societies, while Government bonds can be bought through their dedicated Debt Management Office website.

 

6. Fixed-rate savings account* (14,800 monthly searches)

Fixed-rate savings accounts offer a guaranteed rate of returned interest, on the agreement that deposited funds aren’t withdrawn for a set time. They typically offer higher rates of interest than traditional savings accounts and are also resistant to market fluctuation.

Anyone can open a fixed-rate savings account with a bank or building society, however some institutions may require a minimum deposit amount or set term length, so this may not be the ideal route for everyone.

 

7. Private pension (14,800 monthly searches

Unlike the state pension, which workers automatically contribute to through their National Insurance, private pensions require active entry and payments. Private pensions can include both workplace pensions, arranged by employers (who typically also contribute) or personal pensions.

Anyone of working age can set up a pension. Some, like ‘final salary’ and ‘career average’ pensions will pay out a pre-agreed sum upon retirement, while other pension types may invest your money, meaning you’re able to earn higher interest (at higher risk).

 

8. Child savings account (14,800 monthly searches)

Child savings accounts are similar to regular ISAs but are designed for parents to save for their children (18 and under). These give children the opportunity to learn how to manage and save money, and they can even withdraw money before they’re old enough to open a regular savings account.

Some alternatives to children’s savings accounts include Junior ISAs and Children’s Bonds. These may offer greater returns and tax breaks but often put limits on when and how funds can be accessed.

 

9. Student bank account (12,100 monthly searches)

Some banks and building societies offer specialised savings accounts for those in higher education. These typically act in the same way as a regular ISA but offer sign-up incentives for students, like discount public travel cards and 0 percent overdrafts.

As the name suggests, only active students can open student bank accounts and providers will require savers to prove their identity with a valid student card.

CBDC
ArticlesFundsMarkets

CBDCs Impact on Payments Market: A Push for Repositioning Barriers for Market Newcomers

CBDC


For the payments market, government-backed digital currencies could accelerate innovation by setting novel technology benchmarks, as well as rearrange some of the entry barriers for new companies looking to set up shop.

A recent survey of central banks has revealed that 86% are actively doing research into central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), 60% are already in the experimenting phase and almost 15% doing pilot testing. With CBDCs heavily gaining traction across governments worldwide, Marius Galdikas, CEO at ConnectPay, has discussed how this technological solution could impact the payments market players.

The idea of CBDCs has been circling around for a few years now, however, with the growing attention towards cryptocurrencies and money digitalization in general, banks are now focusing on how to put the idea into practise. For instance, the Bank of England together with HM Treasury has created a dedicated task force to explore potential use cases of CBDC in the UK market, as well as monitor international developments regarding the topic. Norway is pushing ahead with CBDC, too, while China is already in the process of testing digital Yuan out in the real world.

“CBDCs could be a game-changer for the payments industry. Aside from the clear benefits, for instance, low-cost cross-border payments or boosting financial inclusivity, it could also enhance domestic payments system resilience, slightly shifting dependence from the international payment processing networks,” Galdikas said.

According to Galdikas, CBDCs could be a major catalyst for the payments market, as government-issued digital currencies would be as easily accessible as current e-money payment methods, yet, in some respects, it could surpass what current market players have to offer.

“Although it has immense potential, the idea still has a long way to go. Essential decisions need to be made concerning how state-backed currencies could inherit the properties of cash, for instance, working offline or addressing the double-spending problem. Also, it’s highly likely that the central banks will not take on the responsibility to develop and implement the technology themselves, yet will want to retain the control of the currency itself,” Galdikas explained. “There is no best way to address these types of questions and that’s why specialized teams and task forces are being assembled — to come up with an approach that would combine different tools into a single solution.”

“Therefore payment service providers will have to step up their game to match the benefits CBDCs would bring to the table, which means moving up into a higher gear when it comes to innovation and delivering unique market solutions. They’ll have to be more strategic in communicating their strengths and value proposition to their target audience, too,” he added.

While outlining the benefits, Galdikas also noted how this would impact market newcomers. “CBDCs would definitely set an even higher standard for greater technological competence, which means setting up shop for new businesses is going to need a lot more investment from the get-go.”

“That said, I believe that some of the barriers would drop, for example, the requirement that only credit institutions have access to payment systems, such as SEPA. All in all, the CBDC, with inherent properties of cash, would allow for a wide variety of innovative financial solutions,” he concluded.

This could be a pivoting moment in the industry, which would greatly contribute to building a more financially inclusive society. However, a lot of questions must be addressed before then, with the main ones being technological implementation, as well as privacy concerns, which might arise due to CBDCs being state-backed.

Bills
ArticlesFinanceFunds

South West Businesses Piling on Debt, Bills and Overdrafts Mounting During Lockdown


A year on from the start of the pandemic, business finances in the South West have been badly damaged, with many business owners increasingly reliant upon costly sources of borrowing such as overdrafts and credit cards, a Business West survey has revealed.
40% of the 550 businesses that responded to the survey reported a higher level of indebtedness than a year ago, whilst a similar number (43%) had 6 months or less of cash reserves remaining, laying bare the huge financial cost of coronavirus despite extensive government interventions in the economy.
With pressures on firms growing after multiple lockdowns, 28% of businesses seeking out finance opted to utilise the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) – a government backed initiative offering favourable interest rates and flexible repayment terms, but this scheme has now ended.
Salisbury-based 365 Linen Hire, which provides tablecloths and napkins to the weddings and events industries, highlights how emergency borrowing has taken the strain for many COVID-19 impacted businesses. Its Manager Richard Gould said that as hopes were dashed of the economy unlocking earlier in the year, the business sought out BBLS funds to gear up for a summer reopening, having “held out as long as possible”.
The use of overdrafts and credit cards by local businesses is also relatively high, at 22% and 19% respectively, considering that these sources of finance are more expensive than government backed emergency finance. They are also more common than the formal government backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which only 16% of respondents chose, typically larger businesses within the survey respondents. The percentage of businesses borrowing money from family and friends is also quite significant, at 11%.
Bristol-based marketing agency Feisty Consultancy was one of the businesses that complained of receiving a rough ride from their banking provider over the past 12 months.
“During the first lockdown at least, the banks were helpful in reducing/removing fees,” said Feisty Consultancy’s Managing Director Vikki Little. “But this stopped some months ago and hasn’t been reinstated, despite the fact that the situation is now worse for many businesses. I wrote to my bank regarding this and was told ‘tough’ essentially.”
If the increased prevalence of short-term borrowing wasn’t worrying enough for the state of business finances, it is particularly so for the self-employed. Two fifths of respondents identified credit cards as their main source of financing during the pandemic – a finding which suggests that the self-employed (many of whom fell through the cracks of government support schemes) were unable to access cheaper, alternative forms of borrowing.
Against this background, Business West is concerned at a potential ‘finance crunch’ coming for small businesses. With repayments starting on government backed loans and the level of (often high cost) debt from financial institutions and others, the burden of this debt is expected to act as a drag on business recovery.
Unsurprisingly, after a year of lockdown restrictions, almost half of the 550 participants reported a deterioration in their cashflow, taking this to the lowest point in the last 3 years, with responses consistent across both the services and manufacturing sectors. “It is dreadful,” said Val Hennessy of the International House language school in Bristol – one of the businesses speaking out. “Virtually no income and little prospect of a real increase in income in the near future as international travel is banned or the costs of travelling to the UK for students is too off-putting. We cannot risk borrowing anymore because the future is so uncertain.” she continued.
For businesses such as The Zoots band, government financial support has unfortunately done little to make up for the income shortfall of a year ravaged by stop-start lockdown restrictions. Its proprietor Jamie Goddard revealed that he is “currently in £30,000 debt” adding “with SEISS grants of only £2500 that covered about 1.5% of my usual turnover” and hopes they “will get something eventually” to address the situation.
Aside from widespread financial worries highlighted by the survey, the region-wide study also found that almost 40% of South West employers had experienced staffing issues as a direct result of school closures.
Stephen Sage, Managing Director of ACES Ltd – an electronics firm based in Bristol – said that along with school closures: “Social distancing measures have slowed our production along with…home working,” before adding “material shortages have also compounded the problem.”
The cumulative effect of rising debt levels and lockdown restrictions on business growth and performance across the region is plain to see.
Over half of respondents reported that their turnover, profitability and cash flow have been negatively impacted as a result of the pandemic. The percentage of businesses impacted in the retail, tourism, food and drink, and consumer services industries is even worse (over 60%), with many delaying growth plans and experiencing reduced profit margins.
Despite the pain of the past 12 months, businesses are remarkably upbeat regarding the future prospects of the UK economy, with business confidence also showing signs of lifting following government’s announcement of an irreversible roadmap out of lockdown in England. On both measures, this represents a marked uptick when compared to the last quarter’s results.
 
