The interconnectedness of the world’s markets

Whether you’re a trader or not, it’s no secret that all global financial markets are directly or indirectly interconnected. This is due to the globalisation of commerce as well as ease of access to financial markets
which allows for copy trading to thrive
as people look for the best stocks to provide a large return on investment.

Whilst these markets may not have a direct link, small disruptions can ripple across all markets which may lead to large risk events that can impact all economies around the world. The interconnectedness isn’t always apparent until something like this occurs.

Understanding the interconnectedness of the world’s market can help you develop a greater trading strategy as you learn how different markets around the world can impact your investments. This may help you remain in the small percentage of traders that are successful. Read on to learn more.

The global markets

No company wants its growth to remain stagnant, especially when there are plenty of opportunities to move to an international market that can skyrocket its value and customer base further.

This globalisation means that multinational companies can now offer globally standardised products that are advanced and reliable whilst being low priced. It is believed that global companies are the only ones that can have long-term success which is why markets are now on a global scale.

How different markets respond to one another

So, with the world’s markets so interconnected, how do different markets respond to each other? Here are some examples:

Bond prices and interest rates

These have an inverse correlation which means that when one is high the other is low. In this case, high interest rates drive down the value of bond prices.

Stocks and Inflation

As previously mentioned, rising inflation decreases the value of bonds which allows stocks to drive forward. However, this will continue for a short while but the stocks will eventually fall off.

Why are the markets so interconnected?

With around 12% of markets being globally interconnected, you may be wondering why exactly this is. Some possible explanations include:

  • Trade has grown more proportionally than with GDP
  • Trade is a fundamental part of all economic activity around the world
  • Trade generates efficiency gains in markets
  • The openness of trade around the world allows for more markets to connect with each other

As you can see, the many markets around the world are all interconnected in some way or another. This may have a small or large impact on your trading strategy and proves how critical doing your research on different markets that may have a direct link to your investment is.

Retail Digital Transformation: 4 Paths to Embark on in 2023

Digital transformation in retail, enhancing customer experience, is the primary ecommerce market growth factor. In 2022, global retail sales reached $27.34 trillion, among which $5.76 trillion accounted for ecommerce retail sales.

According to ResearchAndMarkets, the global ecommerce market is projected to grow by $12.95trn during 2022-2027, accelerating at a CAGR of 27.15%. So how to keep up with this rapid pace? 

Today, retailers can make informed decisions about adopting retail software solutions and thus commit to more solid and future-proof digital transformation strategies. Itransition experts have identified four digital transformation trends to consider in 2023.

Social shopping

Not so long ago, brands viewed social networks merely as another marketing channel, effective for reaching out to their target audience with personalized product promotions. Still, if the customer did decide to buy, the purchase tended to take place outside the retailer’s social media account, most likely on their website or at a brick-and-mortar store.

But when consumers shifted to shopping online and began spending more time on social networks than ever during COVID, it presented a unique chance for the brands to step up their social commerce offer and promote and sell their products seamlessly through social media channels.

With its community-like engagement, abundant social proof, and frictionless shopping, social commerce immediately struck a chord with consumers, particularly younger generations longing for novelty and excitement. For retailers, the benefit of social shopping lies in more accessible target audience outreach and authentic relationships that translate into higher conversion rates.

Due to its ease of use and appeal to the young social media-savvy generations, social commerce promises to proliferate and become a dominant online sales channel in the years ahead. So even if you neglected social media earlier, 2023 is the perfect time to venture into the social commerce trend.

For example, the famous singer and successful businesswoman Rihanna dropped a Super Bowl 2023-themed Savage X Fenty merch on social media, serving as her best advertisement. She modeled several items on the brand’s Instagram account, gathering thousands of comments from potential buyers.

Mobile apps

Retail mobile applications are hardly new, but since the beginning of the pandemic, m-commerce has significantly grown in popularity and so far shows no sign of losing momentum. 

Needless to say, developing a mobile channel is an absolute must in current circumstances, but how can a brand garner a consumer’s attention? Emerging technologies can become a solid market differentiator for retailers’ mobile apps.

Augmented reality

One considerable shortcoming of m-commerce is its lack of tangibility humans need badly to make a purchasing decision and feel satisfied with the shopping process. 

Allowing customers to virtually try on clothes, shoes, and makeup looks or preview how furniture will look in their room, AR bridges the online and in-store shopping experiences and makes the previously monotone process of product discovery and assessment more engaging. 

Down the line, this element of excitement, according to Shopify’s findings, translates into a 94% higher conversion rate, which makes all money and effort investments into AR more than worthwhile.

Today, augmented reality (AR) features can be found in the mobile apps of mass-market and luxury fashion brands, beauty and jewelry retailers, and even houseware, sporting goods, and toy merchants. 

Voice shopping

Another trend is voice-assisted commerce. Voice assistants offered the convenience of buying anytime, anywhere up a notch, allowing their owners to shop while doing something else, be it work, house chores, or leisure.

Moreover, as a voice commerce tool, mobile virtual assistants appear to edge out smart speakers because the latter has no screen and does not allow one to see the purchase. All this, coupled with the growing appreciation for the speed and convenience of voice commerce, offers a viable growth avenue for retail brands’ mobile apps.

Carrefour, a French supermarket chain, is a trailblazer in this field. In the summer of 2020, the company launched a voice-based grocery shopping service developed in cooperation with Google. Compatible with mobile phones and smart speakers, the service enables customers to search for items in Carrefour’s online store, add them to the shopping cart, pay for the order, and schedule its delivery via voice commands.

Alternative payment methods

The shift to online commerce compelled consumers to change their habits and pivot to digital payment channels. More innovative payment technologies, such as contactless payments, also gained recognition across customer segments, shifting from “gimmicks” to “must-haves”.

Contactless payments proved a boon to customers who had to or still preferred to shop in person. Near-field communication (NFC), the underlying no-touch payment technology, facilitates interaction between the terminal and the bank card or smart device over a short distance. 

Long-neglected QR codes are also on the rise. Easily scanned with the default camera app, QR code payment schemes prove particularly frictionless for shoppers. Moreover, compared to NFC technology, QR has low adoption costs, making it an attractive option for small businesses or retailers lacking card payment infrastructure.

According to Celero Commerce, over 80% of US consumers reported using contactless payment methods last year. Meanwhile, merchants support the trend, with 81% planning to add contactless payments as a permanent option.

Fraud prevention

The rise of fraud came as the major downside of the explosive growth of ecommerce. To safeguard their business against the heightened threat without creating additional friction, retailers plan to enhance their fraud detection mechanisms in 2023.

At the moment, machine learning in retail is sought after as the most viable technology for thwarting human-emulating fraud scripts. ML algorithms can assess transactions in real-time against historical data and numerous criteria and accurately detect anomalous activities that indicate a fraud attempt to halt them timely. What makes machine learning in ecommerce an even more invaluable tool to fight fraud is that the software continuously teaches itself and thus can identify even new and obscure scam schemes.

Closing thoughts

The COVID pandemic marked a significant turning point for retail, fast-forwarding the industry’s innovations. Now, when there is no need for urgent recovery efforts and speedy rollouts, businesses can step back to assess the shifts in customer behavior and recent retail tech advancements and work out a more long-term digital transformation strategy. 

Consumers’ quest for convenient and mobile-first experiences and concerns about health and cybersecurity have shaped the retail landscape for years to come. Therefore, solutions that deliver on these needs prove most worthwhile to adopt today.

11 Simple Energy Tips to Save Money in 2023

It doesn’t matter if your business operates with a few staff from a small premise or employs a large workforce over several sites,  millions of businesses are looking for ways to budget and cut down their energy consumption amid soaring energy prices. 

Les Roberts, Content Manager at Bionic comments that: “Winter weather has arrived, putting a strain on businesses that are already struggling with the cost of heating and other energy bills. Energy efficiency should also be a priority for your business, and getting into good energy habits is always beneficial, regardless of how high your energy bills are.”

For those wanting to cut to the chase, he highlights the quick solutions that will actually make a significant impact on reducing your energy bills.

1. Assess when you’re heating your premises 

A lot of business owners pay a standard tariff to heat their premises but find that the building is being heated overnight or when rooms are empty. This can be a huge waste of money and you could be saving hours of energy by only heating the building in the daytime or when rooms are in use. If you do need to heat your building overnight-say you have shift workers in the building-then it could be worth considering a time-of-use tariff that offers cheaper rates at certain times.     

Alternatively, just taking your thermostat down a notch is a quick way to start saving fast. This one small action only takes seconds to carry out and could potentially slash your heating bills by as much as 10%. 

2. Switch appliances off 

Switching appliances off when you’re finished with them is a huge way to cut your gas and electricity costs. Next time you’re finished working, make sure you turn off your computer monitors, lights and any other unused appliances.  

3. Pay attention to the weather  

Another way you can save energy is to take a closer look at your business thermostats and adjust them according to the weather conditions outside. If it’s a hot day and rooms don’t need to be heated, then turn the thermostat down and you’ll be saving money in no time.  

Domestic and business energy usage usually decrease during the summer months. This is because it’s warmer and there’s less need for the heating to be on all hours of the day. Simply being conscious of the weather outside and adjusting your thermostat accordingly can help make sure you’re being more cost-efficient. 

4. Install a smart meter to save 

Smart meters are a great way to keep control over your business energy bills, largely because it helps you see where and when your gas and electricity is being used.  

A smart meter lets you see how much the energy you use is costing you, meaning you can curb your consumption as a result. 

5. Be mindful of water costs 

60°C is the optimum temperature for hot water, so if you notice that you’re running water that’s hotter than that, a few issues can arise.  Injuries aside, it could also leave you wide open to a costly business insurance claim. 

You’ll also be wasting energy too – 60°C gets the job done and you can slice your business energy bills at the same time. You could also think about installing touch-free taps in toilets so you can be using water more efficiently too.  

6. Turn off lights when not in use or fit light sensors 

It may seem like an obvious one, but sometimes we don’t even register that leaving lights on can cause our energy bills to skyrocket. Simply advising staff to turn off lights when they leave an empty room or when leaving at the end of the day makes all the difference.  

You can also take advantage of natural light during the day, if it’s a bright, sunny morning or afternoon and the overhead office lights aren’t really making too much of a difference, pull back the blinds make full use of the sunlight. Many businesses also opt to install light sensors in areas like storerooms and toilets because they are places where people aren’t going to be all day.  

7. Encourage all staff to be energy-aware 

Decreasing our energy usage is something we all need to think about in the short and long term. That’s why you should talk to your staff about energy-saving initiatives and explain why it’s so important. You could think about things like incentives and rewards or words of encouragement to spur them on to really get involved. 

8. Draught-proof your building 

If you work on ensuring that your premises are well insulated, then there will be less need for expensive heating costs. Draught-proofing doors and windows is a cheap but effective way to save money on gas and electric bills as it limits the amount of heat that can escape and stops cold air from getting in.  

9. Go paperless as much as you can 

Sometimes we don’t actively think about how many documents we’re printing and how much paper we’re using each day. And we very rarely consider how much electricity is being used to activate the printer. 

As more and more businesses go paperless, you could maybe think about if this option is viable for you too. Going paperless can be a great cost-effective solution if you find that you can email digital receipts or read a document online instead of printing.  

10. Request an energy audit 

Energy audits can be incredibly helpful, and your current energy supplier will be able to help you get started. By taking part in an energy audit, you’re ensuring that you know exactly where you are using the most and how you can cut this down. It’ll help you take full control of your spending.  

Many energy suppliers offer audits to help your business pinpoint exactly where you can save power and how you can do this. Just contact your current supplier to find out more and get started.  

11. Switch energy supplier

No matter how happy you are with your current energy supplier, they may not be providing you with the best deals, especially if you’ve let a fixed-rate contract expire without arranging a new one. If you haven’t browsed any alternative tariffs lately, then you may not be aware that there are better options out there.  

It really does pay to shop around and compare gas and electricity prices on different tariffs and with different suppliers. You could be saving so much money per month and be putting that back into your business. If you want to do a little more for the environment, it’s worth considering a green energy deal or even putting your own renewable energy technology in place.

How Software Asset Management Can Help Your Business Save Money

No matter what business you ‘re in, software is becoming increasingly integral to your success.

Brands that fail to capitalise on the ease, convenience and sheer utility of the solutions software have to offer are going to struggle in today’s modern and highly digital era.

Often companies today use more than one piece of software to meet their various needs. This is great in theory, but often can lead to a business buying and paying for software that overlaps in terms of their function.

Software Asset Management is a great way to manage your various software assets. It ensures you never waste money on software you don’t need and can help your business save money in a variety of ways.

5 Ways software asset management (SAM) will help save you money

A company’s software is key to its success in the modern business world. Companies are increasingly relying on various software pieces to become more efficient, reduce time wasting, and ultimately improve their business profits.

While involving software in your business, it’s important that you only involve necessary software. SAM is massively important if you want to reduce redundant software and create balanced IT budgets.

Good businesses use a variety of software. Great businesses use SAM to find the perfect balance of that software. Read ahead to learn more.

It enables you to spot redundant software

The most important thing Software Asset Management does that can help your business save money is spotting redundancies.

That’s because it provides your business with a holistic, 360-degree view of all the tools your business currently uses to operate.

This enables you to better understand what software your business needs and for what. The best tools to track software licenses are well worth the effort spent, simply because of the value it provides.

Doing so means you never risk overpaying for software or purchasing software that overlaps with other software you already own. It’s also capable of letting you know if you’re missing any software licenses or identifying when licenses need updating.

However, SAM may be ineffective when you use multiple software tools with overlapping capabilities.

Alerting you to expiring software and licensing

While redundant software can be a pain, it’s not the only way a Software Asset Management solution can help your business save money. Another is by alerting you when you need to update expiring software and licensing.

If you’re running a business, updating and renewing various licenses can tend to slip your mind. As a business owner, you have a hundred other things on your mind and often may not take updating licenses as a priority until it’s too late.

A software asset management solution keeps an eye on these factors and warns you of expiring licensing. Therefore, you can prepare, plan and research alternative software that’s cheaper and more efficient.

Keeps you from incurring fees and fines

When it comes to software, being found noncompliant can become incredibly expensive. Fines that outweigh the cost of the software you’re using are the last thing you want as a business.

That’s because software audits are becoming increasingly common. According to Gartner, 68% of organizations receive at least one audit request a year, making SAM a good investment.

Helps you recycle software

If you’re running a business, odds are you’ve got some employees that use specific software relevant to them and their department. This can become a major headache when employees leave the business or change positions.

Software can then be abandoned, logins lost or kept on inactive devices as people move around. This means you may end up paying for software that’s not being used or no longer relevant to your employees.

From there it can be recovered, stored somewhere safe and secured until a relevant employee needs access. This ensures smooth transitions when you onboard new employees. Rather than struggling to find software for them, you can turn to wherever you’ve decided to store that software.

Reduces security breaches

Data theft as a result of security breaches represent one of the costliest threats to any business today. No matter the size.

According to a report on data breaches by IBM, it’s only a matter of time before a business experiences a data breach. For some businesses, this can be catastrophic. In the US that could amount to over $9 million. That’s an eye watering figure no matter what the size of your business.

Software Asset Management can be an amazingly useful tool to enhance your data security. Whether that’s by preventing unauthorised software downloads, creating lists of authorized software or a variety of other tasks that can help your IT team ensure your data is kept safe.

If you’re looking to save your business money, reducing its exposure to data thefts is a great way to go about it.

The breakdown

When it comes to solutions that save money while bolstering the overall functions within your business, nothing beats a great Software Asset Management solution.

An effective Software Asset Management solution allows you to both mitigate risks, costs, plan various business activities and reduce security breaches. Usually, by doing a combination of these activities, our business inevitably winds up saving money.

Technology is all about convenience, so having one piece of software dedicated to taking care of the more troubling components of using various software can go a long way.

How Do Trading And AI Promote Global Trade And Development?

“General artificial intelligence” refers to systems that can self-learn from experience with “humanlike breadth” and do tasks better than people. While the prospect of general trading and AI presents serious philosophical questions, this technology is still decades away.

Instead, narrow AI focuses on specific applications, such as language translation, chatbots (automated online customer care), and driverless cars. Machine learning-based systems use enormous data and advanced algorithms to improve projections. Narrow AI in the real world needs enormous data sets to include as many previous occurrences as possible in future projections. Supervised data is labelled. “Unsupervised data” is raw data that requires the machine to find patterns.

The Consequences Regarding Trading And AI

Insofar as AI helps increase productivity, it will encourage broader economic expansion and open up fresh channels for cross-border commerce. However, economies will need time to invest in, get access to, and adapt to emerging AI technologies before they can begin to reap the benefits of these advancements.

Use Cases of Artificial Intelligence in Global Trade

Synthetic Intelligence And International Supply Networks

In the process of creating and overseeing international supply chains, AI is already making an impression. It can help with risk management in the supply chain and improved forecasting of future trends like shifts in customer demand. Just-in-time production and shipping can run more smoothly with better control over warehouse inventory. Packing and inventory checks are made easier with the help of robots.

In order to facilitate predictive self-maintenance and rapid adaption to client demands, “smart manufacturing” makes use of sensors and Internet-connected machinery, materials, and supplies. The greater connection might allow for more specialised participation in global value chains by service providers in areas such as research and development, design, robotics, and data analytics that are targeted to specific activities along the supply chain as more sectors adopt smart manufacturing.

Trading And AI: Online Trading Has Become Increasingly Popular

AI is also being used on online marketplaces like eBay right now. In the United States, 97% of eBay-based small firms export, compared to only 4% of their non-digital counterparts.

Services for translating texts, created with the help of artificial intelligence, are a major enabler of digital platforms as motors of international trade. For instance, thanks to eBay’s machine translation service, the company saw a volume rise of 17.5% in exports to Spanish-speaking Latin America and a revenue gain of 13.1%.

Future Artificial Intelligence Development Faces Trade Obstacles

Ability to Use Data for AI

Access to global data is essential for building AI systems that can adapt to a wide range of situations and user populations. It is important to have access to global health data that goes beyond the boundaries of country populations when building AI in fields like healthcare, for example.

Transnational data exchange is essential to the success of these digital technologies. Data localization policies that limit international data flows will have a negative effect on AI in two ways: first, by reducing the availability of training data; and second, by weakening the foundations upon which AI is built.

AI and Privacy

Governments are currently limiting the transfer of personal data across borders in order to maintain domestic privacy standards.

However, if individuals are going to feel safe moving their entire lives online, including sharing massive quantities of personal data for AI learning, then robust privacy measures are going to be necessary. The biggest obstacle will be coming up with privacy standards that don’t limit people’s ability to use their data.

Artificial Intelligence Standards

To create AI-based industrial goods, many new norms will need to be established. For instance, the introduction of autonomous cars would prompt the establishment of novel guidelines for the construction and security of motor vehicles. In order to lower trade barriers for AI-enhanced goods, international talks will be sparked around interoperability since the creation of multiple domestic standards across nations might increase costs for foreign producers that need to retool in order to export.

The Bottom Line

The use of trading and AI relationships is already altering international trade patterns and international value chains. Global AI development and deployment will be profoundly influenced by the trade laws created today in the WTO or free trade agreements. Trade regulations are necessary for the future of AI. You can, however, make a trade using a trading bot such as bitalpha ai.

Global Trading And Blockchain Technology Are Moving Towards Modernisation

The most notable advantage of blockchain technology is the increased transparency it brings to all kinds of industries, from supply chain management and manufacturing to travel booking. It’s crucial to be transparent and be able to trace the history of an item back to its exact beginnings.

Due to its enhanced supply chain visibility, this is a crucial part of the international trading and blockchain technology infrastructure. Manual double-entry accounting that is prone to mistakes and takes a long time will be unnecessary, as will the involvement of the government as a verifying third party.

Trading and Blockchain Technology: How Does Blockchain Work In Global Trade?

To put it simply, the blockchain will perform transactions and store data in an immutable digital ledger. The financial sector is also interested in blockchain technology advancements because they may help businesses complete transactions more quickly and accurately. The financial industry is projected to conduct more transactions in this area in the future due to its significance in the development of international trade.

In What Ways Do Blockchain Technology and International Trade Complement Each Other?

Blockchain technology will have far-reaching effects on global trade since it has the potential to dramatically improve enterprises’ value chain processes. In the banking sector, for example, blockchain’s ability to operate independently with complete accuracy would do away with the need for laborious processes that rely on a plethora of sources to compute and track payments.

The requirement for a trusted third party, such as PayPal or a bank, is eliminated because of the immutable nature of the blockchain’s distributed ledger.

Financial middlemen throughout the world may soon be able to take advantage of the faster and more secure transactions made possible by blockchain technology. Historically, shipping containers have been a source of difficulty all the way from initial purchase to final port delivery.

Sales are slowed by the time and effort required to complete the transaction and complete the necessary documentation for customs, shipping agents, port agents, and other middlemen.

The way business is done throughout the world is rapidly changing as a result of globalisation and technological advancements. So, unaffectedly, blockchain technology would emerge.

While trade between nations has always been vital, it is clear that this industry will see a significant change in the coming year as a result of the growth of trading and blockchain technology.

Blockchain Technology Eliminates The Inefficiencies Inherent In Cross-Border Data Exchanges

Blockchain technology is well-suited for usage in trade finance applications due to its decentralised nature. As a result, blockchain technology will boost the efficiency of international trade by allowing for the fast and correct transfer of documents across parties in various geographical locations.

The most significant challenge in conducting international business is the time and effort required to transfer documents across countries and verify their legality upon arrival. With the help of blockchain technology, businesses operating on a global scale will be able to handle a wide range of transactions more quickly and efficiently. Consequently, it will increase output while also reducing costs.

The Proven Benefits of a Trade Finance Solution Built on the Blockchain

When it comes to trade finance, the following are some of the benefits that institutions that implement trading and blockchain technology-based networks may enjoy.

Avoid relying solely on letters of credit and explore other funding options instead. Your client’s financial history and present transactions will become clear to you. Eliminating paper processes that are inefficient and prone to mistakes can have a major impact on bottom-line results.

Final Thoughts

Easily replicating and expanding this trade financing system is feasible. We can quickly modify this solution for use by other groups of banks and businesses because we have already deployed it for our present customers.

It’s also possible to add new features and functionality to the platform. After your solution is up and running, you and your partners may decide to grow by inviting other banks to join, entering new markets, or bringing in additional actors from the supply chain (such as logistics providers, shipping companies, and insurance agencies) to increase the services you offer to buyers and sellers. If platforms are connected to one another and to other trading platforms like the-bitlq.com, they can reach a much larger audience.

Exploring The World In The Eye Of ChatGPT And Metaverse

The fast-growing developed technology has made it evident that the metaverse is no longer a far-fetched prospect. It’s necessary to remember how other advanced technologies, like GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), may be used to enhance and mould the metaverse expertise as ChatGPT and metaverse are the new big things to shape the modern world.   

Programmable Machine Bots That Work As Human 

The evolution and development of machine-maintained chatbots and other forms of artificial intelligence is one domain where GPT might be a place to use in the metaverse technology performing all human-oriented functions. These AI-driven creative tools might provide useful guidance to users as they explore the metaverse in searching for particular information. Metaverse information, including descriptions of virtual or digital environments or human character dialogue, might be generated using GPT with ease. 

Engaging Interaction: ChatGPT and Metaverse 

In the world of the metaverse, GPT may also be used to design engaging activities. To create more interactive and ideal experiences, GPT might be used to generate replies to users’ input information. Using GPT to create personalized answers and difficulties for each user might be very helpful and supportive in live games and events.  

Pros of GPT In The Eye Of Metaverse

Not only may GPT be useful in the metaverse, but it also possesses the capability to rise the support for the metaverse as a whole. Trying to make this virtual setting available to a larger number of users might result in a positive outcome. The ability to employ GPT to create material and text in various languages would greatly spread and expand the potential audience for the metaverse.  

Game Theory, Virtual Reality In simple words, the metaverse is a shorthand for a completely engaging realistic virtual world. It’s totally a digital world full of amazing experiences where users may experience life such as interactions with other users, virtual items, and their surroundings. The metaverse has been hailed by some as a game-changer for society because it can engage and facilitate new forms of interaction and innovation in the work area and the regular lives of people everywhere around the world.  

Digital Personas

Various potential applications of GPT in the metaverse may include the development of more lifelike and convincing digital avatars in the digital world. Given GPT’s capacity to produce text that sounds human, it may be used to program artificial personalities capable of holding convincingly realistic talks with other humans. Using this, you can build digital helpers, digital friends, trainers, teachers, and many more.

Other Metaverse Advantages of ChatGPT

Utilising the GPT in the metaverse may allow other several advantages. Some notable examples are mentioned below;

Better realism and believability in virtual characters and environments means more interactive and immersive expertise in the metaverse built with GPT. This has the potential to increase the number of people using metaverse by making it more enticing to them with more ease.

Customisation, GPT may make material according to the individual’s tastes, requirements, and preferences. The outcome would be a more customized and individual encounter in the metaverse, which might be more enticing to certain specific people.

The advantage for those without the relevant tools to fully engage in a more complicated, complex, and virtual environment, GPT may be used to construct virtual assistants and other interactive characters that can help and support users.  

ChatGPT vs Other AI Chatbots

Using large neural network models, advanced chatbots can gain knowledge of human language. Thanks to the advancements and development of natural-language processing software platforms and learning algorithms, they’re capable of comprehending a broad spectrum of human languages and offering a diverse range of responses to various client queries such as the-bit-index-ai.com

Data retrieval, creative writing, and even customer support are just some domains where this innovation might be a place to utilise. The adaptable software modifies the bot’s vocabulary and dialogue in response to customer feedback in terms of improvements. ChatGPT’s platform is extensible, thus it can be utilized to develop several chatbots simultaneously for better outcomes.    

Final Thoughts 

In short, an increasing number of people use ChatGPT to make stunning text-to-image suggestions as its popularity grows swiftly. Engineers can also compete with one another to make the most difficult and creative design suggestions by using ChatGPT. One thing is certain and, though, text-to-image exercises are a fantastic way to execute and enhance your writing abilities and push all your imagination aside. 

Is Private Healthcare a Good Investment?

The NHS has found itself at the centre of another media storm, as staff take landmark industrial action in the name of fair pay and funding from the government. The strikes come after the government’s Health Secretary failed to actively negotiate a fair deal for workers, including a fairer deal for patients. The NHS’ difficulties are not limited to this strike action, though, and have given many people a reason to reconsider private healthcare. It’s worth mentioning that many other public funded sectors are doing the same, with the latest one of which being teachers deciding to strike in Early February.

The Ailing NHS

The problems facing the NHS are manifold and have arisen from a variety of different causes. There are two issues that are perhaps the most visible at present. One such issue takes the form of the stress induced by the coronavirus pandemic, as unprecedented volumes of patients began to fill beds in hospitals across the country. This is still a major reason for extended wait times experienced by those in line for surgery and even waiting for ambulances.

Another key issue is that of staff shortages –alongside wider discussions over real-terms pay cuts to public sector wages, precipitated recent strike action by nurses and paramedics. Together with difficulties moving patients through the system, this understaffing threatens to increase the likelihood of negative and even negligent outcomes for patients under NHS care.

These issues, while major, were short-term triggers exacerbating a much longer-term problem: consistent underfunding by the incumbent Conservative government. Since austerity measures were introduced in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis, the NHS has been systemically starved of funding for expansion and development, causing the infrastructure to fail under atypical stress.

The NHS vs. Private Healthcare

With waiting times continuing to balloon for even the most basic of diagnostic appointments, the NHS is increasingly becoming a system that doesn’t work for its neediest users. As such, more people are considering alternatives to the NHS in order to get the care they need – namely, private healthcare.

Private healthcare treatments and processes are typically too expensive to invest in outright, necessitating an insurance plan to cover key costs. But investing in such insurance could offer patients an opportunity to ‘jump the queue’, so to speak; private healthcare is often administered via NHS Trust facilities and even NHS medical professionals who also work with private healthcare providers.

Investing in Private Healthcare – Pros and Cons

There are undoubtedly numerous advantages to investing in a private healthcare insurance plan, with reduced wait times and potential increases in the quality of care chief among them. However, the cost can be prohibitive for a great deal of families. Indeed, public opinion on the UK’s healthcare system indicates a clear rejection of privatisation, with costs to patients a major concern. Whether private healthcare is right for you is up to you – but there are two sides to the coin, and an unnecessary move towards private healthcare could serve to undermine your finances.

Are Classic Cars a Good Investment?

Many motorists and car enthusiasts dream of investing in classic cars to own some of the most beautiful and influential vehicles of all time, but what about from a financial standpoint? Classic cars can be a smart investment for anyone looking to grow their wealth over the long term and could be an effective way to diversify your investment portfolio, which is a wise strategy, especially during uncertain times. Ownership can also be an enjoyable experience, and in particular if you appreciate cars.

How Classic Cars Performed Historically

Much like any investment class, it is always helpful to look back at the historical performance. While past performance does not predict future results, it can give you an idea of how an asset class might perform. Historically, classic cars appreciate in value and it was predicted that the market would grow from 30.9 billion US dollars in 2020 to 43.4 billion in 2024. Interestingly, this asset class was one of the few to perform rather well during the pandemic with many people investing in classic cars to enjoy life and driving during an uncertain time.

The Importance of Maintenance

One important consideration when investing in classic cars is maintenance. This is not the kind of investment that you can purchase and then forget about as you must keep the vehicle in good condition in order for its value to appreciate. You will want to maximize its resale value, so you should perform basic maintenance to keep the car in the best condition. For those that have an interest in classic cars, this can be an enjoyable activity. You will need to do things like clean the car inside and out, replace the car tyres when they are worn, and get any repairs carried out. It is also a good idea to drive the car regularly even if it is just around the block as it can be damaging for cars to sat unused for too long.

The Importance of Timing

As with any investment, timing is everything when it comes to classic cars. Ideally, you want to buy a classic for a low price or purchase a vehicle that is not a classic now but will be in the future and then sell for profit down the line. Research is obviously key here and you might be able to find a future classic by looking for high-quality cars that do not have a huge number that have been made globally. The brand of the car is also a good indicator to look for as a Porsche is more likely to be a classic than a Toyota. As the market trends upwards, you should try to hold on to the classic car over a long time frame to maximize returns.

Investing in classic cars can be a smart financial investment and a way to diversify your portfolio, especially if you are a fan of beautiful cars. This post should be informative and help you to make a decision and know how to maximize the resale value.

Blockchain Technology for Supply Chains: Why You Should Consider It for Your Business

Long gone are the days when supply chains were managed using manual, paper-based processes. With the advent of the digital era, technology has become the backbone of modern supply chain management. Blockchain technology is an excellent example of the latest innovations that can be used to improve supply chain processes.

Blockchain is a distributed digital ledger system that enables transparent, secure, and immutable recordkeeping of transactions. By providing an open and secure platform for data sharing, blockchain technology enables companies to track the flow of goods and services in their supply chains. This can help streamline processes, reduce costs and ensure quality control.

Are you still on the fence about how blockchain could benefit your organization’s supply chain? This article will explain the benefits of implementing a blockchain-based system and how you can get started.

Benefits of Blockchain Technology for Supply Chains

If you find the best enterprise blockchain solution for your business, it will bring a range of benefits to your supply chain management. Here are just a few of them:

Increased Transparency

One of the biggest advantages of blockchain technology is its ability to increase transparency. By recording each transaction in an immutable, shared ledger, all stakeholders can easily view the status of the supply chain at any given time. This level of transparency helps to reduce the risk of fraud and mistakes and ensures that all parties are kept up to date with the latest information.

Enhanced Security

Blockchain technology also provides enhanced security for supply chains. Using cryptographic algorithms and distributed ledger technology makes it virtually impossible for hackers to gain access to sensitive data. This eliminates the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access, thus protecting supply chain operations from malicious activity.

Reduced Costs

Since it reduces the probability of manual errors and streamlines processes, blockchain technology can also help reduce costs. As it automates certain tasks and eliminates redundant paperwork, companies can save a significant amount of time and money. Additionally, blockchain technology can help decrease transaction costs by providing a secure platform for data sharing without the need for intermediaries.

Improved Traceability

Blockchain technology can also be used to improve traceability in supply chains. All transactions are recorded on the shared ledger so that companies can easily track the flow of goods and services. This helps to ensure that products are not counterfeit and that their quality is up to standard. It also helps to hold suppliers accountable for delivering goods and services on time, thus reducing the risk of delays.

Boosted Efficiency and Speed

Finally, blockchain technology can boost efficiency and speed up supply chain processes. With its help, you can eliminate manual paperwork and streamline tasks, significantly reducing the time it takes to complete a transaction. This can decrease costs, improve customer service and ensure that goods and services are delivered on time.

Getting Started with Blockchain Technology for Supply Chain Management

Now that you understand the benefits of blockchain technology for supply chain management, you may be wondering how you can get started. Of course, there’s no one bulletproof solution; what works for one organisation may not work for another. However, there are a few steps that you can take to get started implementing blockchain technology in your supply chain.

1. Research

The first step is to do some research and find out as much as you can about blockchain technology and its applications for supply chains. This will help you to understand the basics of how it works and what challenges you may face along the way.

You should also read up on existing case studies to get a better understanding of how others are using blockchain technology in their supply chains.

2. Identify Opportunities

Once you understand the basics well, you’ll need to identify potential opportunities for blockchain technology to be used in your organization’s supply chain. Think about the processes and activities that could benefit from increased transparency, security, traceability, and efficiency.

It could be, for example, tracking raw materials and inventory, managing supplier relationships, or tracking products through the supply chain.

3. Evaluate Solutions

When you have identified potential opportunities, it’s time to evaluate possible solutions. Look into existing blockchain platforms and see if they meet your needs. For instance, if you require a permissioned blockchain, you’ll need to use a platform such as Hyperledger, Ethereum, or R3 Corda.

You may also consider developing a custom solution that meets your specific requirements.

4. Develop the Solution

After you have selected the right solution for your needs, it’s time to develop it. This can involve setting up the necessary infrastructure, integrating with existing systems, training staff, etc. Depending on the complexity of your solution, this process can take some time and effort.

5. Test and Launch

The final step is to test and launch your blockchain-based supply chain system. This means running tests to make sure everything is working as expected, ensuring all stakeholders are trained, preparing for launch, and then actually launching the system.

Conclusion

Blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize supply chain management. By providing an open and secure platform for data sharing, blockchain technology enables companies to increase transparency, enhance security, reduce costs and improve traceability. Additionally, it can help to boost efficiency and speed up processes.

If you are looking to implement a blockchain-based system for your organization’s supply chain management, the first step is to identify the areas that could benefit from the technology. Once you have identified them, you can research the different types of blockchain technology and start developing a plan for implementation. With the right approach, blockchain technology can help your organization optimize its supply chain operations.

Why Businesses Should Opt to Go Green in 2023

“Going green” is something that we’ve heard about increasingly over the past few decades. But what does it mean? In basic terms, going green means that you’re opting for the more environmentally friendly option. When it comes to business, this could be through your operation processes, how your office runs, what charities you support or perhaps even employee and customer incentives. There are many different ways that you can go green this year, and it doesn’t have to take up a huge amount of effort.

More Accessible Than Ever

Greener options are much more readily available now than they once were. One prime example comes in the form of renewable energy. You could consider solar powering your business, for instance. There are now even ETRM solutions (Energy Trading Risk Management) to help leading energy companies to buy, sell and manage renewable energy – if you’re wondering ‘what is ETRM’, click the link to find out more information. This just highlights the growing supply and demand for renewable energy sources – there’s no excuse in 2023 not to be a greener business!

Good For Business Reputation

The reputation of your business can sometimes be the difference between you making a sale versus your competitor. If customers can see that you align with their values and you’re trying your best to operate in a way that is as environmentally friendly as possible, then you will be able to reap the rewards of this. It can also be something that entices employees to apply for roles and stay within the business if this is something that is important to them. It makes a bigger impact than you’d think – many people want their morals to match the business that they’re in close connection with.

Can Save Money Long Term

As the technology for renewable energy improves, it becomes more affordable and desirable for businesses. New options are popping up all the time, for example, this can be seen just with the development of the wind energy sector, which has seen record-breaking growth in recent times. All of this means that greener options are cheaper to implement, and can then also save you more money in the long term, which is a win-win situation for businesses that are serious about being environmentally friendly.

Environmental Impact

Of course, one of the most obvious gains you’ll get from going green is that you’ll be doing your bit to help the planet, which it really needs right now! By putting the time and effort into being a greener business, you can operate on a guilt-free basis. You can also gain a greater sense of fulfilment from what you do, knowing that you’re doing as little damage as possible to the environment and those who live in it.

So, what do you think? Will you take action this year to be a greener company? Even small steps, such as going paperless, can make a big impact over time. Research ways you can do your bit and it can really help you, your business, and the environment.

Trends Shaping the Future of E-Commerce for Clients and Businesses

Online shopping has become the new norm for all ages. Everyone has adapted to the internet to order groceries, electronics, clothing, and more.

However, with that massive scale come landscape changes from both the business and the user’s end. Here’s a list of the most significant trends shaping the future of e-commerce for 2023 and beyond.

Emerging E-Commerce Trends For 2023

While the field of e-commerce is constantly evolving, there are a few trends that have proven effective by 2022. Those are the ones that you need to observe going forward. A few notable ones include the following.

Omnichannel Customer Verification

Your online activity is no longer anonymous, especially regarding online transactions. The scourge of bots buying PS5s and event tickets was eye-opening. You require a verifiable account that lets the vendor know that you are indeed a human. That’s why you’ll observe most e-commerce websites allowing you to check out only when you have a registered account.

Nevertheless, you can bypass that lengthy process through an online ID, which is convenient to obtain in an age of social media. You can link an account without ever giving out any personal information. Anonymously verifying user IDs through 2-step verification is an industry that shall see substantial growth in the coming years.

Buy Now, Pay Later Programs

Keeping payments anonymous is a crucial part of several online shopping portals. A proven way to do that is by redirecting the transfers through a trusted money lending service. It can pay the merchant weekly or monthly while fulfilling the credit from the customer.

The system comprises a buy now, pay later program, which has become quite popular in recent years. With the interest rates of loans and credit cards skyrocketing, it’s a haven for shoppers who don’t have the finances now but can afford to pay the bill from an upcoming pay check.

Voice-Based Browsing and Payments

Now that Natural Language Processing (NLP) has become the focus of modern AI, computers are far more adept at recognising voice commands. While that has already enhanced AI voice assistants like Siri and Cortana, it’s also making headway with online browsing and payments.

Superstores like Walmart and Amazon already offer a voice-based search option through their respective apps and websites. While there is not yet a voice-based payment mechanic, it can see mainstream adoption sooner than you might think.

Stricter Privacy Laws

If you’ve been aware of the recent legal developments, you’ll notice that governments are becoming stricter on enforcing privacy laws. Online merchants are no longer free to share user data, however mundane, with third parties without informing the users.

You don’t want to share your data with e-commerce websites without assurance that it shall be kept secure. While most of them comply with the regulations, there are a few that may have malicious intentions.

