Category: Articles

Articles

How Do You Calculate Mileage For A Small Business?

As a business owner, you can take advantage of various tax breaks that will lower your monthly tax bill. Several factors like home office, medical expenses, and business supplies are some of the most prevalent deductions claimed by owners of businesses. If you run a business out of your car, you can deduct the mileage you put on the vehicle from your taxes.

Conversely, you might deduct the actual costs you incur when traveling for your business. These costs might include the cost of gas, new tires, repairs, and the depreciation of your vehicle. Therefore, regardless of how you calculate it, you must keep a record of the cost per mile of using your car.

To fully comprehend how, one needs to have a solid comprehension of how to compute mileage for business use of a vehicle, regardless of whether you are using a company-owned automobile or your car.

Keeping a Log of Your Mileage

Generally, you need proof to back up your claim when deducting business-related mileage expenses. You are not required to send it in with your tax returns; however, if the IRS ever decides to audit your finances, they will want to view your paperwork.

In addition, you must provide the date of the trip, the location visited, and the business purpose for the journey to claim mileage reimbursement. Suppose you are a salesperson or a delivery person who makes the same visits regularly. In that case, you do not need to document the objective of every trip as long as you have regularly scheduled trips.

On the other hand, keeping accurate accounts of your business driving during the first week of each month may be all that is required if your company does not use its vehicle very frequently but does so regularly. Sometimes keeping a thorough log is unnecessary.

Mileage worth

Does keeping track of your mileage have any value? A few company heads don’t give this deduction the attention it deserves since they believe it’s too time-consuming for them to deal with. The miles add up over a year, and there is a possibility that they will be worth a significant amount in terms of the deductions available for your tax calculations.

The Internal Revenue Service updates its standard mileage rate deduction for tax purposes. Its rate is applied to determine whether you are eligible for mileage deductions or reimbursement for business mileage incurred while driving your vehicle for work. This deduction may be an excellent option if you’re looking for ways to lower your taxable income.

The Internal Revenue Service has announced a modification in the mileage rates effective midway through 2022, most likely in response to rising gasoline costs. The following are the mileage rates that will be in effect beginning on July 1st, 2022:

A rise of 4 cents from the first half of the year brings the cost of a business trip to 62.5 cents per mile.An increase of 4 cents from the first half of 2022 brings the price per mile for medical and relocation purposes to 22 cents.The 14 cents per mile rate, which applies to driving for charitable purposes, has not been altered.

Talk To Your Accountant

It is highly suggested that owners of small businesses consult with accountants to formulate the most efficient plan possible for their financial situation. Even if you find articles on deduction tactics online, nothing can replace speaking with a professional with a firm grasp of your company’s financial situation.

Moreover, your company’s accountant will make suggestions concerning your company’s expenditures, the handling of payroll, and other related matters. When you decide to outsource these services rather than take on the responsibility in-house, you free up your time to concentrate on activities that will contribute to the expansion of your company.

Conclusion

Even for the best-organized business owners and staff, documenting mileage and ensuring it is kept available for the tax authority over an extended period may be a complex and time-consuming process.

Consequently, hiring an accountant or using a mileage tracker designed for small businesses can save you and your employees a ton of time, keep all of your past mileage records in one place, and streamline the process of claiming mileage-related expenses.

Transaction
Articles

Inefficiency Is the Root Cause of High POS Transaction Fees Says Expert

Transaction

The cost of Point-Of-Sale transactions can be significantly lower for businesses by increasing efficiency and using thousands of  terminals across three continents

Fact 1 — In July 2022, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the European Union reached an all time high and, as a result, businesses and consumers are generally paying substantially higher prices for goods and services than a year ago.

Fact 2 — The annual inflation rate across the EU has skyrocketed over the last few months. It reached 9.8% in July of this year compared to 2.5% a year earlier. In some countries including Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the inflation rate has reached between 14% and 23%.

Fact 3 — Merchant card processing fees are high. They are made up of 3 main elements — one charged by the acquiring bank, the second charged by the card scheme itself such as Visa or Mastercard, and the third, interchange fee, charged by the cardholder’s bank, and which makes up the largest portion of the card processing fees.

These facts have led to an unavoidable reality — merchants are forced to hike prices while consumers’ purchasing power has been eroded.

“There are a number of reasons for the high merchant card processing fees” explains Radoslav Tomasiak, Head of POS Solutions at payment tech kevin. “It is common to assume that banks, acquirers and card schemes are speculating by charging higher fees. In reality, the main reason is inefficiency. Too many intermediaries, limited competition in the card industry which is controlled by a global duopoly, and low security by design which leads to high levels of fraud, all play a major role in the fee structure. Speaking of fraud, according to a Nilson report, the card industry will experience fraud losses of $408 billion over the next 10 years”.

Notwithstanding the current market conditions, post-pandemic in-store shopping is back. The human need for physical interaction has fueled the return of consumers to brick-an-mortar stores and malls across the globe.

And although e-commerce’s share of retail sales is estimated to continue growing over the next few years, the growth in physical store sales is predicted to reach US$ 22T globally by 2025. 

Which brings us to the point of sale. Traditional payment options such as credit and debit cards (70%), cash (11%) and digital wallets (11%) still dominate the market but payment innovations are rapidly replacing the conventional with technology based options.

One such option is Open Banking (OB) enabled Account-to-account (A2A) infrastructure which allows payments to move directly from the payer’s bank to a merchant or service provider’s bank. A2A payments are becoming more mainstream, allowing consumers to bypass traditional card schemes while offering retailers lower costs and higher conversion rates. The number of OB players is growing rapidly but payment tech kevin. has taken it to the next level by offering the solution in-store.

Tomasiak adds that “In a recent industry first, fintech kevin.’s A2A payments will be available on tens of thousands of POS (point-of-sale) terminals across Europe connected to the Switchio platform. The platform by Monet+ works with multiple acquirers to manage millions of transactions each day, covering the entire process from POS terminals to processing centers.

By integrating kevin.’s high-tech infrastructure into Switchio’s platform, Monet+ becomes the first-ever company able to offer their clients and partners A2A payments in physical stores, enabling businesses to receive payments safely, instantly and at reduced costs.

Tomasiak concludes that as well as being more secure due to its foundational design, using Open Banking based A2A payments will reduce costs at the POS. Another advantage of this new payment solution is the fact that consumers’ user experience at the POS does not change — they can simply link their bank account within the merchants’ mobile application and pay via NFC by placing their phone near the POS terminal.

Stock Investment
Articles

Foolproof Investments During the Cost-of-Living Crisis

Stock Investment

With investors having less money for investment due to the surge in cost-of-living, Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Advice at Freedom Finance Europe, gives four safe investments to get investors through uncertain times. 

Periods of uncertainty are not a time to experiment with or risk investments. The most important aspect of any investment strategy during a recession, or when money is tight, like a cost-of-living crisis, is safety.  

While it may seem tempting to survive a recession or cost-of-living crisis without stocks, investors may find that they are missing out on significant opportunities by sitting it out. Historically, there are companies that thrive during economic downturns, you just need to know where to look.

During a crisis period, it is best to focus on industries that offer goods and services that are in constant demand. These are safe investment options as they are basic consumer goods and essentials that people need, and buy, regardless of their financial situation.

It is therefore worth continuing to invest and accumulate these investments despite the rising cost of living. Crises are more likely to be short-term, while in the long term present an excellent opportunity for returns.

 

Where to invest during a cost-of-living crisis 

Coca-Cola (KO). The world’s largest soft drink company generates most of its revenue internationally, with its key markets outside of the US and UK being countries like Mexico, Brazil, and Japan. Over the last decade, Coca-Cola’s gross margins have been relatively stable at around 60%. Even in the pandemic-ridden 2020, its gross margin was 59.3%, with Coca-Cola delivering excellent operating margins.

Price power is crucial in an environment of rising inflation and Coca-Cola has demonstrated price power for decades. If Coca-Cola’s input costs rise because of inflation, which is currently the case, Coca-Cola can pass those increases on to consumers to protect its profit margin. Coca-Cola beat earnings per share and revenue estimates in the latest quarter and raised its full-year forecast, posting earnings per share of $0.70 (£0.63) in the second quarter, three cents above the target set by Wall Street.

The outlook for the full year has been raised with the company now expecting organic revenue growth of 12% to 13%, up from the previous forecast of 7% to 8% growth. Growth potential to the average target price at $70 (£63), about 23% upside.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is the world’s largest healthcare company. Key reasons for J&J to succeed includecontinued earnings growth and growth through mergers and acquisitions. Specifically, J&J’s total revenue, excluding its consumer business, is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the low single digits and its earnings at a compound annual growth rate in the single digits over the next 5 years. 

Late last year, J&J announced plans to spin off its consumer health products business into a new public company within the next 18-24 months. J&J wants to focus solely on healthcare through two other segments – pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The move should help boost the company’s revenue growth. 

J&J’s largest therapeutic areas by revenue are oncology and immunology. These two areas are also the largest and fastest growing in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, J&J has increased its dividend every year for a long time and is likely to continue rewarding its shareholders with payouts. There is upside potential to an average target price of $187 (£169), about 13% upside.

Lockheed Martin (LMT) is the world’s largest defence contractor and has dominated the western high-end fighter aircraft market since the F-35 programme was launched in 2001. Lockheed Martin has a robust business model, high and growing free cash flow, a desire to spend it on shareholder returns and a long history of consistent and high dividend growth. 

LMT is on track to meet its $4 billion (£3.6 bn) annual forecast in stock buybacks as it seeks to deliver more than 100% free cash flow to shareholders during the year, including dividends. It continues to pursue its long-term strategy of disciplined and dynamic capital allocation, increasing free cash flow per stock and thereby delivering strong long-term returns to shareholders. 

With stable military budgets in the US, increased international sales of defence equipment and a return to the expansion phase of commercial aircraft deliveries, the defence industry has long-term growth potential, with a focus on modernisation and research and funding for defence contractors. Moreover, US defence spending has grown significantly in recent years and is currently projected to grow over the next decade. The country’s current annual spending is at around $700 billion (£631 bn), and this amount is projected to rise to more than $900 billion (£811 bn) in 10 years, implying a 28% increase. Growth potential to the average target price at $470 (£424), about 16% upside.

Costco (COST) is a leading retailer with 815 shops worldwide (at the end of fiscal year 2021). It sells memberships that allow customers to shop in its warehouses with low prices on a limited range of products. 

The main argument is that this retailer has long demonstrated the ability to thrive regardless of general economic conditions. This is what gives this discount club operator an advantage over traditional discount retailers. Costco, for example, has historically shown consistent results in times of recession. This advantage is also true when it comes to an inflationary period like the one we are currently in and as seen in its quarterly results, it continues to “thrive amid belt-tightening”, which was also seen in the previous report. 

That said, it is reasonable to expect that the company will continue to show good results in the coming quarters. Simply put, investors are beginning to realise that the story hasn’t changed. As expected, net sales rose strongly during the quarter. Revenue for the quarter was $51.6 billion (£47 bn), up 16.3% year-on-year. Earnings per stock (EPS) of $3.04 (£2.74) rose 10.6%, it was good to see that both revenue, $52.6 billion (£47.5 bn) and EPS of $3.04 (£2.74) per stock beat consensus forecasts. Upside potential to the average target price of $610 (£550), about 28% upside. 

Two business people working on the project to protect cyber security of international company using laptop.
Articles

How Will SCA Change Fraud Pressure for Businesses?

Two business people working on the project to protect cyber security of international company using laptop.

Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) is a requirement of the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) in the UK and the EU. Aimed at securing online payments, consumers’ identities are verified with a two-factor authentication. This authentication will ask consumers to prove two of three factors:

  • Knowledge — something they know, like a password
  • Possession — something they own, such as a mobile phone
  • Inherence — something they are, using facial recognition or fingerprint scans

However, as fraud prevention blocks some avenues of fraud and abuse, those aiming to do your business harm will aim to find another. It’s clear that payment SCA will change fraud pressure for businesses. Here, we explore factors that online merchants must consider in the new world of SCA and how to address modern ecommerce fraud.