Providing his assessment of the survey findings Business West Managing Director Phil Smith comments:
“Whilst the UK’s successful vaccination programme provides genuine light at the end of the tunnel, it would appear that businesses will have to wait a little while longer before they are able to bask in the glow of a dawning economic recovery.
“There have been few winners and very many losers as a result of the pandemic, a good proportion of whom have taken on added debt to help see them through.
“In the best-case scenario, we will see pandemic related debts repaid quickly as business activity begins to ramp up and accelerate as lockdown restrictions are lifted. In the worst case, a mounting debt burden stymies business growth and proves a long-term drag on the region’s economy.
“To see businesses utilising the flexibility of the BBLS is pleasing. However, the fact that more and more businesses are turning to credit cards and overdrafts to solve cashflow issues is concerning. The reliance on friends and family may also be interpreted as a market failure that government and lenders would be wise in addressing.
“We are worried about small businesses and the self-employed’s access to suitable finance during the recovery period. At the end of March both BBLS and CBILS closed, and CBILS was replaced by the successor Recovery Loan Scheme. However, this is available via commercial bank lending and is only government guaranteed for 80% of the loan. Our findings highlight a looming finance gap for smaller firms, given the particular finance needs of smaller businesses, who appear to not be utilising CBILS, perhaps because it is harder to access this more formal bank form of financing. We think further government finance schemes for these smaller firms may be needed.
“After business’ most challenging year in living memory, it goes without saying that eyes remain fixed on the roadmap out of lockdown, as only then do we have the realistic prospect of healing the wounds inflicted by the pandemic and repairing business finances.”
Property investment
ArticlesFinanceFundsReal Estate

Top Tips to Raising Property Investment Finance in 2021

Property investment


In the UK, property remains one of the most resilient asset classes. From first-time buyers to portfolio landlords, getting established on the property ladder remains a popular way for many to grow their wealth. Depending on an individual’s circumstances and ambitions, Arbuthnot Latham, Private and Commercial Bank, explains the various routes to securing finance for property investment in 2021 and beyond.

 

Property finance for individuals

Many individuals, who have enough capital, will look to supplement their income by acquiring a second or third property on top of the one they live in. This will almost always involve a personal investment of capital and additional funds secured via a loan or mortgage.

The appeal of becoming a buy-to-let landlord is not just the relatively good performance of the UK residential property market, but the fact that the value of the asset can be increased with a proactive approach to property maintenance and improvement. Until now, property has been a very stable asset class, and is one that empowers the owner to increase its value over and above standard market movements. It is important to note, with any asset class, that previous performance is not an indicator of future performance.

If an individual is looking to make this sort of investment, any finance they are able to secure will be contingent on their own circumstances. For example, will they be able to show how they would personally cover a shortfall if rental income doesn’t cover interest payments?

 

Other factors banks consider with individual buy-to-let mortgage applications

Credit rating

Whether they are entering the property investment market for the first time or expanding their portfolio, a clean credit score is an essential part of the puzzle. Small issues like missed payments might not make a huge difference, but County Court Judgements or missed mortgage repayments will be a significant barrier to securing the finance they need.

Minimum income

Most lenders in the UK require a minimum income to consider eligibility, but there are options for those with a lower income threshold, and there are even options available that have no income requirements.

Existing portfolio or assets

What lenders are willing to offer will change depending on if the individual is new to property finance or already own properties. Some lenders won’t consider landlords who own several properties, but this varies across the UK.

 

Property finance for portfolio landlords

Individuals who own four or more mortgaged properties become what’s known as a ‘portfolio landlord’. When they pass this threshold, there are certain expectations on banks regarding due diligence. From here, it’s not just about their own personal circumstances. For example, a bank is required to know the status quo of the rest of their portfolio. They need a deeper understanding of how the assets might interact and will also want to gauge their understanding of the market they’re operating in.

 

Factors banks consider with buy-to-let applications

  • Do they keep accurate records? There are many conditions to satisfy buy-to-let properties (fire safety certificates, guarantees for electrical items, insurance, etc.) More important still for HMOs: annual gas certificates. If they’re disorganised, cannot produce documentation when asked, or their business approach obstructs a bank’s due diligence, this is a red flag when considering a finance application.

  • The bank wants to know that a buy-to-let landlord is competent: aware of their obligations and best practice

  • A portfolio landlord should understand the market they want to operate in. Banks look for investors who have a good handle on their local area. A speculative application – not rooted in a comprehensive business plan – means more risk for the bank and a higher rate of interest.

Portfolio landlords should make sure they chose a lender who is right for them. If the individual are vastly experienced, cheaper rates found on the high street can be the right approach. A note of caution here is that as different lenders’ appetites change, it could result in an ongoing dynamic of regular refinancing to achieve the cheapest rate.

Other investors might move away from -the potentially lighter touch relationship approach of the high street, and opt for a longer-term relationship of consistency where their banker understands their circumstances, has years of sector expertise and can tailor solutions to meet their needs.

This is particularly helpful when circumstances change. The pooled collective knowledge of a real estate finance team can be particularly valuable to help a portfolio landlord adapt when circumstances change.

Stimulus Check
Funds

8 Great Ways to Use Your Stimulus Check

Stimulus Check

You’re getting the stimulus check, which is great news for those experiencing financial hardship. Now, it’s time to think about how you’re going to use it. The following are a few ways to help yourself and the nation’s economy.

  1. Clear Debts

One of the best suggestions on how to use stimulus check money is to pay down some debt. If you can decrease the amount you owe, the money saved going forward can be used to buy a new car or maybe even start a business. You’ll be freer, and that’s priceless.

  1. Vacation

Face it, people have had a rough year, and if you want a vacation, then maybe that’s the best thing you can do. It’s a way to recharge your batteries and feel good again. The vaccine is going to reopen things soon, so just plan your vacation with this cash. Stay within the US to boost the economy.

  1. Treat Yourself

Maybe you’ve been a little wary about spending because of everything going on. Things are turning around, so why not consider treating yourself with this check? There must be something you’ve wanted for a long time, like an entertainment center or something similar.

  1. Sustainability

The pandemic has taught us the value of self-sustainability. You can use this check to start your journey. There are many ways you can do this, from buying a chicken coup to have access to fresh eggs at home or investing in a greenhouse to grow vegetables.

  1. Home Repairs

Some folks have been sitting on much-needed home repairs for some time. It’s time to address those repairs, and you can use the check for that. You’ll be stimulating the local economy if you use a repair person from your community. Your home will function a lot better, so it’s a wise decision.

  1. Car Repairs

Maybe it’s not your home that needs to be repaired but your car. People sometimes put off repairs as long as the vehicle is still running. You don’t have to take that risk because you have this check coming. You’ll be supporting mechanics, and that’s a good thing to do during these times. Have an inspection done to see what needs fixing.

  1. Invest

If you feel like you’ve got enough money saved, then consider investing. Granted, there are markets where you might not want to invest just yet, especially if they’re in trouble, but there are a few industries still thriving. Do your research and find out where it might be a good idea to invest. This is an excellent way to ensure that your wealth keeps growing; it’s not like these checks will keep coming though they probably should because they are doing a lot of good.

  1. Save

Sometimes, the smartest thing you could do is just save the money. Maybe you want to make sure you have the cash for your kids to go to college. This could go a long way in making that a reality for you. Maybe you just want to save to buy your kid’s first car. There are many reasons to put your money away, so if there’s nothing else, then this is your wisest move. You don’t want to waste money frivolously, so just keep that in mind.

These are some ways you can use the stimulus check coming your way. You can use other ways, but you know your financial situation and goals, so choose carefully.

gold money investment
ArticlesFinanceFundsTransactional and Investment Banking

Why People Are Going Gold As An Investment

gold money investment


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

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

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

1. You Can Start Even With Only A Small Amount

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

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

 

2. It’s A Very Safe Investment

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

4. It Gives You A Good Return On Investment

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

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

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

 

5. It Protects Against Inflation And Economic Fluctuations

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

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

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

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

 

6. It’s Easy To Diversify

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

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

flexible payment
ArticlesFinanceFundsRegulation

Flexible Pay: Could it Become a New Trend Amid Pandemic?

flexible payment


In the light of the pandemic many are experiencing financial difficulties and are feeling the pressure of waiting for payday. Research carried out by Money Advice Service has previously discovered in the UK there 8.3 million adults who have found meeting monthly bills a “heavy burden” and have missed more than two bill payments in a six-month period. With the current economic climate and new research performed by EY, the weight of financial commitments is now at the forefront of people’s minds, as a result employers are exploring ways to alleviate the financial pressures currently felt by many.

 

What is flexible pay?

Flexible pay is a new concept whereby employees are paid with an on-demand option. This means if the employee requires their pay early, they can call their earnings to date to fulfil their financial needs removing pressures.

Flexible pay provides an on-demand solution to overcome financial difficulties without the need to ask for an advance from the employer which, in itself, is a daunting task. Flexible pay provides employees with on-demand access to their salary without cause to provide reasoning to why they need access to their salary early.