How to Keep Your E-Commerce Experience Safe

With so many developments in the e-commerce industry, it can be challenging to keep your data safe. Here are a few valuable tips that can help you alleviate that without any issues.

Strive For Secure Payment Methods

Secure payment methods ensure that your financial information is not shared with the merchant. A few even let you get a chargeback if you come across a scam. That’s why experts advise using credit cards instead of debit cards, as you can get the payments reversed within the billing cycle. Also, stay informed of the most secure payment methods.

Be Wary of Suspicious Deals

It can be tempting to click on lucrative deals that offer expensive products at far lower prices. While it’s an effective way to clear old stock, you must be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. If you’re suspicious of massive discounts, it is best to verify the source and choose post-delivery payment options.

Use a Reliable VPN Service

If you want to use an unknown Wi-Fi network, like when you’re traveling, it’s best to activate a Virtual Private Network (VPN) beforehand. It encrypts internet traffic, preventing many tracking practices (such as IP-based tracking). In some cases, a VPN for Windows can even help you find better deals by evading location-based price discrimination.

Final Thoughts

E-commerce has opened various opportunities for enterprises and users around the world. Still, maintaining a few safety measures can help you gain the most out of the experience. We hope this guide helps you understand trends shaping the future of e-commerce.

Four Tips for Ensuring Your Business Stays Tax Efficient

Forthcoming tax increases, rising interest rates and the cost of living crisis mean many business owners are feeling the pressure on their profits. Here, Donna McCreadie at Perrys Chartered Accountants provides her top tips for making sure your business is running as tax efficiently as possible.

Review your current structure

Given the tax changes in recent years, and the impact of the global pandemic on the many trading businesses, now could be the right time to review your structure to ensure it is still the most tax efficient and cost-effective option for your business.

Most businesses look at their structure when business is booming, perhaps moving from sole trader or a partnership to a limited company structure, but businesses can also disincorporate and move away from a corporate structure, if the tax savings are not outweighing the additional costs of compliance.

Remember though, limited companies can provide additional protection for business owners, as do limited liability partnerships, so it is important to look at the pros and cons of each option when deciding which structure is right for you.

Consider changing your year end

With Corporation Tax set to increase on 1 April 2023 to as much as 25% for companies with profits over £250,000, now could be the time to think about changing your year end to make the most of the existing 19% rate.  

For example, if your company has a year-end of 30 September and profits are expected to be significantly higher in the first 6 months than the second 6 months of the year, then you could consider shortening your year end to 31 March to ‘bank’ the 19% rate on profits made to that date. Otherwise, the company’s profits will be apportioned evenly over the year, resulting in a higher tax liability over the 12 months.

Self-employed and partnership businesses with year-ends not aligned to the tax year (dates from 31 March to 5 April) are also facing a reform of the way their trading profits are taxed for income tax purposes. With plans to tax profits that are time-apportioned to the tax year, instead of the accounting period, to take effect from 2024/25, with transitional rules applying in 2023/24, it could be beneficial to assess the impact of the changes in advance and to consider a change to your year end.

Do a payroll check to see if you’re eligible for Employment Allowance

If you employ staff in your business, it’s important to check that you’re not missing out on allowances or reliefs that you may be entitled to. For example, if you are a business or charity and your employers’ Class 1 National Insurance liabilities were less than £100,000 in the previous tax year, or you employ a care or support worker, then you could be eligible for Employment Allowance.

Employment Allowance will reduce your annual National Insurance liability by up to £5,000. It can also be backdated by up to 4 years, so it is well worth the effort of running a check on your payroll to find out if it applies. You can do this yourself, or you can ask a bookkeeper to do it for you.

Financial Expert Shares Top Tips for Tradespeople Heading Into 2023

The financial side of running a trade business can be challenging and complicated, but it’s important to get it right otherwise you could end up losing money. 

Research by ElectricalDirect found that almost three-quarters (74%) of UK tradespeople don’t feel confident handling their company finances and many have ended up making a loss on jobs because of pricing errors (25%). 

With this in mind, the electrical retailer has partnered with Rick Smith, Managing Director at Forbes Burton, to share five pieces of expert financial advice for tradespeople as we head into 2023.

1. Be stricter with invoices

“As a small business owner, your income depends on the payment you get from your customers. However, getting funds from your clients on time can be difficult, and this can cause a strain on your mental health and well-being. 

“To avoid this problem, it’s best to try and implement a ‘50% up front’ policy. Doing this will help maintain a steady cash flow. It will also help you identify genuine customers interested in your product or services; thus, you save time, resources and money.” 

2. Look after your cash reserves

“Your most important asset, as a business owner, is your savings. You can rely on your savings in difficult times or when you need to handle unexpected expenses. Besides that, you can also take a break when you need or want one. It is crucial that you have cash reserves as they allow you to handle these expenses. 

“If you want to be comfortable, it is advisable to save 30% of your earnings each month.” 

3. Pay your taxes on time

“Tax returns are usually put off for a long time, and you will find this last on the to-do list for most people. Voilà, it’s another year, and you are rushing to submit your tax returns with just a few days to go, which may turn out to be larger than your expectations. 

“The easiest solution is to prepare your tax returns as early as possible after April 6th. Doing this will help you handle this critical task on your to-do list efficiently and quickly. Also, it informs you of the amount to pay the following January; thus, you get to avoid any horrible surprises, and you have a lot of time to save if the need arises.” 

4. Try to think ahead

“We’ve learned from the previous few years that the financial landscape is anything but predictable. Thus, you need to have plans for different scenarios that may happen in 2023 as a business owner. 

“How much money have you saved for possible eventualities? What kind of help or options are available? There is no such thing as being over-prepared.” 

How Can Businesses Weather UK Recession Expected To Last Until Summer 2023

As the UK jumps from disaster to disaster, the expression out of the frying pan and into the wok springs into mind. From the tail end of a horrendous pandemic, to the tumultuous political landscape of three Prime Ministers in a matter of months, to the current situation of a potentially crippling recession.

If you’re in the world of business, things are unlikely to have been simple, even if you happen to have turned considerable profits consistently. That doesn’t come without its own complexities and tireless efforts. Not just your own, but those working within your company to ensure its continued success.

Now with a recession set to hit the UK, how can businesses weather this particular storm? Furthermore, how do we actually define a recession so that we know what kind of storm we are trying to weather?

What is a recession?

We hear the word recession and immediately assume the worst, and in many ways we are right to do so. It is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, with countless potential causes – economic shocks or rapid changes in economic expectations being two examples.

The constant rise in prices and the stagnation of wages could also be a considerable factor. Despite all the factors at fault, however, it’s important to be prepared. The first part of ensuring your business is recession proof is to keep an eye on the news. Things can change on a sixpence, and keeping your finger on the pulse is an absolute must.

The key is looking at cutting down expenses as much as possible, ensuring that more money still comes in than leaves the business. Think about what parts of the business are truly necessary, cancelling any unnecessary subscriptions and any expensive purchases.

You might also think about doing a lot more online, managing teams remotely and using the cloud to your advantage. In doing so, you can sell to customers all over the world. There are plenty of countries in recession mode, but there are also those performing quite well. Internationalisation can help you overcome this particular domestic hurdle.

Remote Control

In making more of a transition to the remote working space to weather this particular economic storm, you might look to bolster your telecommunications. Ensuring that you have the tools to communicate effectively, as well as work as if you were in the same physical office space is crucial.

Your best bet in this regard is to unify your channels, ensuring the process of communication is as streamlined as possible. If you want to stop draining your resources on shoddy telecommunications, then click to find out more.

As well as being in control of your team, it’s important that you stay in control of yourself too. Be kind to yourself and don’t stress over things that you cannot control. You should also be brave enough to ask for help if needed – there are plenty of options out there within your budget range to help keep your business afloat. Weathering this storm will undoubtedly be tough, but ensuring the priorities are in place will lay the foundations for a recession-proof business. Remember the old adage that tough times don’t last, tough people do.

What Is Ad Intelligence And Features of Ad Intelligence

A good product or service needs visibility and outreach that extends beyond the realms of its existing operations. Word of mouth, customer experience, and online reviews impact the scalability of the business in many ways. Through multi-channel platforms, companies resort to advertising their product’s merits and hope to garner interest from prospective customers.

Identifying the customer’s consumption patterns and upgrading the product and service quality to match consumer preference aid in executing a good business idea. However, it takes efficient marketing to show to consumers that you hear them and understand their concerns; and that your organization and team have designed products that are beyond their expectations.

In the current world where information changes the relativity of relevance rapidly, companies will need data-crunching platforms that are part of advertising intelligence.

Need for ad intelligence

The best pizza in the world comes from a nameless joint run in a sleepy village of the alps. The world’s most expensive phone is not made by Apple, and there is someone who is making something as mundane as toothpaste that helps one preserve gum health but does not advertise its potential. Making the best product out there and being visible are two different things. The importance of advertising is iterated in many business lessons and even understood by people who believe in bootstrapping and moving on with their good work. Here are a few points that make advertising intelligence platforms necessary in changing world:

What is an ad intelligence platform?

Advertisements can remain in the memory of the consumer for years to come. This kind of advertising creates goodwill and brand value that will pay dividends years after the ad has stopped repeating or playing on any channel like newsprint, radio, and TV. In current times, with the increase in the use of the internet and more communities who are located away from the din and bustle of a big city also connecting to the web, the obvious choice for brands to create their presence is through digital mode.

Ad intelligence platform is software that can ease the workflow process of tracking the brand activities and let an advertiser know if a particular ad is creating the impact that one wants to create. The tools in an ad intelligence platform help assess the data points relating to where competition is spending their ad expense and the quality of traffic generated through a particular ad. These inputs can help in effective spending on advertisements.

Features of a good ad intelligence platform

The following features are consistent requirements of ad intelligence platforms

Integrate

The software must be compatible and integrated with existing ERP software that a company uses. It will be more beneficial if the software is cloud-based and allows the user to access it from any web portal.

Data security

Whenever software is used that will enlist sensitive information that is both relevant to the product details, marketing strategies, or client-specific sensitive information, it is the onus of the user to keep the information safe. So if a company is using pirated software without a license, the chances of data piracy increase. Without data security features, using any software that can compromise the integrity of the brand and corporate goodwill is a precarious move that will endanger the future growth of the brand.

Strategy prompter

A good ad intelligence platform does not just assimilate the information into readable data points but also gives the edge of recommendations that can prove to be workable solutions either in totality or with slight tweaking. This is one of the essential features of any intelligence tool.

Track and monitor

Checking over the shoulder 24/7 is humanly impossible and setting up teams on a rotational basis just to check the alerts for the launch of new ads of the competitor or any other insights that are useful is a cumbersome process that will escalate the costs, slow the efforts and result in human errors. An ad intelligence platform helps track and monitor alerts around the clock without errors.

Conclusion:

Using ad intelligence platforms will help marketing managers notch up their strategies and optimize the effectiveness of ads. The data provided in a simple-to-understand dashboard will help the brands with purposeful insights that will empower their growth.

How to Strengthen Workplace Relationships During a Recession

When the economy experiences a recession, people are starting to feel less secure in their jobs and the future of their companies. The days of layoffs and firings increase during such volatile periods.

The recession also leads to a higher unemployment rate, compelling many employees to still face a tough question: how to survive during turbulent economic times? According to People at Work 2022: A Global Workforce View by ADPRI, nearly 62% of employees decided to switch their jobs to future-proof their careers. That’s not good for your organisation and could lead to bitter relationships among employees.

As an organisation, what steps can you take to make sure your workplace relationships stay intact during this difficult time?

Provide Better Work-Life Balance

As the recession continues to take its toll on the American workforce, many organisations have found that they must work harder to retain their employees. One way to do that is by providing a better work-life balance.

According to Pulse of the American Worker Survey, roughly 50% of American employees want to switch their jobs to have a better work-life balance. This is especially true for people working in small companies where they experience pay cuts during a recession.

Organisations can overcome this problem by providing better work-life balance through a hybrid work model. The idea behind this model is to allow employees to work from home or remotely for a certain number of days each month, enabling them to save money on commuting and other aspects.

In fact, a recent report from Accenture found that 83% of employees would prefer a hybrid model, enabling employees to be flexible with their schedules and work remotely when needed.

Empower Employees to Give Feedback

Employees who feel they cannot give genuine feedback to their managers often find themselves stuck in toxic relationships with them. This can lead to higher turnover rates and lower productivity rates, which can worsen the financial hardships of organisations during a recession.

The best way for organisations to overcome this problem is by seeking employee feedback from time to time. In fact, a recent study shows that when employers seek feedback from new hires, they are 91% more committed to their relationship with employers.

It is important for organisations to seek anonymous employee feedback as this reduces feelings of inhibition and empowers employees to voice their concerns without feeling scared. Also, organisations must act on such anonymous feedback by addressing issues raised through such surveys.

Offer Opportunities for Appreciation

During a recession, employee relationships can be strained. Employees often feel undervalued or disrespected in the workplace and can become disengaged. This can lead to bad work performance and even high employee turnover rates.

In fact, according to recent data from Zippia, 63% of workers reported unpleasant co-workers and a bad boss are the second most common reasons for quitting jobs.

But there are ways to strengthen workplace relationships even during a recession, and one of the best strategies is to offer opportunities for appreciation.

In fact, Brandon Hall Group research found that organisations with a strong recognition culture are three times more likely to experience higher employee retention. When employees feel more engaged and appreciated in their jobs, they are more likely to want to stay at the organisation long-term.

Reduce Employee Burnout

In recent years, employee burnout has been on the rise. It’s no secret that the economy has been struggling, and with that comes job insecurity and a lot of uncertainty. Many people are looking for ways to make their careers more secure, but a lot of people are also feeling overwhelmed with the current economic climate.

Such an environment can lead to employees feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, creating weakened relationships among employees. As per the 2022 Work Trend Index from Microsoft, 48% of employees and 53% of managers experience burnout in the workplace. Burnout not only leads to poor relationships among employees but also affects productivity.

Organisations can reduce employee burnout by implementing policies that promote better workplace relationships during a recession. You can start by helping your employees feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves, like their work has impact and meaning.

Conclusion

When the recession strikes, organisations need to be careful not to lose their employees in the scramble for survival. Organisations can foster healthy workplace relationships during the recession by taking these above-mentioned steps.

What Factors Affect Food Prices?

There are so many things that affect food prices and the overall food supply chain. One element of the supply chain can be disrupted, and it can cause effects everywhere else.

For example, we can look at what recently happened with rice prices. India is the world’s largest rice exporter. The country put restrictions on the ability of major rice companies to export and on grain shipments, but early this year, they’re likely to lift those restrictions. That would mark an easing on the wave of food protectionism that had taken hold around the world since Russia invaded Ukraine.

This shows how so many factors can converge to affect food prices. The Ukraine-Russia conflict led to countries deciding to stockpile supplies of foods like rice, leading to increased prices throughout the world.

Below, we delve into some of the particular factors that affect food prices, as in the above example.

Oil Prices

When there’s a 1% rise in the price of oil, it can increase food commodity prices by 0.2%. Energy has an enormous impact on the food sector in obvious and also less obvious ways.

When there are higher oil prices, that means higher fuel prices, so it costs more to get products to consumers, regardless of whether a food product is moved by train, boat, plane, or truck. Higher fuel prices affect transportation, and higher transportation costs, as a general rule, mean
higher food prices.

Farmers also use fuel to power their machinery, and fossil fuels are used to make fertiliser and farm-level inputs. Food processing is highly energy intensive, and the costs related to energy make up a lot of the
costs of food production. Increased energy prices can reduce farmer profits as well as profits of food processors and retailers, which leads to higher consumer food prices.

Ukraine War

As mentioned above, one of the major issues affecting global food prices right now is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Being especially hard hit are developing and emerging economies that rely on this region of the world for grain and fuel imports.

Ukraine is the biggest producer of sunflower oil in the world. When you combine that with Russia’s production, these two countries are responsible for more than half of vegetable oil’s global exports.

The region also exports more than one-third of the world’s wheat.

Animal Diseases

The U.S poultry industry is in the midst of what’s being called an unprecedented health disaster for poultry. There is currently an ongoing highly contagious bird flu that’s so far led to the deaths of nearly 53 million animals.

Avian influenza that’s spreading had affected farm flocks and chicken yards across most of the country since February 2022, which is when the first cases were reported as occurring in commercial flocks.

It’s the worst impact on the poultry industry since 2015 when 50 million birds died.

Some birds have died because of the disease, but most are being killed through depopulation, which is done in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading. This means that millions of chickens and turkeys raised to provide eggs or meat have been killed.

Researchers say that birds that lay eggs seem to be more susceptible to the effects of the virus, whereas chickens raised for meat aren’t as impacted.

Most egg-laying operations are more than a million birds, so when just a few of these operations are affected, the price of eggs and products that use eggs can soar.

Weather

According to the UN, ongoing droughts and heatwaves are likely to continue to put pressure on food prices around the world in the coming years.

Rice from northern Italy, barley from the United Kingdom, and olive oil in Spain have all seen major decreases in yields in recent years because of environmental conditions.

In the U.S., this past summer, the drought conditions in Texas negatively impacted beef production. Texas is the biggest source of beef in the country.

When temperatures are higher, crop productivity declines not only because of dehydration but also slower photosynthesis and reductions in pollination. When the temperatures are high, and there are drought conditions, plants’ defence systems don’t work as well as they should, and they’re more susceptible to pest attacks and pathogens.

The UN estimates that by 2027, the combination of the effects of climate change, poverty, and conflict could lead food prices to go up by 8.5%, which is concerning when millions are already facing food insecurity.

Fertiliser Prices

Right now, specifically, fertiliser is becoming more expensive, with some going up in price by as much as 300% since 2020, according to the American Farm Bureau. When fertiliser is more expensive, it makes food more expensive since this is an important input.

Farmers who are paying these massive prices for fertiliser often have no choice but to pass them on to consumers, meaning higher prices at the grocery store.

If plants don’t get fertiliser, then they might not receive the needed nourishment to produce the needed yields required for global demand. Without fertiliser, only around half the global population could be fed.

Farmers say they’re trying to adjust to what could be a new normal for them. For example, more farmers say they’re starting to focus on soybeans because legumes don’t require as much fertiliser for growth as corn.

The spikes in prices of fertilizer started when Russia invaded Ukraine, and again, like wheat and other products, the world is highly dependent on this region for this material. The region is responsible for at least 28% of all exports of fertilizer.

Of course, these factors are only a few of the so many relevant elements that impact grocery prices, but they do give an overview of some of the reasons inflation is soaring right now.

Which Stocks Should Investors Watch Out for in 2023?

Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Research at Freedom Finance Europe, sheds light on what he believes are the most exciting stocks investors should monitor over the coming year

When looking for which stocks would be most enticing as we begin a new year, Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Research at Freedom Finance Europe, has prioritised stability. Well established companies that hold a large market share in their respective sectors are the companies that will ensure steady growth throughout the year.

Each of these companies boasts consistent and reliable revenue streams such as advertisement or annual product releases, they are market leaders in their industries, and some are even looking to diversify into emerging businesses. This should be an indicator of significant growth in the future as consumers will have pre-existing brand loyalty which gives these companies the upper hand when new business emerges. So, what stocks should investors watch out for this year?

Apple

Apple (AAPL) might be the best example of a well-established company with a consistent revenue stream of annual releases. The iPhone dominates the western mobile market and there is no evidence that this will change in the near future. Apple’s product line-up beyond mobile devices includes desktops, laptops and computers as well as wearable devices with new product developments underway. With a stronger iPhone upgrade cycle predicted for this year, the business outlook for Apple is robust and they possess the financial flexibility to deliver aggressive growth going forward.

Apple beat financial Q4 expectations thanks to strong iPhone sales and services earning £1.04 per stock on revenue of £73.29 billion. Wall Street analysts had forecast that Apple would earn £1.03 per stock on revenue of £72.22 billion, for the same period of the year, Apple earned £1 per stock on sales of £67.81 billion.

Apple’s CFO Luca Maestri said in a statement that the company’s results demonstrated Apple’s ability to “perform effectively despite a challenging and volatile macroeconomic backdrop”. The average target price is £144 with an upside of 28%.

  

Amazon

Amazon stock remains an attractive investment as it continues to benefit from high growth rates and strong demand for digital trends in the coming years. Amazon has only moved upward in recent years and is one of the fastest-growing companies given its size.

Amazon is the leading online retailer and one of the most profitable e-commerce aggregators with net sales of £313 billion and approximately £470 billion in estimated physical/digital gross online merchandise volume (GMV) in 2021. Amazon is a company with too many positive catalysts to ignore, and recent weakness provides an opportunity to enter an attractive asset. The average target price is at £115 with around a 59% upside.

Google – Alphabet Inc

Alphabet Inc is the holding company in which Google is a subsidiary. Google generates 99% of Alphabet’s revenue, of which more than 85% comes from online advertising. Google’s other revenue comes from the sale of apps and content on Google Play and YouTube, as well as cloud fees and other licensing revenue. Sales of hardware, such as Chromebooks, Pixel smartphones and smart home products, including Nest and Google Home, also contribute to other revenue.

Alphabet is a high-quality business with a solid competitive advantage. Google should inspire confidence with its many growth catalysts and a financial profile that remains strong. Alphabet has been a growth driver for more than a decade. It has established itself as a leader in digital advertising. In addition, its small businesses are also gaining momentum. Thus, the path to sustainable long-term growth seems clear. This should make it particularly attractive to new investors, who can benefit from this rare weakness in the stock.

Looking at Alphabet’s recent investments, it’s clear that hardware will play an important role in its future growth. The company has already made significant strides in smartphones, smart home devices and other niche segments. Google is already gaining momentum in several hardware niches, and the company has about a 20% market share in the smart speaker business. The average target price is at £105 with around a 42% upside.

Microsoft Corporation

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) is one of the world’s largest technology companies that develops, licences and supports software, services, devices and solutions worldwide. Its products range from the Windows operating system and Teams conferencing platform to the Xbox game console and Outlook email, while its cloud offerings include Azure infrastructure services, Office 365 productivity software and Dynamics enterprise software. Microsoft also owns LinkedIn, Skype and GitHub. 

Microsoft continues to hold a leadership position in business technology. Strong financial results and a positive management outlook suggest that underlying demand for software remains robust. Microsoft is well-positioned to take advantage of the growth in corporate IT spending with a complete and integrated suite of products aimed at improving enterprise efficiency, cloud transformation, collaboration and business intelligence. It also has a large and loyal customer base, large cash reserves and a robust balance sheet.

For the fiscal year ending June 2023, Wall Street expects sales growth of 13.6%. The company earned £1.81 per stock on revenue of £42.2 billion, up 12% year-on-year. Management also noted a record £81.33 million in deals and more than £813 million in deals the company signed during the year, indicating that Microsoft Azure continues to grow aggressively. The smart cloud, which is home to Azure, generated £16.9 billion in revenue, a 20% increase from the previous year. Microsoft highlighted Azure in particular, as revenue was up 40% year-on-year or 46% in constant currency terms. The average target price is £244 with around a 19% upside.

 

NVIDIA Corporation

NVIDIA (NVDA) designs and manufactures visual computing hardware, including graphics chips used in personal computers and device driver software. The company markets graphics chips and processors under such brands as GeForce, Quadro, Tesla, and Tegra with each being marketed to a wide range of consumers including gamers and visual animators with a need for powerful rendering devices.

They are used in consumer electronics products, such as tablets, smartphones, and game consoles. NVIDIA also sells graphics technology to companies in health care, automotive, graphic design, special effects, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cloud computing and robotics for a range of applications. NVDA’s commitment to improving the performance of its existing hardware and software offerings continues to strengthen its long-term growth prospects and market leadership, contributing to future market share gains in a market they already lead.

The value adds to innovation and its growth prospects, along with the continued development and scalability of new technologies such as autonomous driving, robotics, cloud computing and Omniverse, create attractive investment opportunities for long-term investors at current levels. The average target price is £154 with around an 11% upside.

Over 75% of Sole Traders Unsure of Tax and VAT Thresholds

New research from leading card payments provider takepayments shows that 75% of UK sole traders are unsure of the current tax thresholds that apply to them — and it could be costing them.

Their survey of 800 sole traders revealed several gaps in the financial knowledge of small UK businesses. It showed that 3 in 4 (75%) sole traders do not know at what earnings threshold they’ll pay a higher tax rate of 40% (£50,271) and that less than 1 in 10 (9%) know what could happen if they didn’t pay their tax bill: 1 in 50 thought nothing would happen at all.

To make things easier for sole traders and small businesses in the UK, takepayments created a tax calculator designed to quickly give business owners an estimate of what tax they should be paying.

How the data was collected

takepayments surveyed 800 UK-based sole traders and asked them a series of questions about their tax and saving habits. 

They asked sole traders some “true” or “false” questions to test their knowledge of common VAT and tax principles that apply to UK businesses, as well as questions about how much they typically saved or reinvested into their businesses.

takepayments also asked each respondent to disclose which UK region they were based in, and in which industry they operated, before analysing the data. 

Which sole traders are the most and least informed about tax?

When asked what the threshold was for sole traders to pay the Higher Income tax rate, lawyers were most likely to know the answer, with more than half (53%) answering correctly. Retailers were the least likely to know: just 13% gave the correct answer.

Overall, only 3 in 10 (31%) of sole traders knew when they needed to submit their self-assessment tax form (31st January). However, real estate agents were far below average, with only 1 in 4 (23%) able to answer correctly. Law professionals were again the best informed, albeit not setting a high bar, with only 42% getting the answer right.

Unlike limited liability companies, sole traders are not required to pay corporation tax. However, the majority of respondents were unaware of this and 73% believe that they need to pay this tax. 

How good are sole traders at saving and budgeting?

The takepayments survey also asked businesses about their saving habits.

Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) sole traders don’t pay into a pension scheme. London-based and Welsh traders were most likely to pay into a pension scheme, with 92% of traders from each saying they paid contributions. The least likely was the East of England, where only 55% of traders had a pension scheme.

Worryingly, 21% of respondents admitted that they did not currently have at least three months’ salary saved as a safety net, leaving them vulnerable to fluctuating markets and the current economic challenges in the UK.

But while Welsh traders boasted the highest pension contributions, they were the worst UK region when it came to saving: 1 in 3 (36%) did not have at least 3 months’ salary saved.

Much of this stemmed from how businesses were choosing to invest their income. Restaurants and catering traders were most likely to put at least 20% of their income back into their business (96%), whereas those in education (private tutors, for example) were the least likely, with 1 in 4 (24%) not reinvesting. These businesses were also the least likely to have a monthly budget. 

Helping small businesses budget

“It’s not surprising that many small business owners are unsure of the legal obligations they have regarding things like tax and VAT,” said Jodie Wilkinson, Head of Strategic Partnerships at takepayments. “The rules can be quite difficult to understand, especially if you just want to focus on growing your business.”

Jodie hopes that the takepayments tax calculator can make life easier for those businesses who are juggling growing their enterprise, whilst trying to understand tax and VAT.

“The calculator should help take some of the guesswork out of paying tax,” says Jodie. “It’s a free tool that anyone can use, whether you’re an established business or a budding entrepreneur yet to register.” 

Business and Finance Trends for 2023

With all signs pointing towards an economic downturn in 2023, the financial outlook for the year to come is sure to be mixed. With new challenges regarding inflation and the threat of recession looming, businesses of all shapes and sizes will be forced to consider their working policies to ensure survival and then sustainable growth moving forward.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of exciting technological developments which promise to impact your business activities in a myriad of different ways. Here, Anglo Scottish Asset Finance considers some of the key trends you should know about for the year to come.

Key points

  • Buy Now, Pay Later schemes saw a huge uptick in usage during 2022, and search data from Google Trends shows that an ever-increasing number of people are searching for finance providers like Klarna and Clearpay.
  • The number of firms using AI to detect fraudulent business activities increased from 10% in 2021 to 31% in 2022 – expect this to continue growing in 2023.
  • 69% of businesses worldwide reported a talent shortage in 2021, a trend which is expected to continue next year.

Streamlined automation

Expect a growing number of businesses to improve their automated processes – and potentially extend them to other areas of the company. There may be areas in which your business can increase your level of automation or streamline existing processes.

Budgets will likely be feeling the pinch this year, so improving productivity and limiting wastage via automation could be crucial to your business’ success in 2023.

Buy now, pay later?

2022 has seen the proliferation of companies allowing customers to split their purchases into manageable, interest-free chunks – and you can expect this trend to continue in 2023. With companies like Klarna, Clearpay and PayPal all offering finance on a growing number of items from clothes to Deliveroo takeaways, 0% finance agreements are changing the way that customers shop.

Searches for ‘Klarna UK’ have increased by 50% in the last three months, and by 23% compared to 12 months ago – so this growing trend is one to keep an eye on! Amending your transaction process to include payment plans could make your business’s offering more lucrative to potential customers.

Cryptocurrency

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are, you’ve heard of the huge impact cryptocurrencies have had on the world’s economy. However, if you’re only familiar with the big news stories, there’s plenty of opportunity to employ crypto in your business this year.

Expect ‘truly global’ bitcoin adoption in 2023. If your business does not accept crypto as a payment method, now could be a good time to think about implementing it.

AI

As with many other industries, AI has plenty of exciting financial applications. In 2022, there was a significant increase in the number of finance firms using AI to detect fraudulent business activities – from 10% in 2021 to 31% in 2022. In 2023, expect to see more businesses than ever using AI to increase security for finance transactions.

AI is getting smarter, too, as evidenced by the international buzz surrounding ChatGPT, a model which interacts in a conversational way and has the ability to write code or content. This could help your business out in a pinch – don’t be afraid to use it!

Skills shortage set to continue?

The worldwide skills shortage is showing no signs of slowing down, with 69% of global businesses reporting a talent shortage in 2021, compared to just 35% in 2013. With UK businesses and homes already feeling the squeeze from an imminent recession, and restrictive immigration policies preventing respite from migrant workers, the skills shortage will be a key issue for businesses in post-Brexit Britain.

Glenn Henery, Sales Director at Anglo Scottish Asset Finance, comments: “For many businesses, 2023 is a daunting year, given the vast number of unknowns that we collectively face. By staying on top of the technology which can offset these uncertainties, you’re giving your business the best chance of success for the year to come.

Asset-Based Lending: What to Know About This Type of Business Financing

When you think of business financing, you might naturally envision a traditional business loan that involves applying through a bank and paying back the money, with interest, over time. While this is certainly a common type of loan, there is another option, called asset-based lending, which can be a better option for some businesses.

To learn more about asset based lending, including current trends and more, please keep reading.

Asset-Based Lending 101

Basically, asset-based lending is a line of credit or loan that is secured by the business’s collateral. This can include equipment, inventory, a balance sheet, and other assets. Because inventory is commonly used as collateral, asset-based lending is often seen in businesses that have large quantities of items on hand. This can include businesses like restaurants, equipment rental, and retail shops.

Asset-based loans are a great option for companies that are experiencing a lot of rapid growth but don’t have a lot of cash to qualify for a regular business loan. An asset-based loan (ABL) will provide business owners with the capital they need.

Asset-based Loans Offer Flexible and Generous Solutions

Because business collateral is not a one-size-fits-all situation, asset-based loans are inherently flexible. Business owners will meet with a banker who will come up with an asset-based financing plan that will best fit the needs and goals of the company. When the collateral is highly liquid, the ABL financing option will usually come with a decent rate, and in most cases the money will be available very quickly. In the case of a company that is using its inventory as collateral, lenders will often offer about 85 percent of the collateral’s net liquidation value, which can equal a good-sized amount of money coming in.

COVID-19 Pandemic Boosts Popularity of Asset-Based Lending

Interestingly, the global pandemic has caused asset-based loans to rise in popularity. While ABLs used to have a stigma attached to them and were viewed as a “last resort” type of option for a loan, this is definitely no longer the case. Because so many companies were challenged financially during the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more business owners realized that, while they might not have the cash flow needed to secure a loan, they do have expensive equipment and a stockroom filled with inventory that would make an ABL an attractive option. As a result, ABLs are now thought of as a mainstream loan option.

ABLs Show Resilience Despite Current High Interest Rates and Inflation

As you probably know all-too-well, inflation has been especially high this year. Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that its consumer-price index, a measurement of what consumers pay for goods and services, climbed 7.1% in November compared to a year earlier. Despite this situation, ABLs continue to be a popular option for lenders and business owners. This is great news for business owners who are working hard to expand their company in 2023; even as the risks of a recession seem to be ever-present, ABLs are showing quite a bit of resilience.

Fast and Flexible—ABLs are a Solid Option

As a business owner, it is reassuring to know you have options when it comes to securing a loan for your company. If you hope to grow your company and have adequate amounts of collateral, looking into a flexible asset-based lending option may help you to achieve your goals in 2023 and beyond.

The Most Common Investments in the United Kingdom

Investors in the United Kingdom have a wide variety of financial vehicles to choose from. However, the choice strictly depends on several factors, including the budget available, monthly needs and income and, of course, the goals. Some of the types of investments particularly popular with UK citizens are government-provided schemes, while others are classic types of investment available to anyone, including non-residents.

Inflation and long or short-term investments

Let us begin by pointing out that certain personal characteristics and needs of an investor lead him or her to prefer certain speculations over others. These characteristics are also related to the expectations and to the reasons for which he or she is driven to invest money. Nowadays, however, inflation in the UK is reaching historic limits, which seemed to belong to the past. In a such scenario, it is therefore important for the citizens to understand which may be the best investments during inflation in the UK, in order to try to counteract the decrease in the value of money, due precisely to this phenomenon, which unfortunately seems to be running more and more in recent months. In addition to inflation, there are those who prefer short-term investments, because they often prefer to shift the capital they have between different options. Other contributors, on the other hand, prefer long-term and relatively low-risk investments; these are often the preferred speculations of those who are trying to prepare some sort of parachute for retirement. In the UK, however, the average investor tends to diversify his or her portfolio in a variable way, so that he or she can partly control the risk that can be taken with specific financial instruments.

Types of investments

But what are the most popular investments among UK citizens? As already mentioned, in the United Kingdom there is a wide variety of investment option, from savings accounts and pension plans to stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. Savings accounts, such as ISAs, are particularly common as they offer some tax benefits to their holders. Interest rated can be fixed or variable and there are different types of ISAs to meet the needs of as many people as possible. Then, self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) are optional pensions that many decide to open to top up other pension schemes such as the workplace pension or the State pension. On the other hand, there are stocks and shares, which involve a buy and sell on the stock market, thus they are high-risk investments, as investors can earn or lose the money depending on the market fluctuations. Bonds are loans investor give to a company or government and they accrue interest over time. When it comes to bonds, it is  important to know that they have a pre-determined maturity date: when it matures, the investor gets the initial investment back. Bonds are generally short-term investments as they mature in one to four years. Mutual funds are a collection of stocks and bonds overseen by an investment specialist. As they include a great variety of investments, they are diversified, thus it is possible to reduce the risk. As a matter of fact, if an investment in a particular area performs badly, other ones in different areas will counteract.

2023-mendous: How Can Businesses Lay the Groundwork for a Successful New Year?

The end of 2022 is almost upon us, and for businesses, this means laying the groundwork to ensure that the upcoming year is a successful one. It goes without saying that the past few years have been turbulent for businesses, from COVID-19 to the economic crisis, 2023 seems like a fresh new beginning for most businesses.

So, what can businesses do to ensure that 2023 is a successful year for them?

2023 New Year’s resolutions for businesses

As we come to the final weeks of 2022, there are a number of considerations that businesses should look into as New Year’s resolutions to improve their likelihood of organisational success in 2023.

We have compiled a list of the ones we believe are the most important for businesses:

Prioritisation of employee wellbeing and health

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that employee wellbeing, health, and hygiene should be prioritised in workplaces, which is why businesses should implement wellbeing policies and practices that encourage this.

For example, it would be worthwhile to invest in group income protection to help improve employees’ financial wellbeing, as well as wellbeing programmes that promote healthy living such as fitness classes and mental health discussions/seminars.

Flexibility in remote and hybrid working arrangements

Without a doubt, a post-pandemic business world is much different compared to the pre-pandemic climate. For instance, remote working has grown in popularity with many hybrid models emerging since the end of lockdowns. Some companies have even sourced fully remote talent, paving the way for remote working to be the norm.

However, what does this mean for 2023?

If your company has the capability to do so, the new year may be the time to turn to remote working, or at least have the resources to enable remote working should another crisis arise. As a result, this means that companies should prepare their organisation to go fully remote whenever they need to.

Additionally, offering increased flexibility in terms of how employees can work – whether that is remote or hybrid, may also be worth considering for the upcoming year. Although the majority of businesses have already adapted their infrastructures to support remote working, 2023 may be the year for them to evolve such technologies to enhance business communication and collaboration on another level.

Commitment to sustainable business practices and policies

With the growing tensions surrounding climate change and global warming, it may be wise for businesses to begin implementing sustainable business practices and policies within their ethos.

Sustainability must first be a part of the business values before it can be incorporated into business operations, thus, businesses need to think about how they encourage their employees to be more sustainable in the new year.

Reviewing current business practices and identifying areas where improvements in sustainability can be made is one step to becoming a greener business. For instance, finding ways to be more environmentally friendly in waste management or at any point in the logistics process can help businesses gain greener credentials.

Adopting green practices such as reducing, re-using and recycling waste whenever possible is another way to boost sustainability within workplaces. And there you have it – just a few ways that your business can lay the groundwork for a fantastic 2023.

How Businesses Can Advertise Even When Their Finances Are Tight

Advertising is always a huge part of any business, and the decisions you make on this front can make or break how the finances look come the end of the year. But what if finances are tight? How can you do things on a budget? After all, we can’t all have the advertising spend of the likes of McDonald’s or Coca-Cola.

Estimates suggest ‘that a business owner may spend anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 for initial start-up branding’, but are there ways to advertise that involve spending below this average. Perhaps more than you may realise. In fact, many methods are free, meaning you can make money without spending a penny.

Start with the basics

At the very least, your business should be visible on Google Maps via a Google Business Profile. Given that it’s free to set one up for your business, it would be crazy not to have one in this current techno-centric environment. Let the positive reviews pile up and do the advertising for your business.

As well as setting up your Google Business account, make sure it’s connected to your socials – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, as many as you can find. Even TikTok if your audience happens to be of a younger variety. Knowing who to target and how to target them through each platform can once again bring in the pennies without costing any.

Engagement is the key, and it essentially lets your customers and clients do the work for you. Networking with similar companies and like minded individuals can help you get backlinks without asking, increasing your domain rating and allowing you to beat the competition in the SEO arena.

Social media can also be used to improve things, via polls and general engagement with customers. The personalised aspect doesn’t cost a penny more and can really go a long way. Similarly, tagging other brands and using hashtags can help you reach the feeds of countless other prospective customers.

Accelerate your business

If advertising isn’t your strong suit – especially when it comes to OOH advertising – then a Clear Start product can provide a helping hand, and you should never be afraid to ask for help when needed. You’re only one person, and you can’t be expected to handle every single aspect of your business. Take care of the aspects you can, and let someone else deal with the rest.