Out-of-scope transactions

SCA doesn’t cover all online payments. In fact, some payments are considered out of the scope of SCA regulation. This means that any payments that qualify as an out-of-scope transaction will not trigger a two-factor authentication check. These out-of-scope transactions include:

  • Mail order or telephone order (MOTO) payments
  • Merchant-initiated transactions, such as direct debits
  • One-leg-out (OLO) transactions
  • Recurring transactions of a consistent amount, once the first transaction has been authenticated

Merchants can expect to see fraudsters shift their efforts to these channels as they attempt to cause harm to businesses beyond SCA enforcement. The psychology of the situation is simple: when you make one channel of payment difficult to commit fraud, then fraudsters will find another. Which other channels will they use? Those that are not protected by SCA, of course.

Let’s look at OLO transactions as an example. This occurs when either the merchant’s acquiring bank or the consumer’s issuing bank is located outside the EU or the UK. A fraudster could purchase international credit card information on the dark web as the issuing bank would be outside the remit of SCA, purchasing through them as a foreign identity. This would be classed as an out-of-scope transaction, and their fraudulent purchase would be exempt from SCA.

 

Liability

As SCA changes the way that fraud will be attempted, it will also impact the liability of fraud. Just as there are out-of-scope transactions that do not require SCA, some in-scope transactions can be exempt from the regulation. This is because some transactions are classified as having a low risk of fraud. This includes low-value, regular, whitelisted, and low-risk transactions. Ultimately, these exemptions help the checkout to have less friction and boosts the customer experience. However, fraud can still occur under the exemptions.

PSD2 allows for certain in-scope transactions to be exempt from SCA. Exempting low-value, regular, whitelisted, and low-risk transactions can reduce friction for the customer. These exemptions are decided and applied by issuers and acquirers, but merchants can also play a hand in the outcome.

However, if a retailer utilses an exemption strategy as part of their SCA strategy, the liability for those exempted transactions will lie with the retailer. When a fraudulent transaction occurs, your business could be losing money. It’s essential to incorporate other fraud detection programmes in place to avoid this.

 

Friendly fraud

Don’t be fooled by the name; friendly fraud can hurt just as bad as any other. This type of fraud occurs when a genuine consumer makes a claim to their issuing bank that is false. These could involve the customer claiming:

  • an item wasn’t delivered
  • an item does not match its description
  • a refund had not been processed
  • an order was cancelled but still sent
  • that their credit card has been compromised and used.

Friendly fraud occurs when these claims are falsified, and they can cost businesses a significant portion of their revenue. Interestingly, The Consumer Abuse Index states that non-payments fraud has increased five-fold during the COVID-19 pandemic. Worryingly, the index shows just how commonplace abuse is among shoppers. 36 per cent of UK shoppers have claimed that a legitimate charge on their account was fraudulent. Meanwhile, 30 per cent have falsely claimed that an item hadn’t arrived. Before the pandemic, only 14 per cent had said the same – less than half of its current levels.

SCA is out of scope for this type of fraud because most orders will look legitimate when they are made as a genuine consumer isn’t hiding behind a false identity with friendly fraud.

Merchants must consider other fraud solutions to avoid friendly fraud. Fraud prevention platforms that utilise historic shopping data can identify consumers that are more likely to commit friendly fraud, prevent them from doing it again, and remove liabilities of chargebacks for merchants.

 

Transaction risk analysis

Removing the friction caused by SCA will involve creating a seamless authentication strategy. Seeking out exemptions is the best way to remove the need for SCA and reduce consumer touchpoints that may lead to cart abandonment.

Transaction risk analysis (TRA) is one effective method carried out by issuers and acquirers that identities low-risk transactions and exempts them from SCA. Transactions go under a real-time, dynamic evaluation of various risk factors, verifying the identity of consumers and assessing their fraud risk.

However, to be eligible for a TRA, merchants’ fraud rate must remain below a specific threshold. If your fraud rates rise, so does a PSP’s appetite to authorise an exemption – it’s bad news all around. Merchants could even be hit with financial penalties as a result.

To be eligible for exemptions as part of TRA, merchants must adopt an effective fraud prevention strategy that first reduces their fraud rate before accessing more frictionless checkout experiences. The lower your fraud rate, the more opportunities, the easier the checkout, and the better experience your customers will have.

Fraud is changing with SCA regulations. Fraudsters will continually find new ways to harm your business, but proactive merchants are utilising more effective fraud prevention methods. A solid fraud prevention strategy can help reduce your fraud rates, improve the customer experience, and boost your revenue.

Business people designer architects teamwork brainstorming planning meeting concept
Articles

Best Corporate Presentation Design Agency – UAE

Business people designer architects teamwork brainstorming planning meeting concept

Bullet points, pixelated images, and checkerboard transitions have long been the hallmark of a corporate presentation. Those days, however, are over, as PresMonkey has entered the scene, bringing with it fashionable slides and powerful tailor-made templates. Backed by 15 years of experience, PresMonkey is the go-to for a presentation that will leave viewers saying ‘wow.’

PresMonkey is unlike any other business; in fact, it is the first of its kind in the UAE. The company specialises in the design of bespoke, eye-catching PowerPoint, Prenzi, and Google Slides presentations, which have been built to help business executives and corporations deliver messages in a unique and interesting way. Henceforth, PresMonkey has garnered an international clientele who trust its creative process. This extensive list includes Dubai Media Office, Dubai Press Club, Alshaya Group, Dubai Holding Group, Sitecore, Zara, and many more, covering a plethora of industries from blockchain to fashion.

Indeed, the company can establish unique pitches from scratch, or alternatively, PitchMonkey is able to refresh and upgrade pre-existing presentations. It works with its clients every step of the way, providing them with regular updates, optimised communication, and the promise of a quick turnaround – the first draft, for example, will be sent to the client within 72 hours of the start date. Not only does this ensure that the project will be completed by the intended deadline, but it also enables the client to provide feedback and shape the presentation to their taste and requirements.

Design comes first – this is PresMonkey’s attitude to business and it is this that differentiates the company from any potential competitors. It takes a focused approach that serves as a platform from which the company can dive into developing a truly unique, client-oriented product. Moreover, a core contributor to the company’s prestige is its devotion to effective marketing. PresMonkey has multiple social media marketing channels that feature targeted campaigns; for example, the company recently launched a TikTok series that offers presentation tips and tricks. Similar tips can be found in written form on the company’s easy to follow blog.

PresMonkey also strives to remain ahead of any industry advancements. Embracing the latest design trends, PresMonkey’s presentations are contemporary and fashionable, and may include minimalistic design, customised fonts, creative colour palettes, and sleek formats. In addition, the company has begun embedding 3D models that customers can zoom directly into. In terms of future innovations, the company is exploring the use of AI and how it could be used within its presentations.

As such, the one-of-a-kind company will be exceptionally busy throughout the end of 2022, as on top of its creative exploits, PresMonkey will be prioritising expansion. These developments will take place throughout the company’s team, which it is currently working on growing, and within its customer-base, as PresMonkey hopes to build an even greater portfolio. On an international scale, the brand is planning to bolster people’s awareness, subsequently increasing its clientele.

For business enquiries, contact Jasmeen Saggu from PresMonkey on their website – https://www.presmonkey.com/

Aimafin AG
Articles

Best Swiss Consulting Company 2022

Aimafin AG

Being a Swiss provider of high-value business services to clients operating and investing in Switzerland – and even on a global scale – Aimafin AG has made a name for itself with its continued service of a diverse client base. These clients, found in all corners of the international business ecosystem, benefit hugely form this consulting agency’s dedication to keeping a finger on the pulse of the wider business world, an element that allows it to better understand the threats and opportunities that its clients face on a regular basis.

Serving a range of different clients from family offices to high-net-worth individuals, Aimafin AG represents different industries that are based all over the world, including Switzerland, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. It maintains abreast of all different worldly changes and developments in business and commerce, having gained a true and evolving understanding of the threats and challenges that its clients face daily, so that is can better help them manage and mitigate these risks. Moreover, operating in this manner ensures that its financial planning consultation is holistic and tailorable in the truest sense, both to a client’s needs and in recognition of the wider market.

Therefore, its bespoke, end-to-end solutions fulfil the unique requirements of individuals and companies both; indeed, it is through these solutions that is helps its clients to understand the variety of options that are open to them, including how these may be executed and how it may support them in the implementation of such Ideas & Solutions. Its culturally diverse and impeccably well-educated team are utterly invaluable in this process. They make it possible for clients to receive such outstanding service as standard with Aimafin AG, with each of them working hard to ensure a client is seen, heard, and respected throughout financial planning, asset portfolio development, and considering how to move parts of said portfolio around.

With its frank and independent advice that wishes for nothing more than to achieve a client’s goals perfectly to specification, its expertise and huge network of partners allow it to always go above and beyond. From its business strategy development to its performance turnaround, expatriate services, corporate services, and family office focused services, its quality of management, business, and individual consultancy has propelled it to the forefront of its industry. Moreover, it respects its clients’ ambitions and goals, and is never bowed by a challenge – even those brought on by extraneous events like Covid-19 – using such incidents to grow and develop.

Indeed, it hopes to ensure that its clients know all their options before making a choice, and its team are more than familiar with the nuances of the market and that individual circumstances can create; in such cases, a client will find the Aimafin AG team becoming a friend and partner  to work alongside them with empathy and diligence. Each of them boasts the experience to work effectively, the humbleness to defer to the client, and the sensitivity to operate with discretion. Going forward, its digital services will be continuing to help it do this, alongside solidifying its partnerships across the world, and improving the security of personal and business assets both.

For business enquiries, contact Magdi Wafa from Aimafin AG on their website – aimafin.com

Salary
Articles

Paid in Cryptocurrency: The Salary of the Future?

Salary

At the start of 2022, Crypto.com released their Crypto Market Sizing Report 2021 and 2022 Forecast, predicting that by the end of 2022, there will be one billion owners of cryptocurrency all over the world. And with further growth of the market to almost triple by 2030, cryptocurrency is rapidly moving from an internet investment niche into mainstream consciousness.

Several celebrities and politicians have chosen to receive part of their monthly pay in the form of Bitcoin, from American football players Odell Beckham Jr and Aaron Rodgers to the mayor of Miami Francis Suarez. With this growth in popularity, could we see more people across different professions changing how they receive their salaries by substituting traditional money for cryptocurrencies?

In this article, we’ll look at how likely it is for cryptocurrency to become a staple of how we receive payments from our jobs and what benefits and potential worries could come with it.

 

A brief explanation of cryptocurrencies

Before diving into the positives and negatives of crypto, here’s a quick overview of what cryptocurrencies are and how they’re made and bought. In the simplest of terms, they’re tokens that exist without being backed by an authority such as a bank or government. Instead, they’re stored and created using blockchain technology, a public ledger that stores and shares data and information across the internet between different computers and servers.

These tokens are ‘mined’ by a machine with high-end, powerful parts that can withstand the wear of the process. These can be graphics processing units (GPUs) or application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) that are more commonly used. By installing the mining software for the specific cryptocurrency you’re creating, your machine will attempt to create a single-use number that either matches or is lower than a target hash, so you earn 6.25 BTC.

 

Why could this make for a good salary replacement?

One benefit of getting your pay in cryptocurrency is that it can be converted into any currency internationally. With companies looking at recruiting more employees to work remotely, crypto could be a great way to pay staff equally and then have them convert it into their native currency.

It could also help attract more forward-thinking and tech-savvy workers. Cryptocurrency transactions are also instantaneous, which means if you’re getting paid with it, you won’t have to wait for it to come into your bank account, and there aren’t any hidden fees.

Additionally, you could use your salary to invest further and convert it into more revenue on top of your monthly earnings. There are plenty of reputable experts with professional advice, but having a accounting and finance degree would help to have a more in-depth understanding of building an efficient portfolio.

 

Are there negatives?

The main issue with cryptocurrency is that it’s like gambling. The value of various coins, like Bitcoin, constantly fluctuates. A perfect example of this was Elon Musk, founder of Paypal and Tesla, tweeting to his audience of over 100 million followers about his love of crypto and which coins he was investing in. This caused the joke currency Dogecoin to jump in popularity by up to 50%.