 

What employees needs it can address

In a study performed by EY, 73% of UK workers find it a challenging to meet everyday expenses or worry about not being able to meet them. In the report EY found 58% of people who have experienced financial difficulties have also reported a material deterioration in their health and wellbeing. Additional pressure stemming from financial difficult can cause mental health issues if long term strain of finances is not addressed.  The stresses associated with these financial burdens can impact other aspects of people’s lives from health and mental wellbeing to work life and personal life.

Flexible pay provides employees with a solution that does not result in additional borrowing and interest associated with borrowing.

 

The benefits it can generate for employers

Flexible pay is a solution that benefits the employer as well as the employee in several ways.

  • Cash flow neutral option for employers
    • Unlike other benefits often provided by employers, flexible pay is a cash flow neutral option. This means employers are not having to factor an upfront payment before the work has taken place.

  • Seen more favourably by employees
    • As with other employee benefits, flexible pay offers the opportunity for employees to look favourably upon their employers. This is a benefit that is designed to help remove a common factor that triggers stress, where work life can also be a contributing factor, flexible pay helps remove stresses outside of the workplace.

  • Attract Talent
    • When recruiting employee benefits can often sway talent to choose to work with a specific employer. Flexible pay demonstrates the employer is not only aware of the employee needs but also shows they are looking to support the employee with benefits designed to provide solutions to employee’s needs whether short or long term.

  • Improve Productivity
    • With many working remotely as a result of the pandemic, mental health and wellbeing has been a focus for employees as it can often impact productivity. By alleviating financial strain that often negatively impacts the employee’s mental health and in turn, their productivity the employer helps prevent their employee’s productivity from being affected.

 

How to roll it out in your business

Part of the challenge when introducing new benefits to employees is how to integrate it within the business. With flexible payment it requires set-up, training and rolling out to employees.

 

So what are the initial requirements?

  1. Flexible pay requires integration with the employer’s payroll system to enable a proportion of the employee’s salary to be available to call upon at the rate it is accrued.

  2. Employees will be required to measure the time worked; this could be through some form of a timesheet to record what has been worked when. This measurement will help calculate the accrued earning.

If payroll is performed in-house, training your finance team is vital to ensure only the salary accrued is available to the employee and any changes to payroll processing processes with particular attention to your payroll software. Training will need to focus on how employee accrued salary data is collected and processed as part of your payroll solution whether outsourced or not. 

Once the changes to your payroll is available to your employees it is important to educate them on what it means for them, what is changing for their payroll and, of course, how they can use flexible pay to call their salary early if need be.

 

IRIS FMP UK is an international payroll solutions provider that is able to offer bespoke payment solutions to businesses to reflect the employer and employee needs including flexible payment options. We are supporting thousands of international and UK based SME organisations. With over 40 years’ experience, we are committed to providing our clients with the very best service, offering transparency, reliability and honesty.

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Conister Reports Record Lending

  • 2020 lending totals £131 million, surpassing 2019 by 7%

  • Conister has also received an additional allocation of £5 million from the British Business Bank to focus on resilient businesses seeking funding

  • Conister has lent £9 million through the British Business Bank’s BBLS

Conister Finance & Leasing Limited (“Conister”), part of Manx Financial Group PLC (AIM:MFX), today announces that it achieved record lending levels in 2020, by advancing deals totalling £131 million, representing a 7% increase on the total amount lent throughout 2019 (£122 million), by providing critical funding to small and medium sized enterprises (“SME”) as they navigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The growth in funding facilities can in part be attributed to Conister’s accreditation to various Government backed loan schemes to help support struggling businesses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (“CBILS”), Conister has advanced £9 million in vital funding across 35 loans and recently announced that it had applied for and received an additional allocation of £5 million to focus on resilient businesses still seeking funding.

Conister has consistently supported the Government’s financial assistance for UK businesses which it believes has been a crucial lifeline to many. In addition to the CBILS lending, Conister has advanced a further £9 million across 246 loans through the Bounce Back Loans Scheme (“BBLS”), against an initial allocation limit of £10 million. 

Douglas Grant, Managing Director of Conister, commented: “We must ensure that the financial security of businesses is protected to allow those that are sustainable to flourish in the future. Up to now, the BBLS and CBILS have performed a fundamental role in keeping many SMEs alive and acted as an important triage system to identify and support qualifying businesses needing credit. However, we believe that we have now passed this phase. Unfortunately, we must recognise that many businesses will not survive this pandemic, particularly if provided with an unsustainable debt burden. It is imperative for the future that we now focus on identifying and protecting our most resilient business sectors.”

“At Conister we have delivered upon all of our initial objectives. We had an allocation limit of £20 million for the CBILS and BBLS schemes and so far, we have lent £18 million, and we will fully allocate the remaining £2 million in the coming weeks. Without doubt, the scale of applications was enormous and so we applied for and received an additional allocation of £5 million for the CBILS scheme and we will focus lending this to robust business sectors that we believe will thrive in the future. Conister will continue to do all it can, working alongside Government and traditional lenders, to support British businesses.”

Jo Dyer, Portfolio Business Manager at First Business Securities, a recipient of a BBLS loan facility through Conister, said: “Conister showed the support and leadership we needed when we first received an increase in requests for payment holidays in April, leading to an ever more likely cash-flow problem. We were impressed with their speed and efficiency and their service won’t be forgotten in future.”

cryptocurrency
ArticlesFinanceFunds

Examining the Pros of Stablecoins

Stablecoins are a form of cryptocurrency that differs in one key way to the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum – they’re stable, hence the name. Rather than experiencing volatility on the markets, those who purchase stablecoins can relax knowing that their investment won’t fluctuate in price. This makes them beneficial for not just individuals, but businesses that accept cryptocurrency as well.

The main type of stablecoin that we are going to look at in this article is centralized stablecoins. These are backed by fiat currencies 1:1 and so you often see them referred to with the currency next to their name – for example USDT (Tether) and GUSD (Gemini USD). The reason they are classed as centralized is because they are backed by a central organization, such as a government, a bank, or a company.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of centralized stablecoins.

 

Easy to Purchase

Opting to buy USDT and other stablecoins is very easy, and can be done by anyone with an internet connection. Platforms like Paxful make it easy for anyone to sign up, open a wallet, and buy USDT in whatever amount they want. You can purchase stablecoins using your debit card, PayPal, gift cards, credit cards, Western Union and more. It has never been as easy as it is today to get started.

 

Allows You to Use Fiat Like Crypto

When most people get started with cryptocurrencies, they can find it hard to understand just how much of a particular cryptocurrency they’re getting for their dollar. However, because stablecoins are pegged to a Fiat currency, it’s not quite so difficult to understand. Looking at Tether again, we can see that one USD equals one USDT. Tether experiences the exact same price movements as the USD, making it easier to understand and invest in.

 

Low Fees

Because of the peer-to-peer nature of stablecoins, and the lack of intermediaries, transactions tend to be a lot cheaper than with traditional finance. Credit card payments and bank transfers, for example, both charge a fee and commission, which can be exceedingly high when transferred abroad. This is not the case with stablecoins. Also, as mentioned above, due to them being pegged to a Fiat currency, it’s possible to transfer your USD to USDT, transfer the USDT to a friend, and then have them transfer it back to USD to save on transaction fees.

 

They’re Not Volatile

The main advantage of stablecoins over other types of cryptocurrency is that they’re not affected by the same price fluctuations. This is something that is crucial if the world is going to accept cryptocurrencies in the mainstream. No-one wants to accept payment for something, or receive their paycheck, without stability as the amount they receive could change dramatically from day to day. Due to their nature, stablecoins are helping to overcome many of the challenges faced by traditional cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, which will only help to encourage the spread.

As you can see, stablecoins have a clear place in the economy. It will be interesting to see if they ever replace Fiat currency in the future.

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

Finance Management

By Ben Hobson, Markets Editor, Stockopedia 

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

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

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

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

 

Keep your costs down 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Give every stock a role  

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

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

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

 

Resist the urge to react  

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

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

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

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

 

Time to go global 

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

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

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

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

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

Equity Crowdfunding
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Research Says Equity Crowdfunding Makes Firms More Appealing to Future Investors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This research was published in the Journal of Corporate Finance.
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UK Medicinal Cannabis Company Eco Equity Hits £18.3 Million Funding Target

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

How to Create a Home Renovation Budget

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How to Create a Home Renovation Budget

Do you have plans to remodel your home? There are many steps involved when you take on a renovation. That said, you should always start with your budget. This way, you can make changes you love while you make smart financial decisions. That’s a must for any project.

Take a look at how to create a home renovation budget.

 

1. Identify Different Goals

Why have you decided to renovate your house? You may want to add new counters to your kitchen or gut your entire first-floor bathroom. In any case, it’s essential to narrow your focus so that you don’t become too haphazard with your choices.

Be sure to write down your goals. If you want to remodel your basement, you can state that you want to add different floors, install a bar and switch light fixtures. These distinctions will ensure you aren’t roped into any expensive additions.