In doing so, you can not only improve your social media, SEO, and offline presence, but also work on your email marketing plan. It’s a fantastic way to bring in new visitors, but more often than not could end up in the spam folder. Beat the spam filters and the risk of the reader quickly deleting the email by giving it that personalised touch. Subject lines are crucial here – make your emails unignorable.

You might even want to consider applying for a business award and getting some free advertising. There are countless ways through which you can let the product or service speak for itself, and you’d be wise to take advantage of these processes.

Advertising doesn’t have to be this expensive burden through which spending more equals success. Quite the opposite if you’re creative and smart enough to take advantage of all the free bits and pieces available for businesses.

How Financial Firms Can Make The Most Of Cloud Computing

One of the most exciting things about cloud computing is the ability to leverage resources to give you more control over your infrastructure and operations. This means that you can use virtualisation to run multiple workloads simultaneously and scale up and down as needed.

This flexibility has many benefits. For example, it allows financial firms to build on top of existing infrastructure without needing additional investment or time to upgrade their systems. It also makes it much easier to manage their systems as they grow over time. And finally, it enables firms to easily add new services without worrying about managing upgrades and migrations.

Here are six ways financial firms can make the most of cloud computing:

1. Integrate Into Existing Systems

Financial firms already have many systems in place—from human resources systems to back-office accounting tools—that they use daily. Many of these systems already use cloud-based technology. These include e-mail, contact management, and spreadsheets. 

Adopting cloud-based technology can help financial firms stay organised and reduce costs by eliminating the need for multiple software installations and expensive information technology (IT) staff, who would otherwise be needed to manage multiple applications.

Financial organisations can also integrate their systems into cloud-based services using migration. With the help of Buchanan’s cloud migration service, they can migrate from on-premise software to cloud-based services without losing data. This can increase the efficiency and productivity of the financial firms by providing employees access to all systems from one location.

2. Enable SAP Implementation

SAP implementation is vital in financial organisations because it provides them with a sophisticated platform for analysing data. This allows them to make informed decisions that result in more profitable business. 

When you use SAP implementation services, you can analyse data from your systems and produce reports that provide insights into your financial business. You can use these insights to improve your operations and generate more revenue.

3. Use Multiple Clouds 

Your financial firm can also use multiple clouds instead of one infrastructure within one data center (or facility). This enables you to have different environments for customers or divisions within one data center without investing in an entirely new facility or data center. This way, you can create a virtual private cloud (VPC) that will allow your business to scale up and down according to its needs.

Having multiple clouds also enables your financial organization to be more flexible in terms of what applications are used and how they are used. If a particular cloud application isn’t working properly, you can move it to another environment where it may perform better. You can also move this application back if it doesn’t perform well in the second environment.  

4. Offer Customers Access To Financial Data

Financial firms can also offer customers access to their financial data via mobile devices like tablets or smartphones. This helps them use their data in new ways and better understand their finances. This also gives the financial organisation a competitive edge since they are providing a valuable service that other companies aren’t able to provide.

5. Use Advanced Security Features

Regarding financial services, security is just as important as any other aspect of business operations; keeping customers’ personal information safe and secure is crucial to any organisation. Thus, you must use advanced security features to protect your cloud documents and boost the cybersecurity of your business.

Cloud providers offer several security features that can help protect sensitive information from hackers or other malicious entities. These may include encryption, password protection, and securing your data on the fly via an application programming interface (API).

6. Leverage Virtualisation Technology

Financial organisations can also use virtualisation technology to run different applications in the same data center. This includes testing and development environments for various projects and customer production systems. Virtualisation software allows each customer’s software to be isolated from other customers’ so that each customer can customise their environment instead of using standard templates for each project.

When choosing data virtualisation technology for the cloud data of your financial company, you can decide whether it should run on physical hardware or in the cloud.

Key Takeaway

Cloud computing can be a great way for financial firms to improve the efficiency and accuracy of their work and operations. By implementing some of the techniques and strategies shared in this article, you can maximise the potential of cloud solutions within your financial organisation. This way, you can reduce costs and increase productivity.

How to Save for Large Purchases On A Tight Budget

So, you want to start saving for something big? Maybe you are planning a holiday at the end of the year (or another major purchase), but your monthly budget is tight.

It’s a big stretch to find extra money for unexpected emergencies, let alone for saving. How on earth are you going to save enough for that particular purchase?

Well, if you want to know exactly how to build up the savings kitty, this article is for you.

How to Find and Put Extra Money into Savings

We all know that money doesn’t grow on trees. If you want to add to a savings fund, the money must come from somewhere and probably from where it is currently being used.

Let’s have a look at some options that can help you save:

Review your energy bill

Cut down on grocery costs

Sell unwanted stuff

Change savings accounts

Make use of cashback sites

Score cheap petrol with a handy app

One thing is for sure. You’ll have to face a lifestyle change, at least for a while, until you’ve reached your savings goal. Coming out of the pandemic, the average saving rate per household dropped from 13.60% in Q4 of 2021 to 11.40% in Q1 of 2022.

This is a significant drop for such a short period and just shows the sad state of our economy.

But that’s no reason not to plan a holiday, buy a car, have a make-over, or even spoil a loved one with an extra-special birthday present! Whatever your circumstances, there is no excuse for not saving.

So, shall we take a look at how we can reshuffle your income and budget to increase the amount going into savings every month?

A Deeper Look at Top Tips for Increasing Savings

We’ll have to find ways to cut your monthly expenses, so there’s more money available for saving. That’s not easy when you’re already running on a tight budget, but let’s dive in and look at these top tips to see if we can solve your problem.

Review your energy bill

There are more ways than you might realize to save on your energy costs. Cooking double quantities and freezing for another meal will save energy costs because it cuts down on your cooking time.

Making sure all your “vampire” appliances are turned off at the wall can save you up to $100 per year. This $100 can go straight into your savings account.

Cut down on grocery costs

Cutting the grocery bill is not as difficult as you might think. One doesn’t need to eat meat every night, and lentils and other pulses are a good, nourishing, and much cheaper source of protein. You can substitute these for meat once or twice a week. Also, use your leftovers. Don’t throw them out. Get creative and use them as a base for another full meal.

Sell unwanted stuff

Get rid of white elephants. Most Aussies have hoarded up quite a few things over the years. For instance, the children’s old bikes that are now just gathering dust in the corner of the garage; or the stepping machine that you used for the first six months but haven’t touched again in over three years.

Think of the old paintings your nana left you, with all the other forgotten things. Hold a garage sale for the fiddly bits, and get a pawn shop assessor to evaluate any other unwanted items. The proceeds from these can go directly into your savings fund.

Stop, or slow down on your drinking

Aussies are known as a fun-loving nation. We like to drink and want to party, all of which cost money. Try to take a breather for a while. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save by cutting alcohol out of your budget. Or limit yourself to one good night out per month instead of going out every weekend.

Change savings accounts

Do a little investigation into which savings accounts give you a higher interest rate. Do some homework and check out Australia’s best banks and savings account deals for 2022. Comparing your options can make a difference to your savings pot.

Use cashback sites

If you want to save, cashback sites are a great way to do it. Cashback sites are generally free to join and provide cash rewards, coupons, and discounts. You can save quite a lot of money by taking advantage of these clubs and offers.

Score cheap fuel with a handy app

These are apps that provide up-to-date fuel prices across territories and states. Here is a list of the best fuel-saving apps in Australia so that you can save on fuel and add to your savings.

Conclusion

Savings take time. Increasing your savings fund is not going to happen overnight, but you can give yourself a push-start by choosing the best interest-bearing savings account you can find and giving it a little boost to start things off and start earning interest straight away.

If you need a temporary boost while you’re saving, Credit24 offers quick loans online of up to $10,000, with affordable repayments.

IPF Digital Australia Pty Ltd, trading as Credit24, ABN 59 130 894 405. Australian Credit Licence 422839. The information in this article is of general nature and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. Lending criteria, fees and charges apply. For more information about our products, eligibility criteria and terms and conditions, please visit www.credit24.com.au.

5 Financial Tips When Preparing for Divorce

 

Under normal circumstances, financial planning is critical in securing your long-term well-being. But when you’re faced with a divorce, the need for financial planning may become even more essential.

While it can feel overwhelming, focusing on your finances can put you on track to transition to a new life successfully. With that in mind, here are five financial tips as you and your spouse start splitting up assets.

1. Collect the Necessary Information and Documents

It’s essential to collect as much accurate and comprehensive information as possible. If you don’t know how to get started, consider the following documents:

Tax returns – Even though your filing status will change with your divorce, your lawyer needs to know what tax bracket you used to be in when filing as a married couple. You should read more about tax returns here. Pay stubs – You can pinpoint exactly what has been coming from your and your partner’s paychecks. Besides, pay stubs show you any insurance or benefits automatically deducted that you may need to budget extra for. Expense worksheet – While it’s one of the most challenging documents to create, an updated expense worksheet detailing your daily and monthly needs will help you plan for maintaining your lifestyle after your divorce. Investment statements – They’ll help you assess how much cash available to cover the divorce costs. It’ll also help you decide whether to move assets around to create liquidity and lower risk exposure. Estate planning documents – We’ll explain them below, but you should save them to your personal files immediately.

2. Create an Agreement To Separate Debts

Create a separation agreement if you and your partner hold joint bank accounts or credit cards. Even though you’re separated, either spouse can continue withdrawing from joint accounts. You’re also potentially liable for any charges on a common credit card during this time.

Once you’ve agreed to separate debts, open a new bank account and a credit card in your name unless you already have one to start building a credit history. It’s crucial if you’d like to buy a home in the future.

3. Track Your Expenses

Start tracking your household income and expenses as soon as you know your divorce is inevitable. It helps build a budget post-divorce, and it’s crucial for your lawyer and the judge in determining how to split assets and debts, along with whether to award child or spousal support.

4. Think of Your Insurance and Beneficiaries

If you have children, you must ensure that funds are available to them in case you or your spouse pass away. Suppose you’ve already had a life insurance policy with your partner as a beneficiary. In that case, you can make your children the beneficiary. If not, one of you may be required to purchase a policy to benefit your children.

You should also review your health insurance when getting divorced. If your spouse’s insurance policy covers you, you may need to get your own. You must also decide whose health insurance will cover your children’s medical and dental needs.

5. Plan Your Estate

An estate plan outlines instructions for distributing your properties and fulfilling your charitable objectives in the event of your death. It’s vital to update your will and documents related to trusts you hold, such as changing your executor, beneficiaries, and power of attorney.

Each spouse may have financial and medical power of attorney for the other, so you should consider giving this designation to someone else. Moreover, remember to update beneficiaries on your retirement plan through your employer.

Know When To Get Help

Divorce laws vary, so you should be cautious of advice that you just got out of anywhere. If you are unsure about moving money, changing accounts, or making any other financial moves pre-divorce, consider consulting with a lawyer. You would have an even harder time at this if you were married outside of the UK or married a North American.

If your spouse is Canadian or you were married in Toronto, reach out to family lawyers in the country, like the team at Nussbaum Family Law. With years of experience handling family law, they can provide objective advice and personalized guidance to navigate this challenging time.

Best Business Investment Opportunities Heading Into 2023

Making quality investment decisions comes down to striking when the iron is hot. Jumping the gun or waiting too long to act can prove to be a major mistake.

Unfortunately, making the right investment moves at the right moments is easier said than done. If it were simple and straightforward, everyone would be doing it.

Accurately predicting the next Apple or Facebook is on an order of difficulty that eludes even the savviest of investors. However, putting your money into up-and-coming industries and sectors – or those primed for a comeback – is something that even the casual investor can do with enough insight and experience.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the best business investment opportunities heading into 2023:

Third-Party Logistics

More products are being bought and sold online than ever before. It won’t be long until e-commerce takes over the majority of retail purchases. With this in mind, investors should consider investing in third-party logistics providers (3PL). From logistics optimization to freight audit software, these services specialize in helping retailers improve their supply chain management. What’s more, they help drive down shipping costs for companies operating with slim margins. Given the rate at which online retail is becoming the primary method of buying and selling products, investing in 3PL today is likely to generate significant returns tomorrow.

Home Improvement

The last few years saw a surge in homeownership. Given this trend, it doesn’t take a genius to see the profit potential that comes with investing in home improvement services. From companies specializing in repair and remodelling to material suppliers to stores selling these products, there are many entities involved in the home improvement process that can be seen as potential investment opportunities heading into 2023.

Digital Marketing

More eyeballs on more screens mean less attention paid to traditional forms of advertising. As a result, the value of digital marketing is destined to increase as the world becomes increasingly digital. Those looking for a worthwhile investment opportunity should consider putting their money behind one or more digital marketing agencies. Demand for these services is set to increase significantly over the course of the decade, giving investors a reliable roadmap to respectable returns.

Food Delivery

Chances are you ordered food delivery at least once within the last three months. That’s because more people are finding themselves unable or unwilling to devote the time needed to prepare their own meals. If you can recall the premium you paid for the luxury of having other people make and bring you your sustenance, then you know there’s tremendous profit potential in food delivery service. While the current food delivery landscape is especially competitive due to oversaturation, there will come a time when struggling operations are forced to sell to their more capable competitors. If you can accurately gauge when that will occur and which businesses are involved, you can buy low and sell high.

Cleaning Services

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased attention paid to cleanliness and hygiene. The result is an uptick in demand for professional cleaning services, especially those tasked with sanitizing brick-and-mortar locations that see hundreds of people entering and exiting in a given week. Those investing in cleaning services now will reap the financial benefits later.

Auto Repair

In case you hadn’t noticed, the cost of a new vehicle has risen dramatically in recent years. Even a used car costs hundreds if not thousands more than it did previously. As a result, more people are holding onto their older, high-mileage vehicles than ever before. Auto repair companies – both locally-owned chains and those spread out nationally or multi-nationally – are set to see unprecedented demand in coming years. The same goes for aftermarket parts manufacturers and suppliers. It all adds up to auto repair being a viable opportunity for those looking to invest in profitable businesses.

Making the right investment moves at the right time isn’t easy. It’s no surprise the best investors stick to slow but steady returns based on equally secure investments. With that said, disruptive industries and growing demand for existing services make for reasonably safe and secure investment opportunities for those able and willing to go after them. Good luck!

Outside Services Every Business Needs to Ensure Financial Success

As an investor, you’re always looking for the next big opportunity. While the markets provide the most straightforward path to achieving financial success, making a dollar on a cent is easier said than done. Generally speaking, it takes many years before you see a substantial return on investment.

But the markets aren’t the only way for investors to use their money to make a profit. Another option is to directly invest in one or more growing businesses. The key is to choose businesses that not only provide a superior product or service but also utilise the right resources to all but guarantee success.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at six services every business needs to ensure financial success.

Recruiting services

Top talent is an essential component of any successful business. Failure to find and hire the best workers makes it hard to beat the competition. That’s why outsourced recruiting services are a critical component of modern enterprise. They help companies find top talent from all over the world. What’s more, they handle an array of tasks and processes that the businesses would otherwise have to manage themselves. With this in mind, investors should scrutinise a business’s recruitment apparatus before getting involved. If the company doesn’t work with an outside recruitment service, there’s a good chance they’re not hiring the right people.

Accounting services

Money is the lifeblood of any enterprise. An accurate and reliable accounting of all monies going in and out of a business is an essential component for achieving financial success. As a result, businesses on your investment radar should have excellent bookkeeping. If they’re relatively new businesses – as so many investment opportunities are – this is most likely achieved with the help of an outside accounting service. At the very least, they should be using business-grade accounting software. Companies where the financials are managed using notebooks, cocktail napkins, and best guesses are unlikely to stand up to regulatory scrutiny if they’re ever audited. They’re also unlikely to turn a profit.

Cybersecurity services

2021 saw a surge in ransomware attacks compared to 2020. While you might think hackers prefer to target big companies in order to maximize their ill-gotten gains, small businesses are more likely to be attacked than bigger ones. That’s because – generally speaking – small businesses lack the cybersecurity infrastructure required to fend off cyberattacks. They also have more to lose in terms of what an attack can mean to their bottom line. The result is that any business you look to as a possible investment opportunity must have a robust cybersecurity system in place. Those that lack such security are likely to be the targets of ransomware attacks and data breaches.

Payment services

Few businesses can afford to be cash-only enterprises. In order to maximize sales, they need various payment services like Apple Pay, PayPal, and Zoho. These platforms not only provide a streamlined way for customers to make purchases, but they also come with a level of fraud protection that provides an added layer of security to any operation.

Marketing services

Word-of-mouth advertising can only go so far. Sooner or later, every business needs to invest in various forms of marketing. If a company isn’t investing in marketing, it’s not putting itself in the best position possible for achieving financial success. The upfront cost of marketing is often enough to scare most entrepreneurs away, but those in the know see it as part of the cost of doing business.

Web design services

Few things turn consumers off as much as a substandard business website. Visitors want a user-friendly means of learning more about the company and browsing the products and services being offered. As a result, companies need to invest heavily in professional web design. Failure to do so is all but certain to hurt their bottom line and your return on investment as a result.

Savvy investors are always looking for the next big opportunity. Increasingly, those opportunities are found in up-and-coming businesses that seem to be ahead of the curve. However, no matter how advanced and forward-thinking a startup appears to be, it’s unlikely to see financial success if certain services are not put to good use.

What is Barrister Negligence and How Does it Occur?

Barristers are highly trained professionals, so when a person requires legal advice, often it is easy to assume that a barrister will conduct their role thoroughly due to their expertise and status. However, barristers can make mistakes, the consequences of which can be widespread and devastating including financial loss, the loss of something that the client was to benefit or along with a range of other detriments.

What is barrister negligence?

Barrister negligence occurs when a person suffers a loss due to negligent advice or inadequate representation from their barrister. If you can prove that your losses were due to the fault of your barrister, you are within your rights to make a claim against them for damages. For example, if you lose a court case and find that it is due to your barrister withholding information that could have been used in court, or that they offered you incorrect legal advice then professional negligence has occurred, you may be able to make a barrister negligence claim.

How does barrister negligence occur?

Barristers have a duty of care to their clients, but sometimes they fail to do this. Some common examples of negligence claims against barristers include:

· Providing poor representation – in court, if a barrister was negligent on a point of law, this would be regarded as providing poor representation.

· Poor performance of instructions – when acting as a buyer of a property, if a barrister fails to adequately investigate title to property, fails to register a mortgage/debenture at Companies House or fails to advise on the property burdens then the client may be able to claim.

· Providing incorrect legal advice – if a barrister provides a negligent legal opinion, including advice involving personal injury claims and clinical negligence actions, as well as advice in family proceedings (including divorce) and commercial litigation.

How to get help

While compensation cannot repair the damage caused by a negligent professional, it can help you to recover from the financial damage which can be beneficial to you or your business. For many clients, pursuing a barrister for negligence may be daunting due to the fact that barristers are generally some of the most qualified legal professionals we have in the UK. While the claims can be complex, some professionals will be able to help you to make a barrister negligence claim.

Three essential elements are required to prove negligence from a barrister. These are:

1. That the barrister owed a duty of care

2. That the barrister breached the duty of care – this will vary between cases

3. That the barrister caused a loss, both in a legal and factual sense.

Time limits

There are time limits for barrister negligence claims, as with many other types of professional negligence, which is six years from the date the negligence occurred. If you find out about the negligence at a later stage, clients will usually have three years from the date the negligence was discovered to make a claim. Due to the complexity of many of these cases, it is vital to seek independent legal advice as soon as possible.

Consumer vs. Inflation

Inflation is an economic phenomenon that occurs when prices of goods and services rise over a period of time. It affects the purchasing power of consumers, as their money does not have the same buying power it once did. Consumers end up spending the same amount of money on fewer items than they did in the past. Inflation can also reduce the value of savings as prices rise faster than interest rates. For this reason, inflation is an issue that requires close monitoring by consumers and economists alike.

The Bare Essentials

Rising global demands have caused prices of bread, eggs and milk to climb over the past year. Inflation rates for these items are expected to continue increasing in the near future due to a variety of factors.

All foods are expected to see a 9.5% – 10.5% increase in the year 2022. The primary reason for this price increase is due to demand outpacing supply. Global commodities markets often experience fluctuations in supply and demand which affects the cost of items like bread, eggs and milk.

The Gas Price

The inflation rate for gas prices has also been steadily increasing in recent years. The rising global demand, combined with the limited supply of crude oil, priced at $74,96 per barrel, will prices at the petrol pump continue to climb. It is expected that the price of crude oil will remain high for the foreseeable future as global demand continues to increase. In addition, geopolitical tensions and other factors have added to the upward pressure on gas prices.

The Price of Electricity

The current price of electricity has been steadily increasing in recent years due to rising global demand. In addition, the cost of producing energy has also increased as resources become more limited and production methods become more expensive.

It is estimated that the inflation rate for electricity will be between 5% and 8%. This estimate is conservative, as prices may rise even more due to regional economic conditions or other unpredictable factors.

The Health and Fitness Industry

As the cost of living increases, it becomes harder for consumers to afford non-essential items. This unfortunately extends to the health and fitness industry in most cases. The rising cost of raw materials used to manufacture gym equipment can also contribute to higher prices for these services.

Vegan protein powder, whey protein and BCAAs will also see an increase in price as the costs of production and raw materials for these products increases. As a result, businesses in the fitness industry may need to increase their prices and membership fees to offset these higher costs, which could make these products and services unaffordable for some customers.

Unaffordable Health Care?

Health care is becoming increasingly unaffordable in many parts of the world. This is due to a variety of factors including rising medical costs, an aging population, and increased demand for health services. In addition, many governments are struggling to keep up with inflation rates, resulting in further cost increases. These continuously rising health care costs, for many individuals, means that health care is out of their financial range, leaving many without the necessary care they need.

In Short

Inflation is affecting the cost of a variety of goods and services throughout the world. From bread and eggs to gas and electricity, prices are rising due to rising global demand and limited supply. The health and fitness industry has also been impacted by inflation with rising costs for gym memberships, personal training sessions, and supplements. Furthermore, rising healthcare costs are making healthcare increasingly unaffordable for many individuals.

3 Tips to Get the Best Results from Gold IRA Investing

In older times, people built wealth by working hard, cutting down on expenses, and saving cash.

In modern times, people have realised that even though it is possible to save cash by working hard and reducing expenses, the value of the saved cash reduces over time due to various geo-political factors.

Thus, we need to find ways to increase our wealth in more ways than just working hard. And the best way to do so is by investing our wealth into streams that can generate additional wealth for us.

A common mistake that most people make while planning their investments is that they focus on the shorter-term goal only. An ideal investment scenario is where we’re investing in such a way that it satisfies our short-term and long-term goals.

One of the common long-term goals that most of us have is to have enough savings to live comfortably and satisfy our needs post-retirement. Out of all the retirement saving options out there, Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a very popular one.

Specifically, gold IRAs have become a very attractive option for people interested in diversifying their retirement savings.

What is a Gold IRA?

There are two main categories of IRA plans: Traditional and Roth. The difference between both is basically whether your investments are done pre-tax or post-tax and how much tax is deducted when you withdraw from the IRA account.

The money that you add to a traditional or Roth IRA account can then be invested in stocks, mutual funds, etc. which helps you earn returns on your investment.

Gold IRAs can be either traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs. However, unlike standard IRA plans, investments in gold IRAs are done in the form of precious metals.

Why is Gold IRA Popular?

So, what makes gold IRA plans appealing?

First of all, precious metals like gold and silver have always had value as an asset. Also, despite short-term falls, we’ve only seen the prices of gold increase over time.

Moreover, as investing in gold IRAs means that the investor owns physical assets of the precious metals, it gives a better peace of mind than investing in other assets such as stocks, bonds, etc.

3 Tips to Get the Best Results from Gold IRA Investments

Pick the Best Gold IRA Custodian

One of the essential things to consider while investing in a gold IRA is to pick the best gold IRA custodian you can find.

As investors cannot directly invest in gold IRAs, they need to partner with a custodian to buy/hold/sell the precious metals in the IRA. There will be a fee charged by the IRA custodian for providing the services.

Always choose Gold IRA custodians like Lear Capital, which have years of industry experience and happy customers, are open about the fees and procedures followed to buy/hold/sell the precious metals, as well as have a well-knowledged team to answer all your queries.

Consider Storage and Insurance of Your Gold

As you’re buying physical gold in a gold IRA, storing it is a crucial part of the investment. Some custodians provide in-house storage facilities whereas others partner with third-party storage facilities.

Before joining a gold IRA plan from a custodian, make sure to enquire about the storage method followed for your gold and if any additional charges are incurred for the same.

Also, again, considering that you’re investing in a physical asset, it is always best to get them insured. Insurance against your precious metals will give you a guarantee on your investment in the unlikely event of theft, natural disasters, etc.

Understand the Type of Precious Metals Allowed in the Gold IRA

Even though it’s called gold IRAs, your investment isn’t restricted to gold itself. In most gold IRA plans you can invest in other precious metals such as silver, platinum, etc.

However, one important point to note is that not all forms of precious metals are considered eligible for the IRA. For instance, you cannot add the precious metals you already own into the IRA, nor can you purchase jewellery and add them as your investment.

Final Words

Just like any other form of investment, gold IRAs also come with their own set of risks. Therefore, it is best to consult a financial advisor before investing in gold IRAs to understand whether the investment can meet your long-term goal and fits your risk appetite.

The Fintech Revolution: Embracing and Adapting in 2023

Financial technology, or fintech, has been a success story for the ages in the last few years. Considerable leaps in technological capability have enabled new financial products – both B2C and B2B – to disrupt the market, resulting in a bumper year for fintech investors in 2021.

Though there have been bumps in the road towards the end of 2022, 2023 nonetheless promises to be another strong year for the yet-emerging industry. But how exactly did we get here, and how can you best engage with fintech for the betterment of your business or finances? Further to this, what might the new year hold exactly for the industry?

The Rise and Rise of Fintech

Fintech is by no means a ‘new’ industry, even though its influence has grown considerably in the past decade. Fintech initially described a small number of businesses utilising technology in the early days of digital computation to provide back-end services to large corporations and banking institutions. Fintech has been central to the roll-out of technologies we take for granted today, from the ATM to the chip and PIN debit card.

But the tech revolution at the turn of the 21st century created new opportunities for start-up businesses, who were first to adopt new methodologies over existing financial institutions. For consumers, this is most evident in the explosion of digital banking apps and technologies, and the rise of competitive online-only banks disrupting brick-and-mortar lenders.

Fintech is also at the bleeding edge of new technological advancement, as start-ups increasingly engage with the possibilities afforded by blockchain – the foundational technology behind digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. New platforms for engaging with cryptocurrency, and new back-end systems for managing cryptocurrency, are big-ticket ventures with huge potential.

Engaging with Fintech

There are many ways you as an individual can engage with new fintech businesses and tools. As an operator of a business, you might start to fold cryptocurrency capabilities into your infrastructure – maximising earning potential and joining the vanguard for disruptive change in the process. Doing so requires engagement with new legal principles, though, especially where international node-based transactions are concerns; a fintech law firm is a helpful ancillary investment to ensure proper and robust uptake of such technologies.

As a high-wealth individual, you might interact with fintech products like retail trading apps to directly control your investments. Alternatively, you might even take the opportunity to invest in fintech on a meta level, riding the fresh wave of growth to a new digital future.

What Does the Future Hold?

Speaking of which, the road is not necessarily a smooth one for fintech. There have been some recent shocks to the industry, particularly in the cryptocurrency sphere. One of the larger cryptocurrency exchange services, FTX, collapsed under the weight of negligent management and non-existent accounting practices, leading to significant impacts for nation states and private investment firms alike.

The collapse has introduced an element of fear to certain corners of crypto and illustrated well the risk that start-ups afford early adopters. But essential fintech services unmoored from crypto remain safe investments, and new technology continues to be adopted – indicating a strong year for fintech investment in 2023.

Five Skills You Need To Be The CEO Of Your Own Company

Starting your own company and taking the reins as CEO can be a daunting prospect but it’s also an incredibly rewarding experience. To become a successful CEO, you need to have certain skills and qualities that go beyond simply having a great idea or managing day-to-day operations. Here are five essential skills required to be the CEO of your own company.

The ability to inspire and motivate others

Regardless of profession or industry, the ability to inspire others is an incredibly valuable soft skill. It does not require any one person to possess special traits but rather a careful combination of positive attitude, determination, and compassion for others. For those with the capacity to motivate those around them – whether it be colleagues, peers, or family – the potential for success and growth can be tremendous.

Even in tough times, having a leader who can bring out the best in those around them is often what sets teams apart from the rest. Seeing beyond mere individual capabilities to foster collaboration is a talent that should never be taken lightly.

A sharp strategic mind

Having a sharp strategic mind is a powerful asset in any professional or personal field. Strategic thinkers can break down complex situations, identify potential outcomes, analyse different angles, and come up with strategies that maximize positive results. Not only do they innately look at the world around them with insight and perspective but also hone these skills through training, practice, and gaining experience over time.

These individuals have the power to make realistic projections of what can be accomplished and how it can be done efficiently. With their skill set, they can inspire those around them to achieve greater success than would have been possible on their own.

Strong decision-making skills

Having strong decision-making skills can be an invaluable asset in any professional situation. Being able to comfortably assess all available information, evaluate risks and benefits, and come to a conclusion quickly are abilities that are highly sought after. Some of the best decisions derive from being able to think on your feet and recognize the best solution intuitively.

Having strong decision-making skills can set you apart from other professionals in your industry and help you reach success much faster. Decision-making is a skill that can take many years of practice but is definitely worth the effort!

Excellent communication abilities

Having excellent communication abilities is one of the most important skills needed in life. Whether it be in the workplace, in our daily dealings with other people, or even just expressing ourselves, good communication aids us in leading a productive and meaningful life. These skills are required not only in speaking but also listening with empathy to understand the views and intentions of others. Only then can we effectively present our ideas without creating misunderstandings with those around us.

Excellent communicators are inspiring figures whose efforts lead them to success across multiple fronts. It is no wonder that these attributes provide such a long-lasting impression on people, allowing for greater understanding and collaboration between individuals.

Exceptional people management skills

People management skills are essential for anyone who leads a team or has employees that work for them. Not only does having strong people management skills create an encouraging and positive work environment for everyone involved, but it can also drive effective results and help to maximize efficiency. Outstanding people managers understand the needs of their employees, motivate them with inspiring guidance, and create productive relationships between team members.

Truly exceptional managers recognize that each individual is different and capitalize on every person’s unique strengths by setting challenging yet attainable goals for their team. It may seem overwhelming to recognize your employees while leading your company, but you can use an existing recognition platform as a hack. Happy employees equal productive employees.

Conclusion

If you want to be a successful leader, start by developing these five essential skills. With hard work and dedication, you can hone your abilities and become the best version of yourself. Remember, leadership is not about titles or positions—it’s about influence. So focus on becoming the kind of person others want to follow, and you’ll find success in any role you take on.

Is it Worth Purchasing a Fire Damaged Property?

As with all types of real estate investments, there is no quick and easy answer to this question. Whether or not it is worth purchasing a fire-damaged property means conducting the same due diligence as when purchasing any other property in need of repair.

Where a fire-damaged property has only the kind of remedial damage that can be repaired quite easily, renovating it and selling it on could be extremely profitable. But if there are major structural or safety issues of any kind behind the scenes, bringing it up to an acceptable state of repair could be practically impossible, at least in terms of profitability.

What to Look for Before Purchasing a Fire-Damaged Property

Before even considering buying a property that has been damaged by fire, it is essential to hire an extensively qualified and experienced surveyor. The extent to which the building will need to be inspected and assessed may go beyond the capabilities of many mainstream contractors or advisors.

Each of the following can play a major role in determining whether or not a fire-damaged property represents a viable (and profitable) investment opportunity:

1. Structural issues

An experienced structural engineer will need to verify if and to what extent any load bearing walls around the property have been damaged, and whether there are any potentially dangerous structural issues in general.

2. Smoke

The permeation of smoke around a property in the wake of a fire can lead to a great many health and safety implications, which go beyond the physical appearance and smell of smoke – both of which will also need to be dealt with.

3. Plumbing and wiring

Even a relatively minor fire can cause extensive damage to the plumbing and wiring systems of a property, calling for major repairs and component replacements.

4. Asbestos

When a property that was built before 1989 is damaged by fire, a comprehensive inspection needs to be conducted for the presence of asbestos. Where asbestos is found to have been present, extensive specialist works may be required to remove it safely.

5. Water damage

Unfortunately, the water (and other substances) used to extinguish a fire in a property of any kind can cause just as much damage as the fire itself. A broad range of potential damage is caused by water and must therefore be checked for.

The simple fact of the matter is that when an inspection is performed on a fire-damaged property, at least one (though likely more than one) of the above factors will come into play. Hence, whether or not it is worth considering purchasing and renovating the property will be determined by the nature and extent of the damage caused by the fire.

The Positives of Purchasing a Fire-Damaged Property

On a more positive note, purchasing a property that has been damaged by fire to a fairly rudimentary extent can pave the way for a profitable ‘flipping’ project. Fire-damaged homes regularly go on sale for prices significantly lower than the actual market values.

Demand for fire-damaged properties is comparatively low and many investors are not willing to invest the time and effort needed to bring them back to an acceptable standard; or for that matter, pay for the property to be meticulously inspected and assessed by a surveyor and/or structural engineer.

In addition, owners of fire-damaged properties often pursue quick sales to unload them as quickly as possible. With fast-access funding like bridging loans, fire-damaged properties can sometimes be snapped up at prices much lower than they are actually worth.

Again, it all depends on the extent of the damage and the longer-term resale potential the property has. But where fire damage is not particularly serious, buying and renovating fire-damaged homes can be a surprisingly profitable venture. – https://ukpropertyfinance.co.uk/

Worse for ‘Ware: Don’t Let Hackers Worm Their Way In This Christmas

For millions of Brits, Christmas and the new year is a time to relax alongside friends and family and enjoy a break from the stresses of work. Yet it can also be one of the most lucrative times of the year for cyber criminals, as they benefit from people letting their guard down online.

This month marks the 35th anniversary of the Christmas Tree Worm, a piece of harmful code disguised within a festive graphic that left a trail of destruction as it was shared among networks. It was the first example of viral malware and showed how festive cybercrime can flourish.

Today’s worms have turned far more high-tech. Holiday season hackers now use more sophisticated methods to lure their victims — from Christmas phishing emails and spoofed websites to bogus giveaways — so it’s important to know what to look out for.     

Marijus Briedis, cybersecurity expert at NordVPN, has some tips to protect yourself from the scammers over Christmas and the new year.

1. BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU CLICK: Whether it’s the lure of last-minute presents or seasonal sales, online shoppers will be out in force this Christmas. In your hurry to bag a bargain make sure you check your cybersecurity to stay ahead of the hackers.

Avoid the temptation to click on pop-up ads or links to websites that you cannot verify. Use a search engine to find the retailer you want and activate antivirus software like NordVPN’s Threat Protection to check for any malicious sites. In the case of well-known retailers it pays to be wary of “typosquatters” who may have set up fake sites under similar names to try to trap unsuspecting visitors.
 

2. ROGUE DELIVERY: The Royal Mail strikes and the traditional surge in parcels over December have created a perfect storm for delivery scams to thrive. Typically, would-be victims will either be sent an email or text giving them an order number and tracking link for an outstanding package or missed delivery. Once you have clicked, a hacker knows your contact details and may use this to supplement the scam, for example, by asking for a delivery charge.

If you have received a message with a tracking link, do not click on it and cross-check any code with the delivery company’s website. Any suspicious texts should be forwarded to 7726, a free spam-reporting service provided by phone operators.
 

3. UNBOXED AND UNPROTECTED: Internet-of-things (IoT) devices such as smart watches, voice assistants and health trackers are among the most popular Christmas presents. Before you take your new gadget for a spin online it’s worth ensuring you take a few minutes to make it more secure. This can include changing the default password that came with your smart device and adding an antivirus or VPN to your router to safeguard IoT gadgets on your network.
 

4. A GIFT(CARD) FOR SCAMMERS: When it comes to picking a present for a hard-to- buy-for relative, online vouchers and e-gift cards are the new book tokens. It therefore might not be a surprise to receive a retailer voucher by email around Christmas, something hackers know only too well.

As well as links to fake vouchers that could contain malware, fraudsters may often trick people into buying genuine coupons and revealing their unique card numbers by posing as family members. To steer clear of these scams, be sure to verify any voucher offer on email with the relevant retailer’s website and always speak to loved ones on the phone before making transactions you believe they have requested.
 

5. A TAXING NEW YEAR: The Christmas and new year break is a popular time to tackle online chores and some Brits will be using it as a window to submit their self-assessment tax returns to HMRC ahead of the 31st January deadline. Yet be careful not to give extra money to opportunistic hackers. Thousands of UK taxpayers have been sent fake HMRC phishing emails and texts during 2022, with messages ranging from tax rebate offers to threats of arrest.

If you have to file a self-assessment return, be wary of any communications you receive as you are much more likely to be targeted by hackers. Keep an eye out for any HMRC copycat websites and remember that tax rebates in your favour are not common outside a game of Monopoly.
 

6. GIVEAWAY GRIFT: Without sounding like Scrooge, anything that seems too good to be true probably is — and this can definitely be said for a flurry of Christmas giveaway frauds. A recent example is a Cadbury Whatsapp scam. This involves you being sent a message through the messenger app including a link that will give you the chance to win a ”Christmas Chocolate Magic Basket”. Once clicked the link takes you to a quiz that encourages you to give away your personal data and then share the quiz with others.

Much like similar scams earlier in the year for British Airways, Heineken and B&Q, this preys on consumers’ faith in brands and love of a freebie. Save WhatApp messaging for your friends and family this year and don’t let a fraud, however sweet, sour your Christmas break.

How to Protect Your Start-up Against Liability Risks

Liability risks a the type of operational risk that comes with every business. The company is responsible for every action its staff and members take, regardless of the results. However, nobody in business wants to be sued, as liability lawsuits may cost a lot of money.

Even a small claim could cost you thousands of dollars in legal expenses, lost productivity, and compensation. If at all possible, avoid liability risks that could result in complaints and legal action.

As many legal authorities try to attack new business owners, it might be more difficult for start-ups to protect their businesses or company from these risks and claims. But if you are prepared and protected under the right laws, you might be able to prevent this issue.

This article aims to help new business owners, private and public investors, and fund managers protect themselves from these liability risks that might end up costing a fortune.

Get business insurance that covers liability risks

Just as we have medical insurance with different plans, business insurance is also available for business owners. There are different kinds of business insurance policies, including those that cover medical expenses in case of injuries, accidents, or claims of negligence at the place of work.

Despite your best efforts, an unsatisfied client may file a liability claim or lawsuit against you. Liability and business insurance aid in reducing the potential effects on your company. Legal costs associated with the claim, such as settlements or judgments you’re required to pay to the client, would be covered by a policy. A risk management strategy and liability insurance can protect your small business.

Management of liability risk is crucial for individuals in the service industry. As a business owner, you want to take all reasonable precautions to safeguard your way of life. You may be able to handle many of the ups and downs of running your own business by recognizing and taking action to avoid unwarranted claims and lawsuits.