Much like stocks, there is every chance of the crypto that you’ve invested in dropping in value to completely crashing without warning. No currency is exempt from crashing, and though the most popular crypto, Bitcoin, reached a record value high of just over £60,000 in November 2021, it’s currently experiencing a slump that saw it drop below £17,500. Being paid with traditional bank transfers or cash, you can expect to receive a set amount every month. While you would get the same value of crypto in payment per month, the constant flux and potential crash could mean that you would be getting less to convert it into based solely on market trends.

 

Cryptocurrency could be a huge step in the evolution of payment around the world, but in terms of it being used as a salary substitute, you’d be right to be sceptical. When you have bills to pay, and the cost-of-living crisis is becoming even more of a worry, you want to know that you have a reliable source of income that you can budget for. Crypto might not allow you that with how volatile it’s proving to be, and until it evens out and becomes more stable, sticking to receiving your local currency at an agreed salary is much safer.

Open Banking
Articles

How Payment Providers Will Use Open Banking to Win the Payments Race

Open Banking

By Michael Lane, Vice President – Sales, Token

The past few years have been a real slog for business owners, who are understandably keen to future-proof their operations amidst economic uncertainty. Payments are a perfect place to start.

During the pandemic, countless businesses shifted from bricks to clicks to stay afloat, realising the need to introduce cost savings and evolve to survive. The emphasis on resilience intensified as the UK and Europe lurched from the pandemic into the war in Ukraine and a spiralling cost of living crisis, fuelled by rising energy prices and inflation.

Amidst this gruelling marathon, retailers are being squeezed between higher costs and weaker demand. “As inflation reaches new heights, retailers are doing all they can to absorb as much of these rising costs as possible and to look for efficiencies in their businesses and supply chain,” said Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

As running a business becomes more expensive, many companies have begun ‘war gaming’ for a recession in recent months, facing up to this damaging double hit of slowing consumer demand and rapidly rising costs.

 

The growing cost of traditional payment methods

One way to future-proof a business is to reduce the overall cost of the proposition. Payments are an obvious starting point because, simply put, they can be very expensive. According to the BRC, for example, UK retailers spent £1.3 billion to accept payments from customers in 2020.

Payment methods have continued to increase their costs, putting merchants under pressure. In October 2021, Visa and Mastercard both raised their cross-border interchange fees on purchases made by UK consumers to European businesses. The fees increased from 0.2% to 1.15% for debit cards and 0.3% to 1.5% for credit card transactions.

In June 2022, following these five fold increases, the UK’s Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) reported it will initiate a detailed review of these fees “to understand the rationale behind these increases and whether they are an indication that the market is not working well.”

It’s not just card costs that are on the rise. Look at digital wallets, like PayPal, which increased its fees for payments between businesses in the UK and Europe from 0.5% to 1.29% in November 2021.

 

Bringing a much-needed new option to life

Luckily, a cost-effective alternative to cards and wallets is now available to merchants. One that can offer the same, or better, reach and conversion rates, as well as significantly lower costs. And that’s Open Banking-enabled account-to-account (A2A) payments. 

As merchants race to cut payment costs, I see them looking around and asking: how can I accept A2A payments? Through my payment gateway? Do I speak to my bank, or search for an Open Banking payments provider online?

As a result, we’re now seeing payment gateways asking how they can bring Open Banking payment propositions to life quickly and efficiently. And there are various ways to do it – but not all are equal.

The first option is to build it yourself. That may be feasible if you want to serve a single country and connect to the top three banks in that country, but you would be building a somewhat limited and very restrictive alternative payment method (APM).

The second option is to go to a company that can do it all for you, but then you (the gateway) have to put that company’s logo on your checkout. Once you start putting four or five Open Banking logos on your checkout (and you would likely need to, to offer sufficient reach across markets), you’ve suddenly gone from a checkout with five or six payment methods to upwards of 10. Every gateway knows a crowded checkout is never good for conversion.

If I think back 15 years, the talk was of how important APMs were. Today, gateways can offer hundreds of APMs, depending on what you’re selling, where, and who you’re selling it to.  But I don’t think Open Banking should work like that. It must be both visible and invisible.

So this brings me to the third option. Work with a company that can offer a white-labelled proposition. The gateway adds their own single button for Open Banking payments to their checkout. This can either be quite generic and unbranded – for example, ‘pay by bank’ – or the gateway can give it their own brand. This allows end customers to go through a user experience they know and trust, delivering a conversion rate of upwards of 99.7% in some geographies at a significantly lower cost than traditional cards or well-known wallets.

This third option is the simplest route and by far the best way for gateways to generate the greatest revenues and highest margins with Open Banking payments.

Payment service providers (PSPs) are traditionally payment method aggregators. This started with aggregating card acquirers and then a plethora of APMs. Now, with Open Banking payments entering the market, you can easily aggregate five or six other ‘pay by bank’ options – but what’s the point? You’d need to juggle different pay structures, customers, and target demographics. The complications become exponential.

A white-labelled proposition is open and inclusive to everybody, earns more for PSPs than APMs (which pay notoriously little back to the gateway), and delivers the benefits that merchants are increasingly demanding in our current economic climate: lower costs, instant settlement to improve cash flow, and exceptional reach and conversions.

Whilst there are different tracks to help merchants cross the finish line, this one is the shortest and has the fewest hurdles. 

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6 Tips to Help You Find Inexpensive Car Insurance

The major aim of car insurance is to help reduce the financial burden you’ll bear in case the incident you are insured against occurs. Put another way, trying to find that sweet spot between reliable coverage and inexpensive rates for your car insurance can be quite tricky. But it’s not impossible. Here are six tips to help you find inexpensive car insurance.

1. Compare Different Rates

When trying to lock down cheap car insurance, it’s important to get quotes from different companies and compare them to get the best price for your coverage. Consider getting quotes not just from national auto insurance companies, but also from local and regional insurers. You can often find cheaper prices when you choose a local or regional provider.

2. Understand Factors That Affect Your Costs

Insurance companies base the cost of insurance on the risk they take by insuring you. Typically, several factors come into play to assess this risk, including your age, sex, marital status, driving record, credit score, state of residence, car model and make, frequency of claims, and more. Many of these factors are unique to you, so it’s difficult to compare one person’s car insurance policy to someone else.

3. Check Insurance Costs When Buying a Car

If you’re looking to get cheap car insurance, start by looking at the car you drive. Your vehicle’s make and model will affect your insurance rates due to factors, such as the worth of the car, the cost to repair it, and the likelihood of theft and accidents.

4. Ditch Any Unnecessary Coverage

Go over every detail of your insurance policy and remove anything you don’t need. Items like roadside assistance benefits and car rental coverage aren’t always necessary. Credit card companies and sometimes car manufacturers cover some of these expenses. If you are insuring an older car, it may be advisable to skip comprehensive and collision coverage. If your car has a low market value, it may not be wise to pay fees for this coverage. You can also reduce medical payments coverage if you already have health insurance.

5. Claim All Available Discounts

Insurance companies offer a variety of discounts, and it’s beneficial to claim as many discounts as possible, as this will reduce your insurance costs. Some of the more popular discounts include:

Safe driver discount

Anti-theft device discount

Multiple vehicles discount

Policy bundling discount

Good student discount

Low mileage discount

Defensive driver class discount

6. Consider Usage-Based Insurance

If you’re a safe, low-mileage driver, a usage-based insurance program is an option worth considering. Signing up for this program allows your insurer to track your driving habits in exchange for possible discounts based on how much and how well you drive. If you drive fewer than 10,000 miles annually, you can get a deduction in your insurance rate. This insurance program is great for college students, people who work from home, retirees, and those who don’t drive their cars often.

Keeping Your Car Safe on a Budget

Deciding on the most prudent car insurance can help you protect your health, assets, and wallet, so make the effort to determine the type and amount of coverage you need. And, bottom line, make sure to review and understand your policy before you sign an agreement.

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Marketing Expense Management for Start-ups: a How to Guide

One of the most essential aspects of any company start-up, is your business marketing. How you manage your marketing can be pivotal to the overall success of your company, and how well it develops and grows.

One key part of this vital process is knowing how to effectively manage start-up’s marketing budget.

In this article, you’ll receive a how to guide on marketing expense management for star-tups, including what the process is, and how expert software can help optimize how you conduct it.

What is marketing expense management?

Marketing expense management is the process in which you handle all of the marketing expenses throughout your business.

Marketing is crucial for any business – particularly a start-up – so there can likely be many different transactions and payments being made across the company to support your marketing efforts.

For instance, you might be paying for a software which aids your marketing process, paying companies to advertise your business, or purchasing resources to develop your marketing team.

Regardless of what they are, all these different marketing expenses need to be effectively managed by your company, to ensure you maintain a firm grip on how much corporate spend is being funnelled into this area of the business.

This can include tracking every transaction made across the company, uploading any receipts, monitoring the regular spending on certain services, and various other aspects of marketing expenses.

One of the best ways to help you conduct marketing expense management, is to implement spend management software.

This expert tool helps boost the process with a more effective and efficient way of handling your marketing expenses, as well as offering a range of features to enhance how you control your spending, all from one central platform.

How to use spend management software to enhance your process

There are many different ways spend management software can help you better manage your start-up’s marketing expenses. Here’s how to execute a few of them:

Implement spend controls

One of the best things to do when using your spend management software is to implement spend controls on your marketing expenses.

These are useful features which give you a firmer grip on how your money is being spent on marketing.

For example, you can use the software to set spend limits across all of your marketing efforts. This means that any transactions which overstep your set limit will be automatically prevented, and you’ll be notified promptly.

This will ensure that no transactions within your marketing efforts are out of your control, and every expense can be tailored to suit your start-up’s needs.

Gain full visibility on budgets

Another highly important aspect of marketing expense management is having full visibility on budgets across your company.

In order to effectively manage your expenses, you need to be fully aware of each and every budget you’ve set for your marketing efforts, and how well they’re being followed.

Your software can achieve this for you, with real-time data on every marketing expense, including what was paid for, how much was spent, who completed the transaction, and how much of a particular budget has been spent.

This is vital for showing you how closely your start-up is sticking to budgets, so you can make any necessary adjustments as you see fit, and stay on top of your corporate spend.

Adhere to meaningful spend insights

Spend management software not only helps control your marketing expenses, but goes one step further in showing you how you can make them much more cost-efficient.

The software will offer detailed insights for each of your expenses, providing useful information on where you could be optimizing the way you spend on your marketing.

For instance, you may be paying for a particular software subscription that assists your marketing efforts. The spend management software can reveal any cheaper alternatives to your current software, so you can gain a similar service for a cheaper price.

This is great for helping you maintain a consistent eye on how effectively you’re spending on your marketing, and you’ll always have new avenues for more cost-efficient expenses.

Marketing expense management can be complex, but with the right spend management software in place, the way you manage your spending can evolve alongside your business start-up.

Phishing Scams
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Experts Reveal Five Tips to Protect Yourself From Phishing Scams

Phishing Scams

Online scams are unfortunately getting more and more frequent, and one way to be scammed on the internet is phishing. Everybody has probably heard of it, but not everyone may know just how it works and how to protect oneself from it.

Cybersecurity expert Tove Marks from VPN Overview can help with this, providing tips to avoid phishing scams, while spreading awareness on the practice and how dangerous it can be.

 

What is phishing?

Phishing is a cybercrime that compels the victims to give out personal information or cybercriminals, such as bank details.

The most common form of phishing is through emails, which look like they have been sent from official organisations or people you might know. These emails can be extremely accurate to make them look as real as possible, and within it there will usually be a hyperlink or an attachment for the victim to click on.

However, phishing can be also come in other forms, such as social media messages, invoices and phone calls.

 

How do I recognise phishing emails and messages?

1. Greetings, language and grammar

The easiest way to recognise an illegitimate email is to check for grammar and spelling errors. If the criminals are not English-speaking individuals, mistakes are huge red flags to pay attention to.

Moreover, as these emails are sent to a large number of people at the same time, they will most likely not be personalised. Another thing to look out for is the sense of urgency that the message communicates: words such as ‘URGENT’ or ‘IMPORTANT’ can be a giveaway.

But this is not always the case, as some phishing scams are extremely accurate and none of these red flags might show. In that case, there’s more you can check to recognise a scam.