 

2. Research Estimated Costs

Then, you can research how much your intended changes will cost. Take an afternoon to look into estimations for your renovations. A quick web search can help you find potential prices. Feel free to contact local contractors to see how much you’ll need to set aside for labor, too.

You can find alternatives to materials that may be too expensive, as well. If you think new windows aren’t possible, you can seek other effective methods to increase your room’s natural light. There’s usually an alternative for whatever change you want to make.

There are many DIY budget options you can consider costs to keep prices down. For instance, you can always refurbish cabinets and drawers on your own. This process will save you money — and you can learn a handy lesson.

 

3. Determine Resale Value

It’s also smart to consider your project’s return on investment (ROI). Will your renovation provide enough resale value to make sense financially? You may want to skip that massive shower unless it’s a must-have for your family. Otherwise, you’ll waste money on a feature homebuyers don’t like.

That doesn’t mean you can’t add particular features. It’s up to you whether your plans make sense for your budget. Try to look into these figures beforehand so that you can model your plans correctly.

 

4. Consider Potential Surprises

You don’t want to set aside too little money for your project. There may be unexpected surprises that occur while your contractors work. It’s smart to overestimate rather than underestimate. This way, you have enough cash to address those problems without hesitation.

Put at least 10% extra into your budget so that you have that cash. If you don’t spend any, you’ll be able to use that money for other purposes in your renovation or elsewhere. Try not to start work until your budget adequately covers those potential expenses.

 

Use These Tips to Build Your Home Remodel Budget

A budget is necessary for every project you complete on your home. Be sure that your budget has enough research put into it so that you avoid major costs. As a result, you can enjoy a new space in your home without any major financial hiccups.

ArticlesReal Estate

Homeless Heroes: 87% Of Public Sector Workers CAN’T Afford A Mortgage in the UK

Homeless Heroes: 87% Of Public Sector Workers CAN’T Afford A Mortgage in the UK

With our public sector workers going above and beyond the call of duty over the last six months, property and mortgage experts at OnlineMortgageAdvisor.co.uk wanted to find out if people working in public sector roles could afford a mortgage and where in the UK would be most feasible .

After looking at all average annual salaries for all public sector roles, along with property price averages across the UK, the results were astonishing.

 

London Mortgage Affordability

Across all eight chosen public sector professions (NHS GP Doctor, Firefighter, Police Officer, Social Worker, Secondary School Teacher, Primary School Teacher, NHS Nurse (Registered Nurse), and Military Soldier) none were able to afford a mortgage in London.

Even though the London weighting allowance was added to our front-line heroes, they were still unable to buy a London property.

However, the OnlineMortgageAdvisor team understood that mortgages are usually achieved with a second income. Finding the average London salary of £34,473, they used this to determine the potential for a joint mortgage and still it proved unattainable.

 

UK Mortgage Affordability

Based on their income alone an NHS GP was the only public sector profession that could afford a mortgage within the UK. With an average annual salary of £64,999, an NHS GP could afford to live in seven out of 11 regions in the U.K. such as the West Midlands, East Midlands, North West England, North East England, Wales, Scotland, and finally Yorkshire and The Humber.

Yet, the other seven key workers; Firefighters, Police Officers, Social Workers, Secondary School Teachers, Primary School Teachers, NHS Nurses (Registered Nurses), and Military Soldiers could not afford to live in any of the regions listed.

 

UK Mortgage Affordability with a Partner

The only way our front-line heroes could afford to have a mortgage is by living with a significant other. OnlineMortgageAdvisor took the average UK incomeearning of £29,600.

NHS GP Doctor

The take-home for a NHS GP and their partner would be an average of £94,599 making them the highest income earners for all eight selected public sector workers. Therefore a  NHS GP was able to afford mortgages across these nine regions: East of England, South West of England, West Midlands, East Midlands, North West of England, North East of England, Wales, Scotland, and Yorkshire and The Humber.

Firefighter

After extinguishing blazing fires and rescuing civilians from dangerous situations, our brave firefighters have a potential household earning of £61,308, leaving them able to buy within seven regions across the UK (West Midlands, East Midlands, North West of England, North East of England, Wales, Scotland, and Yorkshire and The Humber).

Police Officer

Keeping our streets safe police officers come in third place with a joint average potential income of £59,594, granting them properties in the West Midlands, East Midlands, North West of England, North East of England, Wales, Scotland, and Yorkshire and The Humber.

Social Worker

Social workers follow closely behind with an average household income of £59,437, permitting them properties in the West Midlands, East Midlands, North West of England, North East of England, Wales, Scotland, and Yorkshire and The Humber.

Secondary School Teacher

Secondary school teachers are the last public sector workers to afford seven regions in the UK, with a joint potential income of £59,244 on average, meaning they can afford properties in the West Midlands, East Midlands, North West of England, North East of England, Wales, Scotland, and Yorkshire and The Humber.

Primary School Teacher

Our early learning educators come in sixth place with a household earning of £56,244. They can subsequently afford a mortgage in the East Midlands, North West of England, North East of England, Wales, Scotland, and Yorkshire and The Humber.

NHS Nurse (Registered Nurse)

After braving the front-line over the past six months, our NHS nurses come second to last with an average household income of £54,706. The extra £4,706 allows NHS nurses to buy in one more region than our military soldiers (East Midlands, North West of England, North East of England, Wales, Scotland, and Yorkshire and The Humber).

Military Soldier

They may be protecting and keeping us safe, but our soldiers are unfortunately at the bottom of the mortgage affordability list with an average earning of £50,139 if applying with a partner, allowing soldiers to only afford properties in the North West of England, North East of England, Wales, Scotland, and Yorkshire and The Humber.

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Adding Value to Your Investment Property This Autumn

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Adding Value to Your Investment Property This Autumn

Property investment can be a great way to provide a nest egg for you and your family or a method by which you can turn a quick profit with some relatively simple steps.

Property will always be bought and sold and whilst the market takes dips and dives, it generally puts itself right over time. If you can find the right property, the perfect blend of price and scope for improvement, you may want to make the investment.

The property market tends to be weighted with first-time buyers looking to get on the ladder and first-time buyers accounted for 51% of the United Kingdom’s buying market last year. Those buyers are usually looking for a home that needs little work; meaning investors with means to turn a low-cost property into the buyer-friendly finished article can make a handsome profit.

So which areas should you be focusing on if you are an investor? We have picked several key elements in which a little investment goes a long way.

 

Bathroom and Kitchen

Of course, the bathroom and kitchen are two elements you can make an investment in to increase the value of a property. Ideal Home Magazine suggests you can add as much as 5% on to the existing property price with a new bathroom, although that may be a smaller increase with a first-time buyer property. The important consideration you have to make is balancing design against cost – it is easy to let your creativity run wild when installing a new kitchen for example, but remember to remain functional, at the lower end of the price spectrum and not get too ambitious. At the end of the day, you need to find the right balance between a striking new kitchen and cost-effectiveness.

Heating

The kitchen and bathroom have a ‘wow’ factor, something that might impress a buyer as they enter the property. A far less visually appealing element to think about is the heating system, and in particular, the boiler. It is likely that a first-time buyer has stretched themselves in terms of deposit and will not want hidden costs or work that needs carrying out immediately, so a new boiler might add peace of mind, and a little more value to your investment.

The benefits are not just short-term stability for the buyer. In HomeServe’s guide to installing a new boiler, they point out that you can improve a home’s energy efficiency with a fresh appliance, even if the old one has not broken down. That is another key selling point, as bills will be lower for the potential buyer, another aspect you can use to move your property quickly.

 

Garden

If your investment property has a garden, consider giving it a bit of a makeover. When you sell a house, you sell a dream, especially to those first-time buyers. If the garden is overgrown and needing attention, it could cost you thousands of pounds, according to the Express, by giving the buyer the mindset that there is room for negotiation. For little cost, you can tidy up the outdoor space and make it attractive. When buyers look around homes, they picture themselves living there and a nice garden will conjure up images of balmy summer evenings with a barbeque on. That will not be the case if the grass is long and the furniture grotty and crumbling.

 

Install a New Front Door

Selling a house is all about first impressions, and so is retaining the price point you have set. If a potential buyer turns up at the kerb to find a shabby front door with peeling paint, it sets the wrong tone for the rest of the viewing.

By putting in a new front door, or even just refreshing the old one, you make the house look fresh and new from the outside, setting the scene for the rest of the viewing. A striking colour can also help lodge your property in the mind of the buyer, especially if they have seen several properties in one day. Also, if the area you invest in has some level of crime, installing a secure front door with a new locking system might give buyers some peace of mind.

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ArticlesCash ManagementReal Estate

September Revealed as The Best Time to Buy A House

house prices

September Revealed as The Best Time to Buy A House

New research suggests the stamp duty payment holiday isn’t the only reason Brits can make a saving on a property this month.

Watch and sunglasses specialist, Tic Watches, has conducted research and worked with experts to reveal the best time of year to find a bargain for high value products including homes, cars and holidays. The experts have compared prices to the peak time of year shoppers are searching for and buying products most frequently, to highlight how much people could really save with the right timing.