Identify possible risks in your business

You must be aware of your liability risks to decrease them. Think about your present company practices: Do you have procedures to detect flaws and mistakes in your work? How do you handle pressed deadlines or service interruptions? How are customer comments and complaints handled? What are the threats that people in your sector are mentioning? By asking these questions, you can find areas in your company that require attention.

Awareness of these possible risks can help develop procedures to reduce or prevent them from occurring. You can also create a risk management scheme to help manage common liability risks in your industry or company.

Get a business law attorney for your company

Regardless of the size of your firm, you should always have a company attorney for your company. The lawyer should assist you with setting up contracts, bank accounts, operating papers, and all other procedures related to starting your business from the pre-launch period. Anytime a claim is made against the company, the lawyer should be called. Additionally, the lawyer should be consulted whenever a significant company change is anticipated.

The attorney’s role is to advise the business owner on the appropriate steps to guarantee that prospective corporate liabilities are adequately protected, that the company operates legally, and that ethical business practices are followed.

Proper training of employees on risk management

Processes for managing risks can only be effective if everyone adopts them consistently. All staff members should get training on the modifications before a new procedure is implemented.

New employees should receive training as part of their onboarding process, and everyone else should receive periodic refresher training to ensure they are still adhering to the proper procedures.

Regular staff training also conveys to your staff the importance of respecting and consistently using the professional liability risk management plan.

Keep records and documents

In the event of a dispute or legal action, records are useful. Emails and significant papers should be saved, including contracts, invoices, and payment history. Confirmations should be written or sent via email) after oral interactions. Keep backups in case your computer or physical copies are lost or stolen.

Conclusion

As a business owner, you should keep these tips in mind to protect your startup from liability risks. You should also know that health insurance is just as important for your employees and members. Register with a health insurance company today, and you can reach out to the company if you have questions like “when can I change my medicare supplement plan?”

What Business Leaders & Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Start-Ups

The success of a business start-up depends largely on the creativity and originality of the founder’s idea, as well as their willingness to take risks to make it a reality. Many new entrepreneurs can think outside the box and develop something that has never been seen before.

With enough dedication, drive, and passion for what they do, these start-up’s bring about revolutionary changes that long-standing businesses could learn a thing or two from.

Implementing Technology

From cloud computing solutions that allow for data storage and remote access to online marketing platforms that help optimize customer engagement, technology is key for any business trying to establish itself in a crowded market and increase its bottom line.

Businesses should invest in modern technologies such as AI-driven analytics tools and automation solutions that enable more efficient operations while also providing valuable insights into customer behaviour. These investments will help create greater opportunities for success on both short-term and long-term goals.

Retention Tactics

Retention strategies involve building relationships with customers and providing them with incentives to continue patronizing the business. Business start-ups are particularly vulnerable when it comes to customer retention as they lack an existing base of loyal customers.

To combat this, entrepreneurs are using various methods including loyalty programs, referrals, discounts, and rewards for returning customers. These tactics help start-up businesses build relationships with their target market and create a loyal following that will support their business through its growth cycle.

Automation & Efficiency

Automation is an essential tool for businesses as it can increase productivity, reduce costs and streamline processes. By using AI, businesses can automate manual tasks that would otherwise take too long or require too many resources to complete manually.

This enables companies to save time while increasing accuracy in their operations. Machine learning helps reduce the need for manual input by using data analysis models. Robotic process automation simplifies mundane tasks that don’t require human judgment or creativity and allows businesses to focus on more strategic decisions.

Networking & Collaborating

By tapping into networks both online and offline, entrepreneurs can connect with like-minded professionals, industry experts, and potential customers who may be integral to the success of their business.

Through collaboration, startups have access to resources such as mentorships, business contacts, venture capital funding opportunities, customer feedback channels, and more that can help them grow their business faster than they would on their own. The key to successful networking is actively engaging with the right people while staying true to your vision and goals.

Money Management

Smart entrepreneurs keep detailed records of all their transactions, set up an emergency fund for unexpected costs, create budgets that take into account all areas of spending, develop strategies to increase revenue quickly, and make sure to save for taxes.

Getting loans in Pennsylvania would be a good idea if that is where you operate. Sourcing anything locally will most likely have much better terms than the latter options. New business owners are mindful of their borrowing habits by only taking out one when necessary. This ensures they have enough working capital on hand for day-to-day operations.

Analysing Industry Trends

To begin analysing industry trends, start-up business owners try to understand the different aspects of their business environment, including competitors’ strategies, customer needs, and behaviours, current economic conditions, as well as technology advancements.

Keeping up with these changes can assist managers in making more informed decisions about how best to navigate their businesses through the most unexpected speed bumps. Professionals make it an objective to assess any potential risks associated with new ventures. As a new player in the business world, you need to ensure that all necessary precautions are taken.

Conclusion

Start-ups are often the first to test out new strategies and come up with innovative solutions for common problems. From their ability to rapidly innovate to their tendency to think outside of the box, there is a lot that experienced executives can learn from them. New businesses have an impressive capacity for making quick decisions to remain competitive in a crowded market.

Their agile nature allows them to develop ideas, refine processes, and pivot quickly according to customer feedback or changing industry conditions. Start-up founders also tend not to be afraid of taking risks, which has an impact on how they approach problem-solving from a creative perspective.

Going Digital: The Pros and Cons of Digital Wallets for Enterprises

By Richard Conn – Senior Director, Demand Generation, 8×8

If you run your own business, the upsurge in the popularity of digital wallets and mobile wallets won’t have escaped your attention. If you’re thinking about starting to offer it as a payment method but aren’t quite sure yet, this guide is for you.

What is a digital wallet?

A digital wallet is a kind of virtual wallet that stores information. This could include credit card data, digital cash, crypto savings, loyalty or membership card details, and even coupons. The core attraction for customers is its convenience. Being able to keep all of that information in one place is much easier than carrying around a pile of plastic cards or pieces of paper.

One of the most common varieties of digital wallet is the mobile wallet. There are a plethora of mobile wallet apps out there – for example, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay – which enable consumers to make mobile payments with a single tap.

How mobile wallets work

Mobile wallets generally work in three ways: using NFC (near-field communication), via POS (point of sale) tech, and with tokenisation for security.

NFC: Near-field communication uses wireless technology to enable two devices to share small payloads of information with one another – in this case, payment details. The two devices have to be within around 4 cm of each other for the connection to function.

POS: Retailers can take mobile payments in-store by using specialised point of sale software. There are a number of solutions available, most of which allow you to take traditional chip and pin cards as well. As with any online-based business software like VoIP hosting, you’ll need to make sure you have a reliable internet connection.

Tokenisation: To keep sensitive data safe and protect against theft, mobile wallets use a process called tokenisation. The mobile wallet operator sends the customer’s card data to their card’s network. The network replaces the card data with a token and sends it back to the wallet. The mobile wallet receives this token and uses it to make payments.

Pros of digital wallets

When you’re considering investing in something new for your business such as a hosted IP phone system or data management tool, you need to be clear about the benefits it will bring. Here are a few of the advantages of implementing digital wallet transaction functionality.

Saves time

Speed is of the essence, and there’s no payment method faster than digital wallets. Offering your customers the chance to pay with mobile wallets in-store will also reduce queueing time and get things moving.

There’s no more waiting around for the customer to find their loyalty card or for the till operator to find the correct change. The whole process is as fast and easy as answering calls with a small business VoIP phone system, and it’s just as reliable.

Improves the customer experience

Every successful business knows the value of putting customer experience front and centre. The more payment options you offer your customers, the happier they will be.

The increased speed and convenience of the transaction means less waiting around for the customer. It’s fuss-free and effective, which is good news for everyone.

Enables access to real-time data

If you already manage inventory on Shopify or another similar platform, you may be familiar with having ready-made customer analytics available. Many digital wallets allow you to capture real-time customer data that can be very valuable to compel consumers to shop online more.

Digital wallets enable you to see a customer’s shopping history and preferences, which can prove useful if you’re planning a marketing campaign targeted at existing customers.

Straightforward to use

It’s a simple matter to get up and running with digital wallet payments, whether online or in-store. You just need to apply for one of the many merchant accounts from card processing companies available in your area.

Cons of digital wallets

As with any other business solution, there are a few things to be aware of before you jump in. 

Needs reliable internet connection

Just as with SIP phone lines you need a reliable internet connection if digital payments are going to work. But, not all areas of the UK have perfect internet coverage.

It can be tempting for smaller startups to depend on contactless POS systems for payments. The initial cost outlay tends to be relatively low and for a business that has smallish footfall like, say, a coffee shop or a small boutique gift store, going cash-free from the start can seem like a good idea.

Most of the time, this is a perfectly adequate strategy, but if you do choose to do this, it’s best to have a backup payment system in place just in case. Something like a card terminal that has offline functionality is a possibility and will mean you’re still not obliged to carry cash.

Be careful about pricing

There are some great deals out there for vendors, but you need to do your research. There are a number of fees to take into consideration, such as credit card processing fees, merchant account fees, authorisation payments, and service fees or service charges.

You’ll find that many providers charge more for cardless transactions than for ones where the card is physically present. That’s because they want to mitigate the higher risks of contactless transactions. The disparity varies, but you’ll typically see cardless transaction fees coming in at around 1.25% higher.

Fraud

Digital wallets do a very good job on security, but the risk of fraud is still not completely eliminated. From the customer’s point of view, transactions made with digital wallets are slightly riskier than ones made with credit cards, since they are not necessarily covered by the consumer protections banks provide in the case of credit card transactions.

Either way, it puts the merchant at risk of unwelcome chargebacks should something go wrong. So it’s vital to keep an eye on whether this is becoming a regular problem for you.

How to get set up for using digital wallets

Luckily, setting up your business to take digital or mobile wallet payments is a straightforward matter. Online-only vendors simply need to set up a merchant account with the operators they want to work with. Customers will store their details securely on the website and transactions will be processed automatically.

Vendors operating from physical stores will need a POS terminal that can accept digital wallets. This means that it will require NFC technology to read the devices making the payments.

If you already have an established relationship with one or more payment providers, it’s worth getting in contact to ask them whether they have digital wallet solutions available.

A note on security

We’ve mentioned security a few times in this article, but it’s worth mentioning again. Just as you’d complete Auditboard security audits to ensure your systems are secure you want to know that you can trust digital wallets to keep sensitive data secure throughout.

For starters, digital wallets encourage the use of several security features to ensure the payment device or account is only used by the customer who owns it. Face ID, fingerprint ID, PIN codes, and two-factor authentication protocols are standard. They might not benefit from the anonymity offered by tech from crypto wallet companies, but that kind of software is not ideal for everyday retail. 

The encryption algorithms used in transferring the payment data offer top-level commercial standard security. Although it’s never possible to eliminate the risk of fraud entirely (if someone is lax about their security settings, for example), digital wallets are about as secure a payment method as has yet been invented.

The way of the future

Digital wallets are here to stay. They offer a fast, convenient payment method for customers who don’t want to spend any more time on the mechanics of paying for their purchases than they absolutely have to.

If you’re looking to upgrade your business with modern solutions like marketing analytics software or are looking to streamline your SOX certification process, don’t overlook your customer payment offering. Accepting digital wallet payments is a straightforward process to set up and makes for increased customer satisfaction. And that’s great news for the bottom line.

How to Invest and Trade During a Recession – Simple Tips

For many, the word “recession” indicates terrible times for the economy. It is a period where the economy shrinks or stagnates for an extended period, usually two or more consecutive quarters.

When a recession happens, it becomes more challenging to trade and invest in assets because of the fall in value and increased risk. Yet, falling prices during a recession can provide good opportunities to invest in high-quality assets for cheap and continue to thrive.

Here’s what investors and traders need to know to take advantage of a recession.

What to Know About Investing and Trading During a Recession

If you invest well during the lowest point of an economy, you could experience significant gains over time as prices begin to rise and the economy stabilises. However, every action counts because of the increased risks in trading and investing. So, before you trade or invest in a recession, it is crucial to have this in mind:

Use the dollar-cost averaging strategy (DCA)There is no perfect time to invest when the economy is in a downfall, and the best thing to do is to look for ways to minimize the risks involved as much as possible. This makes the dollar-cost averaging strategy one of the most efficient to use for success during a recession. Plus, it is an effective stock trading method for beginners who want to build a solid foundation.

This strategy is designed to manage price risk when investing in assets like stocks, mutual funds, or exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Instead of investing a certain amount in an asset at once, this method requires you to break down the amount and invest in small quantities at regular intervals.

If the price ends up dropping after investing, this reduces the losses suffered and gives you time to decide if you want to keep investing or pull out of the security. Of course, prices don’t always move as expected, even in a recession but doing this maximises your chance of paying a lower average price.

Dollar-cost averaging vs Market Timing Dollar-cost averaging and market timing are two different trading strategies that are often confused with each other.

As its name suggests, market timing involves an attempt to time the market and buy securities when their prices appear to have dropped. This sounds like a smart move to make, but it is difficult in practice because no one can accurately predict how the market will move over a short period. If you end up trying to time your purchase, it is possible to end up with fewer gains than you would have made.

Dollar-cost averaging, on the other hand, requires you to invest at a set time. For instance, if you have $1000 to invest in a stock, you could spread it over 10 months, breaking it down to $100 per month. It takes emotions out of trading, and you can gain as the price fluctuates.

1. Avoid panic selling

Emotions tend to be high when the price of an asset falls, but it becomes heightened when the economy is already in a downfall. Wanting to avoid loss is part of human nature, and it is tempting to want to exit the market and wait for more attractive entry points to show up.

Panic selling increases the losses your portfolio faces because you are exiting when the market is at its lowest point. It also increases the possibility of missing out on sharp, unexpected rebounds that could completely make up for the previous losses. In addition, panic selling leads to panic buying as you attempt to enter the market again and make up for lost ground.

Both investing and trading are never done with utmost certainty, and to stop yourself from panic selling, you can:

Remain disciplined by following your investment plan.

Consider improving your skills and using market sentiment indicators. For instance, learning to use the level 2 market data for trading dramatically increases your chances of success when trading during a recession.

Have a good idea of what the bigger picture looks like. Get information on what inflation and earnings look like.

2. Don’t purchase cyclical stocks

These stocks are tied to consumer confidence and employment. For instance, companies that produce high-end cars, clothing, furniture, or other non-essential items. Cyclical stocks perform very well when the economy is good and stable because consumers tend to spend more during those times. For example, where the economy is strong, people are more likely to splurge on eating at expensive restaurants, going to hotels, or buying high-end luxury clothes. But in a recession, it becomes the opposite.

When the economy enters a recession, consumers are more careful with their spending, causing the price of cyclical stocks to drop. If the recession is prolonged and severe, cyclical stocks could become almost useless, and the companies could go bankrupt. Although investors and traders should be wary of cyclical stocks in their portfolios during a downtrend, it is not necessary to avoid it altogether.

It can be included in a portfolio for long-term growth with managed volatility, especially if the company has enough capital to withstand going bankrupt. In this case, the price of the cyclical stock is bound to rise again as the economy recovers and makes you some profit.

How to Trade and Invest During a Recession

During a recession, traders and investors tend to get defensive and pull their funds out of the market to protect them from losses. One thing to remember before trading is that you shouldn’t rely on optimism alone but have a game plan and the right mindset. Traders that want to remain active in the market, can do the following:

1. Trade stable companies

A good investment strategy during a recession is to invest in companies with strong balance sheets and steady business models.

Also, look for companies with a track record of paying dividends because having a stable cash flow can be a huge advantage to your portfolio.

If you are finding it difficult to search out individual stable dividend-paying companies, another option is to invest in ETFs that comprise dividend-paying companies. Although these dividends can be withdrawn whenever you need them, one major advantage of dividend-paying stocks is that the dividends can be reinvested.

Where the price of the asset drops, you won’t feel its impact if the dividends are reinvested. When searching for dividend-paying stocks or ETFs, keep an eye out for consistency or increasing dividends rather than high yield. High yield often comes with increased risks you would want to avoid in a recession.

2. Focus on defensive stocks

Also called non-cyclical stocks, defensive stocks tend to do well regardless of the current state of the economy. During a recession, investors move to defensive stocks to protect their portfolios. Most stocks that fall under this category also tend to be dividend-paying stocks.

Defensive stocks are typically from sectors that produce consumer staples or necessities. Consumers will have to purchase these goods regardless of the state of the economy, and they rarely experience sudden jumps in price.

Other examples of defensive stocks are companies that sell utilities and essential household items like groceries. In addition, defensive stocks are a great option for risk-averse investors or those who don’t know a lot about investing.

3. Invest in Commodities

Commodities have historically performed well in recession and can be a safe haven for investors. Commodities fall under 2 categories: soft commodities and hard commodities.

Soft commodities, like agricultural products and livestock, have a perishable nature. As a result, the value of soft commodities tends to decline, creating opportunities for short selling. Hard commodities refer to energy products and minerals that can be stored for a long time. For instance, investing in a hard commodity like gold is a good way to store your money and make a profit. These commodities tend to hold their value better during a recession, and these prices mostly remain stable once the economy recovers.

Conclusion

Investors and traders have been known to make money in a recession depending on their trading strategy and skill. While the economy is in a downtrend, trading can be risky, how you invest and what you invest in becomes much more important.

It is advisable to avoid speculation when trading or investing during a recession since the value of assets is dropping. Investing in the wrong company can wipe out your portfolio, and taking your time before investing in an asset ensures that your portfolio remains safe, especially when the economy starts to recover.

Invest in Stocks: Will the Stock Market Rise in 2023?

Investing in stocks is a great option to expand your trading venture by buying shares of companies that are doing well in their domain. If you are just starting your venture, then it may seem difficult. But as time passes, you will learn more about managing your stocks, tackling the changing market trends, and choosing the best time to make the most profit.

You must accept the losses associated with the trade because there is no trade without loss. The market is volatile and uncertain, and you will hardly sell the stock at the price you bought. There will be times when you’ll bag in huge profits, and there will be moments when you will face significant losses. The best way to counter that loss is to set up a Stop Loss Order. It will help you estimate the amount of loss and then set your budget accordingly. 

The stock market saw a great decline in 2022, and people are becoming reluctant to invest in stocks. But most investors, those who are experienced, have set their 2022 records aside and are focusing on the upcoming year. They are determined to make changes in their budgets, goals, and schedules according to the loss they faced this year and make a better comeback. Many predict that the stock market will rise after this rough year, but it is just a mere expectation. We may never know what will happen, but that doesn’t mean we run away from investments and let inflation inhale us in one go. 

It is best to learn the market trends and find a way to profit despite the falling market. You can do that by using online platforms like crypto profit and also opt for simulation trading to get an idea of how the marketplace works without spending a penny. In this article, we have presented an overview of 2022 to let you decide the circumstances of the stock market and its estimation for 2023.

Overview of 2022

Many factors led to the declining condition of the stock market. Some of them include the Russia-Ukraine war and inflation, which led to uncertainty and abrupt fluctuation in the stock market. Some famous companies like the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Meta Platforms, and the Nasdaq have all gone through their worst annual performances. This is due to the fact that each of the company’s indexes rallied, predicting signs inflation devastatingly peaked. Other companies which are on the lower ranks had to face the consequences too, which shook the market as a whole.

Good News For Some

China has been really restrictive through the pandemic era and long after that because most countries blame China for being the cause of the infamous covid-19. As things are progressing now, China has lifted restrictions off major pandemic policies, which gave the country freedom to work in a better manner. Analysts at JPMorgan, along with Wendy Liu, predict a 10% rising potential for the MSCI China index. This index represents the pool of public companies in China, and there is a good chance that trade will start rising in China after the horrible pandemic.

Final Verdict

As this year has been hard on the stock market, investors have turned over a new leaf and are thinking of strategies and techniques to rise back to the top. The change won’t be sudden, meaning the first quarter of 2023 will still be a mess as it will take time to recover from this year’s damage. But after that, there is an excellent chance that the market will stable down and the stocks will rise again. Bad times don’t stay forever, and the same applies here. So, if you are planning to buy stocks, you should do your complete research in the first quarter of next year and start your investment in the second quarter.

How to Capitalise on the Growing Beauty Industry in 2023

It’s been a difficult few years for the beauty industry. When the UK was plunged into lockdown at the start of the pandemic, salons were forced to close, with many never opening their doors again.

Now, for those salons who have survived the tough times, a new challenge looms. Overall, the UK retail sector is starting to suffer as people’s incomes are squeezed by the rising cost of living. This means many clients will no longer have the expendable income they may have once had to spend on luxuries.

However, the beauty industry as a whole hasn’t yet been hit. In fact, coming out of the pandemic, people are more interested in their appearance and wellness than ever before. Here’s how to capitalise on what’s being referred to as ‘the groom boom’ so that your beauty business can not only survive but thrive in 2023.

Diversify Your Offering

One way to ensure your beauty business thrives in the coming year is to diversify what you can offer your clients. With the rise of male beauty, beauticians need to respond with popular, in-demand treatments such as manicures and pedicures for men, beard treatments, body waxing and tanning. It’s also essential to keep up with the latest beauty trends such as glazed doughnut nails as worn by Hayley Bieber at the 2022 Met Gala, and the copper hair trend as showcased by Kendall Jenner and countless other celebrities this year.

Use Quality Products

During the pandemic, people were forced to do their own hair and beauty treatments at home, and many have continued with this habit long after salons reopened, largely because it is more affordable. This means that when clients do opt for salon-based treatments, they will expect something more than what they could achieve at home.

Ensure that you offer a top-quality salon experience to your clients by using the very best products available and offering luxury touches, such as applying conditioning treatments when using semi-permanent colour to blend greys or adding highlights to enhance the natural shade of your client’s hair.

Personalise Your Service

More so than ever before, people expect tailored experiences in many aspects of life – and beauty is no different. Prove the value of your salon treatments by personalising your services. You could do this by offering skin consultations, individual aftercare courses, and taking time to find out about their lives and the results they are hoping for.

Offer Customer Rewards

As a salon owner, you want to keep your customers coming back for more. Repeat custom is essential in proving your excellence and monetary worth. Reward loyal clients with special discounts to encourage them to book that next appointment. You might want to consider a ‘recommend a friend’ scheme, where existing clients get a discount or free treatment if they refer a new customer to your salon. You could also offer package deals or freebies in exchange for a good review. Retaining a healthy client base will ensure that your salon can survive the cost-of-living crisis and thrive in 2023.

Ways to Help Build Up Wealth

Building wealth is one of the best ways to make sure you can live comfortably later in life. While there are a million and one ways to build up your finances, it’s important not to get overwhelmed by all of them. Everyone has their reasons for doing so whether it’s to retire early, plan for children, or just for peace of mind regarding financial security. In this article, we’ll be covering a few ways to help you build up wealth.

Get Rid of Your Debt

Paying off your credit card bills, and other debts is the first step to building up wealth. Debt is known for putting a huge strain on people’s finances. This is mainly because it can cost you thousands of dollars in interest payments each year. That money could instead be put toward your personal savings or investing. However, one thing that’s worth pointing out is that having some debt is necessary.

You might be asking yourself how you can leverage debt to build wealth and how debt can be helpful in any way. The answer is simple; it helps build up your credit score. Your credit score is what ultimately impacts your ability to purchase a house, finance a personal vehicle, and even buy a house. If your score is too low, you’ll either not be approved for a lot, or just denied until you raise it. To help you manage your debt better, go over your current financial situation and make a strict budget. Cut out any unnecessary expenses, like eating out or buying the first thing that catches your attention. Instead, put that money towards your debt payments until it’s paid off entirely.

Open a High-Yield Savings Account

Opening a savings account is a great way to safely store money every chance you get. That said, you might be wondering why choosing a savings account is important. While they basically have the same premise, there are a few differences. A high-yield savings account accumulates more interest on what you deposit more than a traditional one. This interest increases the amount of money that’s in the account over time. However, there’s another way of going about this. Rather than open this account with a traditional lender, you can instead do it through a lender. Online lenders allow you to shop for personalized rates, so you don’t have to worry about paying too much.

Consider Getting a Side Hustle

Nothing’s more rewarding than building wealth through hard-work and determination. That being said, side hustles are one of the best ways to make extra money. If you don’t have a lot of time, but want to increase your cash flow, this is a great decision to make. The work involved in starting a side hustle varies widely depending on what kind of business venture it is and how much time you can dedicate to it. Some start their own businesses while others sell items or do odd jobs, like walking dogs. You can get a side hustle in just about any niche, so be sure to scour for positions that interest you the most.

Winning Customers for Life – How Your Debt Strategy Must Work Harder for Gen Z

Ian Haddon, COO at ContactEngine

Chastising younger generations isn’t exactly a new tactic for attracting eyeballs employed by certain sections of the UK and US media. Moral panics against the youth are almost as old as the press itself. However, there is an extra level of cynicism now when older columnists and media figures swing at Gen Z.

For older members of that generation (18-24s – the youngest are still 10, remember), the first news story they’ll likely recall was the all-but complete meltdown of the global economy in 2008/9, not to mention the hours of footage of polar ice sheets cascading into the ocean. Through their teen years, they came to understand politics through anger, extremes, and zero-tolerance approaches. Then, as they came into adulthood and prepared to move into university or the world of work, their careers became collateral damage in the decision to fight coronavirus with lockdowns.

Their careers and education have been delayed, for some irreversibly. But as they now head into the workplace, fears of global recession with a chaser of the not-so-distant threat of global conflict is leaving Gen Z with some of the responsibility of debt that wasn’t really theirs.

Gen Zs have a complex relationship with debt already. In the UK, two in five 18-24s owe debts of nearly £3,000 (on top of student loans), with 37% having no plan to pay debts back. 42% of 16–24-year-olds used buy-now-pay-later services in 2021, of which nearly six in 10 used them to buy new clothes, with half using it to buy technology. The scale of the issue is even more dramatic in the US. 18–23-year-olds have an average of $16,000 in debt and had the highest debt growth of any generation between 2019 and 2020.

Compounding this, any job losses that come from the next recession are likely to hit this age group worst of all. As William Lee, chief economist at the Milken Institute, a Santa Barbara, California-based think tank, explained in an interview with MarketWatch: “The Joe Six Pack, who used to be the first guy to be laid off, can be less concerned if he has one of these jobs that are in high demand, like the Amazon warehouse worker, delivery guy, the guy who’s working in the ghost kitchen – the entry-level white-collar guy is going to have to watch out.”

Lee explains this is because businesses have upgraded their models to automate entry-level roles with apps and new technology, reducing this crucial rung in the ladder for young professionals.

For brands, the relationship they have with younger consumers is going to change. You have young adults coming into the market for whom debt defines their lives. They may find themselves in financial difficulty through no real fault of their own. However, their total lifetime value as a customer of yours means that if you’re a telco, energy company or any consumer brand that ever needs to collect debt, you can’t be too heavy handed and push them to the competition. Instead, this generation will need collaboration and flexibility to repay any debts they owe.

This is a radical shift in how companies need to rethink their debt collection strategies and it involves communicating in the right tone and through the right medium.

Let’s start with the right medium. Gen Z and Millennials are not fans of phone calls. Only 15% of 16-to-24-year-olds consider phone calls an important method of communication. It’s not just traditional phone calls. Despite the number of mobile devices increasing, the number of video calls is in fact going down. Phone calls can come off as entitled, they can interrupt what you’re doing, they can be stressful, and they can be time-consuming. In the complex world of debt collection, you do not want your communication to be regarded as any of these things. Young people also view phone calls as inefficient. While it takes less time to say your message rather than write it down, you’re putting the onus on the person you’re calling to keep a note. If you’re trying to reclaim debt, you need to make the process as easy as possible.

Text, WhatsApp and social media messaging – these are the methods young people use. It puts them in control of when they respond and gives them time to reflect on their response. Gartner states that SMS open and response rates can be as high as 98% and 45%, respectively – in contrast to corresponding figures of 20% and 6% for email.

Now for the right tone. It’s not about matching the way Gen Z communicates – we don’t want to see any emojis when you’re chasing debt, but it’s about respect. By combining AI with big data analytics, you can automate conversations in a way that matches and complements their tone, sending messages at a time that suits them and can offer a solution and repayment plan that is logged in a way that they will remember.

Crucially, we know this works. 73% of customers in late delinquency acted when contacted via a digital channel. If you scale that by the total number of Gen Z customers who may wind up owing you money in the coming months and years, these success levels are not to be ignored. If done the right way, you can get the money back and keep them with you as a loyal customer as they grow and, hopefully, become more financially stable.

The upcoming generation deserves a chance. They don’t need to be chastised, threatened, or lectured, but instead engaged in a mature, approachable, and professional way. The debt from this generation can’t be viewed from the perspective of bad debt totalled up with reckless spending by people who have no intention to pay. Most people want to do the right thing. If you truly value your customers, and you want your business to be a force for good in the long-term, then using AI to provide more ‘human’ solutions to debt is a crucial component.

How Office Layout and Design Impact Business Success

There’s no denying that many factors contribute to the success or failure of a business. Hopeful entrepreneurs, founders, and CEOs must evaluate everything from the quality of their products and services to financial management and customer experience. While exploring these aspects is essential, many overlook the importance of the layout and design of office space. Whether you’re a freelancer or the owner of a startup, your work environment has a substantial impact on your success. 

The office is where you (and your team) spend most of your day. For some businesses, it’s the place where they interact with clients or customers. When your office isn’t set up in a manner that’s conducive to your needs, it limits your ability to generate profits. Still not convinced? Continue reading to learn more. 

Workflow And Productivity

The layout and condition of your office directly impact workflow and productivity. When your work environment is disorganised, outdated, or ill-equipped, it increases the risk of error, slows performance, and weakens the quality of your products and services. 

An office with a poorly structured layout causes interruptions in your workflow, which wastes time. Cluttered and cramped spaces heighten the potential for injuries and increase the likelihood of making mistakes like misplacing pertinent documents. Lastly, a poorly designed office can alter your mood and create discomforts that reduce your motivation to perform well. 

Health And Wellness

You can have a great business idea, exceptional skills, extensive experience, and the best intentions, but it won’t come to pass if your health and wellness are compromised. While adopting a healthy lifestyle is a substantial part of the equation, you must also consider the health and safety of your work environment. 

Your work environment can have a negative impact on your performance and productivity. If you operate in a space that’s unkempt, hazardous, uninviting, or uninspiring, it dampens your mood and increases your risk of injury. When workplace morale is low, and team member injuries are high, it weakens the customer experience, consequently lowering your profits. 

Reputation And Customer Experience

Reputation and customer experience are essential to an organisation’s success. Modern-day consumers prefer to do business with brands that have a positive reputation in their industry and prioritise the needs of their target audience. Though there are various aspects to consider when developing your reputation and customer experience, your office layout, and design plays a significant role. 

Let’s say you’re an attorney who recently started a private practice. Your law office layout and design can assist or hurt your organisational goals. If your law office floor plan doesn’t include efficient space for completing daily assignments, collaborating with your team, and meeting with clients, you could give off an unprofessional impression that causes potential clients to look elsewhere for legal assistance. 

Invest In Your Office Space

Suppose your current office space hinders your workflow and productivity, compromises your health and wellness, weakens your reputation, or provides an inadequate customer experience. In that case, it’s time to make some essential changes. Fortunately, you can make significant improvements no matter what your budget size.

Start by identifying the primary purpose and function of your office. Identify daily and essential tasks and the necessary supplies and equipment to complete them most efficiently. Experiment with the layout. Purchase new furniture, technology, and accessories as needed. If necessary, consider relocating your office if you need more space for your team or easier accessibility for your target audience.

Next, consider the health and wellness of yourself and your team. Ensure that your office is thoroughly cleaned and organised. Incorporate wellness elements like plants, natural lighting, aromatherapy diffusers, easy-listening music, and more. 

Lastly, add elements of creativity that align with your brand’s image and evoke positive emotions. Choose unique wall colours, add artwork and décor items, and encourage your team to personalise their workstations (within reason). 

There are a ton of reasons why businesses succeed or fail. While evaluating and planning for each of these areas is essential, you mustn’t overlook the importance of a well-structured and designed office. As your work environment can impact your productivity, well-being, and image, you should use the above advice to make changes that increase your chances of success.

9 Factors to Consider When Renovating Your Office

When it comes to renovating your office building, there are multiple factors to consider. While most people think about the modern new details, there are more steps to plan for that aren’t always at the forefront of a project. There are many details involved in making sure a renovation is successful and doesn’t turn into an expensive mess. Below we’ve listed some of these factors:

Overall Cost

The overall cost of your office renovation is also a major factor to consider. You will have to pay for the renovations themselves, as well as moving out and moving back in, new furniture and equipment if needed, IT or HVAC upgrades, and even new carpeting or paint. The cost of these items will depend on what you decide to do with your office space—for example, painting a room from white to yellow can be done relatively cheaply but adding an entirely new flooring system will cost significantly more money than simply repainting the walls.

How You’ll Haul Off Trash

Ripping out walls, old carpets, and even wiring means you’ll need site services to haul everything off. They can not only provide a dumpster but can also bring porta-potties, and other important construction site items.

Loss of Productivity

Some renovations are as simple as putting in new carpets and paint over a weekend or displacing one team at a time. Others are more extensive and could mean that your employees would need to work from home or another location while the renovations are completed. If your employees are unable to work, you will lose money. This can include equipment downtime as well as staff being distracted by noise or the mess created during construction.

What Your Goals Are For Renovating

Before you begin renovating your office, it’s important to know what your goals are. Whether they’re related to aesthetics or functionality, these goals will help you sift through the information you’ll receive from contractors and designers. It also can inform whether you put up new glass walls, leave everything open, or opt for private cubicles.

Acoustics

Acoustics are extremely important to the overall work environment. If your office is too noisy, it can create a distraction for employees and make it difficult for them to concentrate on their work. The acoustics of an office can also affect employee morale, which makes it important that you consider improving the sound quality in your workspace.

A couple of ways you can improve your building’s acoustics include installing soundproofing materials around walls or floors where loud noises like footsteps occur. You can also add more vertical space between ceiling panels so they aren’t as close together.

HVAC Needs

Part of creating a safe work environment includes heating and cooling the space effectively. The best way to get started is by checking local building codes or zoning requirements for the location where your office will be located. You’ll need a permit before beginning renovations as well. Get quotes from more than one HVAC company and check their credentials before you invest in this upgrade.

IT and Equipment Needs

IT infrastructure is an important thing to consider when renovating your office building. You want to be sure that your internet and intranet can handle the traffic on a daily basis. Additionally, you’ll need to consider what kinds of desks and chairs to get to ensure that everyone has enough space to do their work.

What You’ll do With Old Furniture

When you’re done with your old furniture, consider donating it to charity. Alternatively, consider selling it on Craigslist or eBay. If you want to go the recycling route, know that most cities have a place where you can take items for recycling—be sure to check with your local government about this first. You can trash items that are no longer in good working condition, just check that they aren’t going to harm the environment by leaking toxins if you do.

Consider the Budget

The most important thing when renovating your office is budget. Budgeting for the renovation process takes some time. Sit down and consider how much money is tied up in your current space—such as rent or mortgage payments—and what kind of return on investment (ROI) you want from your business operations. Then list all potential projects that could benefit from a renovation, along with their estimated costs. Once you determine how a renovation can improve operations, you’ll be able to make better financial decisions.

How To Save Yourself From Becoming A Potential Victim Of A Car Insurance Scam?

Vehicle theft and damage insurance is an important aspect of risk management. The first hundred miles are the easiest to avoid problems, but it’s easy to get into difficulty if you’re not vigilant.

Fortunately, there are a variety of groups that aim to identify and report financial crimes. It will be more difficult for a fraudster to use insurance fraud against you if you have knowledge of how they operate.

Vehicle insurance frauds are a major source of anxiety. Both your independence and your bank account can take a knock if your car is written off or if you find out after an incident that your insurance is fake.

Alerting The Insurance Agent

Talk to both your insurer and the state insurance department about your concerns. If you provide enough evidence, they may open an investigation.

It’s crucial that you inform the insurance provider of your suspicions at this point. They are the individuals who will assist pay for your losses, therefore it’s in their best interest to know the details as quickly as possible so they can get to work fixing the situation.

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Find out from the agent how to get your money back if you have to rent a car or have to replace costly safety equipment like child safety seats.

Documenting Everything

Collect evidence to back up your story by keeping meticulous documents. Established a filing cabinet in your house to store crucial information regarding your car. Always keep the following documents locked away:

  • Coverage under your insurance
  • Documentation of Insurance Premium Payments
  • Receipts and quotes from local mechanics
  • Documentation of an automobile crash involving your vehicle, including notes and photographs

If you can obtain one, a copy of the police report detailing the details of the accident.

Your ability to demonstrate unethical or criminal behaviour may hinge on your records, which could be affected by your concerns about an insurance provider, mechanic, or accident.

Reporting the Scam

Several groups, including the NAIC and also the NICB, gather reports of fraud.

You may be able to take legal action against the scam artist depending on the losses you’ve incurred and the evidence you’ve gathered. But before you rush into a lawsuit, you should discuss your options with an attorney to determine if it’s worth your time and money.

There may be a basis for a civil complaint if you cause an accident that results in injuries and you do not have insurance (because of agent fraud).

The Bottom Line

Con artists may prey on members of vulnerable populations more frequently if they believe they can frighten those members into giving up personal information. Fraudsters and con artists will also try to get in touch with anyone who can assist them make more money. Women, the elderly, those driving large trucks or buses, and those with expensive cars are all prime targets for criminals.

Just because you identify with any or all of these categories does not make you more vulnerable to victimisation. Keeping alert and following safety steps might prevent falling for a scam.

How Can Businesses Attain An Immaculate Financial System?

For a company to thrive and expand, sound financial management is essential. To reach one’s business goals, one must engage in careful financial planning, organization, control, and monitoring.

Financial management that is up to snuff will help your company meet its obligations to its stakeholders, stay ahead of the competition, and secure its future.

Managing your company’s finances should become an integral element of your core operations, and you should factor it into your continuing strategy.

Though your personal finances may seem daunting and difficult to manage, the following ten suggestions can help.

Business Plan

With the help of a business plan, you may map out your current situation and your desired future state in detail.

See creating a business plan step-by-step for further information on how to organize this section of your strategy.

Financial Position

Keep tabs on how things are going with your company on a consistent basis. It’s crucial to keep track of everyday financials, including cash on hand, sales, and inventory levels.

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Make Sure Consumers Are Paying On Time

Negative consequences might arise for businesses when customers are late with payments. Making your credit terms of service clear upfront might help limit the possibility of payments being made late or not at all.

Invoices that are easy to understand and correct should be issued promptly. If you want to make sure your clients pay you on time, using an automated credit risk management system is a good idea.

Day-To-Day Costs

The success of any business is threatened if normal operating expenditures (such as rent, utilities, and employees) exceed available cash.

If you want to keep your firm afloat, you need to know how much money you have on hand at any one time and stick to that number.

Accounting Records

Keeping your books in order will prevent you from losing money due to late payments from customers or forgetting to make payments to vendors.

See accounting and managerial accounts for further information on the benefits of keeping meticulous records of your business’s expenditures, debts, and creditors, as well as on how to ask for extra funding and how to cut down on accounting time and fees.