 

2. Check the sender’s email

As phishing emails are meant to look official and sent by organisations such as banks and so on, it’s important to know the real email address of such organisations. Since they’re not part of it, the scammers will likely use similar formats, but in different combinations. The easiest way to make sure the sender is trustworthy is to check on the official websites the email address or phone number of the organisations.

 

3. Don’t share personal information

Regardless of the email address you receive a request from and the contents of such email, remember that no bank or other official organisations will ask you for your personal information, and if you receive a message that asks for some of it, always treat it with suspicion.

 

4. Beware of attachments and links

The ultimate purpose of an email of a phishing scam is to have the victim click on an attachment or a link, and this could already install spyware on your device which can extract personal information without your knowledge after you’ve moved on from the email or message.

Do not click on anything that you cannot trust and that you do not know, and always double check the format of the attachment, as well as the address of any link.

 

5. Trust your instincts

Generally, any person who uses the internet knows to question to anything you might find suspicious on it. Because of this, when you’re not sure whether you can trust an email, a message, a website and so on, don’t.

Rather, ask for clarification from the agency or organisation that is presumably asking for info through official channels such as an app or an official phone number.

 

How do I avoid having to recognise phishing in the first place?

Most browser and websites do recognise phishing emails and spam, and to avoid having to deal with them at all always remember to use two factor authentication on your accounts, as it might be lengthier, but it is safer; activate your spam filter and finally only share your details and personal information on secure websites.

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The Financial Challenges of Running a Hotel

Hospitality is one of the most lucrative and competitive sectors in business, but successfully running a hotel can be difficult to say the least. Many different factors from marketing (which is increasingly digital) to organisation contribute to a hotel’s success and having a general understanding of how they affect your business can help minimise any challenges.

Prospective hoteliers would be smart to keep ahead of any potential hurdles, but don’t worry if you’re not sure what to keep an eye out for. Take a look at our tips that can help your hotel stand out and run smoothly.

Responsibilities

The list of responsibilities when running a hotel is never-ending, but some stick out more than others. Keeping your customers and employees safe comes to mind immediately. Despite your best efforts, things can go wrong and that’s why it’s important that you have the right insurance for your hotel in place.

Customers are unlikely to return if they feel unsafe in your establishment. It will also have a negative impact if the property is seen to not be properly maintained. This could lead to avoidable accidents occurring and people suffering injuries on your premises.

The importance of advertisement

With COVID lockdown and restrictions being lifted, the hotel sector is busier than ever. One way to stand out from your competitors and generate interest in your brand is by investing in sophisticated advertising campaigns and developing a strong storefront.

Let potential customers know what you’re offering and how it sets you apart from competing hotels by developing an optimised website and using techniques such as marketing automation. Social media is a great tool you can take advantage of to build your reputation and encourage customer loyalty by providing personalised offers.

There are so many different ways to market your hotel that can help drive up your website traffic and create a boost in revenue from bookings. The more eyes on your hotel/brand the more bookings you can expect.

Ask what your customers think

The best way to stay on top of what needs improving and what is running well in your hotel is by asking customers about their stay. Building on any constructive criticism will only lead to higher standards of service and increased bookings.

Positive reviews are the lifeblood of the hospitality industry. The more confident customers feel in their decision to stay with you, the more likely they are to book with you again or recommend your establishment to friends and family. In fact, it was revealed in a study that 76% of hotel-goers were willing to pay more for a hotel with higher reviews.

Make sure to pass over a card with the hotel’s information for multiple review platforms and encourage customers to provide feedback when they check out.

Having said that, feedback is only half of the whole point of getting it in the first place. You will need to take action to the best of your capability in order to turn any criticism into more positive reviews.

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Pros and Cons of VoIP – A Comprehensive Cost Comparison

The financial side of VoIP telephony is one of the major selling points. But if you’re primarily concerned with the cost implications of moving away from old-school calling solutions, you need to know the full story to make the right decision.

To that end, let’s talk about the upsides and issues with VoIP packages and products, focusing on the expense involved in adopting and perpetuating such a system.

Why VoIP is a good investment

There’s no denying that, as the uptake of VoIP increases worldwide, it makes more and more sense to take the leap and do away with traditional phone infrastructures. The positive aspects include:

Significant savings on voice calls

Whether you’re making calls to local, national or international numbers, the cost of your conversation will be significantly lower if you’re using a VoIP service.

Lower hardware costs

Knowing your startup costs is necessary if you want your business to thrive, and the prospect of having to install and maintain a complex on-site telephone system might unbalance your budget and derail your plans altogether.

VoIP is far more frugal, since all you need is an internet connection and a modern computer or mobile device. Software can handle the rest, and the entire infrastructure which would normally make up an in-house exchange can be hosted remotely on the cloud.

Impressive scalability

The thing that makes VoIP the best phone solution for your small business is that it won’t just serve you well today, but will represent good value as your company grows and prospers.

Because everything is hosted remotely and overseen by a provider with far more resources than you could muster for the purpose of keeping your phone system up and running, when you need to add support for more agents and devices, this can be done at the drop of a hat.

And of course with scalability comes financial viability; you won’t need to calculate future needs and over-provision today in the expectation that this will serve you better in the future. Instead your costs will correlate with your needs, and your budget can be kept lean and mean as a result.

Innate flexibility

As with any cloud-powered product, VoIP isn’t affixed to just one location, but can be accessed from anywhere.

If you need to take voice calls on the move, or you want to support a workforce for whom remote working is now the norm, a good VoIP package will have you covered.

Where VoIP isn’t perfect

If you’re creating a budget and you don’t know if VoIP will fit into this, you need to know about the downsides as well, such as:

The potential for outages

Because VoIP services are all based on having always-on internet access, network downtime becomes a single point of failure that you might not be able to tolerate.

Since the costs of downtime quickly spiral upwards, you need to be confident that your particular connection is robust and resilient enough to minimize these risks. You may also benefit from having a backup plan for if the main connection is taken out of action unexpectedly, so that your operations don’t grind to a halt.

The relevance of security

Another concern relates to how secure any calls you make over a VoIP service will be, and this is down to the reputation of individual providers.

The cost of recovering from a breach is steep, so it’s better to only put your trust in brands that have proven themselves in the face of cyber threats.

Wrapping up

On balance, VoIP is definitely a good investment for businesses, and will justify itself through cost savings and scalability, regardless of any perceived flaws it might have.

Inheritance Tax
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Inheritance Tax Receipts Reach £2.9 Billion Over Four Months from April to August 2022

Inheritance Tax

Key IHT stats:

  • In the tax year 2018 to 2019, 3.7% of UK deaths resulted in an Inheritance Tax (IHT) charge.

  • IHT receipts received by HMRC during the financial year 2021 to 2022 were £6.1 billion.

  • The largest exemption set against assets continues to be for transfers between spouses and civil partners, valued at £13.0 billion in the 2019 to 2020 tax year and used by 21,500 estates.

  • The average liability increased in the tax year 2019 to 2020 by £7,000 (3%) to £216,000. The average tax bill in London was a little over £300,000.

  • In general, female-owned estates tend to have slightly higher tax charges than those owned by males. This is likely due to the fact that females tend to have a higher life expectancy at birth than males.

  • By region, London and the South East of England have the highest numbers of estates passing on death which resulted in an IHT charge, at 4,190 and 4,990 estates respectively.

  • London and the South East account for £1.3 billion and £1.1 billion of the total tax liability. This represented 55% of the IHT liability for England, and 47% of the IHT liability across the whole UK.

 

HMRC raised £2.9 billion in inheritance tax receipts between April and the end of August 2022, according to new figures released today. This is a £300 million increase from the same period the year before.

Under UK law, inheritance tax is paid at 40% on assets valued above a certain threshold. Currently around one in every 25 estates pay the tax, and a combination of inflation and decades of house price increases are taking more and more estates above the threshold. 

Wealth Club calculations suggest the average bill could increase to just over £266,000 this tax year. This would be a 23% increase from the £216,000 average paid just two years ago. 

Alex Davies, CEO and Founder of Wealth Club said: “The Treasury raked in £2.9 billion from inheritance tax from April to August this year, which is £300 million more than over same three months a year earlier. This is being fuelled by soaring house prices and years of frozen allowances, made worse by recent double digit inflation.

The new PM has stated that she would review inheritance tax rules if she came into power. But it’s hard to imagine IHT is top of the to-do list for Friday’s Mini budget, especially with so many more pressing issues at hand. The tax is a vital cash cow for the Treasury, and the extra £300 million collected in the last four months is certainly needed.

Nonetheless, there are a few reforms the government might consider. Scrapping the tax altogether seems unlikely, but cutting the 40% rate or increasing the threshold which has been frozen since 2010 at £325,000 would all be welcome changes.

The good news however is that there are already several perfectly legitimate and sensible ways to reduce the amount of inheritance tax your family might have to pay on your death. It is for this reason that inheritance tax in some circles is referred to as a ‘voluntary tax’.”

 

1. Make a will

Making a will is the first step you should take. Without it, your estate will be shared according to a set of pre-determined rules. That means the taxman might end up with more than its fair share.

 

2. Use your gift allowances

Every year you can give up to £3,000 away tax free. This is known as the annual exemption. If you didn’t use it last year, you can combine it and pass on £6,000. You can also give up to £250 each year to however many people you wish (but only one gift per recipient per year) or make a wedding gift of up to £5,000 to your child; up to £2,500 to your grandchild and £1,000 to anyone else.

 

3. Make larger gifts

Pass on as much as you like IHT free. So long as you live for at least seven years after giving money away, there will be no IHT to pay.  

 

4. Leave a legacy – give to charity

If you leave at least 10% of your net estate to a charity or a few other organisations, you may be able to get a discount on the IHT rate – 36% instead of 40% ­– on the rest of your estate.

 

5. Use your pension allowance

Pensions are not usually subject to IHT – they can be passed on tax efficiently and, in some cases, even tax free. If you have any pension allowance left, make use of it.

 

6. Set up a trust

Trusts have traditionally been a staple of IHT planning. They can mean money falls outside an estate if you live for at least seven years after establishing the trust. The related taxes and laws are complicated – you should seek specialist advice if you’re considering this.

 

7. Invest in companies qualifying for Business Property Relief (BPR)

If you own or invest in a business that qualifies for Business Property Relief – the majority of private companies and some AIM-quoted companies do – you can benefit from full IHT relief. You must be a shareholder for at least two years and still be on death though.

 

8. Invest in an AIM IHT ISA

ISAs are tax free during your lifetime but when you die, or when your spouse dies if later, they could be subject to 40% IHT. An increasingly popular way of getting around this is by investing your ISA in certain AIM quoted companies which qualify for BPR. You must hold the shares for at least two years and if you still hold them on death you could potentially pass them on without a penny due in inheritance tax.

 

9. Back smaller British businesses

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) offer a generous set of tax reliefs. For instance, SEIS offers up to 50% income tax and capital gains tax reliefs, plus loss relief if the investment doesn’t work out. But EIS and SEIS investments also qualify for BPR, so could be passed on free of IHT. 

 

10. Invest in commercial forestry

This is an underused option for experienced investors. Pension funds and institutions have long ploughed money into forestry. The Church Commissioners has a forestry portfolio worth £400 million. Commercial forest investments should be free of IHT if held for at least two years and on death.

You should also benefit from capital appreciation in the value of the trees (and the land they are on) and from any income produced by harvesting the trees and selling the timber (this income may also be tax free).

 

11. Spend it

One sure-fire way to keep your wealth away from the taxman’s hands is to spend it.

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Will Self-Driving Vehicles Eliminate The Need For Auto Insurance?

Auto insurance is a large industry, with millions of policyholders, and new people buying car insurance policies every day. The traditional market for auto insurance policies has remained the same for decades. But a change is coming, and it is being brought by machines.

There has been a rise in the number of cars that can drive themselves with little or no human input. “Driving itself” is very liberal use of the words, as these cars are not completely self-driving. But what they can do is very impressive and promising.

For example, cars from Tesla are capable of driving at a constant speed, detecting incoming cars, cars in front, and any things that come in between. It can stop, slow down and even change lanes depending on the challenge ahead.

While the company says that a human needs to be active while the auto-driving feature is on, the day is not that far ahead when cars with complete autonomous driving will be available. It will make driving more productive, but what about auto insurance?