Here are the best times of year to find a deal:

January – Watches and sunglasses
  • Peak search time: 22nd-28th December
  • Potential savings: 70%

The January sales are a great time to pick up bargains on fashion items such as watches and sunglasses. Danny Richmond, Managing Director of Tic Watches, said: “For watches, the cheapest times of year to buy are generally Black Friday and January. This is when we run our biggest sales with discounts of up to 70%.

“For sunglasses, January sees the biggest discounts, of up to 40%. This is because it’s the period of lowest demand for summer products, so it’s a great time to get a bargain!”

February – A wedding
  • Peak search time: 28th July-3rd August
  • Potential savings: 50%

February sits in the middle of the wedding low season, which runs from November to April. This is generally seen as an undesirable time to get married, so as a result there are huge discounts available. In some cases, you can have a Saturday wedding in winter for half the price of the same in high season.

March – New cars
  • Peak search time: 10th-16th March
  • Potential savings: 25%

For new cars, the best time to buy is usually March and September because of bi-annual targets, although deals are to be had at the end of each quarter, depending on individual targets and stock availability.

April – Mattresses
  • Peak search time: 29th September-5th October
  • Potential savings: 53%

Dale Gillespie, Marketing Director for bed and mattress retailer, Bed SOS, said: “Retailers  tend to release their new lineups in April, so early spring is the best time to find the biggest discounts. Buying in early April, you’ll find some great value deals as retailers clear old stock to make way for the new ranges.”

May – Winter shoes
  • Peak search time: 24th-30th November
  • Potential savings: 70%

Buying shoes out of season will allow you to find the best value deals. May is a great time for this as there will be discounts on winter footwear such as boots, wellies and walking shoes, allowing you to buy good quality products for a fraction of the price. Similarly, the best deals for summer footwear can be found in autumn and winter.

June – A gym membership
  • Peak search time: 29th December-4th January
  • Potential savings: 20%

The start of summer tends to offer some of the best deals on gym membership, with January being another good month for discounts. 

There are often plenty of deals available through voucher websites such as Hot UK Deals, but if you’re signing up in person, a handy tip is to go at the end of the month. Sales staff likely have targets to hit and could be open to negotiating if they want to get their bonus.

July – An engagement ring
  • Peak search time: 29th December-4th January
  • Potential savings: 50%

July to August is the peak of the wedding season, and with all the focus on weddings, sometimes you can find big discounts on engagement rings. Also, as it is not close to any big holidays, jewellers use this time to lure in consumers with discounts.

August – Holiday clothes
  • Peak search time: 30th June-6th July
  • Potential savings: 75%

With summer drawing to a close, retailers look to clear as much seasonal clothing stock as they can. 

This is a great time to snap up bargains on items such as swimwear and shorts, which can see discounts of up to 75% for bikinis and 43% for shorts, although it’s worth saying that stocks go quickly, and there will be less choice than earlier in the summer.

September – A house
  • Peak search time: 2nd-8th February
  • Potential savings: Subject to negotiation 

Ross Counsell, Director at property firm, Good Move, said: “The best time to buy is August or September. The majority of buyers start searching at the beginning of the year, waiting until the end of summer, when there are fewer looking, you’ll have less competition.

“You’re also more likely to get a better deal, as with fewer offers on the table, sellers may well be more likely to accept a lower price.” 

October – Home appliances
  • Peak search time: 15th-21st December
  • Potential savings: 44%

Many manufacturers unveil new models in October, so older products will often be discounted. For products such as fridges, buyers can save as much as 44% at this time. 

November – Technology
  • Peak search time: 24th-30th November
  • Potential savings: 50%

Claire Roach at Money Saving Central, said: “Without a doubt, November is the best month to get deals, particularly on tech. A lot of people make the mistake of waiting for Black Friday – when the better deals are likely to be earlier on in November because retailers try to compete with Black Friday giant, Amazon.

“eBay, in particular, was 2019’s best place for tech deals, and the people who waited until further on in the month were left disappointed. Prices weren’t any better and stock was limited on highly sought after items such as the Nintendo Switch.”

December – Used cars
  • Peak search time: 17th-23rd November
  • Potential savings: Subject to negotiation 

Tim Barnes-Clay, Motoring Expert for Euro Car Parts, said: “Nobody thinks about buying a car at this time of year, as most people will feel the pinch over the festive season. With some forward-planning though, December can be a great time to get a good deal on a used car. 

“This is purely because dealers will be more inclined to get sales under their belts and therefore may be more willing to offer you a deal or negotiate.” 

Danny Richmond, Managing Director of Tic Watches, said: “It’s clear from the research that bargains can be found all year round, with the best deals coming at periods of low demand.

“It’s always best to plan your purchases ahead of time to maximise your savings. Don’t wait until winter to buy your winter coat and consider buying a new phone at the start of November, rather than waiting until Black Friday. Doing so could mean huge savings!”

For more information on when the best savings can be found, visit: https://www.ticwatches.co.uk/blog/2020/03/when-youll-get-the-biggest-savings/

Retirement
ArticlesCash ManagementPensions

Forward Planning: 7 Easy Tips for Managing Your Retirement Savings

Retirement

Forward Planning: 7 Easy Tips for Managing Your Retirement Savings

We’ve all dreamed about a blissful retirement, spending more time with the people we love, in places we love and doing things we love. But is it just a pipe dream, or are you financially prepared for the life you wish to lead?

The good news is, it’s never too early to start preparing for retirement. Whilst most of us spend our twenties paying off student debt, as we approach our thirties, our financial priorities change somewhat as we’ve technically been there, done that, got the house, mortgage and family. It’s a time when we experience career progression, leading to promotions, bigger salaries and more funds that can be stashed away for later years.

To help you begin forward planning for the future, Alex MacEwen, expert at The Wealth Consultant has come up with 7 easy tips to get you on your way to achieving the retirement you imagine.

 

Before we begin, you might be thinking just how much stashing away should we do? According to research commissioned by finder.com:

– 55% of UK adults estimate that they will need £100,000 to live comfortably in retirement.

– Only 28% of people believe they are on target to meet this.

– The recommended amount for a comfortable retirement is between £260,000 – £445,000.

 

Shocked? Maybe it’s time to start planning the life you deserve.

 

1. Get independent financial advice

The future is an unknown – How should I save for retirement? Am I saving enough? How much will I need to live on? By enlisting the help of a professional, independent advisor, you will find the answers to all these vital questions. Your independent financial advisor will help you plan and make decisions based on your lifetime goals. They will advise on the various products that most suit your needs instead of pushing a product to boost their sales.

 

2. Create a realistic spending plan

Determine a budget by assessing your income, salary, interest, dividends, any rental income or child support. Define your outgoings, housing bills, utilities, transport, food, perhaps you are still paying off student loans. Decide on the things you really could sacrifice in the name of saving – do you need so many European city breaks? Are you still paying membership fees for facilities you never use because you keep forgetting to cancel the membership? Scrutinise your balance sheet and commit to saving as much as you can. Your future self will thank you, trust me.

 

3. Monitor old and new workplace pensions

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of landing a new job and just as easy to lose track of your old workplace pension! But it is important to keep track to know the value of your pension pot as this will help you decide whether it’s worth merging the old pension with the new one, and will give you an idea of how much you have saved for the future. It’s important to check the pension management fees as your previous employer will stop making contributions to old funds once you change jobs, the fees keep rolling, depleting your pension pot in the process. If you have a defined contribution pension, it is always worth checking where your pension funds have been invested, both from a risk level perspective and to ensure it aligns with your values.

 

4. Review investment performance

Keep track of your investments to ensure your portfolio is flourishing. If something isn’t working, figure out why. Perhaps it’s just a case of sitting tight and keeping your cool, or maybe time to diversify into a different sector or explore international opportunities to minimise losses. Remember, even if you have a few disappointing investments in your portfolio, a portfolio that is steadily increasing in value is always a sign that conditions are good.

 

5. Minimise retirement tax

After spending a lifetime working and sensibly putting money away for retirement, it’s important to ensure you keep as much as that money as possible. How? By ensuring your savings are as tax efficient as possible. This will mean working with an experienced financial advisor to ensure you are making use of all the tax allowances and pension tax relief.

 

6. Estate planning

Your inheritance and estate plan should set out your values and your intentions for how you wish your estate to be divided up and managed when the time comes. By focusing on your estate planning now, you can manage your tax obligations and safeguard the financial stability of those you hold dear. Inheritance matters can be challenging emotionally and financially, so it’s important to get professional advice and protect your wealth for future generations.

 

7. Save as much as you can

Save as much as you can, while you can. Achieving your dream retirement means making small short-term sacrifices in favour of saving for the future life you want. Remember, topping up your pension now means you will benefit from tax relief up to the annual limit of £40,000.

pension
FundsPensionsPrivate BankingWealth Management

UK Gender Income Gap for Single Pensioners Widens by Almost 20% in Four Years

pension

UK Gender Income Gap for Single Pensioners Widens by Almost 20% in Four Years

Men over the age of 75 receive £114 a week more from their pension income than women of the same age, according to a new report.