Tax Deadlines

Punishments in the form of fines and interest may be imposed for those who fail to submit tax returns or make required payments by the due dates. These are extra expenditures that can be prevented with forethought.

By maintaining precise records, a company may save both time and money while being assured that it is only forking out the appropriate amount of taxation.

Wrapping It Up

It’s never pleasant to deal with money issues as a corporation, but you should get professional guidance as quickly as feasible you deal with them before they become insurmountable.

You can lessen the blow by taking preventative measures, such as paying off high-interest debts first and figuring out how to better manage your cash flow (for more, see Business debt: assistance and guidance).

What Is The Best Way To Profit From Gold Investments?

Gold is a valuable and rare metal prized by civilisations since ancient times. It’s used in jewellery, coins, currency, and various industries. It can also act as an investment hedge against inflation, market volatility, and currency devaluation as it maintains its value even when other investments decline.

Profiting From Various Gold Investments

Investments in gold may include buying physical gold, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), or futures contracts. Each kind offers advantages for investors.

1. Physical Gold

When people think of investing in gold, they often picture buying physical gold such as coins, jewellery, or bullion (gold bars).

Gold bars are a good investment as they’re generally 99.9% or 999.9% pure gold. However, this may be a downside as they can be costly too. An ounce of gold costs more than USD$1,700 as of this writing. As they’re also in bars, they’re indivisible and may be impossible to sell in small parts.

And they may be stolen, which means they require a space to be stored in. If you’re wondering about the best way to keep your gold bars safe, the good news is there are many ways to store your precious metals.

On the bright side, the best way to profit from them is to sell them for a higher price at the right time. Hence, it’s essential to be aware of the fluctuations in gold prices, global financial markets, and the political and economic climate. As gold is dollar-denominated, it tends to rise with inflation, which means it can be very profitable over time.

  • Gold Coins

Gold coins are small, round gold minted by nations or private companies and stamped with their manufacturer’s mark. American Eagles, Australian Kangaroos, and Austrian Philharmonics are some common gold coins. 

Many believe that they’re more liquid than gold bars as they can be sold in small increments too. Additionally, they tend to hold their value better than other forms of physical gold since they have a numismatic (collectible) value. This means that a gold coin may be worth more than its gold content due to its popularity and rarity.

Thus, researching a gold coin before investing in it maybe a worthwhile thing to maximize profits.

  • Gold Jewellery

Gold jewellery are rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings made from gold. You’ll usually find them in stores in 14-karat, although some are made from pure 24-karat gold.

As an investment, gold jewellery may not be worth its full retail price when it’s time to resell. Therefore, choosing pieces that hold their value over time is vital. It’s also noteworthy to choose those that have great craftsmanship. Lastly, buying from reputable jewellery stores will help ensure that the gold jewellery you purchase is authentic.

Investing in these three forms of physical gold comes with various tax rules. Thus, learning about these rules can also help you to make the most profits out of them.

2. Gold Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

Gold ETFs are another popular gold investment. They provide diversification and liquidity as they can be bought and sold like stocks. Nonetheless, they still come with certain risks, such as counterparty risk, management fees, and market volatility. 

To make the most out of your gold ETFs, there are many tips to consider. Some of them are listed below.

  • Research the fund’s management team and track record;
  • Monitor the performance of gold prices periodically;
  • Understand the tax implications of investing in gold ETFs;
  • Set reasonable expectations for your return on investment; and
  • Consider investing in multiple gold ETFs for diversification.

If you still have doubts if it’s safe to invest in gold whether in its physical or dematerialised form, read this article on why you should.

3. Futures Contract

A futures contract is a legal agreement between two parties to buy or sell an asset at a fixed price in the future. This gold investment is prevalent among traders and investors because it offers the potential for profits regardless of market conditions.

When investing in gold futures, here are some steps you can follow:

  • Ask financial advisors and research the market. 
  • Ensure that you’re familiar with the rules and regulations of the futures exchange you’re trading on.
  • Set realistic expectations for your investment.
  • Invest in gold futures with money you can afford to lose.

Conclusion

No matter which form of gold investing you choose, it’s essential to do your research and consult with an expert before making any decisions. Gold investments are affected by various factors and by understanding them, you can make informed decisions and maximise your returns.

How the Workplace You Choose for Your Company Could Help it to Make Financial Savings

If you run a business and are trying to save money on your corporate operations, you could be motivated by economic factors or simply a desire to give yourself a financial edge.

Ultimately, though, whatever your reasons for seeking to cut corporate costs, you might not have realised how many of those savings can be made just with your choice of workplace for the company.

Here are five examples of how, by being selective with where your business is based, you can effectively trim its expenditure.

You can avoid using a larger workspace than you need 

The job listings website Indeed advises: “Consider a survey to gather feedback on office and break areas.” You could find that certain amenities at your workplace aren’t used quite as often as you had assumed.

Therefore, you might be able to save money by scaling down underused amenities at your workplace. 

Alternatively, if you originally started renting your current office on the basis of how many workers you had at the time, it is possible that your employee count has since shrunk and would consequently justify your business shifting to a smaller office with lower rental costs.

You can consolidate costs by moving to a serviced office

What exactly is a serviced office? The Startups. website explains that this kind of office is “a workspace which comes ready-furnished, with internet and phone lines pre-connected and devices already equipped.” 

Since various amenities included with a serviced office can all be covered by just one monthly rental fee, simply switching to a serviced office could make it easier for your business to budget.

You can avoid making a long-term commitment to a specific office 

One of the major advantages of going for a serviced office is that it could be available through an appreciably more flexible lease arrangement than is usually available with a conventional office. 

While renting the latter could require you to make a year-long commitment to it, most serviced offices can be rented for as short a duration as a month, week or day.

There’s the option of a flexible workspace 

What makes a workspace ‘flexible’? Basically, if it is capable of facilitating flexible working — but what is ‘flexible working’?

Citizens Advice succinctly reveals that this term is used for “any type of working pattern which is different from your existing one.” Good examples of flexible working practices include working part-time hours or from home.

If your business enforced flexible working during the pandemic, you could continue offering flexible working options — and possibly be able to reduce your overheads as a result.

Some workplaces represent better value than others 

Certain offices might be dauntingly expensive to rent largely because they are sited in central, bustling places. However, if your particular business doesn’t hugely depend on in-person meetings, you might not need your office to be in such a location.

Your company might not suffer from relocating to a more secluded and less expensive office if, say, your corporate objectives are primarily focused on online commerce.

Things to Do After Getting a Stable Job That Pays Well

Not everyone is lucky to get a stable job. It takes years for some people to find the perfect job. Sometimes, people find a job they’re happy with but doesn’t pay well. It’s the opposite for others. When you finally find the right one, make the most of it. Start by straightening up your finances. You already have a well-paying job, so you can’t waste the opportunity.

Learn to budget

You might be overwhelmed since you’re getting a lot more during payday. It doesn’t mean you will spend the excess on whatever you want. It’s crucial to learn how to budget. Make sure you only spend on your needs. Prioritise the payment of bills and loans. If there’s anything left, put it in your emergency fund. Your lifestyle shouldn’t change just because you’re earning more.

If you’re from London and need help with budgeting, work with London-based accountants. They will make the job easier. These experts understand your needs and will help simplify the process.

Boost your savings

Always prioritise your savings. It’s even better to set aside an amount for savings first each month before you deal with the rest. Then, there’s an assurance that you won’t waste your paycheck on things you don’t need. If you put the savings in the end, you might forget to do it.

Determinenhow to increase your retirement funds

Check how you can increase your retirement fund. Determine if your company offers a scheme where you contribute to the fund, and they do the same. The good thing is you will barely feel it. The amount immediately gets deducted from your paycheck. It will continue to grow until you have enough during your retirement.

Never rely on loans anymore

You already have a good paycheck. Don’t rely on loans anymore. Taking out loans was an option before since you barely made ends meet. Since you already have sufficient funds, loans must not be your go-to fund source. If you still feel tempted to take out loans, there’s something wrong with your budgeting. Change it as soon as possible.

Apart from not getting more loans, you must also repay your old loans. The charges will keep rolling until you pay the amount in full. Face your creditors and find ways to make the repayment more convenient.

Never change your lifestyle

Just because you’re already getting paid higher monthly doesn’t mean your lifestyle will also change. Sure, you can plan a trip once in a while, but it shouldn’t be frequent. Continue buying affordable plane tickets instead of getting business class. You should also avoid luxury brands even if you can afford them. You work hard not to impress other people. You do it to be more financially stable and to provide for your family’s needs. Be smart in using your money.

Apart from handling your finances well, don’t forget to perform at your best. You must keep your job since you rely on it.

Higher Bond Yields Can Be Fundamental to a Recession Investing Playbook

How we’re thinking about investing against a backdrop of inflation uncertainty, geopolitical tension, and likely recession.

By Marc Seidner, CIO Non-traditional Strategies at PIMCO

Investors who have already endured one of the most challenging years ever must now confront the question of how to invest when the U.S. and other major economies may be headed toward a recession. While financial market volatility is likely to persist, we believe the case for bonds is stronger than it has been in years, bolstered by significantly higher starting yields and bonds’ strong track record during economic downturns.

Bond yields have risen sharply in 2022 as the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks have hiked interest rates in an effort to tame inflation. Historically, starting yields have had a powerful correlation with bond returns, and today’s yields may offer investors both improved opportunities for income generation as well as greater downside cushion. The especially pronounced rise in shorter-dated bond yields means investors can find attractive coupons without taking on the greater interest rate risk inherent in longer-duration bonds.

Amid the current environment of inflation uncertainty, geopolitical risk, and potential economic contraction, we explore some reasons why bonds could offer better value compared with equities or cash.

1) Recession appears likely

A recession involves a significant, widespread decline in economic activity that lasts more than a few months, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Recessions are typically characterized by decreases in productivity, business profitability, and spending by both businesses and consumers, with the latter notable given consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), according to Fed data. (For details, please see our recent publication, “Recessions: What Investors Need to Know.”)

As the Fed, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of England continue to pursue contractionary monetary policy, we now view a shallow, mild-to-moderate recession as our base case in the U.S. and other large developed markets such as the euro area and the U.K. There is risk that these downturns could be steeper.

The first half of a recession is typically marked by a decline in economic activity from a late-cycle peak. During this phase, core bond returns (i.e., U.S. Treasuries and investment grade securities) have historically been positive, while returns for high yield bonds, equities, and commodities have typically been negative.

2) Outlook for equities is uncertain

Following losses in 2022, major stock indices may face further difficulties into next year if early recessionary headwinds gather force, as illustrated in the chart above. Continued concerns about inflation, and whether policy tightening may lead to or accelerate a downturn, could challenge equity markets in the coming months, with potential downside risks to corporate earnings estimates and margin expectations. We still see downside risk to the S&P 500 and other key equity indices from current levels (for more on our views on equities, see our latest Asset Allocation Outlook, “Risk-Off, Yield-On”).

3) Improved opportunities in bonds

While the outlook for other investments appears clouded, bonds look more attractive than they have in years, especially for income-seeking investors, given the broad repricing in 2022.

For example, the yield on the two-year U.S. Treasury note, which was just above 0.7% at the start of 2022, was about 4.5% in late November. That creates an incentive to stay invested in the market, and a platform to seek attractive income even in low-risk, short-dated government bonds.

Investors can then look to augment that yield – without taking on substantial credit or interest rate risk – by venturing into other high-quality areas of public fixed income markets. Sectors that we currently find attractive include municipal bonds (specifically for U.S. investors), U.S. agency mortgage-backed securities, and the debt of banks and companies with strong investment grade credit ratings. U.S. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) also offer a means of hedging against inflationary risks. Other areas we like include structured credit, which in some cases has been trading at historically cheap levels, and short-dated credit, which may offer attractive all-in yields.

Although yields could still rise further, we think the steepest part of the increase may be behind us. Bonds are poised to offer increasingly attractive real – or inflation-adjusted – yields if central banks are able to get inflation back closer to their target levels over the next couple of years. Furthermore, bonds may reassert their traditional role as a source of portfolio diversification if a slowing economy causes equities to slump, potentially smoothing the ride for investors.

We still expect volatility to persist across markets through year-end and potentially into 2023. But with the attractive valuations and higher yields available across fixed income sectors today, investors who have been struggling just to play defense this year may have increasing cause for optimism.

4 Strategies Companies Use To Maximise Wealth

Businesses, like individuals, maximise their wealth through wise investment and productivity. In this regard, it seems all shareholders need a satisfactory rate of return on their investment while also having it adequately safeguarded. As a crucial factor in every business, wealth maximisation caters to these objectives. Therefore, to optimise the price of a company’s common stock, businesses must evaluate the risks and time associated with the predicted earnings per share. If properly executed, the company will have maximized its stockholders’ capital gains and future dividend streams. It’s worth noting that a company that maximises its profits ensures its long-term survival.

Risks are an inevitable part of any business operation. Although it’s impossible to eliminate, it can be addressed by careful management to prevent financial loss. Remember that wealth creation can only occur when financial risks are identified and handled correctly. That’s why investing in the best CFO consulting services is crucial to help you organize your company’s finances.

That said, here are common strategies used by companies to maximise wealth:

1. Build Credit

Credit can be an invaluable tool to build wealth if utilised well. You can leverage a good credit score to negotiate favourable interest rates and access to higher funding. Typically, planned intentional borrowing can enhance a company’s reputation when the company requires funds. You can use it to access more significant amounts at competitive interest rates from lenders. In addition, companies with good credit scores can use their access to higher capital to finance a larger expansion, enabling them to create more wealth. For instance, a company with a good credit score can be funded by a bank to purchase a property. Due to the favourable repayment terms, the company can return the loan in instalments. When they repay the loan, the property will have appreciated beyond the investment value.

Remember that by paying due accounts on time and having a reasonable number of open accounts are guaranteed ways to boost your company’s credit limits and score.

2. Maximise Investments

Wealth maximisation requires strategic planning. Companies owe their shareholders a duty to act in their best interests regarding their investments, regardless of whether the company is family-owned or not. Remember that protecting wealth is equally important as making it. In a family-owned business, there should always be a family wealth plan to ensure that the business continues even after its founders are gone. 

Most businesses’ long-term investments are in low-risk, conservative assets, such as mutual funds, real estate, and insurance products. One of the ways investment organizations maximise income is by investing in real estate investment trusts (REITs), where units invested are represented by shares. REITs enable companies to increase their cash flow while diversifying risk.

3. Use Retained Earnings

Companies use retained earnings to fund their growth. Since the money being spent is already earned, it doesn’t add to their debt or reduce profits through interest payments. Funding growth through this strategy enables companies to be in total control when deciding how much will be invested in growth activities. This way, they get to grow their investment portfolio, which in turn benefits their shareholders.

Putting a percentage of retained revenues into interest-bearing accounts is a time-honoured method for corporations to increase their wealth. It’s uncommon for firms to have idle funds. They invest a portion of their revenues in interest-bearing accounts that grow progressively over time.

4. Increase Shareholders’ Wealth

One of the main goals of a company is to increase its shareholders’ wealth. An increase in share price directly affects a company’s positioning, strategy, growth, and profits. As the stock prices rise, the company’s value increases, and so does the shareholders’ wealth. While some shareholders seek to profit from the timely sale of their stocks, others choose to hold them for the long term and receive dividends.

To achieve these objectives for their shareholders, business uses critical investment metrics that enable them to make informed investment decisions. These metrics enable them to invest wisely, thus raising earnings per share, boosting stock values, and increasing dividend payments.

Conclusion

Wealth management is not only about managing money; it also involves strategic planning. A company can only maximise its wealth if it performs a thorough analysis of the cash flows connected with future investments to ensure that it invests wisely.

To maximise wealth, businesses invest in projects with high investment return potential. This is beneficial to the shareholders and also increases the company’s resources. Even though you may not immediately realise benefits, sound management decisions guarantee positive returns.

Revealed: Top 3 Types Of Businesses To Start In The UK – The 2nd Country With The Most Bankruptcies Worldwide

Add to that a bleak economic outlook, and it becomes apparent why starting a business in the UK is risky.

However, not all is doom and gloom.

In 2022, the market size of the private equity industry was expected to grow by 7.1 per cent, reaching nearly 3.2 billion British pounds. An emerging and continually growing market has increased opportunities for businesses that aim to sell.

Therefore, it’s essential to note which types of businesses have a higher potential for success and can prove lucrative when “selling equity to the highest bidder” in the long run.

Here, Gareth Smythe, the CEO and founder of Hilton Smythe – one of the foremost and award-winning business brokering companies in the UK; has highlighted 3 types of businesses for serial entrepreneurs to start in the UK.

1- Managed Service Provider (MSP) businesses are always ideally placed in terms of value-building and “saleability”. This is because they have large potential for significant recurring and contracted revenue. They are generally positioned in a clearly-defined niche – for example, in data science, cloud engineering, cybersecurity or hardware development – that requires specialist expertise and a unique product. In other words, significant barriers to entry render businesses within the MSP sector particularly valuable.

2- Specialist recruitment businesses also sell conveniently and generate much interest from prospective purchasers. A partial explanation for this is that recruitment is a saturated market. Therefore, other businesses within the sector will always seek out strategic acquisitions for their growth interests and market share. Moreover, recruitment businesses often prove resilient in the face of economic changes – an important consideration considering the recent turmoil of Brexit, Covid-19 and the impending recession – because businesses will always need staff.

3- E-commerce businesses that manufacture their own products also prove popular with prospective purchasers: such businesses keep expenses low, enable greater control over the shape of the business, and offer the potential to build something unique. The result is excellent profits and greater growth potential. At Hilton Smythe, for example, we have recently brought to the market an e-commerce timber supplies business and an e-commerce company selling unique personalised digital products, both of which have achieved some impressive financial milestones and which look set to generate much interest.

Ultimately, when it comes to value-building, entrepreneurs should think about establishing recurring revenue streams for their business, diversifying their client base, and building a skilled and experienced team that can run day-to-day business operations independently of themselves. Most importantly, the focus should be on identifying and promoting the business’ competitive advantage.

While indeed not every budding entrepreneur would find these businesses a cup of their tea, for those with the right combination of skills and expertise and adequate funding, either of these could be the answer to a question most individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset often ask themselves:  “What business should I start?”

5 Tips For Registering A Business Trademark

A business trademark is an important addition to any business. It aims to protect a business’s identity and how the public knows it. Customers can recognize you through your logo, catchy phrase, or other aspects. These are the items to trademark.

The trademark ensures no other business uses the same logo or phrase for their operations. However, for this to be possible, you must register the trademark with the relevant body in your state. How will you do this? It’s a question you might ask; put your worries aside. This article gives insight into business trademark registration.

Here are some tips to adopt:

1. File For A Statement Of Use

Successfully registering your business trademark isn’t enough. You must start using it as soon as it’s registered. Regarding this, most states will require you to file a statement of use document. What is a trademark statement of use?

The document proves that you are using your registered trademark. The body will require proof of its use on your product or service. Be sure to file this document, providing the needed documentation within the given timeframe. Most bodies will require this statement within six months of issuing you a notice of allowance.

A notice of allowance informs you of the success of your business trademark registration.

2. Do Your Research

When making business decisions, knowing all there is about the prospect is always advisable. It’s the same approach you should adopt when registering a business trademark. 

You should learn about business trademarking. Knowledge is power; the information you get from the research will ensure you get the process right on the first attempt.

Please use online sources to find out what the registering body requires of your trademark. For instance, some require that it be free of abusive language or illustration, surname, and neither should it be descriptive. These sources will also help you find out if your chosen logo or phrase is trademarked.

It’ll also be an added advantage if you discover what makes these bodies reject applications. Is it spelling errors in the trademark, leaving blanks in the form, or delays in submitting the documents? 

With all this information, you have a checklist to verify your application. You’ll have better chances than the party without such insight.

3. Take Care Of Your Trademark

Getting a business trademark is commendable, and you should protect it to ensure no other party tries to use it for their brand. These are possibilities that have happened; hence, the need to be wary.

You’ll protect your trademark by closely monitoring other businesses’ activities. The aim is to look out for brands that are using your exact trademark or something closer that could cause confusion to customers. If you identify such a business, proceed with legal action against them.

It’s important to acknowledge that active monitoring can be challenging for a business owner. You have more important things to handle to keep your operations running. Therefore, consider hiring somebody to handle this aspect for you.

4. Act Faster

Thousands of businesses apply for trademark registration every day. Among these, what’s the probability of another business wanting to trademark a phrase or logo similar to yours? The probability is quite high, hence the need to act faster.

Suppose a business wants to trademark your ideal logo, and they submit the documents ahead of you. The registering body will reject your application, taking you back to square one of designing another logo.

Consider registering your business trademark as soon as you open shop, be it an e-commerce or a physical business.

5. Take Note Of The Dates

Business trademark registration is a continuous journey that you’ll need to take as long as you plan to use your trademark in the long run. In most states, other documentation follows registration. 

Some of the documents are mentioned earlier; the statement of use and notice of allowance. The other document touches on the renewal of the business trademark. 

The filing of these documents is based on a time frame. Should you file the document a day or two late, there’s a high probability you’ll lose your trademark rights. The registering body will give the trademark to another business. However, it’s crucial to point out that some bodies will allow you to request an extension to file the documents. Most will require you to do this before the deadline.

This shows the importance of marking the filing time frames and the day of your trademark registration. Please mark this on your business calendar and set alerts as the day nears; you’re less likely to forget.

Conclusion

This discussion has established that registering a business trademark can and is easy with the right guidance. It has further given tips you should consider adopting to help you with the process. The main take-home is to do your research before filing for registration. It’ll avail all the necessary information for the process.

Is It Time For Retailer Investors to Move Away From Tech Giants?

Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google (FAAMG) represent the most publicly traded technology stocks by market capitalisation. Collectively, FAAMG stocks are worth several trillion dollars and are widely considered market movers due to their value relative to the S&P 500’s total holdings. 

According to Maxim Manturov, Head of Investment Advice at Freedom Finance Europe, technology giants suffer from high-interest rates due to their stocks trading on an expectation of higher returns in the future, which are risks investors are usually unwilling to take in a turbulent economic environment. This includes FAAMG stocks. 

However, in times of heightened volatility, solid opportunities for long-term investors arise as these companies continue to lead the market with steady growth prospects. Crucially, investors must examine how these tech giants fare during soaring inflation and macroeconomic instability.

 

Meta a bet on Mark Zuckerberg 

Meta is undergoing significant business transformation during a challenging macroeconomic period and within a highly competitive market. Mark Zuckerberg’s bet on the Metaverse is one the market does not yet fully understand, leaving Meta as the most rapidly declining stock among big techs. 

Meta reported better-than-expected revenue of $27.7 billion (£22.93bn) in Q3. However, rising operating costs and fluctuations in the currency market led to a significant drop in net profit. While the outlook for Q4 fell short of expectations, the outlook on 2023 costs shocked the market.

Despite the drop in revenue, Meta forecasts 2023 expenses to be $96-101 billion (£79-84bn), a 15% year-on-year increase. Although rising costs are frightening, aggressive investment during the recession could yield solid returns for Meta in 2024 and beyond, should the Metaverse venture prove viable. Meta’s liquidity position looks impeccable – enough to survive an economic downturn – with a net cash balance of around $31 billion (£26bn).

 

Amazon’s quarterly wasn’t terrible

Amazon’s revenue has fallen short of expectations with the cloud business gradually slowing in line with the decrease in the cloud at Alphabet and Microsoft, meaning Amazon Web Services is not losing its share. However, even with this slowdown, the cloud business is still growing at an annualised rate of 28%. 

Meanwhile, growth in the advertising sector accelerated to 30% during the quarter, which is impressive against the backdrop of both Meta and Alphabet YouTube divisions reporting negative growth in advertising revenue. This is an area where Amazon is clearly gaining significant market share. 

The online retail business has returned to growth after three consecutive quarters of contraction due to fierce competition, while the physical shop segment continues to grow steadily. Of course, profit margins are under pressure, and overall revenue growth is slowing. But this is almost entirely dependent on headwinds in the foreign exchange market, which will likely subside in the coming quarters. 

Amazon is still the leader in the cloud industry with consistent growth. It is a share gainer in the ever-growing digital advertising industry, and the giant is still successfully defending its throne in the ever-growing e-commerce business. Despite weak forecasts for the next quarter, there are reasons to remain optimistic about the company’s long-term prospects. Since Amazon’s e-Commerce margins can be boosted by continued revenue growth from its cloud and advertising businesses, the company will benefit from increased market share and lower costs going forward. 

 

Apple remains the king of cash flow

Apple’s report was the brightest in the big-ticket segment and supported the market, given its large capitalisation, proving once again the strength of the business in a challenging macroeconomic environment with record revenue over the past quarter.

The company achieved solid financial results for Q3 of 2022, with revenue of $90.1 billion (£75bn), beating analysts’ forecasts by $1.37 billion (£1.13bn). Product revenue was $71 billion (£59bn), up 9% year-on-year and a record for Q3. This was assisted by the steady increase in iPhone, Mac and services revenue. 

Apple has maintained its status of ‘cash flow king’ with a result of $20.182 billion (£17bn) in September 2022, up 51% year-on-year. Apple also has a strong balance sheet with $48.304 billion (£40bn) in cash. Despite tough economic conditions, the company continues to post good sales, allowing Apple to still be considered a solid long-term investment. 

 

Modest predictions from Microsoft were its downfall

Microsoft’s revenue and profit results surpassed analyst expectations. However, investors were frustrated by the giant’s modest financial forecast which triggered the stock price to fall. Wall Street had expected Microsoft’s revenue forecast for the end of Q4 to be $56.1 billion (£46bn), with the company itself forecasting a deficit across the board and revenue in the range of $52.4-$53.4 billion (£43-44bn) at the end of Q4. 

Nevertheless, Microsoft has a positive future. Its prospects aren’t particularly worrying in the face of short-term headwinds. 

While average estimates now assume revenue growth of around 7% in the 2023 financial year, the market average expects an increase of 14% over the next three years. On the revenue side, average estimates assume growth of just 5% this year, followed by growth and recovery of 17% in fiscal 2024. This is a result of Microsoft creating barriers to entry and its competitive advantage in PC software, enterprise software, social media (LinkedIn), gaming and the cloud. 

 

Hints of advertising market recovery will drive Alphabet stock higher 

Profits at Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube, came in well below expectations in Q3. However, it’s important to remember that Alphabet remains one of the market leaders in advertising, even as the economy weakens. Revenue seems to be falling across its core businesses. For example, Alphabet’s advertising revenue came in at $54.48 billion (£45bn), well below the expected $56.9 billion (£47bn). YouTube advertising revenue fell short of the $7.5 billion (£6.2bn) forecast with a result of $7.07 billion (£6bn). 

Google Cloud’s segment revenue delivered above what was anticipated, with $170 million (£141m) above the expectation of $6.7 billion (£6bn). In any case, Alphabet is primarily an advertising firm and weak results overall could present some headwinds for the stock as it is anticipated that spending on advertising will deteriorate with the economy. 

However, businesses are most likely to advertise on the search engine network than other avenues, providing Alphabet with a strong competitive advantage. Markets are focused on the future, Q3 earnings are already in the past, and any hints of a recovery in the advertising market have the potential to trigger a rebound for Alphabet shares.

Citizenship By Investment: How Does It Work?

There are a few ways a person can obtain citizenship—by birth, marriage, or naturalisation. However, one route that’s not as customary as those mentioned is through investment. This means person has to invest a certain amount of money into a country to obtain citizenship. It’s a popular option for those who wish to live and work in another country, or those who wish to become citizens of a nation with strong economic prospects. Several countries offer citizenship by investment programs, although the requirements and benefits vary.

Some of the best examples include the Nevis and St. Kitts citizenship by investment program, which has been in existence since the 1980s. This has facilitated the growth of the island since investors have injected money to the economy through real estate and donations.

This article, however, gives a general overview of how the citizenship by investment process works, its benefits, and how to get started.

How Citizenship By Investment Works

Citizenship by investment is a program offered by certain countries that allows individuals to obtain citizenship in return for making an economic investment in such nations. There are two main types of citizenship by investment programs:

  1. Investment-Based Programs: The most common way to obtain citizenship by investment is to invest in the country’s economy. You can do this by putting your money into a business, purchasing property, or making a financial contribution to a government fund.
  2. Donation-Based Programs: Under these programs, applicants donate charitably to the government to obtain citizenship.

Each type has its own set of requirements. However, some common prerequisites include:

  • A Minimum Investment

Citizenship by investment programs generally require a certain amount of money in the form of a real estate purchase, investment fund, or business venture. The specific amount required varies from program to program, but ranges from USD$ 500,000 to USD$ 2 million.

  • A Clean Record

In addition to the investment itself, most citizenship by investment programs also require that applicants have a clean criminal record and be of good character. This means that applicants must not have been convicted of any serious crimes and must not be considered a security risk to the country in which they’re applying for citizenship.

  • Financial Stability

Such programs might also require that applicants demonstrate a certain level of financial stability by providing proof of income, assets, or investments. Applicants may also be required to have a certain amount of money in a bank account in their prospective country.

  • Residency Requirements

Finally, most citizenship by investment programs require that applicants meet a residency requirement. This means that applicants must live in the country for a certain period before they’re eligible to apply for citizenship. The specific residency requirements vary from program to program, but typically range from 1 to 5 years.

Citizenship by investment programs vary from country to country; thus, it’s essential that you research the programs available before getting started on investing.

How To Get Started With Citizenship By Investment

The application process usually takes around six months, and, once approved, the applicant will receive a passport from the country concerned.

Here are the steps necessary to obtain citizenship by investment:

Step One: Choose A Country That Offers Citizenship By Investment

Many countries offer citizenship by investment, but not all are equal. When choosing a country, it’s important to consider the benefits you may obtain. Some of the factors to consider are:

  • Economic stability
  • Political stability
  • Quality of life
  • Taxes you’ll be required to pay

When choosing a country for citizenship by investment program, take the above variables into account.

Step Two: Determine If You Qualify

As mentioned, you’ll need to demonstrate that you own a certain amount of wealth and meet other requirements, such as good character. Each program has a different set of criteria, so it’s important to research the available programs to find one for which you’re eligible.

Step Three: Submit The Application

After you’ve established that you’re qualified, you’ll need to apply for citizenship. This will require documentation, such as proof of investment, a passport, and a birth certificate. This is typically done online, and you’ll likely need to pay a processing fee. Once your application has been reviewed and approved, you’ll have to make the investment and pay any associated fees.

Step Four: Attend An Interview

Some programs require an interview as part of the application process. This is an opportunity for you to provide more information about your investment and demonstrate your commitment to the program.

Step Five: Obtain Citizenship

If your application has been approved, you’ll be granted citizenship. You’ll typically receive a certificate of citizenship as proof.

Step Six: Make The Investment

After you’ve officially become a citizen, you’ll need to make the required investment. This can be in the form of a financial contribution or investment in a real estate project. Once the investment has been made, the applicant and their family, including dependents up to 18 years of age, can apply for citizenship.

Step Seven: Renew Your Citizenship

Citizenship by investment programs typically require renewing your investment every few years to maintain your citizenship status. This ensures that you remain committed to the program and continue to meet the requirements.

Benefits Of Citizenship By Investment

Once you’ve obtained citizenship, here are some benefits that follow thereafter:

  • Increased Mobility And Freedom

One of the biggest benefits of citizenship by investment is the increased mobility and freedom that it affords individuals. With a second citizenship, you can obtain a second passport. This is extremely beneficial if you want to live in another country for whatever reasons. This also helps since you can pass down citizenship to your children and the generations to come.

You can also travel more freely worldwide and enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to more countries.

  • Tax Advantages

In some cases, citizenship by investment programs offer preferential tax treatment for foreign investors.

  • Economic Opportunities

Citizenship by investment can provide access to new economic opportunities. You can take advantage of new business and investment opportunities by becoming a citizen of a country with a strong economy.

Such benefits and more are what entice people to obtain citizenship in countries of their choice.

Final Words

Citizenship by investment is an excellent option for those who wish to live and work in another country. The process is simple, and the benefits are numerous. If you’re interested, you should look into the citizenship by investment programs offered by different countries, and choose one that can be advantageous to you and your family. Utilize the information in this article, and you can get started on the path to citizenship by investment.

10 Trends to Make Money in the Pharmaceutical Industry for 2023

The pharmaceutical industry is constantly evolving, with new technologies and treatments being developed all the time. In order to stay ahead of the curve, it is important to be aware of the latest trends in this rapidly-changing field. In this blog post, we will discuss the top 10 trends in the pharmaceutical industry for 2023. Keep reading to learn more!

Pharmaceutical Industry Top Ten Trends

1. Personalised Medicine:

With advances in technology and data analysis, personalized medicine is becoming increasingly popular as a way to tailor treatments specifically for an individual’s needs. This approach helps to provide better outcomes and reduce costs associated with traditional treatments.

2. Technology-Driven Advances:

Technology has been playing a major role in the pharmaceutical industry for some time, and this trend is expected to continue in 2023. From AI-driven drug discovery to blockchain technologies for supply chain management, the possibilities are endless when it comes to using technology to improve pharma products and processes.

3. Advanced Manufacturing:
The pharmaceutical industry has always been heavily reliant on production processes and advanced manufacturing is becoming increasingly important. This includes the use of automated machinery, robotics, and other technologies for faster, safer, and more efficient production of medications.

4. Digitalisation:
The digitalisation of the pharmaceutical industry has been underway for some time but is expected to gain traction in 2023. Through digital platforms such as Electronic Health Records (EHRs), digital marketing, and e-commerce, the industry is streamlining processes and providing a more personalised experience for patients.

5. Patient Engagement:
Patient Recruitment in Clinical Trials has become more challenging in recent years. In response, the industry is placing increased emphasis on patient engagement and retention by creating digital tools and resources for patients. Patient engagement has become increasingly important in recent years and this trend is expected to continue into 2023. By engaging with patients on a deeper level through better communication and improved patient support, the industry can improve outcomes and provide better healthcare experiences.

6. Cost Reduction:
With rising costs associated with medications, cost-reduction measures are becoming increasingly important in the pharmaceutical industry. Through the development of generic drugs and other cost-saving measures, pharmaceutical companies are looking to reduce costs in order to make treatments more accessible to everyone.

7. Improved Regulations:
Regulatory bodies around the world are constantly evolving the rules and regulations governing the pharmaceutical industry, with a focus on improved safety and effectiveness of treatments. Companies must stay up-to-date with these changes in order to remain competitive in 2023.

8. Drug Delivery Systems:
Advances in drug delivery systems are providing new possibilities for administering medications. For example, the use of nanotechnology and other innovative technologies is allowing drugs to be delivered directly to specific areas of the body with improved precision.

9. Generics:
With increased competition, generic versions of existing branded drugs have become increasingly popular as a cost-saving solution. Companies are now focusing on developing generic alternatives to existing treatments in order to provide more affordable options.

10. Vaccines:
Vaccines remain an important part of public health and pharmaceutical companies are continuing to invest heavily in the research and development of new vaccines. By 2023, we may see a number of new vaccines being approved for use, providing more effective and accessible treatments.

The pharmaceutical industry is constantly evolving and these top 10 trends are expected to shape the industry in 2023. By staying up-to-date with the latest developments, companies can remain competitive and provide better healthcare solutions for patients.

More information on these trends can be found by visiting the website of a leading pharmaceutical research firm Cromos Pharma. There you will find detailed analysis, market reports, and more.
Statistics and growth projections for the pharmaceutical industry in 2023:

1. Market Size: According to a report by Grand View Research, the global pharmaceutical market is expected to reach $1.54 trillion by 2023.

2. Growth Rate: The CAGR for the industry in 2020-2023 is estimated to be 4%.

3. Revenues Generated: The pharmaceutical industry is expected to generate $1.2 trillion in revenue in 2023.

4. Number of Jobs: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total number of jobs in the pharmaceutical industry is expected to grow by 5% in 2023.

The pharmaceutical industry continues to display impressive growth and these key stats provide insight into the size and scope of the industry in 2023. With increased focus on research and development, improved regulations, patient engagement, and cost reductions, these trends are expected to drive further growth in the industry over the next few years.

Conclusion

It’s important to keep up with the latest developments in the industry if you want to stay ahead of the curve. By making sure to stay on top of the latest trends and developments, companies in the pharmaceutical industry can ensure that they remain competitive and successful in 2023. With so many changes happening, it’s important to be prepared for what lies ahead. By staying informed, companies can make sure that they are taking advantage of the latest trends and opportunities in the industry.
This article has discussed the top 10 trends for the pharmaceutical industry in 2023. These include digitalization, patient engagement, cost reduction, improved regulations, drug delivery systems, generics, vaccines, and more.
By staying up-to-date with these trends, pharmaceutical companies can provide better healthcare solutions for their patients and remain successful in 2023.

Payments Expert Argues Credit Card Challengers Add to Payments Industry Growth & Maturity

Although Visa and Mastercard have lost the unequivocal leader status as far as payments industry market share is concerned — they are still perceived as ones to beat. Payments industry expert argues that consumers and merchants stand to benefit if payment providers continue to challenge each other to deliver new solutions to market, but only if new offers offer substance

Payment service providers Visa and Mastercard are one of the biggest brands in the payments industry. Merchants and consumers associate them both with high fees, especially in the US market, where both legislative and market challengers are hoping to curtail their duopoly, since the payments processing fees are uncapped like in the EU. However the payments industry is more complex than just the transactions at the check-out counter. It is often overlooked that as a result of influence and pressure from the two card giants, a lot of payments industry innovation was initiated across the globe, especially in cross-border payments and e-commerce.

Frank Breuss, whose local payment Fintech company Nikulipe operates in fast-growing and emerging markets, argues that “killing” credit cards should not be the focus of market challengers and that the presence of diverse industry players in the payments industry is necessary for the payment technology to advance.

An environment that fosters competition

Visa and Mastercard’s payments industry popularity has pushed Fintechs and even governments across the globe to look for alternative payment infrastructures and methods. Most payments solutions, including A2A payments, Online Banking, Pay by Bank and Local Payment Methods were initially introduced as challengers to dominant market players. Since local payment methods are becoming the dominant choice around the world — the narrative is changing slightly, but the sense of challenge is not going away. The good news being that as in any free-market, the competition will always benefit the consumer.

A2A payment innovation

Account-to-Account (A2A) payments move money directly from one account to another without the need for additional intermediaries like in card payments. Even though this technology has been around for many years, mainstream adoption was not possible due to a lack of infrastructure. That’s why for the past 10 years around 80% of Central Banks around the world have invested in building the infrastructure that enables A2A payments. The simple reason being elimination of transactional fees or extra costs. The money travels directly from the account of the customer to the account of the merchant.

“With the goal of eliminating payment processing, assessment, and interchange fees — that only benefit the transaction operator such as Visa or Mastercard, many Fintechs started developing payment solutions with the A2A technology,” explains Mr. Breuss. “Aside from the reduction of transaction fees, such payments offer a more flexible infrastructure as well as accepting and collecting payments faster which benefits both the consumer and the merchant.”