What would happen to the auto insurance market when self-driving cars are as common as a Honda or a Toyota? Will self-driving vehicles eliminate the need for auto insurance? Let’s find out.

The State of Self-Driving Vehicles

Not many cars today come with self-driving capabilities. One can only think of a Tesla when thinking about self-driving cars. But some other features are very basic, yet come under the self-driving category. ADAS, for example, is one such feature that offers some self-driving capabilities, albeit very basic.

When it comes to a car being completely driven by itself, the most advanced mass-produced car is from Tesla. But it is very far behind from becoming truly autonomous. Tesla is considered to make level 2 autonomous cars.

Five levels define the capabilities of self-driving cars. Level 0 is not autonomous at all level 5 is completely autonomous. A level 5 car will not require any human interaction and will drive itself just like humans drive. Tesla is at level 2, so there’s a long way to go.

Risks of Accidents

The safest way of transportation is air travel. With millions of flights around the globe every year, only a handful of accidents are reported. The most unsafe way to travel is by road. Now if we try to correlate something, we get to know that when machines drive, travel becomes much safer.

Since planes are almost always self-drivers with a high level of autonomy, they are quite safe. This is not the only reason why planes are safe, but a big contributing factor.

There is no doubt that cars with better artificial intelligence and self-driving capabilities will reduce the number of accidents and make the roads safer. With the reduced risk of accidents, the number of cars would also increase. But would you still need to buy auto insurance?

Need for Auto Insurance

The entire auto insurance industry works because of the high risk of road accidents. You buy liability insurance to ensure that you do not have to pay for the other driver’s medical treatments and repairs.

Similarly, collision and comprehensive policies are bought just because cars are very likely to get damaged in a road accident and the cost of repairs is always very high. But what happens if the rate of accidents plummets? Since there are hardly any accidents, the price of repairs will also go down.

In this case, would anyone buy car insurance policies? Today, the most advanced autonomous car regularly seen on the roads is Tesla. But Tesla does not eliminate the need for auto insurance. You still need to get all the important auto insurance policies like liability insurance, personal injury protection plan, etc to legally drive a car.

Tesla cars also get in accidents, even in autonomous modes. But a level 5 self-driving car will be smart enough to drive itself while avoiding any car accidents. And if all the other cars come with the same capabilities, with better roads and intelligent monitoring systems, road accidents will truly become rare.

But auto insurance would still be around, but not as expensive as it is today. Perhaps you would be able to pay all the different policies (liability insurance, collision, comprehensive coverage, personal injury protection plan, etc) at just $200-$300 per year. How do we extrapolate this data?

Take a look at comprehensive coverage. While it covers theft and other human-induced damages, many people buy comprehensive coverage to cover the cost of damages due to earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, etc.

The chances of your car getting damaged in a natural disaster are very low, yet people get this policy to be on the safe side. Comprehensive coverage is also quite cheap, so it doesn’t hurt the wallet too much. This will be the condition of all car insurance policies when self-driving cars are everywhere.

But that utopia is far ahead, at least 10-15 years from now. Today, you need to get multiple policies and pay a hefty price for them. Avoid paying too much for car insurance policies by comparing multiple vehicle insurance companies and getting quotes from them.

Be specific about the search as well. For example, if you live in Wisconsin, look for cheap car insurance companies in Wisconsin and select the company that offers the best coverage at the most affordable price. Remember to not put too much weight on just the affordability. The insurance policy must also provide great coverage.


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4 Ways to Invest Your Inheritance

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

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

Pay your debts

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

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

Holidays

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

Home improvements

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

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

Education

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

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Why Financial Businesses Are Migrating to IP-based Security

IP-based security is an excellent way for any business to leverage its security in a cost-effective and reliable manner. IP (internet protocol) security systems operate as digital security cameras and store footage via a network video storage system. IP security is becoming increasingly popular with financial businesses as IP systems work digitally and can house data more efficiently than CCTV or other physical security systems.

Here we will walk through why IP-based security may be a preferred option, covering the main advantages that work teams and managers can use when choosing this system.

Provides More Robust Security Through More Verification Methods

IP-based security uses verification methods to operate effectively, which can be seen as a much more robust and secure system. The system works by quickly authorizing users based on data on which visitors are allowed network access at specific dates and times.

A further element to this point is that administrators and managers can receive real-time notifications about their network, allowing them to efficiently see who is trying to access their network or if any issues have arisen in their team. This increases network visibility, further securing the company as a whole, which is particularly important for businesses in finance as extensive data will be viewed and created daily.

A Reliable Security Platform That can Transmit High Volumes of Data Quickly

The trouble with many traditional CCTV setups is that you need to find a separate way to download, store and view the data regarding access. With IP-based security, you can transmit high volumes of data quickly between connected systems, making access control management a much easier task to keep track of.

And, you won’t be waiting around for data to be manually checked, or entry requests to be granted won’t be necessary, as this data will be accessible immediately. You could also opt for a non-physical system that doesn’t require any infrastructure in its setup, meaning you can focus solely on your IP-based security.

It can Be a Lower-cost Security Measure

In addition to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of IP security, there are also significant benefits regarding cost. This is due to the fact you wouldn’t have to maintain wired connections or install any physical factors.

Another factor is that you can integrate your new IP security with older measures such as CCTV and physical security practices. This means that you won’t need to splurge on entirely new equipment to feel the benefits of IP-based security.

Provides Additional Security Management Flexibility

As mentioned above, IP-based security allows administrators and managers to oversee activity from their devices. This means security management will become increasingly more flexible, with managers able to grant or deny access no matter where they are located.

This is particularly apparent in the world of commercial door security, as your IP access control system can merge with your cloud system, which allows you to monitor visitor access and keep track of who is on-site at any given time. Usually, your team will have access credentials such as a key card or fob, which they will know how to use regarding company protocol. Still, if any technical problems were to arise, managers would be able to grant access to authorized visitors through the digital platform.

Final Thoughts IP-based security is an excellent alternative to installing physical systems that may cost more money and time for financial businesses. One of the biggest positives to financial firms that choose to use IP-based security is that their data can be transmitted quickly with minimal setup or interference involved, meaning the system is efficient, even for big companies.

IP-based security also allows managers to oversee access in real-time through notifications, which could further be supported through physical or cloud-based access control, making the business more manageable and easier to see who has been accessing specific data.

Articles

What to Know About Investing in Telehealth Right Now

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

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

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

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

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

Investing in Telehealth Stocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Telemedicine vs. Telehealth

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

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

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

The Longevity of Virtual Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Articles

How to Find and Purchase Land for Development in the UK

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

How to find land to buy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to look for when buying land

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much does this cost?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final thoughts

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

Articles

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

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

Know Your Coverage Needs

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

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

Compare Life Insurance Quotes

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

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

Consider the Financial Stability of the Insurer

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

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

Get Professional Help

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

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

Understand Pricing Factors

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

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

Evaluate the Future

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

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

Compare Insurance Rates

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

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

To Conclude

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

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

Pension Savings
Articles

Pension Awareness Week: Expert Advice for Builders on How to Prepare for Retirement

Pension Savings

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

So, this Pension Awareness Week (12-16th September), 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 builders 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. 

Budget Planning
Articles

How to Stop Wasting Time with Your Finances

Budget Planning

When you only have so many hours in the day, days in the week, and weeks in a month, why would you waste a single second on your finances if your time doesn’t pay off in a big way? 

If you’re ready to stop wasting time and manage your money better, keep scrolling. These simple tips can help you reclaim your time for better uses.

 

Don’t Accept Anything But Direct Deposit

Are you still receiving a paper check when you get paid or borrow money? You could be waiting for your paycheck or short-term personal loan to transfer into your bank account, putting an unnecessary squeeze on your cash flow while you pick up your check and wait for your financial institution to process the deposit. 

Things run much smoother and faster when you switch to direct deposit payroll and direct deposit loans. 

Talk to your employer about what you need to do about receiving your paycheck electronically. You may have to share your banking information, so they know where to send the funds.

As for short term personal loans, take the time to find financial institutions that specifically make mention of direct deposit online loans as part of their services.

If approved, you’ll receive your funds in your bank account without needing to meet in person, fill out paperwork, or pick up and cash checks. Direct deposit loans automate many of the steps involved in the typical borrowing experience to save you time. 

 

Kick Anxiety to the Curb with a Budget

How much time do you spend worrying about immediate bills and their looming deadlines? If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, these negative thoughts can steal hours away from you every day as you obsess over money, or the lack thereof.

If you often come up short, a budget might be the help you need. This spending plan retools your cashflow, giving you a chance to prioritize important bills and expenses before you spend any money on the fun stuff. 

Once you balance your budget, you can set it and forget it, trusting that you have the money you need for upcoming bills. All you need to do is adjust it any time your expenses or income change. 

To save even more time, consider making a budget with an app that automates most of the process for you. Budgeting apps can aggregate banking information from all your accounts and come up with a spending plan that keeps you on track.

 

Sign up for Purchase Alerts

Experts recommend you review your banking statements regularly to make sure there isn’t any unusual activity you can’t explain. This is a good habit to get into, as it can help you detect possible fraud faster before it escalates.

However, you can wind up obsessing over these statements and checking in more often than you need to keep a handle on your accounts. If you’re finding it hard to know how to manage this task, consider enrolling in purchase alerts.

All the biggest credit card companies offer this automated service, which sends real-time transaction information to your phone, either by text or email. You can customize these alerts so that you get alerted with every activity or specific things, like international purchases, cash advances, or purchases made on the Internet. 

 

Bottom Line: Small Choices Add Up

While these tips may seem small, they can free up a lot of your precious time. 

Nurse practitioner
Articles

4 Advantages of Being a Nurse Practitioner

A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with advanced training in diagnosing and treating health conditions. Nurse practitioners can work in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices. If you’re a nurse practitioner considering buying a home, you are in a great position to get a home loan. There are many reasons why individuals may choose to become an NP. Here are 4 of them:

Advanced training and education

There are many benefits to being a nurse practitioner, including advanced training and education. Nurse practitioners have the opportunity to receive specialized training in a variety of areas, such as primary care, paediatrics, or geriatrics. This allows them to provide care for patients with a wide range of needs.

In addition, nurse practitioners are able to pursue additional education and training beyond their initial nursing degree. This allows them to keep up with the latest changes in healthcare and continue to improve their skills. Pursuing advanced education and training can also lead to higher salaries and more opportunities for advancement within the nursing field.

Higher salaries

In addition to the benefits listed in the previous section, nurse practitioners also enjoy higher salaries. This is due in part to the increased responsibilities that nurse practitioners have, as well as the higher level of education required to become a nurse practitioner.

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the median annual salary for nurse practitioners was $107,030 in 2018. This is significantly higher than the median annual salary for registered nurses, which was $71,730 in 2018. Nurse practitioners also have the potential to earn much more than this; the top 10% of earners in this field made more than $165,820 in 2018.

Nurse practitioners are in high demand, and earn a good salary. This stability is attractive to lenders, who want to know that you will be able to make your monthly payments on time. The high salaries that nurse practitioners earn are just one more reason why getting a home loan as a nurse practitioner is so easy.

More independence than RNs

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who have completed graduate-level education. NPs are prepared to provide a wide range of services, including taking medical histories, conducting physical examinations, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, prescribing medications and counseling on health maintenance.

Compared to RNs, NPs enjoy more independence in their work. They are able to work more autonomously and have more responsibility for patient care. NPs also have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as primary care or paediatrics.

The increased independence that NPs enjoy comes with additional challenges. They must be able to handle a wider range of duties and make decisions about patient care on their own. But for many APRNs, the increased autonomy is worth the extra responsibility.

Greater opportunities for specialization

Nurse practitioners have the opportunity to specialize in a particular area of medicine. This allows them to gain expertise in a specific condition or group of patients. For example, a nurse practitioner who specializes in paediatrics will have a deep understanding of the unique health needs of children. This can be beneficial for both the patient and the NP.

NPs who specialize can provide more comprehensive and individualized care. They are also better equipped to deal with complex cases and difficult diagnoses. In some cases, they may be able to offer treatment options that are not available to general practitioners.