Single male pensioners receive up to 26 per cent more income than female pensioners, according to official data compiled by digital wealth advisory firm, Fintuity. The findings, analysed using data compiled by the Office for National Statistics, reveals that the gender pension gap between single men and women was only eight per cent in financial year (FY) 14/15, noting a rise of 18 per cent in four years.

In 2018/19, the average incomes for males, who were under 75 and 75 or over, were £441 and £429 per week, respectively during this period. At the same time, these figures were significantly lower for the same age groups of women: their average income per week reached £333 for those under 75, and £315 for 75 or over.

Furthermore, according to analysis from Fintuity, a woman in her 20s would need to save approximately £1,300 extra per year in order to close the gender pensions gap. However, this average amount increases depending on age. For example, the average 30 year old woman would require an additional £2,000, a 40 year old woman would require an additional £2,900 and a 50 year old woman would need to acquire a further £5,300 in order to close the gender pensions gap.

Gross income of single pensioners consists of different sources, including; benefit income, occupational pension income, personal pension income, investment income and earning income. According to the most recent pensions data, in FY 18/19 occupational pensions income for men was on average 35 per cent higher than women, compared to 23 per cent four years prior.

The personal pension income gap was 63 per cent in FY 18/19, compared to 46 per cent in FY 14/15, and, the investment and earnings income gap between male and female pensioners increased from five and eight per cent in FY 2014/15, to a massive 61 and 74 per cent respectively. Suggesting that women are not as capable of making savings and investments due to low income which results in lower level of pensions.

Ed Downpatrick, Strategy Director, Fintuity comments:

“Despite government initiatives to improve the pensions income for women, it’s clear that no amount of support programmes can make up for the occupational gender disparity in the UK. This problem needs to be tackled head-on, with correct support initiatives put in place to enable women to get a much fairer deal.

“With Fintuity, women and men of all ages can receive professional, yet affordable, financial advice in order to see what options are available to them so that they can manage their pension income. All of this can be conducted online, via our digital platform, making professional financial help more accessible than ever.”

For more information on how to effectively save, spend wisely, understand alternative income routes, or improve monthly pension payments, please visit: https://fintuity.com/ 

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market
MarketsReal Estate

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market

How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market

TurboTenant, an
all-in-one, free property management tool, releases its latest industry report
– “How COVID-19 is Impacting the Rental Market.” This report
highlights key rental market indicators from March 2020 in cities throughout
the U.S. who have and are currently following social distancing and
stay-at-home orders.

You can read the report and how COVID-19 is Impacting the
Rental Market here.

TurboTenant’s new trend report analyzed 18 cities and four
key rental market indicators: total active listings, change in number of active
listings, total renter leads and the average number of renter leads per
property. While the full effects of the coronavirus on the housing market are
still unknown, delisting and new home listings steeply declined in March.
TurboTenant’s report found while some markets reflected those trends, others
had strong markets.

TurboTenant Highlights that New York, Denver and Houston all
experienced large net losses for new listings with New York holding the biggest
decrease at -65.17% while San Diego, Atlanta and Cleveland all experienced net
gains in listings. Lead growth in 14 of our cities, including Jersey City and
Denver, fluctuated throughout the month, but ended lower than they started. In
cities such as Boston, Houston and Milwaukee, leads were higher at the start of
April than at the beginning of March.

The reasoning for the report to be created is to give “insights
on how the rental market is starting to react to the COVID-19 pandemic,”
said Sarnen Steinbarth, TurboTenant Founder and Chief Executive Officer.
“With the peak rental season approaching, we want landlords to be prepared
and informed about the trends nationwide and in their own cities.”

“It is imperative to monitor rental trends during the
coronavirus pandemic,” Steinbarth said. “This report along with our
past and future trend reports, will help educate not only landlords, but also
property investors, businesses and the public.”

hsbc
ArticlesFundsStock Markets

How Clued Up Are You On The FTSE 100?

hsbc

How Clued Up Are You On The FTSE 100?

Brits incorrectly believe household favourites Tesco and Sainsburys are in the top 10 biggest companies of the FTSE 100, according to a new poll by IG Markets.

The trader polled 2,000 adults, alongside the launch of its Decade of Trade tool, to discover how clued up the general population are on the FTSE 100. The results show that as a nation we are fairly savvy when it comes to our knowledge of the stock market and over two-thirds (77%) are knowledgeable on the definition of shares.

Online trading platform, IG Markets, created the Decade of Trade tool to help Brits gain an understanding of the FTSE 100 and to allow traders to view not only how companies in the markets are performing now, but how they have performed over the last ten years. The tool covers twelve world markets including the FTSE 100, DAX40, ASX200 and HANG SENG.

When asked to name which companies are in the top ten of the FTSE 100 from a list, Brits identified eight out of ten businesses correctly. The mistakes came from thinking the supermarkets had a bigger presence than they do, with Brits believing Tesco (23rd in the FTSE 100) and Sainsburys (100th in the FTSE 100) to be in the top 10 market share.

 

Perceived top 10 of FTSE 100

Actual top 10 of FTSE 100

BP (+3)

HSBC

HSBC (-1)

Royal Dutch Shell A

GlaxoSmithKline (+4)

BP

Unilever (+6)

Royal Dutch Shell B

Tesco (+18)

AstraZeneca

British American Tobacco (+2)

Diageo

Royal Dutch Shell A (-4)

GlaxoSmithKline

Royal Dutch Shell B (-4)

British American Tobacco

Sainsbury (+91)

Rio Tinto

AstraZeneca (-5)

Unilever

 

Brits failed to identify beverage company, Diageo, whose brands include Smirnoff, Baileys and Guinness and mining corporation, Rio Tinto, as top 10 FTSE 100 companies.

Brits were also tested on their knowledge of the FTSE’s sector market share. The results showed there is a perception that Oil and Gas, Chemicals and Banks and Persona are the three largest sectors of the FTSE 100 when it is actually Oil and Gas, Banks and Persona and Household Goods.

Respondents were also asked what they perceive to have the biggest impact on the FTSE 100, and just over a quarter (27%) thought the Brexit referendum would have the biggest impact on the stock market.

 

Top five things Brits think have impacted the FTSE 100

  1. Interest rates (43%)
  2. Economic releases about earnings reports (35%)
  3. The Bank of England quarterly inflation report (27%)
  4. Brexit referendum (27%)
  5. Eurozone politics (26%)

 

Almost four in ten (39%) correctly thought all of the above factors have an impact on the FTSE 100.

To view the Decade of Trade tool, click here: https://www.ig.com/uk/special-reports/decade-of-trade

pension
ArticlesPensions

43 Or Younger? Here’s How To Recoup Your Years Of Lost Pension Income By Investing Today

pension

43 Or Younger? Here’s How To Recoup Your Years Of Lost Pension Income By Investing Today

In October this year, the pension age is due to increase from 65 to 66 years old, with a further increase to 67 by 2028 and plans to increase this even further by 2046 to 68 years old.

Leading Peer to Peer investment platform, Sourced Capital, has looked at the lost pension income for those facing the additional three years at work, the current median age of those in line to work until they’re 68, how long they still have left in the workplace, and just what they would need to invest today via private pension funds vs peer to peer platforms, in order to recoup their lost pension income between now and the time they retire.

Not only are we set to work for longer, but we’re also in line for a pension pay cut to the tune of £8,767.20 for the first year for those working to 66, climbing to £20,588.71 for two additional years for those working until the age of 67, and an eye-watering £47,582.06 over three years for those working until the age of 68 when also accounting for the minimum pension increase of 2.5% per year*.

That means anyone born after 6th April 1978, at a current median age of 42.5 years old, faces being nearly £50k out of pocket from lost state pension income as a result of the Government moving the pension age goal posts.  

However, there are moves you can make now to bridge this gap and increase your lost pension pot through investing wisely.

A Private Pension Fund

Over the last decade, private pension funds have averaged a return of 5.9% per annum. 

Therefore investing £1,000 today based on this average while considering compound interest and a yearly compound interval, would return just £4,314 over a 25.5 year term. Nowhere near enough to bridge the pension gap.  

Investing into the same scheme with £10,000 would return a more favourable return of £43,137, but it would take an investment of £14,370 today in order to make both your money back and the additional pension loss of £47,582 by the time you hit 68 (£61,987). 

For those with deeper pockets, investing £50k would return a total of £215,684 over the same period, while £100k would bring a return of £431,367.  

Peer 2 Peer Platforms 

But, a more interesting investment option is a Peer to Peer platform such as Sourced Capital. While your capital is at risk, with annual returns of as much as 10%, you could bridge the pension pay gap with a much smaller initial investment today.

In fact, with a return of 10% per a year, it would take an investment of just £4,595 today to see a return of £52,215 over a 25.5 year period, enough to recoup your initial investment along with an additional £47,620 to cover your three years of lost pension income.