Major ‘pay-by-bank’ and LPM adoption

Close to 59% of Europeans use online banking and ​​this share is constantly increasing and has more than doubled since 2007 when it stood at 25%. Aside from a diversified and competitive market, online banking adoption allows Fintechs to develop innovative Local Payment Method (LPM) solutions for particular countries or regions using Open Banking technology. Solutions such as banklinq, LPM for the Baltic region, benefit the merchants and consumers alike, offering an integrated payment solution that allows consumers to pay via their favourite bank if integrated by a global merchant.

“Open Banking solutions in the form of LPMs benefit both the customer and the merchant. For both parties the fees are significantly reduced, transactions are faster and chargebacks are virtually eliminated for the merchant which is a big issue in e-commerce,” says Frank Breuss. “Furthermore, Fintechs are able to offer a more convenient shopping experience for merchants with enhanced user experience and region-specific aspects such as language or payment options.”

Most recently, banks like JP Morgan have made a strong push for ‘pay-by-bank’ alternative payments processing system, hoping to push out credit card market dominance and escape the threat of “non-banking competitors beating JPMorgan to the punch.”

Credit cards as innovation enablers

Aside from local payment methods gaining adoption over credit and debit cards, the two credit card giants themselves are acknowledging the need for innovation in the payment industry. Both Visa and Mastercard work with fintechs, digital banks, and Fintech enablers across the globe. Both companies run partner accelerator programs and provide Fintech startups guidance and investment to grow their companies. Although the innovation is consolidated as companies who choose to enlist in these programs have to work within the frames and guidelines of Visa & Mastercard. Visa has even launched an initiative to act as a mediator between banks and Fintechs and thus increase their efficiency in cooperation.

“Legacy institutions can also drive innovation. They support startups that create solutions involving money 3.0, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence,” adds Mr. Breuss. “The downside is that innovation is often kept within a controlled environment that is convenient for both Visa and Mastercard. Perhaps Fintech-driven disruption can change this dynamic.”

Levelling the playing field

The discussion on how to balance the dependence between consumers, merchants and the card giants is still developing. Mr. Breuss suggests we don’t try to punish a party who has ushered payment infrastructure stability and facilitates global commerce. “Rather than penalising Visa & Mastercard, we should embrace the free market and all the new technologies or players that are entering it. Whether it’s government subsidies or new legislation, it should be targeted towards fostering more innovation and not limiting one’s activity.” He adds, “I hope credit cards don’t die for the simple reason of ensuring that consumers get the best of both worlds until the best solution within the payments industry will be found and adopted.”

What The Leap In Personal Injury Claims Mean For Small Businesses

It’s no secret that personal injury claims have increased and are becoming a nightmare for small business owners—not just because they’re expensive.

While it’s true that most small businesses don’t have the resources to fight these kinds of claims, understanding them is important, and business owners need to know how these claims affect a business. After all, information is the first step to making informed decisions.

Are you a small business owner who wants to know how much of an impact personal injury claims have on your bottom line? If yes, this post will look at how personal injury claims affect small businesses and what you can do to avoid them in the future.

1. They can create a negative business perception among customers

First, increased personal injury claims are bad news for your business and customers. Here is why

When your customers hear that employees are filing and winning personal injury claims against your business and you’re paying to settle these cases, it can create a negative perception of your business that might make these customers unlikely to shop with you again.

Because business success often boils down to how customers perceive your business, it is important to ensure that you’re properly managing your risks before something happens.

Here are some tips you can use to reduce the odds of workplace accidents—and the resultant claims:

Train your employees—always have safety training sessions scheduled to ensure employees know what to do to stay safe in the workplace. Safety training should be among your topmost investment priorities as a business owner.

Ensure all equipment is well maintained—you wouldn’t take your car out in bad weather just because it looked good, would you? Likewise, ensure that employees work with well-maintained machines, especially those with moving parts.

Keep employees informed about emergencies—ensure they know where the nearest fire extinguisher is and how to use it.

Ensure everyone has access to first aid kits at all times—they’re not expensive!

2. Increased legal spending

As a small business owner, you know that most things you do within your business cost money. When your business has to fight many personal claims, you will spend more on defending your business, which can be very costly, especially when you don’t have an in-house attorney.

Fortunately, you can reduce such instances by being careful about how you manage your employees. Ideally, you want to adopt a managerial style that makes employees happy and satisfied with their work because it can quickly become an expensive problem if you get it wrong.

However, because workplace accidents never announce themselves, you can protect your business against such claims by hiring an on-call personal injury lawyer for your small business if you have any concerns about employee safety or health. A personal injury lawyer will know how to handle all legal issues related to accidents, property damage, and any injuries that may occur on or near your premises.

Additionally, an on-payroll general counsel will also represent your small business in court and offer advice on any legal issues arising from these accidents—such as whether or not it’s worth pursuing an insurance claim or if there are other ways to seek compensation.

3. Increased general liability insurance premiums

A commercial general liability insurance policy is one of the first things you should get when starting your small business. It covers you in case someone gets hurt on your property, including slip-and-falls and car accidents, or gets injured by something you sell. Your general liability insurance policy also protects against lawsuits that result from claims made against your business.

Unfortunately, when many employees file personal injury claims against a business, the insurer can decide to increase the insurance premiums, which can have far-reaching effects on a business and its profitability.

Conclusion

As a small business owner, the last thing you want to worry about is being liable for someone else’s medical bills. Fortunately, as highlighted in this post, you can take action to safeguard your business against the rising cases of personal injury claims.

Wealth & Finance International Reveals the 2022 Winners of the Venture Capital Awards

United Kingdom, 2022 – Wealth & Finance International is delighted to announce the winners of the Venture Capital Awards.

The launch of the Venture Capital Awards is here and we are incredibly excited to present this award supplement to our readers.

With all of the developments in the venture capital industry as of late, we are here to celebrate and commemorate a selection of experts that are altering the current investment markets for the future. Recognising them for all of their hard work has been a great pleasure, as their aptitude and capability propels us forward into a more financially secure period.

Adapting to current trends is the very crux of these companies and they are setting bar high for those to follow. The venture capital industry is progressing yet again and it is with great satisfaction that we introduce there dedicated firms enhancing the private equity financing sphere.

This programme considers and honours firms of all proportions and areas of skill – and it does so to offer our readers the chance to feel motivated, inspired, and safe. We hope you enjoy perusing this supplement, and we sincerely wish all of our winners the best for the future.

Our Awards Coordinator, Kaven Cooper, is proud to host this fine selection of winners, saying, “I am thankful to all of our participants and pleased to be able to shine a light upon their success. They are improving the industry for all and we are happy to share their stories with our readers.”

To find out more about these prestigious awards, and the dedicated enterprises that have been selected for them, please visit https://www.wealthandfinance-news.com/awards/venture-capital-awards/ where you can view our winners supplement and full winners list.

ENDS

About Wealth & Finance International

Wealth & Finance International is a quarterly publication dedicated to delivering high quality informative and up-to-the-minute global business content. It is published by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting.

Developed by a highly skilled team of writers, editors, business insiders and regional industry experts, Wealth & Finance International reports from every corner of the globe to give readers the inside track on the need-to-know news and issues affecting banking, finance, regulation, risk and wealth management in their region.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media (https://www.aiglobalmedialtd.com/) has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 14 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

Best Private Equity Investment Group – East Asia

AEI Capital is passionate about dealing with the capitalization of corporate vision. It knows that anything is possible with the correct strategy alongside a smart capitalization model and a knowledgeable blueprint for the most effective, essential parts of the Private Equity industry. Looking to nestle itself within the industry as a great business to work with for the global capitalization and re-stratification opportunities of the modern world. Here we look at the industry as AEI continues to grow.

AEI Capital is a Private Equity (PE) firm with over 20 years of accumulative experience. With over 500 Million USD of Assets Under Management (AUM), it is growing exponentially and with great tenacity.

PE is a financial approach that helps companies to acquire funds from firms or accredited investors instead of stock markets. It makes a direct investment that doesn’t depend on stocks as the PE industry offers equity stakes in businesses that aren’t listed. This global market is something to be tapped into by investors.

The goal of PE investments is to create a space where each business can grow rapidly, so that it can go public or become recognised by a larger company. In exchange of this investment, investors are benefitted by huge shares of improved profits that allows them to also become part of the company’s shareholders. All of this means that companies can reap the rewards of larger funds without having to fundraise via public listings or acquire business loans. Investors look for PE so that they can earn more than what can be achieved in public equity markets.

In the present times, PE refers to a variety of subcategories within investments that are all connected via the process of raising funds from private investors. Venture capital is one of the most important strategies that aids the start-up of a business and helps to provide it with the ability to evolve early. It is mainly concerned with technology firms with ideas and products that are moulding the modern way of life.

We have recently seen an explosion of alternative data sources that rely on collection and scraping processes. Traditional data can include investor presentations, SEC filings, financial statements, and press releases. However, alternative data includes externally sourced factors such as company size, location of HQ and branch offices, website traffic, reviews, employee salaries, organizational structure and more.

Over the next decade, it is predictable that we will see even more advancements in the industry and harvesting of data as we see more in-depth machine learning through the studies of algorithms that can solve new problems without humans having to program them. PE firms are using machine learning to analyse and evaluate investment opportunities that help them to discover better investments for the future. Machine learning plays a crucial part in the future of PE as it substantially improves the efficiency of opportunity analysis.

With automated data comes higher levels of efficiency and the expansion of the tools used to improve the process. These tools generally mean less mistakes are made, and a lot of money is saved. As technical challenges arise it is most important for us to move away from the human bias against technology, as with this tool it is more possible to feel the benefits and keep up the pace within the industry.

As AEI continues to work with tech scalable businesses and it is able to aid the growth of businesses by means of technological developments. It focuses on three levers of the capital force such as capitalization, strategy, and digitalization to ensure a wide scope of growth.

With regards to COVID-19, many industries have had to implement remote work strategies very quickly. This increased the rate of virtualization of a selection of PE procedures. With more meetings, decisions, and deals happening online, the pandemic has meant that remote work and virtualization has been entirely helpful and is never going to return to the normal amount, as things have actually been more positive this way than imagined before.

Continuing through 2021 and beyond, virtualization of the workflow will help to remove the barriers set by distance. It also reduces unnecessary administration as moving towards remote work, we learn to recognize which procedures or documentations are nonessential and even redundant. All of this leads to improved efficiency and sustainability for PE firms.

AEI understands every business as a continuously evolving living being that needs to be nourished and taken care of. It helps businesses to thrive and build on what they already have as well as giving them further life after they may have collapsed.

Intending to reach a target in the Greater China Region or Southeast Asia, AEI is aware of the “new economy” that is a combination of globalization, information technology, and the communication revolution. This applies to all high growth industries such as internet, financial technology such as e-commerce, O2O retail, renewable energy, AI, Cloud-based technology, healthcare, education, and other consumer-driven, big data or digitally enabled properties that ensure the capitalization of global trends. According to AEI these characteristics allow businesses that follow global trends to grow and adapt along with the industry changes, pandemic or not.

Overall, AEI Capital offers the best solutions and services to its customers that are based all around the world. It has adapted swiftly to any problems that have arisen due to the global pandemic, and it is picking other businesses up with its viable solutions.

For further information, please contact John Tan or visit: https://aeicapital.com/ 

Inheritance Tax Receipts Reach £4.1Billion in the Months from April to October 2022

Figures out from HMRC this morning show that the Treasury raked in another £4.1billion in inheritance tax receipts in the months between April and October 2022. This is £500 million more than in the same period a year earlier, continuing the upward trend. These figures are revealed just days after the Autumn Statement in which it was announced that the inheritance tax threshold of £325,000 will be frozen until April 2028.

These new figures demonstrate just how much the government’s inheritance tax take seems to be increasing without the need for any more freezes, thanks largely to the steady increases in house prices which are pushing more regular hardworking families above the threshold who are relying on money being passed down through the generations.

While the average bill is currently £216,000, research conducted by Wealth Club shows just that with this extended freeze combined with rampant inflation, average inheritance tax bills are conservatively estimated to reach £297,793 by 2025-26 and £336,605 by 2027-28.

Alex Davies, CEO and Founder of Wealth Club said: “There has been a total U-turn on inheritance tax over the last few months. From Liz Truss raising the hopes of the nation with a cut back in September, and now Jeremy Hunt announcing the extension of the freeze until 2028. This is another stealth tax and the case of the boiling frog is apt. The treasury hopes by leaving rates and allowances unchanged, inflation can do the hard work of turning the temperature up on tax payers without them noticing.

Contrary to what many think, inheritance tax doesn’t just affect the super-rich. It will be the thousands of hardworking families that will bear the brunt. Rampant inflation, soaring house prices and years of frozen allowances will magnify the tax take in the years ahead. More and more families are going to find themselves hit by death duties they might not expected or planned for.”

How inheritance tax is calculated

  • Inheritance tax (IHT) of 40% is usually chargeable if one’s assets exceed a certain threshold, after deducting any liabilities, exemptions and reliefs.
  • The threshold (nil rate band) has been £325,000 per single person since 6 April 2009 – and will stay frozen at this level up to and including 2028-29.
  • There is an additional transferrable main residence nil rate band of £175,000 available when passing the family home down to children or other direct descendants.
  • Any unused threshold may be transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner. So, a couple could currently potentially pass on up to £1 million before IHT might apply.

“The good news is that with some careful planning there are lots of perfectly legitimate ways you can eliminate or keep IHT bills to the minimum, so more of your wealth is passed on to your loved ones rather than being syphoned off by the taxman.”

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; up to £2,500 to your spouse or civil partner to be and £1,000 to anyone else. Beyond these allowances, you can 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.  

3. Make regular gifts

You can make regular gifts from your income. These gifts are immediately IHT free (no need to wait for seven years) and there’s no cap on how much you can give away, provided you can demonstrate your standard of living is not affected.

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 for those under 75 years old – 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 mitigating IHT on an ISA is to invest 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.

Key IHT stats

  • One in every 25 estates pay inheritance tax, but the freeze on inheritance tax thresholds, paired with inflation and decades of house price increases is bringing more and more into the taxman’s sights. 
  • While you can pass on money IHT free to your spouse or civil partner, the estate could still be subject to IHT on their death though they may be able to make use of your pass-on allowance.  
  • The main threshold is the nil-rate band, enabling up to £325,000 of an estate to be passed on without having to pay any IHT. This has been unchanged since April 2009.
  • There is also a Residence Nil Rate band worth £175,000 which allows most people to pass on a family home more tax efficiently to direct descendants, although this tapers for estates over £2 million and is not available at all for estates worth over £2.35 million.
  • Wealth Club calculations suggest the average inheritance tax bill could increase to just over £266,000 in the current tax year. This is a 27% increase from the £209,000 average paid just three years ago. 

5 Tips to Avoid Bankruptcy After a Workplace Injury

Bankruptcy is a terrifying word for anyone who has ever even been close to filing for it. When you experience a workplace injury, the creeping presence of bankruptcy can suddenly become uncomfortably close. However, there are benefits, tools, tips, and lifestyle changes you can use to avoid this tragic financial situation. To help you stay afloat financially, here are five tips to avoid bankruptcy after a workplace injury:

1. File a Workers’ Comp Claim

While it may seem like a no-brainer, many people fail to file workers’ comp claims after experiencing a workplace injury. Almost all employers are required to have workers’ comp insurance claims (either through the state or a private entity), so you deserve to use this benefit to stay afloat as you heal from your workplace injury. If you’re finding it difficult to file your claim, or if your boss is trying to keep you from filing a claim, it’s worth getting a quality workers’ comp attorney involved in the situation.

2. Consolidate or Settle Debts

If you want to stay on top of your finances and avoid bankruptcy as you recover from your workplace injury, you need to seriously consider any avenues you have for consolidating and settling debts. You can look into lowering interest rates on your loans, and if you pay them all off, your credit will likely be in a position where you can borrow a loan that will help you stay far away from bankruptcy territory. With debt settlement, you’ll want to contact a quality debt relief company to help you reduce your debts. Depending on the nature of your debts, and whether you’re a veteran or disabled, you may even qualify for special forgiveness plans in some states (or through federal programs). By using both of these strategies in tandem, you can strengthen your financial situation significantly.

3. Maximize Your Income

Although it may seem difficult to swing, there are some nifty ways you can maximise your income and avoid bankruptcy after a workplace injury. Finding secondary work that you can do while you heal is your best option. There are tons of online job sites that are dedicated to remote work, after all. If you’re able to drive, there are many freelance gigs available to you as well. While this option may not be accessible to everyone who has suffered a workplace injury, it’s one of the most effective ways to fight off bankruptcy in today’s economic landscape. Additionally, you should consider selling any valuable items you have that you no longer need or want. Almost everyone has some type of expensive gadget or piece of furniture that they rarely use, after all.

4. Create a Budget

Budgeting is the absolute best way to get control of your finances and can help you live within your means. Without a solid budget, and without the drive to follow it, you’ll get uncomfortably close to filing bankruptcy. There are many ways you can handle budgeting, and there are many online websites and services that can help you determine your best budget options. Be sure to allow yourself money for self-care and hobbies, but make sure you’re prioritising your financial stability above all else. You can expand your budget by cutting down on expenses as well, especially if you’re able to downgrade to a smaller living space, a cheaper car, or if you’re able to make some other type of drastic budgetary cut.

5. Cut Spending on Subscriptions

In today’s world, we all have at least one subscription. Whether you’re subscribing to music or movie streaming services, you’re spending at least a solid chunk of your expendable income on subscription services every month. Many of us are even paying for subscriptions that we had no idea we had! Scanning through your monthly bank statements can help you ensure that you’re not wasting money on rarely-used or never used services. If you want to get your finances under control and avoid bankruptcy, you may have to make some tough cuts (but it will be worth it once you finally get your financial situation back under control).

Reclaim Your Financial Stability

With these five tips, you can quickly reclaim your financial stability. Budgeting, debt consolidation, spending cuts, workers’ comp benefits, and investments can all help you boost your credit and avoid bankruptcy. Ultimately, these actions are an investment in your financial future.

Insurance Coverage Everyone Needs

The importance of various types of insurance coverage is often underestimated until someone finds themselves in a situation where they need it. There are so many situations that are unpredictable and entirely out of your control, but when you have good insurance, you can financially protect yourself. You’re also giving yourself priceless peace of mind when you have good coverage.
You’re protecting your assets, making insurance a critical part of building a strong financial plan. You can protect not only your possessions but your earning power.

With those things in mind, below are some of the types of insurance everyone should have.

Homeowners/Renters Insurance

Homeowners insurance protects your biggest investment. The prices can vary depending on the state you’re in and other factors, but overall, it’s not an extremely expensive type of coverage. For example, homeowners insurance in South Carolina is, on average, $1,269 a year. The national average for homeowners insurance is $1,211 annually.

Homeowners’ insurance should ideally include dwelling coverage, giving you an added layer of protection beyond the limits of your policy.

You may also need to add flood and hurricane insurance, depending on where you live.

Renters’ insurance has similarities to health insurance. If you don’t have renters insurance and you’re the victim of something like a fire, flood, or theft, you won’t be protected. Some landlords require renters insurance.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is essential. Around 67% of people who file for bankruptcy do so because they have medical debt. If you don’t have health insurance, you’re always going to be on the brink of a financial disaster, whether or not you realize it. Medical bills can quickly be hundreds of thousands of dollars for even a relatively mild illness.

Even if you don’t go to the doctor a lot, don’t think you can get away without health insurance. You might end up getting a high-deductible plan, but still, you need that coverage.

If you have a high-deductible plan, you can open a Health Savings Account. A Health Savings Account or HSA is a savings account with tax advantages, where you put money aside to cover medical expenses if and when they arise.

If you have an HSA, you can deduct your contributions from your business income or gross pay. You can invest the funds that you contribute, and they’ll grow tax-free, and you can use tax-free withdrawal for qualified medical expenses such as your deductibles.

Long-Term Disability

If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t work, a long-term disability can protect your income. According to the Social Security Administration, more than one in four current twenty-year-olds will become disabled before they’re 67, highlighting the importance of this insurance.

If you’re in your prime earning years, a disability could derail all of your other financial goals.

If you want to avoid paying for something you don’t need, on the other hand, you might make it short-term disability insurance because your emergency savings should cover you in this scenario where you’d be out of work for three to six months.

Long-term disability coverage will provide a monetary benefit that’s equal to part of your salary for covered disability. That portion of your salary it will cover is usually 50-60%. In order to receive benefits through LTD, the disability has to have occurred after the issuance of the policy, usually after a waiting period.

Medical information confirmed by a physical is usually submitted to the insurance company.

A lot of LTD policies will group disabilities as their own occupation or any occupation. Own occupation means that if you’re the insured person, you aren’t able to do your regular job or a similar job because of disability. Any occupation means that you’re not able to do any job you’re qualified for.

Worker’s compensation also pays for disability, but long-term disability coverage isn’t limited to injuries or disabilities that occur on the job.

Auto Insurance

Auto insurance is something you’re required to have in most states, but you might be better off going beyond what’s required.

You shouldn’t drive if you’re uninsured because getting into even a minor accident can be costly, and you’d have to pay damages out-of-pocket.

Liability coverage is what kicks in if you’re in an accident that you’re responsible for. Most states require that drivers have a minimum amount of coverage, and it takes care of both injuries and property damage that occur because of a collision.

Collision coverage is for the costs of repairing or replacing a car that’s damaged or totalled, and comprehensive coverage is for losses not caused by a wreck, like a flood, fire, or hail.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is one that so many go without. Only around 54% of people in America have life insurance, but most financial experts say it should be a priority.

If you die unexpectedly, you’d be leaving your family to manage without your income. A term life insurance policy for anywhere from 10 to 12 times your yearly income would prevent your family from having to worry about making ends meet if you weren’t there to provide for them.

Umbrella Policy

Finally, an umbrella policy is one more layer that you can add to protect yourself and your family if you want coverage that’s beyond your auto or homeowners insurance.

If you were to end up at fault in a car accident with multiple vehicles involved, for example, your property damages and medical bills might add up rapidly, totalling more than your car insurance will cover. If you’re then sued for the difference, you could lose your savings, your home, and more.

A personal liability umbrella policy is a way to protect yourself, especially if you have a net worth of at least $500,000. These policies usually cost just a few hundred dollars a year, and you can raise your liability coverage so that it’s more than $1 million.

Ten Free Ways to Boost the Cyber Security of Your Business

Looking to strengthen the cyber security of your business? Anthony Green, CTO of cyber security firm, FoxTech, wants to demonstrate that making a big difference doesn’t always need to come at a big price tag.

“Many companies – particularly start-ups and smaller businesses – are reluctant to investigate the state of their cyber security because they are worried they don’t have the budget to fix any problems they might find,” says Anthony.

“Of course, having a budget to invest in strengthening your cyber security is the ideal scenario, but if the money simply isn’t there, it doesn’t mean a business is doomed to security chaos. There are many things that any organisation can do to strengthen their protection without spending a penny – so there’s no excuse for having terrible security!”

To help businesses take control of their cyber security, FoxTech has created a list of ten free ways to boost your business’ cyber security.

1. Software updates offer free security fixes – so install them promptly

Installing software updates is one of the easiest and best things you can do to boost your cyber security. Software updates contain fixes to bugs and security holes discovered in the previous software versions. Software companies do not fix issues on old versions of software, so if you don’t regularly install updates then you are exposed to any hackers looking to take advantage of these flaws.

Security experts create these updates for a reason – and it’s part of what you’re paying for when you purchase a device or software package, so ensure you take advantage of this.

It’s a good idea to turn on automatic updates and install fixes as soon as they become available. This goes for the operating system on your device, as well as any third-party software that you use in your business, such as the Windows suite.

2. Configure DMARC

Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) is an email authentication, policy, and reporting protocol. It identifies email spoofing (people sending emails on behalf of your domain), spam and phishing scams, providing businesses with another layer of protection against scam emails.

It’s free to configure DMARC yourself, or businesses can get it configured by a third-party cybersecurity firm for a low cost.

3. Educate your employees about phishing

The UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022 found that 83% of UK businesses experienced at least one phishing attempt in the 12 months preceding their survey, making phishing emails the most common form of attempted cyber attack. Employees are the first line of defence against phishing, so ensure that employees know how to identify and correctly report phishing emails.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) offers free cyber security training which has a module on spotting and reporting phishing scams.

4. Instil a no-blame culture

If employees are worried about being penalised for falling victim to an attack attempt, they are far less likely to report it. Actively instilling a no-blame culture means that, if an employee does click on a scam link, they should feel confident enough to report it as soon as it happens. As a result, your business will have time to investigate whether it has resulted in intruders breaching your system before the worst happens – such as the attacker locating sensitive data or launching a ransom demand. 

5. Get a free CyberRisk score

FoxTech offers a free CyberRisk score for businesses. It uses your business email address to search for publicly available information about your company’s cyber security posture – essentially showing organisations what their system looks like to an attacker. The assessment identifies security weaknesses to help businesses fix them before they are exploited by hackers.

6. Practice good password hygiene

The NCSC advises disabling complexity requirements and mandatory password updates, because they encourage password re-use and the use of common passwords (like Password1234!) Instead, their official guidance is to use three random words, such as glasscattree or plantbluewheel. This strikes the balance between creating a password that’s easy to remember, but secure enough to keep cyber criminals at bay.

7. Use two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts, meaning that even if your account passwords are compromised, a cyber criminal won’t be able to breach an account without access to a linked device. While employees might view 2FA as a frustrating additional step to sign-in, it really is one of the most effective ways of preventing a password breach. You can enable 2FA for free on Microsoft accounts, Google accounts, and Apple products.

8. Don’t connect to insecure Wi-Fi networks

An unsecured Wi-Fi network is one you can access without a password. These networks usually have no security encryption, meaning hackers can use them to distribute malware onto any connected devices. Business owners should communicate the risks of connecting to unknown public Wi-Fi networks to their employees and put appropriate measures in place – such as discouraging practices like working while travelling.

9. Create an incident response plan

According to the UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022, only 19% of businesses have a formal incident response plan – which lays out what to do in the event of an attack.

Without an incident response plan, businesses are unprepared to deal with a hack, making the potential fallout worse, and the recovery period longer. Incident response plans also ensure you are acting legally when it comes to informing customers of data theft. Read the NCSC’s guidance on creating an incident response plan.

10. Don’t overlook physical security

Whether it’s leaving server rooms unlocked, sticking post-it-notes of passwords on your devices, forgetting to shred documents containing sensitive data, or leaving company devices unattended in public spaces, attackers can, and still do, take advantage of these physical vulnerabilities. So, while the average hack might not rely on a physical element, no organisation should be complacent when it comes to traditional security advice.

Buyer Beware: The Hidden Costs of Changing Your Accounting Software and How to Avoid Them

By Paul Sparkes, Commercial Director at award-winning accounting software developer, iplicit.

Sometimes, if you get a decision wrong, you’re stuck with the consequences for quite a while. You’ve spent substantial money to get where you are and, for the time being, you have no choice but to spend more.

It can be true of accounting software. Before your new system has even gone live, you might realise it will not do everything you need unless you spend significantly more than you budgeted.

But it’s rare for any business to perform a U-turn in that situation. Even if the new system hasn’t arrived, the business is probably too far into the process to change course without a lot of pain and expense. And the person making that decision may feel weakened in their own organisation if they announce they’ve made a mistake.

With all the costs and time involved in implementing a new system, it’s not a process that most people will want to go through again soon. So it’s important to watch for those hidden costs from the outset.

When ‘cheaper’ costs more: what are the hidden costs?

We could do without unpleasant surprises when making a major purchase. But it’s rarely as simple as comparing price X with price Y. And for the enterprise-level accounting packages, you won’t get a useful idea of price until you’ve started a detailed conversation anyway.

There are a host of factors which can result in the apparently ‘cheaper’ option costing more. And if you’re unlucky, a salesperson who senses you’re quite cost-sensitive might feel no obligation to point them out to you.

Here are some key issues to consider:

Scope creep: A vendor could offer you a fixed cost for the implementation of new software. But whether it’s £20,000 or £100,000, it is likely to be tightly aligned to a scope document which sets out what you’re getting. If you need something outside that package, it runs into money – that’s scope creep.

If you ask for the software to do something that wasn’t covered, you could be looking at several days of development work, and that £20,000 project could soon be costing £25,000.

Adding functionality: A lot of accounting software is modular – meaning you pick a basic package and then add the other “modules” you need before arriving at a final price.

You need to be wary of assuming something is included in the base-level product. If it isn’t, you could be adding thousands of pounds a year for those extra modules. An example might be an application for expenses: does it come as standard?

Scalability – adding users: Will your finance software keep up when your business grows? How many users might you need to add to the system if things go the way you hope? And what will that cost you?

Scalability – adding entities: Perhaps phase one of your software implementation involves a single company, but you’d like to add other businesses to your group later. You’ll probably have considered that as an issue – but what about adding businesses you might launch or acquire later on?

Scalability – adding entities outside the UK:  This is where the costs can really mushroom. Perhaps you buy an operation in the US or Canada and your software provider wants to charge you a fortune to add this overseas entity to your system. If that happens, you may have little choice but to absorb it as a high, unexpected cost.

Integrating with other systems: This is another issue that’s likely to increase in importance as you grow and acquire other businesses. If you have systems for inventory, stock management, timesheets, expenses, membership fees, or a host of other things, will they talk to your accounting software?

If this specific application of yours is one that’s commonly available in the marketplace, then most accounting packages will be able to integrate it into what they do. But if it’s a bespoke product that didn’t previously need to integrate with anything else, you could be in difficulty.

If you do have bespoke needs when it comes to integration, look for software that makes use of open an open API (application programming interface – the way different computer programs speak to each other). This means it fits together with other systems easily and flexibly. So if you acquire a legacy system as you expand, or you want to do something that’s new for your business – selling at the click of a button online, for example – it can be integrated easily, in ‘plug-and-play fashion.

Archiving: You’ve got a lot of information in your existing system about past transactions – and it needs to be available to auditors for seven years. So what happens when you’re changing your software?

You could keep your old system going alongside the new one, perhaps in a ‘read-only version – which will require you to keep paying for licences.

Alternatively, you could export all that data from the old system, into Excel, or CSV files.

That’s fine, but it becomes a hidden cost if the auditors need to audit that data alongside the new system – potentially adding days to the auditors’ work, and therefore a massive extra outlay for you.

How to avoid those hidden costs

As you’ll have gathered, the key to avoiding unwelcome surprises is to ask the right questions.

Few businesses go into the same level of detail as public sector bodies, with their comprehensive tender documents and Requests for Information (RFI). But if you want to avoid getting burned, you need to be as clear as possible about what you’re buying.

Spell out your requirements as precisely as you can and get the offer locked down.

It’s wise to get the right stakeholders involved as well so that key people from all the departments which will use the system and will have input. You don’t want them spotting the system’s shortcomings after the contracts have been signed, when fixing them will be impossible or costly. 

Of course, it’s easier if the software has been structured to include as many features as possible as standard.

The upside of all this is that while there are hidden costs to watch for, there can be ‘hidden’ benefits.

If a good software package frees up time which can be spent more productively, it can help you improve and grow the business. Which, after all, is what we’re all at work for.

Why Budgeting Apps Are The Best Way To Stay On Top Of Your Finances

Preparing your finances in order isn’t a one-time job. It’s an endless procedure.

Whether it’s budgeting, planning your debt payoff, or monitoring your credit, your financial life needs regular, reliable attention. Well, use the right set of methods to help.

Here we have some satisfactory money apps to help you get on track and stay there. Whether you have not created a budget or you are a seasoned investor. Unless otherwise noted, all these apps are free.

While using these methods you must need the bank or credit information. Whether they are strictly secure measures to protect your data.

All in all, there are many types of different online payment to receive or integrate in your apps or website for seam less transactions.

But, you should always ensure before using these apps you must follow the terms and conditions, that you know what you are getting into.

You Can See Your Entire Financial Picture At Once

One of the best things about budgeting apps is that you can see your entire financial picture at once. You may have heard of “financial health” before – but what exactly does it mean? It means knowing where you stand financially, and being able to make informed decisions based on this information.

Your budgeting app will give you a snapshot of your finances in one place, so that when an unexpected expense hits (or maybe even a little extra income), it’s easy for you to see how much money is available for these situations without having to shuffle through receipts or dig through bank statements. This way, if something comes up later down the road that requires more funds than anticipated — like buying new furniture — then there won’t be any confusion about where those funds should come from next time around!

Budgeting Apps Consolidate Your Accounts

One of the best ways to stay on top of your finances is by consolidating all of your accounts into one place.

Once you have a budget app, it will be easier for you to see what’s going on with each account and make adjustments accordingly.

If there are multiple banks and credit cards, it can take some time to get everything organized in one place. However, once all the information is collected in one place (and if there aren’t too many accounts), this process becomes much easier than if they were spread out across different sites or apps.

Help You Track Your Monthly Expenses

A budget app helps you track your monthly expenses. It can help you keep an eye on how much money you are spending, and it offers a way to see where your money is going so that you can make adjustments as necessary.

For example: say you’re trying to save up for something special like a vacation or new car, but aren’t sure where all the cash will come from. With a budgeting app like Mint or Personal Capital (a personal finance dashboard), there’s no need for guesswork! Simply input all of the relevant details of what/where/who and when—and then watch as those numbers change over time with each passing month until finally reaching their goal(s).

Send You Alerts Before You Overdraft

If you’re diligent about budgeting, the best way to stay on top of your finances is by having alerts sent out before you overdraft. With budgeting apps like Mint, YNAB and Mintable, once you’ve set up a spending limit for a particular category (like groceries), it will send a notification if that amount gets used before the next pay day.

You can also set up alerts for different amounts: For example, if an ATM withdrawal costs more than $100 but less than $200; or if an online purchase costs more than $20 but less than 30%. These types of alerts can help save money so that when there’s an unexpected expense—like medical bills—you’re prepared for it!

Analyse Your Spending Habits

Tracking your spending habits is one of the most important things you can do to stay on top of your finances.

You’ll be better able to identify areas where there’s room for improvement, so that you can get back on track. It will help prevent overspending and unnecessary purchases. Budgeting apps can analyse this data easily and quickly, which makes them an excellent tool for budgeting beginners or those who don’t want to spend hours entering information into an Excel spreadsheet or making manual calculations every night before bedtime is over.*

Budgeting Apps Help You Keep Up With Monthly Goals

If you’re like most people, your monthly goals are probably set by the end of each month. You may have some long term goals in mind—for example, saving up for a vacation or buying a car—and shorter-term ones like paying off debt or saving more money toward retirement. If so, budgeting apps can help! They track your progress toward these different kinds of goals so that you can see how much progress has been made over time and adjust accordingly if necessary (like lowering your long term goal until it feels attainable).

Conclusion

We hope that our tips have been helpful, and that you’re looking forward to using a budgeting app in the future! If we missed anything important, please let us know in the comments below.

How Much VAT is My Business Paying on Energy

As a business, keeping tabs on your expenses and ensuring you’re getting the best value for your money is important. Knowing how much business energy you’re paying for is essential. Not only will this help you stay accountable for your expenses, but it can also help you make more informed decisions about where to cut costs. Did you know that your business could be paying too much VAT on energy? In this blog post, we’ll look at how vat is applied to energy and how you can ensure you’re getting the best deal.

What is VAT?

VAT, or Value Added Tax, is charged on the value of most goods and services in the United Kingdom. It’s also sometimes referred to as a “goods and services tax” (GST). The standard UK VAT rate is 20%. There are reduced rates of 5% for some items, such as food and children’s clothing, and a zero rate for some items, such as books and newspapers.

Should my business sign up for VAT?

It is required by law that businesses with an annual taxable turnover of more than £85,000 register for Value Added Tax. Voluntary VAT registration is available to companies with annual sales below this threshold.

  • When you register, your VAT registration certificate will be sent to you by HMRC. This proves:
  • How and when to file your first VAT return and pay the associated tax
  • In which your “registration” officially begins to be active (the date you went over the threshold or the date you asked to register)

Which goods and services are subject to value-added tax?

If your business is VAT-registered, the price of your products and services will normally increase by 20%. This value-added tax (VAT) must be paid to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) every three months.

Any product or service outside the scope of the UK’s Value Added Tax system and hence VAT-free. Even though it is a business-to-business transaction, gas and energy purchased by a company are still subject to VAT and cannot be refunded. You should always monitor your contract renewals to ensure you aren’t overpaying. The Do It For You service takes care of all of this.

How much is VAT on business energy?

To encourage energy efficiency and aid in meeting national targets, the government gives a reduced rate of 5% VAT for enterprises that consume low levels of electricity.

If your business’s daily gas use is below 33-kilowatt hours (kWh), monthly electricity consumption is below 1000 kWh, and the annual energy consumption is below 12,000 kWh, your provider should immediately switch you to the lower, VAT-free rate.

Checking your bill is a good idea to make sure this lower VAT rate was applied. Contact your electricity provider if you believe you should be receiving the lower VAT rate on your company’s electricity bills. Click here for more information on VAT paid on energy.

How much is the VAT on business gas?

Commercial natural gas likewise incurs a 20% VAT, with the option to pay a 5% rate. Less than 145-kilowatt hours (kWh) of gas consumption per day qualifies a firm for the reduced VAT on gas. The annual equivalent is 52,764 kWh, or 4,397 kWh every month.

Review your most recent commercial gas bill in comparison to the usage above rates to determine if you qualify for the reduced VAT on the gas rate. Whether you’re a business owner and use electricity, check your statement to see if you are being overcharged for value-added tax. If so, contact your source immediately.

Should I pay VAT on business gas and electricity?

All energy consumption, whether commercial or personal, is subject to VAT. That means whether you’re using your house as an office or a commercial space, you’ll have to pay value-added tax on the cost of any gas or energy you consume. Even if the purchase of commercial energy is technically a business-to-business purposes, the VAT cannot be refunded in this case.

Can my business get the VAT back on the business energy it uses?

It is expected that a business that is VAT-registered can deduct VAT paid as input tax on business expenses following the standard VAT deduction rules. This holds whatever interest rate you’re paying, 20% or 5%.

Visit the HMRC webpage to learn how much tax refund your company is eligible for.

You should also realise that VAT is not charged on various expenses that fall outside of its purviews, such as company rates, council tax, wages, and a lot more.

Could my company qualify for a reduced VAT rate on its energy bills?

However, there are other scenarios where you may be eligible to pay lower energy VAT rates than the de minimis threshold. Examples of this are:

  • Your organisation operates exclusively for charitable or other non-commercial purposes.
  • Workspaces are double as living quarters.
  • Academies and other schools that don’t charge tuition.
  • Your company uses at least 60% of its energy for residential purposes.
  • Religious communities like monasteries and convents.
  • Most of the employees also live in facilities such as dormitories, nursing homes, and other forms of residential care.
  • Holiday lodging where guests are responsible for preparing their meals.

Only certain of your company’s expenses may be eligible for the discounted rate. If that’s the case, a mixed-use’ contract could be ideal for your company. Parts of your company that meet the criteria can pay a reduced rate, while the remaining 20% of your company must pay the standard rate. You should talk to your service provider or the energy expert handling your pricing comparison to see if you qualify for this.

Where can I look up the business energy VAT rates?