Specialization can also lead to greater job satisfaction for NPs. Those who choose to specialize often do so because they have a strong interest in a particular area of medicine. Being able to focus on this area can make work more enjoyable and rewarding.

Nurse practitioner
Outsourcing
Articles

3 Reasons Why All Small Businesses Should Consider Outsourcing Payroll

Outsourcing

Different businesses may have different approaches towards outsourcing and be more comfortable outsourcing certain functions over others, but one thing that most businesses would benefit from outsourcing is their payroll. There aren’t too many reasons for a small or medium business to manage their payroll in-house when considering all the things that could go wrong. And hiring a team will usually cost you much less too. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why all small businesses should consider outsourcing their payroll.

 

Mistakes Can Have Serious Consequences

You can get away with making a mistake when hiring someone or with your marketing strategy. You don’t have this luxury with payroll. One mistake here and you could end up in trouble with the IRS, the law, and your employees all at the same time.

One or multiple payroll mistakes could literally spell doom for your business, so, unless you have one or two employees or have an actual accounting background, we suggest you stay away from that function and hand it over to a third party.

This is especially true if you’re in a tightly regulated market, for instance, when expert assistance is essential. You should think about calling an Austin outsourced payroll service today and ask about their packages and services. It could be the best decision you ever made.

 

You’ll Save Money

Having someone on your books to handle payroll when they actually only have to do active work for a few hours per day doesn’t make sense. Hiring a third party to handle things on a contract basis will allow you to save money. Another thing you won’t have to worry about is paying benefits or vacation. No sick leaves either. Having your sole payroll employee calling in sick or out of commission for a while could put you in lots of trouble and have you scrambling for a replacement. This is not something you’ll have to think about with an outsourced team.

 

Less Risk

Having someone that you don’t know handle your payroll comes with all sorts of risks. Rogue payroll employees are some of the most dangerous types of malicious agents a business can encounter. If you didn’t take the time to thoroughly vet your payroll team, there’s a strong chance that one of them might turn rogue at some point or come in specifically to embezzle you.

This is another thing you won’t have to worry about with a good payroll company. These companies take their reputation very seriously and make sure that they know everything about the people they’re hiring. They also have sophisticated systems in place to make sure that rogue actions don’t have consequences for their clients.

These are only some of the reasons why most small businesses should think about hiring an outsourced team to handle their payroll function. Not only will you be able to keep your costs to a minimum and avoid errors, but you’ll have much more time for the things that matter.

Investment
Articles

5 Wise Questions to Ask Before Making an Investment

Investment

Before you put your hard-earned money at risk, you need to ask yourself several questions. You want to fully comprehend the risk before entering any investment. What you are risking is the first thing that needs to be considered. Only when you know what you are risking should you proceed to consider the opportunity.

When you make intelligent decisions, investing can be incredibly rewarding. Not only is it going to yield you good returns on your investments, but it can also be satisfying knowing you’re making good decisions. Doing all of the research needed and acting on it can bring you mental and financial rewards. There’s a big chance your confidence increases after making a good investment decision.

You need to know the risk and reward when entering any kind of investment to make well-informed decisions.

With countless trading applications on your mobile devices and advertisements across social media, there’s never been greater pressure. Making good decisions on your investments is more important than ever and it shouldn’t be made on a whim.

You need to take the requisite time needed to make smarter and more informed investment decisions. You want to know everything about a potential investment before putting your money at risk. If you are planning on investing long-term, you need to be well aware of volatility. You need to be prepared to go through the ups and down’s that come with the territory. For instance; while investing in Asia, try and keep up to date regarding what’s next for Asian stocks?

Here are some of the best questions you can ask yourself before getting into any investment.

 

1. Am I Willing to Lose This Money?

This is the very first question you need to always ask yourself before putting any money at risk. The only money you invest should be money that you are willing and able to lose. Every investment comes with inherent risk. Some of them are greater than others. Typically, the greater the risk, the bigger the potential returns. You need to figure out what you are willing to risk to make investment decisions.

For some products like savings accounts, you don’t have any risk. The biggest risk to your savings account would be inflation. Inflation could outpace the interest you are earning on your money. Thus, your money would be losing value as time goes on. However, other than that, there is no risk of you losing it.

If you are considering investing in something that offers very significant returns, you need to be prepared to lose some (if not all) of it. Things can go wrong with investments and knowing when to take risks is key.

You also need to be skeptical of investments that offer high returns. This is especially true if you aren’t entirely certain of the inherent risks that come with it. There are complicated asset classes with high return potential that not everyone fully understands. These can include cryptocurrency and even mini-bonds. You can tell if a potential return is high by comparing it to lower-risk investments like bonds.

 

2. Do I Understand the Investment and Is There Enough Liquidity?

This is a big thing that you need to figure out before making any sort of investment decision. You want to know exactly what you are investing in. This is especially true if you are going for riskier and higher reward investments.

What is it that you are investing in? How does it work? Who is the one behind it? How easy would it be to take your money out when it comes time? All of these things are essential to know before putting your money anywhere.

You need to know how easy it is to get your money out if needed. If your plans change, can you take your money out right away? Are there limited options for liquidating? Is there sufficient liquidity for your exit?

Figure out if people are buying and selling the asset or thing you are investing in suggest Hub Agency. For instance, investors are constantly buying and selling stocks. There is high liquidity which makes it easy to get in and out. Do you need an agreement before you can sell? A lot of higher-risk investments can be good, but you may want to have ample experience before getting involved with them.

It’s better to opt for simpler and less risky investment options if you are someone with inadequate experience or you are someone that cannot afford to lose your money. It’s also a good idea to avoid investing in anything that you don’t fully understand. You may want to opt for diversified funds instead. These offer good returns with lesser risk.

 

3. Are My Investments Regulated?

This is an important question to ask. you want to ensure that you are investing in regulated assets and investments. You won’t have access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or Financial Ombudsman Service if your investment doesn’t go as planned.

 

4. Am I Protected If the Investment Provider Goes Out Of Business?

There’s never going to be a simple answer when it comes to higher-risk investments. Before making any kind of investment decision, you need to understand that nothing is guaranteed. You won’t be protected because your investment doesn’t go right. Check to see what protections do exist if the provider goes out of business. In the United Kingdom specifically, you will find that a lot of financial service companies need to be authorized. You’ll want to check the Register to see whether or not they have the full authorization.

You want to go for a company that has full authorization because they offer the most protections.

 

5. Should I Seek Financial Advice?

It’s always a good idea to get professional financial advice if possible. This can help you better understand the market conditions and the investments that you are getting into. They can inform you on asset classes and what risks are involved with the investments you are considering. They can even formulate a better and more diversified investment plan that fits your income and risk profile.

Ensure that you choose a regulator that is authorized. Here are some good tips to use to find a reputable one.

You will find that higher risk and higher return investments can ultimately provide exceptional opportunities. However, they are only for seasoned investors who fully understand the risk. These products are best used by those with a lot of experience and with more discretionary income to take on the inevitable losses that come with higher-risk investments.

Articles

Retirement: 3 Essential Things to Consider

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

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

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

Here are some essential factors to consider for your retirement.

1.         Your plans after you retire

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

2.         Your finances

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

3.         Your lifestyle

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

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

Cybersecurity finance
Articles

How Financial Firms Can Reduce Cybercrime Risk

Cybersecurity finance

For organizations in the financial industry, good cybersecurity practices aren’t optional – they’re a must-have if you want to stay in business. For banks and other financial institutions, a cyber attack is not only financially devastating, but it can also destroy your reputation. Managed IT services can help growing financial institutions stay on top of security threats. 

The risk of cybercrimes is only going up, with 74% of financial institutions reporting security threats since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. This is why it’s more important than ever for financial organizations to have a strong cybersecurity strategy in place throughout the entire company. Here’s how financial firms can reduce their risk of cybercrime and why it’s so important to do so. 

 

Common Cyber Threats For Financial Firms

Financial companies are particularly vulnerable to cyber crime because of the type of work they do. Many financial firms collect pieces of valuable personal information from clients in addition to storing their money or managing their investments. Because of this, many cyber criminals specifically target financial firms. 

There are many different types of threats that financial firms face. These threats are consistently evolving as cyber criminals develop new strategies. This is why it is so important for financial firms to consistently update their cybersecurity strategies to address these issues. 

Some of the cybersecurity threats that financial firms face include: 

  • Ransomware: This is a type of malicious software that encrypts secure data in your system, essentially locking the user out. The hackers then charge users a ransom in order to regain access to their systems. Many hackers will also use the encrypted data for their own personal gain by selling it or publishing it online. 
  • Phishing: In a phishing attack, the hacker poses as a trusted individual or organization in order to gain access to a user’s login credentials. These attacks are typically conducted via email or social media. Phishing attacks targeted at senior executives are called ‘whaling’. 
  • DDoS Attack: In a DDoS attack, hackers overwhelm your server with requests and traffic, taking your system offline. Many hackers use DDoS attacks as a distraction while they are conducting other attacks that are more invasive. 
  • SQL Injection: During an SQL injection, a hacker puts malicious code into an input field on your website. Hackers use this malicious code to gain access to your secure systems and potentially access sensitive information. 
  • Third-party Vendor Attacks: Many financial institutions work with third-party vendors to handle some or all of their operations. Hackers will often gain access to these third-party vendors, and then use the vendor’s connections to access your system. 

 

How to Reduce Your Risk of Cybercrime

Because financial institutions have access to large quantities of sensitive information, a strong cybersecurity strategy is a must. Depending on where your company is based, you may even be required to safeguard your company’s data. Many cities and states have strict industry compliance standards for financial organizations. Here are some of the ways that your financial institution can reduce the risk of a cyber attack. 

 

Assess third-party vendors carefully

Financial institutions typically work with a variety of third-party vendors as part of doing business. Since third-party vendor attacks have become common in recent years, it is incredibly important for financial firms to vet each vendor thoroughly before starting work. 

Third-party vendors should have their own cybersecurity best practices in place. You should also define key cybersecurity practices on both ends as part of your contract before starting work. Financial institutions should also limit the amount of access that third-party vendors have to secure systems and keep secure information siloed when possible. 

 

Provide ongoing cybersecurity training to employees

It doesn’t matter how strong your firewalls are if an employee accidentally compromises your systems. Employees throughout your organization should be trained to recognize and avoid potential security threats. In particular, employees need to be trained on password management as well as how to spot and avoid phishing attacks. Regular training will help your employees feel empowered to manage cybersecurity threats should they arise. 

 

Use secure connections and devices for remote work

Working remotely is incredibly convenient, but it can also pose some security risks for financial organizations. Employees working remotely should avoid using public WiFi connections and use secure VPNs at home. Providing WiFi services for your remote employees is the best way to ensure they are using a secure connection. Additionally, employees should be using secure company-provided devices rather than using their personal devices for remote work. 

 

Enable multi-factor authentication for employees and customers

Multi-factor authentication is one of the most effective ways to keep secure accounts safe. With multi-factor authentication, users need to provide a third piece of information in addition to a username and password in order to access their account. This additional piece of information is typically a code sent via email or text message. Multi-factor authentication ensures that even if a username and password is compromised, hackers still won’t be able to access the account. 

 

Update your systems regularly

Cybersecurity threats are constantly changing as hackers develop new ways to get around existing cybersecurity restrictions. To keep your systems protected, it is important to update both software and hardware on a regular basis. Software updates should happen frequently as developers identify new security threats and develop solutions. 

Financial institutions should also assess their cybersecurity strategies as a whole on a regular basis. As your organization grows and changes, you may find yourself restructuring data storage or adding extra protective layers to your system, for example. If you’re struggling to develop a cybersecurity strategy on your own, consider reaching out to third-party experts. A reputable cybersecurity firm can help you put together an effective strategy that’s tailored to your needs. 

Because the risk of cyber attacks is so high for financial firms, you shouldn’t skimp on security. Even the simplest cybersecurity measures can go a long way towards protecting your systems. Additionally, having strong cybersecurity measures can actually help your business. Today’s customers look for financial providers that they can trust to keep their money and personal details safe. 

Articles

How to Improve Your Resume to Earn More Money

With the stress given to resumes, people can now find an unlimited number of resume formats and templates online. This, while created with the intent to help people out, can now, in fact, confuse them. In addition, the sheer abundance of options makes selecting the ideal format a tedious job for everyone.