Founder and Managing Director of Sourced Capital, Stephen Moss, commented:

“The requirement to work for longer is one that won’t sit well for those that have paid into pension schemes for many of their working years, only to see as many as three years worth of pension payments vanish to the tune of almost fifty thousand pounds.

But there’s a silver lining and for those that stand to lose the most, there are other investment options available that could see them recoup this lost pension pot by investing less than five thousand pounds now with an eye on the future.

In fact, the right investment now could not only recover these lost in pension payments but could do so by the age of 65, allowing you to retire ‘early’ without any financial penalty.

As with all investments, there is an element of risk. However, opting for the right platform can help reduce this dramatically. For example, all of our investors get a first charge against the property invested in, which gives a greater level of protection and lowers risk but is something that not all platforms do.  

We always recommend that investors only opt for FCA approved companies which again reduces risk, while we also only loan at a maximum loan to value of 70%. We also offer all investors the chance to view a project and to learn directly from us which again, is something that other platforms don’t offer, but for us, it provides greater transparency and trust while helping improve knowledge on a particular investment.” 

marketing
ArticlesFunds

Aligning Marketing and Sales

marketing

Aligning Marketing and Sales

Geoff Webb, VP of Strategy at PROS.

It might surprise you to hear that in many financial services organisations, the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) often has the biggest IT budget. The reason is relatively straight-forward: in recent years there has been an immense investment in MarTech, and it’s made the discipline of marketing very tech-heavy. So much so in fact, that marketing departments now spend more time staring at dashboards, spreadsheets, and AI-fueled analytics than almost any other part of the business.

In fact, this trend is accelerating. Gartner research into CMO budget spend in 2018 revealed that as many as 57 percent of CEOs are prepared to invest more in marketing.

Yet, while this huge focus on technology has armed CMOs with an incredible level of insight (including where your mouse goes on their site, what kinds of content you read online, and so on), it has also resulted in a rather one-sided technology investment, especially for B2B financial services firms who are eager to demonstrate to their customers that they both understand and care about them as individuals.  

We think it’s time for perception surrounding ownership of the technology budget to change. While marketing departments may be happily sailing on an ocean of usable data, their colleagues in the sales department may be struggling to respond to an explosive change in buyer behavior and expectations.

The reality is that today’s CRO’s (Chief Revenue Officers) are facing extraordinary pressure to transform their departments – especially in the face of a growing shift towards digital commerce models. Once upon a time, a sales executive could rely on experience, insight, and interpersonal skills to close a deal and keep the customer buying – but today, that’s a much more difficult task.


Evolving with your sales team

An increasing number of buyers are now moving away from the traditional model of calling up their sales rep and asking for a quote. Instead, they’re seeking the convenience of being able to buy online, without needing to pick up the phone, send an email, or – heaven forbid – meet in person. Simply put, for the day-to-day business of buying, purchasers want the speed and convenience of e-commerce. Yet studies also show that buyers want to know there will be a well-informed sales executive available at the end of the phone, should they need one.

Managing this shift from meeting in person to being mostly offline/sometimes in person isn’t easy, and requires sales professionals to be fully informed about their customers, have visibility into transactions as they’re occurring (should the customer need help) and be ready to provide insight and guidance.

The solution to supporting this change for the sales team lies – just as it did for the marketing team – in the deployment of technology. In the same way that MarTech has transformed marketing teams, sales departments need to adopt highly specialised technology that can help them to be more personalised, faster, more efficient, and ultimately capitalise on the increased number of leads.

When we look at where much of the investment in sales automation technology is currently, we see it at the operational level. As is stands, sales professionals can spend as little as 36 percent of their time actually selling, meaning they are dwindling away precious time and productivity on administrative tasks. However, there is a deeper need to be met for sales leadership, a more fundamental question as we shift towards more complex, multi-channel digital selling – how do I make my sales people not only more productive, but more informed?


Getting personal

We’re now seeing the emergence of several next-generation sales technologies that are able to go beyond operational efficiency and provide the same degree of analytic-based insight to CROs that marketing technology provides to CMOs.

Top of the list are technologies that can enable more intelligent quoting for complex products (where configuration can be highly time-consuming and prone to expensive errors), and some good examples of this are products like heavy equipment or high-tech medical devices.

Arming sales executives with the tools they need in order to support these kinds of purchases, replete with information not only about the product, but about the specific needs of that customer, can slash the time needed to respond correctly to a request. Studies show that delivering highly personalised responses to buyers not only increases win rates, but also increases the value of the sale. Customers are much more likely to pay additional for something if they know that the product being offered is personalised to them and designed with their specific needs in mind. This includes the product itself, how it’s packaged, how it’s delivered and how it’s priced.

Driving the bottom line together

Yet, all these changes are indicative of a more profound change that looms on the horizon for financial services firms.

Aligning marketing and sales has long been a challenge that has vexed the c-suite. At their heart, misalignments often arise from a lack of common understanding regarding the nature of their customers and the market needs. And these misalignments are expensive and disruptive, wasting time, effort, and opening cracks in customer satisfaction that agile competitors can exploit to steal market share.

But what if sales and marketing had a common, clear, and consistent understanding of their customers and their needs? What if, instead of arguing about messaging and focus, sales and marketing teams were completely aligned?

One of the keys to achieving this will be sharing the same big data lake and analytic/AI engine to give rise to a unified and common sense of the who, where, what, and how of customer engagement. This changes everything – because now the entire business becomes a single, focused unified force to deliver precisely what the customer needs, every day, with every interaction.

It might seem ironic that technologies such as big data, cloud platforms and AI will serve to transform the most ‘human’ aspects of financial services sales and marketing, yet this is exactly what’s starting to happen. What’s more, freed of disruptive disagreements about what customers want, businesses can finally start to align all their energy into delivering a customer experience that sets them apart.

So, while the CMO might be getting the lion’s share of the tech budget today, we expect to see more sharing with other teams to happen in future. Of course, adopting this more hybrid sales model might bring cultural, organisational, and even revenue implications with it, but the rewards on offer couldn’t be clearer.

offshore
BankingCash ManagementOffshore

5 Reasons Why You Need To Bank Offshore

offshore

5 Reasons Why You Need To Bank Offshore

Offshore banking is often associated with negative connotations in regard to tax evasion and criminal activity, but this couldn’t be further than the truth. Despite what you may hear, offshore banking is completely legal. Put simply, they’re bank accounts held in a country other than the one you permanently reside in.

So why do you need one? James Turner, Director at York-based Turner Little, takes us through the benefits of banking offshore.

They’re not just for the ultra-wealthy

A common misconception is that offshore banks are just for ultra-high net worth individuals, who want to hide their money. Anyone can benefit from using an offshore bank account, depending on what their needs are. At Turner Little, we work with our clients to specifically identify their needs, and tailor our solutions based on our extensive experience and understanding of the banking industry.

They’re safe

Offshore banks are often considered to be politically and economically stable, with any associated risk considerably reduced. Using an offshore bank, based in a highly regulated, transparent jurisdiction that offers individuals an element of protection with a deposit compensation scheme, enables you to feel safe in the understanding that your wealth will be protected from the risks of capital accessibility restrictions, control and potential currency devaluation.

 
They provide flexibility and control

Banking offshore is completely flexible, often offering the same high level of service you would expect with traditional, onshore banking. It has always been a successful way of ensuring you maintain control over your long-term finances, which ultimately means you have greater freedom without depending on any one country. This convenience and flexibility is especially relevant for those who travel regularly, or have international assets.

You’ll always have easy access

Offshore banks have evolved over the last decade, and offer 24/7 online banking. This means that no matter where you are, you’ll always have easy access to your funds. Depending on which bank you choose, you’ll also have access to accounts in multiple currencies, allowing you to manage accounts and automate payments whenever you need.

You’ll be able to build on your investment portfolio

Many countries offer tax incentives for foreign investments and provide you with a wide choice of both funds and investments. There is no shortage of opportunities that are fiscally sound, designed to promote a healthy investment environment and, most importantly, legal.

offshore banking
BankingOffshoreWealth Management

Offshore Banking: Breaking The Taboo

offshore banking

Offshore Banking: Breaking The Taboo

It’s not what you think. Offshore banking is often slandered, and most commonly associated with tax evasion. But this begs to question – what do people really know about offshore banking? James Turner, Director at York-based Turner Little tells us everything we need to know about offshore banking.

“Offshore banking, simply put, is banking done in a country other than the one you live in. That’s it. It doesn’t mean tax evasion, it doesn’t mean hiding money, it doesn’t mean fraud, it’s perfectly legal – and convenient.

“There are both financial and legal advantages to banking offshore. At Turner Little, we recommend clients consider the why, before they consider the where. Banks in certain countries tend to be less stable, whilst other offshore jurisdictions are incredibly stable and provide easy account set-up and access online.