Looking at your most recent commercial energy bill is the quickest approach to determining your VAT contribution. Every month, you should receive a statement detailing your balance, the interest rate, and the amount you’ve paid toward the debt.

How can I cut costs on my business energy bills?

There are a few things that you can do to cut costs on your business energy bills:

1. Switch to a more affordable energy plan. There are a lot of different plans available, so shop around and find the best business energy supplier that matches your needs.

2. Invest in energy-efficient appliances and equipment. This can help you save money in the long run by reducing your energy usage.

3. Make sure that your business is adequately insulated. This will help keep your energy usage down and reduce your monthly bills.

4. Schedule regular maintenance checks for your equipment. This will help ensure that everything runs efficiently and prevent small problems from turning into big ones.

The vat on energy can be a significant expense for businesses. By understanding the different rates and what qualifies as energy, business owners can work to reduce their vat bills. Are there any other ways your business could save money on its taxes?

Mortgage Repayments Guide

It is essential to ensure you are on the best mortgage deal to get your finances in order. It’s probably your largest monthly expense.

There are many ways to find the right home loan for you at the lowest interest rate.

These are some tips to help you find the right mortgage for you.

Do your homework

If you’re confident enough to navigate the mortgage markets alone, many resources online will help you find rates across the market.

Price comparison sites

You can compare websites to find the lowest rates for the type mortgage that you’re looking for, whether it be a fixed-rate, tracker, or offset over two, three, five, or ten years.

You can search for free from your home.

A comparison site won’t help you find the best loan type for your situation. These sites simply display the rates available.

Tools to help you get a mortgage

A mortgage eligibility tool can help you do your research and find the right lender for you.

It will show you which mortgages are most likely to be approved and how much money you can borrow, based upon the lenders’ criteria.

This tool will help you be more informed when speaking to a mortgage broker to get professional advice. It could also save you time.

This can reduce disappointment later on. According to the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, 64% of brokers consider not fitting a lender’s criteria to be a major frustration for consumers.

Get professional help

There are many options for mortgage deals, each with its own set of fees, rates and conditions.

You might consider hiring a professional to help you with your search.

They can assist you in your application and help you find the right mortgage for you based on your personal and financial circumstances.

Your bank

Your bank’s adviser should be able give you a good idea of how much you can borrow, as they have access to your mortgage history.

Financial watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), regulates all mortgage advisors. They will need to ensure that you are satisfied with the recommended product.

They can only suggest products within the bank’s range, so they are limited in their options.

They may have to pay fees, but these will be product-related fees and not for the advice as such.

Use a broker

A mortgage broker will search the entire market for you. They may also be able to access deals that are not directly available to borrowers.

The broker will help you navigate the application process, so if you are looking for a £120,000 mortgage then they can work out the repayments for you.

They should also know which applicants lenders accept. They can also help you find lenders accepting applicants with poor credit and who are self-employed. A popular mortgage of £150,000 should be achievable with a low deposit as will a mortgage for £180,000 however above this some lenders require a higher Loan to Value (LTV).

Lenders pay almost all mortgage brokers a commission. Some mortgage brokers charge their clients a fee for searching for products or the application process.

Talk to a mortgage advisor at a fee-free mortgage broker.

Alternatives online

Online brokers are the new breed of mortgage advisors. Online brokers combine product comparison and advice to help you make a completely online mortgage application.

These are especially useful if you need to manage your mortgage application online during the day. You can then fill out your details online and receive a product recommendation.

There are many online brokers on the market. Each broker does things differently, so choosing the one you feel most at ease with is important.

You might want to ask these questions:

Is it the “whole market”? Are they able to offer the most variety of mortgage deals, giving you the best chance at getting the top deal possible?

What is their business model and what type of service are they offering?

Which charges could be involved?

Are they FCA-registered?

If they are then great, proceed with your application and we hope they provide a great service.

Businesses Aren’t Ready For a Global Recession – It’s Time to Act Now

Richard Jeffery, Chief Executive Officer at ActiveOps explores the need for businesses across the UK, US and Australia to take action in the face of impending recession.

The world has never been more globalised than it is today. International reach and connections across borders power change and success through hardship, and the links forged between nations and their economies can result in a domino effect when catastrophe strikes.

From America to Europe, Asia to Africa, there are widespread and volatile challenges facing every economy – and every business. In particular, the threat of a global recession is hanging heavy over the heads of business leaders. On top of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine has slowed economic recovery, disrupted global supply chains, and drastically increased the cost of living.

The World Bank is therefore warning that a recession is on the horizon, and that means that organisations need to start considering how they will prepare for that eventuality – now.

The need to look ahead

2008 was the last time the UK and US experienced a recession, whereas Australia has remained mostly unscathed by the outside world, staving off sharp economic downturn since the early 90s.

2008 holds lessons for today’s leaders, but the world is now a very different place. For Australian businesses, the last recession is a distant memory that doesn’t serve much use in today’s climate. So, dusting off previous response plans – such as outsourcing, redundancies and headcount freezes – is likely to fail. What’s needed to ensure success is a deep understanding of your operation and an accurate read of the current markets on a global scale.

According to our recent report, ‘Are you recession ready? How to do more with less’, recession is likely but 89% of organisations are yet to begin preparations. This is according to 1,000 operations professionals in finance and banking across the UK, US and Australia.

88% of UK respondents felt that a recession is likely in the next 12 months, in contrast to 77% of US respondents and 77% of Australian respondents. Despite many expecting a recession, the number of businesses that have started preparations is shockingly low. Just 5% of Australian businesses have started to ready themselves, while just 11% of UK and 9% of US organisations have preparations underway.

In fact, the majority of businesses across the three markets intend to start preparing in two to six months – by which time we may be facing a deep recession already, with difficult decisions needing to be made immediately in order to weather the storm. When in fact, by preparing now, businesses can significantly improve their outlook.

Expecting the expected

Rough seas ahead are anticipated, and it’s no surprise. Recession veterans are no stranger to economic downturn and its consequences, and most senior leaders will have experienced a global or national financial crisis in their time. This has often resulted in redundancies, budget cuts and an increased workload.

This time, senior leaders are expecting to absorb an increased workload with fixed staffing levels. Juniors, in contrast, are expecting that their organisation will review processes to find efficiencies. Experience is no doubt the reason for this difference, and perhaps a belief from recession veterans that the costs associated with process improvements wouldn’t be approved. Time will tell whether the same is true this time around.

There are also concerns from operations employees that if their teams need to reduce costs, they wouldn’t have enough performance improvement opportunities. While cost cutting is almost a certainty during a recession, this may mean that leaders who plan on finding process improvement opportunities may struggle – unless they can find a way to save and budget.

Flexibility is also an essential during economic difficulty, and while no business wants to make fundamental changes to their strategies, there are some tactics that can prove useful. Particularly, retraining and cross-training staff can be implemented to create a more versatile and agile workforce.

According to our report, while more than half of UK, US and Australian operations teams believe that cross-training and retraining will be required to balance the workload during a recession, they also felt that their organisations aren’t prioritising this. Not only does this indicate that employees don’t feel that their workplace is focusing on the right strategies in the face of recession, it also highlights the disconnect between what people think their organisations will do compared with what their organisation needs.

The time to act is now

While there’s no guarantee significant changes won’t need to be made to adapt to a recession, operations teams within the finance and banking sector have an opportunity to avoid disaster and avert the worst-case scenarios that they are expecting.

Organisations need to focus on building resilience and agility, enhancing customer experience, retaining top talent, and making critical technology investments or using the existing tech stack effectively. Visibility into operations needs to be optimised as soon as possible in order to understand work patterns and control capacity. Without this knowledge, it’s impossible to know if your operations can withstand the pressure of a recession. Businesses need to have a true picture of weak spots to see spikes in demand, understand changing workloads and find efficiencies to meet SLAs, enable flexibility to adapt to uncertain workloads and understand what ‘fat’ to trim.

Customer service and employee satisfaction are at risk if your business isn’t prepared. 58% of respondents agreed that if headcount is reduced, then customer service will be sacrificed. When defining strategies, customers must be at the heart of decision making and similarly, must be shared with employees along with a rationale that everyone can buy into, to avoid customer experience and employee engagement suffering.

Take the time to understand your workforce data and empower managers with this knowledge to prioritise the right tasks and cross-team collaboration; so they can lead teams in a way that keeps them engaged and happy, while bolstering morale during difficult times. It’s also important to check in with your employees to ensure their health is cared for and they feel supported.

Your top performers should also be identified as part of recession preparation as retention may be difficult and losing their skills can have a significant impact. Bring the leaders into the fold and share the challenge with them – not only will they be engaged, but you’ll have the benefit of their expertise and ability to lead to support on the road towards recession. Lastly, investing in technology that creates more efficient and effective operations might cost, but it will pay for itself many times over when implemented correctly. From visibility to forecasting, technology has a significant role to play to help businesses become recession ready.

Engaging with employees at all levels, analysing the current position of your business and assessing whether you have the tools, resources and people power to meet organisational objectives in the face of difficulty will be key. It’s also crucial that senior staff communicate with their employees as soon as possible to ensure everyone is aligned on the operation’s response to a recession.

Then, if the worst does happen and international markets are hit with a global recession, your business will be in a strong position to not just survive economic downturn – but thrive.

Recognise Passes on Full Bank Base Rate Rise to Business 95 Day Notice Savers

Business 95 Day Notice Account will pay 3.00% AER, matching the Bank Base Rate

Following the increase in the Bank Base Rate by 75bps to 3% by the Bank of England, Recognise Bank has announced it will pass on the full rise to its Business 95 Day Notice Savings Account customers, so the account will pay 3.00% AER, matching the Bank Base Rate.

The Bank’s Business 95 Day Notice Account was currently pays 2.25% AER, but last week Recognise pledged to pass on today’s increase in full to help small businesses.

Dean Carter, Group Treasurer of Recognise Bank, said: “Many small businesses are under considerable financial pressures at the moment, so we wanted to show that Recognise is here to support them by paying them the same interest rate as the Base Rate.

“We know that SMEs often keep a cushion of cash to pay future bills or in case of an emergency, such as a late payment from a customer or other cashflow issues. By being able to earn 3.00% AER on their savings, businesses can maximise the earning potential of their cash when they are not using it.”

The new rate of 3.00% AER for the Business 95 Day Notice Account will come into force next Wednesday 9th November and will be applied to new and existing savers.

In addition to the Business 95 Day Notice Account, the Bank also offers SMEs a Business Easy Access Account which pays 2.00% AER. Recognise says it offers a choice of accounts so companies can manage their savings in a way that suits their business and cash flow needs.

All of Recognise Bank’s Business Savings Accounts are FSCS protected up to the maximum for £85,000. They have been designed to be quick to open and easy to manage online, with telephone customer service support if required. Savers also don’t need to have a current account or any other product with Recognise to be able to open a Savings Account.

Recognise Bank launched with a mission to support the UK’s SMEs with great lending and savings products. Smaller business savers often get a raw deal from the main banks who dominate business banking, so much so that research by Recognise* found that almost half of SMEs don’t bother saving and leave their cash in a current account earning no interest at all.

Having business savings is arguably more important than ever due to difficult trading conditions. The Bank’s research* found that around a third of UK SMEs keep a cash surplus as an emergency fund or in case of late payments or other cashflow problems.

*Research was carried out amongst the financial decision makers of 500 SMEs with between 1 and 49 employees by 3Gem in November 2021

How Can Loans Help You? A Formal Guide To Loans Available In America

With household debt at an all-time high in America, it is understandable why people turn to loans to help them cover the cost of living. Taking out a loan can be a stressful situation, as you may have concerns about how and when you will be able to pay it all back. There are lots of different loans available in America, and they all have different terms and conditions attached to them. In this article, we will go over some of the loans available for you and go into detail about what they are. So, if you have considered taking out a loan but you are unsure which one is right for you, then follow along in this article to find out.

Payday Loans

The first loan we are going to discuss is payday loans. Payday loans are short-term loans that allow you to get money quickly when you need it. People get payday loans when they are in a financial emergency and need to pay for something immediately. Unexpected emergencies happen throughout life, and not everyone is lucky enough to have savings that they can dip into. If your car breaks down or you have a water leak at home, you will need to get that sorted as soon as possible, which is where a payday loan comes in handy. It is important to remember, however, that payday loans should only be used when you need to pay something off as soon as possible. You shouldn’t be taking out a payday loan just because you would like some extra cash. You can get payday loans all across the country, and if you are based in the south, then you can get payday loans in Texas from Kallyss. They can help cover you for an unexpected emergency, and allow you to relieve any stress you might be having.

Mortgages

The next loan on the list is mortgages. This loan is probably one that you have heard of, as it is very common for people to have a mortgage in America. A mortgage is what you get when you purchase a house, and it is just a way of spreading the cost of the house over a long period of time. Most people cannot afford to buy a house upfront, which is why mortgages are good, as they make buying a house much more accessible. There are quite a few different types of mortgages available in the US, and the type of mortgage you get will depend on your personal finances and what sort of property you intend to purchase. A fixed-rate mortgage is a good idea if you are looking to pay off your house over several years as the interest rate applied will not changes, so you will be paying the same amount every month.

Business Loans

As the name suggests, a business loan is a loan that you get to help you with the running of your business. A business loan can be used in all aspects of business, but people often get them at the beginning, when they are just launching their business. For a new business owner, being able to get a loan can make a huge difference in how their business thrives as it just gives them a little bit of extra support and cushioning. It can also mean that businesses can dive straight first into the launch as they no longer have to wait and save the money themselves. If you are considering opening your own business, then looking into the business loans available for you could be worthwhile.

Debt Consolidation

A debt consolidation loan is a loan that is used when you have lots of different debts to pay off to multiple companies. Having lots of debts to pay off can be extremely stressful, so a debt consolidation loan allows you to pay off those debts, meaning you are just left with one. Essentially, you work out how much in total all of your debts are, then borrow that amount from a lender and use that money to pay off your debts. Once you have paid off your multiple debts, you will be left with one debt to pay off, which you can slowly pay off over time. This can be a good option for people who are struggling with multiple loan companies.

Student Loans

Student loans are one of the most popular loans in America, and it is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans have student loan debt. The idea of being in debt for your education is a pretty bleak concept, but it is an unfortunate reality if you want to get higher education in America. Having said that, being able to get a student loan is something that is not available everywhere, so at least it does give people the opportunity to go to college and study something they love.


Whistleblowing Services Remain Vital As Recession Looms

As UK inflation rises above 10% and global market economic turmoil continues, the reality of a recession becomes ever closer. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported a reduction in GDP growth of 0.3% in August and production fell by 1.8%. Economic forecasters are bracing themselves for a significant downturn – it’s simply a matter of time.

As trading conditions within a turbulent economy become ever more challenging, organisations across the world are looking at how a recession will impact them not just from an output perspective but the wider effect it will have on workforces and their unique situation.

Often, recessions or economic instability is linked to an increase in employee theft and fraud within businesses. But is it really a case of desperate times means desperate measures?

Here, Greg Ogle from Safecall, which provides a range of whistleblowing services to businesses across the UK, discusses the impact of recessions on employee theft, the role of whistleblowing and provides practical tips on how organisations can safeguard themselves against employee fraud.

 

Employee fraud during recessions – impact on whistleblowing services

With ever rising prices, stagnant wages and a slowing economy, the cost-of-living crisis is real. It’s plausible to understand why businesses are mindful of a rise in employee fraud and theft.

If we look back at previous recessions, it’s clear that three key factors are required for fraud to increase. These are pressure, opportunity, and the ability to rationalise illegal behaviour. A recent report from TransUnion found a 149% increase in fraud attempts in the first four months of 2021. [1], which is reflective of the Covid situation and the financial impact that it had on millions of employees across the UK.

Professor Mark Button, Director of the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies at the University of Portsmouth, found that previous recessions show a direct correlation between a fall in economic output and a rise in fraud.[2] For example, the 1990 recession saw a 3% fall in GDP which directly led to a 9% increase in fraud offences. The 2008 recession saw a 1% fall in GDP which led to a 7.3% increase in fraudulent crimes.

A rise in fraud offences often occurs from a combined result of genuinely more people committing theft, businesses becoming more motivated to conduct detailed internal reviews during recessions – leading them to discover past or ongoing deception – and nervous or worried employees blowing the whistle on others through an organisation’s whistleblowing system or process.

The 2022 Safecall whistleblowing benchmark report reveals an increase in the number of anonymous whistleblower reports driven by job insecurity and fear of dismissal. It also shows a shift away from ‘speak up’ hotline calls to web reports thanks in part to the increase in Generation Z and millennials within the workforce who prefer to report issues virtually.

 How to recession-proof your whistleblowing processes and policies

When it comes to ensuring you have a robust and effective whistleblowing process in place, the key ingredient is preparation. To be adequately prepared, there are key actions business and HR leaders can take now to improve the success of their whistleblowing system. These include:

  • Conducting an internal audit: businesses should review their existing whistleblowing management system. Ask yourself, are your policies, processes and plans effective? Are they up-to-date?

    Maintaining and improving systems will help you to identify nonconformity and where you need to take corrective action. This continual improvement will ensure compliance with your organisation’s policies and procedures as well as its legal and social obligations.

  • Awareness: Are your employees, at all levels, trained on your whistleblowing management system? Do they understand how to report wrongdoing, and feel empowered to make reports?

    Clear communication is vital to encouraging and facilitating the reporting of wrongdoing especially when it comes to highlighting that employees can maintain their anonymity. This enables your employees to follow whistleblower best practices in identifying and addressing wrongdoing at the earliest opportunity. It also demonstrates leadership commitment to preventing and tackling wrongdoing.

    The benefits of external training can be found here.

  • Competence & resources: It’s crucial to ensure your investigators are adequately trained and resourced to effectively and thoroughly process a report of wrongdoing in a timely manner.

    Not only to help prevent or minimise loss of assets – as well as aiding the recovery of lost assets – but also to support and protect whistleblowers. Reducing and preventing detrimental treatment of those involved fosters trust in your system.

  • Communications: As an organisation, you should foster a culture of openness, transparency, integrity and accountability. How this is achieved differs for each business from leadership buy-in to internal communications or bolstered training. There’s no one size fits all answer, however, the benefits of addressing your culture can help your organisation to attract and retain people who committed to your values.
  • Continual improvement: How are you going to monitor, measure and evaluate your policies and procedures going forwards?

    The benefits of dedicating time and resources to maintaining and improving your whistleblowing management system are two-fold. You can actively help to reduce the risks of wrongdoing while also demonstrating sound, ethical governance practices to society, your markets, regulators, owners and other interested parties.

How To Increase Your Monthly Spending Budget

Knowing how to manage your income each month is essential – it gives you a clear idea of where your money is going, and how much you have left to spend. But what do you do when the money that you have left over is not enough to get you to your next pay check? Payday loans bad credit are there to help you if you are faced with an emergency, however, there are ways that you can free up your cash flow and increase your spending budget.

What is a budget & why is it important?

If you’re thinking about getting to know your money a little better as a way of managing your finances, a budget is the best place to start. Usually, a monthly budget works best – you take the amount of income you get and subtract the number of outgoings throughout the month. You should make sure you categorise your outgoings to help you identify if you’re overspending. Your primary outgoings should be rent, mortgage and car payments, as well as any additional energy bills, debt payments and food shopping. The rest are known as secondary expenses. When creating a budget, you will learn how much you have left over to work with for the rest of the month.

Budgets are essential when it comes to reaching your financial goals. Having an overview of your spending means that you can see where your money is going and you can identify areas that you may be overspending, so you can make changes. These changes allow you to save or pay off debt – no matter if your money goals are big or small, a budget can help you to achieve them. Generally, they help you to get to know your finances, and keep you out of difficulty.

Ways to increase monthly budget

If you’ve worked out a budget, there is a chance that the money you’re left with after your primary expenses may not be as much as you’d hoped – but don’t worry, if you think you need more money to live comfortably throughout the month, there are a few ways that you can free up some extra cash – we will look at these in more detail below.

Pay off debt

The best place to start is by paying off your debt. Debt is money tied up in paying previous lenders that you could be putting towards other things. It is essential that you pay off your debt in full as soon as you can. And although this may seem counterintuitive, you’ll be spending more money by paying down your debt, it is better in the long run so that you can benefit from an increase in cash flow when your debt is finally gone.

Make cutbacks

One of the best things about a budget, as we previously mentioned, is the fact that you can identify where you are spending your money and make changes when needed. For example, getting to know your outgoings means you’ll notice any subscriptions or memberships that you don’t use anymore that you should cancel. Taking the time to manage these things means an increase in your cash flow and having more money to spend elsewhere.

Reduce impulse buying

If you’re not familiar with impulse buying, you may not realise that you’re doing it! Impulse buying is purchasing things that you don’t need because they’re a good price, or simply because they caught your eye in the supermarket. You should try and refrain from doing this if you are hoping to increase the amount of money you have to spend each month. Adding extra items to your food shop, or clothes shopping when you’re bored could add up to a large amount each month, that you could use for something else! Try and take a list with you when shopping anywhere, not just the supermarket, so that you’re not tempted to deviate and spend more money.

Increase income

This point seems obvious, if you are looking to increase your monthly budget, you can start by increasing your monthly income. You could look for another job that pays more, ask your current employer for a pay rise in line with a good performance, or you could start working on a side project. If you have a hobby that you enjoy, why not see if you can make money from it?

Common Mistakes That Lower Profits for eCommerce Businesses

Is your eCommerce business underperforming and causing a financial strain? Although it’s no secret that generating sales, meeting projections, and achieving company goals won’t always go according to plan; however, continuing in the black or red may lead to a deficit you can’t come back from easily. While multiple factors contribute to a business’s profit potential, perhaps your eCommerce platform isn’t succeeding due to one of these common mistakes below.

Mistake: Failing To Effectively Market Your Site

You can’t expect to generate sales if no one knows your eCommerce site exists. Although this seems obvious, many entrepreneurs launch their websites without investing in marketing, while others put forth minimal effort. As consumers have access to millions of businesses, a non-existent or barely-there digital presence will limit your earnings potential.

Solution: Develop A Marketing Plan

Marketing is an ongoing and multifaceted process that requires knowledge of your products, services, industry, market, competitors, and, most importantly, your target audience. You must develop a marketing strategy that builds brand awareness, separates you from the competition, and reaches your target market on the platforms they utilize most.

Mistake: Poor Site Navigation

Are the bounce rates, page views per session, session duration, and average time on page metrics for your eCommerce site unsatisfactory? One reason for these low rates is poor site navigation and user experience. It means that when consumers visit your platform, they have difficulty finding the products, services, or features they want.

Solution: Update Your Website Layout

Have your web developers, IT team, or an outside agency improve your website layout. Your home banner should have straightforward navigation with topic, product, or subject lines that correlate with your products and services. You can incorporate drop-down menus for smaller categories and add a search bar for quick results.

Mistake: Complicated Checkout Process

Another eCommerce metric to review is your cart abandonment rate. Consumers will not disclose their financial and other sensitive information on a platform that isn’t secure, doesn’t accept their preferred payment method, or has too many steps to complete a transaction.

Solution: Partner With A Payment Processing Company

Your checkout process must be secure, seamless, and convenient. Managing these aspects is time-consuming and expensive. However, a payment processing company is equipped to handle these tasks for you. They offer point-of-sale applications that integrate with other sales management systems for secure, streamlined checkouts that boost your profits.

Mistake: Unpredictable Product Availability

Inventory management is a balance. Too much of a product could result in waste or a need to drop prices to eliminate the inventory. However, you risk missing out on a sale if you don’t have enough supplies in stock to meet the demand.

Solution: Inventory Management Software

If keeping track of how many products you need and when to replenish your inventory is difficult, inventory management software can help. It’s an application that lets you easily track product availability, manage orders, refill your stock, and make effective decisions to improve customer satisfaction and your bottom line.

Mistake: Ineffective Customer Service

Some entrepreneurs don’t invest enough time, money, and resources into enhancing customer experience. However, if your customers aren’t satisfied, they won’t continue shopping on your site. They’ll also share their negative experiences with others, which causes you to miss out on new business.

Solution: Become A Customer-Centric Business

It would be best if you were a brand about its customers. Identify your target customers, use segmentation to develop personas, then use the information to tailor your marketing, website, products, and services to accommodate their needs. Cultivate a positive customer relationship by asking for their input through surveys and polls and implementing their ideas. Train your customer service team on communication, problem-solving, and de-escalation. Lastly, take accountability and promptly resolve customer complaints.

eCommerce sites are convenient, affordable, and effective ways for businesses to generate sales. However, reaping the benefits requires more than launching a website. You must evaluate every aspect from a professional, technical, and consumer perspective to ensure that your platform operates efficiently. If you’ve made any of the mistakes above, the provided solutions can help you turn things around and increase your profits.

Experts Predict the Biggest Fintech Trends for 2023

From tribe- based banking to embedded finance, here’s what to expect in the year ahead 

The financial technology sector is rapidly evolving with traditional methods of banking now being replaced with digital solutions, in a bid to make things faster, easier, and more streamlined for both businesses and consumers.  

As we edge closer towards 2023, fintech experts from all-in-one financial toolkit, Intergiro, have made their top predictions for the biggest upcoming trends.  

Using their industry knowledge and Google Trends data, Nick Root, CEO Intergiro reveals everything you can expect to see in the year ahead.

Virtual cards 

With the growth of digital banks, in 2023 we expect to see the use of virtual cards continue to surge. Since 2017, searches for the digital bank ‘Revolut’ have increased by 143%, now receiving 1.3M monthly searches globally on average.  

Looking at Google Trends, we can also see the term ‘virtual card’ has increased 216% in the last five years and is currently at its peak. But how are they being used by businesses? 

Nick Root commented: “Hailed as the future of financial spending, virtual cards are the forefront of a revolution in business expenses management. 

“Perhaps the biggest reason why virtual cards are increasing in popularity is because they offer more robust security measures, helping eliminate misuse from hackers and fraudsters. 

“They also reinvent the way companies handle employee business expenses. Every employee has their own unique card, which means anyone can easily see who is spending what. Funds can also be assigned to team budgets and purchases can even be limited so that nobody spends more than what’s allocated to them.” 

Embedded finance 

Embedded finance is also expected to grow in 2023, with searches for the term accelerating by a staggering 488% in the last five years. The success of embedded finance will be predominantly down to distribution, trust, and improved user experience.  

Alongside this, data shows the term “Banking as a service” has seen 176% global increase, too.  

Banking as a service defines an ecosystem in which licensed financial institutions offer non-banking companies access to their services, typically through the use of APIs. 

BaaS enables clients to embed financial services into their own products or build completely new financial services from scratch. Use cases vary from modern virtual card issuing products, creating in-app payment methods, or building the next neobank, to setting up traditional card programmes, white-label payment processing, or embedding multi-currency IBAN accounts into your apps. 

“The emergence of API led banking services means that distribution is no longer an issue. That layer of friction has now been removed, with any digital company being able to offer a financial service without the headache and complexity that offering financial services used to bring.  

“What WordPress did for the internet, FinTechs are doing for finance” says Nick Root.

Buy Now Pay Later 2.0 

Whilst buy now pay later has raised concern in recent years, the online trend allowing customers to split their payments into interest-free instalments continues to surge.  

While traditionally, BNPL services were used to split payments for high value items, they soon became associated with online fast fashion brands, targeting Gen Z and Millennial shoppers. In recent weeks, BNPL was further criticized after Klarna partnered with fast-food delivery app, Deliveroo, allowing customers to ‘eat now, pay later.’ 

And although many mainstream banks are steering towards virtual cards, in January 2022, Klarna launched its first physical credit card, allowing customers to pay in three instore as well as online.  

In 2023, although it is expected to further expand, BNPL will be more regulated in the UK, as the government will bring legislation into effect requiring lenders to carry out affordability checks before approving loans. The financial promotion rules for BNPL are also set to change to ensure advertisements are clear and do not mislead consumers. 

Searches for ‘BNPL’ have seen a 130% increase since 2017, while the term ‘how does Klarna work’ also shows an upward trend, with search volume peaking in December, just before Christmas when families are faced with extra financial pressure. 

Cryptocurrency will become an everyday way to pay 

In 2023, we expect to see a growing number of financial institutions accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment. 

Mastercard recently announced it is keen to start rolling out plans to make crypto an ‘everyday way to pay.’ Acting as a bridge between crypto trading platform Paxos (used by PayPal) and major banks, Mastercard will handle the major roadblocks, including regulatory compliance and finance.  

Furthermore, this week, Google also announced a partnership with Coinbase, allowing customers to pay for some cloud services with cryptocurrency in early 2023.  

“As more and more people invest in cryptocurrency, businesses are starting to adopt it as a form of payment. ” 

“The term ‘pay with crypto’ has seen a surge of interest, with searches increasing by 136% since 2017, and with huge firms such as Google jumping on board, in 2023, we we predict more banks and financial providers will join them.” 

Contactless wearables 

The Internet of Things is making waves in the fintech sector, allowing consumers to pay for goods and services faster than ever with wearable technology. 

Alongside smartphones, bracelets and smartwatches are now being used to make payments instead of a bank card. 

The Apple Watch is one wearable that took the world by storm, showcasing an upward trend in 2022. Smart rings are also on the rise, with searches for the revolutionary wearable increasing by 180% globally.  

We predict this trend will continue to grow in 2023, and in light of this, fintech companies will increasingly use these connected devices to gather customer insights and make more informed decisions. 

Regtech 

A fairly new buzzword that you may have heard in 2022 is Regtech – but what is it, and why does it matter?  

The rise in digital products means there is an increased risk of data breaches, cyber hacks, and money laundering – but that’s where Regtech comes in. Regtech is a group of organisations that solve challenges arising from a technology-driven automated economy.  

The Regtech industry is expected to disrupt the regulatory landscape by providing advanced tech solutions to compliance issues that arise in the Fintech sector. 

Despite being coined in 2008, in the last five years, searches for ‘Regtech’ have increased by 184%, and on top of that Grand View Research predicts a 52% growth in the technology market by 2025, giving it a value of $55.28 billion.

Artificial intelligence 

AI will also continue to drive infrastructure decisions in the Fintech sector. Chatbots specifically will become more sophisticated and could soon be the future of fintech customer service.  

In fact, studies from Juniper Research suggest that successful banking-related chatbot interactions will grow 3,150% between 2019 and 2023, saving banks a lot of time – 826 million hours to be precise.  

Over the last five years, Google searches around the topic have seen significant growth too, with the term ‘AI in banking’ increasing by 104% globally. 

Tribe based banking 

The term ‘digital tribe’ has become popular in recent years, used to describe online communities who share a common interest, and are usually connected through social media or other online platforms.  

In 2023 and beyond, we predict more businesses will engage with online ‘tribes’ as a way to form deeper connections with consumers.  

As such, we also anticipate more businesses launching their own financial services centred around the tribes they are connected with.  

Nick Root added, “In the past, people from diverse communities have been uncomfortable with legacy banks because they have not been represented, don’t feel empathised with, and aren’t open to communication. 

“In this new era, banks need to be more authentic and receptive to communication. People from these communities will soon be looking for a bank that gives them a sense of representation and openness.” 

What Do Rich People Invest In?

What do reach people invest in? Volatile markets are resulting in diverse investment portfolios

Wondering what rich people invest in? They typically invest in a range of inflation-resistant assets that provide a passive income to protect family wealth. 

With inflation soaring, the rich seek to preserve their wealth through a combination of tried-and-tested investment structures and modern-day assets that are likely to reap dividends for early adopters. Real estate, art, and gold are amongst the most popular investment assets with the world’s richest. Read on to learn more about what the rich are investing in now.

What do rich people invest in?

Real estate

Luxury real estate remains one of the most popular investments for the world’s richest. Wealthy people invest in real estate as it continues to give healthy returns. Take, for example, the Principality of Monaco, the world’s most expensive real estate market. Monaco has seen property prices rise by an incredible 75% over the past decade, ensuring investors a solid return on investment. The principality’s luxury offerings and political and economic stability ensure property for sale in Monaco remains an attractive investment. Real estate provides an attractive hedge against inflation and is a proven way to build capital. An investment property can also provide a lucrative income stream. However, one of the downsides is its lack of liquidity.

Art 

Another asset that rich people invest in is art. Art is considered a unique asset class, which is often immune to economic shocks. Indeed, when stock prices dip, art tends to hold its value. According to Statista, the global art market is valued at US$65.1 billion and is anticipated to grow, especially as investors seek investments that can ride out market volatility. As art is a tangible asset, it can perform well during periods of rising inflation, making it a popular investment with rich people seeking a diverse portfolio. Just like real estate, art lacks liquidity, as it can be time-consuming to sell a valuable piece of art. This means art is often best used as a long-term investment.

NFTs

Wondering what else rich people are investing in now? Well, the tech-savvy and early adopters are dabbling in NFTs. Non-Fungible Tokens have grown in popularity over the past few years. NFT’s indicate ownership of a digital asset, such as art, digital clothing, an item within a video game, musical composition, or even real estate in the metaverse, with ownership protected by a blockchain, providing asset security. However, as a relatively new form of asset, they are risky as the long-term return on investment is unknown.

Gold

Wealthy people also invest in gold. Investing in this precious metal provides stability, especially in times of economic turbulence, while also providing diversification to investment portfolios. Gold is a limited commodity – according to the World Gold Council, about 90% of the world’s gold has already been mined – meaning it is highly susceptible to global demands. According to the WGC, in 1992, the price of gold was around US$200. Earlier this year, it was priced at over US$1,500, an eight-fold increase, providing a sound return on investment.

So, now you know the answer to ‘what do rich people invest in?’ What other investments would you add to our guide?

5 Potential Roadblocks on Your Path to Financial Success – and How to Overcome Them

Financial success is something everyone wants, but it can be tricky to achieve. Life tends to throw all obstacles your way, and many can stand between you and a solid financial standing.

Countless items can get in the way of your progress toward financial success in your life, and it can feel impossible to address them.

Here are five potential roadblocks I have found and how you can overcome them.

1. Roadblock: Credit Card Debt

It’s easy to spend money with a credit card. It’s less simple to pay that money back. Many people find themselves stuck in crazy debt because they borrowed or spent too much money with their credit cards.

If you find yourself in credit card debt, it can feel like an impossible situation. I recommend making a serious payment plan to get your life back on track. You can also seek debt consolidation with professionals to push yourself out of this situation.

You don’t have to get out of debt to move to financial success, but you must be on the right path. Make a spending path and ensure intelligent choices to get out of debt. In the future, steer clear of credit cards unless you’re sure you can repay spending.

2. Roadblock: A Serious Road Accident

An accident can wipe your car out and potentially cause injuries. In 2020, there were 4.8 million injuries from automobiles that sought medical attention. With yourself hurt and a car needing replacement, it can make financial success feel even further. Accident lawyers may help in this case, defending your name and winning money if you are in the clear.

If you need truck accident lawyers, you will find them on this page. Munley has over sixty years of experience handling these troubles, so you are in good hands if you run into this roadblock. A serious road accident is a hurdle you can climb with the right help.

3. Roadblock: Inflation

Inflation tends to appear at the worst times. It’s a rise in prices, which makes the dollar worth less. If the dollar is worth less but you don’t have more of it, you may find trouble moving toward financial success.

When the economy is amid inflation, it’s critical to make intelligent choices with your money. Don’t make any expensive choices. Wait for the dollar to be worth more, and then you can make wider spending choices.

4. Roadblock: Health Troubles

Health troubles can be unexpected and bump your path toward financial success. Although no one wants to experience health issues, they may appear at the most inconvenient times. Hospital bills and additional expenses can cost a lot and drag funds from your account.

If you find yourself amid pricey health troubles, ensure you have a savings account for emergency purposes. Speak to a professional to see if there is any way to save money on costs and prioritize your spending. Don’t buy anything more than what you need in this situation.

5. Roadblock: Investment Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes, and one of the most common areas for failure is in the investing market. When an investment mistake occurs, it can cause the owner to lose a ton of money. It can hurt to see your exciting opportunity spiral out of control.

You can move past this point by learning. Remember the action that caused the loss, and don’t repeat it. With trial and error, investments may work out in your favour. Consult a professional and get advice before putting your money into any additional investments.

4 Applications of Blockchain Technology Emerging in the Next Decades – and What This Means for Your Financial Planning

The era of the blockchain has dawned, and this tech is already causing a seismic shift in many industries, disrupting markets in a major way and causing people to rethink the fundamentals of finance.

The best way to prepare for its likely future trajectory is to know how it’s being used today, and where it may be applied further down the line, so let’s talk over key applications of the blockchain so that you aren’t behind the curve in your own planning efforts.

Blockchain for orchestrating the Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT has an image problem. High profile breaches of connected smart devices continue to occur, eroding user trust in web-enabled gadgets of all shapes and sizes.

Various businesses are moving to address this with the help of crypto-based tech, with the idea being that storing data and even running IoT apps on the blockchain will reduce the risks and mitigate many cyber threats.

This is achievable through decentralization; if IoT devices aren’t all feeding back into a central server, they’re safer from exploitation by hackers.

Blockchain for commercial real estate transactions

Even domestic real estate transactions move at a glacial pace and are prone to delays and hiccups along the way, so you can imagine how this is amplified when business properties are being bought and sold.

The use of commercial real estate smart contracts is poised to grease the wheels of major agreements, while making them harder to corrupt or derail as they are wrapped up.

Getting accustomed to the idea of committing to contracts which are stored and executed on the blockchain is something we all must do, and their use in many commercial transactions is already gathering momentum.

Blockchain for fraud prevention

Online banking fraud costs unsuspecting victims millions each year, and there are many avenues by which cybercriminals can manipulate incumbent systems and circumvent security to steal data, spoof user identities and escape with hard-earned cash.

Once again the main flaw is that user data is stored in one place, so if hackers can breach a bank’s systems, they’ve got unfettered access to all sorts of juicy private info.

Migrating information over to the blockchain means that there’s no single point of failure from a cybersecurity perspective. Thus fraudsters won’t have an easy ride, and online banking customers can rest easy.

Blockchain for healthcare

The same security benefits apply to patient data in healthcare as they do to customer data in the world of online banking.

However, there’s also the advantage that the blockchain provides in terms of making anonymised information available to researchers for the purpose of furthering our understanding of all aspects of medicine.

Coupled with the potential to drive down IT costs for healthcare organizations on a global scale, it could make all sorts of treatments more effective and affordable, meaning a smaller tax burden associated with keeping everyone healthy.

How your financial planning should be affected

For the average individual, the main use of blockchain technology from the perspective of embracing it proactively is for investment. More experts are recommending adding cryptocurrencies to portfolios as a means of hedging against market volatility and tagging onto a movement that’s gaining momentum.

However, it’s also important to note that even if you don’t decide to put any money into the blockchain yourself, your financial future will become more robust as a result of the aforementioned applications that are either already widely applied, or are set to become more prevalent in the decades to come.

5 Perth’s Best Currency Exchange Places

Perth is a city in Western Australia that offers plenty of shopping and dining opportunities. If you’re looking to exchange your currency, plenty of options are available. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell currency, these businesses can help you do that.