How to select the best resume format

When selecting the ideal resume format, there are a lot of parameters to check out. These parameters would be related closely to your field of job, your personal experiences, and information that needs to be put in the resume.

It can also depend upon any specific job requirements from the employer that needs to be present in the resume. In rare instances, employers can also mention some points like font, font size, etc., to be followed in the candidate’s resume.

When determining which resume format is most suited for you, consider the following factors:

Career Path: Every career path has some differences in terms of requirements for candidates. As such, there are also some differences in terms of what employers want to see on the candidate’s resume. Different professions can have different resume format requirements; as such, it is essential to search for one which pertains to your particular profession. For example, some professions require candidates to provide a portfolio of their work. This portfolio is often needed to be a part of the resume.

Information to be included: How much information you need to fit into the resume is also an important consideration when picking out a resume format and template. Depending upon how high a position you are applying for, you would have more or less relevant information. The higher the job position is, the more your experience would probably be. As such, you would need a format that allows you to enter more information and is more space efficient. It is essential to remember that the resume cannot be over one or a maximum of two pages long.

Top Resume Formats

Among the myriad of choices out there, there are very few formats that are actually effective and approved. These include:

Format 1:

Name

Job Role/ Designation

Personal Information

Resume Objective

Experience/ Employment History

In this section, you can write all your experiences or employment history. It is advisable to mention relevant experiences only. Bullet point any key projects and leadership roles

Education

Write about your educational qualification from latest to oldest.

Skills

In this section, write about your hard skills (job-related or industry-related skills) and soft skills, e.g., communication skills, team player, etc.

Format 2:

NAME :

Job Role/ Designation

Resume Objective: A few lines of briefing about relevant experience pertinent to the job

Employment History Personal Information

Current Job Address

Bullet description and key projects Email

Contact number

Previous Job

Bullet Description and key projects Skills

Educational history Hard Skills

Latest to oldest educational institutions, degree, duration

Name of School Soft Skills

Extra Activities

Include any active extra activities or hobbies you indulge in.

Format 3:

Name

Profile Objective

Personal Information

General Skills in tabs (preferably in tabs instead of commas to ensure distinction. Use bullets but make use of horizontal space.

Fields of Strength

In this section, you can identify the key skills posted in the job description, and mention relevant skills and strengths that you have. Elaborate a little about each area of strength in bullet points.

Personal Achievement

Include any and all milestones, awards, or significant achievements in this section

Education

All educational qualifications from latest to oldest.

Interests

This section can be included if you have space available.

While the first two formats are applicable to everyone, the last format can be utilized by people who do not have detailed employment experience. But if you choose the last format, you must be very careful about how you design and draft your resume.

Additionally, you can choose to draft your resume either in latest to oldest or oldest to newest chronology. However, it must be remembered that generally, employers expect people to write their experiences in straight chronology (latest to oldest), and they assess all resumes accordingly.

No matter which resume format you choose, one of the most important things to ensure is that you create your resume in a neat and organized fashion and try to include all keywords which have been mentioned in the JD or are field related.


Recession Income
Articles

11 Tips to Make Money in a Recession

Recession Income

Many people see a recession as an intricate thing because they risk losing their earning sources. If you have liquid funds and savings, you can invest them during the recession period. If you don’t have enough savings, you need to be careful and take steps to make sure you deal with such economic conditions.

Get a headstart and see what’s hitting the new Chancellor’s to-do list and then create one of your own. Below are some tips that are going to help you make money during the recession.

 

Safeguarding your sources of income

If you happen to lose your source of income, then you may be forced to start spending your savings as you look for a new job. It is important to first secure a job. If you have a business, make sure you secure its future growth. When looking for a job, make sure you look at the job role and also the financial stability of the company.

If you doubt the financial stability of your employer, it is important to start looking for a new job in the same industry. When you do this, you have a chance of switching your profile to an industry you know well. You can also start focusing on side sources of income like a side business or even a side gig.

 

Enhancing savings

If you want to deal with the challenges coming with the recession, make sure you put something away every month from your income. Get a pen and paper then list down your expenses such as house rent, insurance premiums, car payments, and even groceries. Add up all of the expenses at the end of the month, and see how much you are spending. Go through the list and see if there is something you can reduce or remove from the list. Making this list is a good idea because you will know what you are spending your money on. This lets you see whether you are spending money on useless things. The amount you save as a result of reducing your expenses is going to your savings account.

 

Investments

Your money is probably invested in long- and short-term plans. You should always have an eye on your short-term investment. If you start to feel like the investment is risky, move your money into something that feels safer. Some of them include the stock market, dividends, precious metals, and more. When it comes to long-term investments, you can look at assets during a recession because the prices are low.

 

Invest in discounted stocks

During a recession, stock prices come down. This gives you a chance to invest in highly discounted stocks. You can get great stocks at a discount. When the stock prices start to go up, you can choose to sell or keep them. You should learn more about stock lending and borrowing because it will help you during a recession.

 

Tracking your net worth

It is a good idea to check your net worth from time to time because it is going to motivate you to keep going with your good financial habits of investing and savings. This can be a very effective tool when there is a recession. You might not see amazing results in the short term, but you will be surprised by them in the long term.

 

Planning for future

If you want to deal with the challenges that come with the recession, ensure you have a good plan for investing and earning. You shouldn’t make decisions as you go without putting in too much though. Take your time and make a good plan that is going to protect your investments and savings no matter the market state.

 

Working on 401(k)

A common thing that happens is people stop contributing to their 401(k) when a recession hits. This isn’t a good idea because this is your chance of looking at discounted stock prices and maximizing your retirement plan contributions.

 

Generating passive income

Passive investing is one of the options you have in order to earn enough to cover your living expenses. If you reach this point, it means your job becomes optional and enhances financial independence. You will also have the chance of pursuing your dream job without having to stress too much about the payment structures. Life insurance and disability insurance don’t become that much of a big deal for you.

 

Investing in properties

The real estate market doesn’t fall as fast as the stock market when there is a recession. If you choose to invest in real estate, you can get amazing deals when the economy is experiencing a slowdown. The reason why this is the case is most of the time home prices go down but rent remains the same.

 

Sell unused stuff

This is a good way of making money in a recession. There are many e-commerce platforms that you can use when selling your stuff online. The two most popular are Amazon and eBay. Selling unused stuff will offer some liquidity.

 

Moving into survival mode

You have to change your mindset when there is a recession because that is where everything starts. The mantra that will help you is “spend less and earn more”. You need to understand that things aren’t the same as before and you need to do things differently.

Gemstone investment
Articles

From Cut to Clarity – The Layman’s Guide to Gemstone Investment

Gemstone investment

An interview with Dr Thomas Schröck, CEO and Founder of The Natural Gem

Revered for their beauty and believed by many to have healing powers, gemstones have been used throughout history by people from all echelons of society. Whether they have been used as lucky charms, religious symbols or as ornamental decorations.

The most well-known use of gemstones however, has been as a symbol to signify one’s status. Due to their scarcity and brilliance, royal families have worn gemstone adorned pieces of jewellery for as long as we can remember as a way to demonstrate wealth, rank and power.

Today, gemstones are still used for many of the same reasons as thousands of years ago. There are, however, more ways to enjoy these beautiful mineralogical phenomena than just as part of a piece of jewellery.

Today many people today enjoy investing in gemstones as a means to secure wealth and as an inflation hedge. It’s no wonder why. The gemstone is the world’s oldest commodity, dating back as long as 5,500 years, and holds more historical and cultural importance than probably any other investment options.

With the emergence of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and more, gemstones have taken somewhat of a backseat in the investing world. Perhaps because they are so embedded in our history and culture that people are missing the obvious? Or maybe just because the people who engage in gemstone investing want to guard this hidden gem (no pun intended) and avoid competitors?

After all, gemstones have the highest concentration of value, even higher than gold, and can return great yields. Who wouldn’t want to keep it a secret?

We spoke to Dr Thomas Schröck, CEO and Founder of The Natural Gem, to learn more about gemstones and uncover the secrets to successful gemstone investment.

 

How are gemstones valued?

Gold and gemstones are both tangible investments, but the key difference here is that there is no fixed value for x weight of gemstones. There are multiple classifications which creates an accurate valuation of coloured gemstones, starting with the 4C’s: colour, clarity, carat, and cut. The same standard is also used for diamonds, but there are also additional indicators which are solely used for coloured gemstones – namely, treatment and origin. All these factors heavily influence the valuation.

For instance, two rubies of similar quality but different countries of origin, can have a large dissimilarity in value. One from Mozambique may be valued at 100,000 GBP, while one from Burma may be valued at 150,000 GBP. This shows how impactful one detail can be to the net worth of a gemstone.

There are currently two systems in place to determine prices and price development for coloured gemstones – these are GemGuide and Gemval. The former is primarily directed at wholesale dealers and jewellers whereas the latter calculates market retail prices.

The value of a gemstone consists of three criteria:

  • Intrinsic value (market or trade value)
  • Its aesthetic value (a subjective, mostly optical value)
  • Its historical value, if any

 

One may compare gemstones to art, but the main difference here is that they carry a much higher intrinsic value. The aesthetic and historical value can also have an additional impact on valuation. We could take Kate Middleton’s engagement ring, which previously belonged to both Princess Diana and Queen Victoria, as an example: if we look at purely the intrinsic value of the stones and materials themselves, we may get just a fraction of what the ring would be sold for at an auction due to its aesthetic and historical value.

 

How do ordinary investors invest in gems?

A gemstone is a long-term investment, and since it does not depreciate in value, it’s a smart investment to keep for a rainy day. Our customers either buy it directly off our homepage or come by for an individual consultation. Seeing the stone in person before purchasing is important for many because we always recommend only investing in a stone that speaks to you. We’ve found this also helps when looking to re-sell the gemstone, because you will know and believe in the selling points.

We know that it can be scary when making your first investment in gemstones, and will on occasion hear the Blood Diamond reference. For this reason, transparency is so important to us, and we try to give as much transparency to the supply chain as possible. If a gemstone is legitimate and the same gemstone that the seller claims, you will receive a gemological certificate from a trusted laboratory. This will determine the intrinsic nature of the stone, and removes any risk involved in the purchase.

We provide multiple levels of certification, for example for a blue sapphire from Sri Lanka we can provide certificates from CGL (Sri Lanka), GLA (Austria), Gübelin and/or SSEF (Switzerland).

If the seller can’t provide a gemological certificate, that is your sign to exit the deal.

 

How have gems performed historically?

Gemstones have been used for more than 5,500 years as a means to retain personal wealth, and have historically been worn by royalty as part of their crown jewels, to ensure the gemstones remain part of their legacy. The most well-known gemstone is the diamond, but it does not have the highest value concentration and has a rather low appreciation. The gemstone with the highest value concentration and a growth of 8-10% p.a., is the ruby. The ruby is followed by the blue sapphire at 6% p.a., and then the emerald at 5% p.a.

What makes naturally coloured gemstones unique as an investment is their non-correlative nature to the macroeconomic developments. Gemstones will typically experience steady growth even through financial downturns, and it’s because of this non-volatility that they make the perfect candidates for diversifying investment portfolios.

 

How do gemstones vary in investability according to type?

As already briefly explained, a gemstone has a unique valuation according to its individual characteristics. What we can do, however, is to categorise the gemstones based on quality and country of origin: an example is a fine ruby (high quality) from Burma – historically,  this has been the best performing gemstone in terms of value growth. This begs the question: why do some gemstones increase in value more than others? To uncover this, it is important to highlight what makes a gemstone appreciate in value over all, two of the main factors are their rarity (or scarcity)  and beauty.

Before we can determine this, we need to establish what makes a stone increase in value. For gemstones it all has to do with two main factors, their rarity and beauty. The reason why rubies are experiencing an incredible growth rate currently is because the yield of the ruby mines are depleting. This means that the scarcity of supply drives up the values.