“One clear benefit is having access to a multi-currency account. If you have international financial obligations, the ability to transfer money between currencies is a relatively fast and painless experience, with some offshore banks able to provide competitive rates in comparison to regular banking services.

“Depending on the bank you choose, offshore banks can act as a private banking facility, where lending and credit facilities can be more flexible and tailored specifically to your needs. A good offshore bank will also be able to provide you with a wide array of funds and investments that are appropriate to your risk profile and the outcomes you want to achieve.

“Offshore banking is also one way you can ensure your financial information is kept private. It’s also a way in which you can protect your assets against financial instability. Offshore banking works if you use it correctly, and if all the documentation is correct – this is where we come in. At Turner Little, we familiarise ourselves with the regulations necessary for compliance in a multitude of offshore jurisdictions – so you don’t have to. When the rules are followed, offshore banking is legal and gives you the means to better protect your assets, providing you with both financial strength and freedom.” 

divorce
Family OfficesHigh Net-worth IndividualsReal Estate

Divorce: Jurisdiction and Financial Relief Applications

divorce

Divorce: Jurisdiction and Financial Relief Applications

By Stephanie Kyriacou, associate in the family team at law firm, Shakespeare Martineau.

Many high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) lead truly international lifestyles, travelling the world, owning multiple residences and holding assets all across the globe. However, whilst this internationally-mobile way of living certainly has its benefits, for couples navigating the emotional process of divorce, dealing with multiple legal jurisdictions can often cause issues, particularly if one side of the divorcing party has been unfairly treated by the foreign courts.

Luckily, if an individual believes that they have suffered financial hardship as a result of a financial order in a foreign jurisdiction, there may be an avenue which they can pursue to balance the scales, provided by the English and Welsh courts. The UK’s legal system has long been considered one of the most fair and agreeable around the world in terms of settling financial matters upon divorce, and there is a reason why London itself is known as the ‘divorce capital of the world’.

Sadly, the foreign courts are often not as generous as their English and Welsh counterparts and the disparity between the sums awarded can often result in extreme financial hardship for spouses who get the raw end of the deal.

This access to financial relief in the UK revolves around Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (MFPA 1984). This act allows spouses who have been divorced overseas, and who have a proven connection to the UK, to access financial remedy in the UK, if they have been treated unfairly by foreign courts and have exhausted all avenues to correct that unfairness in that overseas court.

However, whilst this piece of legislation can offer a lifeline to those individuals who have not received adequate financial provision in an overseas jurisdiction, there are a number of criteria which need to be met before an application can be made under Part III of the MFPA 1984. The application itself is a two-stage process and the applicant must first apply for permission (leave) to make the application. The factors the court will examine when determining whether to allow an application to proceed to the second stage can be found in sections 15-16 MFPA 1984. If the applicant is successful at the first stage, they will proceed onto the second stage, whereby they will go on to make the substantial application for financial remedy.

When determining whether to make an order, the court will base its decision on the connection that both parties to the marriage have with England and Wales, and with the foreign court, as well as any financial benefit which the applicant or a child of the family has or will receive as a consequence of the foreign divorce. Other factors which will be considered include any rights that the applicant has, or has had, to apply for financial relief from the other party under the foreign court – including reasons why they may not have done – as well as the availability of any property in England and Wales and the extent to which an English order will be enforceable, along with the elapsed time since the foreign divorce.

Whilst putting the wheels in motion as soon as possible after the foreign divorce has been granted is preferable, the case of Z v Z [2016] EWHC 911 is authority that even with a five-year delay, a court will still consider an application if the other criteria are met.

Whilst the requirements for making at Part III application may seem quite complex, at face value they centre on being able to evidence a strong link to the UK, either through residency or assets. The case of Agbaje v Agbaje [2010] UKSC 13 is the leading authority in this area and a provides a good illustration of how a Part III application for financial relief can be made, and what the courts will be considering when choosing whether to grant an application. In this case, the husband and wife were Nigerian and had been married for 38 years, with assets totaling circa £700,000, much of which were tied up in two London properties. All five of their children were born in London and the couple had spent large chunks of their life in England. Despite the wife living in London, the husband applied for a divorce in Nigeria and his wife was awarded £86,000 worth of property assets in Lagos, and £21,000 as lump sum maintenance payment. Not happy with this financial award, the wife issued proceedings under Part III of the MFPA 1984 and was awarded 39 percent of the couple’s total assets, allowing her to carry on her life in London.

This is a relatively common situation which is experienced by a large number of the spouses of HNWIs, but should give hope that in the event of hardship or mistreatment in divorce proceedings handled by a foreign court, there is a safety blanket offered by the MFPA 1984. Whilst many high-net-worth individuals will have factored pre-nuptial agreements into their marriages, which include clauses dictating where they would like their divorce heard in the event of a relationship breakdown, some will not, and it is those who the English and Welsh legal system supports through this channel.

telecoms
Cash ManagementFundsMarketsTax

UK Telecoms Industry Boasts Fastest Growing R&D Spend Of Any Sector

telecoms

UK Telecoms Industry Boasts Fastest Growing R&D Spend Of Any Sector

The telecoms industry is the UK’s fastest growing sector when it comes to spending on R&D, the latest ONS data has revealed.
Telecoms businesses increased their spending on research and development by £192m to £947m, according to the latest statistics for 2018 which were released recently.

This was a rise of 25.4%, taking it to a four-year high. However, the sector is still some way off its all-time high of £1.5bn set in 2007, analysis by R&D tax relief specialist Catax shows.

Total R&D spending by telecoms firms totalled £755m in 2017 and £797m in 2016.

The amount that UK businesses across all sectors have invested in R&D continues to grow, rising £1.4bn to £25bn in 2018 — up 5.8%. Manufacturing was associated with £16.3bn of R&D spending, up 4.7%, but pharmaceuticals remained the biggest product group with £4.5bn of R&D spending, up 3.3%.

The number of staff employed by UK businesses also continued to grow, rising 7.3% annually to exceed 250,000 full-time equivalents for the first time.

Mark Tighe, chief executive of R&D tax relief specialists Catax, said: “The telecoms industry is extremely important to the UK strategically and it is reassuring to see such growth in investment.

“There is still some way to go if this investment is to recover to levels seen before the financial crash, however, and it is vital this happens if Britain is to continue to be a key technological player on the world stage.

“More broadly, this is the second full year that Brexit Britain has shrugged off the political poison after the EU referendum and posted great gains in terms of R&D investment, running head and shoulders above the long-term average.

“For the first time in history a quarter of a million people nationwide are engaged full time in keeping the UK at the cutting edge. This is going to make a huge difference to Britain’s prospects outside the EU.

“The rate at which UK businesses are adding R&D staff to the workforce remains impressive, virtually matching the previous year with a rise of 7.3%.”

ecommerce
FundsWealth Management

Five Ways To Compete With Bigger ECommerce Stores

ecommerce

Five Ways To Compete With Bigger ECommerce Stores

 

The eCommerce industry is fiercely competitive which can make it difficult to succeed. It is hard to compete with the bigger brands in your industry because they will have the reputation and visibility online to attract new customers, but there are a few key strategies that you can use which will help you to compete at a higher level and both attract and retain customers.

Once you are able to do this, your reputation should skyrocket which only makes it easier to get new customers and become one of the key players in your field.

Here are a few ways that you can compete with the bigger ecommerce stores:

1. Digital Marketing

The first and most important step to take is to increase your marketing efforts. As it is so competitive, this needs to be an area of investment so that you can benefit from greater results. Using SEO and PPC can deliver both long-term and short-term results so that you can immediately increase your visibility and garner more visitors to your store.

2. Improve Customer Service

Even in an online industry, consumers need to feel important and valued but even this is an area that the bigger brands can struggle with. Make sure that you are looking after your customers, responding to queries and complaints swiftly and thanking them for their custom. Additionally, it should be easy for them to contact you whether this is with live chat, on social media, via email or phone.

3. Analyse The Competition

A smart business owner will always keep a close eye on their competitors and learn from them. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and find ways to use this information to your advantage to compete at a higher level. You can use reverse image search on your own products to find other stores selling the same item. This will help you to discover who your competitors are and enable you to carry out research.

4. Write Unique Product Descriptions

One area where larger ecommerce stores struggle is with product descriptions, as they often have so many products that they end up using the default description from the manufacturer. Creating unique, detailed descriptions can be effective for converting customers and increasing your visibility online. In addition to unique product descriptions, you could also use augmented reality apps, customer reviews and product videos to give visitors a much better sense of the product.

5. Adjust Pricing

Most consumers will compare products at a few different places before settling on an eCommerce store. Adjusting your pricing could help you to lure customers away from the competition and to your business, and a slight reduction should balance out with the increase in sales. Additionally, you also need to make sure that shipping is affordable as this is the primary reason for abandoned carts.

Hopefully, these tips will help your ecommerce store to start competing at a higher level and attract customers away from the bigger stores. It is fiercely competitive online but if you are intelligent and strategise, then it is possible to find success and challenge the bigger brands.