1. Crown Currency Exchange Perth

Crown Currency is among the most popular currency exchanges in Perth. They have over 80 currencies available, helping you get the best deal no matter where you’re from. They also don’t charge any commissions or fees, so you can be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. They have three locations in Perth, so you’re sure to find one near you.

2. Travelex Currency Exchange

Regarding foreign currency exchange, Travelex is one of the most well-known places to go. They have over 40 years of experience and have built up a good reputation. You can order your currency online and then collect it in-store at one of their 11 locations around Perth. They also promise to give you the best rate possible.

3. Travel Money Oz

Travel Money Oz is the place for you if you’re looking for a one-stop shop for all your travel money needs. They offer various services, including foreign currency exchange and international money transfers. Also, they even offer prepaid travel cards to make your trip hassle-free. Also, their budget calculator is a handy tool to help you manage your spending while abroad.

4. S Money

S Money offers the best currency exchange rates online. They also offer a secure delivery service so you can have your currency delivered to your doorstep. Yet, their delivery charges are a bit steep at $14. But S Money is the way to go if you’re looking for convenience. They have a large range of currencies available and will even buy back any leftover currency you have.

5. Redrate

Redrate is one of the best places to buy popular currencies such as US dollars or Euros. They offer excellent exchange rates and have a wide range of currencies available. However, it cannot be easy to find their store. But once you find it, you won’t be disappointed with their service or rates.

These are just some of the best currency exchange places in Perth. So whether you’re looking to buy or sell, there’s sure to be a place that can help you out.

How to Get the Best Currency Exchange Rate in Perth

You can do a few things when it comes to getting the best currency exchange rate. Here are some tips on how to get the best rate when exchanging currency in Perth.

Be Sure to Research

The first step to getting the best currency exchange rate is to do your research. Many different factors can affect the exchange rate. These include the country’s political and economic stability, the time of year, and even world events. By keeping up-to-date with current affairs, you’ll be in a better position to predict how the exchange rate will fluctuate.

Know What You’re Looking For

When you’re ready to exchange your currency, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. There are two main types of currency exchange: spot exchange and forward exchange. The spot exchange is when you exchange currency for immediate delivery. At the same time, the forward exchange is when you agree to buy or sell currency at a set rate for delivery at a later date. Depending on your needs, one type of exchange may be more helpful.

Compare Rates

Once you know what currency exchange you need, it’s time to start comparing rates. There are ways to compare rates, including online comparison tools and speaking to a foreign exchange specialist. When comparing rates, be sure to take into account any fees or commissions that may apply. By getting multiple quotes, you’ll be able to find the best rate for your particular needs.

Consider Using a Foreign Exchange Specialist

If you want the best possible rate, you may want to consider using a foreign exchange specialist. These companies are experts in the field of currency exchange. They often have access to better rates than banks or other financial institutions. They can also offer guidance on how to get the most for your money.

Use a Reputable Company

When choosing a currency exchange company, use a reputable and reliable one. Many companies claim to offer the best rates, but not all of them are created equal. To avoid being scammed, research any company you’re considering using. Moreover, considering our stores mentioned above are all reputable, you can’t go wrong if you use one of them.

Conclusion

When it comes to exchanging your currency, it’s important to do your research and compare rates. By using a reputable company, you can ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal. Perth has several places where you can exchange your currency, so check them out before heading overseas.

Did we miss any of Perth’s best currency exchange places? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Diversify Your Portfolio with Quanloop?

Quanloop took a novel approach to portfolio diversification for its investors. A large portion of the risk-reducing functionality is just a feature without sufficient safeguards. This article will help you understand what is hidden behind Quanloop’s portfolio diversification, what its main features are, and why you should use this platform to gain profit.

Why do individuals use investment platforms? It’s simple: to gain profit. Also, their most sacred wish is to get as much money as possible while maintaining the lowest risk. That’s when all the risk-management plans come into play. Most investing platforms let you choose between hands-on and automatic diversification to maximize your profits. A lot of investing enthusiasts don’t know (or, let’s be honest, don’t want to know) how to use automatic diversification to the fullest. There are different reasons why this happens, but the thing is that without the correct data on risks, people are not that eager to use their money as investments.

That’s where Quanloop comes to the financial rescue. The company aids the enthusiasts in forming a portfolio in such a way that they can easily and, what is even more important, safely diversify it. It’s not a diversification system though; it’s an investment platform that has a diversification system incorporated in it.

Before we cover the peculiarities of the Quanloop diversification system, we have to talk a bit about the risks that come with investing.

What are the risks?

First of all, a potential investor has to bear in mind that there’s always a chance of losing whatever money they invest. Some people may say: “Yes, but you can minimize the chance by diversifying your investment.” That’s true; however, it’s not that simple.

When diversifying one’s investment, it is crucial to remember not to put all eggs in one basket. People with little to no expertise may want to find a financial area they find the most appealing for the investment project and put their money in it. In theory, it can work. If the market continues to drive the investment option upward, this might theoretically result in a substantial profit. However, it is hard to call this approach a diversification as it is both costly and useless if the economy fails since assets would react negatively to a particular economic event. Basically, it’s the absence of diversification.

That’s why it is essential to understand and anticipate all possible risks that a potential investment can impose so that you can prepare yourself in case of a potential loss.

What does Quanloop offer to its clients?

To put it simply, Quanloop is an alternative investment fund. For a short period of 24 hours, it borrows modest amounts from investors by entering into a large number of agreements with a minimum principal amount of €1. Lending to Quanloop partners, who are expert leasing and factoring businesses, involves first pooling together several short-term loans with very small principals. Due to the competitive nature of Quanloop, your investment will be given preference if your suggested interest rate is lower than that of another investor.

The Quanloop diversification program is divided into three risk-level systems and is visually explained on its website. For example, you have 1,000 euros that you want to invest. The first level (low risk) allows you to put all your money into it. If you choose to divide your investment between low and medium levels, you will get a 50/50 ratio. If you want to engage your money in all three levels, it will be divided into three approximately even shares.

Another useful feature of Quanloop is that it doesn’t allow you to put all your money into the medium- and high-risk plans, always keeping a particular sum of your investment in a relatively safe environment.

There is one thing that may keep potential investors reluctant. It is Quanloop’s desire not to provide information about its partners. Fortunately, people who want to invest via the platform won’t need to fret about it for a variety of reasons:

  • They are highly selective about the projects they handle. They have alliances with reputable companies all around Europe.
  • When lending money to the Partners, Quanloop takes collateral in their assets. If there is a default, these assets will be gathered by Quanloop and sold to pay back the lenders.
  • If the business fails, investors will get their funds back. It works only because investor money is kept in a discrete client account that is never used to cover operational expenses or wages.
  • The client interacts only with Quanloop; therefore, the responsibility of repaying its investors lies solely on the investment fund.

What’s more, there even exists a special mechanism assuring the payment in the case of default. The fund takes responsibility and uses its own reserves to satisfy its investors.

Using this approach investors are able to reduce their risk profile saving optimal risk-to-return balance. Though Quanloop reduces risks and offers steady returns, it is a good diversifier of avid investors’ portfolio, even if some people may believe it’s a stretch.

Investors may reduce their exposure to risk without sacrificing potential gain by using diverse risk plans. Although it may seem far-fetched to some, this investment in Quanloop is a well-balanced diversifier of your portfolio since it lowers your exposure to risk and generates consistent returns.

How to Implement AML in 2023

While digital transformation has created an opportunity for companies to transform their business, expand their operations, and move them online, it has also opened new doors for illegal activities such as money laundering and financial fraud. Criminals and fraudsters will take every advantage to get ahead in their illicit activities, and so should you. Discover what will happen with anti-money laundering (AML) practices in 2023 and how you can use it to make your business more secure.

Prepare for the future of anti-money laundering (AML)

New anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations are constantly being introduced, leaving businesses struggling to keep up, especially considering the regulations differ around the world. With new technological trends rapidly reshaping business practices and how financial crime is committed, businesses need to start preparing for the future. What better way to prepare for the future of AML than by looking into its past?

While there have always been malicious actors trying to exploit businesses for their own profit, money laundering became a part of the financial crime landscape only in 1970 when the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) was introduced. The truth is that throughout history, dealing with money laundering crimes was done reactively instead of proactively. Once the new regulations are introduced, financial institutions react to them and update their security strategies. This can make AML systems slow and outdated while leaving institutions and their employees quite confused as various departments end up being in charge of different elements. These issues can cause financial crimes to go unnoticed until it is too late.

AML strategies of the future need to take a closer look at past issues and work towards mitigating them if they want to create effective and proactive solutions.

What can we expect from AML in 2023?

Global money laundering annually deals with losses of around $1.6 trillion due to money laundering worldwide. Considering how good criminals are at exploiting our weaknesses, the number will only get higher. This is why in 2023, we need to concentrate on fixing the mistakes from the past and embracing technological advancements that can allow us to stay ahead of criminals and prevent their illegal activities.

We first need to realize that for any cybersecurity strategy to work, it needs to embrace all the elements that make it whole and effective. While AML is a good start, only when combining it with other cybersecurity elements, such as KYC or a digital footprint, can it become fully effective. While AML and KYC might seem similar, key KYC AML differences make them most effective when combined. While regulations dictate both, AML covers a broad category of laws aimed at preventing money laundering, and KYC concentrates on verifying the identity of prospective clients.

If we want AML of the future to be effective, it needs to be technology driven. The technological market, especially the area of cybersecurity, is filled with new advancements and applications that can make a significant difference in any AML strategy.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) can allow businesses to analyze data in real-time and detect any discrepancies that might indicate fraudulent activity, such as money laundering. Implementing it can reduce the number of false positives and use historical data to recognize any suspicious behavior while keeping up to date with the newest trends due to the self-learning aspect.
  • Machine learning can be used for risk analysis and determining every customer’s risk factor, allowing you to make informed decisions.
  • Network analytics helps you to determine any irregular or unusual money flow, making it easier to recognize the red flags indicating money laundering.
  • Verification systems can be used to verify the customer’s identity and to confirm they are who they claim to be, not illegal actors.

Conclusion

Illegal actors are never going to stop trying to use us for profit; the only thing we can do is to stay ahead of them and prevent them before they can cause any damage. Embracing new technology is the key to creating effective AML solutions that can safely lead us into 2023.

Invoice Fraud Costs the Average UK Business £295,000+ a Year

New data examines the top challenges of finance teams in 2022: rising fraud, retaining talent, late supplier payments, and the relationship with procurement

Financial professionals estimate over £295,000 is lost to invoice fraud per business, every year in the UK. Even more shocking is the fact that 1 in 5 (20%) finance professionals are unaware or unable to even estimate the cost of invoice fraud to their business. This lack of visibility is likely due to the messy paper trails that continue to plague the invoice process.

With invoice fraud on the rise, the question arises, who in the business is responsible for preventing invoice and payment fraud? In over half of organisations (56%), the responsibility is not shared between finance and IT.

To paint a complete picture of the challenges facing finance departments, Medius, in partnership with Censuswide, recently surveyed 2,750 senior finance executives globally, including 501 finance executives in the UK. 

UK finance teams face highest churn globally

With mounting pressure on finance teams, they have the added struggle of high employee churn and challenges recruiting qualified staff – a problem that’s particularly acute in the UK. Almost 20% of finance professionals in the UK leave after 7-11 months, almost 10% higher than any other market surveyed. Across the globe, the average tenure in the finance teams is 30 months.

As businesses struggle with high staff turnover, finance professionals are a particular flight risk. In the UK, 27% say their finance department is so busy they are concerned colleagues are on the cusp of leaving, and 26% report having a high churn rate in the team. One of the problems reported by finance teams is the nature of the job – 21% feel their job is dominated by monotonous and boring tasks, and 36% of professionals think they are working with outdated payments software.

London lags behind UK for automation in finance with implications for payments

At the same time, London lags behind the rest of the UK when it comes to automating finance departments, where only 25% of respondents track and measure their automation practices. In contrast, 31% of UK finance departments track and measure automation, rising to 33% in large companies, and to 43% in the US – which is leading globally for automation practices.

As a result, over a third of finance professionals (39%) say they can’t close their books on time and paying supplier invoices remains the biggest challenge for the finance department in 39% of UK businesses. Furthermore, in the UK, businesses take the longest time globally to process invoices, coming in at 27 days, 13 days longer than Denmark, where it only takes an average of 14 days.

Account professionals admit 51% of supplier payments are late

In the UK, account professionals admit that the majority (51%) of supplier payments are late, lower than the global average of 56%, but with significant room for improvement compared to Finland, where only 44% of supplier payments are late. At the same time, 98% of UK businesses say they would like to take advantage of early payment discounts, and 79% offer early payment discounts themselves.

Deciding when to pay a supplier has a direct impact on cash flow but can also damage supplier relationships and the external reputation of a business. To increase transparency and aid decision-making for businesses, in 2017, the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy introduced new requirements for large businesses to self-declare supplier payments data.

Relationship troubles: 39% say it’s costing the business cash

The report revealed that one of the most prominent issues leading to late supplier payments is the relationship between procurement and finance. A healthy relationship between procurement and finance can transform an organisation, whereas a bad relationship can lead to missed opportunities for supplier discounts, increased errors and time spent managing payments, a lack of transparency and oversight, and damage relationships with suppliers.

In the UK, 72% of respondents stated that they either didn’t work with procurement at all (32%), or only occasionally worked with procurement (40%). When they do work together, 51% of respondents in the UK claim they are not satisfied with the cooperation, the highest level of dissatisfaction across markets – at the other end of the scale is Denmark, with only 4% of respondents dissatisfied with the relationship. 

Jim Lucier, CEO, Medius, said: “Invoice fraud is on the rise, while global supply chains are becoming more complex. Finance and AP teams face numerous challenges in an increasingly complex business environment. They need technology to move from automation to elimination – eliminating the invoice, fraud, and wasted time on needless manual tasks. As a technology provider, we still have work to do to help them solve these challenges and we’re 100% focused on doing just that.”

Kevin Permenter, Research Director, Financial Applications at IDC, comments: “For the past three to five years, we’ve seen finance and procurement teams play a game of ‘whack-a-mole’ as they respond to global economic fluctuations and the rapid digitisation of processes. Not surprisingly, they are struggling to keep up with the ever-evolving shift in customer expectations, heightened risk and vulnerabilities, and challenges caused by global supply chain issues. It’s a tough environment for even the strongest of teams.”

7 Tips for Buying a Business

When it comes to making the decision to buy a business, there are a lot of factors to consider. The process can be complex, and there’s a lot at stake. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or you’ve been through the process before, there are always things to keep in mind. So to guide you through, we’ve collaborated with Lloyds brokers to bring you these seven tips for buying a business.

1. Know your financial limit

Before you start looking at businesses for sale, it’s important to know how much you can afford to spend. This will help narrow down your options and save you time in the long run.

For instance, if you have a budget of $500,000, you’ll know to focus your search on businesses that are priced within that range.

2. Do your research

Once you know your budget, it’s time to start doing some research. Look at different businesses that are for sale in your industry and price range. Talk to people who have experience in buying and selling businesses. Get as much information as you can before you make an offer on a company. Moreover, a business broker can provide you with a lot of insights and resources that can help you in your search.

3. Get a feel for the market

Before purchasing a business, it is critical to have a better understanding of the current market conditions. This will help you figure out whether or not the asking price is reasonable. You can talk to business brokers, look at industry reports, and compare businesses that are similar to the one you’re interested in to get a better idea of the market value.

4. Know what you’re looking for

When you’re looking at businesses for sale, it’s important to know what you want and what you don’t want. Make a list of the most and nice-to-haves so you can simply eliminate any businesses that do not meet your requirements. Owning your own company is a major responsibility, so you want to make sure you’re buying something that’s a good fit for you.

5. Have realistic expectations

It’s critical to go into the process with realistic expectations about what you can achieve. Buying a business is a big commitment, and it’s important to make sure that you’re prepared for all that comes with it. Think about the time and effort that you’ll need to put into the business to make it successful. Think about the risks involved and be realistic about the growth potential.

6. Be prepared to negotiate but don’t be afraid to walk away

When it comes time to negotiate the purchase price, be prepared to haggle back and forth until you reach an agreement that works for both parties. But don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal if it doesn’t feel right—there will always be other businesses for sale. Like with any major purchase, it’s important to take your time and make sure you’re getting what you want.

7. Get everything in writing

Before finalizing the purchase of a business, always get everything in writing, including the purchase price, payment terms, inventory lists, equipment lists, and so on, to avoid confusion later on. Additionally, have a lawyer look over the contract to ensure that everything is in order and that you understand the terms and conditions.

What a Business Broker Can Do for You

Working with a business broker can be a big help if you’re thinking about buying a business. A business broker is a professional who specializes in helping people buy and sell businesses. They can provide you with information and resources that you might not have access to on your own.

A good business broker will:

  • Help you find businesses that are for sale
  • Assist with negotiation and due diligence
  • Provide advice and guidance throughout the process

When you’re ready to start looking for businesses for sale, a business broker can be a valuable resource. They can help you find the right company, negotiate the purchase price, and provide guidance and advice throughout the process. They study the market, know the ins and outs of buying a business, and can help you avoid common pitfalls.

Conclusion

Buying a business can be complex and daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By following these seven tips, you’ll be well on your way to making a smart and informed decision about which business is right for you. And, if you work with a business broker, you’ll have access to even more resources and information to help you through the process.

Purchasing a business is a huge choice and definitely not one to be taken lightly. However, by being well-informed and working with the right people, buying a business can be a very rewarding experience.

Do you have any tips for buying a business that you would add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


What Is the Role of a Digital Account Manager?

The role of a digital account manager is to ensure that the company’s online presence is managed and monitored effectively. This person will be in charge of all things digital, including social media management, website maintenance, and more. They should have great communication skills and be able to work well on their own as well as in a team environment.

In this post, we’ll explore exactly what makes up the day-to-day duties of a digital account manager.

Hiring A Digital Account Manager

Having a dedicated account manager is crucial to the success of your company and the maintenance of customer relationships. They’re the ones who can make your company indispensable to customers. However, the wrong person in the role might have negative consequences for the company.

How do you know that you hired the right person if their role is unclear to you and your business needs? The best course of action is to use a recruiting service, such as seo for hire, to find a suitable Account Manager on your behalf.

What does a Digital Account Manager do? Read on to find out more.

The Day-to-Day Tasks of a Digital Account Manager

A digital account manager’s responsibilities will vary depending on the client and the project. However, there are some key things they do in a typical day.

  • They help their clients determine where they should focus their efforts.
  • This can include researching competitors and analysing industry trends to determine which channels will be most effective for them to reach customers.
  • They set up campaigns that match the goals of each client and project, and then monitor results so that any changes necessary can be made quickly.
  • They make recommendations for improving content or branding strategies based on data from previous campaigns.
  • They use this insight as well as feedback from stakeholders to make informed decisions about new initiatives going forward.And finally, they keep track of all relevant information about metrics
  • such as social media impressions or website clicks
  • so that these numbers remain accurate throughout the life cycle of each campaign (since these numbers may change over time).

The Role of a Digital Account Manager

Clients Come First

Because the customer is king, account managers should be customer-centric, focused, and driven. Account managers are the face of the company, so they have to have excellent communication skills and be able to communicate with their clients in a way that makes them feel comfortable.

Account managers should always be listening because they never know when they might learn something new. They need to be willing to learn from their clients and from other people within your organization as well.

A Digital Account Manager Is a Team Leader

The role of the digital account manager is to lead the digital marketing team at their company by helping them create and execute strategies that will drive growth for their brand. A digital account manager must understand how each department in their company works as well as how they can work together to achieve results.

A good way to think of this is by comparing it to managing your own personal life: when you’re planning out your schedule for the week, you don’t usually put all of your tasks on a single day. Instead, you spread them out over several days so that each task has its own time slot during which it gets done most effectively.

This same concept applies when planning out an entire marketing strategy for an entire organization. If one person takes on too many responsibilities at once (for example, if they’re responsible both for managing clients’ budgets and also managing employees), they’ll have trouble keeping up with all of their many different jobs at once. They won’t be able to give each one proper attention leading up until launch date.

Creativity and Communication Are Key Skills

To be an effective digital account manager, the ideal candidate needs to know how to work with a team and communicate effectively.

They must be able to explain your ideas in a way that other people understand. This skill is especially important when working with clients who don’t have expertise in the field of digital marketing or web development.

The ideal candidate also needs this ability for internal communication within your own company about what has been done on each project and what remains unfinished. For a project to be successful, there needs to be good collaboration between everyone involved.

Final Thoughts

Digital Account Managers are vital members of the digital marketing team. Their role is to bring together all the elements of online marketing and customer service into one cohesive and successful strategy.


How to Boost Your Profits Through Effective Employee

Businesses cannot survive without their employees. Unfortunately, many employers fail to recognise this, leading to poor performance and a high turnover rate. Implementing an incentive program is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve employee morale and increase profit. You may have to spend money on this, but it’s one of the best investments you can ever make. Here’s how to boost your profits through effective employees.

1. Understand Your Employees Needs

Every individual has to deal with various financial worries, from concerns about debt and making the monthly budget work, which may affect your employees’ well-being. As an employer, you must take time to understand your employees’ financial needs and see if there is anything you can do to lighten the burden. 

Each employee deals with different circumstances, which means they also have different financial needs and priorities. Employers must assess the various factors that affect their employees’ financial needs. For instance, the younger ones may need help in acquiring their first home, while the older ones would prioritise retirement. Therefore, it’s a good idea to segment the workforce and determine the needs and priorities of these different groups of employees. 

Once you have assessed the different needs of your employees, it’s time to implement a benefits package that will appeal most to them. See if these can benefit your employees and are relevant to their needs. It also helps to provide financial training to teach employees how to manage their finances well. Financial education seminars can help employees understand the different issues and how to best address these. 

2. Ensure Training is Offered to Employees 

As technology evolves and workplace strategies change, companies should prepare their employees to adapt to these changes through training. There are some great relevant compliance training courses that will help equip employees with the knowledge and skills needed to perform their respective roles and improve their performance at work.

While staff training is essential for new employees, it’s also necessary for long-term employees to receive the proper training to help with their development. Create a training program that will apply to all staff members, including those working with the company for many years. Everyone should feel that you are serious about helping them to grow and develop. They are less likely to leave the company if you equip them with the knowledge and skills to help them advance their career. 

Instead of relinquishing an employee who can’t properly carry out specific tasks, employers should provide staff training to support employees and acquire and develop the skills needed to perform their respective roles well. By creating an effective training program that will help employees develop, companies can retain staff members with the right attitude and who can help the company boost its profits.

3. Encourage Employee Engagement 

Employee engagement is essential for all organisations since it’s critical for overall job satisfaction. Engaged employees are more motivated to give their best at work. It also influences their mental health and positively impacts the people around them, including clients and colleagues. 

There are various strategies to engage your employees. You can solicit valuable and honest feedback from the team and ensure you act on it. Make sure you communicate transparently across all departments. Observe how your employees work and provide constructive feedback based on your observations. Always recognise your employees’ accomplishments and be open to whatever opinions or suggestions they may have. 

Keep everyone in your organisation informed so they will feel more invested in helping the company achieve its goals. Support the learning and development of your staff and delegate tasks to demonstrate your confidence and trust in their abilities. More importantly, provide your employees with tools and services to help them connect and communicate with each other. 

4. Hire More People 

Sometimes, companies can’t grow because of the lack of employees. One way to help boost profits is by hiring payroll specialists, a great way to help determine where money is spent and what areas need more investment. So, determine the capacity of your current employees and assess whether it’s time to hire. The best way to know if your employees can handle the current workload is to ask them yourself. If you find that some employees can’t take on new tasks or are struggling to manage their current workload, consider hiring more to keep up with the growth of your business.

One of the reasons why you need to ensure you have enough workers is to keep employees from getting overworked. If your employees struggle to keep up with work demands, they could suffer from stress which will affect their work quality. Stressed workers will lack interest in their jobs and constantly request time off, affecting work productivity. Eventually, they will decide to leave, leaving some employees to be more overworked. If you want to grow your business, do not ignore these red flags.

While hiring additional employees can cost you some money, consider this an essential investment for your business. Remember, your company cannot function well without your employees. 

5. Allow Employee Feedback 

As mentioned, one way to boost profits is to engage employees. And when it comes to employee engagement, employers should establish a system that allows constructive and positive feedback. Feedback is essential as it helps improve business processes and enables teams to work more effectively towards achieving a common goal.

Most employees will appreciate it when you provide consistent positive and negative feedback. They will be more motivated to invest their time and skills to help your business grow instead of seeking opportunities somewhere. Given the competitive battle for the best talents, leaders should recognise that losing employees and hiring replacements can cost money. Turnover often contributes to lower employee engagement. If your staff is overworked, tired, and dissatisfied, they will be happy to leave your company if they find better opportunities somewhere. 
Employee feedback also helps boost employee morale. Employees who are satisfied and happy with their job will more likely do an excellent job at work. As a result, productivity will increase, which also improves your ROI.

The Key to Survival – How Businesses Can Improve Poor Credit Ratings and Beat the Recession

Lynne Darcey Quigley, Founder & CEO of credit management solution Know-it, talks about the importance of a good credit score and how businesses need to embrace good credit management practices now.

In the light of the recent rises in inflation, rising operational costs and the recession expected to hit later this year, many businesses will look to boost their credit ratings to limit hiring freezes and supply chain shortages, which impact productivity and output.

The key to thriving even at the darkest times of a recession is to have a business credit score that will hold a business in good stead for a successful future and strengthen financial security in the event of a downturn in the market due to uncertainty surrounding the economy.

Yet it is important to remember that ratings can vary depending on which credit reference agency a business chooses to use. Each uses slightly different criteria and algorithms to calculate credit ratings. But typically, a good business credit rating from one credit reference agency will translate to another.

A good business credit rating opens doors to growth

A host of opportunities for growth and expansion is possible once a company has a good credit rating while also giving businesses peace of mind if there is a downturn in the market. In times of downturn, enterprises are likely to turn to seek out funding avenues and the company’s credit score will be checked to see how trustworthy a business is and how likely they are to default on payment. A company’s credit report will also be checked in the event they purchase large ticket items such as machinery or commercial premises and when ordering large quantities of stock.

A low rating suggests that a company is slow-paying invoices (if they pay them at all) or does not abide by payment terms, so they are deemed a high credit risk to lenders and suppliers. A low rating can restrict a company’s operations and drastically limit its overall growth potential.as it will also determine how much money a business can borrow, how much stock it can purchase per order, payment terms and interest rates.

Addressing why your business might have a poor credit rating

There are several ways a business can improve its credit rating, starting with immediate activities such as addressing missed payments on loans, credit cards, suppliers, and other expenses such as rent. Yet, it is also essential to understand that it cannot just be an overdue payment that can lower a credit rating.

Not abiding by an agreed repayment schedule or credit terms can reduce a business’s credit score. Even County Court Judgements (CCJs), Insolvency or bankruptcy, having a poor debt to credit limit ratio, also known as credit utilisation rate, late filing accounts to Companies House, and making multiple credit applications simultaneously can lower even the best of business credit ratings.

Fraudulent activity can also harm a business’s credit score as criminals typically try to take out credit and loans in a company’s name. Businesses may notice a sudden unexpected drop in their business credit score, and it is always worth checking for potential fraud.

Turning a poor credit score into an excellent one for your business Whether a business has a poor, fair or reasonable credit rating, it always helps to improve it where possible. For example, keeping relevant parties up to date with any financial and business changes can boost a failing score. Be sure to inform customers, lenders, suppliers, banks, and directories like Companies House of changes that affect your rating. Inconsistencies or inaccuracies in business information can make it look untrustworthy and unreliable, which may negatively impact a rating. Other activities to boost a score include:

• Making your payments on time

• Ensure your finances, such as your turnover, are transparent

• Submitting your full accounts on time to Companies House

• Consider setting up a private limited company (Ltd)

• Opt-in to open banking

• Limit the number of credit applications in a short period of time

• Reduce your debt-to-credit ratio

• Dispute any errors on your credit file

• Establish a good relationship with your suppliers

It is critical that businesses check their credit scores and reports frequently so they can react quickly to any changes. An automated company credit checking, and monitoring solution makes this easier, using the most up-to-date intelligence from multiple reliable sources to help managers make informed credit decisions. Business owners can consider running a credit report that keeps them up to date on changes if it offers a credit monitoring facility that can forward notifications of any changes.

When working to build a business’ credit rating, it is essential that its progress is available in real-time. Business owners, finance managers and credit controllers can unlock key insights from a business credit rating that will help them see what improvements a business can make for future financial prospects. At the same time, companies should be able to check other business credit ratings if they are potential suppliers and key customers to know the shape of their customers’ credit reports.

Wealth & Finance Magazine Announces the Winners of the 2022 Fund Awards

United Kingdom, 2022- Wealth & Finance magazine has announced the winners of the 2022 Fund Awards.

Now running in its seventh year, the programme spans the length and breadth of the funds industry, covering all facets of the financial sector from banks to insurance companies and family offices, to solo practitioners. The Fund Awards acknowledges those who have reinvigorated the market with their experience and expertise and act as a pacesetter for the greater landscape.

On the eve of the announcement, Awards Coordinator Steve Simpson commented: “I am proud of all the winners of this year’s programme as we have strived to acknowledge all those who have worked effortlessly this year to provide their customers with outstanding services. I wish them all the best for their future endeavours and hope you all have a wonderful year ahead.”

To learn more about our deserving award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the Wealth & Finance website (https://www.wealthandfinance-news.com/awards/fund-awards/) where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

Note to editors.

About Wealth & Finance International

Wealth & Finance International is a quarterly publication dedicated to delivering high quality informative and up-to-the-minute global business content. It is published by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting.

Developed by a highly skilled team of writers, editors, business insiders and regional industry experts, Wealth & Finance International reports from every corner of the globe to give readers the inside track on the need-to-know news and issues affecting banking, finance, regulation, risk and wealth management in their region.

About AI Global Media

Since 2010 AI Global Media (https://www.aiglobalmedialtd.com/) has been committed to creating engaging B2B content that informs our readers and allows them to market their business to a global audience. We create content for and about firms across a range of industries.

Today, we have 14 unique brands, each of which serves a specific industry or region. Each brand covers the latest news in its sector and publishes a digital magazine and newsletter which is read by a global audience. Our flagship brand, Acquisition International, distributes a monthly digital magazine to a global circulation of 108,000, who are treated to a range of features and news pieces on the latest developments in the global corporate market.

Debt Financing Within Climate Tech Set to Grow Over the Next Few Years

By Marc Deschamps, co-head at DAI Magister

Software and technology enabled businesses were considered risky by debt finance providers a mere decade ago as “classic companies” still dominated the landscape and the perceived threat to disruption from many ‘known unknowns’ was almost impossible to predict. The dotcom crash at the turn of the century constantly reminded investors of the perils of backing nascent technology companies. Fast forward to 2022 and the outlook could not be more different. Today many of the world’s most valuable companies are related to technology. A similar revolution is now coming to Climate Tech.

Availability of credit financing (various forms of loan instruments) has globally enabled entrepreneurs, venture, and private equity investors to rapidly build, scale and acquire high growth businesses within the digital transformation and technology enabled sector. Given the broad nature of technology it is hard to point to a robust figure in how much technology lending has grown over the last decade. However, using private equity transactions as a barometer, according to Bloomberg in 2021, $146bn of technology company buyouts were accomplished compared to $42bn in 2011.

There is typically plenty to like about lending to technology enabled businesses from a lenders perspective. The acceleration of digitisation within businesses small and large across the globe driven by increased adoption of cloud, 5G and connectivity, provides a huge opportunity. Rapid transformation of businesses through deployment of software applications in the areas such as payments, supply chain, e-commerce, sales & marketing, and learning & communications has not only enhanced efficiency and automated traditional business processes but also created a loyal, sticky and highly profitable customer base for technology providers. These dynamics have enhanced lender appetite for the technology sector. This viewpoint has been further galvanized based on the pivotal role technology played during the recent pandemic.

The impact of inflationary pressures is now evident in the global economy, just like the damage from industrialisation is now apparent in our environment. Technology in many ways is seen as the panacea to these forces as it can increase automation, facilitate remote collaboration, and create operating efficiencies within most processes across multiple sectors. Not to mention technology is and will play a key role in solving the planet’s largest climate related challenges.

Over the next decade, it is expected that companies offering climate related technology, will garner the same attention from financiers as technology companies have enjoyed. ‘Investing in the Green Economy 2022’, a report from the London Stock Exchange’s research arm, suggests the market capitalisation of green equities ballooned from under $2 trillion in 2009 to over $7 trillion by 2021, almost doubling its share of the global investable market from 4% to 7%.  Debt financing typically lags equity financing as companies are created through risk capital before accessing any forms of debt finance. Companies harnessing renewable energy or electric energy to replace traditional fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions or supporting clean water, environmentally friendly packaging, and the circular economy from fashion to electronics to name a few are all gaining significant momentum. Technology and innovation are now firmly seen as a force for good and this image is further enhanced when it is applied for the betterment of the planet and humankind.

The debt financing universe has also evolved over the last decade in response to this phenomenon and debt is no longer just the preserve of large technology companies. Lenders are increasingly active within the start up to unicorn universe alongside profitable software businesses, with the aim of not only capturing good financial returns and a meaningful market share, but also to fulfill the increasing Environmental, Social and Governance (‘ESG’) based responsibility finance providers have towards their investors and shareholders. Lender’s appetite to finance the wider technology sector is highly evident within the private equity leveraged buy out sector and increasing penetration of venture debt financing within growth companies since the 2009 global financial crisis and throughout the 2020 pandemic.

Today lenders are offering a wide range of hybrid financing solutions from warrant-based venture debt or convertible loan instruments to traditional term loan finance – determined by the financial and operational maturity levels of the potential borrower. Tech enabled companies (including fintech, healthtech, clean energy etc.) with a differentiated high growth business model, robust technology platform (often including intellectual property), re-occurring revenues, sticky client base and profitability or path to profitability (profitable unit economics when paring back any costs deployed for growth such as customer acquisition or marketing costs) can now explore debt funding options alongside traditional funding instruments such as equity.

Similarly, when looking at climate related sectors, debt funding is becoming more prevalent outside of traditional capital-intensive project finance opportunities such as solar parks, wind farms and eco-friendly real estate projects. Energy transition opportunities and electric mobility is for example, a sector that is attracting increasing levels of debt financing. UK electric vehicle subscription service Onto, electric vehicle charging infrastructure developer Gridserve and Germany based e-scooter provider Tier Mobility have all successfully raised different forms of debt.

Alongside attractive financial and commercial prospects, debt fundable companies also tend to have a few rounds of equity investment under their belt, a reasonable funding runway, a strong purpose driven founding team and preferably value add investors as shareholders.

Given the nature of technology companies, typically there is no one size fits all financing solution and potential borrowers need to not only assess the pros and cons of carrying debt, but also create a ‘compelling case’ and be ‘match fit’ for due diligence processes conducted by financiers. Listed and private peer group valuation metrics may or may not be available to benchmark niches or sub-sectors within alternative energy, mobility, healthcare and automation, to name a few, forcing lenders to pay more attention to valuation appraisal processes – to determine the level of equity value underpinning the debt structure which in part drives the commercial terms and pricing of debt structures.

Along with the evolution in debt structures, the financing universe itself is being transformed away from traditional banks to now comprise private credit and specialist asset managers such as TPG, Blackrock and KKR, ESG focused government backed funds such as UK’s  Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund (LEVI), sovereign wealth funds such as Temasek, GIC, Mubadala and infrastructure funds such as Macquarie and M&G to name a few.

Equity valuations are being influenced by the global geopolitical uncertainty alongside economic factors such as the impact of inflation on operating models and increasing cost of debt service as interest rates rise – which affect earnings and revenue. Companies experiencing potential valuation changes are increasingly looking for alternative funding options such as debt. In direct response to this many large asset managers are seemingly gearing up to focus on debt opportunities across the technology and climate sectors.

Whether listed, venture/private equity backed, or founder led, companies should consider ways to reduce their overall cost of capital by considering debt options to finance organic growth or acquisitions. Debt financing can also be a very effective instrument to achieve other strategic objectives such as change in ownership or to finance shareholder dividends in well performing businesses.

Planning an Office Renovation: There May Be Tax Considerations

With many businesses practising hybrid working, many are taking the opportunity to update or renovate their office spaces to make them fit for purpose and attractive to the workforce. However, they may not be aware that much of the cost of the renovation could be eligible for tax relief under the capital allowances regime.

With the ‘super deduction’ deadline of 31st March 2023 fast approaching, it is important that businesses make strategic decisions now that could potentially save them money.

While minor decorative or cosmetic works, such as painting walls, are likely to be classed as revenue in nature, rather than capital, any capital renovations that are directly linked to the function of the business, for example, updating IT equipment or new furniture will qualify for tax relief under the capital allowances regime. Furthermore, eligible expenditure will also qualify for the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA), which gives businesses 100 per cent tax relief on their expenditure up to a value of £1 million.

The capital allowances regime has several categories providing different amounts of relief.

Main pool capital allowances offer tax relief for items that are moveable or classed as ‘plant and machinery’, including equipment such as televisions, computers, and furniture. Anything that is classed as a ‘main pool’ capital allowance qualifies for the 100 per cent AIA up to an annual limit of £1 million and then 18 per cent writing down allowances thereafter.

Expenditure may also be eligible for the super deduction, which gives businesses 130 per cent tax relief provided certain criteria are met, although this will end on 31st March 2023.

There is also the ‘special rate pool’, which includes features that are integral to a building, such as lighting or air conditioning. These items will also qualify for the 100 per cent AIA up to the annual limit of £1 million limit and 6 per cent thereafter.

In addition to the above, the structural and building allowance was introduced in 2018, under which expenditure on structural renovations, such as reconfiguring walls, qualify for three per cent tax relief per annum.  This allows claims for builders’ fees, as well as professional fees for the design of the renovations. However, it is important to note that while some legal and administrative fees may qualify for this relief, planning permission is not eligible.

Although there is not a time limit by which companies can claim capital allowances in general, any claims for AIA and super deduction must be made in the tax return in which the expenditure was incurred. Companies then have two years following their financial year end in which to amend a corporation tax return and include a claim for these first-year allowances. Any claims made after this time will have a much lower return. For example, claims for main pool allowances will only receive 18 per cent tax relief per annum, which means it will take much longer to obtain full tax relief.

Consulting a tax professional for advice at an early stage will allow businesses to get the information required to make a successful claim.  Creating and maintaining a detailed report of scheduled works will provide all the information needed to file a claim for tax relief efficiently and accurately, making for a smoother process overall.

Businesses should remember that most of the costs associated with office renovations do qualify for some form of tax relief. Completing a claim as early as possible will enable businesses to make the most of the allowances available; realising value and realise value for improving workspaces at the same time.

Natasha Spicer, tax specialist at accountancy firm, Menzies LLP

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.

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

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.

Foolproof Investments During the Cost-of-Living Crisis

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. 

How Will SCA Change Fraud Pressure for Businesses?

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.

Best Corporate Presentation Design Agency – UAE

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/

Best Swiss Consulting Company 2022

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

Paid in Cryptocurrency: The Salary of the Future?

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.

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

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.