We can see this across all high value gemstones, but what makes a certain kind of gemstone more valuable than the other? To illustrate this, we can take the beryl as an example: more specifically the emerald (belonging to the beryl species) and the red beryl. The red beryl is the rarest of the beryl variety, but the emerald is more valuable. The worth is attributed to its beauty and due to it being more widely known, having a stronger historical significance, and for some its unique beauty. It is, however, hard to put a price tag on the subjective nature of beauty – it is simply compounded with the multiple factors as previously mentioned. In terms of investability, the main gemstones which are recommended for a first investment are ruby, sapphire, and emerald.

 

What is gemstone re-certification?

When we acquire gemstone, we make sure that it has multiple layers of certification. Once this step is completed, we store the gemstone with its certifications until an individual requests to buy it. With some gemstones that have been with us for an extended period of time, we use recertification to showcase the value development by renewing the certification at a gemological laboratory. We will then have the stone re-appraised by an expert, and they will provide the new value which is aligned with the market’s retail price. This is not only good for us to remain in the know of current trends and market value, but also give potential buyers a clear indication of its historical performance.

 

When is the best time to invest in gemstones? and how do they perform during financial crises?

We find that there is an increase in demand for gemstones during the financial crises in particular. This is mostly due to the fact that the value of gemstones does not correlate to the macroeconomic climate, and will therefore be used as a hedge against inflation.

That’s not to say that you should only invest in gemstones during a financial downturn. Investments should not be made in response to global events.

I like to think of investments as an intentional habit; a regular action you intentionally decide to adopt in order to meet a greater goal. And good habits are built now, so don’t wait for an economic crisis to hit before you decide to take control of your investment portfolio and secure your wealth.

 

Where can people learn more about investing in gemstones?

The internet is a beautiful place, filled with so much information from experts dealing with all aspects of the gemstone trade, from mining to jewellery design. Unfortunately, there is also many mistruths and misleading information available on the internet, which can be confusing at the best of times.

I will be releasing a book later this year titled “Investing in Gemstones”, which will be a definitive guide to gemstone investment, helping people understand the gemstone trade and the potential risks in this industry, and how to make sound investments that will yield lucrative returns over time.

Articles

Breaking Down & Overcoming The Stock Market Anxiety Syndrome

The stock market is a major source of anxiety for many new investors. That’s primarily because of how easy it is to lose money while trading stocks.

That being said, while stock market losses are pretty common, the vast majority of losses traders suffer are actually caused by having anxiety in the first place.

That’s because, when you’re anxious, you tend to second guess yourself and make irrational decisions which can lead to devastating losses in the stock market.

So if you’re looking to start investing in the market, you need to understand that you’re entering uncharted territory – and the only way to succeed is to curb your anxiety and fear of the market.

With that said, here are some tips on how to get rid of your fear of the stock market.

Learn And Educate Yourself

Having a wealth of knowledge about various aspects of stock market trading can help you avoid the anxiety that comes with putting your money on the line.

Learning more about the market’s impacts on the economy, shareholders, companies, and the government might also help you feel less anxious during your forays into the market.

Set Financial Objectives

A great way to overcome stock market anxiety is by establishing financial objectives and designing safe investment strategies that can help you reach those goals within a reasonable enough time frame.

Setting these objectives doesn’t have to be difficult – a great example of a financial goal is planning to have an estate worth $1 million by the time you are 65 – which is not particularly hard to do with the right strategy.

By establishing these objectives, you can face your fear head-on and overcome your investment anxiety with a precise plan designed to grow your wealth. 

Never Invest More Than You’re Willing To Lose

A major reason why many investors are fearful is because they invest more than they’re willing to lose.

Many investors go as far as putting their entire life’s savings into the market hoping to secure a huge profit.

It’s important to note that while betting the farm can yield incredible gains in the market, it comes at the cost of your peace of mind, as you’re likely to find yourself constantly worrying about how your investment is going.

If you invest money that you can afford to lose, odds are you won’t constantly stress about your investment positions. 

You’ll be able to remain stoic regardless of how your trades pan out, allowing you to approach the stock market with an anxiety-free mind. 

After overcoming your anxiety, you can start trading with a trusted platform like SoFi invest

Have A Plan For Your Investment And Trades

The process of investing is much simpler with a strategy. 

While some strategies can be perplexing and ineffective, others can help you succeed. Once you feel at ease, you should gradually change your approach until you perfect it and are satisfied with it. 

It’s worth noting that if you’re not a seasoned investor, you should only opt for simple strategies.

Complex investing methods can involve much more effort and stress than simpler ones – often without producing any additional reward. 

A straightforward strategy for investing maintains your focus and protects you from being stressed or making errors. Using a straightforward technique, you can be versatile with your funds and possessions. Simple plans make it simpler to identify problems. 

You can implement alterations if you discover an issue with any of your investments. 

You may need to make modifications such as altering the shares of the firms you trade, paying a new value per share, modifying your holding approach, as well as altering your investment selection process.

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Choose Your Online Payment Solution According to Your Products or Services

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

What is an online payment solution?

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

Types of online payment solutions

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

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

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

Reasons for using online payment options for your business

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

  1. Security  

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

  1. Simplicity 

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

  1. Processing power 

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

  1. Support

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

  1. Cost 

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

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

Paypal

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

WePay

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

Checkout.com

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

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

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

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

BlueSnap

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

Braintree

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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A Short Guide to Buying a Second Property for Letting Purposes

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

What is Buy-to-Let?

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

The Buy-to-Let Mortgage

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

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

The Practicality of Letting

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

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

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

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

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Best Ways to Fund Your Retirement

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

Plan Your Pension

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

Investments

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

Budget

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

Equity release

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

Work longer

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

The importance of financial planning

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

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


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How To Transform Your Business In 2022

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

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

Reflect on strengths and weaknesses

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

Update your software

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

Marketing

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

Improve communication

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

Create a positive workplace

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

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Turning The Bear Into A Bull Sustainably

Asymmetrica Investments

Sustainability is a word which has become highly valued in all circles. As we look for ways to help preserve our planet, it’s essential to consider how we use our natural resources. Conserving our natural resources has become a priority for many individuals, companies, and even entire nations, and billions of dollars have been pledged to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) created by the United Nations.

When we think of environmental footprint, agriculture is one of the most overlooked, misunderstood, and underutilised resources to live more sustainably. With half of the world’s habitable land used for this purpose, it is there that the team from Asymmetrica Investments comes in with sustainable methods to supply food for our growing population.

Having achieved remarkable success in the Ethical Finance Awards from Wealth and Finance International, where the firm was named Best Agricultural Impact Investment Firm 2022, we thought it was the right time to talk to the team to uncover how they earned such a remarkable accolade.

1. Firstly, please give us an overview of your company and your work.

Asymmetrica Investments is a Swiss company that specialises in investments in sustainable agricultural assets. Currently, the firm is the advisor to the world’s first investment vehicle specialised in sustainable avocado production, AVO Oro Verde.

Before Avo Oro Verde, investments in Avocado Orchards in Mexico were hardly accessible for anyone outside the avocado industry. Most of the time, only local growers or existing avocado companies could benefit from the expanding avocado industry in Mexico.

Every year, avocado consumers worldwide would see an increase in the prices of avocados or avocado farms without being able to join this enterprise effectively. People could only invest in listed global companies like Calavo Growers or Mission Produce. These investments do not resemble farmland ownership, as they generate most of their income from trading, not the avocados’ production.

In AVO Oro Verde, investors are acquiring real estate, specifically arable land that produces income. So, their investments are backed by tangible assets, in this case, avocado orchards. In general, Farmland investments have two advantages. The first is that investors receive an income from the sale of the avocados, and the second is that the land they acquire appreciates due to inflation.

By investing in an avocado orchard, investors can reasonably expect to benefit from the rise in the prices of avocados. Specifically, an investment in an avocado orchard increases in value as the cost of avocados rises because growers can sell their product at a higher price.

On the contrary, generally, when avocado prices increase, companies like Calavo Growers or Mission Produce have lower profitability; this change in profitability usually reflects a lower share price. The main reason is that the margins and profitability of companies shrink when there is a rise in their input prices.

In 2019 AVO Oro Verde came up with a solution that enabled the global audience to invest in avocado orchards. Because of that, Mexicans and foreigners can now invest in sustainable avocado orchards in Mexico.

 2. How can avocado orchards be sustainable?

Agriculture is not intrinsically unsustainable but often poorly managed. For instance, more than 95% of all day workers in agriculture do not have a pension or any access to health care insurance. Not having these benefits is the reality for more than 5 million people in Mexico. People are at the heart of any organisation, and we encourage our partners to insure their workers and their families under state-run insurance. Moreover, we also support using organic pesticides to have better food and protect our employees from chemicals.

Regarding avocados, a lot has been said about their lack of sustainability. However, like most agricultural products, avocados are not intrinsically unsustainable, but their poor management is untenable.

The problem with avocados starts when producers cultivate avocados in nonsensical places, such as where the irrigation process is not based on rainwater or natural moisture in the soil. In some areas where water can be privatised, it depletes the water reservoirs, affecting the surrounding communities and plantations. Significant changes can be done by having a long-term view, producing in places with the right climatic conditions and adopting a technological-driven organic production.

For instance, by using the proper irrigation process, it can be more water efficient to produce a Kilo of avocados (400-600 L/Kg) than bananas (790 L/Kg) or apples (820 L/Kg). Moreover, rainwater can be collected, stored, and used in the irrigation system if avocado orchards are planted in the right places.

Deforestation is another problem with the sustainability of agricultural products, including avocado orchards. Agricultural expansion drives almost 90% of global deforestation worldwide. In the case of avocado production, it is estimated that it is responsible for 30-40% of recent deforestation in Michoacán. We do not tolerate illegal deforestation. Moreover, we protect natural reserves and keep approximately a third of the land as a forest reserve.

3. What is your core ethos as a company?

Our core ethos is capital preservation and sustainability. We are redefining the meaning of asymmetric investment, opening the door to safe asset-backed agriculture investments for investors looking to minimise their risks and optimise their returns while positively impacting the environment and society in general.

Many people have the wrong impression that by investing sustainably, profitability gets hurt. However, if you take a long-term approach, sustainability is paramount for preserving the ecosystem and our assets.

4. Can you tell us how you are involved in sustainable finance?

We offer access to our impact, sustainability measurements, and best practices to ensure sustainable production and growth. We are in the process of implementing an impact process that consists of three parts.

  1. Pre-Investment: Exclusion criteria, due diligence process to identify ESG risks, selection of impact strategies that target specific SDGs.
  2. Management and Measurements: Data collection and monitoring impact performance, sustainability and impact KPIs.
  3. Reporting: Transparent communication about the impact on partners and clients.

We are also involved in defining what sustainability means in our industry. We actively participate with the AIIMX—the Mexican representative of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment—to inform about the sustainability of the orchards that we grow and to promote the benefits of sustainable agriculture.

Regarding impact and sustainability, some of the metrics are set by the Principles for Responsible Investment, and others are included in the Impact Reporting and Investing Standards Catalogue, which the Global Impact Investment Network manages.

5. So then, are your investors only sustainable-focused ones?

We only do sustainable projects, but our investors can be anyone who wants high returns with inflation protection and long-term profitability. We educate our investors with specific materials regarding our investments so that they understand the impact of their investment on all the stakeholders.

6. So, as Asymmetrica Investments, what do you value the most?

As a company, we are conscious of our impact and reach and are committed to using this to promote intelligent investments with asymmetric returns and sustainability. Our stakeholders come before our financial gains as we select land and consider the treatment of our workers and their families. Stakeholders also are uppermost in our minds as we decide how much of our land is devoted to producing and how much is set as a natural reserve—considering water availability and environmental purposes.

We also give precedence to our stakeholders’ needs even though we are involved in the Counsels and Associations and devoted to Ethical Finance and Impact Investments. Having fewer, more closely selected assets can still ensure great returns and positively impact all our stakeholders. We value the opinion and perceptions of our investors, partners, farmers, clients, and providers and the environment in which we perform our business.

7. What are your plans?

We plan to expand operations to Colombia and Africa, expanding our reach and offering exposure to new markets with interesting returns. We believe that emerging markets will play a central role in food security. Africa has 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land.

Watch a Video of our Avocado Orchards
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Contact Details:
 

Company: Asymmetrica Investments

Name: Mauricio Mérigo

Email: [email protected]

Web: https://www.asymmetrica-investments.com/